German Government Issues Statement on the IHR

Officials Respond to Communist Party Inquiry
Published: 1995-11-01

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Another sign of the growing international impact of the Institute for Historical Review and of historical revisionism is a recent official statement by Germany's Interior Ministry, issued in response to an inquiry by parliamentary deputies of the nation's main Communist political party.

In a three-page "inquiry" ("kleine Anfrage"), the Bundestag faction of the "Party of Democratic Socialism" (PDS) asked the federal government for detailed information about the IHR and its influence in Germany. (The PDS is the successor to the ruling Communist party of the former east "German Democratic Republic.") "Along with the 50th anniversary of the liberation from fascism," begins the jargon-laden PDS inquiry, "have come increased neo-fascist and conservative efforts either to deny entirely or to play down the crimes of Hitler fascism, or to reckon them against the so-called 'war crimes' of the Allies. The uniqueness of the Holocaust and the war guilt of Nazi Germany are being disputed."

Concerned that these "revisionist historical theses are no longer spread just by neo-fascists," the inquiry goes on to cite the writings of Professor Ernst Nolte of the Free University in Berlin, a world-renowned specialist of Third Reich history. "It is no accident that just at this time the prominent historian Ernst Nolte deals in his book Streitpunkte with the American 'Auschwitz deniers' associated with the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), such as Fred Leuchter, and attests to their scholarship."

Specifically cited is Nolte's lengthy interview in the Jan.-Feb. 1994 IHR Journal. (Also in this same issue is a review of Nolte's Streitpunkte.) "Nolte's positive expressions about American historical revisionism is the fruit of long-term preparatory work by the neo-fascists in reinterpreting history ... Nolte provided these historical revisionists with a further breakthrough."

"One of the most important think tanks in this field," the Marxist inquiry continues, "is the Institute for Historical Review," which has "developed into an international center of historical revisionism, the denial of the crimes of Hitler fascism." The inquiry goes on to quote extensively from Deborah Lipstadt's polemical work, Denying the Holocaust. (See the critical reviews of Lipstadt's book in the Nov.-Dec. 1993 and Sept.-Oct. 1995 Journal issues.) Also specifically mentioned are several of the more prominent individuals associated with the IHR, including Dr. Arthur Butz, Prof. Robert Faurisson, Dr. Georg Franz-Willing, Dr. Wilhelm Stäglich, David Irving, Fred Leuchter, Dr. Austin App, and Otto-Ernst Remer.

Concluding the inquiry is a request for detailed information by the German federal authorities about the activities and impact of the IHR. Typical are these questions: "What does the federal government know about the translation and reprinting in Germany of articles from The Journal of Historical Review?," and, "How does the federal government evaluate the influence of the activities of the IHR over the years on European right-wing extremism and on conservatism?"

Germany's federal Interior Ministry responded with an official statement dated April 10, 1995 (Drucksache 13/1120). Here is the complete text:

The "Institute of [sic] Historical Review" was founded in 1979 in Torrance, California. Since 1982 its director has been the American Thomas J. Marcellus. In 1988 it moved its office to Costa Mesa, California.

German revisionists Wilhelm Stäglich, Udo Walendy, Thies Christophersen and Ernst Zündel have worked with the Institute as freelance collaborators. Other prominent collaborators have been the revisionists David Irving and the Frenchman Robert Faurisson.

The IHR claims to dedicate itself to the goal of "research of the actual causes of war and the spreading of truth." In fact, in its publications it denies or whitewashes the National Socialist crimes, in particular the National Socialist mass murder of the European Jews. Among the publications of the IHR are The Journal of Historical Review, a magazine issued quarterly, and the monthly IHR Newsletter. Almost yearly since 1979 the Institute has organized in the United States an "International Revisionist Congress." The last gathering took place September 3-5, 1994 in Los Angeles. Among others, right-wing German extremists were invited to this "Twelfth International Revisionist Conference."

Because it is headquartered in a foreign country, the federal government of course is not aware of the entire range of the IHR's activities. Accordingly, a comprehensive evaluation statement is not possible. Still, the federal government sees possibilities for influence by the IHR on German as well as European revisionism.

While it is not friendly, this rather brief statement is remarkably restrained. It does not characterize the IHR as a danger or threat. In essence, it ignores the Communist party's hostile rhetoric and provocative questions about supposed links between the IHR and "right wing extremists."

The Institute responded to this statement in a July 9 letter to the German Interior Ministry. After mentioning the statement's factual errors (for example, the IHR Newsletter has not been published since 1992), the IHR went on to point out:

Since its founding in 1978, the Institute for Historical Review has steadfastly opposed bigotry of all kinds in its efforts to promote greater public understanding of key chapters of history. Contributors to our Journal have included respected scholars from around the world. Recent Journal issues have published writings of Vaclav Havel, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and several American-Jewish writers.

We are very concerned about Germany's legal persecution of persons who express dissident views about certain historical questions. Most notably, Germans are fined or imprisoned for disputing aspects of the Holocaust extermination story.

Such one-sided laws insultingly suggest that Germans lack the intelligence or maturity of people in most other countries to evaluate historical issues for themselves. There should not be one standard of democracy for Germans and another for other nationalities. We believe that Germans should have the same right as Americans, Japanese, Danes, Chinese and Turks to question aspects of the Holocaust story.

The Ministry did not respond to the Institute's letter.


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Author(s): Mark Weber
Title: German Government Issues Statement on the IHR, Officials Respond to Communist Party Inquiry
Sources: The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 15, no. 6 (November/December 1995), pp. 34f.
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Published: 1995-11-01
First posted on CODOH: Dec. 25, 2012, 6 p.m.
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