Theodore O'Keefe

Theodore J. O'Keefe, born in 1949, grew up in Rutherford, New Jersey, and graduated from Regis, a Jesuit high school in Manhattan, New York City. He went on to study at Harvard, where he majored in history.

He is a skilled editor, and the author of numerous published articles, essays and reviews on a range of historical and political subjects. To his work he brings a high level of craftsmanship, along with the critical insight of a keen, sensitive and well-trained mind. He is also a man of considerable linguistic aptitude, having studied Latin, classical Greek, French, German, Spanish, and Italian, as well as some Irish and Japanese.

For some years he devoted his considerable talent to the Institute for Historical Review as a writer and book editor, and as editor of the IHR's Journal of Historical Review.

His writings include two essays that have been distributed by the IHR as leaflets: "The US Holocaust Memorial Museum: A Costly Mistake," and "The Liberation of the Camps: Facts vs. Lies." In recent years O'Keefe has written for The Occidental Quarterly, and since 2003 has served as Associate Editor of this "Journal of Western Thought and Opinion."

While working for the Institute for Historical Review, O'Keefe played an important role in defending the IHR against the legal assault of Mel Mermelstein, a California businessman who was interned in the Auschwitz camp during World War II.

During the months leading up to the Mermelstein trial in September 1991, O'Keefe worked closely with IHR attorney William Hulsy, putting in hundreds of hours carefully researching and organizing documents, and reviewing testimony from Mermelstein relating to his complaints, his alleged damages, and his purported background and concentration camp experiences during the Second World War.

O'Keefe carefully went through a small mountain of documents, court records, newspaper articles, and other papers, digging for the nuggets of information that decisively discredited the man whose obsession tried to shut down and silence the Institute for Historical Review.

O'Keefe laid out the case in two lengthy IHR Journal articles that detailed Mermelstein's reckless attacks against the IHR, his changing testimony, the legal tricks employed by his lawyers to manipulate the courts, and how the Institute prepared its winning legal defense: "'Best Witness': Mel Mermelstein, Auschwitz and the IHR" (Jan.-Feb. 1994 IHR Journal) and "History and 'Memory': An Examination of the Evidence of 'Holocaust Witness' Mel Mermelstein" (July-August 1997 IHR Journal)

O'Keefe's began the second of these articles with a short summary of the legal battle:

"In September 1991 the Institute for Historical Review prevailed in a lawsuit brought by Mel Mermelstein, a southern California businessman and self-professed eyewitness to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. This victory closed more than ten years of wrangling in two legal cases, neither of which ever came to trial, in a rancorous dispute that tested the legitimacy of efforts by skeptical scholars to revise the generally held version of the Holocaust.

"It all began at the first IHR conference in 1979, when co-founder and then-director David McCalden announced an award of $50,000 to anyone who could provide proof of homicidal gassings of Jews at Auschwitz. Mermelstein, a wartime detainee of the camp, submitted a claim for the award, and then brought a lawsuit against the Institute on the grounds that it had not acted quickly enough on his claim.

"The first suit was settled in July 1985 when the Institute and co-defendants paid Mermelstein $90,000, and issued an apology to him 'and all other survivors of Auschwitz for the pain, anguish and suffering he and all other Auschwitz survivors have sustained relating to the $50,000 reward offer.' Mermelstein's victory predictably received sympathetic nationwide media attention, and was dramatized in a flattering and much publicized made-for-television movie, "Never Forget," starring Leonard Nimoy (as a heroic and principled Mel Mermelstein) and Dabney Coleman (who played Mermelstein's lawyer). 

"In the second case, Mermelstein brought an $11 million suit for defamation (libel) because of an IHR Newsletter item by Bradley Smith that called him a 'demonstrable fraud,' a 'vainglorious prevaricator,' and a 'false-tale spinner.' On September 19, 1991, Mermelstein was obliged to drop what remained of his suit after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissed a substantial portion of it... In contrast to the generous media coverage of the first case, newspapers all but ignored the second."

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