The Holocaust Historiography Project

Reviewing a Year of Progress

Mark Weber

  • Keynote address presented October 13, 1990, to the Tenth International Revisionist Conference.

Since our last conference in February 1989, the entire world has been joyful witness to dramatic and almost unbelievable historical events in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Above all, we have seen the breakdown of Soviet Communism, and with it, the end of Soviet domination of eastern Europe.

These world-historical events, which were all but unthinkable just a few years ago, mark the welcome end of the Cold War and of the postwar era in Europe, including the artificial division of the continent. Along with these developments, including the steady withdrawal of both American and Soviet military forces from Europe, a new age of freedom is dawning in Europe. The peoples of that continent are on their way to once again being masters of their own destiny.

Perhaps the most dramatic and symbolic expression of these changes was the opening of the Berlin Wall last November 9th. Just ten days ago, we witnessed the formal unification of the German Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic into a unified state of almost 80 million people.

We are witness to not only the collapse of the Communist political order, but also to the complete bankruptcy of an ideology, Marxism, that tried to impose an artificial equality in social and economic life, and which tried to stamp out national consciousness and national freedom.

It will not be long before long-suppressed national feelings will find expression in the re-birth of the independent nation states of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Croatia, and perhaps Ukraine, Slovakia and Slovenia. The breakup along ethnic national lines of artificial multi-ethnic states such as Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union is likewise inevitable.

Anyone who does not understand the importance of historical revision, or the relationship between political freedom and historical awareness, should look to the full-scale historical revisionism that has swept across eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during the past year. This process of historical revision is an inseparable part of the radical political and social transformation in that part of the world.

In schools and universities throughout eastern Europe and the USSR, the subject in the curriculum that has undergone the most radical transformation has been history. In the Soviet Union, school exams were even postponed until after old history textbooks could be thrown out and replaced with rewritten new ones purged of the accumulation of 70 years of official lies and distortion.

Soviet newspapers and magazines have been casting new light on one suppressed chapter of history after another, revealing in horrible detail the full scale of what Soviet Communism has meant in practice, particularly during the Stalin era. What has been emerging is a story of terror, mismanagement, death and suffering on a scale even more terrible than most of us here in the West had ever realized.

The Soviet government finally admitted last April that the thousands of Polish officers killed in the Katyn forest near Smolensk during the Second World War were victims not, as had been claimed for decades, of German forces, but rather of the Soviet secret police, the NKVD. In Germany, the full extent of the terror of Stalinist rule in the Soviet zone of occupation in the years after the end of the war was brought to light. Earlier this year, mass graves were uncovered of tens of thousands of German civilian victims of Buchenwald, 5achsenhausen, and other postwar Soviet-run concentration camps. In Buchenwald alone, it was confirmed, at least 16,000 people perished in the years after the war.

Of course, this process of historical revision has been, for the most part, confined to a drastic re-evaluation of the history of Soviet or Communist rule. A similar reassessment of American history has not been undertaken. For example, almost nothing has appeared in the American media about the implications for our society of the truth of the Katyn massacre.

Next to nothing has been said about the U.S. role in the historical coverup.

The four Allied governments, including the United States, that staged the Nuremberg Tribunal of 1945-46 accused Germany of responsibility for the Katyn massacre in their joint indictment of the surviving German leaders. Witnesses and official reports — the same kind of evidence used to “prove” German responsibility for the murder of millions of Jews at Auschwitz and Majdanek — were presented at Nuremberg to supposedly prove German guilt for the Katyn killings. To point up the truth about the Katyn massacre is thus implicitly to discredit the entire Nuremberg process.

It is perhaps natural for people to want to suppress embarrassing chapters of their own past. A kind of self- righteousness about our history, similar to that which prevailed in the Soviet Union until very recently, still holds sway here in the United States.

One of the most important works of Revisionist history to be published since the last IHR conference is Other Losses, a book published in September 1989 in Canada. In this work, Canadian author James Bacque presents compelling evidence to show that American and French military forces were responsible for the deliberate deaths of about a million German prisoners of war.

