I have been called a holocaust denier. I believe that during World War II millions of Jews were uprooted from their homes and placed in slave labor camps where they died in droves. Does this absolve me from being labeled a denier? If you think so, then here is a challenge for you: name one person who does not accept the chronicle of Jewish suffering I just gave. If you cannot (and I don’t know of any holocaust revisionist - the label I prefer – who wouldn’t accept it), don’t you agree that “holocaust denier” is a meaningless term? It might as well refer to a mythical being, like the Golem.
If, on the other hand, you believe that my profession of faith doesn’t necessarily absolve me from being condemned as a denier, you must be amongst the pontifical college of orthodox Holocaustism. For the Defenders of the Faith, you must believe three things to be acquitted of the charge of holocaust denial. You must believe
- that The Final Solution was an extermination plan, not a plan to deport the Jews from Europe, i.e., make Europe Judenrein;
- that in carrying out this plan, gas chambers were employed in the concentration camps;
- that six million Jews died (You can hedge a bit on this one. The foremost American authority on the holocaust, Raul Hilberg, puts the figure at 5.1 million in his definitive work, The Destruction of the European Jews, and I’ve never heard of him being called a denier.)
This is not the place to present the arguments for and against these three points of contention. If you are interested, just Google my name plus “holocaust” to find some of my writings on the subject; or, for more scholarly, definitive treatises, log on to the website of The Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (www.codoh.com), or check out the videos at www.holocaustdenialvideos.com. What I would like to offer here is a rationale – a plea, really – for investigating all aspects of the holocaust story in an atmosphere free of rancor, intolerance, and intimidation.
I believe we can learn from history and that it will be a better world if we do. Of course, to learn from history we have to have an accurate understanding of what happened in the past. Even before I discovered holocaust revisionism I felt that the treatment of the Nazis and their time in history – even by our academicians – was grossly oversimplified, full of dour, goose-stepping Nazis siegheiling a little furor (sic) with a funny moustache as he spewed out venomous threats against Jews, Bolsheviks, and perfidious Albion and sang the praises of the Aryan race. I found the characterization didn’t really offer much insight into how a man like Hitler could have risen to power in one of the most sophisticated countries on earth.
Symptomatic of how little we have learned from the Nazi era is the fact that the present Foreign Minister of Israel has advocated the deportation of all Palestinians from Eretz Israel. If you think he’s just a wacky extremist not representative of Israeli society, consider this: his predecessor in the post, Tzipi Livni, has stated that if a Palestinian state came into being, Israeli Arabs should be required to move there. These two have obviously not learned much from the tragic experience of even their own people, or, if they did, it was the wrong lesson. History may repeat itself, but sometimes it shouldn’t.
I hope no one would argue that historians today are free to delve into the history of the holocaust without fear of retribution should they stray into heresy. You don’t even have to be a denier to suffer an auto-da-fe administered by the Grand Inquisitors of Holocaust orthodoxy. Just ask Norman Finkelstein, who was denied tenure at DePaul two years ago, capping a career of academic wandering as one university door after another was slammed in his face. No denier so far as I know (his parents were survivors), Finkelstein is just critical of the way some have used the holocaust to promote their own ends (“There’s no business like Shoah business”), while others vilify the German people in a way we would never tolerate being applied to any other ethnic/national group, as he lays out in his books The Holocaust Industry and A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth. In Europe, historians who arrive at the wrong conclusions after years of study can land themselves in prison, like the once lauded British historian, David Irving. In such an atmosphere, arriving at an instructive understanding of past social dynamics is not likely.
But there is a more important reason why I plead for open debate on the holocaust. Assume for a moment – for hypothetical purposes only – that the revisionists are right. On the surface, it’s going to look bad for the Jews if this ever gets out. But wouldn’t it be better to dispel the myths surrounding the holocaust now, while anti-Semitism is a negligible factor in American society, than at some future date when hard times lead desperate, angry Americans to look around for a scapegoat? In such times they are likely to discover holocaust revisionism and take a much keener interest in it than they do today. They are also likely not to pay much attention to revisionists like me who argue that it’s not the Jews but our wartime propagandists who are responsible for the myths, while they flock - torches and pitchforks in hand - to revisionists who lay the blame squarely on the Jews. If this sounds plausible to you, given our assumption, then it is incumbent on you to find out whether the revisionists, aka “deniers”, are right or not. The only way to do that is to hear what they have to say.
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|Title:||In Search of a Holocaust Denier|
|First posted on CODOH:||June 29, 2009, 7 p.m.|