The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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From: (Will Dockery)
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Subject: An Open Letter to Holocaust Revisionists
Date: 11 Dec 2002 15:47:37 -0800
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March 20, 1995

An Open Letter to Holocaust Revisionists
In Response to W.D. Brockschmidt's "Open Letter to Michael Shermer" in the
Newsletter of the Adelaide Institute, 27 January, 1995. This letter is for

Dear Mr. Brockschmidt and Holocaust Revisionists:

1. A Rational Response. Although I have received hundreds of letters from
revisionists, Mr. Brockschmidt is the first person to produce a
point-by-point analysis of my essay. A few revisionists focused on one point
or another, but most of them just attacked me personally, precisely what they
claimed traditional historians were doing to them. Ironic, uh? (See the
letters sections of the subsequent issues of Skeptic after Vol. 2, #4.)
Revisionists claim to want an open debate about the Holocaust, but I suspect
otherwise. We gave revisionists an open debate (the longest article ever
published in Skeptic), and offered virtually unlimited letters-to-the-editor
space, but no one has taken us up on the challenge. Before going to press I
even went so far as to read to Mark Weber what I wrote about him and the IHR
so that there could be no misunderstanding of their claims. Who has ever done
    What revisionists want, I suspect, is not an open debate, but agreement
with their position. David Cole, one of the most knowledgeable and brightest
of all the revisionists I interviewed, had an entire lecture at the last IHR
conference in which he could have taken on my arguments point-by-point.
Instead, what did he do? He spent a full hour attacking me personally,
alleging that I was using the revisionists to sell magazines; that I was
filtering money from Skeptic magazine to support my cycling activities; that
I had no integrity; that I was dishonest; and all manner of slanderous
statements. Cole even foolishly confessed to secretly recording a phone
conversation we had (illegal in California and subject to a $10,000 fine and
six months in jail), threatening to use it to "expose" me. Yet not one
comment on my analysis. Mark Weber, whose knowledge of the Holocaust far
surpasses my own and whose understanding of World War II is formidable, has
been promising a proper rebuttal for 8 months now but has not produced. I made
the same offer to David Irving. (Like me, however, Weber has a magazine to
get out and Irving another book, so I do not read too much into this fact.)

2. David Irving. Irving's account of his surprise visit to a Deborah Lipstadt
lecture was somewhat amusing since I too have experienced the sharp end of
Lipstadt's rapier for my appearance on the Donahue show with David Cole and
Bradley Smith. She claimed (almost hysterically) that one should not honor
revisionists with a response. Three days later she was on 60 Minutes with
none other than Ernst Zundel and Mark Weber!
    But I cannot support Irving's actions. He did not go to a Deborah
Lipstadt lecture for an intellectual discussion; he went there to stir things
up, something revisionists seem to be fond of doing (some would call this Jew
baiting). These are sophomoric actions unbecoming to a historian of Irving's
abilities. Having now ploughed my way through Hitler's War and Goring (c.
1,200 pages), Irving is obviously a first rate documentarian and narrative
historian. But I think he is not a good theoretician and does a lot of
selective quoting to support his bias. First it was Hitler who was unaware of
the Holocaust. Then it was Goring. Who's next, Himmler? I suspect it will be
whomever it is Irving is writing on, so his next tome on Goebbels should be
interesting. If he can exonerate Goebbels, Irving can take pride of place as
the world's greatest revisionist. As I illustrated in my brief analysis in
Skeptic (and as Irving also demonstrated so thoroughly in Hitler's War and
Goring in his exoneration of these two on the Holocaust), we have Goebbels
dead to rights on the Holocaust. Thus, I am surprised he would hand out free
copies of Goring to Lipstadt's students so they could see "which of us is
lying." What? If there was no plan to exterminate the Jews, then what will
these students make of page 238, when Irving writes:
   Emigration was only one possibility that Goring foresaw. "The second is as
   follows," he said in November 1938, selecting his words with uncharacteristic
   care. "If at any foreseeable time in the future the German Reich finds itself
   in a foreign political conflict, then it is self-evident that we in Germany
   will address ourselves first and foremost to effecting a grand settling of
   scores against the Jews."
