Break His Bones:
The Private Life of A Holocaust Revisionist
SATURDAY. The plane lands at the Pittsburgh airport at 8pm. I have the typewriter and one bag. I’m going to do some radio and television in Pennsylvania, talk at a couple universities, talk to the print press. We’ve been working on the tour, setting it up via telephone, for two months. Eric Stuart has done most of the work. Several hundred hours over two months. I couldn’t have done this without him. We’ve never met. He was on my newsletter list, he wrote me, we had some back and forth on the telephone, and now we’re doing the tour. Nothing like this has ever been done by a revisionist in America. I’ve never done anything like this.
Word is getting around. We’ve already lost a number of radio interviews, half a dozen college dates. In the end, I want the print press to get involved. For that to happen I have to make news via radio, television, and on campus. But word is getting around and one venue after another is canceling. The bad guys are on to me. The ADL, various Jewish activist organizations. The usual perps. Nothing for it but to go straight ahead. Once the story starts to unfold there will be nothing they can do about it. They will become part of the story. They will help publicize it. Am I certain? Can’t be certain. But that’s what I expect. Half expect.
Why Pennsylvania? A supporter in Philadelphia suggested I run a small advertisement in the student newspaper at Pennsylvania State University announcing the availability of Holocaust revisionist publications. My friend is an alumnus of Penn State, so it’s a natural for him. He offered to pay for it. I ran a two-column-inch ad, didn’t get any requests for literature, but after three weeks the ad was pulled at the instigation of a Penn State professor. Anti-anti-Semitism. The old story. If you question what you are not supposed to question about the H. story, you’re an anti-Semite. I sent open letters to Penn State professors, heads of student organizations, everyone I could locate in the journalism department. I talked about a free press, and stupid H. stories. The story spilled over to off-campus newspapers. This tour is the next step. I convinced the Institute for Historical Review to pay the airfare and a bonus for each radio and television show I do. If I don’t produce anything, I don’t get anything. Not a real good business deal, the situation being what it is. Nevertheless.
I walk into the modest waiting room at the Pittsburgh airport carrying my typewriter and my bag. A tall, very blond guy in his thirties rises from his seat and walks toward me. He has an assertive jaw and a big toothy smile. He puts out his hand and says, “Hello, Brad. Let’s have a drink.”
I don’t want a drink but I like the way he carries himself, the way he looks. I feel like I’m in good hands. I explain that I had better call Provan first to let him know I made it and that we will be in Monongahela about eleven. Then Eric and I have a couple drinks at the airport bar. We’re happy to see each other. He’s a gentleman and a tough guy. About nine we drive onto the turnpike for and head for Monongahela, about sixty miles south. We talk and laugh and a couple times Eric suggests we stop for a drink but I don’t think it’s a good idea because it’s getting late and I don’t want to keep Provan waiting. Eric lives in Gettysburg. He will provide the transportation and we will overnight in the houses of friends. We’ll crisscross Pennsylvania spreading the good news of Holocaust revisionism and the ideal of a free press, then we’ll radiate out in whatever direction looks promising. Eric is very good on the telephone. The telephone is everything when you’re setting up a tour and managing it.
Provan is waiting in his car in the parking lot of the Monongahela Burger King. I have never met Provan either. I see the faces of two of his five young children looking out the back window to get their first glimpse of us. We follow him to his old two-story house where we meet his gracious wife. After a few minutes Eric says it is absolutely necessary that we have a drink but the Provans do not drink. I don’t need a drink but I have a feeling it would be best if I have a couple, so Eric and I get in his car and drive down along the river looking for a roadhouse. We find a dark little place on a precipice overlooking the water. There are no lights outside and the river is black and threatening. When we walk into the dimly lit bar everyone there is Black. They look at us like we are probably thinking we made a big mistake. It occurs to me that maybe we have, but we stand at the bar and have a couple drinks and everyone is fine. We return to Provan’s house where we settle down upstairs on the floor of an empty bedroom.
I discovered Provan through the Christian News, a traditionalist Lutheran weekly out of Missouri that sometimes publishes revisionist articles. Provan is overweight and his photo in Christian News makes him appear stodgy and even torpid but he’s anything but. He’s a live wire. A radical Christian who belongs to no church, who has an energetic interest in political issues. He earns his living as a printer, but his life is dedicated to God and producing children, as scripture enjoins him to do. What I have to do now is focus on the tour and on nothing else.
SUNDAY. This evening Eric and I drive up to Pittsburgh to WPXI-TV to tape a half-hour interview for the Don Riggs show. It will be aired next Sunday morning. Eric made the original contact, I have spoken to Riggs twice, and he’s enthusiastic about the interview. We sit in a spacious bowl-like studio, with no audience, the staff in glassed offices above us like sports broadcasters. Riggs is maybe 50 years old and is in a wheel chair. Before the taping begins I watch Riggs reviewing the materials I sent him. After a while he looks up and says:
“This is what’s at the bottom of everything that’s going on in the Mid-East. It’s all right here.”
Once the interview is rolling I realize that Riggs has not reviewed the material very well. He doesn’t know what questions to ask. I rather take over the interview. I become aware that Riggs isn’t talking enough, and that I’m talking too much. I note that more and more staff people gather at the glassed walls up above us to watch. Riggs does not ask me one challenging question. He appears to be deeply interested in what I am saying. He wants to hear what I have to say. At one point he exclaims that I am “fifty years ahead of my time.” Then the interview is over.