The principle figure responsible for this atrocity, Bacque shows, was Allied commander, and later U.S. president, General Dwight Eisenhower. By removing German prisoners of war under American control from the protection of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Eisenhower broke international law and committed an act for which, under the standards of the Nuremberg Tribunal, he could have been hanged. Bacque’s book also documents the complicity of the New York Times and the International Committee of the Red Cross in suppressing the truth of this atrocity. Other Losses has prompted a flood of letters and reminiscences by many former German prisoners and American GIs who have provided detailed further confirmation of the essential truthfulness of Bacque’s book.

I mention this Revisionist book not merely because of its important revelations about a suppressed chapter of history, but for its implications about the social climate that makes the work of the IHR so important. It is significant that Other Losses was written not by a well-known and tenured professor at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, or the University of Wisconsin, or by an established historian at any major American university but was instead the work of a non-professional. In the fortyi years since the end of the war, no establishment historian dug up what James Bacque was able to find.

The reason, it seems, is that all too many American historians are simply not able to conceive that such an atrocity could have been carried out by the people who are assumed to have been the “good guys” of the Second World War. Each one of us operates on the basis of certain assumptions about life and society, and most historians of twentieth century history seem to operate on the basis of certain set assumptions about historical morality in the history of this century.

James Bacque’s book is an indictment, therefore, not merely of Eisenhower or the U.S. government forty-five years ago, but also of the American historical establishment today.

Other Losses has been or soon will be published in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Britain and Turkey. It has been a best-seller in Canada, and in both Canada and Germany it has received widespread attention in newspapers and on television. Here in the United States, it has been the subject of numerous newspaper reports, and even the “CBS Evening News with Dan Rather” presented a rather fair report about it during its broadcast on October 10th, 1989.

And yet, in spite of virtually certain substantial sales and profits, at least thirty U.S. publishers have turned down the book. Other Losses has so far been effectively banned here in America, the victim of a spirit of bigotry and prejudice that seems pervasive in the American publishing establishment.

The editor of one U.S. publishing firm considering the manuscript wrote that his superior “felt he simply couldn’t muster enough sympathy for all those dead Germans to want to publish the book.” Another major U.S. publisher responded to Bacque’s description of how German prisoners had little to eat and almost no shelter by stating, “They should have taken their God damn clothes away as well.”

Lewis Lapham, editor of Harper's magazine, declined to publish anything about Bacque’s book because Americans are, he wrote, “future-oriented,” and are not interested in what happened forty years ago. I wonder what Mr. Lapham would think of the millions of Americans who avidlv followed the recent sweeping public television series on the Civil War, or of those who insist that we must never forget what happened forty-five years ago to the Jews of Europe.

Another expression of the prejudiced spirit that seeks to suppress Bacque’s book appeared in the September 1989 issue of the journal of the Canadian section of the B'nai B'rith organization: “Is a possible motive behind the writing of this book an attempt to belittle the Holocaust by concocting a similar genocidal catastrophe directed against Germans, so that somehow, the Jewish Holocaust loses its uniqueness? Is this book merely another form of Holocaust denial?”

Thirty-five years ago, the great American Revisionist historian Harry Elmer Barnes protested against the “blackout” tactics practiced against Revisionist history by the group of people he called the “Smearbund.” Sadly, it seems that little has changed since then in the publishing or academic history establishment.

While it is difficult to believe that the informal boycott will succeed in permanently preventing an American edition of Bacque’s book, particularly in light of the almost certain profits to be made, what has already happened reconfirms the importance of the work of the IHR, and of independent scholars such as Bacque and the historians whom we are pleased to welcome here this weekend.

Since the last IHR conference, there have been significant developments on the Revisionist history front, both here in America and abroad. A family in a Chicago suburb made headlines last May when they publicly protested against an Illinois state law that requires compulsory “Holocaust studies” throughout the state. Mr. and Mrs. Sarich withdrew their daughter, Sanya, from the objectionable classes, and circulated 6,000 copies of an articulate open letter in which they explained the reasons for their decision. Their brave stand resulted in newspaper articles around the country, including a lengthy and relatively objective piece in the Chicago Tribune.

