Reading Mein Kampf: Adolf Hitler And Me
Auschwitz and the Mysterious Stranger.
Tom Marcellus was one of seventeen individuals who subscribed to Smith’s Journal after reading the first issue, a quarterly with twenty-four photocopied pages stapled together with a gray paper cover. I produced it with a typewriter on Mother’s dining room table and had two hundred copies reproduced at a photocopy place on Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood . The writing was autobiographical, as is all my work (I either have no imagination or do not understand what imagination is), addressed current political issues from a libertarian viewpoint, with an emphasis on tax resistance to short circuit the stockpiling and further development of nuclear weaponry.
When Marcellus subscribed to Smith’s Journal he was in a publishing venture of his own, headquartered in Marina Del Rey, one with substantial financial backing, as I could see from an issue of the magazine he sent me in exchange. But that venture folded and the next I heard from Marcellus was the day he called to congratulate me on issue number three of Smith’s Journal , which was now an eight-page tabloid – the Nazi-gas-chamber issue. The issue that ruined Smith’s Journal . The gas chamber question, and particularly the taboo that protected it from open debate, had quickly become something of an obsession with me. I could not get it out of my mind. I was unable to integrate my new interest in revisionist theory with tax resistance and the issue of nuclear arms. It was the taboo that made the difference.
There were many individuals and organizations around the country allied with tax resistance, it was widely held as a principled movement even by those who did not support it, and it was an issue that was debated publicly. But a free exchange of ideas about the Holocaust story was absolutely forbidden. I had never come up against anything like it. The authoritarianism promoted by the intellectual classes themselves, the naked, primitive absolutism of the prohibition, and the vicious attacks carried out against those who dared talk about what they were forbidden to talk about was a drama that I was unable to distance myself from.
On the telephone Marcellus said: “I have a surprise for you. I work at the Institute for Historical Review. When I came here to apply for the job, I had no idea what I was getting into. I’d never heard of the Institute for Historical Review or its director, David McCalden. I’d never heard of Holocaust revisionism. When I found out what they were doing I didn’t know if I wanted to take the job or not. Now I’m glad I did. We’re publishing important stuff here. When your new tabloid came in the mail I just looked at the cover and a couple of the cartoons and walked it across the hall to David’s office and slapped it down on his desk. David started reading and didn’t look up until he’d finished it.”
The Institute for Historical Review had modest offices and storage in a modest industrial park in Torrance , near Los Angeles . The front windows were smoked or painted black and when I tried to open the door it had to be unlocked from the inside. McCalden was in his mid-thirties, tall and dark-haired and spoke with a Belfast Irish accent. Tom was younger and fair and spoke like I do. Behind the offices I could see the storage space for the Journal of Historical Review and for the Noontide Press books.
The three of us drove to a nearby restaurant and had a two-hour lunch. David drank half a dozen beers, I drank a bottle of burgundy, while Tom sipped a glass of water. Tom, as it turned out, is a scientologist and believes that it’s best to eat moderately, drink moderately if at all, take good vitamins, work toward getting clear, and lead a decent life. So over the last ten or fifteen years while I’ve gotten fatter and the knees have started to go out and I still haven’t found a way to make a living, Tom looks just like he did that first day except that he has a little more forehead.
McCalden grew up in Belfast but went to London to get educated. There he became an atheist but he never got out from under the mad-dog Calvinist moralism that appears to be in the air in Belfast . When he went to university he became an animal-rights activist, protesting fox hunting in particular. He and his friends would wait in the forest and after the dogs passed on the chase they would leap out at the horsemen beating pans with spoons and scare the shit out of the horses. Close on that he joined the nationalist/racialist National Front to protest Black and Asian immigration into England , particularly the Pakistanis. He was a troublemaker in the Front as well as for the establishment. Its leadership had too little principle for McCalden’s taste and not enough courage and he was largely responsible for splitting the movement and weakening it. He appears to have made bitter enemies everywhere. Cast out and downcast, he immigrated to America for a new start.
