Libertarianism and Revisionism
- May 17, 1998
- May 18, 1998
- May 23, 1998
- May 27, 1998
- June 03, 1998
- June 14, 1998
- June 20, 1998
- July 08, 1998
- July 16, 1998
- July 23, 1998
Date: Sun, 17 May 1998 14:37:00 -0700
MARCO DEN OUDEN: Brad, I understand that you are a political Libertarian as am I. I am President of the West Coast Libertarian Foundation here in Vancouver. There are two revisionists in our group here and I have avoided discussing the subject up to now as it would take more reading and research than I really have time for. Still does. But nevertheless, one of them and myself have started discussing it at length. We started with a short discussion recently in which I told him I had been exploring the Nizkor site and asked him about the Goebbels diaries and the Himmler speech at Posen. He sent me a long reply. […] I'd be interested in your own comments: "My own view is that the Nazi philosophy was racist, collectivist and totalitarian (The nature of the Nazi philosophy has been covered in detail in Peikoff's The Ominous Parallels, and in Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism.), that the regime was ruthless and cruel and totally intolerant of dissent or opposition. As such, it has no redeeming values with which a Libertarian can identify. . .
BRADLEY R. SMITH: I more or less agree with the above. Not an issue for me.
MDO: This being the case, I am a total loss to understand why a Libertarian would support Holocaust revisionism beyond supporting their right to free speech and freedom of the press.
BRS: Revisionist theory has nothing to do with Nazi political theory being good or bad, just as it has nothing to do with whether democratic theory is good or bad. Revisionist theory addresses the alleged genocide of the European Jews, largely in homicidal gassing chambers and "vans," and some of the related charges against the Germans of a particularly bizarre nature. The rest is fluff. If it comes about that Nazis did not off millions of Jews in gas chambers and gas vans (and I no longer believe they did), then that is too bad for all the best people. They'll just have to eat it.
MDO: Even if revisionism is true (and I am not saying it is). . .
BRS: This observation implies revisionism is either wholly true or wholly false. No historical theory is either.
MDO: . . . why would a Libertarian want to actively help redeem an evil and totalitarian and completely unLibertarian philosophy?
BRS: Again, revisionist theory has nothing to do, of itself, with redeeming anyone's political philosophy-including that of a Libertarian. So your question, if you were to ask it of me, would be meaningless. You have allowed yourself (forgive me) to confuse revisionist theory with the politics of some who use it for their own political ends.
The questions raised by revisionist theory are limited. No Libertarian needs to know anything whatever about revisionist theory to decry the world-wide suppression and censorship of revisionist writings-and the persecution, banning, and jailing of revisionist historians, researchers and journalists.
You can find information on the censorship of revisionism and the State persecution of revisionists by searching [codoh.com] for Germar Rudolf, Intellectual Freedom, Porter vs. the German Court and so on. My very simple take on much of this in the first chapter of A Simple Writer (go to my Home Page).
Sun, 17 May 1998 02:07:30 -0700
BRS: I'm getting this exchange into some kind of form and may have gotten something out of its natural order. If I have, we can correct it as we go along. Observations that are not particularly relevant to the actual exchange I will delete but indicate with (. . .) so that you can send again if you do want some kind of answer from me.
MDO: Also, you noted my question about whether the received opinion on the Holocaust just spontaneously sprang up or was the result of a massive conspiracy was a good one. I think so too. I'd be interested in your thoughts on the matter. The question was inspired by a review I read on the Web (at the Reason site) of Shermer's book. The reviewer noted that one of the thrusts of Shermer's attack on revisionism is that revisionists spend a lot of time attacking prevailing views, but do not offer a positive thesis of their own. I'm curious to know whether you have a positive thesis such as a conspiracy to account for the prevailing view.
BRS: Revisionist theory has, in fact, concentrated on criticizing the prevailing stories about the gas chambers, the IMT and other war crimes trials, survivor testimony that is demonstrably false, and so on. At the same time, there is a rising awareness among some revisionists that a positive thesis for explaining how so much fraud and falsehood could have come into being and be entertained for so long by so many is needed.
A very imaginative and effective first strike in that direction has been published recently by Samuel Crowell on our Website. Titled "The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes: An Attempt at a Literary Analysis of the Holocaust Gassing Claim," it offers a good deal to think about, and it is a very good read as well. None of us has ever seen anything quite like it.
MDO: Also, you said you declined to answer my other questions re other atrocities by the Nazis, e.g.: the extermination of the Polish intelligentsia […]
BRS: This is a remarkable assertion. What are you referring to when you mention "the extermination of the Polish intelligentsia?"
MDO: . . . the massacre at Lidice, the execution by guillotine of the White Rose students for exercising their right of free speech, and whether the execution of the bomb plot conspirators by cruelly hanging them with piano wire from methods was a just punishment. You also declined to discuss my rebuttal of Byron re whether the Nazis intentionally murdered great many Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, etc. by other means than gas chambers.
BRS: .I should respond in some way. The primary accusation against the Germans is that they murdered people, particularly civilians, and that when they went about it they were cruel. You mention here a number of "categories" of people--the victims of Lidice, students (does it really matter that they were associated with The White Rose?), Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, etc.--by other means than gas chambers.
I suppose you mention these particular incidents and categories of people because you believe such acts should be condemned. I condemn them. I condemn all such acts. It doesn't matter to me that those who committed them were Nazis, however. I condemn such acts when they are perpetrated by Democrats or Republicans. We have arrived at the nub of the issue very quickly. The prevailing theory regarding the mass murder of civilians is that if the Nazis did it, it should be condemned. If Democrats and Republicans, or Liberals and Conservatives in Britain, did it they should be exonerated.
I invite you to contemplate, say, the fire bombings of Hamburg, Dresden and half a hundred other German cities--the mass murder of perhaps 600,000 civilians including the burning alive of tens of thousands of German babies. Then I would like to ask you why you are in the least concerned with picking out the few hundred victims of Lidice for special commiseration, and their killers for special condemnation?
One typical response to this question is that the Germans killed Jews for no other reason than that they were Jews, and that that is what is the especial enormity of their killings. Why did the Americans and British purposefully massacre by fire (holocaust?) tens of thousands of German babies--to say nothing of their mothers and fathers? Well, because they were there. That is, they were Germans.
It does not matter to me then what "categories" of persons became victims of WWII. I don't care anymore about homosexuals, gypsies, student activists, and dwellers in small towns than I do about Germans--not to mention Japanese, with whom Democrats and Republicans treated with a particularly rabid special attention. Why all this concern with Jews as victims?
Here is the core of a political issue that stinks to high heaven. Why the Jews? And why has this concern grown to be of such an enormous importance that it warps the cultural life of the nation? It is an issue that revisionist theory threatens to undermine. It is why revisionists are so feared and hated that they are jailed and censored all over the Western world. A Libertarian issue if ever I heard of one.
Mon, 18 May 1998 15:04:54 -0700
MDO: I don't have any particular hostility to revisionism per se other than I think it is incorrect. So I am quite willing to discuss it without rancor or hostility. I do think it serves the interests of a great many overtly evil people like skinheads, white supremacists, Ku Klux Klanners and the like, and for that reason, I am pretty leery of it.
BRS: I agree that it serves the interests of those you list. It also serves the interests of those who want to extend the ideal of intellectual freedom, the great wonder and light of Western culture, rather than sacrificing our inheritance trying to control what some among us think and say.
MDO: I don't believe the Libertarians I know who are revisionists are themselves racist, but merely misguided and misinformed. I have, up to now, ignored it, considering it to be like religion, a private matter. If they want to believe that stuff, I don't particularly care. My interest in revisionism was, up to now, has been a question of supporting revisionists right to free speech and freedom of the press. I was always appalled by the orthodox side's attempts to stifle open discussion and to prosecute people. The Zündel case in particular comes to mind. I wrote an article on the case for our newsletter which was reprinted in both the ISI's newsletter and as an op-ed piece in our local daily newspaper, The Vancouver Sun. (Even got paid $100 for it - my first paid piece of writing.
