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With her book Denying the Holocaust, Deborah Lipstadt tried to show the flawed methods and extremist motives of “Holocaust deniers,” who, so the book’s description claims, have “no more credibility than the assertion that the earth is flat.”
The following is the transcript a video documentary based on the book Bungled: “Denying the Holocaust.” How Deborah Lipstadt Botched Her Attempt to Demonstrate the Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.” It demonstrates that Dr. Lipstadt clearly has neither understood what the principles and methods of science and scholarship are, nor has she any clue about the historical topics she is writing about. She misquotes, mistranslates, misrepresents, misinterprets, and makes a plethora of wild claims without backing them up with anything. Among other things, she utterly fails to use generally recognized standards of evidence. Given the way she handles documents and data, it is clear that she has no interest in scholarship or reason. In fact, truth has been the antithesis of her enterprise.
Rather than dealing thoroughly with factual arguments, Lipstadt’s book is full of ad hominem attacks on her opponents. It is an exercise in anti-intellectual pseudo-scientific arguments, an exhibition of ideological radicalism that rejects anything which contradicts its preset conclusions.
Since she admits herself that her opponents’ motives are irrelevant, as an inescapable consequence, so is her book.
Below, we have posted the transcript of this presentation, which you can also download as an *.srt subtitle file to load into your video player capable of rendering subtitles (like VLC).
Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, April 7th, 2017, TED-x Talks, Sheldonian Theatre, University of Oxford, England:
“The first time I heard about Holocaust denial, I laughed. […] Fast forward, a little over a decade, and two senior scholars, scholars of the Holocaust, two most prominent historians of the Holocaust approached me and said; ‘Deborah, let’s have coffee. We have a research idea that we think is perfect for you.’ Intrigued, and flattered that they came to me with an idea and thought me worthy of it, I asked, ‘What is it?’ And they said: ‘Holocaust denial,’ and for the second time, I laughed. ‘Holocaust denial? The flat-earth folks? The Elvis-is-alive people? I should study them?’”
youtu.be/wgPLG_1BvQo; 00:25-00;29; 2:29-3:07
Dr. Lipstadt, professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust studies at Emory University, ended up accepting this research assignment, and it turned into a book that was to have major consequence. It first appeared in 1993 with the title Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.
In it, Ms. Lipstadt gives her perspective of the political background, motives and, what she calls the quote-unquote “spurious methodology” (p. 111) of the revisionists, and also tries to deal with some revisionist arguments.
One of the persons whose political background, motives and methods Lipstadt briefly mentions in the book is the British historian David Irving. Lipstadt depicts him in her book as a racist, anti-Semitic Holocaust denier. Irving didn’t like his reputation smeared, so he decided to sue her and her publisher for defamation:
“And the problem then is, if you have a 30-year writing career, and the press gets to know that you don’t defend yourself, they think it’s open season. And by 1996, I could see, as I stood at the bottom of this alley, a mudslide thundering down the slopes towards me and threatening to engulf me. And the only way to stop that mudslide was to start frantically hammering pegs into the countryside, which I did with these writs. I issued a writ against Deborah Lipstadt for the book that she wrote attacking me called ‘Denying the Holocaust.’ […] Nothing that I write is good. Everything that I write is bad, mendacious, distorted, lying, fallacious, deliberately following a political agenda. All the accusations that were made against me by Deborah Lipstadt. And now they are surprised and pained to find themselves at the receiving end of a libel writ since 1996. And they are hoping that I go away. And to their horror, I am not going away, because I have just issued fresh steps in that particular action. And we are going through that whole hell again next year or the year after, because I don’t lie down.”
The libel suit unfolding in London at the turn of the millennium, however, ended in a complete disaster for Irving, since, according to the verdict, Lipstadt and her publisher managed to prove most of the claims made against Irving as true.
As a consequence, a number of books appeared documenting not only Irving’s defeat but also claiming that quote-unquote “Holocaust denial” has finally been exposed as a pseudo-historical movement driven by ulterior political motives and with no basis in factual reality.
Lipstadt’s case became so famous – or was considered so important to and by the mainstream – that her own account of the trial as published in her book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier has been turned into a movie which was released in September 2016; parallel to this, her book telling the story of the trial was reissued under the same title as the movie: Denial: Holocaust History on Trial.
Lipstadt’s original work that triggered all this was also reissued, emphasizing the fact that the mainstream still considers this 24-year-old book to be highly relevant and topical. This new edition was released in December 2016. You can find it on Amazon and anywhere else books can be bought.
In this documentary, we will neither deal with Irving’s libel suit against Lipstadt nor with any of the publications based on it. Instead, we will go back to the roots of this entire affair, to Lipstadt’s 1993 book Denying the Holocaust. Since for the new, 2016 edition no textual changes were made, what is said about the original edition is also true for the latest edition.
This presentation is divided into 4 parts:
In the first part, we will briefly discuss what science is, and how we can distinguish it from fake science, pretend science, or, to put it in Greek, pseudo-science. In the second part, we will briefly address Lipstadt’s exposé of the evil denier’s motives and their allegedly mendacious methods, while the third part discusses some of Lipstadt’s claims about a few Holocaust deniers, or Holocaust revisionists, as they call themselves. In the last part, we will focus on some factual arguments proffered by Dr. Lipstadt about the Holocaust.
It goes without saying that we cannot discuss every claim Dr. Lipstadt made in her book, or else this documentary would last many hours. So we had to keep it brief here. A much more-thorough analysis of Dr. Lipstadt’s claims appeared in a book of its own which, at least for now, is also available on Amazon and anywhere else books can be bought.
2. Science and Pseudo-Science
Dr. Lipstadt claims numerous times that revisionist authors and organizations, the writings they publish and the arguments they proffer, are not scholarly in nature, but that they are only “pseudo-scientific” or “pseudo-academic,” and that what revisionists write is merely “pseudo-history.” In fact, her book is riddled with “pseudo” terms which we find on these pages in the 2016 edition of her book: 8, 29f., 35, 65, 137, 199, 225, 236, 243, 250, 252. Consequently, she calls the revisionists’ method of writing history “spurious” (p. 127) and “fallacious” (pp. 183, 204; all page numbers given in this presentation refer to the 2016 edition).
Unfortunately, Lipstadt never explains what sets apart proper science and scholarship from sham science and fraudulent scholarship. So let us give a crash course on how to distinguish the two. We’ve taken our definitions loosely from Sir Karl Popper, one of the most famous and prestigious philosophers of science of modern times. Of course, you can take any other one, but the result wouldn’t be all that different.
Here are seven principles of science and scholarship.
- Freedom of Hypothesis
- Undetermined Outcome
- Verifiable, Legitimate Evidence
- Hierarchy of Evidence
- Source Criticism
- Welcoming Criticism
- No Data Rigging
We’ll say something briefly about each one.
1. Freedom of Hypothesis
The first principle concerns the first step in the creation of knowledge. It means that we are allowed and are even encouraged to ask any question that comes to our mind. Whatever curiosity drives us to investigate, or doubts make us explore, if we have a scientific mind, we welcome that. The opposite, pseudo-scientific mindset declares certain topics taboo, tends to stigmatize doubters, and bans certain questions from being asked. True scholars, on the other hand, are opponents of dogmas and taboos.
2. Unpredetermined Outcome
Now to the second point. It means that the answers to research questions can be determined exclusively by verifiable evidence, not by authority figures, not by social taboos, by political correctness, or even by penal law. So, when we are doing any scholarly activity, both the starting point and the end point of that activity – the initial question or assumption and the final conclusion – ought to be completely free of external constrictions. That’s at least the ideal situation. Of course, scientists are only human, and so they bend and buckle occasionally, giving way to all kinds of pressure, but that aspect of their work is what actually tarnishes their work.
The path, however, which a scholar takes to get from his initial question to the final answer, that is to say, the way we gather and evaluate evidence, that is where a lot of strictures apply.
3. Verifiable, Legitimate Evidence
And that’s our next point. Claiming something without proving it is profoundly unscientific. The way we prove things shows how our work lives up to scholarly standards. In essence, evidence we present must be verifiable by others. If others cannot locate, reproduce or recalculate the evidence we present, then we have failed. As mentioned before, there are certain methods and rules we have to comply with while collecting and interpreting our data.
To give an example, quoting a private collection of otherwise-unsourced newspaper clippings as proof for one’s claim is unacceptable, because that private collection is inaccessible to anyone else. Likewise, saying that “Mr. So-and-so told me so” is also unacceptable, because anyone can claim this, and no one can verify that it is true.
4. Hierarchy of Evidence
Not all types of evidence are created equal. In general, the less a piece of evidence depends on human fallibility, the more reliable it usually is. In a hierarchy of the probative value of types of evidence, logic, natural laws, and then material or physical evidence reign supreme, while party testimony is the least reliable. DNA tests in court cases of parenthood or sexual abuse are a case in point. Any scientific mind weighing the results of a DNA test against that of the testimonies by the defendant or the litigant in a trial would side with the DNA test. Parties in a trial can lie and err. As a matter of fact, they often do, but independently performed DNA tests are almost bulletproof.
