Smith Flies to Washington D.C. to Tour the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Published: 1993-08-01

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Just as Auschwitz in Poland is the centerpiece of the Holocaust cult in Europe, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. has instantly become the focal point of the cult in North America. No one doubted that it would.

The Washington Museum, with its hugely successful opening, has become the organizing instrument around which the revisionist/exterminationist controversy will focus. The standing of the Holocaust cult in North America will be increasingly and irreversibly linked to the perception of it the public has after touring the Museum or talking to those who have. The Museum provides revisionists with a public platform for promoting debate that it could never have provided for itself.

The details of the Holocaust story can no longer be obfuscated and mystified in the isolated sanctuaries of universities or the endless river of tabloid style, media junk stories. When the doors of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum opened the Holocaust story was there on its walls and in its glass cases. What's there is there, what isn't there isn't there, and there is no escape for the Museum, or for revisionism, from the exhibit the Museum's directors have created.

A continued, growing interest in revisionist theory will depend on the dialogue, the debate, that is going to ensue over the museum's exhibits and how they are interpreted. Not on condemnations of the Museum as a Zionist plot to destroy Western culture, but on the response of revisionist researchers to what is exhibited in the Museum, to the context in which the exhibits are displayed, and to the importance of relevant materials that have been omitted from the exhibits.

The Museum either exhibits proof of the extermination "gassing chambers" or it doesn't. It isn't complicated. If the proof is there, the Holocaust happened. If the proof isn't there, the Holocaust is a hoax. This is do or die for the exterminationists. It's not much different for revisionist researchers. We will either reach increasingly broad public audiences through our response to the museum's exhibits, or the public will ignore revisionist research because of its reasonable perception that the Museum's exhibits display proof of the gas chambers, thus proof of the "Holocaust."

Because of these and other factors that surround and are associated with the Museum, I decided sometime ago that I would make this Museum the focus of my attention. The Museum's exhibits, the Museum's publications, the people who managed the project that created the Museum, spokespersons for the museum, and how the museum is written about by media and scholars. I have been awaiting the Museum's opening impatiently, eager to get on with my work, unable to do anything I believed would be effective until I saw the animal with my own eyes.

Oddly, the week the Museum opened, while I was still in California and before I had seen the it, I received a call from WFTL radio in Ft. Lauderdale-Miami. I was offered a chance to be interviewed on the Al Rantel show along with Professor Michael Berenbaum, Project Director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. We would be on a conference call, me in Visalia and the professor on the horn from Washington. I was rather taken aback. Why would the project director of the USHMM want to go on the air with me? Who am I?

Al Rantel's producer explained (with a little too much satisfaction it seemed to me) that Berenbaum is the author of eight books, mostly on the holocaust, and scores of scholarly articles. On top of that, he is also the author of the coffee table book titled The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust As Told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This is the book that represents the Museum itself. It's the book everyone will buy when they visit the Museum and take back home and display prominently for their guests to see. Its pages follow the actual Museum tour and contain much of the text and photographs that are on the tour. So Berenbaum would know everything about the Museum while I would know nothing about it.

I was a little nervous. I hadn't done much radio since the spring of 1991, I was a little rusty, and I hadn't seen the Museum yet. I hadn't even seen Berenbaum's book. What was I getting myself into? The morning of the interview, 26 April, I rose from my slumbers two hours early and boned up on the story as best I could. If Berenbaum could spend most of his adult Ph.D. life producing books and scores of scholarly articles about the "German Holocaust" (the expression used on the back cover of his Museum book), the least I could do would be to get my Holocaust-radio/tv notes in some kind of order.

Professor Berenbaum was late getting on the line, then refused to talk to me because, as he told Rantel, "I make it a practice not to talk to deniers." Rantel was a little confounded by the professor's strict self-discipline on this matter, since the point of the conference call was that Berenbaum and I would "debate" the merits of the Museum or at least the concept of the Museum.

