My Role in the Zündel Trial
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For the better part of five days in March 1988, I testified as an expert witness for the defense in the "Holocaust Trial" of German-Canadian publisher Ernst Zündel. It was one of the most challenging and interesting experiences of my life, as well as one of the most emotionally grueling.
Zündel was on trial in Toronto District Court for publishing Did Six Million Really Die?, a 32-page booklet (often called the "Harwood booklet" after the pen name of its English author) that contests the Holocaust story, that the Germans systematically exterminated six million European Jews during the Second World War.
During my time on the stand, which included a detailed examination of the booklet itself, I presented evidence which, together with the testimony of the other defense witnesses, powerfully discredits the extermination story. I also told the court about the solid achievements of Holocaust Revisionism in the years since the Harwood booklet was first published in England in 1974.
For the sake of clarity in this essay, I have reorganized and compressed my testimony into a coherent summary. I have also tried to convey something of the atmosphere in the courtroom, and have included a few personal observations.
The defendant was born in Germany’s Black Forest region in 1939. After migrating to Canada at the age of 18, he made a successful career for himself as a professional graphic artist. Zündel was charged under a Canadian law, enacted in 1892 and used only twice before, which makes it illegal knowingly to publish "a statement, tale or news that he knows is false and that causes, or is likely to cause, injury or mischief to a public interest."
His first trial in 1985 for publishing the Harwood booklet received intensive coverage in the Canadian media and resulted in conviction. But the verdict was set aside in 1987 by the Ontario Court of Appeal, which ruled that the judge had, among other things, improperly excluded defense evidence, permitted inadmissable prosecution evidence and had given improper instructions to the jury. The Ontario provincial government then ordered a new trial, which began on January 18, 1988. (On May 11, 1988, Zündel was found guilty and sentenced two days later to nine months in jail. His courageous and dedicated attorney, Douglas Christie, immediately appealed the verdict)
Zündel first asked me to participate in the second Holocaust Trial as a possible interpreter. William A. Curry, a Nebraska businessman who knew both Zündel and me, had strongly encouraged my participation in the trial and was instrumental in arranging our first meeting in Toronto on March 3. Zündel and his attorney quickly decided that I could actually be of greater help as a witness than as an interpreter.
I was called to the stand on Tuesday morning, March 22. Defense attorney Christie began by briefly questioning me about my competence as a historian. Among other things, he established that I had received a Master's degree in European history in 1977 from Indiana University (Bloomington), and had studied the Holocaust issue in considerable detail since 1979. Crown (prosecution) attorney John Pearson objected to my being allowed to testify, arguing that I am biased and not sufficiently "professional." But Christie pointed out that I had more academic training as a historian than Raul Hilberg, who had testified for the prosecution in the first Zündel trial. Christie said that my testimony should be admitted on the same basis as that of historian Christopher Browning, who had appeared earlier as the main prosecution witness.
Pearson suggested that my Revisionist writing is motivated by money. I have received for some of my writing on this issue from people whom Pearson called "Holocaust deniers." Christie noted in response that Browning had received infinitely more generous funding from the Israeli government's Yad Vashem center. Judge Ronald Thomas hardly hesitated in ruling that I be allowed to testify as an expert witness who could give, as he put it, "opinion evidence on the question of the Holocaust and the alleged extermination policy of the German government."
Reviewing the Harwood Booklet
Doug Christie guided me through a line-by-line evaluation of virtually the entire text of Did Six Million ReaIly Die?, an often tedious chore that took up the better part of three days. I was asked to assess the accuracy and comment on the historical background of nearly every sentence of the booklet, except for portions about the International Red Cross and the Belsen camp, which had been reviewed with previous witnesses.
Despite a number of enors, the booklet is "generally accurate," I testified. I told the court that I agreed with its basic thesis, which is given in the very first sentence, "that the allegation that six million Jews died during the Second World War, as a direct result of official German policy of extermination, is utterly unfounded."
I specified the booklet's inaccurate and misleading statements, but stressed that these errors did not originate with the author. Instead, they were carried over from errors in the writings of Paul Rassinier and David Hoggan, upon which the author relied heavily. The Harwood booklet "does not purport to be a scholarly work of history," I said. It is a "journalistic or a polemical account" which should not be "held up to the same standards of rigid scrutiny" as a serious scholarly work. "Its main value lies in encouraging further discussion and thought and debate."
I also emphasized that the nature of the errors shows that the author did not write maliciously or with the intention to deceive the reader; For example, in cross-examination Pearson focussed on the booklet's assertion that the first accusation that the Germans were exterminating Jews was made in 1943 in a book by Raphael Lemkin. (p. 7) The Crown attorney made a point of getting me to acknowledge that this is not true. The first serious extermination claims were actually made in 1942 by the World Jewish Congress, I said, but stressed that this mistake by Rassinier is not critically important to his central thesis, and in any case can hardly be considered malicious or deceitful.
When Pearson asked me to agree that the booklet falsely claims that the Jews invented the extermination story after the war to make money for Israel, I referred him to the passage he himself had cited, which mentions the wartime origins of the extermination charge. Pearson and the Crown's (mostly Jewish) supporters in the courtroom seemed somewhat crestfallen by this observation.
I testified that it is not especially remarkable that Ernst Zündel did not know about the mistakes in the Harwood booklet. Zündel is not nor has he claimed to be a historian. Publishers normally rely on the basic trustworthiness of their authors, I said. Besides, the errors in the Harwood booklet are trivial compared, for example, to the enormous fraud perpetrated by several internationally prominent periodicals, including Newsweek magazine, which published the forged "Hitler diaries." I pointed out that despite its vast human and financial resources, Newsweek magazine did not undertake even the minimum effort that would have been enough to establish that the "diaries" were phony. The author of Did Six Million Really Die? at least relied on previously published material that he had much better reason to believe was accurate.
I also compared the Harwood booklet to William Shirer's bestselling volume, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, which contains numerous demonstrable errors of fact. And although the book has been reprinted many times, in many different editions, neither the author nor the publisher has ever bothered to correct these errors. For example, Shirer repeated the now totally discredited story that the National Socialist leaders themselves set fire to the Reichstag (parliament) building in February 1933. The Shirer book must be held to a higher standard of truthfulness and reliability than the Harwood booklet, which does not claim to be a scholarly work of history.
I compared the Harwood booklet to two Holocaust booklets published by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (The Record: The Holocaust in History and Anatomy of Nazism) which contain grotesque and demonstrable errors of fact. The prosecution objected to this comparison, and Judge Thomas agreed, declaring that "this evidence is not relevant to the charge and will not be admitted."
I testified that "Richard Harwood" was a pen name used by Richard VerralL whom I met in England in 1977. Based on my conversations with Verrall and the booklet's publisher, I told the court that the author graduated from the University of London with high honors, and that he had written Did Six Million Really Die? hastily but honestly. Verrall "did not maliciously or willfully make false statements of fact," I told the court. When I first testified about Verrall, Pearson objected to my presentation of such information as hearsay. Later, however, during cross-examination, the Crown attorney reversed himself (apparently because the judge and jury seemed to accept what I had said on this issue), and asked for more information about my meeting with Verrall and the origin of the booklet. It seemed obvious that the prosecution knew all along just who really wrote the booklet, but had hoped to keep this information from the jury.
The 'Final Solution'
A good deal of my time on the stand, especially during the first and final days, was devoted to questions about Germany's "final solution" policy, which prosecution witness Browning had dealt with earlier. The "final solution" was a term sometimes used by the German government for its wartime Jewish policy, I explained.
At the end of the Second World War, the Allies confiscated a tremendous quantity of German documents dealing with this policy. But not a single document has ever been found which even refers to an extermination program. To the contrary, the German documents show that the "final solution" meant removing the Jews from Europe – by emigration if possible and by deportation if necessary. Later, during cross-examination, I agreed with the Crown attorney that the "final solution" was a euphemism, although not for extermination. But after I had a chance to consult a dictionary, I said that I had spoken too hastily, and that the term was not a euphemism because the term "final solution" was actually harsher-sounding than the policy it described. It would be more accurate to describe the term as a label or description, I said.
I emphasized that the German "final solution" policy is clearly explained in three important German documents, which I quoted. The first is the letter from Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring to SS security chief Reinhard Heydrich of July 31, 1941, which orders measures for "the intended final solution of the Jewish question." As I pointed out, the document specifically confirms that the German policy was "to solve the Jewish question by emigration and evacuation."