Since Irving told me that emigration is all the Nazis ever meant by
"ausrotten" and the Final Solution, then just what did Goring mean by the
second plan? And what will these students think when they get to page 343,
when Irving writes:
   History now teaches that a significant proportion of those
   deported-particularly those too young or infirm to work-were being brutally
   disposed of on arrival. The surviving documents provide no proof that these
   killings were systematic; they yield no explicit orders from "above," and the
   massacres themselves were carried out by the local Nazis (by no means all of
   them German) upon whom the deported Jews had been dumped. That they were ad
   hoc extermination operations is suggested by such exasperated outbursts as
   that of Governor-General Hans Frank at a Cracow conference on December 16,
   1941: "I have started negotiations with the aim of sweeping them [further] to
   the east. In January there is to be a big conference in Berlin on this
   problem . . . under SS Obergruppenfuhrer Heydrich [the "Wannsee Conference"
   of January 20, 1942]. At any rate a big Jewish exodus will begin . . . . But
   what's to become of the Jews? Do you imagine they're going to be housed in
   neat estates in the Baltic provinces? In Berlin they tell us: What's bugging
   you-we've got no use for them either, liquidate them yourselves!"
"Berlin," says Irving, "more likely meant the party-or Himmler, Heydrich, and
the SS." The above passage is Irving's translation and interpretation, quoted
verbatim from Goring, but I fail to see how this can be interpreted to
support an "ad hoc" interpretation of nonsystematic killings with no order
from above. This passage, in conjunction with many others (reproduced in
Skeptic), sounds to me like the killings were very much systematic, the
orders did come-directly or tacitly-from above, and that the only thing ad
hoc about the process was the long term development of the Final Solution (I
take the functionalist theory on this count, not the intentionalist). This is
precisely what I mean by Irving's difficulties with theory. Finally, what can
"liquidate" possibly mean other than exactly what Holocaust historians have
always said that it means?
   It is too bad about David Irving. As they say in boxing, he coulda' been a
contenda. Unfortunately, Irving has had to earn a living by lecturing and
selling books (a difficult challenge for any author), and the more he revises
the Holocaust the more books he sells and lecture invitations he receives
from revisionist and right-wing groups. He has been slipping more and more
into revisionism not, I believe, because the historical evidence has taken
him there, but because he has found a home. The mainstream academy has
rejected him so he has created a niche on the margins. Lipstadt is wrong to
say that Irving is "not really a historian," or that he is "not a respectable
historian" (if Irving is quoting her correctly here). One must be more
specific. By definition Irving most certainly is a historian, more than many
historians in the academy. In my opinion, however, he is not a good
theoretical historian and this causes him to make many interpretive mistakes,
some of which I noted in my article, to which he has yet to respond.
 3. Motives. In a section in the Adelaide publication entitled "From Doubt to
Scepticism," someone (no by-line) claims that I am "a deeply religious person
for whom the Holocaust has become an Ersatz-religion, as is so often the case
with self-professed disbelievers." This is a very interesting psychological
analysis but one that I do not think quite applies since I have no vested
interest in the status quo Holocaust story as it is normally understood. I am
not Jewish; I have no Jewish relatives that I know of; and I do not know of
anyone connected to my family in any way who lost someone in the Holocaust.
I'm not going to lose my job at Skeptic, since I am the owner of the
magazine. And I am willing to change my beliefs about the Holocaust should
the evidence support such a change. Indeed, before I began to study the
Holocaust in order to test the claims of Holocaust revisionists, I believed
in the human soap and lampshade stories, that 4 million died at Auschwitz,
that Dachau was an extermination camp, that Hitler directly ordered the
genocide in writing, that 6 million was a firm number, etc. I have already
"revised" my beliefs about the Holocaust considerably and am willing to
continue to do so should the evidence compel me.
 4. Associationist Fallacy. Regarding the violence of the Bolshevik
Revolution, agreed, it led to one of the greatest Holocausts in history as
Lenin and Stalin exterminated tens of millions of people. But it does not
matter if 545 out of 545 members of Lenin's Petrograd government were Jewish,
the Bolshevik Revolution was not about Judaism, it was about Communism; it
was not about a religious takeover of the world, but a political takeover of
the world. If you want to worry about a group trying to dominate the world
with their religion, the Jews are the least of your worries, given their tiny
numbers. The Muslims or Catholics should be atop your list, if that is your
criteria. And if it's unevenly distributed money and power you are concerned
about, you better look closely at such groups as the Church of Scientology or
the Christian Fundamentalist Right.