In recent months, Holocaust Revisionism has received a good bit of attention as a result of an acrimonious dispute involving Patrick Buchanan, a nationally-syndicated journalist and former White House speech writer and communications director. In a column published in March, Buchanan wrote that the story that Jews were gassed at the Treblinka camp with exhaust from a diesel engine is not credible because such engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill. Harvard university professor Alan Dershowitz responded with a vitriolic syndicated column charging that Buchanan has “apparently become a full-fledged, card-carrying member of the 'revisionist' school.”

More recently, Buchanan was attacked as evil and dangerous by New York Times editor and columnist Abe Rosenthal setting off a furious debate that is still going on. Commenting on the dispute, the weekly magazine U.S. News and World Report claimed a couple of weeks ago that Buchanan’s writings have been “providing aid and comfort to those who still consider the Holocaust a myth.” The daily New York Post also attacked Buchanan, and in this context, referred to Holocaust Revisionists as “flat earth types.”

Every friend of the IHR is aware of the importance of the investigations by American engineer Fred Leuchter of the alleged extermination gas chambers in Poland. In the months since he addressed the last IHR conference, there have been significant developments in the Leuchter case, which will be described in detail tomorrow afternoon. (An important sign of this is the lengthy article in today’s issue of the New York Times, which includes a photo on the front page of Mr. Leuchter. This article confirms that he is the foremost American expert on execution hardware, including gas chambers.)

Earlier this year, a teacher of history at Indiana University — Purdue in Indianapolis, Donald Dean Hiner, was dismissed from his teaching post because he had questioned the standard view of the Holocaust story in his classes. Here in America, in the name of free speech and academic freedom, we permit university professors to spout the most absurd nonsense in their classrooms. For example, some professors seriously claim that the AIDS epidemic was invented by the U.S. government as part of a genocidal plot to exterminate Americans of African origin. But casting doubt on the Holocaust extermination story is not tolerated, and it is worth noting that the normally so vociferous defenders of free speech have had nothing to say about this case.

Nevertheless, as a result of these and other developments in recent years, most well-informed Americans are now at least vaguely aware of Holocaust Revisionism. More importantly, a small but steadily growing minority of Americans now sympathizes with the Revisionist view of the extermination story, and growing numbers are at least skeptical of the more sensational Holocaust claims.

Since the last IHR conference, Historical Revisionism has continued to make steady progress in other countries.

New Revisionist periodicals and new translations of IHR leaflets have appeared in a number of nations. In France, where Holocaust Revisionism has made the most impressive inroads, a handsome and well-edited new Revisionist quarterly was launched earlier this year. In Belgium, an attractive Flemish-language Revisionist quarterly journal has been launched.

Holocaust Revisionism has taken root in Poland, where a professor of social sciences at the University of Radom has launched a new pro-Revisionist periodical. A growing circle of bright young Polish academics has been laying the foundation for solid Revisionist growth in that country.

Important Revisionist work has also been quietly going on in other eastern European nations and in the Soviet Union. British historian David Irving has spent a good bit of time this past year speaking to packed halls in different European countries.

Since the last IHR conference, the impact of Holocaust Revisionism has been acknowledged in a backhanded way by some prominent Holocaust historians. We have seen drastic concessions by historians who might be called “Establishment Revisionists.”

For one thing, the supposedly authoritative claim that four million people were put to death at Auschwitz was acknowledged to be a propaganda myth. In September 1989, Israeli Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer declared that not four million, but perhaps 1.6 million died at Auschwitz. To maintain the completely untenable four million figure, he warned, would play into the hands of Revisionists, because, he conceded, the Revisionists can easily demonstrate that this figure has absolutely no basis in reality. Bauer went on to pin the blame for the phony four million figure on the Poles, who were motivated by what he called a misguided Polish “national myth.”

Last July, the historical director of the Auschwitz State Museum in Poland announced that instead of four million, one million or perhaps one and a half million died at Auschwitz. He did not say just how he had calculated these figures, nor did he say how many of these people he thought it were killed, and he gave no figures of the numbers of supposedly gassed.