It was after discovering the Nizkor site that I became more interested in the matter as I now saw a resource I could use to effectively argue with Byron on the issue. I liked their approach, which includes cross-linking to revisionist sites and supporting the EFF Blue Ribbon Campaign. Here's the blurb I wrote about them in our last newsletter:
"Holocaust Historian Supports Net Nazis"
Ken McVay, the British Columbian who runs the Nizkor Project, a huge Website that systematically refutes every scrap of Holocaust revisionist literature on the Internet, says Jewish and anti-racist groups are wrong to try and get B.C. Tel to pull the plug on an Oliver, B.C. Internet service provider who hosts racist and revisionist Websites on his server. […]
BRS: We have a little problem here. It's not true that Ken McVay's Nizkor Project systematically refutes every scrap of Holocaust revisionist literature on the Internet. In fact, it's not even close to being true. And then there is the problem of whether what Nizkor does refute, does so accurately. And how would you know when, as you say openly, you don't know very much about revisionism and are not familiar with current revisionist literature? I think you have simply bought into an establishment view here, which is understandable but which this exchange will go about challenging over the coming weeks or months. About three years ago, when I first went on the Internet and found alt.revisionism where McVay and others were arguing against revisionist theory, I jumped on in with my own two cents worth. I found the environment against any revisionism whatever so negative and uncooperative, and so politically charged, that I lost interest and dropped out of the discussion- which was not really a discussion but an out-of-control shouting match. The experience with Nizkor encouraged me to found CODOHWeb where revisionists could have their say in what I consider a civilized environment, and where anyone, including Nizkor, can use the material they provide in any way they wish.
MDO: Anyway, that's how I got into this discussion. Like you I have very little time to pursue a long discussion, which is why I anticipate it meandering on for several years. Besides my full-time job, I host a Website called Investing Canada at: http://investingcanada.miningco.com. A picture of me there if you wanna see what my ugly mug looks like!) And I do the accounting for my wife's business, am President of the WCLF, manage their Website, and am now our Supper Club Coordinator. Whew!
BRS: I attended the Libertarian Supper Club in Los Angeles run by Michael Greene and Samuel Kunkin for years, until I left Hollywood for Visalia (near Fresno). I always thought that that was my natural habitat, but I have been away from if for a long time. I miss it.
MDO: FYI: Here's a list of literature I have on the subject. I've read very little of it so far\.
Hoax of the 20th Century - Butz (just skimmed it so far)
Did 6 Million Really Die? - Harwood (The piece Zündel got busted for - I read good chunks of it, but not all of it.)
Rise & Fall of the Third Reich - Shirer (Read this from cover to cover)
The Ominous Parallels - Peikoff (Read it all)
The Origins of Totalitarianism - Arendt (read bits and pieces here and there)
The Killing of SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich - Callum McDonald (read about half of it)
The Holocaust in History - Michael Marrus (Just bought this yesterday); and I have borrowed a variety of stuff from Byron. Yesterday he lent me a copy of the Spring 1966 Rampart Journal on revisionism. I read Rothbard's piece and will read the rest later.
I also have access to a great deal of stuff on the Internet and downloaded your confessions (minus Chapter 3 which was not on the site) and Nizkor's annotated "66 Q&A". I'll be reading both of those over the next month or so.
BRS: Confessions is autobiography. You won't find much history in it. "66 Questions and Answers" has interesting questions in it, but has a number of weak points as well. Other than Butz and Harwood, there is no revisionism on your list, so it is very lopsided.
If you want to understand the core of revisionist theory you really must get at the gas chamber controversy. Your reading list has to do with everything else. Plus, it does not even approach current revisionist scholarship. Maybe you are not so interested in the subject as you have thought you are. Nothing wrong with that. Most people aren't interested in this stuff. The quickest way to discover where revisionism is now, and where it is heading, is to go to [codoh.com] and click on Holocaust & Final Solution > Techniques > Killing Methods.
There you have it.
Sat, 23 May 1998 00:54:54 -0700
MDO: Brad, are you planning to post this exchange somewhere or will this be a private exchange?
BRS: We'll post it, as I suggested earlier. I'm trying to get the guys to tell me where they want me to put it. The latest suggestion is that it will go on my page in Occasional Writings, with a link to Intellectual Freedom. Something like that. When I sent the segments to CODOHWeb, I'll email them to you at the same time so you don't have to keep checking to find out what's posted and what isn't. I will also probably screw something up every once in a while, misordering things and so on-so just draw my attention to it and I'll get it fixed immediately.
MDO: I am also currently in correspondence with Ken McVay. Do you have any problems with me copying our correspondence to him for comment? I'll ask him to let me copy his correspondence to me to you as well. No, I am not trying to mediate a discussion between you two, however, Ken is more knowledgeable than I am on the subject and, just as you have suggested readings, he will be able to suggest readings on the other side.
BRS: That could be interesting. It could get complicated, as I do not want to get into involved discussions of the chemistry and science and engineering of gas chambers. My work is to see to it that such exchanges are possible in an environment of openness and good will-exactly what was missing from alt.revisionism.
McVay and I have had no personal back and forth, other than one very brief exchange a couple years ago that ended as soon as it started, for reasons I no longer recall. I dropped out of the exchanges with his (Nizkor) people because of what I found to be their unrelenting ill-will toward anything to do with me and/or revisionism. It wasn't worth my time. Maybe this time it will be different. Let's take a run at it. I'd rather talk to McVay than not talk to him.
MDO: I won't reply to your replies at great length at this time except to make the following points. I would like to clarify that any accusations or arguments about atrocities are levied against the Nazis and not the German people. There is a distinct difference.
BRS: I understand what you are saying and agree, technically. Nevertheless, we do not distinguish between Republicans and Democrats on the one hand, and the American people on the other. Nor do we distinguish between Nazis and Germans when it comes to taxing the German people as a whole to send tens of billions of dollars to Israel. Why not just tax old Nazis? And of course when it came time for the Americans and British to kill and destroy everything in sight they did not attempt to distinguish between Nazis and Germans.
MDO: I believe many if not most German civilians were unaware of much of what was going on, although they were certainly aware of the anti-Jewish laws.
BRS: Agreed. The Nazis instituted anti-Jewish laws and Germans as a whole were aware of that. I wonder what your point is. That Germans accepted "racist" laws promulgated by their Government rather than rising up to topple the State?
At the time that the German Government instituted anti-Jewish racial laws, the British Empire held some 800,000,000 non-White peoples in racist subjugation using the power of their military. And then there were the French. I understand none of this is news to you. Yet we do not place the same moral burden on ordinary British and French citizens for failing to rise up and topple their governments as we do on ordinary Germans. Why do you think that is?
I suggest it has something to do with "gas chamber" stories. Because revisionist theory challenges the historicity of the German gassing chambers, revisionism directly challenges the common "moral" history of the 20th century. Thus the danger we pose to the established order, as well as to the reputations of all those Governmental and intellectual elites which have managed and manipulated those stories for half a century. It explains the willingness of "democratic" nations in Western Europe to pursue the State censorship of revisionism.
MDO: You mention Dresden and other atrocities by the Allied side. These are probably true. I know that Dresden was true, but haven't read too much on other atrocities. But as far as I am concerned, this is beside the point. Attacking the atrocities committed by the Allies is one thing. Denying or trying to minimize the atrocities committed by the Nazis is a completely separate issue.
BRS: Marco, I agreed with you up front--see our first exchange of only a couple days ago--that Nazi policies were "racist, collectivist and totalitarian. . . ruthless and cruel and totally intolerant of dissent or opposition."What the hell? I have no interest in defending Nazi policy, have never done so, and do not expect to do so in this budding exchange. You are going to have to be very careful to not take for granted that I support any political position taken by any other revisionist anywhere.
I'll try to say this clearly: I have no use for Nazi policy, but I am not going to condemn men and women who were involved with the Nazi party. I don't condemn any human being. I do condemn some things some people do.
Let's try to pay attention, each of us, to what the other actually says. It will be much more interesting that way, and I believe more revealing of the issues involved, which I think we both think are important. I know nothing whatever about you other than what you have told me here, and what you wrote in the one published column you sent me. I will not presuppose anything about what you feel or what you think other than what you put down here in black and white. If you find I do in spite of my stated promise not to, bring it to my attention and I'll back off.
MDO: I think your contention that "The prevailing theory regarding the mass murder of civilians is that if the Nazis did it, it should be condemned. If Democrats and Republicans, or Liberals and Conservatives in Britain, did it they should be exonerated" is quite simply untrue. I have never ever read anything to suggest that atrocities or crimes committed by the Allies should be exonerated. Nor do I believe that any Holocaust historian believes that. They are writing on a specific subject and that is their focus.
BRS: My daily life, and the daily life of all the students (for example) with whom I come in contact, is filled with the notion that German crimes were of an especially bestial order, and that those of the Allies can in no way be compared to them.
Here is the simplest example I can offer right now. If you served as a "perimeter guard" at any German camp during WWII, even if it can not be demonstrated that you personally harmed one person, you can be expelled from the United States or Canada, and in various countries in Europe tried for "war crimes."