Of course, not all cases are that straight forward, but you get the idea. Here is a pyramid of the various kinds of evidence, with the most reliable at the top and the least reliable at the bottom.
Hierarchic pyramid of the probative value of types of evidence, with the most reliable at the top.
The lowest layer, stories told by people emotionally affected by the issue at hand, is unfortunately also the most common type of evidence adduced when it comes to the Holocaust. Just because we have many of these stories doesn’t mean they are any more reliable. After all, hundreds of years ago the courts in Europe collected thousands of witness accounts confirming that witnesses saw witches riding on broomsticks through the air and having sex with the devil. But such anecdotes don’t get more reliable just because thousands swear to them.
5. Source Criticism
This brings up our next point: source criticism. A criticial attitude is the core of any scientific endeavour. No critical researcher should take evidence at face value. Even though material and documentary evidence have the highest value, there is always the possibility that they were simply misinterpreted, or that artifacts have been planted, evidence has been manipulated, and documents fabricated or tampered with. The more that is at stake, politically speaking, the more likely such manipulations usually are.
In addition, just because a genuine document claims something, this doesn’t make that claim automatically true. Whoever created that document may have been dishonest, misinformed or simply sloppy.
The greatest skepticism, however, is due when dealing with anecdotal evidence, that is to say, witness accounts. Not only is our human memory very fallible, we are also known to give our stories twists and turns that aren’t always in accordance with the truth. It is therefore of great importance to embed witness statements in a framework of evidence that is more reliable, hence any of the other layers in our pyramid.
If a witness statement does not fit into that framework, it’s most likely untrue, for whatever reasons.
6. Welcoming Criticism
Next, a true scientist wants to see his theories exposed to criticism, because that’s the only way to find out whether they hold any water. After all, a scientist doesn’t want to be right, he wants to get it right. The more critical helpers he has, and the tougher those helpers test his theories, the better for him. A true scientist therefore wants to get involved in discussions with those who disagree with his theories. He listens to those with other views.
7. No Rigging of Data
Finally, there are many ways of rigging one’s data and evidence in order to force them to fit one’s theory. All of them are hallmarks of an anti-scientific attitude. Here are those relevant to our topic:
First, ad-hominem attacks. Attacking opponents instead of their ideas by calling them names, imputing bad intentions, immoral motives, unpopular political convictions etc., is a big no-no. This tactic is probably the most commonly used and also the most effective, as most of us are inclined not to listen to arguments anymore if we consider the person making them to be despicable. It remains a fact, however, that such tactics are unacceptable and themselves morally deficient.
Censorship in Europe: The red countries have outlawed the dissemination of revisionist research results on the Holocaust.
Next on our list is suppressing or ignoring unwanted data, which amounts to forgery, pure and simple. We don’t have to explain that in detail. However, there is a form of suppressing unwanted data that is particularly vicious, and that is when governments outlaw certain research results, punish scholars for disseminating them, and destroy unwelcome research publications. Believe it or not, but that’s exactly what happens in many Western countries today when it comes to the Holocaust. Here is a map of Europe. All the red countries destroy any research results and data that runs contrary to the official Holocaust dogma.
Last on our list is shifting the definition of terms, which means basically shifting the goalpost. That’s a way of cheating. We all know it when it comes to playing games. It also happens in science and scholarship, however. It usually starts by not defining terms properly, or by changing the definition to make it fit one’s agenda.
So, what, then, is pseudo-science, you might ask. Well, pseudo-science is analysis that pretends to be science but is not, because it fails to meet many if not most of the criteria just explained. There is, of course, a continuum between science and pseudo-science. The less the just-mentioned principles are maintained, the worse – and more-likely false – is the corresponding science.
In fact, “pseudo-science” is more frequent than established academia is willing to admit, in particular in the quote-unquote “soft” disciplines of the social sciences whose evidentiary rules aren’t as rigorous as those of the quote-unquote “exact” sciences, such as math, technology and the natural sciences. History, of course, is a social science, hence more prone to fall prey to the fallacies of pseudo-science than, say, physics or chemistry. This is especially true for Modern History due to political and at times even legal pressure.
3. Motives and Methods
“In the 1930s Nazi rats spread a virulent form of antisemitism that resulted in the destruction of millions. Today the bacillus [meaning anti-Semitism] carried by these rats [referring to the deniers aka revisionists] threatens to ‘kill’ those who already died at the hands of the Nazis for a second time by destroying the world’s memory of them.” – unquote
Hence, in her introduction, Lipstadt equates revisionists with rats. Once the Nazis equated Jews with vermin like rats, lice or bacilli. Lipstadt uses the same terms to indiscriminately disparage all persons holding certain opinions she disagrees with. A worse attack on the humanity of her fellow humans can hardly be conceived. This sentence alone should destroy her reputation as a scholar, but of course, it is politically correct to say these things, so she actually gets applause for it even from many scholars.
Lipstadt equates Holocaust revisionists with Nazis and fascists:
“[The deniers] are a group motivated by a strange conglomeration of conspiracy theories, delusions, and neo-Nazi tendencies.” (p. 28)
“at their core [the revisionists] are no different from these neo-fascist groups.” (p. 245)
Interestingly, Dr. Lipstadt claims that it is the deniers who engage in ad hominem attacks on their opponents. To support her claim, she relates a fanciful story which we won’t read here, because it’s a waste of time.
“The deniers understand how to gain respectability for outrageous and absolutely false ideas. […] Professor X publishes a theory despite the fact that reams of documented information contradict his conclusions. In the ‘highest moral tones’ he expresses his disregard for all evidence that sheds doubt on his findings. He engages in ad hominem attacks on those who have authored the critical works in this field and on the people silly enough to believe them. The scholars who have come under attack by this professor are provoked to respond. Before long he has become ‘the controversial Prof. X’ and his theory is discussed seriously by nonprofessionals, that is, journalists. He soon becomes a familiar figure on television and radio, where he ‘explains’ his ideas to interviewers who cannot challenge him or demonstrate the fallaciousness of his argument.” (pp. 31f.)
She simply made that up. There is no evidence that any revisionist scholar ever did what she claims here, since Lipstadt gives no example and quotes no source. You just have to believe her! Fact is, however, that
- those living in glass houses should not throw stones; and
- making sweeping accusations without proving them is profoundly unscholarly.
On page one, Lipstadt opines that “Holocaust denial is” an “antisemitic ideology” rather than “responsible historiography.” It is a “purely ideological exercise,” and the revisionists merely appear to be “engaged in a genuine scholarly effort when, of course, they are not” (p. 2). Of course. Proof offered? None.
And so it goes on. We could quote a zillion similar passages where she pours out her disdain and contempt for dissidents of Third Reich History, but again, we don’t want to waste your time. It must suffice here to say that her main goal is to portray revisionists as people who hate Jews, because she uses terms like “antisemitism,” “antisemite” and “antisemitic” 182 times in her book, so on average almost on every single page. Here is a table showing how often she uses certain insults in her book.
|racist + racism||56|
The number of times she uses the term “Nazis” includes many references to the actual historical National Socialists, so that number isn’t really telling much.
Anyway, this list shows what Lipstadt’s book is really about. If you’re hell-bent on reading an avalanche of mental diarrhea, simply get a copy of her book.
The question is, of course: where is the link between these political insinuations and Holocaust revisionism? While it is certainly true that some people holding revisionist views also have certain political views most people detest, it’s not true for all revisionists, simply because revisionism is primarily an attitude toward evidence, not politics. Hence, regarding the Holocaust, revisionism means simply that you think the orthodox narrative needs revision due to new, overlooked, misrepresented or misunderstood evidence.
We could and maybe even should define all the terms Dr. Lipstadt throws at her readers in order to disparage her opponents, so that we can demonstrate how arbitrarily she uses them. But time is precious, and since a more thorough analysis can be found in the Bungled book mentioned earlier, we want to focus on the essentials here, so let us give you just one example, and that is her use of the term “extremism.” The word extreme, derived from the superlative form of the Latin adjective exter, meaning outside, denotes ideas that are at the far end of a spectrum. In the political context it commonly refers to individuals who are ready to violate the law in pursuit of their ideas. How liberally Dr. Lipstadt uses that term can be seen when she discusses U.S. writer Freda Utley, whom she calls an extremist on page 50 of her book. Needless to say, Dr. Lipstadt doesn’t define the term, and she also gives no hint in which way Utley was ever willing to violate any laws. In fact, Utley merely critcized others for violating international law.
The politically correct online encyclopedia Wikipedia has the following to say about Utley, quote:
“Winifred Utley […], commonly known as Freda Utley, was an English scholar, political activist and best-selling author. After visiting the Soviet Union in 1927 as a trade union activist, she joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1928. Later, married and living in Moscow, she quickly became disillusioned with communism. When her Russian husband, Arcadi Berdichevsky, was arrested in 1936, she escaped to England with her young son. (Her husband would die in 1938.)