The second document is the so-called "Wannsee Protocol" a record of the "Wannsee conference" of January 20, 1942, in Berlin. (Nuremberg document NG-2586-G) The document, which contains nothing about extermination, explains the policy of deporting Jews to the occupied Soviet territories in the East. "The emigration program has now been replaced by the evacuation of the Jews to the East as a further solution possibility, in accordance with previous authorization by the Führer," it notes. The document refers to the eventual "freeing" or "liberation" of the Jews ("bei Freilassung" in German), which implicitly confirms the intention of the German government to free the Jews after the war. Interestingly, these words were deleted from the English-language translation published in the official "green series" record of Nuremberg documents issued by the U;S. government (NMT "green series," vol. 13, p. 213) The "Wannsee Protocol" also states that elderly German Jews and Jews who had served honorably during the First World War would not be deported to the East, but would instead be housed in the special Theresienstadt ghetto in Bohemia.
I pointed out that the real nature of the "final solution" policy was also confirmed by Heydrich in a speech to German officials in Prague two weeks after the Wannsee conference (which he chaired), and by his widow, Lina Heydrich, in her memoir. Heydrich explained that the German policy was to deport the Jews of Europe to the Soviet territories. Furthermore, I added, every one of the officials who participated in the conference and survived the war (with the exception of Adolf Eichmann in Israeli custody) later testified that the conference had nothing to do with a policy of extermination. I mentioned that even the prominent West German historians Martin Broszat and Hans Mommsen had come to the conclusion in recent years that the conference did not involve an extermination policy.
Finally, the German Foreign Office memorandum of August 21, 1942, explains Germany's wartime policy towards the Jews in clear and unmistakable language. (Nuremberg document NG2586-J.) It was written by Martin Luther, who represented the German Foreign Office at the Wannsee conference. I quoted from it at some length: "The present war gives Germany the opportunity and also the duty of solving the Jewish problem in Europe," it notes, and refers specifically to the "territorial final solution." The policy "to promote the evacuation of the Jews [from Europe] in closest cooperation with the agencies of the ReichsFührer SS [Himmler] is still in force." The memo mentions that, unfortunately, "the number of Jews deported in this way to the East did not suffice to cover the labor needs."
The document quotes German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop as saying that "at the end of this war, all Jews would have to leave Europe. This was an unalterable decision of the Führer [Hitler] and also the only way to master this problem, as only a global and comprehensive solution could be applied and individual measures would not help very much." This internal memorandum concludes by saying that the "deportations [of the Jews to the East] are a further step on the way of the total solution … The deportation to the [Polish] General Government is a temporary measure. The Jews will be moved on further to the occupied [Soviet] eastern territories as soon as the technical conditions for it are given." I made clear to the court that when those who uphold the Holocaust extermination story are confronted with documents like this, they interpret them to suit what I called "their preconceived notion" and "try to make the evidence fit."
Hitler and the "Final Solution"
I reminded the court that there is no documentary evidence that Adolf Hitler ever gave an order to exterminate the Jews, or that he knew of any extermination program. Instead, the evidence shows that the German leader wanted the Jews to leave Europe, by emigration if possible and by deportation if necessary.
Hitler sometimes spoke privately with close associates about his policy towards the Jews. I cited his remarks to colleagues at his headquarters on July 24, 1942, in which the German leader emphasized his determination to remove all Jews from Europe after the war: "The Jews are interested in Europe for business reasons, but Europe must reject them, if only out of self-interest, because the Jews are racially tougher. After this war is over, I will rigorously hold to this position: I will break up one city after the other if the Jews don't come out and emigrate to Madagascar or some other Jewish national state." (Source: Henry Picker, ed., Hitlers Tischgespräche im Führerhauptquartier, Stuttgart 1976, p. 456.)
In response to an Allied radio broadcast that the Jews were being exterminated, Hitler angrily commented: "Really, the Jews should be grateful to me for wanting nothing more than a bit of hard work from them." And I mentioned that when Hitler received a report in October 1944 about Soviet reports that the Germans had killed hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Majdanek concentration camp, he dismissed the stories as baseless propaganda, no different than Allied lies during the First World War. (Source: David Irving, Hitler's War, Viking Press 1977 ed., pp. 362, 787.)
There is no doubt that the Jews of Europe "suffered a great catastrophe during the Second World War," I said. There is indeed "a basis for the Holocaust story," adding that it "is not just something made out of whole cloth." For example, the large Jewish community of Poland was essentially uprooted during that period. But the Jews were hardly the only people to suffer. When I said that more Germans than Jews perished during the Second World War, the Jews in the courtroom were noticeably upset. More than five million Germans lost their lives during the war, including more than half a million who were killed in Allied bombings of German towns and cities, many of them literally "holocausted" in flames and fire storms. I stressed that it is difficult to estimate the number of European Jews who perished during the war because reliable and complete data are simply not available. I quoted from an article, "How high is the number of Jewish victims?," that appeared in the daily Baseler Nachrichten of Basel, Switzerland, of June 13, 1946, and which is cited in the Harwood booklet. This respected newspaper concluded that not more than 1.5 million European Jews could have perished (of all causes) during the war:
One thing is already certain today: The claim that this figure [of Jewish dead] runs up to 5 or 6 million (a figure which has also been assumed by the Palestine Committee, which is very difficult to understand is not true. The number of Jewish victims may vary between 1 and 1.5 million, because a higher number was not "within reach" of Hitler and Himmler. It may be assumed and hoped that the final figure of losses of the Jewish people will be even lower than this figure. But clarification is necessary, which is why an investigation by a special United Nations committee should establish the truth, which is so terribly important for the present and for the future.
It should be kept in mind that all Jews who died during the war, no matter what the cause of death, are deceitfully counted as "victims of the Holocaust." This includes Jews killed in Allied bombing raids on concentration camps and European cities. I mentioned the thousands of Jews who were killed in the final weeks of the war as they were being evacuated from camps in two German ships, the Cap Arcona and the Thielbeck, which were sunk by British war planes. They are counted as "holocaust victims," even though if the policy has been to kill them, the German authorities obviously would not have bothered to evacuate them on desperately needed ships.
The Holocaust extermination legend began, I said, with stories circulated during the summer and fall of 1942 by the World Jewish Congress, and particularly by its president, Rabbi Stephen Wise, who also headed the American Jewish Congress. At that time, Wise preposterously charged that the Germans were manufacturing soap and lubricants from the corpses of murdered Jews, and that the Germans had given up gassing Jews in favor of extermination by systematically injecting them with air. (See, for example, the New York Times, November 26, 1942, p. 16.)
The prosecution attorney spent a good bit of time asking about the joint declaration issued by the Allied governments in December 1942, which: charged that the Germans were exterminating the Jews. He tried to argue that any "reasonably well-read" person would have known about this declaration, but I replied that it is doubtful if even one college-educated Canadian in a hundred had ever heard of it. Two important facts about this fateful declaration should be kept in mind, I said. First, it was issued in spite of private protests by the American and British officials responsible for Jewish affairs in Europe, who reported that there was no evidence for the Jewish extermination stories. Second, it was issued largely as a result of an intensive behind-the-scenes pressure campaign orchestrated by the World Jewish Congress, as the organization later boasted in its official history, a book entitled Unity in Dispersion.
The extermination stories were subsequently promoted by the Allied governments as part of their wartime propaganda campaign against Germany. The wartime German government protested against these fantastic allegations. Deputy Reich Press Chief Helmut Sündermann specifically refuted the Allied extermination claims at two press conferences in Berlin for foreign journalists, including some from neutral countries. The government of Hungary, which was a wartime ally of Germany, also protested against the Allied charge that Jews were being exterminated.
Much of my first, second and final days on the stand was devoted to questions about the activities of the "Einsatz gruppen" security police units, a subject which prosecution witness Browning had dealt with earlier in some detail. The Einsatzgruppen, I explained, were special task forces responsible for quickly imposing a "sort of 'rough and ready’ form of order and security" in the newly-occupied Soviet territories before the establishment of regular civil administration. I had spent quite a lot of time studying the detailed Einsatzgruppen reports at the National Archives, I said.
Contrary to the view of Holocaust historians such as Raul Hilberg and others, I said that when these reports are considered as a whole and taken in the context of other evidence, it becomes clear that these units were not established to exterminate the Jews of the Soviet Union. It is quite true that these Security Police units shot considerable numbers of Jews, I said, but that if the original reports are read objectively and in context, it is clear that Jews were shot for specific security reasons, including reprisal killings, and not simply because they were Jews. I pointed out that even Raul Hilberg, probably the most prominent Jewish Holocaust historian, acknowledges that the Einsatzgruppen did not kill Jews without a security reason. (Destruction of the European Jew, 1985 ed., p. 331.)