So it was the same old story. The project director for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum had nothing to say about the "German holocaust" that any spokesperson for any small town Jewish community center would not have had to say about it. He mouthed the same platitudes, used and omitted the same information, and treated the story as a political issue rather than an historical one, just as they would have. At one point he asked me if I was familiar with his work. When I said I wasn't that rather finished me in his eyes. It didn't occur to Berenbaum that he could use all the expertise represented in his eight books and scores of scholarly articles to demonstrate to our listening audience that I'm an idiot. The following letter is from a man who listened to the broadcast:

Dear Bradley:

Attached you will find the tape of the [Rantel] talk show as promised. You were great! You have the proper temperament to deal with something of this nature.

It was obvious to us that Mr. Berenbaum played a game by first coming on the show late, then by pretending he could not hear you. He did not want to be put into a position to answer any questions to you directly. Also, he wanted to listen first to what you were bringing up and then maneuver to have the last word.

All right, he got his wish, but it gave you a great chance to make your point and make it in a calm and eloquent manner, without being interrupted by him.

He was the loser.

He made some noteworthy statements: The Poles are now responsible for the 4 million [extermination] figure at Auschwitz. Is there any evidence that he or others tried – obviously in vain – to establish the right figure during the past half century? He should not be left off the hook on this one. It sounds a little bit like the soap story – RJF – where indeed the Nazis are now blamed for creating the fraud.

If [men like Professor Berenbaum] are such great scholars, why did they wait for half a century to come up with the right answers? Naturally, it was revisionist pressure that changed the Auschwitz figure.

Yours cordially,
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

(A cassette of this Berenbaum/Smith "debate" is available in exchange for your donation. I think you'll find it interesting to hear for yourself how this scholar and top spokesman for the USHMM expresses himself. If it cost $150 million to open its doors, I should think the Museum deserves something a little better.)

Washington D.C.

In the last week in May then I flew to Washington to tour the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. While I recognized my obligation to go I didn't look forward to going (I don't like flying to begin with), I didn't expect to see anything that would particularly interest me or surprise me, and I can hardly express how bored I have become with the Jewish suffering shtick. I felt obligated to go, so I went. I'm very glad I did. The exhibits were considerably more interesting than I expected them to be, and I experienced something I would never have expected to experience. Aside from that, I would encourage everyone who reads this to go, if you possibly can.

Before I left I sent a press release to 340 major media outlets in Washington and New York announcing my imminent arrival in Washington, my plans to travel to New York, and my availability for interviews. The primary statement in the release was a question:

"Is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 'a necessary, civilizing memorial' [as per Time magazine] or a 150 million dollar monument to vulgarity and fraud?"

The second part of the release was a letter (printed below) to the Museum's permanent exhibit director asking five pertinent questions. The third part was a copy of The Holocaust Controversy: The Case for Open Debate, the article that caused such a scandal in the university system and the prestige press when I ran it in college newspapers last year.

[address and phone number no longer valid]

21 May 1993

Raye Farr
Permanent Exhibit Director
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place
Washington, D.C. 20024-2150

Dear Ms. Farr

I will be in Washington to tour the USHMM beginning 27 May. I will be looking for evidence that will answer five questions pertaining to the catastrophe suffered by European Jews during the Hitlerian regime. These five simple questions are on the mind of a growing number of Americans. Will you please help me discover if the exhibits mounted by the Museum provide answers to any or all of the following?

  1. Which exhibit/s demonstrate that there was an order (by anyone) to exterminate the Jews of Europe?
  2. Which exhibit/s demonstrate that there was a plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe?
  3. Which exhibit/s demonstrate that there was a budget for carrying out either an order or plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe?
  4. Which exhibit/s demonstrate that the so-called gas chambers, that is, the alleged murder weapon allegedly used to exterminate millions of European Jews, actually existed?
  5. Which exhibit/s demonstrate that anyone (one individual, say) was shown, using routine medical procedures, to have been "gassed" at any German camp upon its liberation by the Allied armies? When I arrive in Washington, I will follow up by telephoning your office. Meanwhile, I can be reached at either of the above numbers. Thanking you in advance for your cooperation, I am,

    Bradley R. Smith

    Copies: Media

Arriving in Washington I rented a car, a hotel room in Crystal City and called home to Visalia to see if there were any responses from media. Nothing. I was surprised and I wasn't surprised. I've been blacked out on Washington radio and TV for six years and largely blacked out in New York for five years, so I wasn't surprised. But I was in Washington, all those media people know more or less who I am and what I do, and I was there to talk about such a hot story that I half-believed that this time I would get through. The travails of a hopeless optimist.

