Confessions of a Holocaust Revisionist
I KNEW THAT FIRST NIGHT after reading Faurisson and Bennett that I would have to do something about what they had written, but I didn’t do anything. Week followed week and I didn’t lift a finger to check out a single assertion by either Bennett or Faurisson. I was keeping a daily journal at that time and there isn’t a whisper in it about one of the most stunning milestones of my life. What did I think I was doing with so much evasion? How long did I tell myself I was going to wait before I started to do the work that now I was obligated to do? It’s a mystery.
More than three months passed that way. Then, on the afternoon of the last day of 1979, I telephoned the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles and asked the history department if it shelved a copy of Butz’s The Hoax of the Twentieth Century. I didn’t think it would, but the lady said she would hold it at the desk for me. I felt a little apprehension, and a little excitement. I’ve tried to recall why I telephoned on that particular day. I can’t.
As I climbed the library steps I felt the body growing heavy and burdened. It was comical. I felt an exhausting load accumulating on my shoulders. I could see the whole thing operating. It was pathetic. I was afraid that I was going to find out for certain that what I was half afraid was true was in fact true. I wanted to find it out all right – curiosity killed the writer — what I didn’t want was to experience what I was afraid I would experience if the gas chamber stories really did begin to unravel before my eyes.
As I approached the middle-aged woman at the desk I felt the shame rise up inside me. When I asked her for the Butz book she seemed to avert her eyes. It was as if she had recognized the shameful act that I was about to perform and did not want me to see in her eyes that she understood — that I wanted to read a book that no person with decent sensibilities would want to read.
At a reading table I discovered that Arthur R. Butz was an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at Northwestern University. Electrical Engineering, I thought? Computer Sciences? Butz tackled this issue straightaway:
There will be those who will say that I am not qualified to undertake such a work, and there will even be those who will say that I have no right to publish such things. So be it. If a scholar, regardless of his specialty, perceives that scholarship is acquiescing, from whatever motivation, in a monstrous lie, then it is his duty to expose the lie, whatever his qualifications. It does not matter that he collides with all “established” scholarship in the field, although that is not the case here, for a critical examination of the “holocaust” has been avoided by academic historians in all respects and not merely in the respect it is treated in this book. That is while virtually all historians pay some sort of lip service to the lie, when it comes up in books and papers on other subjects, none has produced an academic study arguing, and presenting the evidence for either the thesis that the exterminations did take place or that they did not take place. If they did take place then they should be possible to produce a book showing how it started and why by whom it was organized and the lines of authority in the killing operations, what the technical means were and that those technical means did not have some sort of more mundane interpretation (e.g., crematoria), who were the technicians involved, the numbers of victims from the various lands and the time tables of their executions, presenting the evidence on which these claims are based together with reasons why one should be willing to accept the authenticity of all documents produced at illegal trials. No historians have undertaken anything resembling such a project; only non-historians have undertaken portions.
” With these preliminary remarks,” Butz concluded, “I invite your study of the hoax of your century.”
I was struck by the self-confident and dispassionate tone of his voice. This Butz, I thought, he’s not real wishy-washy. He doesn’t shilly-shally around a lot. Who knows?, I thought, maybe he doesn’t hate Jews either. I suppose now that that was the issue around which so much of my apprehension and evasiveness had gathered. Maybe, probably, while I understood that reasonable men could not question the truth of the gas chamber stories, in my heart I didn’t believe it. I think that in my heart I felt that only men with an ax to grind would question them.
When I turned to the text of The Hoax it took about half an hour for me to decide that something I had believed for 35 years is probably unprovable — namely, that six million Jews were “missing” at the end of World War II. What with the gigantic, brutal population Transfers carried out by the Germans and Soviets, the tremendous chaos of the war itself, the fact that the sources of “post-war primary data are private Jewish or Communist sources (exclusively the latter in the all important cases of Russia and Poland)….” there was no way to know how many Jews were left in Europe in 1945 or to know with very much accuracy how they were distributed around the planet. At the same time, Butz wrote:
One should not form the impression that it is essential to my argument that any demographic conclusions seemed to be reached above be accepted by the reader…. It is not possible to settle anything in such a manner. In the final analysis the difficulty is that the figures available amount to nothing more than statements, from Jewish and Communist sources, that millions of Jews were killed (e.g., missing). Such claims are to be expected, but they must certainly not deter us from looking deeper.
It wasn’t only that I had believed the “six million” figure with such certainty, but that I had believed so deeply all the accusations and implications that necessarily went along with it. I believed without reservation, but in 35 years I had not made the slightest effort to substantiate the accusations that were inherent in my belief. I had been willing to live my life believing something that morally condemned an entire people of complicity in the most horrible and inhuman behavior imaginable without once bothering to investigate the evidence supporting a single charge made against them.
