Break His Bones:
The Private Life of A Holocaust Revisionist
Alicia and I were at K-Mart buying a nightgown for Mother for Mother’s Day and afterwards we drove across the parking lot to Burger King to get some hamburgers to take home. While we waited in line at the drive-by window we saw an old White guy standing at the entrance to the lot with a beat-up sign saying, “Will work for food.” Maybe he was about my age. I didn’t say anything but I was surprised to feel how my heart went out to him.
“Pobrecito,” Alicia said-poor little old guy-and when she got her change back with our hamburgers she folded up a five-dollar bill and told me to stop and give it to him.
I thought that was too much but I didn’t say anything, and when I stopped the car I was going in the wrong direction so the old guy had to cross the drive to get to us. He had a frail, shuffling walk that made me wonder what kind of work he would really be able to do and when he reached the car window I saw he was unshaven and didn’t have a very good face. I said we don’t have any work right now but my wife wants you to have this and gave him the five-dollar bill. A shade of confusion passed over his face, then he took the bill and said, Oh, thank you very much, and turned to shuffle back to where he had been standing. As we drove away I heard a horn honk and in the rear view mirror saw the old guy shuffling back across the drive again with a big grin on his face and a woman’s arm sticking out of her car window with a hamburger at the end of it.
Driving toward the house I was surprised at how much feeling I had for the old guy with the sign. I suppose I was thinking about how close to being him I am. I’m hardly able to pay the rent on our house. Every day I think about how it will be if I have to put Mother in an institution someplace and take Alicia and Paloma to Mexico. I don’t mind the Mexico part but I feel desperate about abandoning my mother. At the same time I was aware it wasn’t only the age and poverty and aloneness of the old guy that touched me. It was his being White, too. If he had been Mexican I wouldn’t have been touched so deeply by what I perceived to be his situation in life. No point in even mentioning the Laotians, of whom there are so many around here.
The first time I noticed those kinds of feelings and the lack of them was in Korea in 1950 and ‘51. It wasn’t pleasant seeing the corpses of the Chinese but it was a very different experience to see American corpses. All the dead Americans I saw were White like me while none of the Chinese were, of course, and when I saw the corpses that made a big difference. If I had been born a few years earlier and had been able to participate in a campaign against the Germans I might have had different feelings about it, feelings that weren’t based on race. When I was in Korea I could camp out with dead Chinese-we never engaged the North Koreans to my knowledge-and not think twice about it. I even had some interest in the wounds of individual Chinese corpses. It was a different experience entirely with the Americans. Maybe it was because they were American, not that they were White, but I don’t think so.
When I was in Vietnam in ‘68 I found I had reactions similar to those I had had in Korea. There was still a difference between Vietnamese and American corpses. In Vietnam there were plenty of Black American corpses but as luck would have it I never saw one of those. Only White ones. The difference for me between Korea and Vietnam, with respect to the corpses, was that in Vietnam the corpses were more significant than they had been in Korea no matter what kind they were. In Korea I didn’t see the Chinese as individuals. I did Vietnamese because I walked with them and ate and slept with them and watched them fall in firefights and sat with them while they died. It didn’t matter that they were North or South or indeterminate. Nationality was indeterminate. Race wasn’t.
What I remember most about the American corpses, as a generality in Vietnam, was how heavy they were. I remember watching the Vietnamese firemen in Cholon picking up Vietnamese corpses and throwing them in the back of flatbed trucks, and I would think how they wouldn’t be able to do that with the Americans because we were too big. Even when the corpse was in body bag you could usually tell if it was a Vietnamese or an American. You could tell by how it sagged when it was picked up.
The philosophy behind the ideal of racial integration is that when you associate with the other you find him to be more vulnerable and more valuable than you had thought he was, if you had thought about him at all. Thought doesn’t have a lot to do with it. Experience is everything, for most of us. Before Korea I hadn’t known any Chinese-I think I knew one when I was in Junior High but I can’t recall who he was or what he looked like-and I could look at a Chinese corpse torn into pieces and view it as an interesting experience. But after a while in Korea there were times when I couldn’t bring myself to even cast a glance at an American corpse. That’s the way it was with Captain Grey. The afternoon I was told he had received four machine-gun bullets in his stomach, even after what I had been through with him, I let them carry his corpse down the mountain without crawling over through the trees to look at him one last time. There are many things I remain ashamed of.