I stressed that the German policy towards the Jews in the occupied Soviet territories cannot be understood without taking into account the merciless war that was raging at the time between regimes with mortally opposed ideologies. The grim work of the Einsatzgruppen must be evaluated within the context of the savage conflict that was being waged outside of the accepted rules of warfare. I mentioned Stalin's order of July 3, 1941, calling on the entire Soviet civilian population to conduct a campaign of terror, sabotage and guerrilla warfare against the Germans. The Jews were especially active in this campaign, as numerous Jewish historians have proudly acknowledged, I said.
History shows that only extremely harsh measures seem to work against guerrilla or terrorist forces, I said, citing the experience of the American forces in Vietnam and the French in Algeria. I also mentioned the current conflict between the Israelis and the fighters of the PLO, who are regarded as terrorists by the Israelis and freedom fighters by the Palestinians. At this point, Jews present in the courtroom noisily indicated their displeasure at my very brief reference to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and Judge Thomas suddenly ordered a short recess. After the jury had left the room, he angrily criticized my reference as an "attempt to smear this trial" (which it most certainly was not) and announced that he would not tolerate any further references to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. "There's no need for this witness to bring into this courtroom the present environment in Israel." I was free to make comparisons with the Vietnam war or other historical conflicts, he said, but not to current events. Although I had obviously touched a sore nerve, I was not the only one in the courtroom who felt that Thomas had over-reacted. Unfortunately, this was by no means the only time he lost control of his emotions.:
On another occasion, I compared the sometimes very severe measures taken by the Einsatzgruppen with the "free fire zone" policy of the Americans during the Vietnam war. American forces would evacuate all Vietnamese civilians from designated areas to so-called "strategic hamlets," which in their forced resettlement of civilians were not unlike concentration camps. Any Vietnamese remaining in the so-called "free fire zones" were subject to extermination on the assumption that they were hostile and dangerous.
The tasks of the Einsatzgruppen were clearly laid out in an order by Heydrich, the chief of the Security Police and the Security Service, dated July 2, 1941, I said. This order specified that the only ones to be executed in the occupied Soviet territories as Jews were Jews in [Communist] Party and [Soviet] government positions." It also ordered the executions of "other radical elements (saboteurs, propagandists, snipers, assassins, inciters, etc.)" as well as high-level, middle-level Communist officials along with radical lower-level Communist officials. When I mentioned that this document had only come to light in recent years, Jews in the back of the courtroom expressed audible skepticism that such an order ever really existed. So I quickly added that it has appeared in several works, including Documents on the Holocaust, published by the Israeli government's Yad Vashem center in 1981. The courtroom crowd seemed struck by this citation.
The basic German policy towards the Jews in the Soviet territories is also laid out in the "Guidelines for the Handling of the Jewish Question." (Nuremberg document 212-PS.) There is no mention of extermination, but instead this Security Police directive emphasized the importance of putting Jews to work, and specifically refers to the Peaceful solution of the Jewish question."
I mentioned Himmler's private conversation with Mussolini in October 1942 and his speech of December 16, 1943, when he spoke frankly to German officers in Weimar about his ruthless policy towards the Jews in the occupied Soviet territories. This speech is also important because it clarifies the meaning of Himmler's widely-cited speech of October 4, 1943, in Posen.
A rather typical Einsatzgruppen report, dated October 31, 1941 (No. 127, pp. 4-5), describes the situation in the Ukraine:
In this area the Security Police has come up against two major groups of adversaries. They are: 1) the Jews, 2) those once active in the former Soviet regime … In this regard it should be pointed out that in the Ukraine, those who sympathized with the Soviets were predominantly Jews … It can now be stated without reservation that the Jews were, without exception, supporters of Bolshevism.
Over and over again, particularly in the cities, the Jews are cited as the real Soviet rulers who exploited the people with indescribable brutality and delivered them to their deaths at the hands of the NKVD [Soviet Secret Police]. The [German Security Police] units have carried out approximately 10,000 interrogations during the past four months. Again and again, the Jews were cited as having worked actively for the Soviets, if not in responsible positions than at least as agents, collaborators or informers. Not a single Jewish corpse had been found in any of the numerous mass graves. In any case, it is evident that the Jews share the greatest guilt with others for the slaughter of the Ukrainian people and the ethnic Germans. For this reason, special measures against the Jews are considered necessary by the Security Police.
I also quoted from several Einsatzgruppen reports to show that there was no extermination policy. For example, the reports of July 24, 1941, and August 5, 1941, refer to the establishment of Jewish health centers in the newly-created Jewish ghettos to prevent the outbreak of diseases.
I quoted from the report of September 12, 1941 (No. 81, p. 14), which clearly suggests that the "solution of the Jewish question" was simply to get the Jews out of Europe, not to kill them. It also shows that these security units were glad when they did not have to deal with the large numbers of Jews who fled to the eastern areas still under Soviet control:
During the first weeks [of the military campaign] considerable numbers of Jews fell under our control, whereas in the central and eastern Ukrainian districts it has been observed that in many cases 70 to 90 percent, and sometimes 100 percent, of the Jewish population has fled. This can be seen as an indirect result of the work of the Security Police [Einsatzgruppen], since the removal [Abschiebung] at no cost of hundreds of thousands of Jews – most of them reportedly to beyond the Urals – represents a considerable contribution to the solution of the Jewish question in Europe.
Numerous Jewish sources also confirm that the great majority of Jews were evacuated or fled from the Soviet territories before they were occupied by the Germans.
The Einsatzgruppen report of August 25, 1941 (No. 63, pp. 6-7) also explains what was meant by "solution of the Jewish question":
Slowly but surely, one of the most important problems, the [emphasis in original], is being tackled. In Kishinev [the capital of Bessarabia, a Rumanian-speaking province], there were approximately 60 – 80 thousand Jews before the war. Most of them were deported with the withdrawal of the Russians. When the city was captured, there were only about 4,000 Jews present, but that number has since increased. Upon the initiative of the Einsatzkomando the Rumanian city commander established a Jewish ghetto in the old city which currently contains about 9,000 Jews. The Jews are being organized into work groups and assigned to various German and Rumanian units for clean-up work and other kinds of labor.
Altogether there were never more than about 3,000 men and women in the four Einsatzgruppen that operated in the vast occupied Soviet territory. And this number included administrative personnel, female secretaries, teletype and radio operators, truck drivers, and interpreters. The size and make-up of the Einsatzgruppen alone indicate that they were not organized for the purpose of killing the entire Jewish population of the occupied Soviet Union, as is often alleged.
The numbers of Jews said to have been shot in the Einsatzgruppen reports are wildly exaggerated, I emphasized, in much the same way that the so-called "body count" figures of enemy dead produced by the American military during the Vietnam war were greatly inflated. Although the Einsatzgruppen reports would indicate that 2.2 million Jews were killed, every reputable historian who has written on this subject acknowledges that this figure bears little relationship to reality. In this regard, I cited the works of historians Gerald Reitlinger, Raul Hilberg, William Shirer, Reginald Paget, and Werner Maser, as well as the most detailed work on this subject, Die Truppe des Weltanschauungskrieges, by Helmut Krausnick and Hans-Heinrich Wilhelm. I also mentioned statements by Einsatzgruppen trial defendants Paul Blobel and Gustav Nosske.
British historian and member of parliament Reginald Paget specifically checked the accuracy of a February 18, 1942, report which claimed that Einsatzgruppe D had killed 10,000 Jews in Simferopol, Crimea. Paget found that the real number could not have been more than about 300, and that "these 300 were probably not exclusively Jews but a miscellaneous collection of people who were being held on suspicion of resistance activity." (R.T. Paget, Manstein: His Campaigns and His Trial, pp. 168-173.) Raul Hilberg gives a figure of 1.3 million Jewish dead in the Soviet territories, which implies that he also acknowledges that these figures are greatly exaggerated.
I also spoke about the case of Otto Ohlendorf, the commander of Einsatzgruppe D, who told the main Nuremberg trial as a very cooperative prosecution witness that his unit had shot 90,000 Jews. Later, much to his astonishment, he found himself in the Nuremberg dock as a defendant. He repudiated much of his previous testimony, insisting, for example, that the figure of 90,000 Jewish dead was wildly exaggerated.
