Banned Books and Unmentionable Books

The Hypocrisy of the American Library Association
Published: 2006-09-30

This year September 23–30 was recognized as "Banned Books" week. This event was recognized at many schools, public libraries and even bookstores. Several college bookstores featured tables with a sign reading, "Read a Banned Book." The displays were full of banned or "challenged" titles, most of which would be readily known by anyone with a basic knowledge of literature.

I love Banned Books - more or less

A banner from the ALA

While researching this event, I discovered the Website of the American Library Association ( The Website features many articles, lists of banned books and stirring quotes supporting free speech and free inquiry. One such quote by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas reads, "Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us."

The ALA also dedicates many pages to the topic of "book burning" down through the ages. Starting at the year 213 BC, the ALA relates a history of book burning right down to the 21st century. I found while searching through their pages plenty of information about Nazi Germany burning books. I found Christians burning copies of Harry Potter. I found banned titles from Maya Angelou, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, and J.D. Salinger but through it all no mention of Holocaust revisionism.

I wondered how could the ALA be unfamiliar with the German government's orders to burn revisionist titles including, Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte and others. Could they not know about Europe's thoughtcrimes laws that incarcerate honest scholars for speaking and writing about the Holocaust? I decided to compose an email to inform the ALA of its critical omission. (See letter below) Today, several months have passed by without any response. The ALA Website continues to ignore the persecution of revisionist authors and the banning and burning of their books.

It appears that the ALA is perfectly willing to take up the cause of "banned" books like Harry Potter which has sold tens of millions of copies and Catcher in the Rye which is now on most High School required reading lists, but there is a blatant refusal to mention the real banned books of our time. The works of Rudolf, Faurisson, Stäglich, Theil, and others are not only banned books, but unmentionable books. In its hypocrisy the ALA quotes George Orwell who wrote, "If large numbers of people believe in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it. But if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them." Today an inconvenient minority, Holocaust revisionists, is being persecuted. The laws however are not there to protect them but rather to criminalize their thoughts and speech. In its sluggishness or total lack of interest in this most inconvenient minority, the American Library Association has sold it soul and lent its name and abilities to that persecution of ideas. The failure of the ALA to speak out not only demonstrates the hypocrisy of that organization but also is a painful reminder of how much our liberties have eroded.

From: Richard Widmann
To: [email protected]
Sent: Thursday, September 28, 2006 9:41 PM
Subject: Burned Book

To Whom It May Concern:

I am an American with a keen interest in the topic of Intellectual Freedom. As a contributing author to an anthology on Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451," your Webpages describing book burning are of particular interest to me. I do note that the page regarding 20th Century Bookburnings ( omits a particularly important case.

In March 1995 at the request of the government of Germany, all available copies of the anthology, Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte: Ein Handbuch ueber strittige Fragen des 20. Jahrhunderts (Foundations of Contemporary History: A Handbook on Controversial Questions of the Twentieth Century) were seized. Shortly thereafter in May of 1996, Judge Burckhardt Stein ruled that this book's editor and contributing author, Germar Rudolf be arrested without delay for his part in the publishing of this title. Finally, on June 15, 1996, Judge Stein ruled that all copies of this book must be burned. The author was also sentenced to 14 months in prison.

This book has been published in slightly revised form in the United States under the new title, Dissecting the Holocaust: The Growing Critique of 'Truth' and 'Memory.' This book is considered by many to be the most significant work of Holocaust revisionism published to date. Although the topic is certainly a forbidden one in some quarters, clearly it is only through the open and free exchange of ideas that we can avoid totalitarian abuses of the past.

You will find additional information on this case here:

I appreciate your inclusion and mention of this significant case on your Webpage.

With kind regards,

Richard A. Widmann

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Richard A. Widmann
Title: Banned Books and Unmentionable Books, The Hypocrisy of the American Library Association
Published: 2006-09-30
First posted on CODOH: Sept. 28, 2006, 7 p.m.
Last revision:
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