McCalden arrived in the US in the mid-seventies and found his way to Willis Carto’s Noontide Press in Torrance , California . The Noontide book list included titles on banking and money and the Federal Reserve, race, religion, the IRS, philosophy, conspiracy and communism, Zionism, Jewish politics, American history and so on, much of it from radical right or populist perspectives. A good number of the titles looked like crank books to me. What drew McCalden to Noontide was that its list included books on racial issues and racial anthropology that were not liberal in perspective and which could not be distributed through regular channels. And Noontide had recently published The Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Arthur R. Butz, professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at Northwestern. Race, banking, Zionism and Holocaust revisionism then were the interests that drew him to Noontide.
McCalden said he’d had his first doubts about the Holocaust when he visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam . He had always believed the Anne Frank story, and all the implications of it, but as he walked through the building where she wrote about how she and her family hid from the Nazis, he began to have doubts.
“When you’re there, when you see the whole building and when you see where they were supposed to be hiding out, it’s not believable. And that’s when I started thinking about the Holocaust, about how it fit so perfectly into Zionist rhetoric about Israel and how Jews talk about themselves in other ways.”
McCalden was the first individual I’d met personally who knew anything about revisionism and revisionists. He appeared then to know a lot about both. As it turned out, he did.
“I didn’t become a revisionist overnight,” he said, “but almost.”
When he started working for Noontide his job was to develop books and the Noontide catalog and market the titles by direct mail. McCalden wasn’t there long before he proposed starting a journal and maybe even a book list, with himself as editor, that would treat primarily with Holocaust revisionism and would be independent of Noontide. It would be called the Journal of Historical Review . It would be the first such journal in the world. It would be a historical milestone. Willis Carto, who owned everything, was the one who would have to decide. Noontide would be the source for startup funding and whatever was needed to maintain the new journal. He went along with the idea. The rest is history, living history, though David is dead.
I think now that David saw himself as an historical figure. He believed he was making a difference and he wanted to be recognized for the figure he saw himself to be. He worked hard, was very productive, and had a terrific sense of humor. He was smart, his intellect was exceptionally well organized, he had an exceptional memory, and you could say anything to him. He was bone-headed. I always imagined that I could read it in his face, the way his nose joined his brow. He believed that because it was all right for you to say anything to him that it was all right no matter what he said about you. That was all right by me but there were a lot of people who it wasn’t all right for so David made a lot of enemies. It wasn’t long before Willis Carto became his enemy. One afternoon long after David had left the Institute we were drinking at Bergin’s on Fairfax Avenue and we were arguing about Willis and he said:
“I don’t care what you say. I hate him.”
As time went on David wanted to deny he had said it because he always said he had never hated anyone and that he was ready for a rapprochement with Willis but Willis isn’t the kind of man to kiss and make up with people who write about him the way David did year after year. It’s a long story.
By the time we finished our lunch that first afternoon I had made two new friends. McCalden had raised issue after issue that I had never thought to raise. The little I had read about Holocaust revisionists and in particular those connected with the Institute and Willis Carto had been filled with so much condemnation, hatred and even horror that I had felt uneasy approaching their office. In the event, the event itself was perfectly ordinary. I was talking to men who no longer believed what others believed, who gossiped and laughed and were interesting and interested and knew how to eat with knives and forks. That’s one thing the integrationists are right about. When you mix it up with other folk, other folk become human. I think I understood from the beginning that my work in revisionism would be to integrate revisionists with those who profess to hate and be hated by them.
Back at the Institute’s offices David loaded me up with revisionist books free of charge and we must have had one of our first discussions about Jews and “the” Jews. I remember walking toward my car and David standing in the doorway, not wanting it to end, talking about how Jews are so in charge in America that Americans don’t even like to use the word “Jew.” We don’t say that so-and-so is a Jew. We say he’s “Jewish.” There’s something about the very word Jew, David was saying, that’s taboo. I understood that to be true but I didn’t want to give it to him at the moment and I remember grinning and backing off and getting in the pickup.
It was a beautiful afternoon, windy and blue. I’d intended to return to work but the wine and all the new information and the wonderful quality of the air blowing off the ocean made me change my mind. I drove into Westwood and passed the afternoon drinking beer and going through the bookstores. By nightfall I was at the little bar in The Hamlet with the latest issue of Commentary , drinking coffee with double shots of rum. I felt terrific.