After Korea I began reading famous novels. In Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms there is the famous passage about a battlefield after an Italian victory over the Austrians where the Austrian corpses are all turned on their faces, their butts in the air and their pants pockets turned inside out. I remember what a horrifying image that was for me. The Austrians weren’t American but they were White. On the other hand, Europeans have been butchering White people for millennia and have thought nothing of it, so I suppose I could have learned to live with it too at the beginning, though later I know I would not have been able to. These are the things thought called up to me as I drove back toward the house with Alicia and the hamburgers, thought bouncing off its image of the old geezer outside Burger King. Maybe it was doing the same thing with Alicia because the thinking never stops for any of us. If it was, it was probably taking a different tack with Alicia than it was with me. I didn’t wonder then about what it might be with her but I do now. I could ask her, but too many days have passed, and why would she remember? Still, it hasn’t been too many for me so I don’t know why I should think it’s been too many for her.
A young man I’m acquainted with writes that once he understood “the natural order of things” he became a racist and National Socialist. I suppose it’s only natural to feel pretty self-confident once you understand the natural order of things. You can make final determinations about who is good and who is bad, who should live and who doesn’t matter. It’s not only National Socialism that helps you feel such self-confidence. It isn’t a matter of the left or the right. Christians can be very self-confident about what they believe.
I have never understood the natural order of things. I’m too old for it to come to me now. It would have to be a miracle. I know people who believe in miracles but I’ve never understood miracles either. Believing you understand a miracle when you think you experience one is similar to believing you understand the natural order to things. I’ve never had enough confidence to believe either. I’m not talking about the evolution of fish here. For someone like me, intellectual freedom is the easy way out. I don’t have to decide who gets it and who doesn’t. If we leave it alone there’s more than enough to go around. There’s no end to the thing itself. It’s not like money. It doesn’t grow on trees. It’s there like the air, like space really. Anyone who wants it can have it. It can never be used up. That’s why, as an ideology, intellectual freedom is too wishy-washy for those who understand the natural order of things. There’s no elite. No hierarchy. No leader. Intellectual freedom blows away the party people.
The National Alliance is dedicated to the racial hegemony of Whites, as it sees Whites. Its members speak poorly of Jews and Blacks. If they’ve got the space they’ll bad-mouth Mexicans and Native Americans too. Ten, maybe fifteen years ago William Pierce, founder and leader of the NA, asked me to write for his magazine, National Vanguard. I never got around to it. He has a nice telephone voice with a soft Georgia accent. Pierce thought that because I had become a revisionist I had something against Jews. He must have thought that if I have something against Jews I’m a racist too. I understood that. For some it’s true. He sent me a copy of his novel, The Turner Diaries. I critiqued it for him. It was already published so it didn’t make any difference what I said. I think I said the next time out he was going to have to take his characters more seriously. Since then the Diaries have allegedly become a moving force in the imaginations of White racists, militia groups and the men convicted of bombing the Oklahoma City Federal building. It’s possible, though it’s written so amateurishly-as a novel-I don’t see how. That’s the difference between the artist and the ideologue. The ideologue can just say what he wants however he wants to say it. The artist has to be truthful to the human characters he works with.
Those who want to prohibit revisionist theory from becoming a part of public discourse have found the best way to do it is to associate it in the public mind with anti-Jewish and anti-Black sentiments. If you do not accept the received history of the gas chambers it’s because you despise Jews and Blacks. That’s how the Holocaust Industry has manipulated the story. It’s a juvenile idea but a shrewd one. If you wonder how Blacks got in there you haven’t yet understood that it’s a given in our culture that those who despise Jews despise Blacks too, unless you are Black. If you are Black and question the gas chamber stories you are a Jew-hater but you are excused from hating Blacks. This has proven to be a very valuable propaganda concept for the Industry and for the progressive cultural establishment it speaks for but does not represent. At the same time, as with every successful propaganda concept, there’s something to it. Almost everyone I have met who is anti-Jewish is anti-Black as well. On the other hand, I can’t say the reverse is true. I have met many Jews who are anti-Black yet remain entirely free of anti-Jewish feelings. It’s a little beyond me how to account for this.
The belief that only someone who despises Jews and Blacks would express doubt about the gassing chambers is so widespread that even nominally intelligent academics find it profitable to pretend it’s true. The morning I walked onto the University of Texas campus at Austin I was met with a front page story in the Daily Texan where Harvard lawyer and academic Alan Dershowitz was quoted in bold relief saying, “Bradley Smith [is] a known anti-Semite and an anti-Black racist with phony credentials.” I’ve always wondered what Dershowitz meant with his phony-credentials crack. I’ve always told everyone I have no credentials whatever. I do understand the charge of anti-Semitism. That charge comes with the territory when you express doubt about the gas-chamber stories. But I didn’t know what he was talking about with regard to being an anti-Black racist. I read the story to find out what he meant but it didn’t say. The reporters didn’t ask him or didn’t bother to report his reply. What does it matter to a journalist when a revisionist is being nailed? It’s progressive to believe the gas-chamber stories, it’s reactionary not to believe them, and journalists have agreed to report without comment whatever progressives say about who progressives consider reactionary.