In 1939, the rest of her family moved to the United States, where she became a leading anticommunist author and activist.” – unquote
Read her entire biography on Wikipedia and you realize that she was anything but an extremist. So why would Lipstadt call her that? Well, in 1948, Freda Utley published a book titled The High Cost of Vengeance where she documented the crimes against humanity committed by the Allied occupational forces in Germany during the first three years after the war. These are historical facts which Dr. Lipstadt would like to see erased, but since she cannot refute them, she stigmatizes the author instead – a typical pseudo-scientific tactic.
Let’s move on to what Dr. Lipstadt thinks about the methods used by the revisionists.
First, there are truth and memory. On page 23 she states that, quote
“at its core [Holocaust denial] poses a threat to all who believe that knowledge and memory are among the keystones of our civilization.” – unquote.
Here are a number of quotes from her book which suggest that Dr. Lipstadt wants her readers to believe in the equivalence of “truth” with “memory”:
- Subtitle: “The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory”
- p. xvi: “truth and memory are exceedingly fragile,”
- p. 236: “the deniers may have an impact on truth and memory”
- p. 244: “the fragility of memory, truth, reason, and history”
- p. 245: “the destruction of truth and memory”
Considering the fallibility of our senses and our memories, it goes without saying that memory and truth are two distinct things. Dr. Lipstadt acknowledges that on page 151, although she gives it her own twist to make it fit into her agenda, quote:
“It is axiomatic among attorneys, prosecutors, and judges that human memory is notoriously bad on issues of dimensions and precise numbers but very reliable on the central event.” – unquote
And guess how Lipstadt backs up this alleged axiom of the legal profession: not at all. It is not only unsubstantiated but also wrong, as Elizabeth Loftus has demonstrated with her vast research: Human memory can be utterly corrupted in just about any regard. You merely have to apply sufficiently suggestive techniques to achieve it.
“In one of the first studies we did, we used suggestion, a method inspired by the psycho-therapy we saw in these cases. We used this kind of suggestion and planted a false memory that, when you were a kid, five or six years old, you were lost in a shopping mall. You were frightened. You were crying. You were ultimately rescued by an elderly person and reunited with the family. And we succededed in planting this memory in the minds of about a quarter of our subjects. And you might be thinking, ‘Well, that’s not particularly stressful.’ But we and other investigators have planted rich false memories of things that were much more unusual and much more stressful. So, in a study done in Tennessee, researchers planted the false memory that, when you were a kid, you nearly drowned and had to be rescued by a lifeguard. And in a study done in Canada, researchers planted the false memory that, when you were a kid, something as awful as being attacked by a vicious animal happened to you, succeeding with about half of their subjects.”
All this apart from the fact that what people remember and what they tell isn’t always the same thing, either. In fact, there is plenty of research showing just how much we all lie – to others and also to ourselves.
“So, I want to talk a little bit about dishonesty. How many people here have lied at least once this year? Ok. How about the last week? I am not going to ask you about the last day and the last hour (laughter). But there is a very distubring study in which they take two people who don’t know each other, put them in a room and say, ‘Talk to each other for ten minutes. Introduce yourself to the other person.’ And then, they put them into separate rooms and say, ‘Did you lie to the other person?’ And almost everybody says, ‘No.’ And they say, ‘Well, luckily we taped your discussion. Let’s play it back to you sentence by sentence, and let’s get your reaction to each sentence.’ And on average, peopled admit to have lied between two and three times in those ten minutes.”
Under these circumstances, source criticism of testimony is a very important hallmark of scholarly works, particularly when it comes to the Holocaust, about which survivors, bystanders and alleged perpetrators simply have got to remember what the public expects them to, often under threat of severe social or even legal consequences. Taking any testimony about the Holocaust at face value is therefore not only unscientific, it is also dangerous, because only a critical listener encourages a witness to stick to the facts, whereas a credulous listener often gets what he deserves, or as Dr. Susan Haack, professor of philosophy and law at the University of Miami, put it:
“Okay. I think this is probably the best line ever written on the subject of credulity, by William Kingdon Clifford: ‘The credulous man is father to the liar and the cheat.’ What a great line! What he means, I take it, is that a credulous population creates the market for conmen, crooks, fakers etc., and for everykind of deceptive and misleading claim.”
Here is Dr. Lipstadt’s approach to the matter:
First, she admits that the orthodox Holocaust narrative rests almost exclusively on testimony:
“Given the preponderance of evidence from victims, bystanders, and perpetrators, […].” (p. 28)
Next, she fears that, once the wartime generation has died off, there will be no one left to attest to the truth:
The revisionists’ “objective […] will bear fruit […] when there are no more survivors or eyewitnesses alive to attest to the truth.” (p. 29)
Again, she equates testimony with the truth, a typical, anti-scientifc stance.
Then she lashes out against anyone shedding doubt on what quote-unquote “eyewitnesses” say, although science outright demands that kind of source criticism.
Buchanan’s “attacks on the credibility of survivors’ testimony are standard elements of Holocaust denial.” (p. 7)
Butz “tried to shed doubt on the credibility of witnesses in general by declaring all testimony inferior to documents.” (p. 145)
Note here her use of the word “attack,” insinuating an aggression where there is none.
Finally, she tells her readers outright lies, such as the one we just discussed about the alleged reliability of human memory:
“It is axiomatic […] that human memory is […] very reliable on the central event.” (p. 151)
Or worse still, that the revisionists are the ones violating evidentiary standards, when in fact the shoe is on the other foot:
“Normal and accepted standards of scholarship, including the proper use of evidence, are discarded” by revisionists. (p. 32)
What Dr. Lipstadt insists on is to turn the hierarchical pyramid on its head, giving “survivor testimony” absolute priority. Nowhere in her books does she define what “the proper use of evidence” is. Hence, she is shifting the goalpost here again to make it fit into her agenda.
In 1996, the French mainstream historian Jacques Baynac said the following about the priority of documents over testimony, quote:
“For the scientific historian, an assertion by a witness does not really represent history. It is an object of history [that is to say, it requires source criticism]. And an assertion of one witness does not weigh heavily; assertions by many witnesses do not weigh much more heavily, if they are not shored up with solid documentation. The postulate of scientific historiography, one could say without great exaggeration, reads: no paper(s), no facts proven […].
Either one gives up the priority of the archives, and in this case one disqualifies history as a science, in order to immediately reclassify it as fiction; or one retains the priority of the archive, and in this case one must concede that the lack of traces brings with it the incapability of directly proving the existence of homicidal gas chambers.” – unquote
Having said all this, it should be clear whose attitude is a real threat to “the keystones of our civilization,” because that civilization depends on critical, reasoned thinking, not dogmatic belief in what someone claims to be quote-unquote memory. Here is what Popper said about this when relating how the founders of Western civilization, the ancient Greeks, developed that keystone, the new tradition of criticizing theories:
“Now what is new in Greek philosophy, […is] a new attitude towards the myths. […]
The new attitude I have in mind is the critical attitude. In the place of a dogmatic handing on of the doctrine […] we find a critical discussion of the doctrine. Some people begin to ask questions about it; they doubt the trustworthiness of the doctrine; its truth.
Doubt and criticism certainly existed before this stage. What is new, however, is that doubt and criticism now become, in their turn, part of the tradition of the school. A tradition of a higher order replaces the traditional preservation of the dogma: in the place of traditional theory – in place of the myth – we find the tradition of criticizing theories […].”
Not having defined what the “keystones of our civilization” are, Lipstadt can again shift the goalpost by declaring that a critical attitude to testimony is, quote,
“[…] a threat to all who believe in the ultimate power of reason. It repudiates reasoned discussion […] it is an irrational animus […] Holocaust denial is the apotheosis of irrationalism.” – unquote (p. 23)
So, because revisionists insist on an intellectual, rational, evidence-based, reasoned investigation of the reliability of witness testimony, they turn irrationalism into their god – because that’s what apotheosis means! She really got it all upside down. If she knows it, she is a liar. If she doesn’t, she has no clue what scholarship is all about.
In the same vein, she writes on page 245, quote
“They [meaning the revisionists] attempt to project the appearance of being committed to the very values that they in truth adamantly oppose: reason, critical rules of evidence, and historical distinction.” – unquote
After all that we have explained so far, it ought to be clear that she’s talking about herself here.
Her steadfast refusal to debate those who subject her narrative of the Holocaust to tough attempts at refutation is legendary:
“Whenever the plans include inviting a denier I categorically decline to appear [on TV talk shows]. As I make clear in these pages the deniers want to be thought of as the ‘other side.’ Simply appearing with them on the same stage accords them that status. […] Refusal to debate the deniers thwarts their desire to enter the conversation as a legitimate point of view.” (pp. xi)
“I explained repeatedly that I would not participate in a debate with a Holocaust denier. The existence of the Holocaust was not a matter of debate.” (p. 1)
“Second, they are contemptuous of the very tools that shape any honest debate: truth and reason. Debating them would be like trying to nail a glob of jelly to the wall.” (p. 250)
“Time need not be wasted in answering each and every one of the deniers’ contentions. It would be a never-ending effort to respond to arguments posed by those who falsify findings, quote out of context, and dismiss reams of testimony because it counters their arguments. It is the speciousness of their arguments, not the arguments themselves, that demands a response.” (p. 33)
Of course, she has the right not to talk to or even be seen with people she dislikes. She even has the right not to address arguments she detests, which is exactly her approach, as she writes on page 33. Stop this video to read it. If you do, note again that she mentions only “reams of testimony,” but no documents or physical evidence.
