Who Will Be Left to Stand up?

Published: 1998-01-01

This document is part of the Smith's Report periodical.
Use this menu to find more documents that are part of this periodical.

[A well-written article that Smith would have been glad to retain credit for.
The piece, however, was written by Martin Henry, of whom you will shortly be hearing more.]

Who will be left to stand up?

The Review; University of Delaware, 5 December 1997

Bradley Smith
Guest Column

'The Review,' University of Delaware, 5 December 1997

In the 20 years or so that the Gas Chamber Controversy has taken a definite shape, largely due to the pathbreaking work of Arthur Butz and Robert Faurisson, there have been many attempts to suppress and control discussion of its themes, which are central to our understanding of the Jewish Holocaust and modern European history.

In recent years, however, this suppression has taken an alarming turn, as nation after nation has passed laws to criminalize the public expression of doubt about any aspect of the Holocaust story. Thus, according to German law, books or other materials that broach revisionist themes are routinely banned and burned, and their authors are threatened with imprisonment. One revisionist, Carlos Porter, was recently sentenced simply for sending a private letter to the Lord Mayor of Munich.

The situation in France is worse in its own way: there, according to the Fabius-Gayssot law of 1990, no one can challenge any portion of the International Military Tribunal's record at Nuremberg. This means not only that one cannot doubt the gas chamber stories, but also, as David Irving has pointed out, one cannot question such obvious canards as the Russian attempt to pin their own Katyn Forest massacre on the Germans, or the spurious "human soap” evidence. Just last month, Robert Faurisson was fined $20,000 for standing up to this bizarre law.

The response to all of this by the historical and intellectual community has been a deafening silence. Perhaps historians and other scholars feel that acceptance of the gas chamber tales is a small price to pay for peace and quiet and tenure. But this is a dangerous precedent for scholars to set. We are now witnessing an extension of the orthodox interpretation of the Holocaust story so that in a few years the free expression of doubts about virtually any aspect of orthodox German history may well become, in effect, against the law.

Strong evidence that such is becoming so ties in a defamation suit that Daniel Goldhagen is pursuing against Ruth Bettina Birn. Ms. Birn, a Canadian authority on the Jewish Holocaust, has published a highly critical review of Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners in Historical Journal 40, 1 (1997), Ms. Birn, who introduced Goldhagen to some of his primary sources, took Mr. Goldhagen to task not merely for the contents of his book but for his use and abuse of sources.

Perhaps historians and other scholars feel that acceptance of the gas chamber tales is a small price to pay for peace and quiet and tenure.

Apparently, Goldhagen cannot tolerate substantive criticism of his work, whose central thesis appears to be that Hitler was merely carrying out the wishes of 80 million Germans when he allegedly ordered genocidal atrocities against the European Jews. As a result, Goldhagen is pursuing legal remedies for defamation in England, where Historical Journal is published, and where such charges are almost always brought to court, at the expense of thousands of dollars in legal costs to the defendant. All too many observers can see in this stratagem a naked and cynical attempt to intimidate scholars into silence, and render unassailable the orthodox charges of unique German guilt and "war crimes” behavior in the 20th century.

There are some interesting historical parallels to this ongoing, systematic suppression of free speech about the Holocaust. In early 19th century Germany, the fight concerned whether or not philosophers should be allowed, to teach philosophical systems that contradicted Christianity. As one establishment professor put it, in 1840: "If a philosophy contradicts the fundamental ideas of Christianity, then either it is false,” or, “even if true, it is of no use.” The idea was that, since Christianity formed the underpinning of the established order, it could not be questioned.

After enumerating several cases of academic firings and harassment, Arthur Schopenhauer would wryly observe “hence the solution is: lap up thy pudding, slave, and give out as philosophy Jewish mythology,” by which he meant the Judaeo-Christian religious tradition. And he would go on to say, with grim irony, “the State must protect its own people and should, therefore, pass a law forbidding anyone to make fun of professors of philosophy.”

What Schopenhauer wrote about, almost as a bitter jest, would seem to be on the verge of coming true. And here we are reminded of the famous remarks of Pastor Niemoller: “In Germany, they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then, they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist, then they came for the Protestants and I didn’t speak up because I wasn't a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time, there was no one left to speak up.”

In succession, those who have denied the stories of human soap and human skin lampshades, those who have been skeptical of the gas chamber stories, and those who have questioned the legacy of the Nuremberg Trials have been silenced by intimidation, threats, laws, fines, imprisonment and social ostracism. And we have all preferred to look the other way. Now, however, we have a case where the mere objection to a thesis of unique and even monstrous German criminality is being attacked through legal means. What do we do now?

How long will it be before any questioning of any aspect of an established order in the West will be made immune to criticism, either by censorship or legal proceedings? And if that happens, who among us will be left to stand up?

Bradley Smith is a guest columnist for The Review. Send e-mail to [email protected]

Additional information about this document
Property Value
Author(s): Bradley R. Smith , Martin Henry
Title: Who Will Be Left to Stand up?
Sources: Smith's Report, no. 50, January 1998, p. 5
Published: 1998-01-01
First posted on CODOH: Oct. 11, 2015, 5:03 a.m.
Last revision:
Appears In: