Confessions of a Holocaust Revisionist
IT’S DAWN THE MORNING AFTER New Year’s Day, and I’m walking to Mother’s for the pick-up. I crank her up, then drive down La Brea to the Santa Monica freeway and turn west toward Malibu. In the rear-view mirror I can see the horizon behind me blazing spectacularly while ahead the sky is still dark with the night. A hint of red is reflected softly across the face of the dark. I turn on the cab radio and while the blazing morning light dissolves the night and illuminates the great spread of the city all around me, I listen to The Lark Ascending by Vaughn Williams for the first time. The music causes my heart to rise up inside me and clears the mind somehow, as if it’s preparing the way for something new.
I drive up Pacific Coast Highway between the sea and the cliffs, turn up into the hills then down into Escondido Canyon toward the job site. I feel as if the light of day were glowing in my breast, or in the mind–it isn’t clear–and I’m aware of how distinctly I’m seeing each of the different pieces of the forested canyon, still saturated with the damp shadow of the night. I’m aware of how accurately the mechanism of the brain is recording the canyon bird-song, imprinting for the merest instant each separate note and trill. Then for no reason I can understand, without any prompting from me or any desire for it to happen, thought switches on and calls to my attention the gas chamber stories and the Jews and the Nazis and from that moment on I have to struggle to think about anything else.
Inwardly, everything is changed. The awareness of the beauty of the earth and all that comes from it, the sense of lightness, elevation and sensitivity, the coincident understanding of how to live out the moment in right relationship with all that exists– all that is gone. Awareness is overwhelmed by thought obsessing over Nazis and Jews and poison-gas-chamber stories and all the bitterness, accusation and distraction that goes with it. The distraction is so intense I have to struggle to review my work plan for the day.
I think about how I can not understand–how I have never been able to understand–why European Jews had mindlessly followed the instructions of Germans until the Jews themselves were destroyed. I understand the rationalizations given for it–how Jews couldn’t believe that other human beings would commit such massive murders, the organization and power of the Germans, the failure of foresight by Jewish leaders, something perhaps in the ghettoized mentality of Jews themselves. It’s a question that appears to bother everybody at one time or another, yet everyone believes that that’s how the Jews of Europe behaved. Millions of them allegedly did it, cooperated lemming-like in their own destruction as a people.
That image of pathetic, helpless, self-destructive Jews in Europe is so different from the Jews I’ve known in America that I have never been able to imagine a connection between the two peoples. It’s as if European and American Jews originated on different planets. The Jews I have known have been energetic, self-regarding, ambitious, practical, savvy, sensible–in short, individuals who usually had as clear a view as any about how to take care of their own end. How could Jews have been so helpless and forlorn in Europe while in America they are so practical and energetic? How could those European sheep transform themselves so suddenly into the lions of Israel? For myself, there has always been an air of unreality about it. I hadn’t doubted that that was the way it had been. I’d believed it. But it has never been quite real for me.
But if there had been no gas chambers, no programmed extermination of Jews, then the German-Jewish scenario in Eastern Europe, while it would remain a cruel and ugly affair, would make some sense. European Jews would not have acted out then the part of inexplicably pathetic, robotized victims. Jewish mothers then would not have participated passively in the alleged destruction of a million of their children. Millions of Jewish men would not have collaborated with Germans in the mass extermination of their own families without having risen up en masse to die defending them. Jewish elders then would not have acted with such stupefied credulity in advising their people. A whole generation of Jews would be returned to us. A whole generation of rabbis and other Jewish leaders would be made whole again.
Now that would be good news to me. Why wouldn’t it be good news for Jews? It’s exciting to think about the possibility that it might be true. Of course, that line of thought would change how we think about an entire generation of Germans as well. Even Nazis would have to be seen in a new light–as human beings. That doesn’t bother me. I have always been willing to view people as human beings, no matter what political party they belong to. If the Holocaust story turns out to be other than what I have been taught to believe it is, Germans would be relieved from an intolerable burden of manufactured bad conscience. Germans have got enough on their consciences without having to bear a guilt for crimes they didn’t commit. They’re like the rest of us that way.
It would be bad news for Zionists, however, and for all those who are obsessed with the perpetuation of the Israeli State. Zionists claim that because they believe that Germans holocausted European Jews that those Jews had the right to force their attentions onto the Arabs of Palestine. When it’s pointed out that this is unutterably stupid on the face of it, Zionists assert that in any event God gave Palestine to the Jews thousands of years ago, in perpetuity. I have never thought that this is an argument worth arguing over. Who’s going to take seriously today what Moses had to say about Jewish geography three thousand years ago? No, it’s the alleged Holocaust that guarantees Zionists an argument in favor of Zionist Israel. Without the Holocaust the Israeli State would stand naked before the slippery moral force of other governments. Here in America, without the Holocaust, there would be a limit to how much we would want to permit ourselves to be taxed to support a foreign government that’s despised by almost every people that comes into contact with it. Still, it isn’t the money.