In Commentary there was an article by Walter Laqueur titled “The Mysterious Messenger and the Final Solution.” Professor Walter Laqueur was Chairman of the Research Council of Georgetown University’s Center for Strategic and International Studies. He’s a renowned Holocaust scholar. Here is a man I could depend on. I turned to “The Mysterious Messenger and the Final Solution” well fortified with drink and in fine good humor. I was willing to go wherever the story led. It could go any way it wanted. My job was to follow it out to the end and throw over the revisionists if the story went against them. Who was this mysterious stranger then, and what significance does he have for understanding the Final Solution?
It has been known for a long time that the first authentic information about Hitler’s decision to destroy European Jewry came from a German industrialist who visited Switzerland in July 1942. But the identity of the industrialist has remained a mystery. What follows is a report of my attempt to trace who he was, what made him act as he did, and what became of him subsequently.
One day in July 1942, Benjamin Sagalowitz, the press officer of the Swiss Jewish communities headquartered in Zurich , received an urgent phone call from an acquaintance… [Sagalowitz] … had many contacts, among them his caller who told him on that day that a German industrialist Sagalowitz had vaguely known in the past was in town, with information of great importance. They then met. The industrialist … knew from an unimpeachable source that Hitler had decided to have all European Jews exterminated by means of poison gas by the end of the year.
… Sagalowitz decided that whether the information was true or half-true, no time was to be lost in transmitting it. He got in touch with Gerhart Riegner in Geneva . Riegner, aged thirty at the time, was the representative of the World Jewish Congress in Switzerland … on August 8, Riegner went to see the American Vice Consul, Howard Elthing, Jr., and handed him a document which began as follows:
“Received alarming report that in Fueher’s headquarters a plan discussed and under consideration according to which all Jews in countries occupied or controlled by Germany numbering three and one-half to four million should after deportation and concentration in East be exterminated at one blow to resolve once for all the Jewish question in Europe.”
I am not the only one to have been intrigued by the questions of the identity of the industrialist who brought Sagalowitz the news. Riegner, who gave his word not to divulge the man’s name, has been asked about the matter countless times but has steadfastly refused to respond. The other two who had known the man’s identity, Sagalowitz and Ambassador Harrison, are dead. Actually, Harrison had never met the industrialist, but upon his insistence Riegner had given him the name in a closed envelope. The OSS had also been informed. Riegner himself did not meet the industrialist until February 1945, according to Sagalowitz.
So there you have it. Laqueur has described the situation, given us the principal figures occupied with it, and now he sets out to unravel the mystery. Considering Laqueur’s training, his expertise and his obsession with the material, it did not occur to me that he might not find out anything. Nevertheless, Professor Laqueur has a hard time of it from the beginning.
My search among Harrison ‘s papers in Washington produced no results ¼ . As for the relevant OSS files, if they still exist they have not been declassified… Some of Sagalowitz’s papers are kept in the archives of the Swiss Jewish communities in Zurich … Again the search proved fruitless… Howard Elting, Jr., the Vice Council whom Riegner had first contacted upon receiving the horrible news … assured me that he had never known the name…
Laqueur went on to consider, then reject, a “description” of the industrialist published in America in “a Jewish weekly.” He decided that Arthur Sommer “must have some connection” with the affair and “followed this lead without great hope, but with “surprising results.” The surprising result was that he uncovered a letter written by Sommer to Edgar Salin “to the effect that extermination camps had been prepared in Eastern Europe to kill all European Jews and also most Soviet prisoners of war by poison gas.”
Laqueur notes here that he is “following, more or less, Salin’s account written after the war…” Laqueur does not produce the letter. I do not want to be a party to discredit Salin’s good name, but where’s the letter? Or is Laqueur really giving us hearsay here? And Sommer lived on to 1965, working as a respected lecturer. Didn’t Arthur Sommer have anything more to say of note for those twenty years about how he had gotten his knowledge about the gas chambers? Or was that hearsay too?