Later in her book, however, she does discuss some revisionist arguments, which we will address later.
As we pointed out earlier, refusing to expose one’s own theory to serious attempts of refutation is a hallmark of a pseudo-scholarly attitude. Refusing to take opposing arguments into serious consideration sheds a bad light on those who do this – not on the arguments they reject out of hand.
In addition, claiming that certain things are simply not up for debate is also a clear and present sign of an unscholarly attitude, not to say sheer bigotry. Although Dr. Lipstadt admits that there are many aspects of the Holocaust that are debated among mainstream historians, she insists that – quote
“There is a categorical difference between debating these types of [mainstream] questions [about the Holocaust] and debating the very fact of the Holocaust.” – unquote (p. xii)
Well, we hate to tell you, Dr. Deborah, but the freedom of hypothesis is a fundamental principle of science. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean you can ignore its existence and still claim to be a scholar. You have to ma ke up your mind.
Apart from all this, Lipstadt’s warning that debating revisionists would improve their public reputation is not even true, because if the evidence for the Holocaust is as overwhelming and the claims of revisionists as untenable as Dr. Lipstadt claims, engaging them in a debate would be a golden opportunity to expose their alleged quackery and stupidity. Only if revisionism has intrinsic validity would it gain stature by a public hearing. Here is the real reason why Lipstadt won’t debate revisionists:
“[Lipstadt:] ‘I will not debate you. Not here, not now, not ever!’
[Iring:] ‘Because you can’t!’”
We could easily turn the tables on Dr. Lipstadt by demonstrating that her primary motive is not historical accuracy but shoring up Jewish identity and group cohesion. But since we consider motives to be only of passing interest, and because they do not in any way invalidate factual arguments, we won’t waste our time with this. Dr. Lipstadt, by the way, agrees that at the end of the day, motives are rather irrelevant when she writes on page 232 – quote:
“But on some level [U.S. historian Dr.] Carl Degler was right: [The revisionists’] motives are irrelevant.” – unquote
But if that is so, then why write a whole book on proclaiming the revisionist’s motives?
When it comes to Lipstadt’s motives, there is one topic we have to briefly mention here. As stated before, Dr. Lipstadt considers anti-Semitic and related leanings to be abominable motives. Interestingly, she puts at the same level of abomination another attitude, and that is philo-Germanism. She uses that term frequently together with anti-Semitism, racism and/or Nazism. Here are the quotes, which we won’t read to you. You can stop the video if you want to take them in.
“The roots of Barnes’s views about the Holocaust and his attitudes toward Israel go beyond his deep-seated Germanophilia and revisionist approach to history: They can be found in his antisemitism.” (p. 91)
“Butz’s book is replete with the same expressions of traditional antisemitism, philo-Germanism and conspiracy theory as the Holocaust denial pamphlets printed by the most scurrilous neo-Nazi groups.” (p. 141)
“Most people who were aware of [the IHR’s] existence dismissed it as a conglomeration of Holocaust deniers, neo-Nazis, philo-Germans, right-wing extremists, antisemites, racists, and conspiracy theorists.” (p. 154)
“With the zeal of a convert, [Austin App] moved to the isolationist, pro-German end of the political spectrum and stayed there for the rest of his life.” (p. 76)
These statements indicate that, for Dr. Lipstadt, having positive feelings for Germany or the German people is just as odious as being anti-Semitic or racist. To put the shoe on the other foot: what do you think the average person would think of us if we stated that it is odious to have pro-Jewish feelings? We’d be labeled an anti-Semite, right? But that stance would not be different than Dr. Lipstadt’s attitude.
How crazy her attitude toward Germans and Germany really is can be seen from two more quotes. In one, she seriously states that Germany has the moral obligation to welcome anyone seeking refuge there:
“If Germany was also a victim of a ‘downfall,’ and if the Holocaust was no different from a mélange of other tragedies, Germany’s moral obligation to welcome all who seek refuge within its borders is lessened.” (p. 243)
And in another one she states that she feels obligated to take charge of how the Germans look at their own history:
“We [historians] did not train in our respective fields in order to stand like watchmen and women on the Rhine. Yet this is what we must do.” (p. 222)
Considering that there are currently around a billion people on this planet who, due to war, famine, poverty and civil unrest, are inclined to seek refuge elsewhere, and if we keep in mind that one favorite destination of those migrants is Germany, is Dr. Lipstadt seriously saying that Germany has the moral obligation to welcome a billion people, if they decide to come? Is she out of her mind? And why exactly does Germany have that obligation, but Israel does not?
To top it off, Dr. Lipstadt’s father was German. That explains her last name, which is a town in Westphalia, Germany. So what we have here is an ethnic German of the Jewish faith who hates her own ethnicity. It’s a self-hating Jew of a different kind. Actually, many if not most Jews have some German blood running in their veins, and quite a few of them hate that fact with a passion. It’s worth some psychiatric analysis, but we won’t go there.
4. Lies about Revisionists
Let’s now turn to some false claims Dr. Lipstadt makes about Holocaust revisionists and what they claim. Actually, let us rename this section the Straw-Man Fallacy, because that’s what we are dealing with here. And here is how it works. First, you ignore the real arguments, or even the persons making the real, hard-hitting arguments. Then you either create a made-up, pretend argument, or you refute the weak arguments of some person who is only a marginal figure in the area of contention. Then you defeat that made-up or weak argument, and finally you declare victory over the entire area of contention. This table, broken into two parts, lists in the left column the people whom Dr. Lipstadt deals with in her book, and in the right column the people who have contributed major scholarly works to Holocaust revisionism as of 1992.
Dr. Lipstadt’s Focus
|Major Contributor to
|2||Paul Rassinier||Paul Rassinier|
|3||Harry E. Barnes||–|
|7||Arthur R. Butz||Arthur R. Butz|
|8||Robert Faurisson||Robert Faurisson|
|9||Willis A. Carto||–|
|11||Fred Leuchter||Fred Leuchter|
Dr. Lipstadt’s Focus
|Major Contributor to
|13||Bradley R. Smith||–|
|15||Mark Weber||Mark Weber|
|16||–||Franz J. Scheidl|
|20||–||Walter N. Sanning|
|22||–||John C. Ball|
|23||–||Friedrich P. Berg|
|24||–||Enrique Aynat Ecknes|
As you can see, of the 25 individuals listed, only five are a hit. Ten of the people Lipstadt discusses have never contributed anything of scholarly value to Holocaust revisionism. The late mainstream historian Dr. Nolte isn’t even a revisionist by any stretch of the imagination. He got into Dr. Lipstadt’s crosshairs only because he basically insisted that any historian claiming to be a scholar has to take the revisionists and their arguments seriously rather than ignore or malign them. Most of the others – Barnes, Hoggan, App, Carto, Zündel, Irving and Smith – have polemicized about the Holocaust, but not a single one of them has ever written even a single thoroughly researched and referenced article on the Holocaust, let alone a monograph. Lipstadt therefore cherry-picked these individuals exactly because they polemicized, which makes them an easy target. Bardèche even believed in the gas chambers and thus a Holocaust, in spite of Lipstadt’s false claim to the contrary on her page 56.
Ten persons who did contribute major scholarly works as of late 1992 are not on Dr. Lipstadt’s list. And we apologize in case we missed anyone. Not all of them are of equal value, and we are listing them here only to show that Dr. Lipstadt either has no clue what Holocaust revisionism is all about, or that she is maliciously hiding it from her readers.
In any case, she took a grotesque misrepresentation of Holocaust revisionism in order to show that it has no scholarly merits, and that revisionists are merely driven by detestable motives. And ever since, the Holocaust orthodoxy has declared victory over revisionism as such.
Had Dr. Lipstadt done her homework, she would have had no problem finding out which revisionist publications existed back then, because in 1988, Italian Holocaust researcher Carlo Mattogno published a paper on the birth, development and criticism of Holocaust revisionism. It lists all major revisionist works published in all languages which had appeared by the time that article was finalized, and it also lists reactions by mainstream authors to those publications. Dr. Lipstadt knew the English-language journal where that paper was published, because she mentions and quotes papers from it in her book many times.
Dr. Lipstadt wrote her book at a time when Holocaust revisionism underwent a paradigm shift. Triggered by Fred Leuchter’s expert report, many new researchers joined that school of thought and gave it a major boost, resulting in a wide range of publications. Here is a list of the most important authors among them. Again, apologies in case we missed anyone.
- Jürgen Graf
- Jean Plantin
- Joseph Halow
- Germar Rudolf
- Jean-Marie Boisdefeu
- Willy Wallwey (using pen names)
- Don Heddesheimer
- Thomas Dalton
- Samuel Crowell
- Santiago Alvarez
- Nicholas Kollerstrom
- Warren B. Routledge
- Franco Deana
- Klaus Schwensen
- Paul Grubach
- Friedrich Jansson
- Thomas Kues
- Vincent Reynouard
At least the most important ones among them ought to have played some role in the 2016 edition of Lipstadt’s book, but they didn’t.
