With Regard to Your Article "Don't Even Think It"
Dear Mr. Stang:
I applaud your article, "Don't Even Think It." This is one of the few commentaries I have read which defends the rights of Holocaust revisionists generally and David Irving and Germar Rudolf specifically. To be upfront, I am a Holocaust revisionist. I have met both Mr. Rudolf and Mr. Irving personally. For the sake of clarification, it is worth noting that the definitions which you provided for the key terms within your article are not quite correct. You describe "Holocaust deniers" as "the complete coo-coos who say the thing called the Holocaust never happened; that no Jews were killed." Although it is possible that someone may hold this view, I have never met anyone nor read any work by someone suggesting that no Jews were killed during the Holocaust. "Holocaust deniers" is a slur invented by those who are opposed to Holocaust revisionists. The two terms address the same group of individuals. The latter term is the preferred term by those who support such arguments and the prior term is preferred by those who stand opposed.
Deborah Lipstadt, the author of Denying the Holocaust may in fact have coined the term "Holocaust deniers." For Lipstadt "deniers" have an ulterior motive to their work on the Holocaust — and that is — to hide a hateful ideology. Lipstadt includes David Irving in her diatribe which although an important and popular book on the subject is rife with errors. From a legal standpoint however, it is probably Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman's definition provided in their analysis, Denying History which has stuck. They write:
"When historians talk about the 'Holocaust,' what they mean on the most general level is that about six million Jews were killed in an intentional and systematic fashion by the Nazis using a number of different means, including gas chambers. According to this widely accepted definition of the Holocaust, so-called Holocaust revisionists are in effect denying the Holocaust, since they deny its three components– the killing of six million, gas chambers, and intentionality."
The situation that revisionists find themselves in today is that seven countries have outlawed even debate of the minutiae, as you describe it. To understand the depth of the problem and the persecution which faces revisionists today I recommend that you read my article, "How 'Fahrenheit 451' Trends threaten Intellectual Freedom" which may be found on-line at: [site:url]library/document/995. In this article, I discuss the persecution of Germar Rudolf (and others) by various world powers. Rudolf came into trouble when he published an anthology titled, Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte: Ein Handbuch über strittige Fragen des 20. Jahrhunderts, (Foundations of Contemporary History: A Handbook on controversial questions of the Twentieth century.) Rudolf, was forced to use pseudonyms after publishing Das Rudolf Gutachten (The Rudolf Report), his own scientific analysis of the Auschwitz gas chambers. In March of 1995, German police raided Rudolf's German publisher and seized all available copies of Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte. In May 1996, Judge Burckhardt Stein ruled that Rudolf had to be arrested without delay for his part in publishing the book. On June 15, 1996, the judge ruled that all copies of Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte must be burned. Not content to simply burn the words of Rudolf and his co-authors, the judge sentenced Rudolf to 14 months imprisonment. It was for this "thoughtcrime" that he was ultimately deported from the United States. For more on the persecution of Germar Rudolf I refer you to his Website and the article, "Germar Rudolf: The Persecution of a German Scholar" http://germarrudolf.com/
Finally, for an up-to-date look at revisionist scholarship on the Holocaust I recommend Samuel Crowell's "The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes" which may be found at: [site:url]library/document/606
Clearly the Holocaust is an emotional topic and a difficult one to view objectively. It is also true that extremists have grasped onto Holocaust revisionism as a method to advance their "cause." For me however, and for most revisionists, the greatest issue surrounding the Holocaust today is the issue of intellectual freedom. Without an open and honest discussion of the events of this human tragedy we are bound to feed the fires of extremism on both sides of the debate and to squelch honest historical inquiry through fear of persecution and imprisonment. What truth requires such a defense?
Best regards -
Richard A. Widmann
Additional information about this document
|Author(s):||Richard A. Widmann|
|Title:||With Regard to Your Article "Don't Even Think It"|
|First posted on CODOH:||Dec. 8, 2005, 6 p.m.|