Once we are off camera I say: “You may get some hostile reaction to this interview from groups like the ADL.” I mention this because I don’t want him to be taken by surprise.
“I don’t care,” Riggs says. “I’m going to run it.”
Up above us all the glassed offices are full of staff people looking down. Everyone who works for the station must be there.
When we leave the studio Eric is very happy. “That was good. Exceptional. You said everything. I couldn’t believe what he let you say. Wait till Pittsburgh sees this one. There’s going to be an uproar. Reporters are going to be all over us. What a kickoff. We did real good. We deserve a drink.” We’re laughing happily. We walk across the street to an Irish bar. We drink for a couple hours, then drive back to Provan’s house. Eric is right. It was an exceptional thirty-minute interview.
MONDAY. I set up a private message center in Chambersburg. The center will bill a third party and I will pay him. Then I get out my clipboard, put a chair next to the telephone in Provan’s front room, and call Duquesne University to confirm my lecture room and that my ad announcing the talk will appear in the Duquesne Duke, the student newspaper. The plan is to play the lecture off against the Riggs television interview. I am told that the meeting room I had reserved has been given to a student group celebrating Winter Carnival. And no, no other room will be available. I walk down the wooden steps of the old house and around the corner to Provan’s printing shop and tell him not to print the Duquesne leaflets. He’s already printed them. I throw them in the trash.
This afternoon Temple University cancels. Five broadcast television stations had shown interest in covering the talk at Temple. Now there is nothing for them to cover. Without Temple, talk radio will not be interested. Philadelphia was to have been the big kickoff for the tour. There was to be the Riggs television interview, followed by the talk at Duquesne, which would set up the talk at Temple, and we would be off to the races. There would be radio opportunities everywhere. We had both worked hard to put it all together. As recently as Friday everything was set. I had expected to create a blowout in Philadelphia that could conceivably blast over into New York and who knows where else. In three days it’s all gone. Word does get around. I call the Temple News and canceled my ad for the talk. We still have the Don Riggs interview for next Sunday, but not it’s something of an orphan.
Eric had made hundreds of telephone calls to Pennsylvania media and colleges. Media all over the state had expressed strong interest in the tour. We had called every broadcast TV station, every cable station, every radio station, sent press releases to them all and to the print press and other organizations. While the print press was standoffish, other media were all interested. But when push came to shove, one after another had dropped out. I understood, even before flying east, that many of the bookings were beginning to fall apart. But we had put too much work into the tour to drop it.
At the last minute, Eric nails down an in-studio interview on WBVP radio in Beaver Falls, a town just north of Pittsburgh. We have to do the interview this evening. The host is Rick Bergman and I have done one interview with him via telephone maybe two years ago. He has about twenty thousand listeners in the Pittsburgh area. Meanwhile, Eric finds out that Duquesne has changed its mind and promises to find me a meeting room within fifteen days. The new situation: We will do the Bergman interview tonight, which will help promote the Riggs broadcast for Sunday. And then we will do Duquesne University. All in the Pittsburgh area. Okay. We’re still okay. Driving north alongside the Monongahela, in many places the road lined with trees, we are feeling okay again.
In Beaver Falls we find that WBVP is on the second floor of an old brick building on the main street. It’s a street of old brick buildings. As we reach the front entrance, which is simply a doorway opening onto a staircase leading to the second floor. It must have been a house at one time. We hear Rick Bergman talking about the interview he is going to do with me. There is a small speaker system in the ceiling of the entrance. I hear the words “bigot,” “Nazi,” and “crazy.” We climb a long flight of stairs and enter what is a small, nondescript suite of offices. One of them is Bergman’s studio.
Bergman is a thin young man with shoulder-length curly brown hair. I give him my leaflet, “The Holocaust Controversy: The Case for Open Debate,” and some other materials. I had sent them to him before in the regular mailings I send to all talk radio. He agrees to make a cassette recording of the interview that I can take with me. I appreciate it. Eric takes a chair in the studio so he can listen and maybe prompt me a bit. The interview lasts an hour. I emphasize the free press issue, as I always do. There are a couple breaks for commercials. It goes well enough until an elderly lady calls in. She rambles on as if something is wrong with her. I’m not sure what to make of it. She asks me a couple of stock questions to which I give rather stock answers. Then she says:
“Look, if the Nazis were willing to breed women with gorillas, they were capable of doing everything else they have been accused of doing.”
At that moment I understand what’s wrong with the old woman.
“Mr. Bergman, this lady is drunk. Get her off the line.”
Bergman says: “Don’t you ever insult anyone who calls in to my show. Not anyone. Do you understand? Do you have any proof that Germans did not breed women with gorillas? How do you know what they did?”
“She’s drunk and talking stupid. Say goodbye to her.”
“I’ll say goodbye to you if you insult any of my listeners again.”
I decide to let it go. I thought I’d heard them all but I hadn’t heard the one about the gorilla-breeding program. I watch Eric leave the studio. I keep working on some of the more obvious fraud in the Holocaust story and arguing for intellectual freedom. After the show Bergman relaxes.
“I understand better what you’re trying to get at. It wasn’t clear to me when we talked before.”
He wants to put our disagreement behind us. Meanwhile, he is punching buttons and pulling levers on his control board. He keeps getting country music.
“I made a mistake,” he says finally. “I didn’t record your interview. Sorry.”
