Confessions of a Holocaust Revisionist
THE NIGHT I APPEARED on the talk show in Pasadena one caller asked me why I do what I do; that is criticize the Holocaust story. Several times I started to explain about my dedication to the free exchange of ideas and so on and each time he cut me off with: “But why are you doing it? Why?” It was frustrating. At one point the caller said: “You’re not doing it because the Holocaust didn’t happen. It did happen. That’s certain. So I want to know why you’re doing it.”
I couldn’t think of any answer other than one based on the ideal of a free press. “A free press may mean nothing to you,” I told the caller, “but it does to me.” After the show I was still bothered by not having been able to address the question “Why?” more directly. It wasn’t until the next day that the right answer came to me. I’m in the Revisionist business because I don’t want to be lied to about the Holocaust any more. That’s what my answer should have been to that caller. I don’t want to be lied to about it any more. Maybe one of the reasons it had been so difficult for me to admit the possibility that something is wrong with the gas chamber stories was that I had suppressed the outrage I may have felt at the discovery that I had been lied to so often for so long. Maybe the shame, maybe my fear and evasiveness were all expressions of an inverted outrage at having been the victim of so mush lying. I don’t suppose I will ever know for sure.
The motives of Revisionists are always questioned while their criticisms of the Holocaust stories always go unanswered. I usually see concern with motivation as an attempt to evade the possible consequences of argument. For a long time I have associated this kind of evasiveness with left-wing literary and political people, probably because those are the people I have preferred to be around. One morning in the early 70′s some of us were visiting with Sol and Betty. Frances was there with a highly politicized English radical who was up in arms over the leftist issues of the day — Viet Nam and Chile. The Englishman wanted Sol and I to agree with him that President Richard Nixon was a war criminal. I had no problem with that. I only wanted to add that, using the same standards, I thought Ho Chi Minh was a war criminal as well. The Englishman almost had a stroke at the kitchen sink. I tried to explain that while I thought it wrong to slaughter foregners in the name of imperialism, I thought it wrong as well to butcher your own people in the name of communism. He could hardly bear listening to me. Finally he dashed out to the patio where I heard him explain plaintively to Frances, who knew me well: “He says Ho Chi Minh is a war criminal.” I heard Frances reply: “Bradley just likes to make provocative statements.”
But maybe Frances had put her finger on something. Maybe one of the reasons I remember her observation with such clarity, and even today with some discomfort and frustration, is that she had asserted something about my character that wasn’t entirely wrong. I don’t hold that I had no motive in making a certain statement, but that others certainly can’t get to the bottom of what it is. I can’t get to the bottom of my own motives. In the end, it is all guesswork. While I may have been gratuitously provocative that morning 15 years ago, in my mind nothing could have excused the Englishman’s flight from argument.
Now I am being accused by Holocaust fundamentalists of making gratuitously provocative statements about Holocaust survivors and the history of World War II. They ask why? What is your motive? How can you dare question statements made by survivors? It is said that my motivation must be fascist, or neo-Nazi, or anti-Semitic. I have been told that I am doing it for money. It has been pointed out to me that I have been writing for 35 years without making a dime from it, and now I am taking money to write for anti-Semitic racists.
I will never be able to disprove these charges. One of the motives I have for writing for the Institute is in fact the money. I’ve been editing their monthly newsletter now for six months. It’s true that I don’t have any other source of income. One of the reasons I write is for money. I have always written what I wanted and how I wanted. I never got paid for it. I still write what I want and now I get paid for some of it.
Everyone needs an income, even me. I have an 84-year-old mother, a 13-year-old stepdaughter and a pregnant wife. The pregnant wife is the only one that’s worrisome, or rather, her cargo. A baby wasn’t in our plan. It wasn’t in mine anyhow. When Alicia told me about it I was stunned. For an instant there was an impression of whiteness inside my skull, then something shut down. There wasn’t any movement in there. I may have had a small seizure. Alicia and I were both lying on the dining room floor when she told me. That’s where we hang out.
“Well, how do you feel, Fats?” she asked in Spanish. She’s never learned enough English to converse in it. “Pues, como te sientes, gordo?”
I spied my framer’s hammer lying on the carpet beneath a chest of drawers. I said in Spanish: “I feel like you’ve picked up that hammer and smashed my head in with it. That’s how I feel.”