The note I addressed to Raye Farr, permanent exhibit director for the Museum, and included in the press release, briefly listed the five questions that I would liked to have answers to. They aren't new questions or questions that I thought up. They're the questions revisionists have been asking for years.

Somehow, I sent the Farr letter to everyone on my list except Farr. I was still in Visalia when I discovered this little oversight, so I rang up Ms. Farr at her office, introduced myself and asked for her fax number so I could get the letter to her right away. She was very nice, gave me the number and I tried for two days and nights to reach her but I couldn't get through. By the time I arrived in Washington I suppose she had gotten copies of the letter from two or three dozen other sources and I have little reason to doubt that Farr and everyone else at the Museum knew how to reach me.

At 7am on the morning of 27 May I walked into the lobby of the Crystal City Marriot Hotel, took the escalator down to the underground and rode under the Potomac River to the 15th street exit. Up on the surface, I soon found myself on the Washington Mall. I'd never been there. The dimensions of the green were more impressive than I had thought them to be. There was a casualness to it all that I found pleasant. The walks were of brown sand and gravel. The grass was cared for but accessible, as if you are invited to use the green, to walk and sit on it, not just look at it.

There weren't many people about. I had to ask half a dozen times before I found someone who could direct me to the Museum. From what I had read I expected it to front on the Mall itself but it's two blocks off the green. It is, indeed, "beneath the shadow" of the Washington Monument, but so are the U.S. Department of Agriculture and half a dozen other uninspiring buildings. I think too much has been made of the "location" issue, which is different from the issues of government sponsorship, the dishonest financing, etc., etc.

It was not quite 8am when I arrived at the Museum and got in the modest line that trailed back alongside the building. By 10am, when the exhibit opens, the line led back a quarter mile and turned a corner out of sight. While we waited I did a kind of ethnic survey of those in line and those passing by to reach the end of it. About half appeared to be Jewish. There were four or five Blacks, a half dozen Asians and maybe a couple Latinos. The rest appeared to be Gentile tourists from all over the country. I was in the Museum until three in the afternoon and the mix of peoples didn't change.

By 10am I had my tickets and in a few minutes my friend Hans Schmidt met me at the front entrance. We took the elevator to the fifth floor and when the elevator doors opened we stepped out into a modest room where the one thing we could view was a black and white photographic mural covering the entire wall facing us, maybe eighteen feet across and reaching from close to the floor almost to the ceiling. It pictured a smoldering pyre of logs and fifteen or twenty half-consumed corpses. In the background are a similar number of American G.I.s looking on, their hands in their pockets, unintelligible expressions on the faces. It's a powerful photo, revealing a terrible event. Importantly, the technical quality of this singular graphic display is top notch. The caption reads:

American soldiers in front of calcinated corpses of concentration camp inmates. Ohrdruf, Germany, April 1945.
National Archives,
Washington, D.C.

And here we have the primary exhibition concept of the Museum from top to bottom. A startling photograph enlarged into a powerful mural presented in a stunning manner and, at the same time, entirely out of context, intentionally misleading, dishonest and finally base.

The viewer is not told, for example, who the people are who are being cremated in the photograph. Were they Jews? How do we know? If they were not Jews, who were they? If they weren't Jews, what significance does the display have? We are not told how they died. Did they do something naughty for which they were executed? If so, what did they do? Was their punishment cruel or unusual? Or were they victims of disease? If so, were they treated? If not, why not? In any event, why were the bodies burned rather than buried? Did the victims die of exposure? How do we know? Did they die of malnutrition? Were the victims worked to death? How do we know? Did the Germans create this grisly scene as a photo op for the U.S. Signal Corps, or did they have something else in mind? What does the exhibit tell us about any of this? Does it matter?