It’s bad for your career to be labeled an anti-Black racist, an anti-Semite and a man with phony credentials. How can people believe anything you say when they are told again and again that beneath everything you say there must be a hateful hidden agenda you never own up to? You want to do something that will stop Harvard professors from speaking that way about you in public. You can think about suing an Alan Dershowitz for libel, but when you look into doing it you find you will need about two hundred thousand dollars to get the ball in play so you are going to decide against it. With regard to reporters who will report that you are an anti-Black racist without questioning the accusation because in the context of our progressive newspaper culture it means you are a racist if you question the gas chambers, that’s just the way that one is too. If you don’t like being misrepresented and having your words quoted out of context and being treated with contempt you might just as well get out of the revisionist wing of the intellectual freedom business.
When my ad challenging the gas chamber exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum ran in the Quad at Queens College in Flushing, New York, its editor, Andrew Wallenstein, condemned me in an editorial for being, in addition to an anti-Semite of course, an anti-Black and anti-Latino racist. The quote was pulled up in bold relief so no reader would miss it, just like Dershowitz’s quote was in the Daily Texan:
Bradley Smith is an equal opportunity offender: in an interview with the University of Nebraska Sower in 1989, he lamented that America wasn’t a “white country” and felt that it wasn’t possible for “black Americans to be assimilated into white society.” He also feared the nation would become “a sort of Mexicanized, Puerto Ricanized country.”
I have never given an interview to the Nebraska Sower. The attribution of the quote to me was an invention. Nevertheless, thousands of students and faculty at Queens College read about how the man who ran the ad in their newspaper questioning the gas-chamber exhibits at the Holocaust Museum was an anti-Black and anti-Latino racist. The quote would circulate through academic circles for years, turning people against me everywhere it was used, making my work, my life, more difficult. If a reporter from the Sower had called me she could have had a real interview but no one called so a story was invented. I used to give interviews to everyone who asked. The Sower didn’t think I was worth the call. The Quad reporter could have called to confirm that I had said what he was going to say I’d said, but he didn’t think it was worth his time.
I have that issue of the Sower in which the quote appeared originally. I have it in my files. I know the person who, in real life, is being quoted. His picture is there in the Sower along with the interview in which he is quoted. The photo looks just like him. It doesn’t look anything like me. It looks like my friend Mark Weber. As a matter of fact, that’s who it is-Mark Weber. So why did Wallenstein say it was me? I’m not prepared to believe that Mr. Wallenstein had that issue of the Nebraska Sower to hand when he did the article on me and that he deliberately lied about me. I believe the young Mr. Wallenstein was fed the quote by a third party, a party whose work it is to libel those of us who question what they propose we ought to believe. A party associated with the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, say, or the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
When I wrote about this affair in Smith’s Report, David Nestle, who directs Popular Reality, called the Quad and talked to Wallenstein, who we have to remember is a young Jewish fellow who has been raised to believe that men like me despise young men like him and Blacks too and now Latinos as well. Nestle wanted to know where Wallenstein had gotten the quote he had used from the Sower but Wallenstein wasn’t talking. He was protecting his source, even if the source was a Zionist propaganda organization. Wallenstein wanted to know why Nestle was interested. Nestle said it was he who had published the first little volume of the expanded edition of Confessions, and he wanted to know if he had published a racist writer because he didn’t like the idea of having done it. Still, Wallenstein wasn’t talking. When Nestle mentioned to Wallenstein the irony of the quote, in light of my being married to a Mexican immigrant, Wallenstein had a difficult time processing the information.
Nestle rang me up later and told me about the conversation. “He kept asking me,” ‘Are you sure? He’s married to a Mexican? Really? Are you certain? A Mexican?’” On the phone Nestle and I were laughing about it. But the damage was done. A week or so later Wallenstein left a message on my answering machine saying he would post a correction in the Quad but I never saw it and I know it would not mean much after all the hullabaloo over the original libel. If you don’t like being slandered and lied about, if you don’t like being treated contemptuously by your peers-and I know this, so I can not complain very loudly-you simply do not question what anyone connected with the Holocaust Hate Industry says should not be questioned.
