A Revisionist Challenge to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Published: 1998-01-01

This article does not claim "the Holocaust never happened." Those who say it does want to muddy the issue. This is what the ad does claim: The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum displays no convincing proof whatsoever of homicidal gas chambers, and no proof that even one individual was "gassed" in a German program of "genocide."

The question, then, is not "Did the Holocaust happen?" The question is: "If there were no gas chambers, what was the Holocaust?"

This Museum promotes the charge that the Germans murdered the Jews of Europe in homicidal gas chambers. It therefore has a moral obligation to demonstrate that the charge is true. Those who contend it is more important to be sensitive than truthful about whether or not the gas chambers existed debase America's old civil virtues of free inquiry and open debate, and they betray the ideal of the university itself. For the benefit of whom?

What are the facts?

The Museum's "proof" for a gas chamber at Birkenau is a miniature-sized model imagined by a Polish artist. A replica of a standard German air-raid shelter door is displayed as "proof" of a homicidal gas chamber at Majdanek. And, incredibly, the Museum has simply dropped the Auschwitz I gas chamber, the basement room visited yearly by hundreds of thousands of tourists in Poland.

There is no mention of the alleged gas chambers at Buchenwald or even at Dachau, where after World War II American GIs and German civilians were assured that more than 200,000 victims were "gassed and burned."

The notion that eyewitness testimony, given under highly politicized and emotional circumstances, is prima facie true, was refuted by the Israeli Supreme Court when it acquitted John Demjanjuk of being "Ivan the Terrible." The Israeli Court found that eyewitnesses who testified that Demjanjuk operated "gas chambers" could not be believed!

Deborah Lipstadt argues in her much-praised Denying the Holocaust that Revisionists ("deniers") should not be debated because there can not be another side to the gas chamber story. This is where Revisionism displays its strength. Revisionist theory, resting only on historical facts, can be proved or disproved. Exterminationist theory, having fallen into the hands of "cultists," can only be "believed."

I'm not in disagreement with Ms. Lipstadt and her clique on the gas chamber controversy because they may be Zionists or Jews. That's disingenuous. I'm in disagreement with her over the fact that she argues against "light of day," our understanding that in a free society all ideas are best illuminated in the light shed by open debate.

The Museum is so confident no one will challenge its "gas chamber" gimcrackery that it even claims to have found a new "death camp" gas chamber. Proof? The uncorroborated fantasies of one man pandering to the victim-of-Holocaust-survivor-syndrome. The Museum's historian doesn't even know where the place was. It "may have been" near Giessen. "May have been?" That's the best historical writing $200 Million can buy?

When I challenge such gas chamber vaporings I understand I am going to be slandered as an antisemite by true believers representing the Holocaust Lobby. These quasi-religious Holocaust zealots claim that because of the purity of their own feelings about the Jewish experience during World War II, mine must be soiled when I express doubt in what they preach as "truth."

Yet not even Winston Churchill in his six-volume history of World War II, or Dwight D. Eisenhower in his memoirs, made reference to homicidal gassing chambers. How do the Holocaust Lobby and its Museum explain that?

Intellectuals who do not believe that intellectual freedom is worth the while on this historical issue should ask themselves why they believe it's worth the while on any historical issue. Then they should explain their answers to the rest of us.

The Operation and Technique of the Museum

The Museum's exhibit technique is a mixture of sinister suggestion and dishonest omission. Example: the first display confronting visitors beginning the Museum tour is a wall-sized photograph of American soldiers looking at corpses smoldering on a pyre. The context in which you see the photo suggests that the dead pictured on it are murdered Jews.

Were the prisoners killed or did they die of typhus or some other disease during the last terrible weeks of the war? Autopsies made by Allied medical personnel found inmates died of disease. No one was found to have been "gassed." All such relevant information is omitted from this exhibit. We don't even know that the dead pictured in the photograph are Jews!

Unable to judge the significance of the photograph, and not wanting to believe the Museum would want to mislead you, you are moved to accept the false and manipulative suggestion that it somehow represents the "genocide" of the European Jews.

Call the Museum! Find out for yourself!

I'm willing to be convinced I'm wrong about the gas chambers. Authentic physical remains or wartime-generated documents would do the trick. I say the Museum displays neither. Call the Museum! Find out for yourself! The telephone number is (202) 488-0400. Ask which (specific) Museum exhibits display proof gas chambers really existed. Have this (or any) newspaper publish the result. Then we'll all see what's what.

Special pleaders imply that to investigate the gas chamber stories in the light of day will be harmful to Jews. I challenge this bigoted insinuation! Free inquiry will benefit Jews - for exactly the reasons it benefits us all. In any case, why should it not?

Majdanek door: gas chamber or air raid shelter?

At left: The door at the concentration camp Majdanek from which the USHMM made the replica which is now on display in Washington D.C. At right: The real function of the door and thousands more like it is shown in a widely distributed German ad for bomb-shelter doors and window covers, intended for military and civilian use. Approximately 670,000 German civilians were killed in the massive Allied terror-bombing campaign directed at population centers throughout Germany.

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Author(s): Bradley R. Smith
Title: A Revisionist Challenge to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Published: 1998-01-01
First posted on CODOH: June 29, 1998, 7 p.m.
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