Further Progress and Renewed Commitment
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There are many ways to measure progress and success. A corporation, for example, normally measures progress by its record of annual profit. Because of the special nature of its work, the Institute for Historical Review measures success differently. Our main measure of success is the impact we have on society at large; but more than that, given the reality of the powerful forces aligned against us, we can also measure it in terms of basic survival.
1984 Arson Attack
Our meeting here this weekend of this Twelfth International Revisionist Conference is taking place ten years after a milestone event in the history of the IHR. On the Fourth of July 1984, unknown terrorists fire-bombed our office-warehouse complex in an attempt to destroy the Institute for Historical Review.
These criminals nearly succeeded. In an emergency letter to supporters following the attack, Director Tom Marcellus reported:
As a physical entity, the Institute for Historical Review has virtually ceased to exist. Ninety percent of our book and tape inventory – the largest collection of revisionist literature to be found anywhere – has been wiped out. Every last piece of office equipment and machinery – including desks, chairs, files and shelves – lay in charred heaps of useless, twisted scrap.
Manuscripts, documents, artwork, galleys and film negatives – products of more than six long years of a tough, dedicated effort to bring suppressed historical data to people the world over – no longer exist. Tens of thousands of books ... estimated at over $300,000 in value, are gone ... More than 2,500 square feet of space that was once the world's most controversial publisher lies blackened in chaos and total ruin.
As we know, of course, the attack failed to finish off the IHR. Under Tom Marcellus' directorship, and with the generous support of friends across America and in many foreign lands, we were able to rebuild.
Today – ten years later – the Institute for Historical Review is vastly more influential than ever. Particularly during the last two years – and in spite of an relentless barrage of media smears and lies – the IHR and its work have become widely known across America and around the world.
While media coverage of our work continues to be overwhelming hostile, historical revisionism and the IHR are now grudgingly accepted as an established part of the American social-cultural landscape.
References to the IHR and its work have been appearing with greater frequency than ever in newspapers and magazines. Just recently, for example, The Los Angeles Times described the IHR as a "think tank that critics call the 'spine of the international Holocaust denial movement'." Indeed, and as everyone in this hall knows, the IHR is at the center of a worldwide network of scholars and activists who are working – sometimes at great personal sacrifice – to separate historical fact from propaganda fiction by researching and publicizing suppressed facts about key, socially-politically relevant chapters of twentieth century history.
An important sign of the growing impact of the IHR during the past few years was the appearance last year, to the accompaniment of much media publicity and hype, of no fewer than four books including Deborah Lipstadt's widely promoted but mendacious polemic, Denying the Holocaust attacking Holocaust revisionism and, in particular, the Institute for Historical Review.
Not only is the IHR featured prominently in each of these books, one of them, a work published by American Jewish Committee entitled Holocaust Denial, states, "the IHR is the spine of the international Holocaust denial movement, and, according to Leonard Zeskind, a research director of the Center for Democratic Renewal, the IHR's influence now is only a fraction of what it will be."
Another indication of our growing impact was the mention of the IHR during a broadcast in March of "60 Minutes," one of America's most widely viewed television programs. Millions were introduced to the IHR's Journal of Historical Review, when the front cover of the November-December 1993 issue was shown on the screen.
Articles from the our Journal are widely reprinted and circulated, including in translation in numerous foreign countries. Journal articles, IHR leaflets and other IHR material are being disseminated to many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people throughout the world through the international computer network, and specifically through such systems as GEnie, CompuServe, Prodigy and the Internet.
Steadily growing numbers of scholars and educated lay persons – in the United States, throughout Europe, and in Asia, Latin America and northern Africa – support the work of the IHR. Unfortunately, although for very understandable reasons, not many of them are yet willing publicly to express this support.
Until recently, the standard operating procedure in dealing with revisionism was either to ignore the phenomenon, or stridently to dismiss revisionists as crackpots, neo-Nazis, hate-mongers, flat earth types, and so forth. Now there is widespread recognition that that approach just won't work any more.
Thus, along with growing effectiveness has come, inevitably, ever more fevered opposition from formidable enemies. As our influence grows, and as the great social-cultural struggle of the Western world intensifies, so also does the fury and desperation of our adversaries. This, too, is a sign of our growing impact.
As Robert Faurisson, David Irving and Ernst Zündel – three of our speakers here this weekend – are able personally to attest, the traditional enemies of free historical inquiry have become so anxious and desperate that in some countries they have resorted to repressive and even laughably absurd laws to punish those who express dissident, revisionist views about twentieth century history.
We must be doing something right.
Inevitability of Revisionism
At the same time, the natural and inevitable process of historical revisionism continues – that is, reevaluating and reassessing the past in the light of new historical evidence, and new insights and perspectives, and through overcoming of old prejudices and hatreds.
One expression of this process came in July 1993, when – in the face of compelling evidence – Israel's Supreme Court was obliged to acquit Ukrainian-American John Demjanjuk of the hideous charge that he helped to kill hundreds of thousands of Jews at the Treblinka camp in 1942-1943.
This widely-publicized acquittal was a devastating indictment of the so-called "Office of Special Investigations," the US government agency established to track down "Nazi war criminals." In its zeal to "get" Demjanjuk, the OSI, it turned out, suppressed and threw aside – in at least one case, literally – evidence that OSI officials knew could have helped to exonerate this naturalized American citizen.
