The Holocaust Historiography Project

From the Editor (March/April 2001)

Authoritative opinion has long held that Auschwitz is emblematic of twentieth century evil, the nexus of a high technology refined and perfected in the interest of a totalitarian regime and a fanatical ideology based on group hatred. So we are informed, with constant certitude and growing stridency, by statesmen and scholars, ecclesiastics and pundits, leaders of the left and the right, Germans and Jews.

Despite the fact that the opprobrium for the alleged extermination of more than a million Jews has steadily expanded from the Nazis to the Germans, to their wartime allies, to the neutrals, to the Catholic Church, to countries annexed or occupied by the Germans, and at last to the leadership of the Allies in the anti-German coalition, since the Second World War only the revisionists have dared ask the question: What are the facts?

This issue of the JHR is largely devoted to up-to-the minute research on the evidence for mass murder at Auschwitz. While revisionists have studied Auschwitz since the 1950s, if anything we often neglect to appreciate the insight and penetration of the pioneers who worked in the Cold War years, at a time when the Auschwitz site and the Auschwitz documents lay inaccessible behind the Iron Curtain. Working from the tiny trickle of arbitrarily selected and sometimes unreliable Auschwitz documents that had reached the West, Arthur Butz, Robert Faurisson, and their colleagues were able to lay the groundwork for the research that has followed the collapse of the Soviet system at the end of the 1980s.

Two methods are on view here. The first is forensic: it seeks to determine, from the best possible scientific and technical analysis, answers to key questions about physical evidence. Reading Germar Rudolf’s scintillating overview of revisionist forensics at Auschwitz, and of the evasive, slovenly, and dishonest efforts of the official authorities there, prompts one to wonder at the incuriosity of the many millions in thrall to Auschwitz. After all, in America as elsewhere, the twentieth century was a forensic century: while adults argued over the merits of Hauptmann’s ladder or Oswald’s rifle or the killer’s DNA in the Lindbergh, Kennedy, and Simpson cases, young people were enthralled by Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes at work over his microscope, or devoured popular literature extolling the myriad capabilities of the FBI’s crime laboratory. Rudolf’s essay on forensic evidence and gassing at Auschwitz, unrivaled in English for its simplicity, scope, and immediacy, is required reading not merely for revisionists but for all who understand that forensic evidence is vital in determining guilt or innocence, at Auschwitz and elsewhere.

While the emergence of thousands of new documents from Auschwitz might seem less dramatic than the on-site forensic investigations by Rudolf and Fred Leuchter, the evidence from the archives may ultimately be more telling. Here Samuel Crowell uses an Auschwitz document unearthed by JHR advisor Carlo Mattogno in the Moscow archives to further demolish the significance of a “criminal trace” that Jean-Claude Pressac, erstwhile protégé of Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, believed was the “one proof, one single proof” demanded by his former mentor, Robert Faurisson.

Both Crowell and Richard Widmann explore findings from the documents, and from secondary sources, to investigate what actually happened to the Hungarian Jews deported to Auschwitz and elsewhere. Widmann offers, in a brilliant little essay, a thesis that links the expanding inmate population in the concentration camps of the Reich in 1944 to the numbers of Hungarian Jews deported to Auschwitz, but never registered as inmates there. Crowell, a fluent reader of Hungarian, uses research from post-Communist Hungary as well as more traditional sources to present an informed and rounded study of the fate of Hungarian Jewish deportees, and to conclude that whatever happened to these Jews, it was not mass extermination at Auschwitz.

This issue isn’t all about Auschwitz, to be sure. IHR director Mark Weber exposes some documentary skullduggery on the part of the author of a series of alleged interviews with Gestapo commandant Heinrich Müller. Dan Michaels hails a new study of the World Jewish Congress' s blackmail of Switzerland and its banks, and of the American politicians who facilitated it. And, since fictional media are increasingly shaping the public perception of history, Scott Smith signals what will be a larger focus in the JHR by reviewing a film set in Stalingrad.

The attack on the Auschwitz myth merits the last word, however. Crowell’s dissection of an academic version of the foolish lamentations over America and Britain’s failure, despite a dozen sorties over the camp, to target the alleged gas chambers, says all that need be said on that score. As for bombs over Birkenau, today it’s we revisionists who are dropping them, on the Auschwitz legend.

Theodore J. O’Keefe

Bibliographic information
Author: Theodore J. O’Keefe
Title: From the Editor
Source: The Journal for Historical Review
Date: March/April 2001
Issue: Volume 20 number 2
Location: page 2
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.