What Holocaust Revisionism is and is not:
Revisionists object to the terminology, "THE Holocaust," which by implication suggests it was unique, monumental, over-arching, perhaps even the central historical event of our century if not epoch. In fact there have been many holocausts over the centuries, a good portion of them in our own Twentieth century. The Jewish Holocaust is merely one of them, and not even one of the more vicious ones.
From the point of view of the world as a whole it is far from the greatest or most terrible, Hollywood to the contrary notwithstanding. A marked improvement in both accuracy and objectivity can be achieved if the term "Jewish Holocaust" is substituted for the term "THE Holocaust."
Having stated the previous, it is therefore obvious that Revisionists do not "deny" the Jewish Holocaust as their critics claim. (Though of course it is understandable why those critics assert this; if, in a debate about the shape of the earth, you can successfully pin on someone the label "flat-earther," you've scored big points even if what they say is very far from the absurdity of such a posture.)
Revisionists are, in fact, Holocaust DIMINISHERS, not deniers. They are questioners about what they believe are significant exaggerations in the Holocaust tale, and they are critics of the view that somehow this historical event is beyond discussion on pain of being placed in the category of child-molester or worse, shunned by society, even fined and imprisoned by some so-called free countries in the western world.
Were their any Jewish Victims in WWII?
Revisionists do not deny that there was much Jewish suffering during WW II, that there were many Jews who had property confiscated wrongfully, that many Jews died of disease or starvation in terrible conditions or were killed, that there were terrible brutalities and atrocities committed against Jews by Germans and others. None of this do Revisionists deny. Revisionists do diminish the impact of these facts by pointing out that WWII was the bloodiest, deadliest, most atrocity-ridden conflict in the history of man and that there was criminal behavior on all sides. One need merely mention Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the deadly carpet bombing of German and Japanese working class living areas, the Soviet rape of Germany in their 1945 advance, the treatment of German civilians and German POW's after the war. One could go on almost ad infinitum in this recitation of atrocities. Fifty million - some say sixty million - died as a result of the war.
Was there more criminal behavior on one side than the other? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Many revisionists would probably tend to say no, because:
Contrary to Holocaust Mythology there was no attempt by Nazis, or anyone else, to exterminate the Jews. There was an attempt, largely successful in the areas controlled by the Axis, to expel the Jews from Europe. In the context of the 1990's it was a terrible undertaking. In a different context, the context of European history over the last two millennia, the expulsion of the Jews from this region or that region was not uncommon. Historically there seems to be something about the Jews that brings forth a plenitude of animosity on the part of people amongst whom they live.
What is the basis for Revisionists asserting there was no attempted genocide of the Jews?
The linch-pin in this argument is simply that there were no gas chambers. None. Zero. Nada. There is NO evidence of gas chambers that an objective person can find credible. There is growing credible evidence that what purport to be the remains of gas chambers at Auschwitz, and elsewhere, are frauds - less believable than Potemkin villages. There are NO documents, NO orders, NO planning, NO blueprints, NO photographs, NO autopsies - NOTHING that is definitively or even reasonably credible to support gas chambers. It is not believable that an enterprise as massive as the extermination through gassing of six million people in two or three years in a chaotic environment would not leave behind some physical evidence, some documentary remains. And yet there isn't any. As Professor Arno Mayer, the Princeton historian (who is Jewish), has said, "Sources for the study of the gas chambers are at once rare and unreliable." He wouldn't make such an admission if any credible evidence existed. And he was writing in the late 1980's.
What does exist - as Revisionists are as aware as anyone - are, by the tens or even hundreds of thousands, testimonies and confessions. Many, if not most, of the testimonies are preposterous, preternatural, not in keeping with the laws of the physical world. The confessions (were) typically made by persons seeking desperately to curry favor with their captors or their jailers, to save their lives and the lives of their families in the prostrate world of utterly defeated Nazi Germany. Most are "coerced" confessions, as in "sign this or we'll pull some more of your fingernails out. Or we'll turn your wife and children over to the Russians."
