The Great Holocaust Trial

A Review
Published: 1996-01-01

The Great Holocaust Trial. Expanded, Third Commemorative Edition, by Michael A. Hoffman II. New York: Wiswell Ruffin House, 1995. Softcover. 144 pages. Notes. Bibliography. $12.95. ISBN 0-929903-05-6. This volume can be purchased from: "Remarks", PO Box 234, Aurora, NY 13026-0234, USA for $20.00.

The Great Holocaust Trial is the sort of book that should be available in every mall bookstore in the country. It is an exciting and well-written volume. Unfortunately this volume has been added to the banned books list in Canada. Authorities have seized shipments and officially been burning this book. This is a crime which should be condemned by all who still believe in freedom of speech. Hoffman, who writes with the grace of a romantic poet, draws his title from the 1985 trial of Ernst Zündel who was prosecuted for having published a slim volume in Canada by Richard Harwood, Did Six Million Really Die? This volume goes beyond recounting the events of this trial, which Hoffman calls "a Stalinist anomaly." Hoffman provides both background to the trial, by recounting biographical information about Zündel, and foreground by detailing important post-trial events.

Those interested in the Zündel case may wonder why they need this particular volume. Two excellent volumes on Zündel's run ins with the Royal Canadian Thought Police already exist, the extremely objective, The Holocaust on Trial by Robert Lenski and the encyclopedic Did Six Million Really Die?: Report of the Evidence in the Canadian "False News" Trial of Ernst Zündel- 1988 by Barbara Kulaszka. Those volumes concentrate on the latter 1988 trial citing the 1985 trial mainly for background purposes. Both the Lenski and Kulaszka volumes recount the actual testimony of both the prosecution and defense at great length. The Hoffman book is something different.

Hoffman describes the events from the perspective of an insider. Decidedly pro- Zündel, Hoffman is able to recount the joys and sorrows which occurred during the rollercoaster ride of a trial making the reader feel that he or she is right there in Zündelhaus. One example of Hoffman's unique view is his ability to explain the difficulty involved with the decision to utilize Fred Leuchter, the U.S. gas chamber expert, as a witness during the 1988 trial. Many authors have repeated Leuchter's startling testimony and the findings of his now famous, The Leuchter Report: An Engineering Report on the Alleged Execution Gas Chambers at Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdanek, Poland but none detail the background to the decision. The reader feels the pressure as Hoffman explains Zündel's dilemma. Numerous photographs and reprints of news articles add to the you-are-there feel of Hoffman's tale.

Hoffman concludes his poetic narrative with a chapter entitled, The Context. This chapter leaves the events of the Zündel trials behind and is somewhat of a personal manifesto of the author. Hoffman sets out to explain the forgotten historical context of the Nazi persecution of the Jews. This chapter may make some readers flinch, as Hoffman spares no one; from the early Bolsheviks to Adolf Hitler. Some of Hoffman's criticisms are certainly warranted, for example, he writes, "Hitler was a disaster for Germany." In other areas he gets a bit off track, concerning himself with repeating the names of Jews in the Soviet leadership. Hoffman even wastes time by listing Generals in the Soviet military with Jewish wives. Just as this irrelevant material threatens to derail an otherwise wonderful book, Hoffman pulls back. He espouses non-violence and non-conformity while taking shots at totalitarianism. In true revisionist form, Hoffman subverts any and all paradigms. He declares,

"I don't know how a collection of diehard doubters and sarcastic skeptics is somehow transformed, in the eyes of the media, into a brigade of goose-stepping automatons. Revisionists are the least likely candidates for such a formation. If we step to the beat of any drummer it is that of Thoreau."

It is this undying spirit of individualism which exemplifies the best in revisionism. With this volume, Hoffman joins a proud tradition of honest non-conformists who have struggled for what they believe is right. This volume is recommended for all interested in freedom of speech issues and/or twentieth century history.

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Richard A. Widmann
Title: The Great Holocaust Trial, A Review
Published: 1996-01-01
First posted on CODOH: Nov. 4, 2000, 6 p.m.
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