So much for Dr. Lipstadt’s picking the wrong people. Let us now turn to some of the few hits she made. Four of them are of relevance here:
- Prof. Robert Faurisson,
- Mark Weber,
- Prof. Arthur Butz and
- Fred A. Leuchter
Let’s deal with Prof. Faurisson first. By the time Ms. Lipstadt wrapped up her typescript in late 1992, Faurisson had published a monograph where he summarized his case, a response to a major critic of his, and a number of papers that deserve to be called “scholarly” in their approach, although most of them in French, and some written under a pen name. Dr. Lipstadt mentions none of them. In her footnote 14 on page 293, she does quote – although incompletely – one paper by Faurisson which summarizes his reason as to why the hypothesis that the Nazis used gas chambers to mass murder people is a problem, hence the title of the paper: “The ‘Problem of the Gas Chambers.’” Considering the brevity and dearth of references of that paper, we hesitate calling it scholarly in nature. It’s more of a provocation and a mission statement, if you wish. But be that as it may, doing Faurisson justice in 1992 would have meant taking on his 280-page monograph Mémoire en defense and the sequel Réponse à Pierre Vidal-Naquet. But instead, Lipstadt focuses on polemical statements Faurisson made over the years.
When it comes to revisionist historian Mark Weber, Lipstadt mentions only one of his many papers on the Holocaust, of which we list here only the major ones:
- Weber, Mark, “Buchenwald: Legend and Reality,” Journal of Historical Review, 7(4) (1986), pp. 405-417
- Weber, Mark, “Jewish Soap,” Journal of Historical Review, 11(2) (1991), pp. 217-227
- Weber, Mark, “The Nuremberg Trials and the Holocaust,” Journal of Historical Review, 12(2) (1992), pp. 167-213
- Weber, Mark, “Bergen-Belsen Camp: The Suppressed Story,” Journal of Historical Review, 15(3) (1995), pp. 23-30
- Weber, Mark, “High-Frequency Delousing Facilities at Auschwitz,” Journal of Historical Review, 18(3) (1999), pp. 4-12
The paper highlighted here is mentioned by Lipstadt, but all she has to say about it is that Weber – quote
“blamed the postwar spread of the rumor that the Nazis made Jews into soap on Simon Wiesenthal and Stephen Wise – a claim that has no relationship to reality.” – unquote (pp. 226f.)
That’s not merely a straw-man fallacy, it’s one of the many lies Lipstadt spreads. Here is what Weber wrote, after having shown that Wiesenthal and Wise, among many others, spread the soap lie during and after the war. Quote:
“In April 1990, professor Yehuda Bauer of Israel’s Hebrew University, […] had the chutzpah to blame the [soap] legend on ‘the Nazis.’
In fact, blame for the soap story lies rather with individuals such as [!!!] Simon Wiesenthal and Stephen Wise, organizations like the World Jewish Congress, and the victorious Allied powers, none of whom has ever apologized for promoting this vile falsehood.” – unquote (pp. 222f.)
Let’s now turn to Prof. Butz. Since his one and only monograph on the Holocaust is rather famous, Lipstadt couldn’t dodge that bullet, but she chose to ignore the main points of Butz’s book and focus on minor issues instead. Some of them she misrepresents, and by so doing, she turns her own argument into a straw-man fallacy. If you are interested in details, get the Bungled book shown. Here, we will focus on Butz’s two main arguments which Lipstadt completely ignores.
Butz’s first main argument goes as follows:
Germany’s enemies owned or had access to many dense information networks in German-occupied Europe: secret-service agents, underground resistance organizations, the Catholic Church, Jewish organizations, the Red Cross, to name only a few. Had a Holocaust been going on, they would have known. Yet the way they acted clearly indicates that they had no serious, trustworthy, reliable information about it.
In a 1982 paper, which Dr. Lipstadt also ignored, Dr. Butz summarized his thesis again, which is at times somewhat awkwardly presented in his book. The main points he makes in his book can be gleaned from the headlines he used in this article. Stop the video to read them.
- “Both the wartime records and behavior of the Jews in occupied Europe show that they had no information of an extermination program.”
- “Jewish bodies outside occupied Europe […] did not act as though they believed their own claims of ‘extermination.’”
- “Allied governments and their officials did not act as though they believed the extermination claims, and their intelligence services never produced any information corroborative of the claims.”
- “The Vatican did not believe the extermination claims.”
- “The actions and reports of the International Red Cross do not harmonize with the extermination claims.”
- “The German resistance to Hitler, including the substantial part that was lodged in German military intelligence, was not cognizant in any way of a program of exterminating Jews.”
- “The German documents speak not of extermination, but basically of a program of expulsion and resettlement in the east. There is nothing about ‘gas chambers’ in the concentration camp or other German records.’”
Butz’s second main argument is that the Holocaust myth rests on the dual interpretation of innocuous items or events whose meaning the creators of the myth turned into something ill-boding. In the preface to the 2015 edition of his book, Butz writes about that – quote:
“I analyzed the specifics of the alleged extermination process at Auschwitz. I showed that all of the specific material facts required a dual interpretation of relatively mundane facts, e.g. transports, selections, showers, shaving hair, Zyklon B, crematoria, etc., all real and all relatively mundane, had been given a second [devious] interpretation.” – unquote
Hence, the questions are:
- Were the Jews transported to be killed, or to be expelled and put to slave labor?
- On arrival in the camps, were fragile Jews selected to be killed, or to be sent elsewhere?
- Were the showers fake to camouflage gas chambers, or real to give the inmates a bath?
- Was the inmates’ hair shaved off to exploit even the least body part before killing them, or to combat lice infestations?
- Was Zyklon B a mass-murder weapon, or was it used to kill lice, hence save inmates’ lives?
- Were crematoria used to erase evidence of mass murder, or to prevent the spread of diseases?
There is much more in Butz’s trail-blazing book which Lipstadt evidently cannot handle, some of which we can mention here only briefly, as for instance the issue of false confessions by alleged perpetrators. Lipstadt hides from her readers that
- the Allies systematically tortured their German prisoners after the war to extract quote-unquote “confessions,” and that
- the Allies presented during the Nuremberg Tribunal quote-unquote “evidence”, such as extorted confessions, fraudulent expert reports and film footage with mendacious narrations, which quote-unquote “convinced” some of the defendants that the Holocaust claims were true.
Lipstadt hides or misrepresents these and other facts laid out by Dr. Butz as well. See the Bungled book for more details.
The other individual discussed by Lipstadt who wrote a significant revisionist study is Fred Leuchter, the former U.S. expert on execution technologies. A lot of things that Lipstadt writes on him, however, are ad hominem attacks. But because that is completely beside the point, we’ll simply ignore that here and will focus only on factual arguments. For this, let’s turn again to her endnotes. Her chapter on Leuchter has a whopping 114 of them. How many of them refer to sources that address in any technical or scientific way any of the technical and toxicological issues raised by Leuchter? Basically only 13. One of them is an article by Robert Faurisson, which we can ignore, as Dr. Lipstadt doesn’t quote it to support her own case. The other twelve are from three works by the French pharmacist Jean-Claude Pressac (notes 56, 58, 62-65, 85, 87-90).
We will again encounter the same pattern later when addressing the way Lipstadt discusses actual revisionist arguments about the alleged homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz. There, too, she relies exclusively on Pressac: of the 29 endnotes referencing her discussion about the gas chambers, 28 refer to Pressacs’s first book, and one to a revisionist book by Faurisson – which, again, cannot be counted.
Such a referential monoculture is truly pitiful. Dr. Lipstadt basically has only one leg to stand on. How can any scholar seriously write a treatise when there is only one relevant work to quote from?
We’ll postpone discussing Lipstadt’s at-times-fallacious arguments to the last section of this documentary when dealing with all the rest of them.
In closing this section on revisionist personalities, let us briefly mention Bradley Smith, the founder of the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust. Lipstadt’s chapter on him is the core of her book, but it is also the least substantiated. First of all, as we mentioned earlier, Smith never really wrote anything of substance on the Holocaust, which makes him an easy straw-man target. Next, Smith merely applies the Western ideal of the open marketplace of ideas to a topic where Lipstadt and her ilk don’t want it applied. For decades, Smith has argued that – quote
“Anyone should be encouraged to investigate critically the Holocaust story in the same way they are encouraged to investigate every other historical event. This is not a radical point of view. The culture of critique was developed millennia ago by Greek philosophers like Socrates, and was renewed centuries ago during the Enlightenment.” – unquote (from a CODOH Campus Project ad, 1991)
What’s wrong with that? Smith managed to place hundreds of these ads in campus newspapers, followed up by radio interviews and even TV shows. That’s what caused the two mainstream historians mentioned by Dr. Lipstadt to worry and ask her to research the matter. In fact, the cover art of the 1993 hardcover edition features press clippings from media reactions which Bradley Smith triggered with his Campus Project, that is to say, his attempt to bring Holocaust revisionism to the attention of college and university students as well as professors throughout the United States.