The Museum doesn't answer any of these questions and doesn't attempt to. It presents the graphic display with verve and virtuosity and allows the viewer to "fit it in" to his preformed understanding of what happened during the "Holocaust," which the Museum directors are betting is the orthodox understanding promoted so heavily with so much money and propaganda. This approach, a repetition of one interesting and even powerful and sometimes horrible graphic display after another, either entirely out of context or in a highly debatable or even straightforwardly dishonest one, makes up the five-floor display of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

There is almost nothing in the Museum of any value other than the photographs and some print graphics from the same era. I understood from the get-go that I was touring a museum organized around a crooked cultural and political scam. At the same time, the photographs were real and endlessly interesting. As I went from display to display I became immersed in the pictorial record of the destruction of one Jewish community after another by the German State. I ignored as best I could the one-sided context and dishonest interpretations that accompanied the photographs. The photographs were very real. I began to feel the terrible anguish that Jews felt when they experienced the sudden destruction of their homes, their family life, their communities, their cultural presence in city after city, nation after nation.

As I continued the tour – and there is simply too much material on exhibit for me to try to even outline it for you here – as I witnessed a pictorial history of the terrible catastrophe of the European Jews under Hitler, I grew increasingly aware of how each photograph condemned Western culture. At the same time there was no compassion whatever for the awful catastrophes suffered by Christians and other Gentiles. No historical awareness, and no desire to express an awareness, that all the peoples of Europe were failed and betrayed by their leaders and suffered great catastrophes. This gross failure of sensibility, together with the dishonest historical context where lying by omission is clearly the rule rather than the exception, gradually created an environment that was suffocating.

The Museum is about Jews and nothing else, Jews from beginning to end and those who mistreated Jews or are accused of mistreating Jews. Jews as the centerpiece of World War II. Jews as historically the most significant people of the 20th century. Jews as role models for all others. Jews as victims, victims, victims but never as victimizers. The complete suppression of the Jewish role and Jewish players in the gigantic upheavals and turmoil of 20th century Europe. The message of the Museum is that everybody everywhere hates Jews and wants to murder Jews but that everywhere Jews are innocent of all wrongdoing. It's a childish point of view, but when so much money and so much influence can be pumped into it, it can be an insidious one too.

This is a museum that follows the rules that all historical museums would follow in a totalitarian state. No other people in America, so long as we remain a free society, would even think of creating an exhibition like this one. Absolutely shameless in its propagandizing, shamelessly presenting its exhibits in isolation from the relevant historical contexts, incorrigibly insensitive to all peoples but those people related to themselves by blood and culture, and without any intelligible need to tell the truth – any other people in America trying to establish a museum like this one would be hooted out of town. In the old days they would have been candidates for being tarred and feathered and ridden out on a rail. All that said, a little surprise was waiting for me.

  1. an aerial photograph of Birkenau from the National Archives in Washington which we have all had access to for years and doesn't contain any proof whatever for gas chambers or even any evidence for them;
  2. a plastic model of a metal door from a standard disinfestation chamber at Majdanek, the sort of structure that was used in German camps all over Europe to fight disease;
  3. a plastic model of an artist's conception of the morgue and cremation facilities known as Krema II which here is labeled as one of four "killing installations" at Birkenau.

It was kind of pathetic. The plastic model of Krema II on display in Washington is a copy of the plastic model that's displayed at Auschwitz. The original was created from the imagination of Mieczyslaw Stobierski, an artist who we are told based his creation on documents and on the testimonies of SS guards. Stobierski has used his imagination to sculpt hundreds of little figurines inside this "killing installation." He has sculpted imaginary scenes of his imaginary people being prepared for "gassing," shows them actually being "gassed" and then their corpses being disposed of afterwards. If you have nothing real, you might as well hire an artiste.

And there you have it. That was more or less what I expected to see of the "proofs" of the gassing chambers. That's why I didn't much want to spend the money to go there to start with. I have lost faith entirely in the capacity of these people to put together anything whatever about gas chambers that could prove to be interesting. So why bother schlepping around the country pretending that I might actually see something? Those were my thoughts as I continued on to peruse the rest of the exhibits, and it was then that I was taken a little by surprise.