But what about Mark Weber, you say? He did say what they said you said. Weber is a racist. And you say he’s your friend? When all the shooting’s over, what’s the difference? You associate with racists. You’re friends with racists. You move in racist circles. Why wouldn’t you be thought of as a racist? If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck it’s not a saddle pony.
My answer is that it goes deeper than that. Not only is Weber a racist and my friend, but together we founded Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust. We were partners. He wrote the now famous leaflet “The Holocaust: Let’s Hear Both Sides” for CODOH. He resigned from CODOH only when he took a job at the Institute for Historical Review. He’s the editor now of the Journal of Historical Review. He’s still my friend.
One summer night in 1988 Mark and I were driving across the desert toward Twenty Nine Palms where we were going to stay a couple days with friends of his. A little vacation. It was a beautiful, clear, moonlit night and it may have been the first time that we had spent time together alone. We had gotten to know one another by telephone and the U.S. mails while I lived in Hollywood and he still lived in Nebraska. We had founded CODOH together without ever having met. Later, Mark had been to our house one evening in Pinehurst Canyon, a couple blocks off Hollywood Boulevard. I recall his gentlemanly manner when I introduced him to my wife, and his good humor and his obvious desire to be a good guest in the very simple place where we lived.
Now, while we drove across the desert where you could see the features of every rock and plant in the warm moonlight, Mark was talking about how he felt about National Socialism, Hitler and particularly the defeat of Germany. He talked about it as having been a great tragic drama, particularly the last days of the war and the fall of Berlin. He asked if I didn’t have that sense of it myself, being a playwright. I said I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it, that I hadn’t read the literature. I said I was certain it must have been a great drama for those who had been participants in it, in a century that had had far too many such dramas. Mark said that for him the final days of Hitler’s circle in Berlin were a modern Götterdämerung.
I recall one other thing Mark said while we were driving that night. The talk had drifted from Hitler and Germany to race, American Blacks, Third World immigration and so on. Mark was particularly concerned about Third World immigration, Mexican immigration especially, changing the nature of American culture for the worse, and the need for idealism and courage to face the issue. I said I more or less agreed that it was a very big problem and then I said to Mark, “You must not approve of my marriage.”
“Why do you say that?” he said. I could see by the expression on his face in the moonlight that he was trying to re-focus his attention.
“Mark, my wife’s a Mexican. Remember?”
“Oh, yes,” he said. And after a moment he said, “That’s right, Bradley. I don’t approve.”
“I don’t mean you are against us personally, but on principle.”
After a moment he said, “Yes, on principle.”
My friends, and many who are not my friends, ask how Mark Weber can be my friend when he argues against immigration policies he believes will “Puerto-Ricanize” and “Mexicanize” the culture. Well, won’t they-to one degree or another? Have you been in East Los Angeles recently? I have. We have family there. Mark believes such a scenario would be bad for the country. How do we know it wouldn’t? It’s a theory, for Christ’s sake! What proofs do we have that it would be good for the country? The problem isn’t racialist theory, but the need many racialists feel to impose their theories on the rest of us.
I’m not outraged by Mark’s views on the dangers of Third World immigration into the U.S. I admire him for speaking publicly about his ideals in an informed and decent way. That’s how I try to speak about my ideals. I’m not a racist but I don’t believe racial theory must be obliterated and racists ground into the dirt. I don’t have a theory about race. I can live with the racists and have for fifteen years. I can live with the anti-racists and did that for thirty years. As two classes, I found nothing to distinguish between them but their theories. I found the same levels of generosity, intelligence, good humor and intolerance in each group. The worst in each group have no interest in a free society but prefer one in which they themselves rule the others with an iron fist. As a class, the worst of them are made for each other, a human symbiosis of intolerance and irrational hostility.
I don’t believe in thought crimes. How can there be thought crimes and intellectual freedom too? Thought “crimes” are interesting and valuable in the same way the horror and exaltation of the dream life is interesting and valuable. In a free society dreaming and thinking are not criminal. When dreams and theories are institutionalized and used to initiate violence against others, those institutions become criminal. There’s only one way to get rid of bad thought: kill everyone who dreams and thinks. I’m reminded of a bumper sticker that puts it well: “Kill ‘em all. Let God sort ‘em out.” It’s a simple program but a distasteful one for those of us who are not determined to rule.
I don’t find the racial question a very interesting one, but racists do. That’s why they call themselves racists. If I were a racist I would think about naming myself something else. Racists believe that human culture has reached some kind of apogee in the West. Racists compare the cultural achievements of Whites to Blacks and others, but particularly Blacks, and worry that race-mixing will prove a threat to high human accomplishment. I think the racists are too eager to move on this question. The data is only beginning to come in. We need another thousand, another five thousand years maybe, before we start coming to conclusions like that. Those who charge that racialist theory is without any possible merit, however, are simply pushing their own ideology. They don’t know any more about it than the racists do, and in this culture they oftentimes are less honest than the racists.
