The Holocaust Historiography Project

From the editor

Ted O’Keefe

This issue of the Journal centers on the issues of memory and truth. Orwell’s memory hole, down which goes evidence of authentic events displeasing to Big Brother, has long captured the imagination of readers of his 1984. Yet it’s doubtful that many of today’s readers grasp the proliferating parallels between the control of information in the novel and in contemporary Europe and North America. It isn’t simply that news that threatens or embarrasses the authorities is routinely suppressed: we are taught (and conditioned) to forget what is true, and to remember what is false — sometimes under legal sanction.

None of the other taboos equals that of questioning the Holocaust and its heroes. Our latest exposé of Simon Wiesenthal builds on recently unearthed documents and previous Journal studies to show that this leading merchant of Holocaust “memory” has repeatedly changed his story on the most important aspects of his wartime experience. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Wiesenthal, who has often been extolled for his elephantine recall in the service of Holocaust vengeance, has chosen to forget some of his most revealing recollections of those years.

Don Heddesheimer examines the wartime journalism of Soviet reporter Boris Polevoy, known to revisionists for his early, and imaginative, reporting on Auschwitz. Heddesheimer uncovers the roots of Polevoy’s writing in the Russian classics, and analyses the literary techniques which allowed the journalist to manufacture “memory” out of fantasy on the front line during the Second World War. As Heddesheimer shows, Polevoy’s war reporting was highly effective in getting ordinary people in the USSR and around the world to struggle for communism for many years after it appeared. Our researcher’s consideration of Polevoy’s writings on Auschwitz and other camps serves also to remind of the too often neglected role of Soviet propagandists in the creation of the contemporary hoax.

Frequent contributor Dan Michaels, an expert on modern Soviet military and political history, provides a haunting overview of the vast network of penal camps that spanned the USSR for most of the twentieth century, and of recent attempts to commemorate some of their millions of victims. These camps, for all the efforts of a gallant few historians and writers, continue to exist only at the edges of Western consciousness. Nor has there been any effective effort to bring the functionaries of the Soviet terror apparatus to account for their actions. What a contrast to the vast enterprise that has hunted, caught, tried, and punished German and other Axis personnel from 1945 to the present! This valuable article establishes that neither the victims of the camps nor those that created and ran them are yet forgotten — or should they be.

Whatever its shortcomings, David Irving’s stouthearted single combat against the arrayed forces of the Holocaust industry in the Lipstadt trial two years ago continues to power revisionist advances. Brian Renk’s study of the evidence for the all-important crematoria roof holes, which grew out of his research for Irving in that trial, in our last issue is followed here by Samuel Crowell’s review of The Case for Auschwitz (!), an important new book by Lipstadt expert witness Robert Jan van Pelt. Crowell reports van Pelt’s surprising readiness to consider revisionists' positions, including Crowell's, and analyzes the author’s attempts to answer them. Crowell’s review, likely not the last word on The Case for Auschwitz in these pages, masterfully examines van Pelt’s concessions and arguments, in particular as they bear on his research on Irving’s behalf.

That we revisionists differ among ourselves on many issues is recalled by Arthur Butz’s polite challenge to David Irving’s assessment of the ancestry, and motives, of financier and gold miner Henry Strakosch, who rescued Winston Churchill from bankruptcy at a key point in his career.

Robert Faurisson delineates and defies the mushrooming contempt for intellectual liberty among the leaders of his own country and its neighbors in a piercing answer to a judicial summons from Switzerland — a place to which Voltaire and other dissenters could flee their censors in more enlightened times. And John Weir, in an engaging essay on how imaginative exterminationist methods of deciphering wartime German documents stack up against medieval English savant William of Ockham’s famous counsel of interpretative parsimony, well demonstrates how the revisionist approach better fits the methods of science and scholarship, as evolved over the centuries, than the logic-chopping and appeals to authority of our opponents.

In closing, we hope that you will find this issue a memorable one, but we trust you will read even these pages in a critical spirit, to hasten our progress toward “bringing history into accord with the facts,” in the words of Harry Elmer Barnes.

Bibliographic information
Author: Ted O’Keefe
Title: From the editor
Source: The Journal for Historical Review
Date: January/February 2002
Issue: Volume 21 number 1
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.