On the other hand, if you followed orders to strafe German civilians fleeing from Dresden, or participated in incinerating 10,000 children in Dresden or Nagasaki, no voice is raised against you. If you served at any of the camps where German army prisoners died by the tens of thousands, no word will be raised against you. Or if you were a "kapo" in any German camp, and you ware Jewish, no word will be raised against you. Even if you have "confessed" to serving with the Germans at Auschwitz or Treblinka and other camps, and to have personally participated--according to your own confession--in the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews, and you yourself are Jewish, no word will be raised against you. There's a double standard expressed here that is so corrupt that it can not help but corrupt the entirety of Western culture.
MDO You also suggest that I have bought into the establishment view. This is an oversimplification.
BRS: Yes. I'm certain it is. I'll be careful about this kind of thing.
MDO: The fact is that the overwhelming majority of historians, that is trained historians who have PhD's and made it their life's work and presumably have access to all the necessary documentation and evidence to reach sound conclusions, believe that the Holocaust happened. The number of people denying the Holocaust is relatively small.
BRS: This is important: The question is not: "Did the holocaust happen or didn't it?"That's the blah blah of our academic and media establishments (forgive me). The question is: "What was the holocaust?"The professors and media intellectuals want you to believe that it is an all or nothing question. Since something obviously happened, to deny everything is "crazy" or "anti-Jewish."
Revisionist theory does not state that nothing happened. So the idea that revisionist theory, in this context, argues that there was "no holocaust" is the (quite successful) political maneuvering of the professors to escape dealing with what revisionism does argue--primarily that the Germans did not mass-murder millions of Jews and others in homicidal gassing chambers as part of a program of racial genocide.
The oddity to this all-or-nothing scenario, which only the politicos and the uninformed pursue, is that the tragedy of the European Jews does not depend on gassing chambers or any of the other imaginings of some of the sickest minds of mid-century Europe. The tragedy of the Jews was the destruction of a centuries old Jewish culture in the span of four years. Were there no gas chambers then? It doesn't matter--the tragedy of the Jews remains. Did the Germans, after all, not cook Jewish cadavers to make hand soap? Did they not skin Jews to make lamp shades and riding britches? It doesn't matter. The tragedy of the Jews was their destruction as a culture by the German State before anyone could make up his mind what to do about it, including the Jews.
MDO: Occam's Razor would suggest it is more likely the smaller group is mistaken than the larger group. So my presumptions will weigh quite heavily in favor of the established view because it just is the more reasonable and logical thing to do. To believe that the vast majority of eminent historical scholars are deluded is a wild stretch at best.
BRS: You're entirely right. To go along with the overwhelming majority of scholars in any field is eminently sensible. Even more so if we have no particular interest in, or knowledge of, the field. But with revisionism we have something of an anomaly. Scholars who have sided with the State in making the publication of revisionist theory illegal, and others who have joined in working to suppress all publication or even discussion of revisionism. Something's fishy here. Any Libertarian, if he pauses for only a moment in his daily round, will be able to smell it.
MDO: This is not to say that revisionism doesn't have some place in historical scholarship. It does. In fact, even Ken McVay in correspondence with me has said revisionism is a legitimate undertaking. However, he suggests calling Holocaust revisionists Holocaust deniers because it does disservice to genuine historical revisionists to include contrarian thoughts on the Holocaust as a legitimate enterprise. I don't expect you'll agree with him on this.
BRS: What do you think, personally, is wrong with expressing contrarian thoughts about an historical event if you have what you believe are sound reasons for expressing them? Is it the scholar who wants to suppress contrarian thoughts, or is it the political agent? How many other historical events would you consider discouraging the expression of contrarian thoughts about?
Revisionism "denies" that "gassing chambers" were used to mass-murder Jews as part of a program of genocide. Revisionism contributes to the understanding of what happened between the Germans and Jews during the Hitlerian regime. Try to imagine, if you will, any other body of "revisionist" thought on any other subject that is becoming the target of suppression and censorship throughout Western culture. Then read one paper by Mattogno, Rudolf, Cole, Butz or any of half a dozen other "revisionist" writers and try to imagine why?
MDO: I found McVay to be quite candid as I asked him if David Cole ever elaborated on his recant and he said not to put too much stock in Cole's recant as it wasn't genuine but motivated by fear.
BRS: A good start. Ask McVay if he believes that fear--the fear of losing tenure, fear of losing a job, fear of losing a career and a dozen or so other fears including the fear of being burned, or beaten, or shot and so on--if any of those things might also play a role in the imaginations of academics being unwilling to speak out for intellectual freedom wherever revisionist theory shows itself?
For example; if you want a very simple and clear introduction to the questions revisionists are asking about the "gassing chambers," look at Cole's "46 Unanswered Questions About the WWII Gas Chambers."Then ask yourself why academics generally would not be willing to entertain the same little adventure you have entered upon.
MDO: This tells me that McVay has a pretty good handle on things and that I can trust him for honest commentary and not a snow job.
BRS: I'm ready to trust McVay. Let's trust him.
(to be continued...)
Wed, 27 May 1998 01:55:46 -0700
MARCO DEN OUDEN: Hi Brad! Please note that I am copying this note to Ken McVay & Jamie McCarthy. Easier than sending it to them again later. If you object I will discontinue copying to them.
BRADLEY R. SMITH: No. That's fine.
MDO: They are observing, as far as I know, and don't intend to get involved in our discussion except to answer any questions I might send their way if I am having trouble finding appropriate reference material.
BRS: Yes. This is an exchange between you and I, initiated because of our mutual interest, even attachment, to ideals and sentiments Libertarian in nature.
MDO: There's an awful lot of stuff to cover so I want to clarify a few things before we go further. Going back to my original correspondence with Byron: Byron critiqued Irving because he thought Irving still argued that the Nazis intentionally exterminated Jews. They just didn't use gas chambers. Byron argued against any intentionalism at all. More specifically he says about Irving: "He uses phrases like 'mass exterminations' and such for such liquidation's and thereby, seems to want to keep some remnant of the 'intentionalist' thesis - i.e. that the Nazis intended to and intentionally did kill innocent civilians - alive. Yet to my mind, the killing of partisans and guerrillas (which happens in every war) is not an 'atrocity' but just the same as killing one's enemies on the front lines."Do you agree with Byron on intentionalism or do you agree with Irving? If you agree with Irving that there was intentional massacres of Jews, then we are not arguing over whether the Nazis murdered large numbers of Jews. We're arguing over how many and by what methods. Please clarify where you stand on this.
BRS: Your observation contained in the last two sentences is the important one. I think it is hardly arguable that during WWII Germans did not intentionally kill civilians. There are those who want to debate how many, by what means, why, and the ethnic backgrounds of some of those killed. I think that after half a century the issue deserves to be treated more seriously than this. If it is wrong to intentionally kill civilians, even in wartime, why is it that during WWII the Germans, British, Americans and Soviets all did it so often? Ostensibly, we are all part of the same civilization, ostensibly all share the civilized ideal that in war one does not intentionally kill civilians, yet we all did it. Why? A secondary question is: Why did the Germans do it? But that is not our question. That's the question the Germans must face. The question you and I must answer is: Why did the British (Canadians) and Americans intentionally kill civilians? Are we our brother's keeper? Fifty years have passed and our academy and media are still lamenting the moral failure of others. The intentional killing of civilians was not only a tactic of the Anglo-American Governments, it was their strategy. There must be something in it for us to continue to focus on questions of German morality and evade such questions about our own. In what way do we benefit?
MDO: On other points you raised, you asked what I meant by the "extermination of the Polish Intelligentsia."I refer you to Shirer pages 659-665. Shirer quotes the diaries of General Halder and Admiral Canaris in support of this. These documents were produced in evidence at Nuremberg. It also notes a reference in Halder's diary to some SS toughs herding 50 Jews after working them all day doing bridge repair into a synagogue where, in Halder's own words, the SS "massacred them."Were the Halder and Canaris diaries forgeries? Or did they lie in their diaries? Or do you agree these events happened? Shirer also includes some damning quotes from Hans Frank's journal. Frank says there that Hitler said "The men capable of leadership in Poland must be liquidated."He goes on to quote Frank's journal on a speech he made to a cabinet meeting at Cracow where he said about the Jews: "Gentlemen, I must ask you to rid yourself of all feeling of pity. We must annihilate the Jews."It was difficult he admitted "to shoot or poison the three and a half million Jews in the general Government, but we shall be able to take measures which will lead, somehow, to their annihilation."Was Frank's journal also a forgery? If you argue that these diaries and journals were forgeries, who forged them? If you agree they were genuine, how do you explain these quotations?
BRS: These are all pertinent questions, for the historian. If all the charges against the Germans named above are true, it confirms what we have already agreed upon: the Germans intentionally killed civilians.
MDO: In one of your answers to my questions you ask, "Why the Jews?"meaning why should we care more about the Jews than about the victims of Dresden or Hiroshima. Two points here. The Jewish question in Germany is a major issue because they were not victims of a random attack like Dresden, but were systematically persecuted, rounded up and murdered because of their race and religion. They were the victims of racism and genocide.