I walk down the staircase to the sidewalk. I don’t see Eric. Across the street there is a bar with an Irish name. I take a really wild guess and stroll on over. Eric is there and we have a few drinks. He’s already had a few. He laughs about the old woman, but he’s not happy. We both wish we had the old gorilla woman on tape. It would be a wonderful exchange for my stupid-Holocaust-story kit bag. Still, we don’t feel too bad, on balance. We have completed two events in two days. The Bergman broadcast is live so nothing can go wrong with it. Twenty thousand people in the Pittsburgh area. Next Sunday the Riggs interview will be shown. Fifty thousand people in the Pittsburgh area. The Duquesne University event is on track. After Bergman and Riggs, Duquesne could be very good and we may very well get some print press. We go to a café next door to the bar, eat hamburgers, then begin the drive to his place in Gettysburg. We arrive at midnight. The lady he lives with is voluptuous and very sweet and maybe a couple years older than Eric.
TUESDAY. We work on the telephone until mid-afternoon when I get a message through the Chambersburg center to the effect that Don Riggs is not going to air the interview he did with me. I call him back but can’t reach him. I call all afternoon but can’t reach Riggs or his producer. An assistant to the producer says it is not likely that they will send me a videotape of the show, as they had promised. They do not distribute tapes of shows that do not air.
Eric says: “I can’t work with liars and hypocrites.”
He takes a fifth of Seagram’s from the cupboard and takes a long drink from the bottle. I think he’s joking around. He lies down on the couch with the fifth standing on his chest and doesn’t say anything. I don’t say anything. I start working on the telephone trying to use the Bergman broadcast to get some more radio dates. Eric just lies there. By dark the Seagram’s bottle is half empty. Tomorrow we have an appointment to tape four half-hour interviews with Jim Nichols on WGCB-TV. This is a Christian station that goes out on Broadcast TV, cable, AM and FM radio and satellite. It goes all over the world. The plan is for me to do the tapings and for Eric to use that time to work the telephone.
WEDNESDAY. This morning Eric doesn’t want to get out of bed. He lends me his car and I drive to Red Lion. The two-hour taping takes six hours. There’s a breakdown in the switching equipment, whatever that is, in the middle of the event. Nichols is favorable to revisionism, but he is so circumspect in getting into the material that he does the first two segments talking about how he is going to talk to me. It never fails to surprise me how fearful media people are in treating the Holocaust story with even a little honesty. We finally get into it during the third segment, but very slowly. It isn’t until the fourth segment that I am able to get out my message that the Holocaust story is full of fraud and falsehood and that it should be open to free inquiry and open debate, just like every other historical issue.
A week ago Eric and I had both understood that some, perhaps many, of the events we had booked were not going to happen. I suggested that we expand the tour beyond Pennsylvania. Eric got us a one-hour spot on the Jerry Williams (television) Show in Boston. The Williams show would take place Monday evening. Fifty thousand viewers. He got us an in-studio radio interview for that morning at WBET-AM in Brockton, a town just south of Boston. Its audience is about twenty thousand, all in the Boston area. When I do the WEBT program I’ll be able to announce my appearance on the Jerry Williams Show that evening. And then I was able to find a lecture room at University of Massachusetts two days later. Very nice. Each date will promote the other. We might be able to pull off in Boston what we failed to pull off in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
This afternoon when I finish the WGCB interviews, I confirm by telephone that the lecture room at University of Massachusetts is solid. I find a place in York with a fax service and fax a one-column by 4-inch advertisement to the campus paper, Mass Media, announcing the talk for next Wednesday. I wait half an hour, then call Mass Media advertising and confirm that they have received the ad, just meeting the deadline for the Tuesday publication date. So, I have taped the WGCB interviews, which makes three events in four days, and Boston is looking very good.
THURSDAY. My inclination is to work the telephones hard, try to make up for what we have lost. Eric is watching television and drinking beer. We don’t say anything. The print press in Pittsburgh is unwilling to talk to me because I have not created a local event. We do have a local event in York with the Nichols taping, so I call the York Daily. I am passed from one editor to another until 4pm when it is finally agreed that I will drive back to York tomorrow morning where a local reporter will interview me. York is about thirty miles from Gettysburg.
FRIDAY. Eric doesn’t think it necessary to go to York with me. He lends me his car and I drive over and have a good interview with Peter Bulleton. Bulleton has been to Dachau and is impressed with my letter to Penn State professor Brian Winston.
Winston had written in the student paper there that no one had ever claimed that there had been gas chambers at Dachau. I had nailed him on that one. While it is true that there were no gas chambers at Dachau and that no one was ever gassed there, everyone had claimed that there were, including the U.S. Army. The interview goes well. Bulleton says he will send me a clipping of the story.
When I return to Gettysburg I call the message service in Chambersburg. There is a message from Jim Nichols saying he cannot air the shows beginning Monday but will have to put them off for thirty days. This is bad news. We need the airtime now. We won’t be in Pennsylvania in thirty days. Who knows where we will be?
There is also a message from the student radio station at Penn State. I had hoped to do an in-studio interview there. I am told the one program that might have been open to me is called “The Dean’s List.” Dean Brian Winston hosts it. The same professor who I demonstrated was wrong when he claimed that no one had ever claimed that there were gas chambers at Dachau. I wasn’t annoyed with Dean Winston. I would give him the chance to say he had been wrong about Dachau. And I would give him a chance to demonstrate where I was wrong about something. I have never minded being wrong. When I find out I’m wrong about something I just accept it. In a certain way, when you have an open mind, being right and being wrong is not all that different. We’re all wrong about something, and none of us is right about everything. Dean Winston’s producer, a young man named Steven Aaron, appears to feel differently. Aaron tells me that he doesn’t believe anything I say and that he will never book me on “The Dean’s List.”
