The Holocaust as History and Memory/
"Don't for a minute think that indoctrinating wide eyed school children with the lies and slanders against Germans, Slavs, Catholics, Christians, Europeans and whites in general isn't a primary purpose of the Holocaust mongers. The Holocaust is a religion. It's underpinnings in the realm of historical fact are non-existent - no Hitler order, no plan, no budget, no gas chambers.... no boxes, no ashes, no skulls, no nothing...."
Mark Weber, Institute of Historical Review Newsletter May 1989 (1)
The holocaust, as it becomes history rather than memory, is losing its significance for the younger generation. A recent poll conducted by the British Newspaper 'The Sunday Times' revealed that 62% of eleven to fourteen year old in British State schools did not know about the Holocaust. (2) The uniqueness of the Holocaust and the inability by a new generation born after the event to related to it through similar experience, has contributed to the problem of "how to anchor the Holocaust in the Historical consciousness of the generations that follow".(3) As Holocaust becomes history it has become vulnerable to revaluation.
Indeed, the problem of a new generation combined with the unbelievable nature of the Holocaust, where the existence of Auschwitz, a camp designed for the sole purpose of liquidation, seemingly belongs to "another planet",(4) has helped the propaganda of whose who wish to deny it. If for the survivors of the death camps their experience was incomprehensible, for the new generation the Holocaust is mythological. Myths are often fabricated and for the antisemitic propagandist, the Holocaust as a myth can be denied.
The Holocaust Deniers.
Holocaust denial provides an outlet for pro Nazi anti Jewish and anti Israel intent. It is a propaganda movement that seeks to deny the murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust by the Nazi regime in World War II. Often, Holocaust deniers will hide under the guise of academia, seeking an acceptable guise for their antisemitic outlet. Holocaust denial is described as a form of historical revisionism a legitimate activity for a respectable historian.
Yet as a published statement of The History Department of one university noted:
"that historians are constantly engaged in historical revisionism is certainly correct...(But) Historical revisionism of major events...is not concerned with the actuality of these events; rather, it concerns their historical interpretation - their cause, their consequence generally. There is no debate among historians about the actuality of the Holocaust...there can be no doubt that the Nazi state systematically put to death millions of Jews, gypsies, political radicals and other people." (5)
For the 'pro Nazi' wing of the Holocaust revisionist movement denying the Holocaust white-washes fascism. If fascism did not kill, it can be presented as a reasonable ideology that can be embraced. Moreover, the effectiveness of the Holocaust "myth", proves the power of the world Jewry and its influence over the media.
In his preface to Christopherson's pamphlet "Auschwitz" (6), Manfred Roeder, a prominent neo-Nazi (7) writes:
"We have been accused of the worst crimes in the history of mankind. Namely to have willingly started a global war, to have murdered millions of innocent people. We Germans today should, therefore, rejoice when today witnesses do appear who can prove that Auschwitz was no death machinery, but an enormous armament factory and that the inmates of the camp were on the whole treated decently and that any people from outside the camp could visit the camp at any time....
The government of the German Reich was illegally removed from office. German officers who had done nothing but their duty, and whose characters were far superior to the allies passing judgment on them was sadistically strangled...German jurisdiction and search for truth was made impossible... Insidious partisans became natural heroes, honorable offices who defended themselves against the war scoundrels were called war criminals."(8)
By disproving the Holocaust, Manfred Roeder exonerated Nazism. Other Holocaust deniers do not seek to find reason for their antisemitic propaganda. Holocaust denial is a natural result of the Jew hatred. Charles Weber, for example, open in his racism claimed:
"That the teaching of 'Holocaust' claims is a shrewdly calculated to destroy the psychological defenses of Aryans against Jewish power."(9)
A third source of Holocaust denial originates from Anti-Zionist sources. To deny the Holocaust it is argued is to deny Israel its justification for being. Yet clearly, anti-Zionism provides another cloak of legitimacy for the anti-Semitism of the Holocaust denier's propaganda.
A new source of denying the Holocaust has emerged in the United States, namely black anti Semites. Eric Muhammed, a member of 'Nation of Islam' founded in 1991, and a member of the black African Holocaust Council is but one advocate of Holocaust Denial. In their publication "The Holocaust Journal", a lecture with a video attacking the 'myth' of the Holocaust was published.(10) The Jews are depicted as owners of the slave trade and are, held guilty for oppressing the black American. With the dramatic growth of black separatist groups in the U.S.A. comparing victimization has become an essential part of the movements rhetoric.
The Claims of Revisionist Propaganda.
The Revisionist movement consolidated itself in 1979 when Willis Carlo, a notorious American anti Semite, founded The Institute for Historical Review. Members of the "academic" Institute of History, include Dr. Robert Faurisson, who earned his Ph.D. in English Literature and Professor Arthur Butz an Electrical Engineer at Northwestern. Holding annual seminars, the Institute for Historical Review has provided the main source of Holocaust revisionist propaganda in recent years.