BRS: The burning of Dresden was not a "random" attack. It wasn't a "tactical" attack. It was part of the strategic air war of the Anglo-American military against the civilian population of Germany. The British, particularly, insisted that it was. I agree that Jews were killed because they were Jews. I add that the Germans of Dresden were killed because they were German. The reason the Portuguese, for example, were not killed in the raid on Dresden is that they were not there, they were in Portugal. In any event, when the State orders civilians to be killed en masse, it is not important what reason the State gives. The State always has its reasons. I condemn the killing of civilians for whatever reasons. It's difficult for me to believe that you do not.
MDO: The victims at Dresden happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
BRS: I agree. Following that reasoning, of course, we will see that the Jews of Europe were in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a matter of fact, Adolf said as much.
MDO: This is not to mitigate Dresden. It was a terrible crime and, unfortunately, the victors in the war did not see fit to prosecute the perpetrators afterwards. Modern thinking, fortunately, is different, and Americans reacted in horror to the massacre at My Lai during the Viet Nam war. But the victims at Dresden, as terrible as it was, were not the victims of genocide.
BRS: I think we are agreed that the victims of Dresden were the victims of a mass killing of civilians, the charge that is laid without let against the Germans. You are saying in effect that it was terrible to kill the civilians of Dresden, but it was worse to kill the Jews (civilians) of Eastern Europe because that was "genocide."So it's bad to kill civilians for many reasons, but it's worse to kill them by "genociding" them. I don't understand the reasoning. I know you are not alone in thinking that it is worse to kill people when you don't like them than it is to kill them when you have no particular grudge against them. It's all a little subjective, isn't it? I'm going to stand with Libertarian principle here, which states that you do not initiate force against another individual. It doesn't matter whether you like them or not.
MDO: On the other side of the water, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are universally remembered and condemned as horrific events that must never happen again. In fact, my mother, whose father (my grandfather) was executed in a Japanese concentration camp, believes that the terrible events in the Japanese prison camps are all but ignored today. So there we have the opposite to the case in Germany. In the war against Germany people focus on the Nazi atrocities. Allied atrocities are largely ignored. In the war against Japan people focus on the atomic destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Japanese atrocities are largely ignored.
BRS: I see what you're saying. But I would bet you a dollar to a doughnut (to coin a phrase) that if we were to review what has appeared this year in the print press and electronic media about Auschwitz, for example, and review what has appeared there about Hiroshima, we would find that there were hundreds, maybe a thousand references to Auschwitz to every reference to Hiroshima. Am I going out on a limb here? Try it. If you were to peruse the student and academic publications of our universities, you would find the same. The professors are fascinated with the behavior of Germans, rather complacent with that of the Americans. Why is that? Who benefits?
MDO: In fact, all these events are terrible. Both sides committed terrible acts that should be remembered and condemned. This includes the Jewish Holocaust.
BRS: Surely. But what was the Jewish Holocaust? That's the question revisionist theory addresses.
(to be continued...)
Wed, 3 June 1998 01:55:46 -0700
MARCO DEN OUDEN: Brad, I've just reread our correspondence so far and I think that before we go further we should review where we agree on and then see if we can keep our discussion to areas we don't agree on.
BRADLEY R. SMITH:: Okay.
MDO: First, you agree with me that the Nazi philosophy was racist, totalitarian and repugnant. You agree that the Nazis killed innocent civilians.
BRS: I agree that we want to be very careful in getting off on the right foot. We're not in a hurry. We want to get it right. To that end we are agreed regarding Nazi philosophy (not a subject I am expert in),.
MDO: You also agreed that Holocaust revisionism has been and is being used by racists and fascists to further their political goals.
MDO: You argued that this is irrelevant to the discussion as to whether the Holocaust took place, and I have to agree with you.
BRS: The waters become a little muddied here. You and I have not yet agreed what the "Holocaust" actually was. We haven't gotten that far. We have to work that out.
MDO: On my part, I agree that the Allied side also killed innocent civilians.
BRS: I like the way of putting it that you used in an earlier communication — the purposeful killing of civilians. Let's use that expression. That way we don't have to get mixed up someplace down the line with the "innocence" or "guilt" of "certain" civilians. Also, when we compare one military to the other, I think we should use the corresponding terminology. If we are going to say that "Nazis" purposefully killed civilians, then we would not use a generality like "the Allied side."We would say that we are agreed that Republicans and Democrats purposefully killed civilians(I will posit that almost always in this exchange that I will mean the British Liberals and Conservatives as well as American Democrats and Republicans, but to keep it short will refer only to the Americans).
MDO: I agree with you in condemning the bombing of Dresden, Hiroshima and other atrocities. I agree that these issues are not addressed as strongly or as often as they ought to be. I agree that the perpetrators of such atrocities were not properly held to account.
BRS: The question here, then, is why Nazis are held to one standard of justice and morality, Republicans and Democrats to another, which is the fact of the matter. Why do you think that is? Who benefits by the institutionalizing of such double standards?
MDO: I also agree that there is much official persecution of Holocaust revisionists by governments, though I believe this is not the case in the United States where the First Amendment is very strong. Even an institution like Northwestern, for example, upholds freedom of expression and lets Butz host a Website on their server.
BRS: Agreed. No formal censorship of revisionist theory in America. The State was, however, deeply involved in the original institutionalization of the story, in partnership primarily with the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union, and still supports, encourages and funds the orthodox story.
MDO: Even in Canada, where our constitutional safeguards are weaker than in the U.S., Zundel's conviction on the false news charge was overturned on appeal. Nevertheless, there is much harassment of revisionists by governments, particularly in Europe.
BRS: Not merely harassment, Marco--persecution. When you are condemned by the State, your personal writings confiscated, and you are fined, and jailed, and when the State orders an entire edition of you book to be burned (burned!)--that isn't harassment, that's persecution. As an aside, it should be pointed out that no "human rights" organization, no journalist organization, no internationally based free press or "amnesty" organization, argues for the release of revisionist writers who are in jail even as you and I correspond with each other. Why do you think there is a double standard among such free speech organizations?
MDO: As a Libertarian I condemn all government attempts at censorship and repression. However, I also recognize the right of individuals and private organizations to boycott, shun and disassociate themselves from Holocaust revisionists. I want to be clear about the difference between government censorship and private boycotts.
BRS: I agree; there is a difference between Government censorship and private boycotts. At this time I will not comment on the use of institutional censorship and why it is an important question in a society like this one based on huge accumulations of capital.
MDO: Where we don't agree on is the Holocaust itself.
BRS: I do not think that we even agree on what we disagree about. Maybe we will get into it now.
MDO: You ended the last exchange with a question - what is the Holocaust? So let's continue our discussion by defining our terms. By Holocaust I mean its generally accepted meaning of the deliberate attempt and partial success of the Nazis in exterminating the Jews of Europe by a variety of means including mass shootings, gas vans and mass executions in gas chambers in concentration camps. I believe the number of Jews killed numbered around five to six million.
BRS: Okay. Here we are. But let's use the term you used your self the other day: the "Jewish Holocaust."That is really what people mean when they refer to "Holocaust."
MDO: You seem to imply that you use the term "Holocaust" in a different way, saying "Revisionist theory does not state that nothing happened. So the idea that revisionist theory, in this context, argues that there was 'no holocaust' is the (quite successful) political maneuvering of the professors to escape dealing with what revisionism does argue -primarily that the Germans did not mass-murder millions of Jews and others in homicidal gassing chambers as part of a program of racial genocide."Since my understanding of the term is precisely what you say revisionism denies, what do you mean by the term "Holocaust"?
BRS: "Holocaust" is a newspeak "umbrella" word that, looked at closely, means nothing whatever.
MDO: Let's come to agreement on the use of the term here. If you want the term "Holocaust" to mean something different, what term do you want to use to designate the commonly accepted usage? Might I say here that I think you and I should use the term in its generally accepted sense in our discussions. I will use it in that sense in the rest of today's note.
BRS: This is probably impossible for me, for the implications of the term go against everything that revisionist theory addresses, and it goes against moral sentiments I hold very deeply.. At the same time, I recognize the need for a "guiding" term."I usually take care of it by using the expression "Holocaust story."It's simple, it implies that while some of the story is true, some of it isn't. It's the best I've been able to come up with for my own uses.
MDO: That said, I'd like us to establish some guidelines for our discussion. Let us not go into areas we agree on. I want us to get at the issue of the Holocaust itself.