Eric is drinking boilermakers. I report on the day’s news.
“It looks like Pennsylvania is dead in the water for us. Boston is shaping up fine. Maybe we ought to pack up and get on the road. What do you think?”
Eric doesn’t say anything.
“How many hours do you think it is from here to Boston?”
Eric remains silent.
We can stop at Fritz Berg’s the first night. Then I have a place for us in upstate New York.”
Eric says: “I don’t want to work with people who don’t keep their word.”
“Well, it’s media. This is what I have learned to expect.”
“These people have no honor.”
“Their word means nothing. That’s just how they are. Most of them.”
“Nothing about this tour is working out right.”
“It looks like we’ve lost Pennsylvania. For the time being.”
“I’m sick of it. They’re all liars.”
He says some other things. I have a sinking feeling.
I say: “It’s hard to make decisions sometimes.”
“Maybe you should just sign off the tour.”
“I think maybe I should.”
“I hate working with people who lie and don’t keep their word.”
“It’s okay. I’ll be okay.”
I call Fred, my friend who lives in a suburb of Philadelphia and the man who started this whole thing off by buying the ad space in the Penn State Daily Collegian. He says it will be fine for me to stay over with him a couple days. Eric drives me to the Greyhound station in Harrisburg. We have a couple drinks and say goodbye. I like Eric. He did a lot of work for me. Booked a lot of interviews. He worked at it for two months. Nevertheless, here I am at a Greyhound bus station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It’s night. I have no car. I have two bags, a typewriter, and five boxes filled with propaganda tied together with ropes. I have less than $150. It doesn’t look real good.
The Greyhound takes me to the train station in Philadelphia. I’m standing outside on the steps of the columned portico. I’m the only one here. After a while a black Oldsmobile pulls up to the curbing, the driver puts his head out and calls my name. He’s smiling from ear to ear. The welcoming face peering up at me is so Jewish it’s a stereotype. I take a moment to see if there is anyone else in the car. If another car is following. I don’t see anyone on the street. Nothing out of order. But I am very alone in a place I have never been before and it’s midnight, and… Turns out that Fred is Lebanese, married to a German woman. He lives in a fine old two-story house where he uses part of the second floor to do his work as a bookbinder. They are wonderful hosts and I have a fine place to sleep. I couldn’t have chosen a better place to crash. But I have a schedule to meet.
SATURDAY. After breakfast and some good talk I start calling around to find someone who will rent a car for me on his credit card. After Fred hears me say “that’s okay, thanks” a couple times he says I can use his card. One moment I’m stymied in Philadelphia without wheels, the next I have transportation. The whole body relaxes. Before noon I have a car, my stuff is loaded in it, and I’m driving across New Jersey toward Fritz Berg’s house in Fort Lee where I will stay tonight. I find the house without much trouble and meet his mother and their dog, an old red hound of mixed breed. Fritz has a copy of the new Jean-Claude Pressac book on Auschwitz. It’s an impressive publication, though on close inspection it does not have much on gassings, and nothing on gassings that is convincing. That’s strange, since the purpose of the book is to set to rest the revisionist argument that gas chambers did not exist.
Fritz says: “What did you expect?”
“I don’t know. I expected more than this.”
“That’s because you don’t know the literature.”
“I suppose so.”
I call the Institute, which is paying my expenses for this tour, more or less. Marcellus expects my call. I ask for $1,100 against billings but they’re short. He agrees to send me a check for $650, which I will endorse and send to our landlord in Visalia for the March rent. Fritz gives me a check for $150. If nothing goes wrong I’ll be able to make it through to Boston.
SUNDAY. At mid-afternoon I leave Fritz’s place and drive north out of New Jersey toward upstate New York and Henry Smith’s house. Tomorrow morning I have an in-studio radio interview in Brockton, south of Boston. It’s the last interview Eric set up before he dropped out. Tomorrow evening I’ll do the Jerry Williams television show, and Wednesday I’ll give the talk at U. Massachusetts. I may be able to do in Boston what I failed to do in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Maybe I can still pull this tour off.
The countryside is covered with snow and the roads are icy. I get lost a couple times on rural roads and have to call Henry for directions. Henry is a doctor and when I find his place it’s a beautiful modern house of stone and wood on the shore of a small lake in the woods. I leave the car on the road where the long driveway begins. If I drive up to the house and it snows in the night, I could get stuck. Henry has four or five children, all in university, and a beautiful wife. It’s wonderful being in their warm house while outside the snow is in the trees and covers all the ground. We drink wine while Henry cooks supper and we talk and laugh and then I get into one of the kid’s beds.
MONDAY. At 2:30 in the morning I get up by my alarm, dress and carry my bag out to the car. Henry follows me out. I didn’t expect him to get up at 2:30 in the morning. He has to help me push the car as I try to get it off the ice and out onto the road. A hasty goodbye and I begin my drive in the dark toward Massachusetts. The temperature is six degrees. But I have a good, warm, comfortable car and a couple hundred dollars and some good dates waiting for me. South of Boston I get caught in morning traffic but make it to Brockton, to WBET-AM, half an hour before show time. It’s something of a miracle that I make it. If I had made one wrong turn, one mistake, I would have lost it. The host, Bill Alex, is very friendly, professional, and tough. His audience is about twenty-five thousand and he goes all over Boston. He’s responsive to the argument for an open debate on the Holocaust story. He helps me tout the Jerry Williams Show tonight several times. He even helps me with the talk at U Mass. It couldn’t get any better. This could be where it begins to work.