I am increasingly aware of the limitations and weaknesses of character I recognize in myself. I forgive myself, one by one, the many wrongs I have committed against others-a life threaded through with insensitivity, wrong-headedness and small brutalities. It’s either going to be forgiveness, or it’s going to be guilt and shame. Guilt and shame are a waste of time. I suppose there are some things I have done I will never be able to forgive, but I’m not going to ignore how human it all was either. Just as I have committed unforgivable acts, others have too. These acts should be named but an individual act does not define an individual. The more accepting I am of my own frailties, the more able I am to accept the frailties of others. If we believe racial prejudice to be a weakness of character, we should help those burdened with it the same way we help those afflicted with other psychological and spiritual weaknesses. What’s hate got to do with it?
Being “prejudiced” against others and even hating the other is not a crime, it’s part of the flow of human life. Hating those who hate is hating still. Strong racial prejudices lead some individuals to initiate violent acts against others. Auschwitz and the shootings on the Eastern front are emblematic of the racists. Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are emblematic of the anti-racists. What’s the difference? Hating is a matter of the heart, just as principle and ideals are. At bottom, if you will, they’re all spiritual problems. Those who hate or believe they do, and those who battle against them, are in a struggle with their inner lives, as we all are. Projecting the struggle out into institutions and political movements is what leads to the violence, not the feelings themselves. For myself, the initiation of violence is the overriding issue here.
Every time one of us, on any side of any issue, expresses himself honestly, someone is going to get hurt. A truth spoken with civility is not violent. It’s the frailty of our character that allows truth to hurt us so. We have to grow up about being hurt. With a little luck we’ll get hurt exactly where it will do the most good. No pain no gain. I’ve been annoyed with Weber plenty of times. I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s a self-professed racist. My wife and child are mestizos. Weber admires Hitler, who, whatever else he was, was a horse’s ass. Weber’s my friend. He’s a terrible editor, for me anyhow. He has admirable personal qualities. I like him. I always have. He’s a good guy to have around. I look forward to being in his company. The big difference between Weber and those who condemn him, and myself, is that they all lead lives based on principle and theory. That’s not quite clear to me. I’ll have to think about it.
Paloma and I were discussing World War I last night when she mentioned that it took place in the 18th century. She’s ten years old now, she’s in the fourth grade, so she’s beginning to study world history. I told her World War I happened in the 20th century, and that her grandma was already a teenager when it started. Paloma said I was wrong about this one and that I don’t know everything about everything like I always think I know. I felt obligated somehow to disabuse her of the notion that World War I happened in the 18th century. But she wasn’t having it. Pretty soon it became a test of wills. She was going to have her history her way and I was going to have it mine because I was the adult and she the child and it should be obvious to a ten-year-old that she should not argue such issues with me or anyone like me. She still wasn’t having it. Mrs. Appleby, her fourth-grade teacher, had told her very plainly when World War I happened. I knew damm well Mrs. Appleby hadn’t told Paloma what Paloma was saying she had told her.
Finally it got to be too much for me. I cracked. I don’t remember what the crowning insult was but I told my daughter to shut up about World War I being in the 18th century but she wasn’t having it about shutting up either, she was going straight ahead with the 18th-century gambit, so I grabbed her and slapped her hard on her bottom. She changed her tune then. She started crying. She was willing give it up about when World War I happened or if it had happened at all. Then she really fell apart.
“Come on,” I said. “Come on, Honey. It was only a swat on the bottom. Why are you crying like that?”
“Because when you hit me,” she sobbed, “I’m afraid you’re going to hurt me.”
The pain was like a knife in the heart. It was the simplicity of her statement, without a note of accusation in it. I started to fall apart myself then, but held on. I wanted her to come to me so I could hold her but she turned and went to her bedroom. She’s no longer a baby. Other things mean more to her than being held by her father.
This morning I was at the computer while Alicia made breakfast and when Paloma was ready to leave for school she did not come over to kiss me goodbye and let me kiss her in return but simply said, “Goodbye, Daddy.” There was no hint of malice in her voice. She has never been one to hold a grudge, my daughter. I was still frozen by my behavior of last night. “Goodbye,” I said neutrally. I listened to the front door open and shut and then it was as if I heard thought speak to me:
“Why are you so patient with Nazis and racists when you are so impatient with your daughter?”
There was a moment of quiet, then thought said: “What’s going on there?”
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