The Holocaust Historiography Project

Orwell’s 1984: Was Orwell right?

John Bennett

  • Paper Presented to the Sixth International Revisionist Conference.

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

O’Brien in 1984

Every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.

I. F. Stone

Many of the predictions made by George Orwell in his book 1984 in relation to “Big Brother” surveillance, corruption of language and control of history have already come about to a great extent in Communist countries and to some extent in the West. The powers of security police in Western countries to intercept mail and tap phones have often been extended, police agencies keep numerous files on law-abiding citizens, and more and more public officials have the right to enter private homes without a warrant. Many government departments keep computerized information on citizens and there is a danger that this information will be fed into a centralized data bank.

Attempts by law enforcement agencies to obtain more information through informer schemes, through new law enforcement agencies, and through new techniques such as computerization of information, are understandable, but the cumulative effect of such Big Brother activities is to make countries such as the United States, Britain and Australia increasingly totalitarian societies. The corruption of language described in 1984 is widespread in the media today, with “Newspeak” terms such as democratic, socialist, fascist, war criminal, freedom fighter, racist and many other expressions being used in a deliberately deceptive, propagandistic way to whip up mass hysteria or simply to ensure that people can never achieve even an approximation of the truth.

Control of the Past

The fact that almost all media commentary, book reviews and feature articles about the book 1984 have ignored the crucial role of controlling the past indicates that Orwell’s prophecy has already been partially fulfilled. The central theme of his book, the control of history, has already been largely written out of references to his book and has disappeared down the memory hole.1

The book’s hero, Winston Smith, works in the Ministry of Truth rewriting and falsifying history. The Ministry writes people out of history — they go “down the memory hole” as though they never existed. The Ministry also creates people as historical figures who never existed. Big Brother, who controls the State of Oceania, uses “thought police” to ensure that people in the inner and outer Party are kept under control. Oceania is at perpetual war with either Eurasia or Eastasia. Alliances between these three states change without rational explanation. “Hate weeks” are organized against Goldstein, the leader of an alleged underground opposition to Big Brother, and hate sessions are organized against either Eurasia or Eastasia. O'Brien, a member of the inner Party, pretends to Smith that he is part of the Goldstein conspiracy against Big Brother. He asks Smith what he would most like to drink a toast to. Smith chooses to drink a toast, not to the death of Big Brother, the confusion of the Thought Police, or Humanity, but “to the past.” Both Smith and O'Brien, the main characters of 1984, agree that the past is more important. Unfortunately, almost all of last year’s media commentary about Orwell’s greatest book ignored the importance of the past and control of the past as a theme in 1984. The extent of censorship of history is indicated by suppression of the fact that Orwell originally considered giving the title 1948 to his book because of widespread Big Brother tendencies already in the year 1948, including control of history.2 It is also indicated by the suppression of the fact that Orwell queried the allegation that there were gas chambers in Poland.

Orwell wrote that

indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing off of one part of the world from another, which makes it harder and harder to discover what is actually happening. There can often be doubt about the most enormous events…The calamities that are constantly being reported — battles, massacres, famines, revolutions — tend to inspire in the average person a feeling of unreality. One has no way of verifying the facts, one is not even fully certain that they have happened, and one is always presented with totally different interpretations from different sources. Probably the truth is undiscoverable but the facts will be so dishonestly set forth in that the ordinary reader can be forgiven either for swallowing lies or for failing to form an opinion … 3

Because of his experience in the Spanish civil war that media reports of the conflict bore no relation to what was happening, Orwell developed a great skepticism about the ability of even a well intentioned and honest writer to get to the truth. He was generally skeptical of atrocity stories.

It should be noted that Orwell worked for the BBC for a time, and the Ministry of Truth is modeled to some extent on the BBC. Orwell noted that the BBC put out false hate propaganda during World War II, and controlled history by censoring news about the genocidal Allied policy of leveling German cities by saturation bombing. Orwell’s beliefs about the control of the past, including the recent past, also derived from his experiences in the Spanish civil war, where he found that “no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain for the first time I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts."4

The popular perception of history is based on brainwashing by the mass media, indoctrination by the education system, peer group pressure, self-censorship and television “docudramas.” Docudramas such as Winds of War; Tora, Tora, Tora; Gandhi; Gallipoli; and Holocaust, which pervade people’s 1984-like telescreens, are a blend of fact and fiction. They give a clear and believable, but usually completely misleading view, of historical events. Such devices to indoctrinate and mislead people are not new. Shakespeare’s docudramas, such as Richard III, served a similar purpose. The pervasiveness of television and widespread literacy make people more susceptible to brainwashing by Big Brother agencies than was possible in the past. The twentieth century is the century of mass propaganda. Due to different systems of propaganda, people in different countries such as Russia, China, and the United States will have quite different beliefs about history. The “Winston Smiths” in Communist countries who query approved history are likely to be more harshly treated than their counterparts in the West.