As results from what Lipstadt writes and from all the organizations supporting her, her book was primarily geared toward being part of a concerted effort to thwart Smith’s Campus Project. Smith felt the effects early on. He describes it in his autobiography Break His Bones, which you can read online at the address shown. If you are interested in finding out what motivated Smith to do this, and what he experienced as backlash from the establishment, we highly recommend reading it. But here is a brief video clip from the documentary El Gran Tabu.
“[…] American ex-patriot living in Mexico. In the 1950s, Bradley, then a bookseller, was prosecuted by the U.S. government for selling the Henry Miller book Tropic of Cancer.
‘My man’s bringing my gear.’
It was then considered pornographic, even though now it is considered to be a great work of literature. Since then, Bradley has been a strong advocate for free speech and intellectual freedom. He travels North America speaking to college students about the persecution of Holocaust revisionists.
‘The way I look at it, the ideal of intellectual freedom is the one great idea of American culture. There may be others, but that’s the one great one. It didn’t originate with the constitution. It came out of the renaissance, it came out of the Greek culture, and it came out of the British. And it was institutionalized in our constitution in the First Amendment. The First Amendment is rather peculiar, because things like it are not available, even in Canada. They don’t have the equivalent of our First Amendment. We can’t have intellectual freedom, if we don’t have the right to dissent. It’s just not possible. If you can’t dissent from an orthodox opinion, you’re not free to think about that view. Or if you’re free to think about it, you have to keep it to yourself. But it’s not a culture of intellectual freedom if you don’t have the right to dissent. The professorial class is not in complete agreement with that. The professorial class believes that, in my experience, that most people have the right to dissent, but some don’t.
Revisionist arguments with regard to the Holocaust are being criminalized in country after country after country in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the laws have already been drawn up to criminalize revisionist arguments here in America. And it’s done by people who are sincere.’”
Lipstadt’s chapter on Smith is a telling exposé of how she has been and keeps conspiring with her like-minded colleagues to suppress Smith’s campaign for intellectual freedom and open debate on the Holocaust. Lipstadt claims that this is not a matter of First Amendment rights, because the First Amendment merely prevents the United States government from passing laws to limit free speech. While this is formally correct, it is also like saying that, while the U.S. government has to abide by the law, we normal people can act as we damn well please. In contrast, the Bill of Rights should be a moral example of how any responsible, powerful group of people should behave. Lipstadt’s excuse on page 215 that, if the revisionists get turned down by one media outlet, quote, “there are always other publications,” unquote, is a bad joke, because it’s been her and her comrades’ mission in life to make sure that there isn’t any, quote, “other publication,” unquote, except for those the revisionists publish themselves, and then Lipstadt and company strive to make sure that the sale of this revisionist material is banned everywhere else, too. It’s like saying: “Yeah, you have the right to speak, but only to yourself!” Hence, this is not just about having the right to speak freely, but also for everyone to decide for themselves who they want to listen to. Using power the way Dr. Lipstadt and her ilk have been using it for decades in order to prevent others from being able to hear is a violent act. It’s like locking you up in a soundproof room.
Smith has described how it works – quote:
“Every professor and working reporter understands perfectly well that, once he or she is smeared with the neo-Nazi [or anti-Semite] label […] they know they are dead ducks. They know that from that moment on they are going to have to get a job at McDonalds or at a car wash someplace because no newspaper and no university will ever again employ them.” – unquote
That’s the power Lipstadt and her ilk wield, and her chapter on Smith proves that they misuse it wherever they see fit to destroy freedom of science and scholarship on this matter.
Lipstadt justifies that by claiming that Holocaust revisionists don’t have opinions but mere prejudices, as for instance about Smith on page 215. In essence, she lobbies for the idea that there should not be a freedom to express prejudices:
“Opinion must be grounded in fact. Facts inform opinions and opinions, inspired by different interests and passions, can differ widely and still be legitimate as long as they respect factual truth. Freedom of opinion is a farce unless factual information is guaranteed and the facts themselves are not in dispute.” (p. xiv)
But how can we distinguish between facts on the one hand and errors or lies on the other? Lipstadt just throws these terms at us and thinks that solves the issue, when in fact it merely confounds it. In other words, she is shifting the goalpost again.
If we wanted to cut out from a free exchange of ideas all those utterings that are not sufficiently based on facts, then the questions arise:
- How do we reliably measure the degree to which an opinion is based on facts?
- Who sets the limit below which we cut out non-eligible utterings? And
- And most importantly: Who defines authoritatively what counts as a fact? A Ministry of Truth? Or Dr. Lipstadt?
And there’s the rub. Dr. Lipstadt would like to play Goddess Almighty by deciding what is fact and what is not. To find out what is fact and what is not was exactly the purpose of Smith’s campus advertisement project: get the smartest brains of the nation to mull it over – without being threatened by Dr. Lipstadt and her comrades, should they come to iconoclastic results. There’s nothing wrong with Smith’s approach. There is everything wrong with thwarting that process though, as is Dr. Lipstadt’s goal. It is profoundly anti-academic, anti-intellectual, anti-scholarly, anti-scientific. It’s dogmatic, taboo-driven, arrogant, imperious and overbearing.
The right to free inquiry, and even the obligation to inquire, is at the heart of academia. That is the first, most profound and most important thing that every professor should publicly profess. If they don’t profess that, they are not professors. Period.
5. Discussing Arguments
Let’s now turn to historical arguments themselves, which aren’t the core of Lipstadt’s book, but they are the core of the issue at hand. Before doing that, let us summarize how Dr. Lipstadt backs up factual claims. When analyzing her endnotes, we find that she relies heavily on political propaganda material, to a large degree written by the political pressure group ADL; she very frequently doesn’t quote the source itself but third-party publications writing about them; she cites source material that is utterly “unquotable,” most prominent among them a collection of newspaper clippings, and relies on only one author – Pressac – when discussing the core issue: were there homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz to exterminate the Jews? In many cases, however, she makes claims which she doesn’t back up with anything at all.
As a result of her not going back to the sources, she commits major blunders, for instance in her section where she discusses claims allegedly made by the late German historian Dr. Ernst Nolte, whose writings Lipstadt evidently has never read. Most of what she claims, Nolte in fact never wrote or said.
Now we’ll delve deeper into the factual discussion to see whether the same pattern can be found there. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!
5.1. The Chemistry of Auschwitz
In his famous report, Leuchter claimed that the active ingredient in Zyklon B, hydrogen cyanide, reacts with iron compounds present in masonry to form a very stable pigment called Prussian Blue, as it did in these walls of two Auschwitz fumigation chambers, and that this pigment ought to be present to this day in the walls of the claimed homicidal gas chambers of Auschwitz, where Zyklon B is said to have been used for mass murder. Lipstadt disputes that claim on pages 188-190. We wonder, though, what knowledge or education might permit her to make any statement in this regard. She is a specialist in Jewish history, not in chemistry, and she doesn’t even try to shore up any of her claims with any references to chemical literature.
Since that issue has been dealt with in a separate, 100-minute documentary, we take a pass here and direct the interested viewer to that video instead which was recently put into quarantine by YouTube, by the way. Suffice it here to say that Dr. Lipstadt isn’t even aware of the many issues and aspects involved.
5.2. The Diesel Controversy
Next, let’s turn to diesel gas chambers. In her first chapter, Dr. Lipstadt relates the controversy surrounding a statement made by U.S. journalist Pat Buchanan about the possibility of committing mass murder with diesel-engine exhaust, a method claimed for the so-called extermination camps at Treblinka and Belzec. Stop the video to read what she wrote about it.
“Patrick Buchanan, one of the foremost right-wing conservative columnists in the country, used his widely syndicated column to express views that come straight from the scripts of Holocaust deniers. He argued that it was physically impossible for the gas chamber at Treblinka to have functioned as a killing apparatus because the diesel engines that powered it could not produce enough carbon monoxide to be lethal. Buchanan’s ‘proof’ was a 1988 incident in which ninety-seven passengers on a train in Washington, D.C., were stuck in a tunnel as the train emitted carbon monoxide fumes. Because the passengers were not harmed, Buchanan extrapolated that the victims in a gas chamber using carbon monoxide from diesel engines would also not have been harmed. He ignored the fact that the gassings at Treblinka took as long as half an hour and that the conditions created when people are jammed by the hundreds into small enclosures, as they were at Treblinka, are dramatically different from those experienced by a group of people sitting on a train.” (pp. 6f.)
We won’t bother going into the details here, because, heck, it’s just a comment a journalist made. Lipstadt gets all upset about it, but in her discussion she completely fails to even mention the actual scientific paper upon which that debate is based. We show some relevant publications here, just in case you are curious. None of them can be found in Lipstadt’s book. She just produced hot air.
5.3. Cremation Capacities
The next topic concerns the capacity of the crematoria at Auschwitz. If you wanted to figure out what the features of a cremation furnace are, what would you do? Well, any reasonable person would consult expert literature on cremation, and if push comes to shove, engineering calculations and experiments could also be performed. But not so our Debbie. She instead refers to a simple letter by the Auschwitz administration. Again, stop the video to read her ramblings, if you care to.
