The Holocaust Story

If the Holocaust was an event in history, it should be open to the routine critical examination to which all other historical events are open. Those who feel it right to argue against the “unique monstrosity” of the Germans should be free to do so. No one should be imprisoned for thought crimes. Contrary to how Hollywood and the Israeli-Firsters have it, the Holocaust story is not about Jews. It’s about Jews and Germans together, inseparable, for all time to come.

Friday, November 25, 2005

David Irving and Holocaust 'Denial'

As November 2005 rolls to a close, David Irving, renowned historian of the Second World War sits behind bars in an Austrian prison. Prosecutors charged Irving with denying the Holocaust. In Austria, this thoughtcrime comes with a 10-year prison sentence if convicted.

The first question one must ask is what exactly is "Holocaust Denial?" This may seem like a simple question at first, but the answer is more complex than you might think. To arrive at an answer we must first consider the question of what is a Holocaust revisionist? Years ago in his article, "Revisionism and the Promotion of Peace," Harry Elmer Barnes defined historical revisionism as follows, "Revisionism means nothing more or less than the effort to correct the historical record in the light of a more complete collection of historical facts, a more calm political atmosphere, and a more objective attitude." Therefore if we apply Barnes definition to the subset of Historical Revisionism known as Holocaust Revisionism we see that it is merely an attempt to correct the historical record about the Holocaust.

With a broad definition many people can be classified as Holocaust revisionists including Princeton Professor Arno Mayer, Pat Buchanan and others. However, even within the community of those who consider themselves Holocaust revisionists, the definition is more specific. It generally includes only those who believe that fewer than six million Jews perished at this time and even more specifically that the Nazis did not kill Jews or others in Gas Chambers. It is this latter point which tends to define whether someone is part of the revisionist community or not. Therefore if you have given up your belief in Nazi Gas Chambers, you are a Holocaust revisionist -- if you still believe in this early day Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD), you are not.

By the 1990's with the successes of Holocaust revisionism, the anti-revisionists coined a negative term to define the revisionists, this was "Holocaust Deniers." This term comes with much baggage and confusion on both sides of the debate. Some revisionists have missed the point and even accepted this term. Their thought process is that they do not believe in Nazi Gas Chambers and therefore they "deny" their existence, thus they are Holocaust "deniers." They don't see anything wrong with the term. Among the anti-revisionists, Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman miss the mark in their "Denying History," when they write, " According to this widely accepted definition of the Holocaust, so-called Holocaust revisionists are in effect denying the Holocaust, since they deny its three key components- the killing of the six million, gas chambers, and intentionality."

It is Deborah Lipstadt, who I belive deserves the credit for properly defining "Holocaust Denial." It is Lipstadts viewpoint which is the prevailing perspective. Lipstadt uses the term in her "Denying the Holocaust" in one of the popularly accepted definitions of "denial." That is to say (according to Webster's) that "denial" can mean "refusing to believe, accept , or embrace; as a denial of the faith or the truth." Lipstadt writes, "The attempt to deny the Holocaust enlists a basic strategy of distortion. Truth is mixed with absolute lies, confusing readers who are unfamiliar with the tactics of deniers. Half-truths and story segments, which conveniently avoid critical information, leave the listener with a distorted impression of what really happened." Lipstadt goes on to explain that her book is an effort to "demonstrate how the deniers use this methodology to shroud their true objectives." She later explains that Holocaust "denial" is "intimately connected to a neofascist political agenda."

In an article entitled, "Denying the Revisionists" Richard Widmann commented, "For Lipstadt, “deniers” are not those who express doubts about some element of the Holocaust story but those who actually believe the orthodox story in all its gruesome details. The “deniers” purposefully distort materials and even “lie” in order to support their ideology. At various times Lipstadt defines that ideology in varying terms but the net result is always the same, "they are fascists and antisemites with a specific ideological and political agenda.”

It is in the spirit of Lipstadt's definition, that so many countries of Europe (including of course Austria) have created anti-Holocaust-denial laws. The argument would be that the "deniers" believe in the Holocaust and the specifics including Nazi Gas Chambers used for extermination, but purposefully lie about these to "white wash" Nazi Germany in order to legitmize and resurrect the Nazi party. As absurd as this logic is, it is exactly this point which returns us to the Kafkaesque imprisionment of David Irving.

Irving is charged with "denying the Holocaust." The charges stem from two speeches which Irving gave in 1989 (whatever happened to a statute of limitations?). During these speeches he allegedly "denied the existence of the gas chambers." Therefore, remember, in the anti-revisionists mindset this means that Irving in fact believed in the extermination gas chambers but lied about them for ulterior purposes. Today however, according to Irving's attorney, Irving claims that he believes that Nazi gas chambers existed! Irving is reported to have said, "Look, there was a certain period when I drew conclusions from individual sources which are maybe provocative or could be misinterpreted or could be even wrong."

So it is clear, that if Irving believes in Nazi gas chambers, that he can't be "denying" them for any ulterior motive. However, now Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center has come out and announced "It is an admission designed to extricate himself from imprisonment and in no way truly reflects his views." The Austrian thought-police should think this over carefully. For if Irving admits that Nazi Gas Chambers existed, he cannot be charged with denying their existence. But if Mr. Zuroff is correct and Irving is lying when he says that the gas chambers existed, and in fact believes that they did NOT exist, then too, he is not a Holocaust "denier" by Lipstadt's definition.

If this reasoning is unclear, consider the opposite. How can Irving be proven not guilty? If he says he believes in the Nazi gas chambers, he is lying and needs to be imprisoned. Alternatively if he says he does not believe in the Nazi gas chambers, he is lying and needs to be imprisoned. Like the witch-trials of the 17th century, the verdict is already in. The real question is, will we stand by and do nothing while the fire is lit and our freedoms are exterminated in the flames of political correctness?