Book Censorship and Treatment of Dissidents

Many of the books mentioned in this essay are, for a variety of reasons, including direct censorship, trade boycott and self-censorship by booksellers, distributors and librarians, difficult to obtain. (However, many of them can be ordered from the Institute for Historical Review.) Obtaining banned books and access to restricted information plays a major role in Orwell’s best-known work. One of the most important developments in 1984 is when Winston Smith obtains a book by Goldstein which had been effectively banned by the Thought Police. Pressure from people with a thought-police mentality inhibits freedom of speech in my own country, Australia, and has helped to restrict the circulation of some books. Extreme cases of book censorship in the West have occurred in West Germany, where Professor Helmut Diwald was forced to delete revisionist portions from his History of the Germans. Retired judge Dr. Wilhelm Stäglich had his book on Auschwitz seized, and the University of Tuebingen, which had granted him his law degree, deprived him of it, ironically under a law passed by the Nazis. In Sweden, Ditlieb Felderer’s writings were also recently seized and he was imprisoned for the “thought crime” of querying the Holocaust. His arrest and detention should alarm all people concerned with civil liberties. Mr. Felderer, who has questioned the extent of alleged German war atrocities and pointed out the extent of Allied war atrocities, including one million civilian deaths from saturation bombing of German and Japanese cities, was jailed because of his writings. Following the precedent of Soviet authorities in dealing with dissident thinkers, he was forced to undergo psychiatric examinations. The jailing of Felderer for querying the establishment version of history and his harassment by psychiatrists is clearly an attempt to intimidate him and other free thinkers who have dared to ask challenging questions about the past. The harassment or persecution of Felderer is part of a worldwide attempt to silence revisionist writers. An unsuccessful effort was made to silence Professor Robert Faurisson, a French revisionist historian, by court proceedings in 1983 involving potential penalties of $200,000, while moves are currently being made, supported by some so-called historians, to remove Professor Arthur Butz from his teaching position at Northwestern University. Canadian postal authorities denied the use of the postal system to revisionist publicist Ernst Zündel for a time. Various West German writers have been imprisoned, while a French revisionist was assassinated a few years ago. Many civil libertarians, such as the distinguished Jewish intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Alfred Lilienthal, have protested against the attempts to silence revisionist historians, while other so-called civil libertarians have been strangely silent, preferring to defend only the civil liberties of those whose views they agree with.

Gandhi and Bose

Henry Ford said that history is bunk, while Dean Inge noted that historians have the power denied to almighty God of altering the past. These statements are relevant to the film Gandhi, which was mainly financed by the government of India and which won numerous best-film, best-actor and best-director awards. It is widely accepted as an accurate biographical portrayal of Mohandas K. Gandhi. The film portrays the Indian political leader as a saintly figure virtually without fault and suggests that he and his campaign of non-violent resistance to British rule was the reason India gained independence in 1947. The portrayal of Gandhi in the film of that name is a massive distortion. The film ignores Gandhi’s tyrannical habits, his hypocrisy, his appalling treatment of his wife and children, his bizarre fixation on bowel functions, and his support for violence in various wars. The film ignores Gandhi’s views that sexual attraction between men and women is unnatural and that he demanded celibacy between even married members of his entourage. He was so fanatical about his views on sex that he disowned his son Harilal for wishing to marry, and repeatedly tested his own will by sleeping nude with young women. The film Gandhi ignores the Mahatma’s elitist attitudes. He is portrayed as a champion of freedom and individual rights, but in real life he was steadfastly opposed to granting additional rights to India’s millions of Untouchables. The film’s portrayal of Gandhi as a pacifist is incorrect. He supported the British military in the Boer War and World War I. The so-called pacifist gave his approval to men who, as he put it, were “using violence in a normal cause.” He gave his blessing to the Nawab of Maler Kolta when he gave orders to shoot ten Moslems for every Hindu killed in his State. Gandhi’s hypocrisy and double standards (not mentioned in the film) are also indicated by his opposition to modern medicine and his refusal to allow his wife to receive a life-saving shot of penicillin when she was dying of pneumonia. When he contracted malaria shortly afterwards, however, Gandhi accepted for himself the alien medicine of quinine, and when he had appendicitis he allowed British doctors to operate to save his life.