During my cross-examination, Crown attorney Pearson cited portions of Ohlendorf’s testimony at his trial in which he spoke about an alleged "Führer Order" to kill all the Jews in the occupied Soviet territories. I replied by pointing out that no record of such an order has ever been found and that even Hilberg no longer speaks of such a thing. Also, the Heydrich order of July 2, 1941, as well as the Einsatzgruppen reports themselves are not consistent with such an extermination policy. The fact that there were large numbers of Jews living in these territories under German control in 1942 and 1943 cannot be reconciled with the alleged extermination policy, I said, and I mentioned that during the final chaotic months of the war, the Germans actually evacuated Jews from former occupied Soviet territories back to Germany.
In evaluating the testimony of men like Ohlendorf, the circumstances and the probable motives of the speaker must be taken into account, I stressed. The apparently self-incriminating nature of much of Ohlendorf's testimony in his own trial is understandable, I said, because he was desperately trying to make a case that was reasonably consistent with what had supposedly been established as fact in the main Nuremberg trial. A common defense strategy in Holocaust-related trials has been to agree with the prosecution claims about an extermination program, but to insist that the defendant was not irivolved or responsible.
Prosecution attorney Pearson raised the matter of a November 1941 order by: General Erich von Manstein which directed the German army to cooperate with the Einsatzgruppen. "The Jewish-Bolshevist system must be exterminated once and for all. Never again must it encroach upon our European living space," Manstein ordered. (Nuremberg document PS4064.) Pearson maintained that this was equivalent to an order to exterminate the Jews. I strongly disagreed. The "extermination" of a social-political system does not mean the extermination of people, I said. We have documents showing that at least some German soldiers were even punished for mistreating Jews in the occupied Soviet territories. I added.
Katzmann's Galicia Report
The Crown attorney asked quite a few questions during cross-examination about a June 1943 report by SS Major General Katzmann on the "solution of the Jewish Question in Galicia." (Document L-18. IMT, Vol. 37, pp. 391419.) This was a difficult session because I took the position that this document is authentic, but that many of the figures given in it are greatly exaggerated. Although it does refer, for example, to the "most severe measures to destroy Jewish banditry," I stressed that this report, if read carefully and with an open mind, is not evidence of an extermination program, as Pearson argued. Although the prosecution cited only select portions of this report, I pointed out that a passage not cited by Pearson specifically mentions that the Jews in the 20 Jewish camps in Galicia were to receive "appropriate housing, clothing and medical care," and that sick Jews in the camps were to continue to receive normal food rations.
Pearson quoted the document as reporting that the Germans confiscated enormous quantities of money, jewelry, gold and other valuables from the Jews, which were turned over to the Special Staff "Reinhard." Pearson and I sharply disagreed about this "Reinhard" organization. Holocaust historians generally claim that it was responsible for exterminating the Jews of Poland, and that it was named after assassinated SS security chief Reinhard Heydrich. I strongly disputed this allegation and said that the Germans did not name units or operations after someone's first name. The "Reinhard" group was actually responsible for processing confiscated Jewish property, not exterminating Jews.
In a sense, my testimony may sometimes have been helpful to the prosecution case because I did not deny or whitewash the severity of German measures against the Jews, particularly in the occupied Soviet territories. For example, I mentioned that Jews found outside of ghettos without the yellow star badge were normally shot. Although it would be nice to think that this kind of frankness strengthened my credibility with the Jurors, in reality it almost certainly hurt the defense case.
Much of the evidence for the extermination story is "eyewitness testimony" of so-called "Holocaust survivors." To support my statement that these testimonies are "notoriously unreliable," I quoted from an article by Jewish historian Samuel Gringauz (who was interned in the Kaunas ghetto during the war) which appeared in the New York quarterly, Jewish Social Studies (January 1950, Vol. 12). The Jews in the courtroom were visibly upset when I read Gringauz' emphatic denunciation of what he called the "hyperhistorical" nature of these "testimonies." He wrote that "most of the memoirs and reports are full of preposterous verbosity, graphomanic exaggeration, dramatic effects, overestimated self-inflation, dilettante philosophizing, would-be lyricism, unchecked rumors, bias, partisan attacks and apologies."
In addition, more than 10,000 of the 20,000 so-called "testimonies" of Jewish "survivors" on file at Yad Vashem in Israel are also unreliable, I said, citing a front page article that appeared in the Jerusalem Post newspaper of August 17, 1986. The report quoted Shmuel Krakowski, the archives director of the Israeli government's Holocaust memorial center, who declared that "over half of the 20,000 testimonies from Holocaust survivors on record at Yad Vashem are 'unreliable." The article continued:
Krakowski says that many survivors, wanting "to be part of history" may have let their imaginations run away with them. "Many were never in the place where they claim to have witnessed atrocities, while others relied on second-hand information given them by friends or passing strangers" according to Krakowski. A large number of testimonies on file were later proved inaccurate when locations and dates could not pass an expert historian's appraisal …
Pearson objected to my quoting of this article, claiming that it was hearsay. But Judge Thomas overruled the objection, saying that an expert is permitted to cite what might normally be considered hearsay. The judge added that he assumed that I was quoting from an actual newspaper report. I also cited French-Jewish historian Olga Wormser-Migot, who wrote in her detailed study of the camps about the tendency of Jewish inmates to invent stories about gas chambers.
Although a few individuals have claimed to have personally witnessed gassings of Jews, I told the court that I did not believe these stories because they are "not consistent" with other available evidence. For example, it would not have been technically possible to cremate the vast numbers of Jews said to have been gassed and cremated at Auschwitz in the cremation facilities there. The extermination and cremation of one million persons at Auschwitz within this period of time is "virtually impossible," I said.
In this regard, I also referred to the Allied aerial reconnaissance photos taken of Auschwitz in 1944 and made public by the CIA in 1979. These photos, taken at random during what is supposed to have been the height of the extermination period there, show no trace of piles of burning corpses, smoking chimneys and masses of Jews awaiting death, all of which have been alleged and which would have been clearly visible if Auschwitz had indeed been an extermination center. (See: D. Brugioni and R. Poirier, The Holocaust Revisited, 1979.)
At the time they were first made public in 1979, I was struck by the fact that these photos are simply not consistent with the orthodox Auschwitz extermination story, and I was astonished by the way in which they were seized upon by Elie Wiesel and others to charge that the wartime U.S. government not only knew about mass extermination at Auschwitz, but consciously decided to do nothing to stop it. I concluded that if such gross distortion of evidence was possible so many years after the war, it is at least possible that other Holocaust claims might likewise be wrong. These remarkable photos, and the way in which they were misrepresented, first prompted me to seriously investigate this entire issue, I said.
On one occasion Zündel's attorney presented large blow-ups of striking photographs taken from 1942 to 1944 at Auschwitz III camp (Monowitz), and I explained that what they show cannot be reconciled with the orthodox extermination story. (I had examined these photos in the Dürrfeld defense exhibit file at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.)
I quoted from an important document that came to light in 1987 which confirms that numerous stories of "gassings" at camps in Germany and Austria were inventions. This is circular notice No. 31 of October 1, 1948, of the Austrian Military Police Service in Vienna. It was issued by Major Müller and certified by his assistant, Lt. Emil Lachout, who later testified in the Zündel trial and swore to its authenticity. (Incidentally, this document also corroborates the Stephen Pinter letter quoted in the Harwood booklet, pp. 21-22.) The Muller/Lachout circular notice reads in part:
The Allied Investigation Commissions have so far established that no people were killed by poison gas in the following concentration camps: Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Dachau. Flossenbürg, Gross-Rosen, Mauthausen and its satellite camps, Natzweiler, Neuengamme, Niederhagen (Wewelsberg), Ravensbrück, Sachsenhausen, Stutthof, [and] Theresienstadt. In these cases it has been proven that confessions were extorted by torture and that statements by witnesses were false. Former concentration camp prisoners who gave information during interrogations about the murder of people, especially Jews, with poison gas in these concentration camps, are to be made aware of the results of this investigation. If they persist with their claims, they are to be charged with making false statements.
I mentioned several claims about Treblinka that were once widely believed but which no serious historian now accepts. I cited the charge by the U.S. prosecution at the main Nuremberg trial that masses of Jews were killed at Treblinka not by gassing, as is now generally claimed, but by steam in so-called Steam chambers." (Nuremberg document PS-3311). And at the Nuremberg trial against Oswald Pohl, U.S. judge Musmanno said that Jews were killed at Treblinka by gas, steam and electric current. (NMT "green series," Vol. 5, pp. 1133-1134.)
