The Holocaust Historiography Project

David McCalden (1951-1990)

DAVID McCALDEN was born in 1951 into a working-class family in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He attended the University of London, Goldsmiths' College and graduated with a Certificate in Education (Sociology) in 1974. From 1972 until 1977 he was involved with various movements for the preservation of British national integrity, traditions, wildlife, and environment.

McCalden was a controversialist who took nothing for granted. In the early 1970s he edited Nationalist News and was a regular contributor to Britain First newspaper. He was a founder of the early Hunt Saboteurs' movement, the first editor of its journal, Howl, and later produced Beacon, — a magazine that was well ahead of its time. He also wrote the book Nuremberg & Other War Crimes Trials (1978), which appeared under its publisher’s house nom de plume “Richard Harwood.” McCalden moved to the United States in the late 1970s and gave up active politics.

In 1978 McCalden moved to California and established the Institute for Historical Review (IHR). As the Director of the IHR, McCalden was responsible for several groundbreaking activities, including the instigation of the group’s “International Revisionist Conferences” in 1979, the founding of the Journal of Historical Review (JHR) a year later, and perhaps most famously, offering a $50,000 reward for anybody who could provide proof that the gas chambers existed. At the IHR’s Second International Revisionist Conference, Ontario, California, McCalden announced two new contests — each for $25,000 — to anyone who can either prove the diary of Anne Frank is genuine or that the Nazis ever made soap from the bodies of Jews. Although there were some who announced they could claim one or more these prizes but did not come forward (such as Simon Wiesenthal), and others who did come forward but had no proof (such as Mel Mermelstein), no one was able to claim any of them, despite the fact that each contest dealt with key claims made about what has been called “the best documented event in human history.”

McCalden had virtually unlimited energy to devote to revisionism, collecting audio tapes of every radio show that mentioned him, producing video tapes, reprinting several classic revisionist books, writing for and editing the JHR (under the pseudonym “Lewis Brandon"), and doing all the other things that a small start-up outfit such as the IHR needed done, while still finding time to personally visit — without any warning whatsoever — most of the people who wrote to him from a return address less than a day’s drive away.

McCalden left the IHR in 1981 to become a freelance writer, interesting himself in modern history, politics, ecology, and atheism, and founded “Truth Mission.” He published a variety of publications under this imprint, including Holocaust News, David McCalden’s Revisionist Newsletter, and the booklets Exiles From History and The Amazing, Rapidly Shrinking 'Holocaust' (1987). McCalden’s intellectual curiosity drove him to travel to eastern Poland to visit the so-called “extermination camps.” Utilizing newly-found wartime aerial photographs, he compared Holocaust claims with the real evidence on the ground.

In 1984, after the California Library Association (CLA) cancelled contracts it had signed with McCalden to present an exhibit and separate program on his revisionist views at the CLA’s 86th Annual Conference in Los Angeles, McCalden sued, claiming the city of Los Angeles, the Wiesenthal Center, the California Library Association, the American Jewish Committee, and others illegally conspired to deprive him of his First Amendment free speech rights through “extortionate threats.” The suit eventually wound up in the Supreme Court, which decided to let stand a lower-court ruling in McCalden’s favor.

McCalden was a militant atheist who delighted in riling religious people, although one didn’t need to be religious to disagree with him. To this day, there are revisionists who refuse to be associated in any way with him, but as one of McCalden’s admirers wrote, “He was a unique personality and one of the truly great free-thinkers of our time.” The Holocaust Historiography Project has set up the Annual David McCalden Most Macabre Halloween Holocaust Tale Challenge in his honor.

He died in El Segundo, California, on October 15, 1990, from complications due to pneumonia, after an illness of several months. He was survived by a wife and child.

Selected writings about David McCalden

  • Court stays clear of fray over free speech, Holocaust history,” UPI, June 1, 1992.
  • Elliott, Mark; McClintock, Michael. “Holocaust 'Revisionists' and the California Library Association.” Midstream. Volume 32, Number 4 (Apr 1986) pages 36-38.
  • Kamm, Susan. “'Holocaust Hoax' Publisher Barred From Annual Convention of California LA After Controversy Spreads Through State.” American Libraries 16.1 (1985): 5.
  • Swan, John, and Noel Peattie. The Freedom to Lie: A Debate About Democracy. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1989.
  • The Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, et al., vs. Viviana McCalden, as administrator of the estate of David McCalden, Supreme Court of the United States, case number 91-1643.

See some of David McCalden’s videos here.