Perhaps the most serious distortion of history in the Gandhi propaganda film is the total suppression of the role played by Subhas Chandra Bose in the events leading to the independence of India. (This subject was examined in detail by Mr. Ranjan Borra in an essay published in the Winter 1982 issue of The Journal.) At the time that India attained independence, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee regarded the armed insurrection led by Bose as a far more important factor leading to independence than Gandhi’s activities. However, Bose is not even mentioned in the Gandhi film. The eminent Indian historian, Dr. R.C. Majumdar, wrote: “There is… no basis for the claim that the civil disobedience movement (led by Gandhi) directly led to independence. The campaigns of Gandhi… came to an ignoble end about fourteen years before India achieved independence."5

There is ample evidence to substantiate the fact that the armed assault on British India by Bose and his Indian National Army (INA) during World War II was the decisive factor that forced the British withdrawal from the Asian sub-continent. The exploits of this army, when they became known, undermined the loyalty of the Indian soldiers, or sepoys, of the British. These men were the mainstay of colonial rule in India. Bose and the INA ignited the spark of a potential military revolt within the country, which the British dreaded above all else. This forced their decision to quit India honorably, while there was still time. As Majumdar wrote: “In particular, the revelations made by the INA trial, and the reaction it produced in India, made it quite plain to the British, already exhausted by the war, that they could no longer depend upon the loyalty of the sepoys for maintaining their authority in India. This had, probably, the greatest influence upon their final decision to quit India."6

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace

The changing alliances between Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia described in 1984 are similar to the changing alliances between the United States, Russia, and China. The state of perpetual war described by Orwell is also reflected in the three hundred wars since 1945, the thirty-seven armed conflicts under way in 1980, and recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Central America, and Grenada. Perpetual civil war also seems to prevail in various multi-racial societies.

“Doublespeak” propaganda terms are used in these conflicts. “Peace-keeping forces” are used to make war, invasions such as in Grenada are described as “landings,” planning for aggressive war is described as “defense strategy.” The book Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace edited by Harry Elmer Barnes describes the permanent war economy of the United States, the trickery employed by the U.S. government to enter World War I and World War II, and the censorship of dissident historical views by the media, the book trade, libraries, the curricula sections of education departments, and book reviewers. The Dynamics of War and Revolution by Lawrence Dennis discusses the need for preparation for perpetual wars to overcome unemployment, boost profits, and use up excess capital. Foreign markets are secured through war and foreign aid. Huge loans are made which cannot be paid back by debtor nations such as Poland and Brazil.

The role of international banks in financing wars and revolutions has been documented in numerous books, few of which are available in bookshops or libraries. Dr. Anthony Sutton documented the link between international finance and the Russian Revolution in Wall Street and the Russian Revolution. The American Red Cross mission to Moscow in 1917 had more financiers than medical doctors. Wall Street banks helped finance the revolution. This has been almost entirely swept under the rug by historians since it cuts across conventional ideas about the political left and right. Uncovering the Forces of War by Conrad Grieb deals with the role of international financiers in simultaneously bankrolling both sides in wars.

Organized Incitement to Hatred

The media in all countries are a vehicle for whipping up hatred against Goldstein-like figures. The aim of hate-week incitement is to divert attention from domestic problems, promote national unity, and, where necessary, motivate people to kill other people in wars. Hate-week campaigns in the Soviet Union direct invective against the Chinese and Western “imperialists.” In China hatred is whipped up against the Russians, sometimes the Vietnamese, and, until recently, the Americans. Iran and Iraq use their media outlets to control history, including recent history, and to keep their respective captive populations in the psychological state of hatred required to maintain their current war. Other countries at war or on a war footing use similar tactics. Hate propaganda is used in the civil-war conditions which prevail in many multiracial societies such as Zimbabwe, Chad, Sri Lanka, Zaire, Ethiopia, Burma, Uganda and Cyprus, which are paying the price demanded by the fallacious belief that multi-racial societies are viable.