I was in that part of the exhibit titled "The Last Chapter." It covers the liberation of the camps, includes some of the terrible photographs we have been shown so many times and a few I hadn't seen, and has one section titled simply, "Children." The standard claim is repeated that the Nazis murdered a million Jewish children "in their attempt to achieve `The Final Solution to the Jewish Problem.'" You can't escape from the distress of seeing photographs of children who are suffering or who have been mistreated but when you've been shown the photos for 40 years or so, and you begin to realize why you are being shown them so often, you tend to rather take them in stride, or at least I do.

Then I came to an enlarged head and shoulders photo of one poorly dressed man holding a little girl. The caption reads:

"Father and daughter in the Warsaw ghetto. Warsaw, Poland."
Bundesarchiv, Koblenz, Germany.

The father is a thin, black-eyed, hook-nosed, sunken-cheeked specimen with big ears that in the photo look pointed. He's wearing a cheap woolen coat or jacket with the collar turned up against the cold, and a style of billed cap that I have seen in other photos of central and eastern Europeans. His scrubby face looks like it hasn't been shaved for a week or two. He's looking uncertainly to his left from the corner of his eye at something we can't see. His expression is apprehensive, distrustful, perhaps fearful. We don't really know.

The little girl appears to be wrapped around in cheap woolen blanket. She's wearing a kerchief so you can't see her hair, but we can see her face clearly in three-quarter profile. She has dark eyes like her father but rather pretty features. She's going to be considerably more attractive than daddy is, if she survives. Her head is lying against her father's shoulder, almost touching the side of his face. Her eyes are open and she appears to be looking in the same direction as her father, but there is no suggestion in her expression that she sees anything to worry about. She's resting, she's comfortable, and her daddy will take care of everything for her. She's absolutely convinced of it. He always has and he always will.

As I stand looking at the photo I feel a movement of anguish well up in me that even there among the other onlookers I can't keep down. I feel wracked with the pain of a father facing death or maybe something worse holding his little girl in his arms who is comfortable and content and who trusts him utterly to protect her and stay with her and never let her go while he knows it out of his hands, that she is going to share his fate and there is nothing he can do about it and at the moment his fate looks very bad. I'm unable to suppress my feelings, to stop the tears, and I duck into a men's room to get a hold on myself.

I'm not a kid any longer. I understand something of the mechanics of what goes down in these little incidents. After all, I have a little girl myself. She lays her head on my shoulder just like the girl in the photo because she loves me and knows that when she's with me she is safe and that it is unimaginable that anything can go wrong. But I'm standing on thin ice, just like the man in the photo. I'm not in the Warsaw ghetto but I've been on thin ice for a long time now. I accept it and like to joke about it but I understand too that at any moment something or someone can break the ice and I can go down and my little girl might well go down with me, along with the rest of us. It's the awareness of that kind of uncertainty, rooted in the lack of a regular income, the hostility and contempt of almost everyone in the society, the loss of old and even lifelong friends, the feeling of alienation that is irreparable, the threat of violence that's always in the background and so on and so forth that creates the anxiety. This little bundle of anxieties isn't focused on any one present danger, so it "floats," and at odd moments will suddenly fix itself onto something or someone that you would never have predicted it would choose – for example, a photograph of a Jewish father holding his little girl on a street in the Warsaw ghetto half a century ago – and that's the moment when suddenly something is out of your hands and you make a fool of yourself in a public place.

There are many photographs of similar power and beauty in the exhibition. Simple, directly conceived, humane images of Jewish life in central Europe which we now view with our understanding of the terrible impending doom that was waiting just beyond the reach of the camera's lens. But the beauty and power of the photographs have been co-opted by transparent Jewish chauvinists intent on condemning Germans for bestial crimes the museum cannot show were committed. Because of these failures, and other similar failures, the Museum adds up to be an exercise in crude propaganda intended to convince us, as is clear in its final exhibits, that after World War II the Jewish invasion of Palestine was morally legitimate. That's the cheap, final historical message of this Museum.

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Author(s): Bradley R. Smith
Title: Smith Flies to Washington D.C. to Tour the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Sources: Smith's Report no. 15-16, July/August 1993
Published: 1993-08-01
First posted on CODOH: July 8, 2012, 7 p.m.
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