The only way I can explain such immature and contemptible behavior over the entirety of my adult life is to admit, simply, that it had been easy to believe what everyone else believed and difficult not to. The believing took no energy, no courage and no common sense. Trying to find out the truth about such terrible accusations against others would have taken that and more. Merely standing aside from opinion and not participating in that of others — that would have taken energy too. I didn’t have it. In my laziness I had allowed myself to be swamped with belief.
Early on in The Hoax Butz addresses the events surrounding the Dachau trials. Here the American military together with personnel from of the American War Crimes Branch addressed the behavior of Germans who had staffed Buchenwald, Flossenbuerg, Dachau itself and some other installations. It was while reading Butz’s brief account of those events that something coalesced in me, and I understood consciously that I was going to look into the poison gas chamber stories. Ironically, according to Butz, the gas chamber story itself had hardly surfaced during the Dachau Trials. Nevertheless:
The entire repertoire of third degree methods was enacted at Dachau: beating and brutal kicking to the point of ruining testicles in 137 cases, knocking out teeth, starvation, solitary confinement, torture with burning splinters, and impersonation of priests in order to encourage prisoners to “confess.” Low ranking prisoners were assured that convictions were being sought only against higher ranking officers, and that they had absolutely nothing to lose by cooperating and making the desired statements. Such “evidence” was then used against them when they joined their superiors in the dock. The latter, on the other hand, had been told that by “confessing” they had taken all responsibility onto themselves, thereby shielding their men from trial. A favorite stratagem, when a prisoner refused to cooperate, was to arrange a mock trial. The prisoner was led into a room in which civilian investigators, dressed in U.S. Army uniforms, were seated around a black table with a crucifix in the center, with two candles providing the only light. This “court” then proceeded to hold a sham trial, at the conclusion of which a sham death sentence was passed. The “condemned” prisoner was later promised that, if he cooperated with the prosecutors in giving evidence, he would be reprieved. Sometimes interrogators threatened to turn prisoners over to the Russians. In many cases the prisoner’s family was threatened with loss of ration cards or other hardships if cooperation was not obtained.
The official, as distinct from the mock trials, were also an apparently deliberate mockery of any conception of due process…. Specific crimes by specific people on specific dates were not part of the indictments (e.g., documents 3590-PS). In some cases, the “defense counsel” was an American with no legal training, who could not speak German. Competent interpreters were not provided at the trial. The “prosecution” also lacked legal training, as did the “court,” which consisted of ten U.S. Army officers. There was one person with legal training present, all of whose rulings on the admissibility of evidence were final. There were 1,416 convictions out of 1,672 tried, with 420 death sentences.
While the prosecution could hunt all over Europe for witnesses and if necessary, torture or otherwise coerce Germans in order to get “evidence,” the accused, cut off from the outside world and without funds, were rarely about to summon anybody to their defense. In addition, the “Association of Persons Persecuted by the Nazis,” by a propaganda campaign, forbade former concentration camp inmates to testify for the defense.
The American lawyer George A. McDonough, who had had the rather peculiar experience of having served as both a prosecutor and defense counsel in the war crimes program and later on as a member of a reviewing board and arbiter on clemency petitions, wrote to the N.Y. Times in 1948 complaining […]. “Hearsay evidence was admitted indiscriminately and sworn statements of witness were admissible regardless of whether anybody knew the person who made the statement or the individual who took the statement. If a prosecutor considered a statement of a witness to be more damaging than the witness’ oral testimony in court he would advise the witness to go back to his home, submit the statement as evidence, and any objection by defense counsel would be promptly overruled.”
One notable incident occurred when investigator Joseph Kirschbaum brought a certain Einstein into court to testify that the accused Menzel had murdered Einstein’s brother. When the accused was able to point out that the brother was alive and well and, in fact, sitting in court, Kirschbaum was deeply embarrassed and scolded poor Einstein: “How can we bring this pig to the gallows, if you are so stupid as to bring your brother into court?”
The U.S. Army authorities in charge admitted some of these things. When the chief of the Dachau War Crimes Administration Brach, Colonel A. H. Rosenfeld, quit his post in 1948 he was asked by newspapermen if there was any truth to the stories about the mock trials, at which sham death sentences had been passed. He replied: “Yes, of course. We couldn’t have made those birds talk otherwise …. It was a trick, and it worked like a charm.”
Butz had a lot more to say on the subject. He provided sources for most of his claims and dozens of leads to follow up if I, or anyone, wanted to flush out the story. It wasn’t difficult for me to accept the possibility that the United States Government had acted in the way Butz described. U.S. military and civilian bureaucrats had expressed their loyalty to their own state apparatus just as German bureaucrats had to theirs. Loyalty to the State rather than to justice or decency, loyalty to the point of addiction sickness is what corrupts bureaucrats everywhere. It appeared to me that at the Dachau trials United states bureaucrats had acted out of the same sensibilities, convictions and modus operandi as bureaucrats traditionally use in nations around the earth. And that a good number of them had had the additional privilege of being able to indulge their desire for revenge.