Arthur had been one of the early warners but clearly not the (industrialist)… A key figure … was Carl Burchhardrdt, the “foreign minister” of the International Red Cross… In October 1942, he told American diplomats that he too had heard about Hitler’s order. On November 7, he saw Paul Squirte, the U.S. Consul in Geneva, and assured him that while he had not actually seen the order, he could confirm “privately and not for publication” that Hitler had signed an order in 1941 that before the end of 1942 Germany must be free of Jews. He had received this piece of information independently from “two very well-informed Germans; one a “German foreign ministry official,” the other “someone” inside the war ministry…
That is, briefly, all the information was hearsay, two or three times removed from its original source, and every source remains anonymous. Pretty impressive.
Laqueur turned next to Ernst Lemmer, a German journalist and intriguer who in July 1942 “met several public figures in Zurich and told them about gas chambers, stationary and mobile, in which Jews were killed.” Laqueur follows out Lemmer’s complicated career until Lemmer becomes the head of the Christian Democratic Party in the regional West Berlin Parliament, and from 1956 to 1965 served in the Bonn Federal Government as Minister for Communications and later for all German questions. Before his death in 1970 he published an autobiography in which … [he did not refer] … to his warnings about the Final Solution…”
Maybe Lemmer just forgot about them. What the hell, eh? Maybe there was some other reason. But Laqueur, a real academic bloodhound, stays on the trail. It may not be a real trail, but he keeps doing what he’s doing.
What other leads existed? … The files of the Swiss legation in Berlin had been destroyed… I made a few inquiries in business circles… [in Switzerland ] … and found them not always helpful… I located a Nathan Schwalb in Switzerland ; he had kept in touch with Jewish youth organizations all over occupied Europe during the war, and his correspondence of those years is thought to be a most important historical source. Unfortunately it is not yet accessible to historians…
One day in New York I told the head of a Jewish institution about my search. He put me in touch with his father-in-law in Miami , Dr. Julius Kuehl ¼ . During the war he was assistant to Alexander Lados, the Polish diplomatic envoy in Berne , and he also played ping-pong with Monsignor Bernardini … but about the industrialist he knew nothing.
Here Laqueur devotes hundreds of words to the fascinating career of an American, Sam Woods, but his preoccupation with Sam Woods seems to be of “no help in my search for the industrialist.”
One item in Riegner’s account had bothered me from the beginning. The industrialist was said to have employed 30,000 workers in his factory. This was not possible. There were few enterprises of that magnitude in the country.
Laqueur follows with a discussion of a number of other industrialists and concludes:
In short…(the industrialist)… could have been almost anyone. And if, as it seemed, he had kept silent after the war, I would probably never find him.
Then it occurred to me that there had been yet another man, whom I had forgotten; the original go-between with Sagalowitz. Who was he and why had he kept silent? (…) in the course of my search I came across a little book which seemed at first unpromising.
The author, Sergeant Mueller, was a noncommissioned officer in Swiss army intelligence… Twenty years after the war, Sergeant Mueller published his recollections… Certain embellishments and exaggerations apart, the book seemed authentic. It seemed likely that Sergeant Mueller had been in touch with my industrialist.
Laqueur found out that Mueller’s name was really Dr. Johann Conrad Meyer. Meyer had been the economic correspondent for a Berlin newspaper until March 1940, and was associated with a bogus corporate enterprise “established by the Rote Kapelle (“Red Orchestra”) during the war in Paris and Brussels as a cover for its activities.
The Rote Kapelle did not engage in music but was the most important Soviet spy ring in Europe during World War II. Dr. Meyer, I was told, had confirmed in conversation that some of his informants had also been in contact with the Rote Kapelle. Meyer himself, I learned from another source, had been in touch with Alexander Rado and Otto Puender, who had been running the Soviet intelligence network in Switzerland during the war. These were interesting new perspectives, in effect writing off Dr. Johann Conrad Meyer.
It looks like Laqueur is going to have to give up his search for the notorious but unidentifiable “industrialist.” So he begins to try to “imagine” what kind of a man the industrialist would have been if only he had existed and Laqueur could have found him. He half-heartedly discusses the case of the “Schoellers
… though they did not contact Sagalowitz, I have been assured.” Then there were the von Selves where it was “possible” that it was with one of the members of this family that the message which reached Sagalowitz had originated.