On the other hand, I said, former Treblinka inmate Samuel Rajzman testified after the war that Jews were killed at the camp not by gassing or steaming, but by suffocating them to death with a machine that pumped air out of chambers. I quoted from The Black Book, a volume published in New York in 1946 by the "Jewish Black Book Committee," which alleged that three million Jews had been killed at Treblinka by gassing and steaming, but that the most "widespread method consisted of pumping all air out from the chambers with large special pumps." (See also: M. Weber, "Open Letter," Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1988, pp. 176-177.)
At one point I criticized the deliberate confusion by some Holocaust writers of the distinction between gas chambers and crematories, and I mentioned the references in popular Holocaust literature to so-called "gas ovens." This is "a nonsensical term," I said, which is "typical of the kind of sensational terminology used in much of the literature about the Holocaust story."
The Crown attorney and the Jews in the courtroom appeared visibly upset when I read a portion of the official German regulations for the concentration camps. This document was first made public many years after the war by a former Auschwitz-Birkenau inmate in a Polish medical journal. English translation in: Anthology, Inhuman Medicine, Vol. 1, Part 1. Warsaw: International Auschwitz Committee, 1970., pp. 149-151.)
Among other things, the regulations ordered:
The new arrivals in the camp have to be examined carefully. Those suspected should immediately be put into the camp hospital and kept there for observation … Prisoners asking for medical treatment should be brought before the camp doctor that same day to be examined.
The camp doctor should regularly check how the food is prepared and its quality. Any shortcomings should immediately be brought to the attention of the camp commandant. Special care should be given to the treatment of accidents, so as to avoid impairment of the prisoners ability to earn their living. Prisoners who are to be set free or transferred from the camp should be brought before the camp physician for medical examination.
Consistent with this, I testified that SS chief Heinrich Himmler, who was ultimately in charge of the concentration camp system, was so concerned about the high death rate due to disease that he issued an emphatically worded order in December 1942 to improve the nutrition of the inmates and take all necessary measures to reduce the death rate. (Nuremberg document PS-2171, Annex 2. Published in: NC&A "red series;" Vol. 4, pp. 833-834.) I quoted from a January 1943 directive from the inspecter of the concentration camps, Richard Glucks, to the commandant of each concentration camp, including Auschwitz. "As I have already pointed out," he ordered, Every means must be used to lower the death rate in the camp." (Nuremberg document NO-1523.)
I referred to the allegation that the Germans manufactured lamp shades and other household items from the skin of murdered camp inmates. (Harwood booklet, p. 24. This story was once seriously endorsed. See, for example, W. Shirer, Rise and Fall, paperback ed., p. 1280.) I pointed out that General Lucius Clay, Commander in Chief of U.S. forces in Europe and Military Governor of the U.S. Occupation Zone of Germany, 1947-49, repudiated this particular horror story as early as 1948. (See: M. Weber, "Buchenwald," Journal of Historical Review. Winter 1986-87, pp. 406-407.)
Asked about the photo in the Harwood booklet showing "healthy and cheerful inmates" at Dachau at its surrender to American soldiers in the final weeks of the war, I replied that it is an official U.S. Army photo, one of a series I had examined in the archives at the Pentagon. Another photo in the series, which was taken at the same time, shows Jewish mothers and their babies in the camp.
A large chart showing the monthly death rate at Dachau during the war was also presented to the court as a defense exhibit. I testified that the figures given were from a U.S. government prosecution exhibit presented at one of the postwar trials in Germany. The chart graphically showed a tremendous increase in the death rate during the final months of the war, which was the result of disease brought on by tremendous overcrowding and other unavoidable consequences of the chaotic wartime conditions. The figures implicitly confirm that there was no extermination program or policy at the camp.
A plaque placed at Dachau shortly after the end of the war proclaimed that 238,000 people had died in the camp, I noted. Today, the total number of Dachau dead is pretty universally acknowledged to have been about 20,000. In the case of other camps as well, I said, the numbers of alleged victims have been drastically revised downwards over the years, although the public is rarely ever told that these figures have been changed. New figures are given without explaining why the old ones are no longer accurate.
The German guards`at the Dachau, Buchenwald and Mauthausen camps were simply murdered after the camps were taken by the Americans in the final weeks of the war, I testified. The murder of more than 500 guards at Dachau is confirmed, I said, by two eyewitnesses to the atrocity. The first is U.S. Army officer Howard Buechner, who described the killings in detail in his book, Dachau: The Hour of the Avenger. The second is by Turkish inmate Nerin Gun, who describes the atrocity in his memoir, The Day of the Americans. U.S. Army records, which were declassified at my request, also confirm the atrocity.
Konrad Morgen Testimony
Quite a lot of my testimony was devoted to the Nuremberg Tribunal testimony of Konrad Morgen, an SS judicial official who is cited in the Harwood booklet. (pp. 13, 22) From July 1943 until the end of the war, Morgen investigated some 800 cases of corruption and murder within the SS, which resulted in about 200 trials. Five concentration camp commanders were arrested, and two of them were shot. For example, Buchenwald commandant Karl Koch was executed by the SS for corruption and murder. After the war Morgen established himself as a successful attorney in Frankfurt.
I quoted from Morgen's description of Buchenwald, where he lived for eight months:
The prisoners were healthy, normally fed, sun-tanned, working … The installations of the camp were in good order, especially the hospital. The camp authorities, under the Commander Diester, aimed at providing the prisoners with an existence worthy of human beings. They had regular mail service. They had a large camp library, even books in foreign languages. They had variety shows, motion pictures, sporting contests and even had a brothel. Nearly all the other concentration camps were similar to Buchenwald. (Source: IMT "blue series," Vol. 20, p. 490)
Morgen also explained the reason for the terrible conditions in the camps in the final months of the war, which resulted in the horrible scenes filmed by the British and Americans when they overran the camps:
To a great extent the horrible conditions at times prevailing in some concentration camps did not arise from deliberate planning, but developed from circumstances which in my opinion must be called force majeure, that is to say, evils for which the local camp leaders were not responsible. I am thinking of the outbreak of epidemics. At irregular intervals many concentration camps were visited by typhoid fever, typhus, and other sicknesses caused especially by the arrival of prisoners from the concentration camps in the eastern areas. Although everything humanly possible was done to prevent these epidemics and to combat them, the death rates which resulted were extremely high. Another evil which may be considered as force majeure was the fluctuating numbers of new arrivals and the insufficient billets. Many camps were overcrowded. The prisoners arrived in a weakened condition because, due to air raids, the transports were under way longer than expected. Towards the end of the war, there was a general collapse of the transportation system. Supplies could not be carried out to the necessary extent; chemical and pharmaceutical factories had been systematically bombed, and all the necessary medicines were lacking. To top all, the evacuations from the East further burdened the camps and croweded them in an unbearable manner. (IMT "blue series," Vol. 20, pp. 498-499)
Pearson later made quite a lot of the fact the Morgen also testified at Nuremberg that he believed that mass killings of Jews were carried out. However, I was able to show that Morgen believed that these mass killings were carried out not at Auschwitz I (the main camp) or Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is supposed to have been the main Auschwitz extermination center, but instead at Auschwitz-Monowitz, which no serious historian, including those who accept the Holocaust extermination story, now contends was an extermination center.
Pearson suggested that Morgen may have mixed up the two sites, but I was able to point out that the SS official not only referred to "the extermination camp Monowitz" several times, but that he also specifically said that it "lay far away from the concentration camp. It was situated on an extensive industrial site and was not recognizable as such and everywhere on the horizon there were smoking chimneys." As even Pearson had to concede, this clearly refers to Monowitz and not Birkenau. (Source: IMT, Vol. 20, pp. 499, 503, 504.)