If Germans accused of war crimes had fared as Butz described events at Dachau — under the enlightened, democratic Americans — how had German prisoners fared in the hands of totalitarian Stalinists? It must have been terrible. As Butz remarked about how the German prisoners suffered, it must have been “beyond the imagination of those of us who have not suffered it ourselves.”
I went to the desk and asked for help in running down some documents on the book, reviews, historical papers, anything. The librarian tried to help me but we couldn’t turn up anything. Nothing. I returned to The Hoax. I perused the acknowledgments, the final remarks. I went over the appendices, notes, references, the index. The Hoax was extensively documented, the established history of the Holocaut story was confronted openly, and discounted in scores of places. And yet, so far as I could find out by consulting the standard indexes and guides, not one periodical, not one newspaper, not one historian, not a single journalist, critic, or scholar had published one word to either affirm or deny one statement, one shred of the evidence presented by Butz to the effect that the poison gas chamber stories were falsehoods and even deliberate lies.
I walked through the library from one department to another, upstairs and downstairs. My mind was racing and shooting around like crazy. Something was wrong with the gas chamber stories. Something was wrong with the story of the six million and what was wrong was being covered up. Something was wrong about the silence that had buried Butz’s book. Something was wrong in the academic community in the United States, and not only among the historians. Something tremendous was going on, or not going on as it were, and the ramifications could prove to be endless. There was an immense amount of work to do; the air in the library was thick with complication. I felt as if I were swimming in a sea of suppression, censorship and evasion.
Out on the street the crisp late afternoon air was electric. Men and men and women spoke to one another with an animation that seemed extraordinary. They stood on street corners laughing and making plans. I remembered that it was New Year’s Eve. While I had not spoken the words, while I did know precisely what the words were, I understood that a resolution had formed within me that would affect my life profoundly from that moment on.
My legs carried me effortlessly toward the pickup. The body felt weightless. If there had been a bar handy I would have gone in and lifted a few. That’s how I use the drinking sometimes. When the excitement become too intense. I use it to calm down. I use it like a tool.
At Mother’s the house I went straight to the kitchen cupboard and poured out about six ounces of Kaluha. That’s all there was. Alicia was going to Tijuana for New Years Eve so I drove her back downtown to the bus station. We missed the bus so we went to Coles where my father used to drink back in the Twenties and even before I think. We sat at the old bar on stools and I drank a couple rum and cokes and because Alicia doesn’t drink I lifted a couple more for her.
I was starting to get crocked. I don’t think the very exciting part of Butz’s book was that he questioned the Holocaust but that the book he questioned it with was suppressed by common consent by the entire press and academic community in The United States. That’s what was so exciting to me, the cowardly, self-serving suppression of it. I saw Alicia off on the bus then drove to West Hollywood to Barney’s Beanery and drank a bottle of burgundy. At eleven o’clock I drove back to the house and helped Mother get from the wheelchair into her bed. Then I drove back to Barney’s again and got there just in time to welcome the New Year in with an Irish coffee. The woman next to me raised her mouth to be kissed but it wasn’t for me somehow and I gave her a little nudge on the side of the face. Later I was sorry I’d done that. Later, you’re always sorry. I drank Irish coffees for another hour then sensibly switched to Guiness stout.
When Barney’s closed I drove back to the house so Mother wouldn’t be alone any longer. The driving wasn’t that easy. I got the foam rubber pad from behind the living room couch and made my bed on the floor. It wasn’t easy. I undressed, knocked a few things off the card table and put on my caftan.
From her bed Mother said: “Bradley, what the hell are you doing in there?”
“I’m going to bed, Ma.”
“Do you hear those people out on the street? They’ve been shooting off those fireworks all night.”
“I do hear them, Ma.”
“Well, do you hear what they’re saying? They’re talking about how they could set off a fire with that stuff. They sound like they’re drunk to me.”
“Drunk?,” I said. I went outside barefoot wearing my caftan which at the time I was very attached to because Jenny had given it to me. I felt I was ready for anything. That my will would be done. There were six or eight of them, attractive well dressed men and women laughing and talking quietly and setting off their fireworks. The colors were very beautiful and radiant in the black night air. I saw immediately that there wouldn’t be any trouble. There would be no adventure. A warmth filled my heart. These were my neighbors. My people. Mine. I grabbed the first one I came to and kissed him. He didn’t much seem to care for it. I worked my way through the lot, kissing each in turn until I embraced a small blond woman who gasped: “Oh, for a moment you startled me.” She smelled wonderful. She was wearing a fur round her shoulders and it was very soft. Then I noticed that she resembled closely the wife of the actor who lives next door. At that instant the brain experienced a moment of clarity. I went back in the house and got under my sheet.
From her bedroom Mother asked: “What did they say?”
“They said not to worry, Ma.”
“It makes me nervous when people talk about setting the whole place on fire. I feel so helpless,” she said.
“They were just joking, Ma.”
The room was moving clockwise and when I closed my eyelids the yellow light went on and off, on and off. I thought it would never end.