Also existing are testimonies of survivors of the concentration camps, of camp personnel, of nearby civilians who had some connection or other with the camps, testimonies which completely contradict the notion that massive extermination programs were ongoing. All of these testimonies are of course discounted and denigrated because they do not further Holocaustery. And then there are the aerial photographs made during the war by allied fly-overs of Auschwitz and other camps which lend no support whatever to the Holocaust story.
Why would so many people lie? is the question invariably put to Revisionists. Some lie because it is quite profitable. There is no business like Shoah Business, said one Jewish observer some years ago in a candid moment. Others lie because it is helpful to Israel, or for any of thousands of other perfectly understandable reasons. Lying, or mythologizing, is a common human trait according to Joseph Campbell. Many others among the testifiers are not lying. They believe sincerely in what they proclaim about the gas chambers, about having seen them, about having seen the victims, about having seen the smoke rise from the stacks, etc. etc. They are "honest and true believers" (as Elizabeth Loftus would put it) in the myth because it is important to them and to the Jewish people that the myth survive. The Holocaust has become the unifying myth of modern Jewry, as we all know. Even Jews who believe in the Holocaust will admit this if they are honest. Some people believe in Jesus, some in Mohammed, some in the efficacy of crystals, some in the Jewish Holocaust Myth. Revisionists for the most part are non-believers in mythology.
There were no gas chambers but there were many Jews who died or were killed. They were executed by the thousands for opposing German advances toward the east, for partisan activities connected with that opposition, for numerous other reasons. Jews by the tens of thousands died in the concentration camps of deadly epidemics of disease, they died in the latter stages of the war of starvation when Germany was collapsing. (Professor Mayer, a rare historian, has admitted many more Jews died this way than were executed.) How many died during the war? A lot. Most Revisionists would probably say half a million, perhaps as many as a million. But not six million. Too many survived the war for that number to be anything but part of the Jewish Holocaust Myth. If a million did die it was but two per cent of the total slaughter of World War II. That's the reality of the Jewish Holocaust. Two per cent. 98% of the blood bath of World War II involved other than Jews. Why, Revisionists ask, is almost the sole concentration today on Jewish deaths? Why has the Jewish Holocaust become "the" event of the 1930'S and 1940's around which all others revolve including even World War II itself?
The truth about what Revisionists claim, in summary, is this:
1) The Jewish Holocaust is but one of many Holocausts even in the twentieth century;
2) THE METHOD: There were no gas chambers and no attempt by the Germans to exterminate Jewry, expulsion being very different from extermination;
3) THE NUMBERS: The common figure of six million is too large by 500% at least;
4) World War II was a slaughterhouse of unprecedented proportions for everyone involved -- not just Jews, who made up perhaps 2% of the total fatalities;
5) THE PLAN: There was no Hitler order to exterminate Europe's Jews. There is no documented instance of any plans to exterminate the Jews.
In 50 or 100 years, when the Holocaust Myth has met its proper demise, what Revisionists believe today will be standard historical canon from which only cranks and religious zealots will dissent.
Should someone be considered a "Holocaust denier" because he does not believe that six million Jews were killed during World War II? This figure was cited by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1945-1946. It found that "the policy pursued [by the German government] resulted in the killing of six million Jews, of which four million were killed in the extermination institutions." (note 2)
Yet if that is so, then several of the most prominent Holocaust historians could be regarded as "deniers." Professor Raul Hilberg, author of the standard reference work, The Destruction of the European Jews, does not accept that six million Jews died. He puts the total of deaths (from all causes) at 5.1 million. Gerald Reitlinger, author of The Final Solution, likewise did not accept the six million figure. He estimated the figure of Jewish wartime dead might be as high as 4.6 million, but admitted that this was conjectural due to a lack of reliable information.