Bradley Smith, the Media Director of the I.H.R. created in 1991 the Committee for Open Debate of the Holocaust. Under the American First Amendment, Smith argued, he had the constitutional freedom to express and to question the existence of the Holocaust.
"Students and professionals alike should be free to investigate the Holocaust story in the same way they are free to examine every other historical event. This is not a radical point of view. The premises for it were worked out three centuries ago during a little something called the Enlightenment. The tools used to arrive at historical understanding are useless without the rights of Free Inquiry and Open Debate.
Students should be encouraged to question who benefits from promoting false Holocaust stories on the one hand and using charges of "anti-Semitism" to suppress free inquiring into those stories on the other.
It is difficult to understand why the concept of Free Inquiry should be so alarming to those who manage our universities. Free Inquiry makes no promise to Revisionism that it does not make to every other school of thought. The promise of Free Inquiry is that it will demonstrate what is true and false in Revisionist scholarship at the same time that it does so for the orthodox Holocaust literature.
Free Inquiry does not follow a political or ideological line or it isn't free. Free Inquiry is an equal opportunity ideal. Christian, Jew and Moslem, Black and White, professor and student and layman -- it's there for everyone.
Free Inquiry holds out its arms to each one of use, urging us to embrace it, use it, exhaust it in our passion for understanding. Understanding, however, unlike Free Inquiry, promises nothing. That's why there are professors willing to denounce a scholar while refusing to exchange ideas with him. They would rather see certain books suppressed than have to face the awful possibility of coming to understand something that they have committed their lives and their careers to not understanding."(11)
In the propaganda of Holocaust deniers it is possible to ascertain a number of central themes:
1. There were no death camps: only prisoner of war camps.
2. Zyklon B is an insecticide, it can not kill human beings.
3. The testimony of 'survivors' can be trusted. In the John Demanjuk trial, survivors' testimony was seen as inaccurate.
4. There is no 'master plan', no document to prove the Holocaust.
5. There was no net loss of Jewish lives between 1941-45.
The propaganda of Holocaust denial provides a daunting challenge for the Jewish students and community activists it confronts worldwide as it is disguised as academic pursuit.
Denying Denial and the World of the Surreal.
Holocaust denial provides a unique "Catch 22" situation. It is possible to argue that the most effective means of countering the antisemitic claims outlined above is to ignore them. Arguing with the anti Semite is to give credibility to their argument and academic respectability to historical inaccuracy. It is to provide 'publicity' to the deniers cause. Conversely, it can be argued that to ignore the Holocaust denier is to provide an open arena for racial hatred. The feeling of dammed if you do and dammed if you don't" is often experienced by those who counter the denier of the Holocaust.
In deciding a strategy to counter the claims of the Holocaust denier, it is necessary to take into account circumstances and to consider the following points:
* Who will the denier speak to?
* What is the size of the expected audience?
* What is the expected impact of the message of the denier?
If action is considered necessary we should consider:
* How appropriate is that action?
* If the denier seeks publicity, will our action portray him as a victim or an anti Semite.
* Will our action enhance his sought credibility as a 'historian'?
To be effective against those who deny the Holocaust we need to be pro-active. Not waiting for denial before educating about the Holocaust is a crucial element of successful campaigning. Holocaust education is the basis for an effective strategy against denial. We need to bring an understanding of the Holocaust to a new generation that will not have direct contact with the survivors of Hitler's Final Solution.
To do otherwise is to encourage the rewriters of history.
1. Quotes: 'Holocaust Denial: A Pocket Guide'; ADL Publication; 1994
2. Quoted by 'The Jewish Chronicle', 5.5.95, page 1; Shock Poll Spure call for Holocaust Teaching
3. For an in-depth discussion see: Bauer Yehuda: 'The Holocaust in Historical Perspective"; University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1978; p.45
4. Yehiel Dinur; Quotec
5. Quoted in 'Holocause Denial: A Pocket Guide'; ADL, opp cit.
6. Christopherson: 'Auschwitz', Liberty Bell Publications, 1979.
Christopherson was a second lieutenant in the German Army during World War II
7. A dedicated Nazi. Roeder fought in Berlin for Hitler Youth in 1945. Formed two neo-Nazi groups: "The Germans Citizen's Initiative" and "The German Liberation Movement of the German Third Reich".
8. Manfred, Roder: Ibid; p.iii-iv
9. Weber, Charles: Liberty Bell; Quoted in 'Hitler's Apologists: The Antisemitic Propaganda of Holocaust Revisionism'; ADL Publications, 1993, p.29
10. For an indepth analysis of black anti semitism and Holocaust Denial see: ADL Research Report; 'Uncommon Ground The Black African Holocaust Council and other links between Black and White Extremists'; ADL Publications, 1994
11. Bradley Smith: Advertisment, "The Holocaust Story - How Much is False - The Case for Open Debate"; Daily NorthWestern; 4.4.91