4 Comments:

  • At 3:48 PM, Blogger Bradley R. Smith said…

    My sense of things is that we should ask if the American professorial class, as a class, will stand by and do nothing -- that is, act out the role of "bystanders" as intellectual freedom and the right to free inquiry become criminalized by one Western State after another.

     
  • At 4:49 PM, Anonymous A.S. Marques said…

    *********
    As November 2005 rolls to a close, David Irving, renowned historian of the Second World War sits behind bars in an Austrian prison. Prosecutors charged Irving with denying the Holocaust. In Austria, this thoughtcrime comes with a 10-year prison sentence if convicted.

    The first question one must ask is what exactly is "Holocaust Denial?" This may seem like a simple question at first, but the answer is more complex than you might think.
    *********


    No, it isn't. Defining "Holocaust denial" is very simple because the "Holocaust", i.e. the name that was given to a set of pseudo-historical events, is indeed conceptual propaganda-like simplicity itself. The "Holocaust" (where have you been for the last 50 years or so?!) is the purported attempt at exterminating the Jews, resulting in approximately 6 million of them being murdered, many of them in German homicidal gas chambers.

    If you believe, as I think we both do, that no attempt at exterminating the Jews was made, with the total figure for the Jewish victims of the concentration camps, in all probability, below the half-million mark, most of them dead from typhus and other diseases, not killed as the result of any extermination program, and -- please notice -- none at all in the mass homicidal gas chambers central to the myth, that plainly didn't exist (no confusion should be made with some possible gassings in the euthanasia program for extreme defficients), then one is indeed denying the "Holocaust".

    *********
    To arrive at an answer we must first consider the question of what is a Holocaust revisionist?
    *********


    But why redefining things? In order to confuse the issues? Redefining things in order to always preserve some special signification to a gigantic lie, should not be the business of those engaged in the debunking of the lie itself. I agree accepting and encouraging the implicit religious-like fog in debate would be much more comfortable for the personal lives of those who insist in investigating the facts, but what would be better for the truth itself?

    Will the word "revisionism" do? Of course it will, since constant revision of any presumed facts makes sense, as a historical method. Will "Holocaust denial" do? Of course it also will, in the sense that the extremely well-known and precise facts alluded to, have so far been revealed to be a gigantic hoax.

    But let me tell you what will not do: what will not do is to accept the imposition that one should declare oneself a denier of one's "Holocaust denial" in order to advance the truth. Keep in mind that the "Holocaust" is already a religious concept, not a historical one. Why going along with the inquisitors, other that for the obvious motives?

    I will understand very well the reasons for David Irving, for instance, accepting the "no-denying what you're told" imposition in some sort of attenuated form, while in jail or under direct menace, in order to: 1) regain his freedom, 2) better publicize his own brand of "eppur si muove", once he finds himself in safer surroundings.

    What I don't understand is why will people in relative safety insist in making things easy for the "Holocaust" inquisition, by always trying to save some sort of meaningful "Holocaust", even to the extent of simply making it the new name for the "Jewish experience" no matter what the real contents of that experience may be revealed to have been.

    I don't know why people think "denial" is such a bad word. Maybe it carries a bad meaning in English. It doesn't in most latin languages, including my own, at least. Denying a hoax is a good attitude, not a shameful one.

     
  • At 5:20 AM, Blogger Freeman said…

    Mr. Marques points regarding "denial" are of course acceptable from a matter of definition. What I argue above is that the generally accepted meaning of the term -- which was created by the anti-revisionists is exactly what Deborah Lipstadt put forth. That is that Holocaust deniers deny the Holocaust for ulterior motives. Their objective is dishonest.

    For the general public, there is no outcry against the incarceration of Holocaust "deniers" because of their understanding or belief of what a Holocaust "denier" is. More should have read John Sack's article, "Inside the Bunker" which was published in Esquire magazine back in February of 2001. Sack wrote, "Despite their take on the Holocaust, they were affable, open-minded, intelligent, intellectual. Their eyes weren't fires of unapproachable hate. Nazies and neo-Nazis they didn't seem to be. Nor did they seem anti-Semites." Unfortunately it is not Sack's view which prevails but rather Lipstadt's who noted on page 1 of her "Denying the Holocaust," that Holocaust denial is [...] anti-semitic ideology. I think for most American's "Holocaust denial" suggests that its proponents are either lying to support an anti-Semitic ideology or like an alchoholic are in "denial" of their addiction. That is to say, that the "deniers" are so addicted to an anti-Semitic ideology that they are in "denial" of the crimes perpetrated by the Third Reich.

    It is this emotional baggage associated with the term that makes the term unacceptable. Revisionists are not the two-dimensional cartoon villians that Lipstadt and others have created, but rather as John Sack learned through honest investigation,"affable, open-minded, intelligent, intellectual" human beings. I might add "affable, open-minded, intelligent, intellectual" human beings that don't belong in prison for their viewpoints.

     
  • At 9:01 AM, Anonymous A. S. Marques said…

    *********
    I might add "affable, open-minded, intelligent, intellectual" human beings that don't belong in prison for their viewpoints.
    *********


    No one belongs in prison for "viewpoints", as, of course, you'll agree. Don't worry too much about attributing injustice and abuse to "misundestanding". People who think "deniers" of hoaxes belong to prison deserve to be exposed together with their lies in the strongest of terms. If ordinary folks are ready to join the witchhunters instead of seeking for the truth, there is absolutely nothing one can do, no matter how hard one will try to roll on one's back. The only thing that can possibly be done is to insist in telling the truth, i.e. exposing the lie and the historical, legal and judicial shams around it, and trusting that sooner or later more people will start noticing that tyranny is knocking at the door.

     

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