Is someone a "Holocaust denier" if he says that the Nazis didn't use Jewish fat to make soap? After examining all the evidence (including an actual bar of soap supplied by the Soviets), the Nuremberg Tribunal declared in its Judgment that "in some instances attempts were made to utilize the fat from the bodies of the victims in the commercial manufacture of soap." (note 3)
In 1990, though, Israel's official "Yad Vashem" Holocaust memorial agency "rewrote history" by admitting that the soap story was not true. "Historians have concluded that soap was not made from human fat. When so many people deny the Holocaust ever happened, why give them something to use against the truth?," said Yad Vashem official Shmuel Krakowski. (note 4)
Is someone a "Holocaust denier" if he does not accept that the January 1942 "Wannsee conference" of German bureaucrats was held to set or coordinate a program of systematic mass murder of Europe's Jews? If so, Israeli Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer must be wrong -- and a "Holocaust denier" -- because he recently declared: "The public still repeats, time after time, the silly story that at Wannsee the extermination of the Jews was arrived at." In Bauer's opinion, Wannsee was a meeting but "hardly a conference" and "little of what was said there was executed in detail." (note 5)
Is someone a "Holocaust denier" if he says that there was no order by Hitler to exterminate Europe's Jews? There was a time when the answer would have been yes. Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg, for example, wrote in the 1961 edition of his study, The Destruction of the European Jews, that there were two Hitler orders for the destruction of Europe's Jews: the first given in the spring of 1941, and the second shortly thereafter. But Hilberg removed mention of any such order from the revised, three-volume edition of his book published in 1985. (note 6) As Holocaust historian Christopher Browning has noted: (note 7)
In the new edition, all references in the text to a Hitler decision or Hitler order for the "Final Solution" have been systematically excised. Buried at the bottom of a single footnote stands the solitary reference: "Chronology and circumstances point to a Hitler decision before the summer ended." In the new edition, decisions were not made and orders were not given.
A lack of hard evidence for an extermination order by Hitler has contributed to a controversy that divides Holocaust historians into "intentionalists" and "functionalists." The former contend that there was a premeditated extermination policy ordered by Hitler, while the latter hold that Germany's wartime "final solution" Jewish policy evolved at lower levels in response to circumstances. But the crucial point here is this: notwithstanding the capture of literally tons of German documents after the war, no one can point to documentary evidence of a wartime extermination order, plan or program. This was admitted by Professor Hilberg during his testimony in the 1985 trial in Toronto of German-Canadian publisher Ernst Zuendel. (note 8)
So just what constitutes "Holocaust denial"? Surely a claim that most Auschwitz inmates died from disease and not systematic extermination in gas chambers would be "denial." But perhaps not. Jewish historian Arno J. Mayer, a Princeton University professor, wrote in his 1988 study Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?: The 'Final Solution" in History': . . . From 1942 to 1945, certainly at Auschwitz, but probably overall, more Jews were killed by so-called 'natural' causes than by 'unnatural' ones." (note 9)
Even estimates of the number of people who died at Auschwitz -- allegedly the main extermination center -- are no longer clear cut. At the postwar Nuremberg Tribunal, the Allies charged that the Germans exterminated four million people at Auschwitz. (note 10) Until 1990, a memorial plaque at Auschwitz read: "Four Million People Suffered and Died Here at the Hands of the Nazi Murderers Between the Years 1940 and 1945." (note 11) During a 1979 visit to the camp, Pope John Paul II stood before this memorial and blessed the four million victims.
Is it "Holocaust denial" to dispute these four million deaths? Not today. In July 1990, the Polish government's Auschwitz State Museum, along with Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust center, conceded that the four million figure was a gross exaggeration, and references to it were accordingly removed from the Auschwitz monument. Israeli and Polish officials announced a tentative revised toll of 1.1 million Auschwitz dead. (note 12) In 1993, French Holocaust researcher Jean-Claude Pressac, in a much-discussed book about Auschwitz, estimated that altogether about 775,000 died there during the war years. (note 13)
Professor Mayer acknowledges that the question of how many really died in Auschwitz remains open. In Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? he wrote (p. 366):
. . . Many questions remain open . . . All in all, how many bodies were cremated in Auschwitz? How many died there all told? What was the national, religious, and ethnic breakdown in this commonwealth of victims? How many of them were condemned to die a 'natural' death and how many were deliberately slaughtered? And what was the proportion of Jews among those murdered in cold blood among these gassed? We have simply no answers to these questions at this time.