“Leuchter was unaware of a host of documents pertaining to the installation and construction of the gas chambers and crematoria. He did not know of a report filed in June 1943 by the Waffen-SS commandant of construction at Auschwitz on the completion of the crematoria. The report indicated that the five crematoria had a total twenty-four-hour capacity of 4,756 bodies. Leuchter had stated that the crematoria had a total capacity of 156 bodies in the same period of time. Even if the SS’s calculation was overly ‘optimistic,’ the difference between it and Leuchter’s was staggering.” (pp. 187)
What’s her source for that letter? The transcript of the Second Zündel Trial. Needless to say, that document isn’t part of the trial transcript. A proper historian would give an archival reference for the document itself or some secondary literature where it can be found.
Logic – that is to say, math – natural laws that govern incineration processes, technical cremation possibilities at the time, and the expert evaluation of physical evidence, such as experiments and still-existing crematories, as well as documentary evidence, such as construction plans, operating instructions and cremation logs, play no role in her argument at all. She might as well have quoted “survivor testimonies,” some of which claim absolutely absurd cremation capacities. That’s Dr. Lipstadt’s world of lala-science, also called pseudo-science.
If you want to read a book dealing with that topic, for which the authors have gone through all the above steps to separate fact from fiction, then look at this 3-volume work written by the late Italian engineer Dr. Franco Deana together with Italian historian Carlo Mattogno. In this massive work, the authors concluded that the actual cremation capacity of Auschwitz roughly coincided with the recorded death toll of registered inmates who died mainly of diseases, as documented in the Auschwitz death records. We’ll leave it at that, because the cremation issue is too huge to be covered here in detail.
5.4. Untenable Technical Claims
When it comes to the alleged homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz, Dr. Lipstadt makes a number of claims, every single one of which is both unsubstantiated and untrue.
- the homicidal gas chambers had “powerful” (pp. 168, 253) or “sophisticated ventilation systems” (p. 195), “especially designed” for that purpose (p. 253)
- the delousing chambers “were constructed in the same fashion as the [alleged] homicidal gas chambers” (p. 189).
- the Germans used “advanced technology for the purposes of mass murder” (p. 102) by building “technologically advanced instruments” (p. 106)]
We won’t bother proving this here, for one because the next documentary slated for production – Questioning the Holocaust: Why We Believed, Part 2 – will deal with all these issues in depth, and also because we’ve taken up too much of your time already.
One of Lipstadt’s favorite expressions is that there are “reams” of documents which allegedly refute what revisionists claim (p. 196). As mentioned before, she relies in this regard entirely on Pressac’s 1989 book on Auschwitz,25 as she admits on page 255.
“The next few pages contain a brief summary of Pressac’s extensive findings. Those who have found the deniers’ claims about gas chambers the least bit troubling should have their doubts set aside. Those who have never been persuaded in the least by this assault on the truth will find the documents overwhelming proof of the degree to which the deniers distort history and lie about the evidence.”
And that’s where Lipstadt goes terminally bust. Pressac’s vacuous ramblings have been dissected and refuted in the most minute and comprehensive manner possible in two separate monographs which, admittedly, appeared only after the first edition of Lipstadt’s book had come out. The new, 2016 edition should have taken that into account, but nay, Dr. Lipstadt doesn’t need to pay attention to what’s going on in the real world. She has the backing of the rich and mighty, and that’s good enough for her.
Pressac’s claims, which have reinforced the belief of millions in the myth, will be one of the main focuses of the upcoming documentary Questioning the Holocaust: Why We Believed, Part 2, to which we referred.
We have never read such shoddy quote-unquote “scholarship” in our lives as in Dr. Lipstadt’s book. She clearly has neither understood what the principles and methods of science and scholarship are, nor has she any clue about the historical topics she is writing about. She misquotes, mistranslates, misrepresents, misinterprets, and makes a plethora of wild claims without backing them up with anything. No wonder she refuses to debate the revisionists
“[Lipstadt:] ‘I will not debate you. Not here, not now, not ever!’
[Iring:] ‘Because you can’t!’”
In fact, Dr. Lipstadt herself has proclaimed the judgment in her own case. All we have to do is quote her:
“[T]ruth has been the antithesis of [her] enterprise.” (p. 57)
“Given the way [she] handle[s] documents and data, it is clear that [she has] no interest in scholarship or reason.” (p. 232)
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|||Free Press, New York 1993; paperback: Plume/Penguin Books, New York/London 1994; 2016|
|||Deborah E. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, Free Press, New York 1993 (paperback: Plume/Penguin Books, New York/London 1994; 2016). If not indicated otherwise, page numbers refer to the 2016 paperback edition.|
|||Speech delivered at David Irving’s “Real History” conference in Cincinnati, September 2001.|
|||That libel case has been thoroughly documented online: www.hdot.org|
|||For a documentation of the trial see Don D. Guttenplan, The Holocaust on Trial: History, Justice and the David Irving Libel Case, Granta Books, London/ W. W. Norton & Company, New York 2001; for a hostile evaluation of Irving as a historian see Richard J. Evans, Lying about Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial, Basic Books, New York 2001; for the evidence on exterminations at Auschwitz presented by the defense see Robert J. van Pelt, The Case for Auschwitz: Evidence from the Irving Trial, Indiana University Press, 2002.|
|||Ecco, New York 2005.|
|||Ecco, New York 2016.|
|||amzn.com/0141985518; retrieved on Oct. 17, 2017.|
|||Germar Rudolf, Bungled: “Denying the Holocaust”: How Deborah Lipstadt Botched Her Attempt to Demonstrate the Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, Castle Hill Publishers, Uckfield, 2017; https://amzn.com/1591481775; retrieved on Oct. 17, 2017.|
|||Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Hutchinson & Co., London 1968; idem., Objective Knowledge, 4th ed., Claredon Press, Oxford 1979.|
|||en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freda_Utley (Oct. 10, 2017; oldid=731630172).|
|||Freda Utley, The High Cost of Vengeance, Henry Regnery Company, Chicago 1948; 2016 reprint by Omnia Veritas.|
|||Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, “How reliable is your memory?” TED Talks, June 2013; www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_loftus_the_fiction_of_memory; 10:26-11:34 (Oct. 17, 2017); see Elizabeth Loftus, Katherine Ketcham, The Myth of Repressed Memory, St. Martin’s Press, New York 1994; idem, “Creating False Memories,” Scientific American, Vol. 277, No. 3, 1997, pp. 70-75; idem, and James Doyle, Eyewitness Testimony: Civil and Criminal, 3rd ed., Lexis Law Pub., Charlottesville, Va., 1997; see also Scott Fraser, “Why eyewitnesses get it wrong,” TED Talks, June 2013; www.ted.com/talks/scott_fraser_the_problem_with_eyewitness_testimony (Oct. 17, 2017).|
|||Prof. Dr. Dan Ariely, “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty,” presentation, James Randi Foundation; 2013; youtu.be/G2RKQkAoY3k; 0.55-1:39 (Oct. 17, 2017); see Dan Ariely, The Honest Truth about Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone – Especially Ourselves, Harper Perennial, New York 2013; Bella DePaulo, Behind the Door of Deceit: Understanding the Biggest Liars in Our Lives, CreateSpace, Scotts Valley, Cal., 2009; idem, The Lies We Tell and the Clues We Miss: Professional Papers, CreateSpace, Scotts Valley, Cal., 2009; idem, The Hows and Whys of Lies, CreateSpace, Scotts Valley, Cal., 2010.|
|||Susan Haack, “Credulity and its Consequences,” presentation, James Randi Foundation, Sept. 14, 2014; youtu.be/MtOAMsuJHxw; 13:34-14:17 (Oct. 17, 2017).|
|||Jacques Baynac, “Faute de documents probants sur les chambres à gaz, les historiens esquivent le débat,” Le Nouveau Quotidien, Sept. 3, 1996, p. 14 (https://archive.org/details/LeDebatSurLesChambresAGazJacquesBaynac1996; Oct. 16, 2017).|
|||Karl. R. Popper, Objective Knowledge, 4th ed., Claredon Press, Oxford 1979, pp. 347f.|
|||Scene from the trailer of movie Denial, youtu.be/HfJcsmsZRhw.|
|||The numbers vary from poll to poll; one extreme calculates almost two billion: Gerver Torres, Brett Pelham, “One-Quarter of World’s Population May Wish to Migrate,” Gallup poll, June 24, 2008, www.gallup.com/poll/108325/onequarter-worlds-population-may-wish-migrate.aspx (Aug 30, 2016); another saw it at around 700 million adults, which, children added to the mix, would probably get close to one billion: Neli Esipova, Julie Ray, “700 Million Worldwide Desire to Migrate Permanently,” Gallup poll, November 2, 2009, http://news.gallup.com/poll/124028/700-million-worldwide-desire-migrate-permanently.aspx (Aug 30, 2016). With Germany’s announcement in 2015 that “all are welcome,” resulting in a deluge of migrants pouring into Germany, that number has probably gone up again. Most prospective migrants come from the Middle East, North and sub-Saharan Africa, whose primary destinations for reasons of geography are European countries, mainly Germany (for economic reasons) and the UK and France (for linguistic reasons).|
|||en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deborah_Lipstadt (version of Aug. 21, 2016; oldid=735552072).|
|||Maurice Bardèche, Nuremberg ou la terre promise, Les Sept Couleurs, Paris 1948:
“There existed the will to exterminate the Jews (for which there is ample evidence).” (p. 187)
“Yes, in Eastern Europe, there is a terrible account open between Germany and her neighbors. Yes, there was a policy of extermination.” (p. 128)
“On the other hand, we obviously must remember here the testimonies presented by the Soviet delegation, and especially the one describing the extermination facility at Treblinka, where Jews were executed en masse immediately after their arrival at a fake train station which concealed the execution installations.” (pp. 158f.)