BRS: But you have jumped ahead of the discussion here. We had not yet decided that we should use this "umbrella" word. To discuss, say, gas chambers, do we have to use the word "Holocaust?"Why? Was it used at Nuremberg? If we want to discuss gas chambers, we can discuss gas chambers. Why not be specific? I want to say up front that I feel "compromised": when I am encouraged to use a word that I think is corrupt in the way it is used, that signifies events that I do not believe happened, and that carries with it a moral condemnation of others that I do not want to participate in.
MDO: So if I make a claim about the Holocaust, I don't want you to skirt the issue by changing the subject to atrocities committed by the Allies, or the censorship and persecution of revisionists, all of which I agree with you on anyway.
BRS: What was the "Holocaust?"I think that is one of the matters we would like to discuss. We are not in agreement here. We can afford to be patient enough to get into agreement on the use of a single word. It looks like I have been unsuccessful in explaining how important the role of England and the U.S. is with regard to the issue of purposefully killing civilians. When you appear to feel that I am "skirting" the issue, that is exactly what I think when you are unable to see that the purposeful killing of civilians is the issue for me, not the motives of those who do it. When it comes to purposefully killing civilians, my position is that the Nazis did not do anything Republicans and Democrats did not do. Why, then, are Nazis judged so harshly, Democrats and Republicans so leniently? Who benefits?
MDO: The next set of guidelines I want to establish is rules of evidence. Personally I'd like to use generally accepted rules of evidence as used by the historical profession and the courts. My understanding of these rules of evidence are: eye witness testimony is generally good evidence, particularly when corroborated. The more corroboration there is, the more reliable eye witness evidence becomes. Negatives to eye witness evidence are that human memory is fallible. People do occasionally lie, even under oath, and that evidence extracted by torture is suspect. For this reason, the courts in general prefer eye witness testimony to be corroborated by other witnesses and supporting circumstantial evidence.
MDO: documentary evidence in the form of diaries and letters is generally good evidence.. Such diaries and letters become more credible as entries within them confirm and support each other. They are unreliable to the extent that they are inconsistent or if it can be proved that they have been forged.
MDO: documentary evidence in the form of government documents, memos, orders, and documents from businesses such as work orders, invoices, specification documents and so on are generally good evidence. Again, proven forgeries must be discounted.
BRS: Agreed, with the reservation that we want to know where the documents come from and who did them.
MDO: If you agree that these are valid rules of evidence, then we must agree on what is required on our respective sides in this discussion. I will make claims about the Holocaust and will cite evidence to support those claims. To refute them, you must prove the negatives pertaining to the particular evidence. In other words, you must demonstrate that witnesses lied or were tortured (using the same rules of evidence to do so - you can't just claim it is so or make hypothetical statements to the contrary), you must prove documents are forged, not merely assert that this is the case. If these parameters to our discussion are not acceptable, please submit changes or alterations and we can discuss it further.
BRS: No, this all is perfectly reasonable. But we want to keep in mind what is that we are discussing--fundamentally. We're not historians. Are we? Are you suddenly interested in becoming a expert in the tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of documents that do or may relate to proving or disproving that homicidal gassing chambers were used to kill millions ( I guess it's been lowered to hundreds of thousands) of Jews and others? My charge is to see to it that revisionist theory gets a hearing in public. I have never done anything else. I have written on two or three "historical" issues in twenty years: the human soap story; the film Shoah; the testimony of Treblinka inmate Yankeil Wiernik. Maybe a couple others. Even with those few issues I have written as a journalist, not as an historian. Am I behind the curve here? Have you trained as an historian? Finkelstein, in A Nation On Trial, distinguishes between Holocaust "history" and Holocaust "literature."He observes that while there isn't very much of the former there is a mountain of the latter. It's an observation that strikes the mark for me. I have always treated with Holocaust "literature."It is H. literature that we all grew up on. That's what we get in the newspapers, on TV, the magazines, in the movies, on the stage, the autobiographies, the endless, endless "going on" about it. I wonder what impelled you, specifically, to get in touch with me. My interests may not be what you had hoped they would be. You do not appear to be particularly interested in what I find very important. To sum it up- I am intrigued by the intellectual and moral issues raised by the orthodox Holocaust story; by how our intellectuals support the use of double standards in judging the actions of the National Socialists on the one hand and Republicans and Democrats on the other. You and I can agree that it is wrong to intentionally kill civilians. But with the very next step we reach a conundrum. I am saying, essentially, that the National Socialists did not do anything of any consequence that Republicans and Democrats did not do, and did not continue doing until now. Until we have cleared up this point, I don't see how we can move forward with such issues as which camp inmate said what about whom on what day to what effect and how it is collaborated and what significance it has. I think the problem to be settled before we get into a discussion of historical detail--for which neither of us is trained--is: why are we so consumed intellectually and culturally with what the National Socialists did when apparently they did nothing that Republicans and Democrats did not do and did not continue to do during the ensuing half century? (I posit again that the crime of the National Socialists was that they intentionally killed civilians.) And we would want to understand what influence the successful promotion of the Holocaust story has had on American cultural and political life, and on the cultural and political life of other nations and peoples.
MDO: On the assumption that this is agreeable to you. . .
BRS: Sorry--as you see above--net yet.
MDO: I want to revisit a point mentioned in my last letter which you did not address - namely Hans Frank's Journal. As you recall, I said "Shirer goes on to quote Frank's journal on a speech he made to a cabinet meeting at Cracow where he said about the Jews: 'Gentlemen, I must ask you to rid yourself of all feeling of pity. We must annihilate the Jews.' It was difficult he admitted 'to shoot or poison the three and a half million Jews in the General Government, but we shall be able to take measures which will lead, somehow, to their annihilation.'" To me, this is a clear statement of intention to kill three and a half million Jews (in other words, a clear statement of intention to implement the Holocaust). Would you agree or not? If not, why not? If you claim the Journal is a forgery, what evidence is there for this?
BRS: I did address that question. Last time when you brought up Frank's journal I wrote that if it's true he wrote in it what Shirer claims he wrote, it is evidence that goes to prove that Germans purposefully killed civilians. If it is not true, you and I have already agreed that it is true that Germans purposefully killed civilians, so who cares? Either way, I agree that Germans (under the National Socialist State) purposefully killed civilians. At the same time I repeat the observation that Republicans and Democrats purposefully killed civilians. What's the difference? Motive? You said as much in your 23 May letter ("genocide" is somehow worse than mass killings generally). If motive is how you distinguish among those who purposefully killed civilians, please explain how you distinguish the motives of the National Socialists on the one hand from those of the Republicans and Democrats on the other.
I think we are agreed on one point: National Socialists and the Democrats/Republicans both purposefully killed civilians. I think the next point to agree on is rooted in the suggestion on your part that the motives of the National Socialists were different from the motives of the Democrats/Republicans when it came to purposefully killing civilians. I am asking what this difference is, and what difference it makes. --B
(to be continued...)
Sun, 14 Jun 1998 00:43:26 -0700
MARCO DEN OUDEN:
Brad, it's been a while since I last wrote you. I've been busy with a lot of things. Let me start by clarifying something for readers following this exchange. I am writing you letters to which you are adding your interjections and commentary. This gives you a distinct advantage in getting in the last word. In my last note I discussed defining the term "Holocaust" so that we are clear on where we are coming from. You interjected a disagreement at the beginning of my comments and then added several more declaring this was still a bone of contention. The problem for me is that a reader who doesn't understand the way we are doing this may think I am being obtuse, which I'm not. Instead of interjecting your comments throughout my note, would you consider leaving my note intact and putting your rebuttal at the end? I think this would be fairer to me. For my part, I'll try and keep my letters shorter and focus on only one subject in each. That way a reader would read through my note in its entirety and then through your rebuttal. You still have the advantage of the last word, but I can live with that.
For this reason I want to confine myself to the unresolved issue of defining our terms here and will leave the rest for later. Last time I suggested the following definition: "Holocaust: the deliberate attempt and partial success of the Nazis in exterminating the Jews of Europe by a variety of means including mass shootings, gas vans and mass executions in gas chambers in concentration camps. The number of Jews killed numbered around five to six million."
You suggested using the term "Jewish Holocaust" instead. It is true that the Nazis exterminated many other people besides Jews, including homosexuals, the handicapped, Poles, gypsies and others. According to Nizkor, 11 million were killed, of whom 6 million were Jews. Nevertheless, the primary focus of Nazi propaganda was the Jews. And in general usage, it is quite clear that the primary focus and primary meaning of the term is as I have defined it above.