What about denying the existence of extermination "gas chambers"? Here too, Mayer makes a startling statement (on page 362 of his book): "Sources for the study of the gas chambers are at once rare and unreliable." While Mayer believes that such chambers did exist at Auschwitz, he points out that
Most of what is known is based on the depositions of Nazi officials and executioners at postwar trials and on the memory of survivors and bystanders. This testimony must be screened carefully, since it can be influenced by subjective factors of great complexity.
One example of this might be the testimony of Rudolf Höss, an SS officer who served as commandant of Auschwitz. In its Judgment, the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal quoted at length from his testimony to support its findings of extermination. (note 14)
It is now well established that Höss' crucial testimony, as well as his so-called "confession" (which was also cited by the Nuremberg Tribunal), are not only false, but were obtained by beating the former commandant nearly to death. (note 15) H°ss' wife and children were also threatened with death and deportation to Siberia. In his statement -- which would not be admissible today in any United States court of law -- H°ss claimed the existence of an extermination camp called "Wolzek." In fact, no such camp ever existed. He further claimed that during the time that he was commandant of Auschwitz, two and a half million people were exterminated there, and that a further half million died of disease. (note 16) Today no reputable historian upholds these figures. H°ss was obviously willing to say anything, sign anything and do anything to stop the torture, and to try to save himself and his family.
In his 1988 book, Professor Mayer calls for "excavations at the killing sites and in their immediate environs" to determine more about the gas chambers. In fact, such forensic studies have been made. The first was conducted in 1988 by American execution equipment consultant, Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. He carried out an on-site forensic examination of the alleged gas chambers at Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdanek to determine if they could have been used to kill people as claimed. After a careful study of the alleged killing facilities, Leuchter concluded that the sites were not used, and could not have been used, as homicidal gas chambers. Furthermore, an analysis of samples taken by Leuchter from the walls and floors of the alleged gas chambers showed either no or minuscule traces of cyanide compound, from the active ingredient of Zyklon B, the pesticide allegedly used to murder Jews at Auschwitz. (note 17)
A confidential forensic examination (and subsequent report) commissioned by the Auschwitz State Museum and conducted by Institute of Forensic Research in Krakow has confirmed Leuchter's finding that minimal or no traces of cyanide compound can be found in the sites alleged to have been gas chambers. (note 18)
The significance of this is evident when the results of the forensic examination of the alleged homicidal gas chambers are compared with the results of the examination of the Auschwitz disinfestation facilities, where Zyklon B was used to delouse mattresses and clothing. Whereas no or only trace amounts of cyanide were found in the alleged homicidal gas chambers, massive traces of cyanide were found in the walls and floor in the camp's disinfestation delousing chambers.
Another forensic study has been carried out by German chemist Germar Rudolf. On the basis of his on-site examination and analysis of samples, the certified chemist and doctoral candidate concluded: "For chemical-technical reasons, the claimed mass gassings with hydrocyanic acid in the alleged 'gas chambers' in Auschwitz did not take place . . . The supposed facilities for mass killing in Auschwitz and Birkenau were not suitable for this purpose . . ." (note 19)
Finally, there is the study of Austrian engineer Walter Lueftl, a respected expert witness in numerous court cases, and former president of Austria's professional association of engineers. In a 1992 report he called the alleged mass extermination of Jews in gas chambers "technically impossible." (note 20)
So just what constitutes "Holocaust denial"? Those who advocate criminal persecution of "Holocaust deniers" seem to be still living in the world of 1946 where the Allied officials of the Nuremberg Tribunal have just pronounced their verdict. But the Tribunal's findings can no longer be assumed to be valid. Because it relied so heavily on such untrustworthy evidence as the Höss testimony, some of its most critical findings are now discredited.
For purposes of their own, powerful special interest groups desperately seek to keep substantive discussion of the Holocaust story taboo. One of the ways they do this is by purposely mischaracterizing revisionist scholars as "deniers." But the truth can't be suppressed forever: There is a very real and growing controversy about what actually happened to Europe's Jews during World War II.
Let this issue be settled as all great historical controversies are resolved: through free inquiry and open debate in our journals, newspapers and classrooms.