The tone of American newspaper reports about this drastic revision tended to pin blame on the Soviets or the Poles for the mythical four million Auschwitz figure. What was routinely suppressed in American papers is the fact that this four million figure was certified by not merely the Soviets, but also by the governments of the United States, Britain and France at the great Nuremberg trial of 1945-46. The joint Nuremberg indictment by the four Allied governments charged that four million were killed at Auschwitz alone, and that another one and a half million were killed at Majdanek. These figures were also widely and uncritically repeated in the American press.

What was also suppressed in the media accounts is that the newly revised Auschwitz figure implicitly discredits the postwar statements of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoss. He supposedly “confessed” to killing two and a half or three million at Auschwitz. Hoss' statements have been and still are widely cited as key evidence for the Holocaust extermination story. But if fewer than two million died at Auschwitz, as is now officially conceded in Israel and Poland, the Hoss “confessions” are implicitly fraudulent.

Even though two and a half or three million people have now been officially “un-gassed,” as it were, at Auschwitz, and perhaps another million or so have been “un-gassed” at Majdanek, not even Yehuda Bauer has yet had the courage to draw the obvious conclusion that the magic six million figure cannot possibly be correct For the time being, anyway, this figure continues to be treated with great reverence.

Last April, the infamous “human soap” story was also officially repudiated. Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer, and the director of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust center, Shmuel Krakowski, conceded that, contrary to what has been alleged for years in countless periodicals and supposedly authoritative history texts, the Germans did not manufacture bars of soap from the bodies of murdered Jews. If the story is not true, one might reasonably ask, how then did it ever get started? Yehuda Bauer had a ready answer. He said that the Nazis invented the story.

This is completely untrue, of course. In fact, this slanderous story was first widely circulated in 1942 by the World Jewish Congress, and in particular by its president, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise. Yehuda Bauer was right about one thing. It is not hard to disprove some of the more obvious Holocaust frauds.

One need only consider a widely circulated publication of the Zionist Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. With the authoritative-sounding title, The Record: The Holocaust in History, it purports to be a reliable account of how Europe’s Jews were treated between 1933 and 1945. It is one of the most widely distributed pieces of Holocaust propaganda in America. The Record was first published in 1978, when it appeared as a supplement in Sunday newspapers across the United States. In the years since, it has been distributed in mass quantity. I am holding a copy of the second, revised edition of 1985, which is still being distributed by the ADL.

On the front page is an article attacking Revisionism. It specifically condemns Dr. Arthur Butz’s book, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century. This article is written by Elie Wiesel, a man who has written, “Ukrainians have no head for figures,” and that Jews should have a “healthy, virile hate” for Germans.

Just three pages of this tabloid are devoted to articles about extermination of Jews. Let’s take a closer look at the evidence presented here for extermination.

On page ten there is an article that reports on the killing of no less than two million Jews at the Treblinka camp alone. But this article does not claim that the victims were shot or gassed, which is the generally accepted story these days, but maintains instead that victims were steamed to death — a story that no reputable historian now accepts.

On the same page is a story about mass killings of Jews at the Belzec camp. Here again, we find more ADL disinformation. Citing a supposed “eyewitness account,” Jews were put to death at this camp, the ADL claims, not by gassing, but by electrocuting the victims in a special hydraulic electrocution device. This is yet another phony story that no serious or reputable historian of the subject now accepts.

In an effort to lend credibility to this publication, there is a photograph on page eleven of a door with a sinister skull and crossbones emblem and the words in German: “Caution! Gas! Dangerous to Life! Do Not Open!” Underneath this photograph is a caption: “Door of a gas chamber, typical of ones through which millions of Jews passed to their deaths.” In fact, what is shown in this photograph is the door of a non-homicidal gas chamber at Dachau used to kill lice in clothes. It was never used to kill people.

On the next page of this tabloid is reprinted an article written in 1945 by New York Times journalist C.L. Sulzberger claiming that “more than four million persons were systematically slaughtered in a single German concentration camp,” referring to Auschwitz. As already mentioned, this once authoritatively made claim of four million Auschwitz victims has now been officially consigned to the trash heap of history.