I also pointed out that Morgen was not able to complete his judicial investigation of the Monowitz extermination story and bring formal charges against Commandant Höss before the Soviets overran the camp complex. Finally, I quoted Morgen as confirming that an internal inquiry established that there was no German or SS extermination policy. In this case, I emphasized, the prosecution has failed to carefully read or understand its own evidence, which actually refutes the Holocaust story. (IMT, vol. 20, pp. 507, 510)
It is not surprising that Morgen might have made the mistake of believing that mass killings were being carried out at Auschwitz-Monowitz, I said. Apparently most Auschwitz inmates believed the same thing, and its likely that Morgen accepted their testimony. In this regard, I quoted from an affidavit by Charles Coward, a British soldier who was interned at Monowitz in 1943 and 1944. He testified after the war that "everybody" there believed that mass gassings were being carried out. This is quite understandable, I said, when one considers the following portion of Coward's affidavit:
… At Auschwitz we got radio broadcasts from He outside speaking about He gassings and burnings at Auschwitz. I recall one of these broadcasts was by [British foreign secretary] Anthony Eden himself. Also, there were pamphlets dropped in Auschwitz and the surrounding territory, one of which I personally read, which related what was going on in the camp at Auschwitz. These leaflets were scattered all over the countryside and must have been dropped from planes. They were in Polish and German. Under those circumstances, nobody would be at or near Auschwitz without knowing what was going on. (Nuremberg Document NI-11696, printed in NMT "green series." vol. 8, p. 606)
Rudolf Höss, the Auschwitz commandant whose "confessions" and "affidavits" have been such an important part of the Holocaust extermination story, was tortured to produce "evidence" for the prosecution, I said. Details are given in the book Legions of Death by Rupert Butler. (See also: R. Faurisson, Journal of Historical Review, Vol. 7, No. 4, Winter 1986-87, pp. 389-403.) The Höss affidavit of April 5, 1946 (document 3868-PS), which is still widely-cited and quoted, is nevertheless "quite inconsistent with the Holocaust story" as told today, I said. It refers to a fictional extermination camp, "Wolzek," which is not mentioned anywhere else. The affidavit also alleges that Jews were already being exterminated at Treblinka in the summer of 1941, which no reputable historian now believes.
During cross-examination the Crown attorney read aloud at length from the apparently incriminating testimony of Oswald Pohl, the head of the SS agency responsible for the concentration camp system (WVHA), at his Nuremberg trial (Case No. 4), and questioned me about this. When I first mentioned that Pohl had been tortured by the Allies, Crown attorney Pearson asked me to cite my source for this statement. When I replied that, unfortunately, I could not remember the source off hand, Pearson seemed quite pleased with himself However, over the weekend I was able to obtain a copy of the statement about his treatment by the British and American military that Pohl wrote after he was tried at Nuremberg but before he was finally executed by the Americans.
In this statement, which is dated June 1, 1948, Pohl described his mistreatment in 1946 by British soldiers, who kicked and repeatedly beat him. He lost two teeth in these beatings before he was turned over to the American military. Because Pohl held the rank of general in the German armed forces, his treatment by the British and Americans was therefore completely illegal according to the international agreements on the treatment of prisoners of war. "aAs a result of the brutal physical mistreatment in Nenndorf and the treatment in Nuremberg, I was emotionally a complete wreck," Pohl wrote: "l was 54 years old. I had served my country for 33 years without dishonor, and I did not feel that I had committed any crime."
Pohl was intensively interrogated for more than a half a year in sessions that lasted for hours. There were about 60 to 80 interrogation sessions altogether. He reported that although he was generally not physically mistreated in Nuremberg as he had been at Nenndorf, he was nevertheless subjected to the less noticeable but, as he put it, "in their own way much more brutal emotional tortures." During his interrogation by the Americans, Pohl was accused of killing 30 million people, and of condemning 10 million people to death. The interrogators themselves knew very well that such accusations were lies and tricks meant to break down his resistance, Pohl declared. "Because I am not emotionally thick-skinned, these diabolical intimidations were not without effect, and the interrogators achieved what they wanted: not the truth, but rather statements that served their needs," he wrote.
During this period of interrogation he had no access to an attorney or any other help, and he was never formally charged with anything, nor even told precisely why he was being interrogated. Pohl also pointed out that the American prosecution at his trial used false affidavits which he had been forced to sign: "This is how affidavits were produced and presented which contain provable errors of fact regarding essential points." Pohl cited specific examples of phony affidavits that had been produced for the trial by others. He pointed out that German defense attorneys were not allowed free access to the German wartime documents, which the prosecution was able to find and use without hindrance.
The total number of those who died of all causes in all the German concentration and labor camps between 1933 and 1945 was 200,000 to 250,000, Pohl wrote. They were not victims of any extermination program, he explained, and most perished during the chaotic final months of the war. The practice of using torture to produce incriminating statements was certainly not limited to German prisoners, I said. It is well established that such torture techniques have been and are being systematically used by many governments around the world today.
Changing Holocaust Story
On several occasions I pointed out that the Holocaust story has changed significantly over the years. In this regard, I mentioned the "human soap" story. Rabbi Stephen Wise, who was president of both the World Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Congress during the Second World War, charged in 1942 that the Germans were manufacturing soap from the corpses of murdered Jews. This story was also repeated at the main Nuremberg trial, and has appeared often in the popular press ever since. The Jewish Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith was still making this claim in a booklet published and distributed by it during the 1980s, Anatomy of Nazism, although, as I put it, "no reputable historian now accepts it," not even those who generally support the Holocaust story.
At Nuremberg and for some years afterward, I said, it was seriously claimed that Jews were gassed at Dachau, Buchenwald and other concentration camps in Germany proper. American historian William Shirer wrote in his most influential work, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, that "All the thirty odd principal Nazi concentration camps were death camps and millions of tortured, starved inmates perished in them." (Fawcett/Crest paperback ed., p. 1259. This quotation is also given in the Harwood booklet, p. 21.) The Holocaust story these days, of course, is that there were only six "extermination" camps, all of them in what is now Poland. I noted that even famed "Nazi hunter" Simon Wiesenthal acknowledged in 1975 that "there were no extermination camps on German soil." (Books & Bookmen, London, April 1975, p. 5) But historians such as Hilberg have never bothered to acknowledge the profound implications of these changes. For one thing, the great shift in the Holocaust extermination story means that countless affidavits, "testimonies" and many other pieces of "evidence" are implicitly acknowledged to be invalid and untruthful.
One of these, which I cited, is a document submitted by the French prosecution at the Nuremberg Tribunal:
Everything had been provided for down to the smallest detail. In 1944, at Buchenwald, they had even lengthened a railway line so that the deportees might be led directly to the gas chamber. Certain [of the gas chambers] had a floor that tipped and immediately directed the bodies into the room with the crematory oven. (Document 274-F, in IMT "blue series" Vol. 37, p. 148.)
In his closing address to the Nuremberg Tribunal, chief British prosecutor Sir Hartley Shawcross described Buchenwald as a camp where "murder [was] conducted like some mass production industry in the gas chambers and the ovens." No serious historian today believes that anyone was ever gassed at Buchenwald.
Even Raul Hilberg is, in a sense, a Revisionist, I said, and I mentioned a significant change he had made about a key aspect of the Holocaust story. In the first edition of his major work, The Destruction of the European Jews (1961), he maintained that Hitler issued two extermination orders: one in "the spring of 1941" to kill all Jews "on the spot" in the occupied Soviet territories, and a second a short time later to exterminate all European Jews. (p. 177) This passage was drastically rewritten for the revised "definitive" edition published in 1985 (p. 273). Hilberg now made no mention at all of any order by Hitler to kill Jews. As he has since explained, Hilberg's view these days is that there was an extermination program, but that it developed "spontaneously," without a plan or budget. Every reputable historian of this subject now acknowledges that there is no documentary evidence of a German extermination program or policy. As a result, those who basically accept the Holocaust story increasingly refer to alleged verbal orders, and the growing school of "Holocaust functionalists" maintains that there was only a "spontaneous extermination," supposedly conducted without specific orders.
Crown attorney Pearson argued that Holocaust Revisionists are not serious scholars, but merely neo-Nazis motivated by hatred who dispute the obvious in order to rehabilitate Hitler and attack Jews. I emphatically stressed that this portrayal is wrong.
I spoke about Paul Rassinier, the French professor who is now considered the pioneer of Holocaust Revisionism. He was no Nazi. To the contrary, he was a Socialist who was arrested by the Germans during the war for illegally helping Jews to flee to Switzerland. Rassinier was then sent to the Dora and Buchenwald concentration camps in Germany. When he returned to France at the end of the war, he was astonished by the stories that were being circulated about the camps, and he felt honor-bound to refute them.
For example, a French priest who had also been an inmate at Buchenwald, Jean-Paul Renard, claimed to have seen "thousands and thousands of persons" going into gas chambers at Buchenwald. When Rassinier met with the priest and pointed out to him that no one was ever gassed in the camp, Renard replied: "Right, but that’s only a figure of speech … and since those things existed somewhere, it’s not important." (Source: P. Rassinier, Debunking the Genocide Myth, 1978, pp. 129-130.)