I’m exhausted. I don’t have anyone to stay with in Boston so I rent a motel room a couple miles from U Mass. In my room I have something that appears to me to be an intelligent idea. I make a couple phone calls and am able to arrange for Fred Leuchter to appear on the Jerry Williams Show with me. Leuchter, an engineer, has written an engineering-chemical “report” on Auschwitz that demonstrates that no gassings took place in the alleged gas chambers at Birkenau. Forty years after the alleged events, it was the first report of its kind, from any side of the issue. Now we have Pressac, for what it’s worth.
On the telephone I tell Leuchter, who I met once a couple years ago at an IHR Conference, that he should be very careful tonight. He should not take his wife or son to the station, and he should not drive his own car to the station, but park it across town and catch a cab. Our appearance has been promoted on Boston radio, we don’t know who will be there, and while I have never had any trouble at a radio or television station yet, there is going to be a first time and tonight could be it. Leuchter listens very soberly and agrees. He is probably recalling the trouble we had with the rabbis and the JDL the weekend he spoke at the IHR Conference in Costa Mesa.
I know I should do some preparation for Jerry Williams, this is the big time, but I’m too tired. About three hours sleep, a long drive, and so on. I’m going to have to wing it. In the end, I always wing it. I’m a winging it sort of guy. Always the amateur. I must get some sleep or I’m not going to be able to even wing it. I make one last confirmation call to Williams’ producer. All is well, with one new wrinkle. A spokesman for the Jewish Defense League will be on the program with Leuchter and me. I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, the JDL guys mean trouble. They don’t want to talk to me on principle. And then they’re ignorant about revisionist theory so they can’t talk about it any event. On the other, they are addicted to violent, stupid behavior, so if you get out of it without getting hurt, you come off looking like a reasonable person. Anyhow, there’s nothing for it. I’m going to do the interview no matter who is there. I set my alarm and go to sleep.
An hour before showtime I get a cab to the station. Leuchter is already there. He has arrived in his own car, and he has his wife with him. So much for practicality and caution. There are half a dozen other guys hanging around the lobby. They look like they have nothing to do. Some of them look Jewish. Some of them look at me in a way that I judge to be a little hostile, not to make too much of it. But no one says anything as I enter the lobby. When we are taken into the studio we are told the guy already sitting at the table is Mike Shmelko, the local spokesman for the JDL. Shmelko is a big beefy guy who resembles Popeye’s old nemesis Bluto. We walk up to the table and Leuchter extends his hand to introduce himself.
Shmelko says: “If you do that again, I’ll break it for you.”
Jerry Williams, who is Jewish himself, doesn’t say anything.
Once the interview is under way Leuchter is very direct, and for the first time on broadcast TV in America it is said again and again. No attempt to exterminate the Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau by gassing. I let Leuchter do most of the talking. He’s the one who’s the engineer. He’s the one who scraped samples from the walls of the phony gas chambers at Birkenau and brought them back to Boston where he had them analyzed by a professional laboratory. The talk soon turns to “eyewitness” evidence to gassing chambers and that’s where I shine. All such evidence is demonstrably unreliable, or corrupt, or unverifiable or all three. I talk about how the stories that Germans skinned Jews to make lampshades and riding breeches from their hides, or cooked them to make hand soap, are vulgar lies and so on. For revisionists, the usual stuff.
Bluto doesn’t know anything. He does appear to be sincere. He’s brought several major books on the Holocaust written by professors from the usual orthodox perspective. He wants to read long passages from eyewitness rather than speak on his own. Williams knows that reading from history books is not good television and cuts him short. Eyewitnesses are one of my favorite subjects. You do not have to be a scholar or an engineer to discuss the more notorious eyewitness testimony. Much of it is stupid on its face. I say so, and give examples. Elie Wiesel. Simon Wiesenthal. Rudolf Vrba. One after another.
Jerry Williams turns out to be a true believer in the “Jewish soap” story. I blow it out of the water. But he won’t give up on it. I ridicule the idea that Germans skinned Jews to make lampshades, riding breeches, and gloves from their hides. In the end it’s Williams and Bluto against Leuchter and Smith. We do well. We do very well. The Jewish soap stories are among the weakest and most stupid of all the Holocaust stories, which is no small claim, but Williams makes a case for them and won’t let it go.
It becomes too much for Bluto. He’s scowling at me. His hands, lying on the tabletop, are the size of waffle irons. He says: “Let’s you and me meet in the alley and straighten this out between us. Man to man.”
“You’re a tough guy, eh?”
“When this program is over we’ll meet in the alley behind the station and we’ll see who the tough guy is.”
This is too much even for Jerry Williams. He tells Bluto to cool it. When the show is over Williams remains in the studio but will not speak to either Leuchter or me. We hang around waiting for the producer to run off our videotapes of the program. Bluto waits with us. None of us speaks to the other.
Leuchter gets the first video copy, we say a brief goodbye, and he leaves the studio with his wife. A few minutes later I’m given my tape and walk through the short hallway into the small lobby. An attractive young lady is crossing the lobby, approaching me from my left. I pause to let her pass. She changes course and moves directly toward me. I don’t understand where she wants to go. Then I notice that her eyes are almost completely closed, that her shoulders are hunched forward a bit, and that the expression on her face is zombie-like, as if she were drugged. I don’t understand. Then it occurs to me that she is consciously trying to bump into me. In the last instant I am able to dodge out of her way. She steps past me as if in a trance.