Since the ADL is usually so keen on keeping track of what is said here at IHR conferences, whoever is monitoring this for the ADL might want to take a note to clean up this act a little bit, or run the risk of looking even more ludicrous than usual.

But perhaps I'm too optimistic. This ADL publication calls to mind an apt quotation from the Talmud: “How many pens are broken, how many ink bottles consumed, to write about things that have never happened.”

Of course, our friends at the ADL are not the only ones who practice this kind of deceit with regard to twentieth century history, including attaching false or misleading captions to photos that actually show something quite different.

When it comes to movie stars, Elvis Presley, and anything having to do with Hitler and the Third Reich, it seems that many people are ready to believe just about anything. A few weeks ago, the supermarket tabloid Weekly World News provided a memorable example of such sensationalism in its issue of September 18th. A big front page headline proclaimed: “Hitler Captured! Nazi madman trapped on way to Iraq to help Saddam Hussein. Nazi hunters catch Führer boarding ship in Peru!”

If you don’t believe this story, just take a look at the proof provided inside. There’s a photo here of a bungalow and yacht, which, the caption explains, is the house where the one-hundred-year old Führer was hiding out, and the boat that he was getting ready to board when he was captured. Photographic proof! And just as authentic as that photograph of the gas chamber door in the mass-circulation ADL tabloid.

Because we are meeting for the first time here in Washington, D.C., it is appropriate to mention the great Holocaust Museum that is being built not far from here, in the shadow of the Washington Monument. Interestingly, the initial decision in 1977 to build this museum was motivated, as the influential business magazine Regardie’s reported in its November 1988 issue, by fear of the growing influence of Revisionist historians.

The U.S. government may have trouble these days finding money to maintain our National Parks or to keep them open to the Library of Congress. And the government seems utterly unable to clear the streets of what are euphemistically called the “inner cities” of armed street gangs. But priorities are priorities, and the crowd here in Washington that makes our laws has decided, in its great wisdom that taxpayer money must be kept flowing to keep in operation the “United States Holocaust Memorial Council,” the taxpayer-funded federal agency that is putting up the $150 million dollar Holocaust museum.

In the July 1990 issue of its monthly newsletter, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council expressed alarm at the growing impact of Holocaust Revisionism. “The educational danger inherent in the dissemination of its pseudo-scholarly literature must not be underestimated,” it warned. The federal government newsletter went on:

It is this literature of denial that compels the Museum to present the history of the Holocaust not only in a coherent and easily understandable way, but also in one that is historically unquestionable. It must not only tell the story, it must also prove the historical veracity of the story by using exhibits as evidence.

To that end, the newsletter reports, the Holocaust Museum people have been busy collecting such convincing exhibits as: a few bricks from the Warsaw ghetto wall, a boat used to ferry Jews from Denmark to Sweden in 1943, some wartime toothbrushes, an eating table and some stools from an Auschwitz camp barracks, the entrance door to the Lodz ghetto hospital, and some Jewish wartime identity cards.

Well, all this is very interesting, but not quite evidence of extermination in gas chambers of millions of Jews. This effort reminds me of the Georgia backwoods story of the “good ole boy” hunter, who bragged to his friends: “Last week I treed me a 300-pound possum, and if you don’t believe me, I'll show you the tree.”

To be fair, the Holocaust agency has announced one exhibits that will be displayed in the Museum as evidence of extermination. What is it? To quote the March issue of the Council’s newsletter, it is “a casting of the door that sealed one of the gas chambers as the Majdanek killing center in Poland.” The newsletter includes a photograph of the sinister door.

Well, what about that?

When we consult the thick book published late last year by “Nazi hunters” Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, we learn from the author, French Holocaust historian Jean-Claude Pressac, that this door did indeed close on a gas chamber at Majdanek. However, as Mr. Pressac concedes on page 557 of his book, this chamber was used only to gas clothing. Pressac acknowledges that the only living things killed in this gas chamber were lice.