Unfortunately, Rassinier's writings are not free of errors, I said. But it's important to remember that he was in poor health after the war, and particularly during the years when he did most of his writing on this subject. Futhermore, I said, his errors were neither malicious nor deceitful, which is shown by the fact that they are not critical to his central thesis. The tradition of a French Revisionism spanning the ideological spectrum did not end with Rassinier. In recent years, the director of the main French publisher of books supporting the Revisionist view of the extermination story is a Marxist who vehemently opposes racism and Nazism.
I told the court about the eminent American historian, Harry Elmer Barnes. Earlier in the trial, Pearson had talked of Barnes with respect as a reputable scholar, apparently not knowing that Barnes had included the Holocaust in his Revisionism. Barnes publicly expressed doubts about the extermination story in an article that appeared shortly before his death in the Summer 1967 issue of the libertarian periodical Rampart Journal. (The essay is quoted briefly in the Harwood booklet). Barnes’ rejection of the Holocaust story is also confirmed in several private letters and by individuals who knew him well. Like so many others, he was understandably reluctant to publicly express his doubts about this highly emotional issue.
Contrary to what Pearson had suggested earlier, Barnes suffered tremendously for his Revisionist views, I said. His career was ruined because he sharply disagreed with the prevailing notion of exclusive German responsibility for the outbreak of the Second World War. He was effectively blacklisted, even though he had been one of America's most widely read and highly regarded historians. During the final years of his life he was forced to finance the publication of his writings.
James J. Martin, personal friend of Barnes and a life-long fighter for freedom of expression, is a member of the IHR's Editorial Advisory Committee. Martin brings impeccable professional credentials (University of Michigan Ph.D. in history and 25 years' teaching career) to the Revisionist cause. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Men Against the State and Americal Liberalism and World Politics, and a contributor to recent editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Another important Revisionist was the late Dr. Austin App, who wrote a booklet entitled The Six Million Swindle. Dr. App, was a fervent Roman Catholic and a respected professor. He was certainly no Nazi. In fact, he strongly opposed racial discrimination of any kind. Until his death in 1984, he was a staunch supporter of the Institute for Historical Review.
The most prominent Holocaust Revisionist in Australia is John Bennett, who is also president of the Australian Civil Liberties Union. He is a well-known defender of the rights of non-White immigrants in Australia. Bennett is a member of the IHR's Editorial Advisory Committee. Samuel Konkin, a leading libertarian theorist who steadfastly opposes any and all forces of state collectivism, including Nazism, is another important Revisionist who is a current member of the IHR Editorial Advisory Committee. Major articles by three Jewish writers – Alfred Lilienthal, Bezalel Chaim, and Howard Stein – have appeared in the IHR's quarterly Journal of Historical Review over the years.
Even in West Germany, where Holocaust Revisionism has been subject to unrivaled legal constraint, Dr. Helmut Diwald, a senior professor of history at the University of Erlangen, has supported the Revisionist view of the extermination story. He wrote about Germany’s wartime policy towards the Jews in his sweeping and well-written book, Geschichte der Deutschen ("History of the Germans"). The first edition was published in 1978 by the prestigious Propylaen publishing house.
I cited the two pages of his book devoted to the "final solution," in which Dr. Diwald pointed out that there were no extermination camps in Germany proper. He described the postwar Holocaust campaign as one of distortion, deception and exaggeration which is meant to morally degrade and totally disqualify the German people. Jewish deaths in the German concentration camps were not the result of an extermination policy, he wrote, but rather the consequence of chaotic and unavoidable wartime conditions. Diwald concluded his section on this issue by pointing out that in spite of all the literature that has been written on this subject, the central questions about the fate of the Jews during the war are still not clear. (Some years earlier I was, incidentally, the first person to translate this section of Diwald's book into English.)
Although his book became an immediate best-seller in Germany, which is unusual for a heavy, 760-page work of history, Dr. Diwald quickly learned what happens to even a prominent and reputable scholar who questions the official version of history. As a result of protests from Jews and others, sales of the first printing of 100,000 copies were immediately stopped, and a new edition with a hastily rewritten and "acceptable" section about the "final solution" was quickly substituted.
The Crown attorney's claim that Holocaust Revisionists are only Jew-hating, unscholarly neo-Nazis is not only completely false, but many other scholars – including some whom I know personally – would publicly support the Revisionist view of the Holocaust story if it were not for the climate of intimidation and fear surrounding this subject (as manifest by the Zündel trial).
The prosecution tried to argue that what Revisionist historians have written should be rejected out of hand because they are anti-Jewish. This view is bigoted and prejudiced. What any historian writes should be judged on its own merits, and not on the basis of any preconception. Fair consideration for even controversial views is essential to fruitful scholarship. Every fair and competent historian has a responsibility to evaluate historical writing on the basis of a careful consideration of historical evidence, and not on the basis of the historian's religion or race, or his political or philosophical views. It is just as closed-minded and bigoted to dismiss the Revisionist view of the Holocaust story on the basis of the irrelevant points raised by the Crown attorney as it would be to reject the writing and conclusions of Holocaust historians such as Raul Hilberg, Lucy Dawidowicz and Christopher Browning because they are either Jewish or affiliated with blatantly Zionist organizations.
During cross-examination of a previous witness, the prosecution attorney had suggested that the Holocaust media campaign is directed only against evil "Nazis" and not against the Germans. That's simply not true, I said. This perpetual campaign, which Jewish historian Alfred Lilienthal has called "Holocaustomania," defames the German people as a whole. To support this view, I first cited the widely-reported statement some years ago by Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin that because of the twelve Hitler years, the guilt of the German people would last until the end of time. (I was surprised at the audible expression of unhappiness by Jews in the courtroom when I made this point, which was certainly neither secret nor particularly remarkable.)
I then cited the statement by Elie Wiesel, former Auschwitz inmate and one-time chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, who declared (in his book, Legends of Our Time), that because of Germany's wartime policy against the Jews, every Jew today should maintain "somewhere in his being" a "zone of hate" for the Germans. And finally, I pointed out that Israel and individual Jews around the world are still receiving vast reparations payments from West Germany, even though most of the Germans paying this money were not alive during the Hitler era.
The Crown attorney had repeatedly asserted that Revisionists claim that the Holocaust story was invented after the war by the Jews to extort money for Israel from the German people. It is certainly true, I said, that West Germany has paid out massive reparations to Israel and individual Jews around the world. The basis for these payments is the 1953 Luxembourg Treaty signed by Israel, West Germany and the "Claims Conference," a special ad hoc international Jewish organization. The very nature of this reparations agreement, which I said "has no parallel" in diplomatic history, "presupposes that the Jews of the world are to be represented not by the governments of which they happen to be citizens, but rather by the State of Israel, of which most Jews are not citizens, and by a special international body called the Claims Conference." I also cited the words of Australian Jewish professor W.D. Rubinstein, who wrote in 1979: "If the Holocaust can be shown to be a ‘Zionist Myth,' the strongest of all weapons in Israel's propaganda armory collapses."
At the same time, I emphasized my belief that even more important than the financial benefits for Israel has been the role of the Holocaust story as a vehicle for promoting Jewish group solidarity. A key lesson of the Holocaust story for many Jews, I said, is that non-Jews are never completely trustworthy. If a people as cultured and as civilized as the Germans could turn into murderers, so the thinking goes, then surely no non-Jewish nation can ever be completely trusted. I noted that the well-known Jewish author Jacobo Timerman has pointed out that the Holocaust has become a "civil religion" for many Jews. The nations of the world can only live together in peace, I said, when the passions and hatreds of past wars are put behind us. Normally such passions diminish after terrible conflicts are over, but in this one case, they are artificially kept alive.
Pearson expended quite a bit of effort trying to discredit me because of my brief affiliation, more than eight years earlier, with an organization called the National Alliance. He had me read the entire text of an article I had written for the May 1978 issue of National Vanguard, the National Alliance paper. The essay, which I hadn't seen in years, was a personal and rather heart-felt explanation of why I had joined the pro-White organization. Many people in the courtroom, I was told later, were expecting an emotional tirade. In that sense, what they heard was disappointing. I had written, for example, of my "devotion to truth, no matter where it may lead." All the same, the essay almost certainly detracted from the overall effectiveness of my testimony in the eyes of the jury and the judge.
Pearson also had me confirm that I was the author of two articles that appeared in the weekly Spotlight paper. One was about the Allied torture of Germans to produce evidence for the Holocaust story (Dec. 24, 1979), and the other dealt with Zionist power and influence in the state of Nebraska (August 9, 1982).