Then I hear a man’s voice right behind my head.
“Would you like me to piss in your mouth?”
I turn and look up into the face, only a few inches from mine, of a blond-haired young man leering down at me.
“I’d really like to piss in your mouth. Would you like me to do that?”
I don’t say anything, but start to walk out to the parking area. He moves around in front of me.
“You want me to piss in your mouth, don’t you? You just don’t want to say so. Isn’t that it? You’d really like me to do that, wouldn’t you?”
I see that there are a couple other guys in the lobby who don’t have anything to do. I see that the young lady who wanted to bump into me is watching. Then I see out in the parking area that men are kicking Leuchter’s car and yelling and spitting on his windows. Leuchter’s wife is looking this way and that. I understand now that the JDL people are looking for an excuse to beat me. That’s what the young lady was doing. She was going to fix it so that I walked into her and then she would yell that I had attacked her and then, for me, it would have been up for grabs.
I turn and walk back up the hallway toward the studio. Just then I see Bluto entering the other end of the narrow hallway with his video in his hand. We are going to meet in the center. This may be it. I feel some apprehension. I watch him very carefully as we approach each other. I watch his eyes. I have no plan, but I’m watching very carefully and I am going to do whatever it becomes necessary for me to do. His eyes are averted. I watch them very carefully. As we pass without touching his eyes are looking down. I don’t know why. I don’t know why he doesn’t look at me. I am also glad he does not look at me.
In the studio Jerry Williams is chatting with three men. They’re standing in a little circle and Williams’ back is to me. I interrupt.
“Jerry. There’s going to be trouble with your JDL friends out in the parking lot. They’re out there right now kicking in Leuchter’s car. And there’s some other cretins in your lobby.”
Williams doesn’t respond to me directly, but turns and yells for his producer to call the police.
In about fifteen minutes two patrol cars arrive. They put the JDL people in their van and hold them there until my own cab arrives. It looks like Leuchter got away okay. The cab driver is a big young guy with long curly hair. I can’t see his face in the dark. I’m a little worried about the driver’s hair. It being curly. Could be Jewish. Could be any number of things, but it could be Jewish. The studio isn’t in Boston proper but out on a country road. On the way out I saw farmland and forest. I could be facing a small irony here.
Before we leave the police have a few words with the cab driver. Once I’m in the cab the driver wants to know why the JDL is after me. I try to see his face in the rearview mirror but I can’t. I explain that I was there to argue for an open debate on the Holocaust story.
“The police told me to not tell anyone where I’m taking you.”
“Please do that.”
“I’m not going to tell anyone anything.”
We’re on a dark country road and he keeps looking in the rearview mirror. He turns off onto a side road, then turns onto another. I’m completely lost.
“Where we going?”
“To your motel.”
“I didn’t come this way.”
“I’m not going to take any chances with that van. Those people are crazy.”
“They’re crazy as hell.”
When we stop at a lighted intersection of two country roads I can at last make out his face. He doesn’t look Jewish. But then half the guys at the station didn’t look Jewish either. A lot of Jews look like everybody else, not Jews.
I tell him who I am, what I do, and relate what went down at the station.
“Those people are crazy.”
Turns out he’s Boston Irish and that he’s a history major at U Mass. He’s taking a semester off to make a few bucks. The more I talk about revisionism, the more agitated he gets, the more he looks out the rearview mirror, the more turns he makes from one road to the other. The cab fare from the motel to the station cost twelve dollars. It was about a twenty-minute drive. My Irish history major is so intent on not being followed that it takes us an hour to reach a place about a mile from my motel room and the fare is fifty-two dollars. No problem. The station will pay for it. I give the cabbie some revisionist literature and suggest he drop me a line if he has any questions. If he follows the lead of his professors, he will throw the literature away and never tell anyone that he has touched it. I walk up the street in the dark and stop across the street from the motel. I wait a while, keeping my eyes open, then cross the street and go to my room.
Turns out that eighty to one hundred thousand people in the greater Boston area watch the Jerry Williams Show, which is aired live. Not fifty thousand. Nice.
TUESDAY. I call the scheduling office at U Mass and everything is in order for my talk tomorrow. This looks like it will be very good. I pitched it yesterday morning on the Bill Alex show. Completed the Jerry Williams interview last night. My ad announcing the talk is in the student newspaper today at U Mass.
I check with my message center in Chambersburg. Nothing. There is no more television on the schedule. No radio. Every single college date in Pennsylvania has fallen through. There’s a story about a revisionist professor in Indianapolis that has been in the news. I make a few calls to Indianapolis but can’t turn up anything. I’m spending a lot of money on telephone calls. Tonight I’m to have supper with Leuchter and his wife. I look forward to talking things over with him. But when I call, Leuchter tells me that his wife has not recovered from what happened last night outside the Jerry Williams studio. She’s still vomiting. Our supper date is off.
Here I am in the room. I need to work the telephones but I have no heart for it. I need Eric to pitch in. Won’t happen. I think I’m tired. Tomorrow will be a big day. I decide to just hang around. Sleep. About eight o’clock I eat supper in the motel cafe.
