On the Front Line for Free Speech and Open Historical Inquiry

Published: 1995-09-27

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The Press Council Decision

[From the North Shore News, Oct. 22, 1995]

Here's a shot from the battle front and the British Columbia Press Council decision that "in part" upholds the complaints made by my Jewish friend Lionel Kenner concerning a column I wrote two years ago.

The piece was headed "The Story Keeps Changing," a reference to the numbers lost in the "holocaust." [Reprinted in the Nov.-Dec. 1993 Journal, pp. 10-11.] In it, I gave a two-line mention to a report put out (I said) by the International Red Cross in the 1970s that estimated 300,000 or so as the number of deaths in the concentration camps. I did not claim that that was the true figure, only that it was one of many. Hence the headline.

The Council conceded that I accepted the report in good faith, but stated that Kenner has provided information from the IRC that "unequivocally refutes the authenticity of those reports as being genuine Red Cross documents." Kenner provided no such proof at the hearing even though he had had two years in which to do so. Over my objections, however, the Council granted him five weeks to come up with something after the hearing. It would have been proper on the Council's part, I think, to give me another five weeks in which to provide a rebuttal. But it didn't.

The report in question came from the International Tracing Service (ITS) at Arolsen in West Germany. It exists, and is not a "fake," as reported by the scumrag Vancouver Province. Nor did the Press Council use that expression. The issue is whether the ITS is officially part of the International Red Cross in Geneva. Well, at the second Z√ľndel trial in 1988 witness Charles Biedermann stated that he was the International Red Cross director of the ITS, and that the Red Cross "took over its administration in 1955." That might mean the service is not, technically, part of the Red Cross. But that's to split hairs.

It has been claimed, too, that the Red Cross came under tremendous pressure from Jewish sources when the 300,000 figure was published, and has done its best to play it down. Subsequent reports (not in my possession when I wrote the column) pointed out that the figure should not be taken to mean all deaths in the concentration camps. But – to repeat – I never said it did. The figure related to inquiries from relatives about deaths in the camps. So my question is: if there were 6,000,000 Jewish deaths, how come only 300,000 inquiries were made?

The Council criticized me for not using a full quote from Jewish academic Arno Mayer [Princeton University history professor]. Mayer wrote a book [Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?: The "Final Solution" in History] in which he said that sources on the gas chambers "are at once rare and unreliable." He went on to say that while there was no denying "the many contradictions and ambiguities in the existing sources, they were insufficient to put in doubt ... the use of gas chambers in the mass murder of Jews at Auschwitz."

In that case, I was not writing an article on Mayer's book but a letter to the editor, and letters to the editor have to be kept short. Furthermore, "rare and unreliable" was the bottom line of what he had to say.

The column itself used many sources – hence its "Story Keeps Changing" headline – and referred to Winston Churchill's having made no mention of any holocaust or gas chambers in his six-volume war memoirs.

The second Council criticism related to Holocaust expert Yehuda Bauer's report in the New York Times [Nov. 12, 1989] that "the larger figures (of those who died in Auschwitz) have been dismissed for years, except that it hasn't reached the public yet." The Council faulted me for not specifying that Bauer was referring only to Auschwitz. But that's nit-picking.

Auschwitz had always been painted as the main death camp, with 4,000,000 deceased. Bauer knew that was nonsense, and the Polish government has since reduced the figure to something over 1,000,000. Jean-Claude Pressac, a prominent "pro-holocaust" writer, now puts it at 750,000. As I told the Council, if you radically reduce the Auschwitz figure, as Bauer did, the 6,000,000 figure also falls by the wayside, even if allowances are made for not all of the alleged victims having been Jews.

A pointer to these criticisms being small stuff is that the Council refused to order the North Shore News to publish corrections or apologies. Not much of a return from a 40,000 word (!) complaint.

Onward and upward, comrades.

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiam."
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Circles

Canadian Liberties Under Attack

[From the North Shore News, Sept. 27, 1995]

Let's give the North Vancouver District Public Library a medal. And while we are at it, let's give Councillor Ernie Crist a medal, too. Here's why.

Some weeks ago Crist got a resolution through council deploring attacks on freedom of speech. And there's no need, I hope, to remind you who is mounting those attacks. Council agreed to ask the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention to endorse the United Nations' principle of "upholding and defending freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and intellectual freedom."

I wrote a column about Crist's move and (Bingo!) he began to get calls. There were references to the villain of the piece (me) and the usual doubletalk: "I'm in favor of freedom of speech, but ... " But nothing. We either have it or we don't. And right now we have it only at considerable risk. Jail and fines loom for those who "go too far."


Doug Collins

Some of the callers were miffed that the North Van library has copies of The Hoax of the Twentieth Century and Confessions of a Holocaust Revisionist, by Bradley Smith. Both dispute the six-million story. The first, especially, is a deeply researched effort by Professor Arthur Butz of the US that took him seven years to write. And both have been reviewed in this space.

Thanks to the usual anti-free speech artists, these books and others like it are banned in Canada. So if the Customs people notice them at the border or wherever it is that they carry out their vital tasks, they won't be delivered. But possession as such is not a crime. I have copies of both.

After receiving the complaints, Crist asked the library whether it had a policy on such books. He didn't want to support something that might be illegal but made it clear that if it was illegal he would ask the library to take the books off the shelf. And then start a campaign to get the law changed.

B.G. Thompson of the library's adult collections section was well aware that some people would like to see such books banned, but came back with this answer:

The library supports the view that materials in our collection should represent, as far as possible, a wide range of opinions and different sides of controversial issues. For this reason, library collections will include items which some individuals may consider to be unconventional, unpopular, or unacceptable.

To the best of our knowledge, the two titles in question are the only volumes in the collection which deny or question the significance of the Holocaust. By contrast, the library carries at least 145 titles (books and videos) which aver the Holocaust as an unquestioned historical event.

We do not endorse every idea found in the collection, but we do believe that the public should be given the opportunity to make its own assessment of controversial materials. For the foregoing reason, and despite the Canada Customs' ruling regarding importation, it is the library's decision that the books at issue should remain on the shelves.

Couldn't have put it better myself. I said almost exactly the same thing at the famous Press Council hearing at which Lionel Kenner of North Van held me up as a sinner.

It remains, however, that some people ("I like free speech, but...") cannot tolerate the slightest deviation from what they consider to be Holy Writ. The Spanish Inquisition thought the same way.

It is pleasant to record that the Canadian Library Association also has a policy on intellectual freedom. It reads in part as follows:

All persons in Canada have the fundamental rights, as embodied in the nation's Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity, and to express their thoughts publicly. This right to intellectual freedom, under the law, is essential to the health and development of Canadian society.

Let's hope someone tells the NDP [New Democratic Party] and the Canadian Jewish Congress about that.

Additional information about this document
Property Value
Author(s): Douglas Collins
Title: On the Front Line for Free Speech and Open Historical Inquiry
Sources: The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 16, no. 1 (January/February 1996), pp. 38-40; reprinted from the North Shore News, Sept. 27 and Oct. 22, 1995, respectively.
Published: 1995-09-27
First posted on CODOH: Dec. 27, 2012, 6 p.m.
Last revision:
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