You, yourself, call your organization "The Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust."Not the "Jewish Holocaust."Not the "Holocaust Story." If you use the term Holocaust yourself in the name of your organization, it is disingenuous of you to object to me using the term. If it is a "newspeak 'umbrella' word that means nothing whatever" as you argue, then what exactly is it that your organization wants an open debate on? Obviously you recognize that most people will understand exactly what you mean when you use the term or you wouldn't use it. Another example - you call your book Confessions of a Holocaust Revisionist, not "Holocaust Story Revisionist", not "Jewish Holocaust Revisionist." In fact, if you go through your Website you will find many, many references to the Holocaust. You said in your last note that you couldn't go along with using the term "Holocaust" because "the implications of the term go against everything that revisionist theory addresses, and it goes against moral sentiments I hold very deeply." You must feel very pained every time you browse through your Website then. Any plans on eliminating all these references on your site?
You state "I usually take care of it by using the expression 'Holocaust story.' It's simple, it implies that while some of the story is true, some of it isn't."I'm sorry but I cannot accept that. Calling it a story in no way implies that some of it is true. It implies it is all fiction (That's what a story is). And that is the point we [are] discussing. And what is it that you claim is true? That maybe as many as a million to a million and a half Jews died during the war from starvation and disease, much of it the fault of the Allies for bombing supply routes and preventing food from being delivered to the camps. Well, I'm sorry . That is NOT what is meant by the Holocaust and you know it. The meaning of the Holocaust can be divided into three essential elements:
1. A deliberate plan or program to exterminate the Jews of Europe. (Not accidental death from disease or starvation)
2. The use of a variety of methods to kill the Jews including mass shootings, gas vans and gas chambers. (Not accidental death from disease or starvation)
3. The killing of 5 - 6 million Jews. (Not 1 to 1.5 million)
So what you are willing to concede did happen to Jews was NOT what is meant by the Holocaust.
With all due respect, Brad, I think you are being mendacious with your objection to the term. I believe that the use of the term was fine with you and other Holocaust revisionists until Deborah Lipstadt started arguing that you and your fellow revisionists should be called Holocaust Deniers instead of Holocaust Revisionists. It was then that you started nattering over the meaning of the term so that you could say "We don't deny the Holocaust happened." That's just plain BS. You deny there was a plan to exterminate the Jews. You deny there were gas chambers and gas vans and as for mass shootings, you excuse them as being justified anti-guerrilla activity. And finally you deny that anywhere near five or six million Jews were killed. In effect you deny the Holocaust happened and no amount of sophistry can change that.
You stated in our last exchange that "I feel 'compromised': when I am encouraged to use a word that I think is corrupt in the way it is used, that signifies events that I do not believe happened, and that carries with it a moral condemnation of others that I do not want to participate in."But again I say to you - you use it in the name of your site, the name of your book and in countless references throughout your site as well. You are crying crocodile tears, Brad.
You touched upon a great many other issues in your last note, but as I said at the beginning of this one, I am going to stick to one topic at a time so we keep focused. If we can agree on terminology, then we can continue. For the reasons outlined above, I think we should use the term "Holocaust"(with a capital H) to mean what I defined above with its three integral elements. You use it throughout your site, including the title of your site and the title of your book. For you to decline to use it now in this discussion is just plain ludicrous. To be continued?
(to be continued...)
Sun, 20 Jun 1998
BRADLEY R. SMITH
Marco: I'm glad to do as you ask regarding your concerns with the form of our exchange. I will not add interjections or commentary within the text of your letters, but post your letters intact, as I did with your latest of 14 June. I will not post a response --I'm not thinking so much in terms of a "rebuttal"-- for a day or two after posting yours. This should address your concern about my having the "last word" each time. This way you'll have the "last word" for a couple days, then I'll have it, you'll have it and so on. If there is anything else you'd like me to do along these lines I'll be glad to take a run at it. (At the same time, I'll try to respond more promptly than I did this time.)
You write of the "unresolved issue of defining our terms," noting that it is "disingenuous"of me to object to you using the word "Holocaust."Yes, I can see how what I wrote appears to read that way. I agree with you that "Holocaust" has come to represent a series of actions and events that are understood (almost) universally to be that the Germans had a deliberate program to kill all the Jews of Europe; that they killed them with a variety of methods including mass shootings, gas vans and gas chambers; and that 5 - 6 million Jews were in fact killed. I think I wrote badly about the word "Holocaust."I didn't mean to give you the impression that I object to you using the word. Almost everyone uses it, and nearly always they use it the way you use it. It's not a problem for me. I will understand pretty well what you mean when you use it, just as I understand pretty well what Elie Wiesel, say, means when he uses it. I'm not a word policeman. What I meant to emphasize is that it is impossible for "me" to use the word the way you use it. For you it's a good word that represents a sound historical evaluation of what happened between the Germans and Jews during the Hitlerian regime. For me it's a misleading word that purposefully misrepresents much of what happened.
I have a short-hand way of reminding readers that when I use the word "Holocaust" I am not looking at the event itself the way others look at it when they use the word. My shorthand is to write the "Jewish" holocaust," or the holocaust "story."I think our readers will understand when you write "Holocaust" that you go along with the orthodox historical view on what happened and when I use some modifying version of the word that I don't go along with it. Let a thousand flowers bloom. With regard to your concerns with my use of the word "story,""revisionism" versus "denial" and other stuff on that order — let's not bother.
When you first contacted me to ask if I would respond to some questions relating to your newly discovered interest in revisionism (or "denial," whatever you wish), you identified yourself as a "political Libertarian," noting that I am one too. I was very glad to hear from you. I have wanted for a very long time to discuss some of the issues surrounding the holocaust controversy that I think are important but which are seldom addressed. As a matter of fact, they are issues I think are never addressed.
Twenty-five years ago when I first ran into the Libertarians you were asked, if you wanted to join the party, to sign a little oath that read: "I do not support the initiation of force to gain political or social goals."It was the most radical, the most advanced political statement I had ever heard. I was bowled over by it, particularly by the implications of not initiating force to gain "social" goals. While I have heard that you are no longer asked to sign such an oath to join the party, I would imagine that its premises remain the moral cornerstone of Libertarian theory. In any event, they remain mine.
Libertarian theory, then, does not argue that we will not initiate force against Jews. It argues that we will not initiate force. With that in mind, I am unable to figure out what war crimes you think the Germans committed during World War II that Canadians and Americans did not commit against Germans; how German motives for committing those war crimes differed from our own, and how Libertarian theory addresses such issues?
(to be continued...)
Wed, 8 July 1998
BRADLEY R. SMITH
Marco: I made a mistake. I want to remove two words from the last paragraph above. The two word are: "...against Germans."The paragraph should read:
"Libertarian theory, then, does not argue that we will not initiate force against Jews. It argues that we will not initiate force. With that in mind, I am unable to figure out what war crimes you think the Germans committed during World War II that Canadians and Americans did not commit; how German motives for committing those war crimes differed from our own, and how Libertarian theory addresses such issues?"
(to be continued...)
Thu, 16 Jul 1998 02:00:51 -0700
MARCO DEN OUDEN:
Brad, Please forgive the long delay in responding to your last missive. I have been so busy with my other activities that I have had little time to devote to our exchange, which I must admit, has fallen to low priority for now. I'm now managing two investment Websites, recently was involved in a serious car accident, spent a couple of weeks assisting my wife in a closing out sale for the business we owned, and on top of that our union at work went out on strike so I spent some time on picket duty and served on the union finance committee. I also just finished editing and publishing our most recent libertarian newsletter and am preparing for a libertarian barbecue in our backyard this weekend. No rest for the wicked, they say. I must be a pretty bad dude! Now back to our discussion.
I'm glad you find the libertarian philosophy of non-aggression as captivating as I do. At least we share a common ground there. The point of disagreement came out in the last paragraph of your last note. It's a theme you've repeated a few times. It amounts to what I call "comparative statism". You say "I am unable to figure out what war crimes you think the Germans committed during World War II that Canadians and Americans did not commit against Germans; how German motives for committing those war crimes differed from our own, and how Libertarian theory addresses such issues?" First of all, I don't think it is proper, as a libertarian, to ask such a question. Such comparisons have nothing to do with libertarianism at all. Libertarians don't go around saying , "Well, the Allies killed civilians too, so I guess the Nazis weren't such bad guys after all." That is patent nonsense. Any crimes and atrocities committed by the Allies during WW2 are a completely separate issue from those committed by the Nazis. Both are to be condemned.
But if we are to make comparisons, I read somewhere (and I regret I can't place the source right now) that the comparative numbers of civilians killed by the Nazis and the Allies during WW2 was around 20 to 1, more specifically, about 10 million to 500,000, and that includes Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Libertarians in general condemn the initiation of the use of force and are critical of government violation of this principle wherever and whenever they see it. The Holocaust issue is the only example I know of where I've seen libertarians such as yourself mitigating the actions of a government, arguing that the government was not as bad as people think it was. I find this extremely anomalous for a libertarian. And if you're going to defend a government, why not pick one based on principles of liberty, such as the American government, rather than one based on principles of slavery as you have acknowledged previously the Nazi philosophy was?