I am perplexed as to why historians are unwilling to consider the possibility that the good news that revisionists are announcing might be substantially true. Why would scholars in a country like this one want to join together to suppress information that might return to Jews and to Germans alike that part of their humanity that has been stripped from them by the gas chamber theory? Why don’t scholars treat with Butz and Faurisson and other revisionists professionally, in a routine academic manner? Demonstrate where they are wrong and allow for where they are on the mark? I have always thought that’s what historians do. If historians are unwilling to attend to these simple duties, what are they good for?
At this moment memory recalls the dangerously insinuating note by Butz — I can’t remember where — that all the historians of the Holocaust have been Jews. All of them.
On the job site in Escondido Canyon I bring up the story of the Holocaust and ask the two framers what they think about it. I explain how I had always bought the story myself just as it has been repeated so often in the papers, but that I had never really looked into it until recently.
Joe, in his 40′s, says he never believed that the Nazis could have gotten rid of all the bones from six million people. I try to pinpoint where he’s gotten such an idea, what he has read or who he has talked to about it. Joe says he hasn’t read it anywhere, that he had thought it out for himself. I am amazed by such independence of intellect. I encourage him to tell me what he thinks about specific Holocaust stories but he won’t say anything more. I sense that he doesn’t trust my motives for continuing to ask him about it. But he’s definite on that one point: the Nazis could not have gotten rid of the bones of six million bodies the way it’s said they did, and that fact alone opens up to question all the other stories about the extermination of the Jews.
Don, some ten years younger, says he hasn’t spent much time thinking about the Holocaust. He doesn’t feel like he can say anything about it one way or another. I think it’s admirable that he doesn’t want to express an opinion on a subject about which he understands he is not well-informed. It’s an example of intellectual self-discipline that all of us would do well to follow. This evening after work when I park the pickup in Mother’s driveway I go in the house for a little visit, like I usually do. I ask Mother if she believes that the Holocaust happened.
“I suppose so,” she says. “But not six million. Not half that. Six million is just too many.”
My own Mother! I almost fall off my chair. I have always believed that everyone believes in the Holocaust and the six million and the lamp shades and all the rest of it. Where have I been? Where has my mind been? While I’ve passed my entire adult life as a True Believer, my own mother had been a Doubter.
I say: “Where did you ever get such an idea?”
“Oh, Bradley,” she says, “you’ve read a million books and you’re still out to lunch.”
“Where’d you pick up a term like that?”
“The new nurse’s aide. That woman’s a scream.”
I try to press her about how she has reached the conclusion that the Holocaust story is an exaggeration.
“Bradley, Bradley — you’re fifty years old, you know everything to hear you tell it, and you believe what you hear about the Holocaust? If your brain isn’t out to lunch, I’d like you to tell me, just where do you think it is?”
While she’s laughing at me her elbow slips off the armrest of the wheelchair, her head falls and she pulls a muscle in her neck. I massage the hurt place for a few minutes then walk over to the apartment.
This morning the moment I wake up my thoughts turn to God and the Jews and how I have lived and worked among Jews for twenty-five years but have never known a religious one. I’ve thought about that before. And about the consensus among Jews I have known that they want to be identified as Jews and the issue of what precisely makes a Jew a Jew. I’ve thought about it in reference to how Israel is so widely supported by Jews who are neither religious nor want to live there. The feelings of those Jews apparently are cultural and racial. I have never heard Jews discuss their racial identifications, I think they think it’s bad from, but I don’t see how it’s possible to disassociate Jewish ethnocentrism entirely from race consciousness. It’s one of the questions about Jews that seems to be taboo.
Academics are eager that evolutionism rather than creationism is taught in the State schools. Creationists are ridiculed from one end of the American educational establishment to the other. Political scientists and historians generally evince little interest in “scientific” or scholarly attitudes toward the question of God in their own fields. Nevertheless, when Jews or anyone else state that European Jews had a right to invade and conquer Palestine because the Bible says that in the old days God gave it to them, the professors keep a straight face.
When I think about all the people who have believed the Jesus stories, I can see my own belief in the Holocaust story as being typical of how I have believed whatever my leaders have told me. Why shouldn’t I have believed them about the Holocaust? When I attended church I believed the pastor. When I attended the government schools I believed my teachers. When I joined the Army I believed the generals. For me, belief has always been as easy as one-two-three.
I have come to see belief, the mere habit of faith, as being the most degrading passion of the species. There has never been a time in my life when I have not believed something stupid or malevolent. I have been willing to believe almost anything, follow almost anyone, defend almost any atrocity, succumb to almost any passion. It amazes me to contemplate how much the others have been like myself and how there is so little evidence that we are going to change. Beliefs change, but the desperation for belief will most likely remain, fixing itself on one story then another on into the future until the final destruction of the race.