WEDNESDAY. I walk out to the café for breakfast and when I return to my room the red message light on my telephone is blinking. It’s a man who does not give his name but says he is looking forward to meeting me at U Mass this afternoon. No one knows where I am. No one has my telephone number other than Leuchter. This is one easy decision. I pack my stuff and in fifteen minutes I’m checked out of the motel. It’s very cold. I don’t know where to go. I drive around until I find a supermarket with three telephone booths in the parking lot. I check with Chambersburg. Nothing. I make a few calls to Indiana but can’t find out anything about the revisionist professor story.
In three hours I have to be at U Mass. It’s going to be very messy, which is what I want. At the same time, I feel unsettled. The JDL is going to be there. I will be entirely alone. I don’t have a tape recorder so won’t be able to record the talk. Stupid. A supporter was to have sent me one in Gettysburg but didn’t do it. I owe it to IHR to make a cassette recording of the talk and give it to them. But I have only ninety dollars. If I buy a tape recorder I will have less that fifty dollars and will still need a place to sleep tonight. It’s too cold to sleep in the car.
I have to decide between the tape recorder and being certain I have a place to sleep. I can’t decide. I keep an eye on every car that enters the parking lot. I can feel an anxiety building up. It’s interesting to watch the anxiety built, but I’m starting to freeze. I have gotten myself into a stupid corner. I cannot afford to buy the recorder, but I owe it to IHR to buy it. It’s comic, but I’m not laughing. I need to call IHR and ask them to wire me some money. I only have a couple hours before IHR will be shut down for the day. I don’t want to call them for money because a couple days ago Marcellus said he didn’t have any. I know he has some, but I don’t want to make a problem for him.
There’s only one person I can call. Henry Smith. No one answers. I call several times but no one answers. The anxiety is becoming really something. I call his office. He’s out to lunch. I sit in the car with the motor running and the heater on. I keep my eye on the cars coming into the parking lot. I work on my notes for the talk. An hour before I’m to be at U Mass I make the connection with Henry at his office. I ask him to wire me $500. There’s a booth in the market that accepts money wires and cashes them. Half an hour later I have the money in my pocket. The anxiety flows out of the body like bath water flowing out of the tub. I have a new life. I’m ready for anything. It doesn’t take much.
I call campus security at U Mass to ask for protection. The talk is to begin at two o’clock, in twenty minutes. If I had called earlier I might have provided security with enough time to invent an excuse to cancel the talk. It wouldn’t be the first time. If I call any later, I might get to the lecture room before security gets there. Bad idea. It’s too late now to be certain that I can get a cab and still arrive on time so I drive my rental car directly to the campus. I keep an eye peeled all along the streets but don’t see anything unusual. I drive into one of the parking structures and go up several floors. This would be the perfect place to be caught out alone, but nothing happens. I walk to the McCormick building where I’m to speak.
It’s very quiet. Nothing unusual is going on. Why is that? The press should be here, maybe some television people. A crowd. But nothing’s going on. I walk up and down the hallway looking for my room. Can’t find it. I ask a few students for directions but they can’t help me. Now I’m fifteen minutes late. I go to an information booth and ask for directions. They can’t help me. They call around but no one knows about my talk or where it is supposed to be. They tell me that others have asked for directions to the talk but that they didn’t know anything about it.
I call administration and the lady who had reserved the room for me says that she made a booking error. I have the right room number but the wrong building. My meeting room is not in the McCormick building, but in the Wheatly building on the other side of the campus. She is very apologetic. She tells me to wait where I am and that she will come down and take me there herself. When she arrives I am more than half an hour late. I suggest that if no one knows where the room is, security doesn’t know either. She tells me that she called security before she came down to meet me and that they are on the way to the Wheatly building.
By the time we get to the lecture room in the Wheatly building it’s almost three o’clock. No one is here. Only the two plainclothesmen. Those who had somehow found the right room in the right building had left. There had not been very many. I went into the room and sat down by the lectern. The Boston Herald was to have had a reporter here but no one is here. Except the two security guys. No television. No JDL. No audience. Nothing. I suppose that after the Jerry Williams show the JDL have been advised to not make themselves look any worse.
At 3:15 two professors and one student arrive. One professor is Jewish while the other is not. The student is not. I tell them what the story is. They tell me that my announcement about the talk had not appeared in the student newspaper. I had confirmed it, but it was not there. Each of the three had watched Leuchter and me on the Jerry Williams show. That’s why they persevered in finding me. The professor who is not Jewish and the student are very interested in chatting me up. The Jewish professor just listens. Security leaves. We talk for about an hour, and then it’s over.
To coin a phrase, much ado about nothing. I rent a room at a motel. Not the same one where I was this morning.
THURSDAY. Today is reserved for handling all the press that I created with my talk at U Mass. So I have the day off. Saturday morning I’m to do an in-studio interview with Dave Feda at WQQW in Waterbury, Connecticut. I call the station, talk to Feda who is his own producer, and we move the interview up to tomorrow morning. I lie around the motel until checkout time, then drive to Waterbury and take a motel room and sleep.
FRIDAY. Drive over to WQQW-AM, arrive at 9:30am and at 10 we begin the interview. It’s to last at least one hour. Feda is very open to revisionist theory, to the idea that it should be discussed and either destroyed through argument or used for what is helpful in it. We talk and handle call-ins for three hours. It’s a loose but very good three hours. When we finish, I’m finished in New England. There’s nothing more. I can sit in the motel room and work the telephone to book more radio, but I’ve lost connections with the campus press, and with the off-campus press so far as that goes. There is no more television on the horizon. I have a week left, depending on the money maybe four or five days, to produce something more. Whatever I try, I will be starting from nothing.