If you, as a libertarian, are concerned about the failure to hold Allied officials responsible for atrocities committed during the war, it is quite reasonable to start a movement for the prosecution of Allied War Criminals. You could start an ad hoc "Committee for the Prosecution of Harry Truman et al for the Mass Murder of Innocent Japanese at Hiroshima and Nagasaki", or some similar group, without mentioning the Holocaust or Nazi crimes at all. You might even garner considerable support, as a great many people condemn the atomic attacks on Japan as completely unwarranted and a gross violation of civilized behavior. But though you bring this issue up repeatedly, it does not seem to be the focus of your organization at all. You are not the "Committee for Prosecution of Allied War Criminals". You are the "Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust". And even that is misleading as you are only peripherally arguing for open debate. Your focus, from the material on your site and your writings, seems clearly to be to deny the Holocaust happened.
Your continual asking of the question "What did the Nazis do that the Allies didn't? is not meant to point out the atrocities committed by the Allies. It is meant to whitewash the Nazis. And this, I suggest, is an abomination of libertarian principle.
If you want to condemn the Allies, then condemn them. Argue about Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and other atrocities. Bring up the facts, the statistics, the gruesome accounts. Work to bring the culprits belatedly to justice (just as Simon Wiesenthal works to bring Nazi criminals to justice). This would be an honorable and noble thing to do. It would be concerned with justice.
But to use such alleged concern for justice to argue that some of the worst atrocities ever committed by a government did not happen, is completely absurd.
Getting back to your specific questions:
1. What war crimes (do) you think the Germans committed during World War II that Canadians and Americans did not commit against Germans?
Answer: The Nazis had a deliberate policy of genocide against the Jews, actively carrying out this policy by means of extermination units in the field and extermination camps. Their victims numbered in the millions. The Allies did not have a deliberate policy of genocide. Such atrocities as did occur (e.g. Dresden) were undertaken as tactical war measures or in retaliation against similar Nazi bombing attacks (the V-2 attacks on London). The victims in such attacks numbered in the 100s of thousands.
2. How (did) German motives for committing those war crimes differ from our own?
Answer: The Nazis were motivated by hatred, racism and expansionism (or imperialism). The Allies were motivated, first of all, by a commitment to honor a treaty between Poland and England for mutual aid and secondly, the containment of an aggressor nation. (Remember, Germany attacked Poland, not vice versa. German tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia, France, the Netherlands and other countries, not vice versa. Germany was clearly the initiator of force, a crucial distinction for a libertarian.)
3: How Libertarian theory addresses such issues?
Answer: Look at who initiates force in any situation. Who started the war? Germany, by attacking Poland. Who attacked whom in the Nazi Jewish policy? It is alleged by revisionists that the Jews did by declaring "war" on Germany. Nonsense. The Nazis instituted the Nuremberg Laws to deprive Jews of liberty and property, clearly an aggression. The Jewish declaration of war was a declaration of an economic boycott. This is clearly a non-aggressive action in libertarian theory (a right to disassociate oneself from people one does not like) and well within the rights of anyone to do.
When I started this discussion I had not read a great deal on either side. I had given Butz a cursory glance and read a few abstracts. I recognized right away that revisionist arguments were very subtle and seductive to the unwary. I made a point that if I was going to read it more thoroughly I wanted to read a substantial amount of literature on the other side first. (The generally accepted historical position). Since then I have read a great deal, including Lipstadt's Denying the Holocaust, Gerald Fleming's Hitler & the Final Solution and parts of "The Good Old Days" compiled by German writers Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen and Volker Riess. I've flipped through and will later purchase Hitler's Willing Executioners. The parts I read in the book store just flipping through it were absolutely horrifying. (About Battalion 101). I also want to get Hilberg's book. The material I've read, particularly Lipstadt's book, have convinced me that the revisionist thesis is seriously flawed in its methodology. The wholesale discounting of ALL (not some, but ALL) eye witness testimony, is patently absurd. The denigrating of documents as forgeries without any proof whatsoever is equally absurd. The roots of the revisionist movement in racism and anti-Semitism is extremely disturbing to me and, in my opinion, severely undermines its credibility. The dismissal of the majority of the historical profession as "court historians" or cowards is simply incredulous.
Not only do I believe that Holocaust Revisionism has absolutely nothing to do with libertarianism, I believe it is factually wrong. I believe that the Holocaust happened and that there is overwhelming evidence for this.
In continuing this discussion we can take either of two approaches. We can continue to discuss the relationship between libertarianism and revisionism. I claim there is none save the libertarian's defense of free speech and freedom of the press. Or we can get right into discussing the Holocaust itself. My preference is for the latter. I'd like to continue by systematically presenting evidence that:
- The Nazis deliberately planned to annihilate the Jews of Europe.
- That they used a variety of methods to accomplish this including mass shootings, gas vans and gas chambers.
- That 5-6 million Jews were killed.
You, in turn, would rebut this evidence, and hopefully we could come to some agreement. Call me naive, but I believe that a reasoned argument will eventually convince you that you are wrong on the facts (despite Lipstadt's argument that debating you "is like trying to nail a glob of jelly to the wall.". I look forward to your reply. Please note I'll be away on vacation for the first two weeks of August.
(to be continued...)
Thurs, 23 July 1998
BRADLEY R. SMITH
Marco, you want to "systematically" present evidence to me that the Nazis deliberately planned to annihilate the Jews of Europe, that they used a variety of methods to accomplish it, and that 5-6 million Jews were killed. You write that you believe H. revisionism is "factually wrong," that the Holocaust happened and that there is "overwhelming evidence" for this. At the same time you write that you know little about the subject, that you have only begun to read the orthodox literature, and that you are largely uninformed about revisionist scholarship.
I think if I were to decide to undertake such a project, and in 20 years of being around the subject matter I never have, I would undertake it with someone (no offense) who is considerably more familiar with the literature than you say you are, and someone who does not describe himself with quite so much self satisfaction as a True Believer. And then there is your tide-like returning to your fantasy that I "defend" the Nazi regime. It's difficult to believe that you are still confused on this matter. I have addressed the Holocaust story and Nazi Germany for close to twenty years and I have never defended the Nazi regime, ever, and you can not demonstrate that I ever have. Yet I believe you are being sincere when you suggest, again and again, despite of what I write, that I do. This is a serious misunderstanding, so I will address it, again.
I have agreed from the inception of this exchange that the Nazi government was (your own words, Marco) "ruthless and cruel and totally intolerant of dissent or opposition. As such, it has no redeeming values with which a libertarian can identify." My first words on the first page of your 17 May letter, your first letter, Marco, I wrote: "I more or less agree with the above. Not an issue for me."
In my response to your 23 May letter I agreed with you that the National Socialist regime was "racist, collectivist and totalitarian . . . ruthless and cruel and totally intolerant of dissent or opposition." And yet, in your 3 June letter you write: "First, you agree with me [these are your words, Marco, you are confirming that I agree with you!] that the Nazi philosophy was racist, totalitarian and repugnant."
And now, in your 16 July letter you write ". . . if you are going to defend a government, why not pick one based on principles of liberty, such as the American government, rather than one based on principles of slavery as you have acknowledged previously the Nazi philosophy was?" So here I am again, in your words, "defending" a government which bases its rule on the principles of slavery, i.e., the Nazi government. I think I have finally figured out why you keep getting it wrong, and where my responsibility for it lies. I carelessly did not take into account your psychology as a true believer with regard to the H. story. When I ask you what National Socialists did during World War II that Republicans and Democrats did not do, you take that to be a defense of National Socialism rather than a real question. You jump ahead of the game, as true believers do, inordinately agitated by the prospect of a crack appearing in the mental edifice they have built their lives on. It resembles the reaction I get from a Mexican evangelical when I ask him an historical question about something in the text of Revelations. On 16 July, for example, you refer to this question and respond in my "voice" saying: "Well, the Allies killed civilians too, so I guess the Nazis weren't such bad guys after all."
I'm going to bore our readers one more time in responding to this. When I ask what it is it that National Socialists did during the Hitlerian regime that Democrats and Republicans did not do, I am not defending National Socialism, I am entering upon a critique of Republicans and Democrats. I am choosing to get into something of a right relationship with those who claimed to speak for me then and who claim to speak for me now. When I express doubt about a specific assertion of unique bestiality leveled against this or that individual German, I am not defending National Socialism as a "philosophy." I have condemned National Socialism again and again. And it would be ludicrous for me to believe that all National Socialists were innocent of all wrongdoing because one National Socialist was innocent of a specific crime it was asserted he committed.