There were still more leads to follow, each weaker than the one before: the “ascona” connection… the case of Edmund Dtinnes… and finally one connection which bears further exploration concerns a family which represented the leading international fat and oil trust in Germany… Much evidence points in the direction of one or another of these people. But it cannot be proved beyond a doubt for, to the best of my knowledge, all the potential informants are now dead, and none confided in me.
So there I was at the bar in The Hamlet in a rum haze reading Commentary , the primary neo-conservative, Jewish, Holocaust promoting journal in North America about the “mysterious messenger” who revealed the existence of the extermination gas chambers to the world and there was nothing there. Nothing. I’d been drinking for eight hours, I could hardly find my way from the bar to the men’s room and back to the bar again, but it was coming through to me very clearly that nobody knew anything whatever about the “mysterious stranger,” who provided the “first authentic information about Hitler’s decision to destroy European Jewry.” Nothing. If a revisionist had published a paper as empty as this one it would have been laughed out of town.
It looked comic to me. Maybe it was the booze. It hadn’t even occurred to Professor Walter Laqueur, Chairman of the Research Council of Georgetown University’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, and renowned holocaust scholar, that just maybe he and his friends were being had by an agent of the World Jewish Congress, Mr. Gerhart Riegner. Laqueur went into the story a true believer, and after an immense effort of burrowing around he didn’t find zip, but he came out as he went in – a true believer. A man of conviction.
While I was paying my bar bill a wonderful research idea for Professor Laqueur came to me. He had found one authentic lead during all his scurrying around but hadn’t followed it up. Dr. Johann Conrad Meyer and the role of the Rote Kapelle, the most important Soviet spy ring in Europe during World War II, and its role in the camps. And Meyers relationship with Alexander Rado and Otto Purender who ran the Soviet intelligence network in Switzerland .
For while it is well known of course that there was very little communication between European Jews and Soviet communists before the war, despite anti-Semitic charges that there were, and while it’s hardly believable that the Soviets under Stalin would create false intelligence to support their own cause, and while communists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, had no influence inside the German concentration camps, it came to me that Laqueur should have taken a look down that rat hole. With a little luck he might have discovered the real skinny on World Jewish Congress agent Gerhart Riegner, and on top of that maybe the “first authentic information” about the factories run by a mysterious industrialist where Germans manufactured soap from the cooked cadavers of exterminated Jews.
There have been hundreds of academics and agents for the Holocaust lobby burrowing their way through the Holocaust story for decades trying to come up with something on their “industrialist” but they had failed. Being true believers, they don’t need hard information on about the unproven “evidence” provided by their unknown industrialist. Belief and their attachment to their belief will do just fine. Belief has its own rewards, particularly when it comes to the Holocaust story.
It had been a hell of a day. McCalden and Marcellus, the rum, the “industrialist” and Professor Walter Laqueur. An almost perfect mix. One that encourages a man like me to go on following his nose against the sound advice of the academics, the intellectual classes generally, and everyone who knows me and wishes me well.
A couple days later I was eating lunch in Malibu beneath the tree in the little courtyard behind Jim’s health-food store. The sky was blue and sunny. The air was wonderful. In the Examiner I came across a story reporting how two neuroscientists have found a “negative brain wave, which shows up when something doesn’t make sense.” The negative wave shows up only when a person does a mental “double take” as with an inappropriate or incongruous thought. It also appears when a sentence begins with one thought but ends with another.
The two neuroscientists, Hillyard and Kutas, call their new brain wave “n400”. I think my own brain must have been bombarded with n400′s when I first read the article by Faurisson denying that the Nazis used gas chambers to murder Jews. No gas chambers? When my mental apparatus clanked to a halt that night, it must have been because of the storm of n400s that was bombarding it. It happened again and again during those first few weeks. The night I was at the Hamlet bar with Commentary and Professor Walter Laqueur, however, the n400s were unable to get through. I’d beaten them. There was no proof of the existence of a German plan to murder the Jews of Europe.