In response to all this, I pointed out that I had not had any affiliation whatsoever with the National Alliance for more than eight years. I told the court that since that affiliation I had contributed several articles to the pro-Jewish but anti-Zionist monthly newsletter, Middle East Perspective, which was published by Jewish-American author and historian Alfred Lilienthal. In any case, I emphasized, what I write about history should be judged on its own merits, and not prejudicially on the basis of an affiliation eight years ago.
During my first day on the stand, Crown attorney Pearson tried to suggest that I, and by implication, other Revisionists, have taken the position we do on this issue in order to make money. During my fifth and final day of testimony, I responded to this accusation, calling it "ludicrous and contemptible." I specifically mentioned three prominent Holocaust Revisionists who had paid a heavy price for their views. Joseph G. Burg (who later testified on Zündel's behalf was beaten up by thugs. Dr. Wilhelm Stäglich, a West German judge, had his pension cut and his doctoral title revoked. And Prof. Robert Faurisson has been beaten several times [the latest and most severe instance resulting in a broken jaw, nose, and ribs, and head injuries on September 16, 1989. – Ed.], repeatedly dragged into court by powerful and influential organizations, and had his family life thrown into turmoil.
As a result of my own support for Revisionism, I said, I had received numerous death threats. Unlike Browning, who had appeared earlier for the prosecution, I was not receiving $150 an hour to testify. I had not received any compensation for appearing beyond the satisfaction of helping in a struggle that I said is worthy of the support of every defender of free speech. The Crown attorney objected to this reference, insisting that this case did not concern the issue of free speech. (Even the New York Times acknowledged that Zündel was on trial for his beliefs. March 30, 1988, p. 7.)
Crown attorney Pearson seemed to be a capable lawyer, but he was often surprisingly ignorant of the historical questions at issue in this trial. For example, I mentioned at one point that although the alleged extermination camps of Sobibor, Treblinka, Belzec and Chelmno were supposedly obliterated by the Germans to destroy all traces of their crimes, the two allegedly most important extermination centers, Lublin (Majdanek) and Auschwitz-Birkenau, were left intact by the Germans. Pearson then asserted that Auschwitz-Birkenau was destroyed by the Germans. "You are speaking in ignorance," I replied. The camp was left almost totally intact, I said, and the barracks and other buildings are still there today. In fact, I added, the Germans left behind thousands of inmates who were too weak to be evacuated, and they were there when the Soviets took control of the camp in January 1945.
Pearson spent a good bit of time citing a recently-published book by Canadian-Jewish professor Michael Marrus, The Holocaust in History. (Marrus sometimes sat in on the court proceedings.) Apparently confident that it would impress the jury, the prosecution attorney asked me to acknowledge Marrus' not unsurprising reference to Holocaust Revisionist historians as "malevolent cranks." Pearson also referred to Marrus' citation of the well-known letter by Göring of July 31, 1941, about the "final solution," as if this is a sinister reference to extermination. But as I pointed out, Marrus does not let the reader know that the document itself specifically refers to solving "the Jewish question by emigration and evacuation." This method of selectively presenting history, which is all too typical of Holocaust historians, is essentially deceitful, I said.
With regard to the alleged extermination program, Marrus writes that "the Nazis' own records provide little help. Typically, Hitler and his lieutenants cloaked their most criminal activities in euphemistic language, [and] tried strenuously to keep their murderous plans secret … " Marrus also mentions "the absence of a clear record of Hitlerian decision making on the Final Solution … " This is Marrus' roundabout way of saying that there is no documentary evidence for the alleged extermination policy. He simply ignores the numerous German documents which confirm that there was no such policy or program. Nor does he bother to explain why the highest-level German officials should deceive each other about an extermination policy that was not only supposedly well-known in Germany, but which Allied propaganda was tirelessly announcing to the entire world. Like other Holocaust historians, Marrus starts with the unproven extermination thesis, and then tries to find evidence to support it. This is precisely contrary to the methodology of an honest and open-minded historian.
What I said on the stand often upset the group of Jews who regularly attended the proceedings. It wasn't long after I began testifying that they began to loudly mutter "liar!" and make other noises to indicate their displeasure. For example, this group was noticeably agitated when I spoke about conditions in the Warsaw ghetto, and made the point that while some were starving, there were other Jews in the ghetto at the same time who were very well off and spent money on expensive meals in ghetto restaurants. When I saw that the Jews in the courtroom were obviously skeptical of this statement, I quickly added that my source for this information is the well-known Warsaw ghetto diary of Jewish historian Emmanuel Ringelblum, which is often cited by Holocaust historians. Sabrina Citron, the "survivor" who brought the original charge against Zündel that started this whole legal battle, walked out of the courtroom shortly after this remark.
During a 20-minute recess on my first day of testimony, a group of mostly elderly Jews gathered together in the courtroom to verbally assault me with epithets like "liar" and "neo-Nazi." One said to the others "he even looks like Hitler," and another cursed me with the words "God should strike you dead." Later in the hallway, an elderly Jewish woman rather incoherently told me that I "should be washed with human soap."
A major lesson I learned from this whole experience is the importance of careful preparation and close attention to detail in a trial. Although I had prepared myself as I had been asked, the duration and far-ranging scope of the interrogation was a surprise. I did not know, for example, that I would be questioned about virtually every sentence of the Harwood booklet. As a result, I had to rely heavily on memory, and it wasn't until my second or third day on the stand that I learned that I could read from documents and other prepared material.
Probably my best day was Thursday, the 24th, which was due in large part to careful review of the material the previous night with Christie, his able associate Keltie Zubko, attorney Barbara Kulaszka, and Zündel himself. By far my most difficult session was Friday afternoon, when an almost total lack of sleep during the previous four nights caught up with me. My fatigue was apparent, I'm afraid, and I answered many of the prosecution attorney's questions too quickly.
The adversarial nature of a trial, and especially one as emotionally charged as this one, makes it inherently almost impossible for a jury of very average men and women to arrive at a clear understanding of historical truth. The prosecuting attorney's task was not to determine historical truth, but rather to convict Zündel by discrediting him, his witnesses and Revisionism generally. Pearson's job was to uphold the historical doctrine which Judge Thomas had proclaimed at the outset of the trial when he took "judicial notice" of the Holocaust story.
Ernst Zündel announced at the outset that his main goal in this trial would be to set straight the historical record about this critically important chapter of history. He said that this task is far more important than his own personal fate.
In spite of the disappointing verdict, Zündel and his supporters are justifiably proud of what they achieved in this costly and time-consuming struggle. To wage the campaign that was forced upon him, Zündel brought together an impressive international team of Revisionist scholars, legal specialists, researchers, and many others. From numerous libraries and archives in North America and Europe, this group assembled one of the most impressive collections of evidence anywhere in the world on this chapter of history.
The dedicated Zündel legal team and the many defense witnesses presented exhaustive and compelling evidence refuting the Holocaust extermination story to the court and thereby made it part of the permanent public record. Much to the chagrin of Zündel's enemies, these lengthy court proceedings have immeasurably strengthened the conviction of the defendent and his supporters, as well as many others, that the Holocaust extermination story is a great fraud. All this is a great tribute to Zündel's organizational ability and extraordinary personality.
Zündel, who often describes himself as a "Swabian peasant," is outgoing, good-humored, confident, and blessed with a rare combination of unflagging optimism and sober realism. He maintains this infectious spirit even under very trying conditions. He is an unusually sensitive man with a keen understanding of human nature. He knows how to persuade, cajole and encourage his supporters to give their best for the greater good. He inspires confidence, loyalty and even affection. He does not ask more of others than he himself is willing to sacrifice. No one at "Zündelhaus" works more tirelessly.
Anyone who visited the Zündel headquarters during the trial could not help but be struck by the electric spirit of comradeship, purposeful activity and devotion to a righteous cause that pervades the place. At the end of each day's court session, a debriefing meeting was held in the headquarters "bunker" during which Zündel and Christie would review the day's events, sustain morale and explain the next round of tasks. A typical meeting brought together an eclectic group of individualistic men and women from half a dozen different countries – often speaking in as many thick accents – who share a common loyalty to a man and a cause.
For me, it was a tremendously challenging and instructive experience, as well as an honor to be a part of such a historically important legal battle.
Additional information about this document
|Title:||My Role in the Zündel Trial|
|Sources:||The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 9, no. 4 (winter 1989), pp. 389-425|
|First posted on CODOH:||Nov. 12, 2012, 6 p.m.|