She made a fist with one hand and held it out in front of my face. “If I give you one of these you’ll forget about the hammer.”
I couldn’t think of anything to say.
Moving her fist around in front of my face she said: “Listen well, gordo. There’s nothing detaining me from giving you one of these.”
When I came around I thought about how when the baby is 14 I’ll be 70. I could be gaga by the time I’m 70. And Alicia is no kid, she’s almost 40. The older the mother, the more chances that something will be wrong with the baby. Later I brought this aspect of the pregnancy up to Alicia, hinting, without saying directly, that it might be a good idea for her to have an abortion.
“What’s this about abortion?” she said quickly. “Do you want to say something?” Don’t talk to me about abortion. I’m going to have this baby even if it is an idiot. I’ve been married seven years to an idiot. I’m used to it. Abortion — mangoes!”
Alicia is an evangelical Christian so that complicates the abortion issue.
I did not think Mother would be pleased by this development in my relationship with Alicia. Mother thinks I deserve better than a squaw, as she puts it, from Nayarit. Then there are the class considerations. Alicia cleans houses to help make ends meet and that’s definitely beneath the station in life to which I should have risen at my age. I suppose I agree with Mother, but I’m content with Alicia. She’s not neurotic, she tells good stories and she makes me laugh. Even on paper it sound good.
I couldn’t find the right moment to tell Mother the good news. Alicia said she understood what I was going through. “You’re a coward,” she said, “so I understand it’s difficult for you. In your mind you’re still living beneath your mother’s skirts. I can wait. A few more weeks and the baby can tell her himself.”
“What’s the hurry?” I said.
“I have no hurry. That bad-tampered old woman is your mother. I’ve already told my mother. She doesn’t trust you, but she’s happy for me.”
One evening I sat on the edge of Alicia’s bed where she was lying beneath the sheets watching Mexican television. I could see her belly moving as if it were being poked up from the inside. She pulled down the sheet and revealed herself to me. I was interested in watching, but that was all. After a moment she grabbed one of my hands in both of hers and put it where the movement was. “Menso,” she said grinning at me. Menso describes an intellect that is slow, almost bovine in character.
Each kick was like a little thud. It made me feel uncomfortable. Afterwards tears came to my eyes. I hid them.
I worked five years around the construction trade. In the late 70′s I began hurting my back occasionally until one afternoon I finished it off while I was working with concrete block. It took eight months lying on the dining room floor, then another year or so before I could get around in a normal way.
Having to write for money fits in nicely with the other reasons why I have to write. Maybe there’s only one other reason. I have to go on with the writing because I’ve spent my life at it and if I quit now I would feel lost. I have always imagined that it will be with the writing that I will make a serious connection to life. Honor may be involved here. I know pride is, along with other weaknesses of character. I still want the respect of my peers, though not so much as I used to. I still want to convince my friends and those who used to be my friends that not all the writing was useless, that not all those years were used up for nothing. I know that I have not wasted my time, but I want them to know it too.
The years are going by. I can feel the strength of the body diminishing. Old injuries flare up, distracting my attention, taking up time. At 55 I am only middle-aged but the papers report stories every day of men my age dropping dead, dying of cancer, their hearts or brains exploding when they least expect it. Each succeeding year now that I go unpublished the odds diminish that my work will ever be made public. While I always wrote for publication, I never wrote for money. I always worked for the money. Considering the nature of my character, I suppose no other way of living could have been less fruitful.
Now I’m writing for publication and for money too. My publisher is the most despised and vilified in America and perhaps in the Western World — the Institute for Historical Review. I’m writing on the great taboo subject of the late 20th century — the alleged genocide of the Jews by Adolf Hitler and his Nazis. I have no scholarly or academic credentials, and no professional ones. As I intend to go straight ahead with what I am doing, and as I’m aware of the implications of doing it, I understand that I may be heading for my last fall as a writer. If I lose this round the future may well play itself out for Alicia and me in a little house on a dirt street in some pueblo in central Mexico. Curiously, in my imagination the image is a happy one. I can see the sun shining on our house and yard, and though I can’t hear them I can see birds perched all over the place singing their hearts out in the brilliant morning sunlight.