The Holocaust Historiography Project

Book review

The Holocaust and the Historians

  • The Holocaust and the Historians, by Lucy S. Dawidowicz, Harvard University Press, 187pp, $15.00, ISBN 0-674-40566-8.

reviewed by Bezalel Chaim

“What, in sanctifying the Holocaust, do Jews not want to know about that grim era?” (Quoted from “The Holocaust, and the Myth of the Past as History,” The Journal of Historical Review,. Winter, 1980, Dr. Howard F. Stein)

Mrs. Lucy S. Dawidowicz' The Holocaust and the Historians is remarkable more for what it does not say than for the actual content of this meager book. In a recent review in the The New York Times, John Leonard charaterized Mrs. Dawidowicz' work “confused.” Confused it is — and evasive.

Except for a brief footnote on Arthur R. Butz’s The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, which Mrs. Dawidowicz calls an “overtly anti-Semitic work,” there is no mention of the significant writings of Faurisson, Rassinier and Felderer. Instead, Mrs. Dawidowicz refers readers to her tacky Commentary article, “Lies About the Holocaust,” again smearing Revisionist historians as “neo-Nazi. “

In spite of the fact that we are almost literally bombarded night and day, week after week in the newspapers and mass media with various aspects of the Holocaust myth, Mrs. Dawidowicz is fearful that the history of the alleged six million murdered Jews will be obliterated from the face of the earth. And in order to sanctify this supposed unique aspect of suffering, Mrs. Dawidowicz makes a supreme effort to downplay the horrors of Hiroshima, Dresden and Vietnam. It is as. if to say “Our suffering has more meaning than yours,” as Dr. Howard F. Stein states in his courageous Journal of Historical Review article cited above.

Mrs. Dawidowicz uses the opportunity given her in this book to jump on the “anti-Hannah Arendt” bandwagon. Hannah Arendt, probably the most brilliant of Jewish essayists, had the effrontery to infuriate the Jewish establishment by her critical comments on the role of the Judenräte and such people as the Rothschilds in the undoing of their people. The Ghetto bureaucrats and “court bankers,” according to Hannah Arendt, profited from the governments, misguided the Jewish masses and were the actual agents of anti-Semitism!

The student wishing to find some information on the origins of the wars of this century will find this book of little value. Indeed the destruction of the culture of Ashkenazic Jewry was a great tragedy, but one can find few clues as to how this might have been averted in Mrs. Dawidowicz' work.

What is missing in The Holocaust and the Historians are the First and Second acts. The barrage of anti-German propaganda in the thirties and the battle for a negotiated peace in 1944 are two subjects that would bear further investigation by our historians. A negotiated peace in 1944 would surely have saved many Jewish (and other) lives! Reading history through the Third act is well for Mrs. Dawidowicz but it obviously will not do for those of us who wish to avoid future wars and future “holocausts.”

Mrs. Dawidowicz makes much of the writings of Fritz Fisher in an effort to bolster her theory of the “continuity” of German history and the idea of “Germany As the Aggressor Throughout the Ages.” It is remarkable that such nonsense can still be taken seriously. Fischer’s thesis has been demolished elsewhere but the corpse of “unique German culpability” still has not been interred.

In criticizing Mrs. Dawidowicz' latest work this reviewer would like to point out a defect of both Revisionist and anti-Revisionist writing. To a point we should attempt to make a more accurate location of who the “good-guys” and “bad-guys” were in, the historical process. But most Revisionists and anti-Revisionists understand nothing whatever what the forces are which cause different people or “historical personages” to act the way they do. Only a few think in this frame of reference. Proudhon once said, “Not to the man, legislator, or prince do we look for the meaning of his acts, but to the acts themselves,” implying that the actors in any historical event did not understand what motivated them, except from an extremely shortrange view. They had little or no comprehension whatever of the larger evolutionary course of events. In this respect more intense study by Revisionists of the American and European individualist anarchists (or libertarian socialists) and the writings of some of the psychohistorians-Howard F. Stein, Henry Ebel, George Kren, and David R. Beisel would be very useful in addition to the writings of Lawrence Dennis and C.H. Douglas.

The Holocaust and the Historians however has some “tidbits” which unintentially substantiate Revisionist interpretations. In a revealing footnote Mrs. Dawidowicz states:

“Many thousands of oral histories by survivors recounting their experiences exist in libraries and archives around the world. Their quality and usefulness vary significantly according to the informant’s memory, grasp of events, insights, and of course accuracy. Also important in determining the quality of the account is the interviewer’s ability to pursue lines of inquiry that elicit information that has been subconsciously or deliberately suppressed or that supplements an already accumulated body of information on a given subject or place. The longer the time elapsed, the less likely that the informant has retained freshness of recollection or can offer new information. The transcribed testimonies I have examined have been full of errors in dates, names of participants, and places, and there are evident misunderstandings of the events themselves. To the unwary researcher, some of the accounts can be more hazard than help.”

It is encouraging to know that at long last many intellectuals of Jewish origin (such as John-Gabriel Cohn Bendit, Claude Karnooh, Jacob Assous) are beginning to recognize the real nature of the Holocaust- “that Nazism is indeed the bogeyman used by the liberal democracies to obtain the submission of their populations.”

Mrs. Dawidowicz' book comes after a year of unremitting at tack and smear of The Institute for Historical Review, Liberty Lobby, The Spotlight, beginning with Mrs. Dawidowicz' own article in Commentary, continuing with Paul Berman’s vicious diatribe in Village Voice (N.Y.), and articles in Los Angeles Magazine and New Republic (Mark Hosenball). These hatchet jobs completely fail to come to grips with the substance of the Revisionist argument. The alleged “racism,” “anti-Semitism” of all “Willis Carto-associated” publications and organizations is repeatedly used to stifle all revisionist argument, and indeed an attempt is being made now to smear the Serge Thion-libertarian socialist group in France with the same “anti-Semitic” brush. It may very well be that general acceptance of Revisionist interpretations will have to wait until the year 2050. If so, the lessons will be very costly. The prime noodles of civilization created the appropriate conditions for Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler and later, a veritable mass of petty dictators (of both Fascist and Socialist Communist variety) in the 1946-1981 period.

While America grovels under the yoke of Volcker and the infamous Federal Reserve System, a vast military-industrial complex, organized crime, cowardly and venal politicians, and the disintegration of safety and public order in our cities we are still preoccupied with the fantasies of “internationalism,” notwithstanding the complete and utter failure of liberal-conservative policy since 1917, a policy in which a small., entrenched financial elite has made tremendous gains at the expense of the many. Mrs. Dawidowicz' latest opus is just one more “brief for the Establishment.”

Bibliographic information
Author: Bezalel Chaim
Title: The Holocaust and the historians (review)
Source: The Journal for Historical Review
Date: Spring 1982
Issue: Volume 3 number 1
Location: Page 85
ISSN: 0195-6752
Attribution: “Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, PO Box 2739, Newport Beach, CA 92659, USA.”
Please send a copy of all reprints to the Editor.