The most pervasive hate campaigns in the West are still directed against Hitler, who died almost forty years ago. Hitler is treated in the Western mass media as a Goldstein figure with no redeeming features. Hate sessions directed against Hitler and the Nazis are so pervasive that a visitor from Mars might think that World War II was still in progress. More than four hundred feature films have been produced since 1945 with negative stereotyping of Germans, as well as numerous television series and countless books. (By contrast, the Nazis made only two or three anti-Semitic feature films between 1933 and 1945.) Recent films include Sophie’s Choice, Playing for Time, The Boys from Brazil, Marathon Man, and The Odessa File. Recent television series include Winds of War, Holocaust, Kessler, and The Secret War. Many more films, television series, and books are in the pipeline. The cumulative effect of this media avalanche of negative stereotyping of Germans is to incite ethnic hatred against people of German extraction of whom there are more than twenty million in the United States. Civil-rights, human-rights and church groups which have been quick to oppose racism and anti-Semitism have done almost nothing to stem this incitement to ethnic hatred.

The 18-hour Winds of War television saga is a good example of the docudrama blend of fact, fiction and fantasy ("faction") which is accepted by many viewers as objective history. The Winds of War film is an instructive example of gross distortion of history, of incitement to ethnic hatred, and of the use of the electronic media as a vehicle for propaganda. Winds of War was written by Herman Wouk, a devout Orthodox Jew. It’s an American-Jewish version of the last world war in which the persecution of Jews is a dominant theme and war atrocities committed by the Allies, such as the terror bombing of cities, are almost completely ignored. A Washington Post reviewer wrote “if you miss the Winds of War you will be adding 18 hours to your life,” while another critic called the series “essentially a cartoon, a child’s history of the war with all the stock characters of a Hollywood propaganda movie.”

Wouk tries to make the Jewish people the axis around which American and world history revolves. Without exception, he portrays Jews as warm, sensitive, admirable people who are innocent victims of mindless persecution. The Germans are stereotypes of evil who are barely recognizable as real people at all. The German people are portrayed as suffering from a national character disorder to explain why they admired and supported Hitler, who is portrayed by Wouk as a raving comic-book lunatic. If an 18-hour television series were to be shown at peak viewing time with comparably derogatory portrayals of Jews, there would be a massive protest about “anti-Semitism.” The argument that films such as Winds of War are made because of popular demand is incorrect, since much of the demand is created by massive advertising and promotional campaigns, often as expensive as the films themselves.

The book Dealing in Hate by Michael Connors examines anti-German hate campaigns in both world wars. Falsehood in Wartime by Arthur Ponsonby deals with the Allied propaganda lies against Germany in World War I. Second World War propaganda lies are still being churned out on an almost daily basis. If the Germans had won the last world war, and had influence in the media, we would doubtless be having a series of hate sessions against England, America and Russia. If there is another world war, the victors will once again write the history books and cowardly court historians, acting as thought police, will ensure that the history of the war is not objective. Finally, to make a fairly trite but important point — if the conditions described in Orwell’s 1984 actually existed in the United States and Australia today, we would not be able to publicly attack official security agencies or query establishment history. Western countries are still the most free and, fortunately, freedom of speech is still widely respected.

The Ministry of Truth and World War II

The attempt to portray the Second World War as a conflict between total good and total evil is slowly breaking down. Despite decades of brainwashing by the media, censorship of revisionist historians, and the cowardice of establishment court historians, a more balanced history of the origins and course of the war is slowly emerging. The Origins of the Second World War by A.J.P. Taylor establishes that Hitler did not plan the war and that the Allies bore important responsibility for the outbreak of the conflict. Germany’s Economic Preparation for War by Burton J. Klein establishes that Germany was spending a smaller percentage of its GNP on war preparations than either Britain or France in the late 1930s.

The extent of Allied war crimes is slowly being documented. Bomber Command by Max Hastings shows that saturation bombing of cities was initiated by the British and that some 600,000 German civilians were killed in the levelling of German cities. A review of Hastings' book in the London Spectator was headlined “Devastating and Exterminating” and described the aerial destruction of German cities and the killing of 600,000 German civilians as “the greatest war crime of the Second World War."7 Other Allied war crimes such as bombing of Japanese cities, the execution of more than 12,000 Polish officers and other leaders at Katyn and elsewhere by the Soviets, have also been documented, although the Katyn massacre is still not widely known in the West. The forced repatriation of millions of Russians and other Soviet subjects back to the USSR, resulting in many deaths, has also been set out in books such as The Last Secret. The Nuremberg trials were illegal and yet another Allied crime. This is discussed in Failure at Nuremberg, Profiles in Courage by the late President John F. Kennedy, and Dönitz at Nuremberg by H. Keith Thompson.

However, for every book and film about Allied war crimes there are literally thousands of books and films about German and Japanese war crimes, particularly those dealing with the concentration camps. The greatest war crime of the war, the bombing of German cities, is never dealt with in films, apart from very rare exceptions such as Slaughterhouse Five.

