(Originally published February 1, 2007)
The majority of Holocaust revisionists claim to be neither Nazis nor fascists. They believe that history has been misreported, and they urge us to entertain the concept that, even if they were Nazis or fascists, they could still be right about history being wrong.
Revisionists differ, but the major articles of faith are: a) the Nazis never planned to exterminate the Jews of Europe, but merely to remove them elsewhere, and b) gas chambers never existed.
They are called “Holocaust deniers,” but this is inaccurate because in actuality, very few deny the Holocaust in the sense of saying that nothing whatsoever happened. Most admit that the European Jews suffered a very real catastrophe. Those who are skeptical about the commonly accepted Holocaust story in its entirety, nevertheless admit that Germany and its allies committed atrocities against the Jews. They admit that many died from disease, malnutrition, shooting, etc. but the total number of Jewish deaths from all causes was as low as 200,000, or one million at the most.
What Kind of Monsters Would Spread These Lies?
Revisionists seem to all have little quirks which mitigate against the formation of a stereotype. There are Jewish revisionists and gay ones, and even Scientologists. There is a vegan who used to be a hippie anti-war activist student organizer. There is a Jewish publisher of revisionist material, and a man who has been known to attend bar mitzvahs on account of his Jewish former wife. There is a revisionist with a Mexican spouse, and another who was married to a Puerto Rican. There is a revisionist who was decorated by the French government for his Resistance activities. And one who takes beautiful nature photos, and there’s an aficionado of B movies.
Most un-stereotypical of all, there is Ernst Zundel, an artist who has sold over 700 paintings, 80% of them to Jews. Do these collectors buy his work because of his anti-Semitic identity? Are they aware of “who he is”? Do they actually enjoy the art and hang it on their walls? Or do they buy his work simply to burn it, like the person who purchased the oeuvre of mass murderer John Wayne Gacy?
Revisionists don’t stick together very much. Similar to poets at an open reading, they have to show up and listen to each other because few others will, but they don’t have to like it. Each is certain in his heart that he is the only true poet, and the rest mere poseurs. Like poets, each revisionist feels that his own version of reality is the only true one that explains everything. When critique time comes around, some un-brotherly words are heard.
Life is strange, and one of the strangest things about it is how people who aren’t Politically Correct are quite often fun, interesting, generous, helpful and nice.
And this works both ways: the members of the PC corps range from “not my favorite person” to “totally humorless pain in the butt.” An example is the Donahue show featuring Bradley Smith and David Cole. Smith, as usual, comes across as a soft-spoken reasonable fellow. Cole comes across as exceedingly well-informed and intelligent, though a bit hyper, and understandably frustrated by the constant interruptions. Saint Phil comes across as a pompous windbag and a flaming asshole.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Hippest One of All?
The self-image held by revisionists tends to portray them as members of the genius fringe, among the eccentrics and heretics who later turn out to have been right all along. They place themselves in the company of Copernicus, Galileo, Socrates, even Christ, as prophets reviled during their lifetimes and gloriously vindicated by history.
It’s Pariah Time Again
George Will looked at some revisionist literature and characterized it as full of “dizzying non sequiturs and mock-scientific analyses of a sort concocted only by lunatics or sinister cynics.” Revisionists get called all kinds of names, particularly if they are Jewish. All the armchair psychoanalysts leap to explain in Freudian jargon just how fucked-up they are.
Bradley Smith’s description of the revisionist’s life mentions “the lack of a regular income, the hostility and contempt of almost everyone in the society, the loss of old and even lifelong friends, the feeling of alienation that is irreparable, the threat of violence that’s always in the background …….”
Many revisionists profess to be hurt by the ad hominem arguments favored by their critics. They especially dislike having people dwell on their motives for being revisionists, rather than looking at the research and evidence on their own merits.
They resent the vicious personal attacks, the dirty politically incorrect names they are called, like anti-Semitic, racist or neo-Nazi. Well if they’re not any of these things, why do they want to associate with people who actually are, and provide them with ammunition? Tell you what, some revisionists do a damn good imitation of anti-Semitic racist neo-Nazis!
Here we have an uninhibited Canadian neo-Nazi of whom a fellow revisionist says, “I would never want to live in a world run by Zundel.” He came into prominence through reissuing a British pamphlet called “Did Six Million Really Die?” When brought to justice for the crime of “publishing false news,” he carried a large wooden cross to the courthouse. This got him on the front page of seven Canadian newspapers which can’t resist a good photo op. His conviction was later overturned.
More notoriety followed when his publishing house introduced the Leuchter Report to a waiting world. Zundel is said to mail out hundreds of parcels a week containing pamphlets, newsletters, books, audio tapes and dozens of different video tapes. He has a TV show that plays on public access television wherever his supporters can arrange for it. He once told an interviewer that his activities are in some respects like operating a church. The ability to procure a lot of media attention and to elicit donations from believers are important facets of the mission.
Holocaust studies cover a lot of territory, a lot of facts, and it’s inaccurate and unfair to assert that everyone troubled by questions is a fiendish Jew-hater. It’s especially unfair, not to mention insulting, to Jews who have supported revisionism to one degree or another, such as Joseph Burg, who testified as a defense witness during Zundel’s second trial in Toronto in 1988.
Zundel has some questionable ideas, for instance that German skinhead youths are “totally apolitical”. According to him, they just hang out and look menacing for photographers in order to make their beer and cigarette money. Harmless and kind of cute, like hippies in the Haight.
Zundel sees Hilter as sort of a Jim Jones type, a sincere altruist who started out on the right track but lived too long. “Hitler’s contribution to mankind, if he had died in 1939, would be as one of the great statesmen of the 20th century,” he says. Another revisionist notes that no wonder he has trouble being taken seriously, as would anyone who regards “a dictator and a militarist as the misunderstood hero of the age.”
Extracted from Salon: A Journal of Aesthetics, Issue #22, published in 1994. Titled “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Holocaust Revisionism But Were Afraid To Ask,” this issue was named “Editor’s Choice” by Factsheet Five.
The entire text, and some of the artwork, is available as a Word document on a CD for $10. Write hartman at frii dot com, after changing it into an e-mail address.