“The defendants at Nuremberg could maintain that during the entire war they had no knowledge of the massive executions taking place at Auschwitz, at Treblinka and elsewhere […].” (p. 194)
|||Missed: Serge Thion, Henri Roques.|
|||C. Mattogno, “The Myth of the Extermination of the Jews, Part II” The Journal of Historical Review, Vol. 8, No. 3 (fall 1988), pp. 261-302 (www.codoh.com/library/document/2216; Aug. 31, 2016)|
|||Most recent: Fred A. Leuchter, Robert Faurisson, Germar Rudolf, The Leuchter Reports: Critical Edition, 4th ed., Castle Hill Publishers, Uckfield 2015.|
|||Robert Faurisson, Mémoire en défense contre ceux qui m'accusent de falsifier l'histoire: La question des chambres à gaz, La Vieille Taupe, Paris 1980.|
|||Robert Faurisson, Réponse à Pierre Vidal-Naquet, 2nd ed., La Vieille Taupe, Paris 1982.|
|||“Confessions of SS Men who were at Auschwitz,” Journal of Historical Review, 2(2) (1981), pp. 103-136 (www.codoh.com/library/document/1982 ; Oct. 17, 2017); “How the British Obtained the Confessions of Rudolf Höss,” Journal of Historical Review, 7(4) (1986), pp. 389-403 (www.codoh.com/library/document/1968; Oct.17, 2017)|
|||See the periodicals Annales d’Histoire Révisionnistes, and Revue d’Histoire Révisionnistes.|
|||The Journal of Historical Review, 1(2) (1980), pp. 103-114 (www.codoh.com/library/document/861; Oct. 17, 2017).|
|||Arthur R. Butz, “Context and Perspective in the ‘Holocaust’ Controversy,” The Journal of Historical Review, Vol. 3, No. 4 (winter 1982), pp. 371-405 (www.codoh.com/library/document/1124; Oct. 17, 2017).|
|||Arthur R. Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, 4th ed., Castle Hill Publishers, Uckfield 2015, p. 12.|
|||Jean-Claude Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York 1989.|
|||Bradley R. Smith, Break His Bones: The Private Life of a Holocaust Revisionist, self-published, San Ysidro, Cal., 2002, esp., pp. 11-13, www.codoh.com/library/document/1550/?page=3.|
|||Bradley R. Smith, op .cit. (note 139), p. 257; …/?page=25.|
|||There are 52 “cited in” and 6 “quoted in” in her endnotes, the majority of which are illegitimate, plus a number of double sources where the first is in a language she probably doesn’t read, so the second, English source is where she probably quoted it from without saying so, for instance Ch. 1, n. 33, 37; Ch. 5, n. 9; Ch. 6, n. 39; Ch. 11, n. 4, 5, 8, 16, 21f.; Appendix, n. 44, 48|
|||Ch. 9, n 24; other examples: Note 60 on p. 240/270 reads “Safet M. Sarich to Winnetka educators, May 1991.” Where can that document be found, if anywhere? She has numerous references to interviews and conversations (Ch. 1, n. 17, 30, 55, 76, 81; Ch. 5, n. 3; Ch. 9, n. 30, 96, 99f.; Ch. 10, n. 125), none of which seem to be accessible or even documented. Ch. 4, n. 65 reads “Memo from Barry Youngerman to Jerry Bakst, June 27, 1967, archives of the Anti-Defamation League, New York.” Ch. 10, n. 94+106: “Smith, ‘Falsus in Uno, Falsus in Omnibus… The ‘Human Soap’ Holocaust Myth,’ addendum to Smith, undated letter sent to campus papers.” similar n. 105; n. 110: “Meeting with members of Daily Texan editorial board, Apr. 28, 1992.” Anecdotal references should be part of the narration in the main text, and relevant unpublished, unarchived private documents ought to be reproduced or placed in a document appendix.|
|||Germar Rudolf, The Chemistry of Auschwitz, youtu.be/SUc6Y_E5zb0|
|||Friedrich P. Berg, “The Diesel Gas Chambers: Myth within a Myth,” The Journal of Historical Review, Vol. 5, No. 1 (spring 1984), pp. 15-46; www.codoh.com/library/document/982 (Sept. 4, 2016); updated as “The Diesel Gas Chambers: Ideal for Torture – Absurd for Murder,” in: G. Rudolf, Dissecting the Holocaust: The Growing Critique of “Truth” and “Memory,” 2nd ed., Theses & Dissertations, Chicago 2003, pp. 435-469 (www.vho.org/GB/Books/dth/fndieselgc.html); see also R. E. Pattle, H. Strech, F. Burgess, K. Sinclair, J.A.G. Edginton, “The Toxicity of Fumes from Diesel Engine under Four Different Running Conditions,” British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 14 (1957), pp. 47-55; www.vho.org/GB/c/FPB/ToxDiesel.html.|
|||Revisionist thesis, apart from Berg’s paper cited above: Walter Lüftl, “Sollen Lügen künftig Pflicht sein?,” Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Vol. 41, No. 1 (1993), pp. 14-16 (www.vho.org/D/DGG/Lueftl41_2.html; Sept. 4, 2016); mainstream anti-thesis: Josef Bailer, “Die ‘Revisionisten’ und die Chemie”, in: Brigitte Bailer-Galanda, Wolfgang Benz, Wolfgang Neugebauer (eds.), Die Auschwitzleugner: ‘Revisionistische’ Geschichtslüge und historische Wahrheit, Deuticke, Vienna 1995, pp. 99-118, here pp. 100-107; revisionist rebuttal: Germar Rudolf, Kardinalfragen zur Zeitgeschichte, Vrij Historisch Onderzoek, Berchem 1996, pp. 98-102 (www.vho.org/D/Kardinal/Wahrheit.html; Sept. 4, 2016); updated in , Auschwitz-Lügen, 2nd ed., Castle Hill Publishers, Uckfield 2012, pp. 212-221; www.holocausthandbuecher.com/dl/18d-al.pdf (Sept. 4, 2016); mainstream retort: Achim Trunk, “Die todbringenden Gase,” in: Günter Morsch, Bertrand Perz (eds.), op. cit. (note) pp. 23-49; here 28-37; revisionist response: C. Mattogno, Inside the Gas Chambers: The Extermination of Mainstream Holocaust Historiography, 2nd ed., Castle Hill Publishers, Uckfield 2017, pp. 24-30.|
|||See the discussion of that document by a cremation expert during that trial, in: Barbara Kulaszka (ed.), Did Six Million Really Die?, Samisdat Publishers, Toronto 1992, pp. 267-271; www.vho.org/aaargh/fran/livres3/KULA.pdf.|
|||Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennii Vojennii Archiv (Russian State War Archive, Moscow), 502-1-314, p. 14a.|
|||Komitee der antifaschistischen Widerstandskämpfer in der DDR (ed.), SS im Einsatz, Kongress-Verlag, Berlin 1957, p. 269. Eugen Kogon, Hermann Langbein, Adalbert Rückerl et al. (eds.), Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas, Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1983, p. 219; B. Bailer-Galanda, W. Benz, W. Neugebauer (eds.), op. cit. (note 191), p. 69. Jean-Claude Pressac, Auschwitz, op. cit. (note 180), p. 247.|
|||Carlo Mattogno, Franco Deana, The Cremation Furnaces of Auschwitz: A Technical and Historical Study, Castle Hill Publishers, Uckfield 2015.|
|||Staatliches Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau (ed.), Die Sterbebücher von Auschwitz, Saur, Munich 1995.|
|||Carlo Mattogno, Auschwitz: The End of a Legend. A Critique of Jean-Claude Pressac, Institute for Historical Review, Costa Mesa, CA, 1994; revised in G. Rudolf (ed.), Auschwitz: Plain Facts, 2nd ed., Castle Hill Publishers, Uckfield 2016, pp. 131-212; Carlo Mattogno, The Real Case for Auschwitz: Robert van Pelt’s Evidence from the Irving Trial Critically Reviewed, ibid., 2015.|
Additional information about this document
|Title:||The Lies and Deceptions of Deborah Lipstadt, Part 2|
|Sources:||Inconvenient History, Vol. 9, No. 4 (2017)|
|First posted on CODOH:||Oct. 17, 2017, 11:10 a.m.|