The central allegation made against the Nazis is that they exterminated six million Jews during the war, mainly by gassing in gas chambers. This claim has been established as false by Professor Arthur Butz in The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, by Dr. Charles Weber in The Holocaust, by Walter Sanning in The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry, by Dr. Wilhelm Stäglich in The Auschwitz Myth, by Dr. Robert Faurisson in The Problem of the Gas Chambers, and by Professor Paul Rassinier in Debunking the Genocide Myth. Due to thought-police pressure and self-censorship by the media and book trade, these books are not readily available. These books demonstrate that there was no plan to exterminate Jews in World War II, no mass gassings in gas chambers, that fewer than 500,000 people died in concentration camps and that most Jewish deaths were due to diseases such as typhus. Numerous Jewish writers, including civil libertarians such as J. Cohn-Bendit, C. Karnoouh and J. Assons, accept the revisionist view of the Holocaust. Most academics dealing in modern European history are too cowardly even to investigate the revisionist evidence.

The Holocaust story is repeated ad nauseam to drum up emotional support for Israel, and Zionist Jews have accurately described it as “Israel’s number one propaganda weapon.” Anti-Zionist Jews such as Dr. Alfred Lilienthal describe the constant Holocaust drum-beating as “holocaustomania” and point out that the Holocaust has become a kind of new religion among Jews. Jewish intellectual Noam Chomsky described Dr. Rubenstein’s reactions to Professor Faurisson’s claims that there were no gas chambers as the reactions of a religious fanatic. The Holocaust is so important to Zionist Jews that Professor Friedlander has said that “the Revisionist School of historians, those who say the Holocaust never existed, that it is a Jewish invention, are more worrying than countries' political positions,” while Professor H. Littell has said “you can’t discuss the truth of the Holocaust. That is a distortion of the concept of free speech. The United States should emulate West Germany which outlaws such exercises.” Despite cogent evidence that revisionists are censored and persecuted, one so-called intellectual recently stated that it is fashionable to claim that Hitler’s gas chambers did not exist.8 A five-page attack in the Australian magazine Quadrant described revisionists such as Professor Butz, Professor Faurisson and myself as “lone wolf malcontents,” the “John Hinckley Juniors of the intelligentsia,” and possibly more evil than Himmler and Pol Pot.9 As is customary with such attacks, no right of reply was allowed.

Down the Memory Hole

Chairman Mao, once the Big Brother of China, has almost vanished down the Chinese memory hole. He has been virtually written out of Chinese history. A similar fate has befallen Stalin in official Soviet history. Hitler, on the other hand, has not been written out of history. He is larger than life, appearing on our 1984-style telescreens on a regular basis as a Goldstein hate figure He is needed to assist in the portrayal of World War II as a war between total good (the victors) and total evil (the vanquished). Hitler is also useful for the Hollywood World War II industry which churns out a mind-boggling number of films and TV series about the war. Dr. Alfred Lilienthal has pointed out in The Zionist Connection that the three major television networks (NBC, ABC and CBS), the major film companies, book distributors, and influential newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as influential news magazines such as Time and Newsweek, are owned and controlled by Zionist Jews who use the evil Hitler image and the Holocaust as propaganda weapons for Israel.

Some aspects of popular history are shrouded in secrecy and receive little publicity. Thus, collaboration between the Nazis and the Zionists in World War II, revisionist evidence about the treatment of Jews during that war, the role of Subhas Bose in the struggle for Indian independence, massacres by the Soviets at Katyn, Vynnytsia and elsewhere, and the sinking of the passenger ships Wilhelm Gustloff, General Steuben, and Goya, in each case with greater loss of life than the Titanic, are seldom mentioned in the controlled media of the West. Collaboration between the Nazis and the Zionists is established by Jewish writers in books such as Perfidy by Ben Hecht, The Holocaust Victims Accuse by M. Shonfeld, Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt and Zionism in the Age of the Dictators by Lenni Brenner. The massacre of Polish leaders by the Soviets in 1940 is documented in Katyn by Louis Fitzgibbon, while the massacre of some 10,000 Ukrainians at Vynnytsia is covered in The Crime of Moscow in Vynnytsia. The sinking of three passenger ships in the Baltic in 1945 with more than 18,000 deaths, mainly German women and children, is dealt with in The Cruelest Night by Dobson. Anne Frank’s Diary, A Hoax by Ditlieb Felderer, which proves that Anne Frank did not write the famous “diary,” has been given the silent treatment by the media. In case after case, historical truth has been consigned to the memory hole.