If I refer, for example, to the misuse of documents at Nuremberg by a court profoundly influenced by the worldwide power of Democrats and Republicans, I am not defending National Socialism. I am referring with some dismay to the spectacle of Democrats and Republicans cooperating in such disgraceful behavior, primarily with the Soviets. I expect the Soviets on the court to misuse documents, they're Stalinist factotums who have been involved with intentionally killing their own civilians en masse for two or three decades (it's difficult to imagine the inner life of a "judge" who finds himself annoyed by the behavior of the National Socialists but serves happily in the Soviet legal system under Stalin) and are experts in misusing documents.
But the behavior of the Soviets is not my first concern. My first concern is the behavior of those who have chosen to act in my name, Democrats and Republicans. To demand of American politicos that they respect the Western ideal that all men should be judged "by the rule of law," including National Socialists, is not a defense of National Socialism. Only a lunkhead would think it is. I really do not expect to have to go over this again, and I do not expect you to continue to fantasize in print about how I attempt to defend National Socialism.
Nazis did not claim to speak for me. They claimed to speak for Germans. Germans are responsible for German Nazis and Germans have the primary responsibility for what Nazis did in the name of Germans. Nazism is a German issue. It's not an American issue. It's not my issue. It's not your issue either, though it looks like you would like to make it your issue. My issue is to address the reasons why Democrats and Republicans intentionally committed the crimes they accused National Socialists and nearly all other Germans of committing and not only got away with it but got away feeling good about it. You should ask yourself why you are making National Socialism your issue rather than the behavior of those who chose to speak in your name while they committed unspeakable acts of bloody barbarism. You may find out something about yourself that will interest you. On the other hand. . . .
You write that "Any crimes and atrocities committed by the Allies during WW2 are a completely separate issue from those committed by the Nazis." I don't know what you mean by this statement, but it's an awful one. It implies that you divide intentional mass killings of civilians into bad intentional mass killings of civilians and, not good perhaps, but less bad intentional mass killings of civilians. I picture a debate between lawyers over who is the worst serial killer, the one who kills young ladies twice a week or the one who kills young ladies three times a week, and which has the best motive for being such a bad boy. I'm not unwilling to try to split such hairs, but not before I get the important stuff done.
The one stated difference that is commonly used to condemn the intentional mass killings of civilians carried out by National Socialists and to forgive those carried out by Democrats and Republicans is that Nazis killed Jews while Democrats and Republicans killed everyone else. We in the West have somehow insinuated into our sensibilities the idea that Jews are more valuable as human beings than others and that is why it is particularly horrible to intentionally kill Jews and relatively less horrible to intentionally kill others. This idea is further demonstrated by the fact that, as Faurisson puts it, there are no "war criminals" from World War II who are not seen to be the enemies of Jews. If you are an old man who, fifty year ago, killed and pillaged from one end of Europe to the other but you were not then, and are not today, perceived as having been an enemy of Jews, you can relax. It doesn't matter what you did then. You didn't do it to Jews. Your key to life.
The Holocaust story is not about Jews, it's about Germans and Jews together inseparably, seamlessly, forever. Without Germans there is, simply, no holocaust story to bang on about. Revisionist theory distinguishes itself from orthodox theory in that it takes into account the "other side" of the story. The German side. Germans are human beings, and no less so than Jews. If one believes that Germans have been wrongly accused, wrongly tried, wrongly condemned, and continue to be, particularly by those who claim to speak in your name, it is not ignoble to say so. This has nothing to do with defending National Socialism. Condemning Palestinian bombers who kill Israeli Jewish children, and I do condemn it, has nothing to do with defending Israel or Zionism. Do you want to argue that one?
The issue for me is the institutionalization of the idea that it is right to intentionally kill the innocent for the deeds of the guilty. Republicans and Democrats have done that. So have National Socialists and Zionists and others from one end of the globe to the other. The reason I have focused on what Americans do is that I'm an American. Simple, eh? It's called taking responsibility for yourself before you take it for the other. It's not a new idea. It's what Jesus had in mind when he talked about "motes." With Americans the intentional killing of civilians did not end with WWII. The tradition was carried forth in my name to Korea, to Vietnam and to Iraq, to name only the bloodiest examples. I do not believe I waste my time when I try to draw this to the attention of my fellow citizens, or even to foreigners like yourself.
The National Socialists disappeared half a century ago; today Republicans and Democrats are as warm throughout the nation. It's something of an irony, I do not suppose you will think so, that those who have left us and can do no harm are still excoriated so, while their old enemies who are still so much among us and who have never ceased doing what National Socialists used to do are looked upon with such equanimity. Maybe it's not irony. Maybe it's something else. You appear to have been overwhelmed by the obsessive rhetoric so prevalent in our universities and media about WWII. Nothing could illustrate this better than your incomprehensible response to my question: "How (did) German motives for committing those war crimes differ from our own?" Your reply: "The Nazis were motivated by hatred, racism and expansionism (or imperialism)."
Imperialism, Marco? We're going to talk about German imperialism? This response demonstrates what brainwashing really is. World War II was won when the Third Reich was conquered and utterly destroyed by a grand alliance of the world's four great imperialist powers: Great Britain, France, the United States, and the Soviet Union, three of which were militantly racist. How deep do these kinds of double standards go with you, Marco? Are they conscious or unconscious? Are you even aware of the implications of how you look at these things? I could do a real rant on this one but I don't think it's necessary. Maybe later.
In itself, "brainwashing" is an interesting expression. Western culture has been brainwashing itself for most of the 20th century cleaning up its story, hiding the debris. This is exemplified wonderfully, if microscopically, by professor Deborah Lipstadt who claims there can be no "other" side to the holocaust story, only "her" side, and having her professional colleagues applaud her. Even those with tenure, who don't have to applaud her, applaud her anyway. It's quite a sight. It's as if, on this subject, our intellectual classes were tracing its roots back to Papua or Tobago. The idea, two or three centuries after what we still call the Enlightenment, that there can be no "other" side to any historical issue whatever is so intellectually and culturally regressive that no adult, and no individual who looks forward to becoming one, would want to quote Lipstadt approvingly (your sources at Nizkor quote her approvingly on their HomePage). (By the way: you quote Lipstadt as saying that "debating me is like trying to nail a glob of jelly to the wall." Lipstadt and I have never debated. I have no idea what she [or you] is referring to [where did she say this?] If I were, in fact, to challenge her to a debate she would refuse the challenge. As a matter of fact, I do, here and now, challenge professor Deborah Lipstadt to a debate on one or more issues mutually agreed upon by she and I. I suppose this is the last I'll hear of this one.)
You write that there is no relationship between libertarianism and revisionism other than the defense of free speech and freedom of the press. Is that all, then? I will agree with you about this if you will agree with me that there is also no relationship between revisionism and democracy, or national socialism, or fascism or communism or Christianity or Judaism or the ADL or any other political, social or cultural movement. If that's so, I would then ask you to tell me what you think all the fuss is about.
"Or," you write, "we can get right into discussing the Holocaust itself. My preference is for the latter."
Of course it is, Marco, but then the latter is what you claim to know least about. Still, I believe you're being serious here. I'd like to make a practical suggestion. Give yourself some time to find out what issues revisionists are actually addressing. Read a good part of the recent literature (it's much less extensive than the orthodox literature so you won't have to devote the rest of your life to getting through it), including Rudolf, Mattogno, Cole, Ney, Sanning, Berg, Neumaier, Tiedemann, Porter and so on.
Give yourself time enough to discover how ignorant (forgive me) it really is to believe that revisionist theory discounts "all eyewitness testimony" and depends on the denigration of documents as forgeries "without any proof whatsoever," and so on. These statements are too careless for me to take seriously, and I think with even a little reflection you would restate them.
Once you have some sense of what revisionists are actually working on you may decide that I am not, after all, the one you really want to "discuss the Holocaust" with. I'm not in this to find out who shot John. I'm in it to try to convince the professors and our media intellectuals that they should argue for, not against, open debate and a free exchange of ideas about the history of our century. Once that happens, I don't care which way the cat jumps. Unlike our Debbie Lipstadts, however, I do believe that "light" is stronger and more valuable than darkness, and that the condemned and the lost and the beaten and shamed deserve their day in an honest court and in whatever public forums they wish to enter.
I note you will be away the first two weeks of August. I'm going to miss you, Marco. Maybe you'll be able to respond before you leave. If not, our readers will have to settle for this one over the next three weeks or so.
Additional information about this document
|Author(s):||Bradley R. Smith , Marco Den Ouden|
|Title:||Libertarianism and Revisionism|
|First posted on CODOH:||July 21, 1998, 7 p.m.|
|Comments:||Discussion from May 17 to July 23, 1998|