This afternoon I start the drive back down to Henry’s place. There we watch the video of the Jerry Williams show. It’s the first time I’ve seen it. Henry and his wife are enthusiastic. It’s imperfect, but there’s a lot of information in it. There’s some good laughs. And we can all see immediately that nothing like it has ever been seen on television before, anywhere. Nothing.
SATURDAY. I drive down to New Jersey to stay with Fritz Berg. I have only a few days left before my return trip. On the way I stop at a couple pay phones to call Nat Hentoff at his home. I leave messages on his answering machine. Hentoff is a sincere free-press guy. When I get to Fritz’s house I call Hentoff’s office. Can’t get through. I write him a letter saying I have a lot of interesting information about censorship at Penn State, some background on the scandal that is going to erupt at Atlantic Monthly because of the upcoming Leuchter “Profile,” some interesting questions about the human-soap story, which I remind him he has an especial interest in, along with some other stuff. I fax the letter and a copy of my brochure “The Holocaust Controversy: The Case for Open Debate,” and a newspaper clipping about Don Hiener, the Indianapolis professor who is going to lose his job for mentioning Holocaust revisionism in a favorable light. I include Fritz’s phone number.
Fritz, who is of a scholarly nature, very critical and serious, who knows about one hundred times more about revisionism than I do, watches the Jerry Williams video three times. His friend Matthew comes to the house. Matthew has never been particularly keen about how I approach the work. His politics are on the right, mine are not, and anyhow I leave politics aside. But he sits through the video twice himself. By this time Fritz is talking about buying video equipment because, for revisionists, “video is the way to go.”
SUNDAY. I admit to myself that Nat Hentoff, the sincere free-speech man at the Village Voice, is not going to respond to my phone calls or my fax. I send another fax saying that tomorrow I will drop by his office to chat him up. It’s a joke. I don’t have the time. At midday I leave Fort Lee for Monongahela and Provan’s house. There I’m able to touch base via telephone with the Indianapolis professor. Very ingratiating, intelligent, a fully convinced closet revisionist. His life has been hell the past month. A lot of stuff that didn’t get into the papers. Originally his department at the college was going to keep his case “in-house,” but the ADL mounted a demonstration with 350 protestors and the administration caved in. I explain that I need help with media in Indianapolis. He wants no part of it.
He wants to let the fire die down so that he can go back to work. All he wants is be allowed to work. I tell him it’s too late for that. I tell him he’s already in the meat grinder, that he is finished in Indiana. I am going to do all I can in Indianapolis to make a case about his being fired for having committed a thought crime. I don’t feel very good about it, but that’s my work. To promote open debate and to fight censorship. I apologize. I may fix it so he will never again be able to teach in Indiana, or anywhere else. I tell him there’s nothing for it. He understands. He is not pleased.
MONDAY. I work the telephones to Indianapolis for six hours. I rent a room at the college. For some reason I can’t raise anyone at the student paper to place an ad. There’s no interest at local radio or press. Nobody wants to talk to me about a professor getting fired from a State institution for having committed a thought crime. I’m still using my message service in Chambersburg but they don’t have anything for me. I’ll drive to Indianapolis, get a motel room, have some flyers printed announcing my talk, and hire a couple guys to pass them out. I’ll create my own story. Maybe it will work. I’m clutching at straws. This will be my last hurrah.
This evening the Provans and I sit around the kitchen table talking and laughing. Mrs. Provan is not interested in revisionism, especially for her husband, but she’s good company.
TUESDAY. This morning I get through to the student paper at Indianapolis and find that the campus is on Spring break this week. What a surprise. I’m going to have to stay another week, maybe longer, to do the talk. I can’t. No money. Indianapolis is finished. I’m going to have to settle for the Jerry Williams video. All this work and that’s what I will go back with. The truth is, now that I know it’s over, I’m exhausted.
I call the Chambersburg message center to tell them to cut the cord tomorrow morning and find that I have a call from WBBW-AM radio in Youngstown, Ohio. A local rabbi wants to debate the Holocaust with a revisionist. The rabbi is available this afternoon at 2pm. He will be in-studio. We can sit across the table from each other and talk things over. Michael Young is the host. I did an interview with him a year ago by telephone. This time it will be a two-hour debate with a rabbi, head to head. I pack up the car and drive across Indiana to Youngstown. It’s a three-hour drive. I find the little studio outside town and when I walk in I discover the rabbi has changed his mind. Michael Young had such an eventuality covered. He had arranged for two “backups” for the rabbi. At the last minute, they can’t make it either. I do a one-hour interview with Young, then drive the three hours back to Monongahela. The tour is over.
WEDNESDAY. Say goodbye to the Provans and drive to Pittsburgh where I return the car. There’s a problem with the US Air ticket and they try to get $560 from me for the return flight. Not possible. I call the travel office in Cleveland that arranged the round trip originally and in the end have to pay eighty dollars. Provan has offered to ship some of my accumulated stuff to Visalia by UPS so I have only three bags with me. It’s bitter cold. The flight is boring, as they always are for me. Late this afternoon in Los Angeles the temperature is 68 degrees. Wonderful. I catch a flight to Fresno. In Fresno I can’t find my ride. I call his house but he’s not there. Now I discover the Greyhound people are out on strike. I’m very tired. I pay a cab driver seventy-five dollars to drive me to Visalia. It’s about forty-five miles.
Three month’s work. One video to show for it. It was a good idea. It was a fine idea. It just didn’t work. So far, I haven’t done anything that’s really worked. Eleven years.
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