There has also been a fairly successful cover-up in relation to the American entry into the Pacific war in 1941. The largest ethnic group in America is of German origin. Resistance from this and other groups had to be overcome to get the United States into the First and Second World Wars. The attack against the Lusitania was used as a pretext for entry into World War I. The attack against Pearl Harbor was the excuse for entry into World War II. Both of these attacks involved gross deception of the American public. The Watergate cover-up was nothing compared with the cover-up over Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt incited the attack with an oil embargo, and knew that the attack was coming. It was not a surprise attack. The Pacific war began in deception and cover-up and ended the same way. The Japanese offered to surrender prior to the bombing of Hiroshima on condition that the office of Japanese Emperor be retained, and after the bombing the war was concluded with that condition accepted. Why then was Hiroshima bombed? Most people’s understanding of the Pearl Harbor attack is based on popular portrayals such as the docudrama film Tora, Tora, Tora, which presents the attacks as a surprise. The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor by Rear Admiral Theobald, which examines the days immediately preceding the attack, shows that it was not a surprise. It shows instead that Washington authorities had ample foreknowledge of the time and place of the Japanese attack, and that the failure to warn General Short and Admiral Kimmel was due to Roosevelt’s order that no warning be sent lest their preparations for defense might deter the Japanese from attacking. Theobald also shows that Pearl Harbor was denied a “Purple” decoding machine lest the commanders there might independently decode Japanese messages and take steps to ward off the attack.

Similar deceptions were used by the U.S. government in the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the bombing of Cambodia, and in military interventions in the Middle East, Central America and Grenada.

Some of Simon Wiesenthal’s activities have likewise gone down the memory hole. His wartime collaboration with the Nazis was discussed by the former Chancellor of Austria, Bruno Kreisky, himself of Jewish origin, and others. Wiesenthal’s criminal “Nazi hunter” role in persecuting innocent individuals such as Frank Walus and wrecking their lives has been amply documented but has received only minimal media coverage.

Down With Big Brother

Control of the past, Big Brother surveillance, and the use of “doublethink” are much more extensive in Communist and many third world countries than in the United States, western Europe or Australia. People in the West can help combat Big Brother control in Communist and other quasi-totalitarian countries by supporting Amnesty International and by helping human rights groups in those countries. Unfortunately, effective human rights groups can be established only in countries where basic civil rights are already relatively secure. Individuals who attempt to establish such groups in repressive countries are often persecuted and imprisoned.

Although civil liberties are entrenched in the West, there are still some areas of concern. Control of the past, the central issue of Orwell’s 1984, remains pervasive, especially with regard to World War II history which is, to use Napoleon’s phrase, “lies agreed upon by the victors.” The lies are repeated to justify the carnage of the war and to explain the Allied policy of unconditional surrender in the war. The six million Holocaust allegation, the hoax of the twentieth century, is used as a propaganda weapon to promote support for Israel. Uncritical support for Israel, particularly by the United States, could contribute to starting World War III.

Challenging the official version of anything may be a civic responsibility and even great fun, but it is still difficult for those who dispute the establishment version of history to have their views heard. The best way to combat Big Brother control of the past is to ask questions and challenge the claims put out by the high priests of sanctioned history repeatedly. People should ask, for example, whose interests are served by the repetition of particular atrocity stories? What real evidence is there for various mass murder allegations? Who controls the media? And so forth.

Citizens should support bona fide civil liberties groups and actively oppose government measures restricting basic freedoms. Freedom of speech is a basic civil liberty and people should fight to retain it. They should defy group pressure, think for themselves and speak out. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.


  1. See, for example: New Society, 12 May 1983; Commentary, May 1983; New Republic, December 1982; Commentary, March 1983; Harper’s January 1983.
  2. New Society, 5 October 1978.
  3. Orwell, Notes on Nationalism.
  4. Orwell, Homage to Catalonia.
  5. R.C. Majumdar, Three Phases of India’s Struggle for Freedom.
  6. ibid.
  7. The Spectator, 29 September 1979.
  8. Quadrant, (Australia), August 1983.
  9. Quadrant, October 1981. See also: New Statesman, November 1979, and Commentary, December, 1980.

Bibliographic information
Author: Bennett, John
Title: Orwell’s 1984: Was Orwell right?
Source: The Journal for Historical Review
Date: Spring 1986
Issue: Volume 6 number 1
Location: Page 9
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.