This acquittal was an important vindication of the cause of historical revisionism because, for one thing, revisionists were again confirmed in our longstanding insistence that "eyewitness" testimony – even of Jewish "Holocaust survivors" – must be regarded with the greatest skepticism. In his highly-publicized trial in Jerusalem, which had many of the elements of a show trial, five Jewish "Holocaust" survivors declared under oath that they recognized Demjanjuk as the mass murderer of Treblinka known as "Ivan the Terrible." During the earlier trial of Demjanjuk, the israeli judges had cited this "eyewitness" testimony as the most compelling evidence in declaring the accused guilty.
Suppressed History Comes to Light
Nowhere is the natural and inevitable process of historical revisionism more acute or manifest than in the former Communist world, particularly Russia and the countries of eastern and central Europe. Anyone who does not understand the importance of historical revisionism, or the relationship between political freedom and historical awareness, should look to the full-scale historical revisionism that has swept across eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union in recent years.
This process of historical revisionism is based in large part on the coming to light of long-suppressed information from eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. This includes, for example, the facts about Communist-run death camps for ethnic Germans in Poland in the period just after the end of the Second World War, in which many ethnic Germans were put to death. This shocking story is detailed, for one, in the book An Eye for an Eye by American Jewish writer John Sack [available from the IHR (check www.ihr.org for current availability and price; ed.)].
It is only in recent years that startling evidence has emerged to show that Soviet dictator Stalin was preparing to invade and conquer Germany and all of Europe, and that his invasion plan was thwarted by the German-led Axis attack launched against Soviet Russia on June 22nd, 1941. This evidence does not merely force a rewriting of history textbooks, but compels a drastic and profound reassessment of our understanding of the basic nature of the Second World War, and of the roles of the major players in that conflict.
We are sometimes asked why we devote so much time and effort to the Holocaust story and the issues involved with it. Many people are completely bored with this subject. Millions of Americans are sick of hearing still more about the tragic fate of just one particular people in Europe during the Second World War. Well, frankly, we're sometimes bored with it ourselves.
But we are obliged to deal with this issue because it is objectively important: it has come to play an enormously significant role in American cultural and political life, virtually that of a perverse, ersatz secular religion.
This is perhaps most concretely manifest in the opening, in April 1993, of the enormous United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. Opened to great fanfare and publicity, this $160 million monument to misguided priorities and illicit power was built and is maintained by a taxpayer funded, federal government agency, the US Holocaust Memorial Council. The decision to build this great monument was made, at least in part, deliberately to respond to the growing revisionist challenge.
Another sign of the role now played by the Holocaust story in our society is the phenomenon of "Schindler's List" – and by this I mean not merely the motion picture, as widely promoted as it was, but by the campaign surrounding it, including the push to makes its showing obligatory in school classrooms.
We also devote so much time to the Holocaust issue because no one else is doing so, or at least not as consistently and as conscientiously as the Institute for Historical Review. And finally, it is a pleasure to keep hammering away on this issue because, more obviously than ever, we are winning.
New Journal Format
Since the last IHR Conference, there have also been some important changes here at the IHR. For one thing, there has been a change in the format and frequency of publication of The Journal of Historical Review. We are pleased that the new format, which was first proposed by Tom Marcellus in 1992, has been very well received by the great majority of our readers. This format change, we believe, has made the Journal more inviting and attractive, especially to new readers, and seems to have helped contribute to a gratifying increase in paid circulation during the last two years.
It also seems that the Journal is more carefully read than ever, not only by subscribers, but by our adversaries at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League who, we are reliably informed, carefully comb through every sentence.
No cause can win the trust and support of generous, open, honest and idealistic men and women unless the leaders of that cause are themselves generous, open, honest and idealistic. Cynicism, small-mindedness and narrow self-interest is cancer in any organization, particularly one such as ours dedicated as it is to ideals of exactitude, truthfulness and free, open inquiry.
There must be a strong relationship, particularly in an enterprise like the IHR, between authority and accountability. It is not only ethically wrong, but ineffective and ultimately suicidal for any organization to operate in such a way that those who make decisions and give orders insist that others are made legally and publicly responsible. To be successful over the long haul, the IHR must operate in a professional, accountable and responsible manner. In our day-to-day operation, we are proud to employ our modest financial resources cost-effectively. For every dollar we layout, adversaries such as the ADL are obliged to spend a hundred.
Obligation and Commitment
Without the staunch, on-going support of its many friends and supporters across the United States, in Canada, and in many other countries around the world, the Institute for Historical Review would not be possible. Moreover, the support we have received over the years from thousands of individuals, most of whom have never attended an IHR Conference, imposes on those of us who are responsible for the IHR on a day-to-day basis, as trustees or stewards, a solemn obligation to do all we can to insure that the IHR conscientiously and consistently maintains high standards of exactitude and truthfulness, and to make sure that it is operated in a responsible, accountable and above-board way, true to the principles it proclaims.
We are committed to doing everything in our ability to insure the survival and success of the Institute for Historical Review. With a profound sense of gratitude to all those who have made our success possible, and a sense of obligation to uphold the standards of the IHR, we pledge to carry on the mission of the IHR in helping to make this a better world for us all. With the continued support of our friends, together we will see to it that the next ten years will be our most successful ever.
Additional information about this document
|Title:||Further Progress and Renewed Commitment, Adapted from the keynote address at the Twelfth IHR Conference, September 1994|
|Sources:||The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 14, no. 6 (November/December 1994), pp. 9-11|
|First posted on CODOH:||Dec. 11, 2012, 6 p.m.|