Oh, these poor Holocaust Museum people. The Museum is months away from completion, and already they're having trouble getting their story straight. We will have fun with this Museum because we intend to do what we can to help visitors to better understand what is on display. When the Museum finally opens its doors to the public, we do not intend to be merely watching passively from the sidelines.

There is no question but that Jews suffered terribly during the Second World War. They were rounded up, taken from their homes, and deported to horribly overcrowded ghettos and camps. Many died and many were killed.

No one of good will can object to a museum or monument in memory of those who died. It is right and proper to memorialize the dead, and it is fitting to remember the victims of terror, prejudice and oppression, whether in this century or another, whether they be victims in Europe, North America, China, Japan, or even Palestine.

But this Holocaust Museum will be much more than a sincere memorial to the dead. It will be the centerpiece of the seemingly perpetual campaign that Jewish American historian Alfred Lilienthal has very appropriately called “Holocaustomania.” This Museum will ultimately be remembered most of all, not as a memorial to the suffering of six million innocent victims, but rather as a manifestation of the illicit power and influence of the small minority group that pushed for it, and of the political expediency and twisted priorities of the venal and unprincipled politicians who sanctioned it.

This U.S. government museum is dedicated to the memory, not of dead Americans, but of dead Europeans. There is no comparable national museum here in Washington dedicated to keeping alive the memory of the American Civil War. There are no imposing monuments or vast museums dedicated to the tens of millions of victims of Soviet Comrnunism even though, as is well known, Stalin’s victims vastly outnumber Hitler's. I am sure that if they are given the plain facts, most Americans would agree with us that this entire “Holocaustomania” campaign is out of line and entirely inappropriate, that it is a betrayal of our traditions and, in short, un-American.

Three years ago, in the summer of 1987, a syndicated article that appeared in newspapers around the country reported that the IHR was on the ropes, and suggested that it was only a matter of time before the IHR would either collapse or became utterly ineffectual. The article quoted an official of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, who said that the IHR “is not fooling many people anymore.”

Well, these days the ADL is singing a very different tune. Since our last conference, the very inappropriately named Anti-Defamation League has issued two propaganda booklets designed to discredit the IHR. The latest of these, which is entirely devoted to a misrepresentation of the last conference, all the same acknowledges that the impact and influence of the IHR is now greater than ever.

Since the last conference, the IHR has indeed continued its steady progress. Our popular series of envelope-size leaflets has been expanded and are circulating by the hundreds of thousands, in greater quantities than ever. The IHR’s mailing list is larger than ever.

Since the last conference, several important new books have been published, including, a moving memoir, Why I Survived the A-Bomb, by Mr. Albert Kawachi, whom we are pleased to welcome here this weekend. An attractive new edition of Dr. Staglich’s book about Auschwitz and a new edition of Paul Rassinier’s pioneering work on the extermination question have also been published. A translation of Henri Roques’s brilliant doctoral dissertation has been brought out under the title, The Confessions of Kurt Gerstein.

The IHR’s quarterly Journal of Historical Review has reached an impressive level of editorial quality, giving it greater influence among those who influence others.

IHR media director Bradley Smith has continued to reach many hundreds of thousands of new people across the country with the IHR’s “glasnost” message of historical awareness.

One sign of the continuing progress and steadily growing influence of the Institute for Historical Review is this conference. Our roster of guest speakers for this year’s gathering is at least as impressive as any we've been privileged to present. In particular, we are very pleased to welcome Mr. John Toland, the Pulitzer prize-winning American historian.

The Institute for Historical Review is dedicated to furthering historical truth, historical awareness and understanding among nations. The IHR is not an enemy of any ethnic, racial or religious group. Our enemies are ignorance, prejudice, close-mindedness and intolerance.

As I believe the presentations of this weekend will confirm for any intelligent and open-minded person, the work of the IHR deserves the support of all men and women of good will. We have no illusions about the great obstacles still before us. But at the same time, we are gratified by the measurable progress that has been made during the last several years.

With pride in what we have accomplished, and with confidence that together we will achieve even more during the months and years ahead, we meet together this weekend, here in the nation’s capital, in a spirit of fellowship and solidarity.

Source: Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 439-452.