 5. Consilience of Inductions. As for aerial photographs, gas chamber
blueprints, Zyklon-B traces, crematoria figures, and total numbers killed, I
never claimed that any one of these by themselves "proves" the Holocaust. In
fact, the entire point of my essay was quite the opposite. My essay was
entitled "Proving the Holocaust" for an important reason. The essay was
really about historical "proof" and as such was a theoretical analysis. I am
really more of a theoretician and philosopher of history than I am a
narrative historian. For this analysis I borrowed from the 19th-century
British philosopher of science, William Whewell, his idea of the "consilience
of inductions," or the "convergence of evidence." The study of evolution is a
historical science. No single fossil proves evolution. But there is a
consilience or convergence of evidence from paleontology, geology, botany,
zoology, physiology, anatomy, etc., all of which leads to a proof of
evolution. The same is true of the science of human history. No single
"fossil" of evidence proves a historical event, including the Holocaust. But
there is a consilience of eyewitness testimony, letters, speechs, memos,
orders, traces, blueprints, etc, that leads to a proof of the Holocaust. In
my analysis I demonstrated how these "fossils" converged to the conclusion
that the Holocaust happened.
   I have not received a single phone call or letter from anyone, revisionist
or historian, that indicates an awareness of what I was doing in this essay.
I take this to mean that I did not make it clear enough, which I am
attempting to do in this letter. You are wasting your time nitpicking at
these various single pieces of evidence. I will grant you that there are
serious problems with some individual eyewitness accounts; that there is no
written order from Hitler; that there is no blueprint that says "in this room
we kill Jews;" that the crematoria could never have burned so many bodies;
that the 6 million figure is symbolic and the real figure has been changing,
etc. The reason that no single piece of evidence can either prove or disprove
the Holocaust is that the Holocaust was not a single event. It was 10,000
events that took place in 10,000 places that is proved through 10,000 bits of
evidence, no one of which stands alone. As Whewell stated in his The
Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1840): "Accordingly the cases in which
inductions from classes of facts altogether different have thus jumped
together, belong only to the best established theories which the history of
science contains" (p. 230). The Holocaust is a well-established theory
because of this consilience.
   Through the theory of consilience I have not only demonstrated how the
Holocaust can be proved, but how any historical event can be proved. In order
to prove that the Holocaust did not happen, a revisionist (hint, hint,
Messrs. Weber, Cole, or Irving) will have to show that the consilience of
inductions method is either philosophically fallacious in general, or
misinterpreted in the case of the Holocaust in particular. This will require
revisionists to go beyond the limited scope of narrative history, to become
theoretical. I will be curious to see if anyone is up to the challenge.
   Case in point: Mr. Brockschmidt was "very surprised" that I "did not
mention the work of the 'Pope of Revisionism', Robert Faurisson." I met
Robert Faurisson at the IHR conference in Irvine. He invited me to his room
for a private discussion of my article. Since Faurisson's speciality is
linguistic analysis I thought that perhaps his mind might take a
philosophical turn. In his room Faurisson announced that he spent less than
one minute reading my article because he only had to look at the pictures to
see that I had not proven the Holocaust. Why? Because I did not have a
picture of a homicidal gas chamber. Then he alternated a rhetorical demand
that I show him "just one proof" of the Holocaust, with the unpleasant
gesture of leaning forward in his chair and jabbing his finger toward my
face, a tactic, I suspect, intended to provoke me, as he had just done days
before to the Director of Research at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
   Of course, in order to offer "just one proof," one first must be able to
define what constitutes proof. So I turned his tactic against him by asking:
"Can you tell me how you define proof, or what constitutes proof with regards
to the Holocaust?" His response, over and over to my inquiry, was, in his
inimitable French accent: "No, no, I ask you for proof." The more I asked him
for his definition of proof, the more in my face he got, repeating over and
over, "No, no, I ask you for proof." He didn't get it. A historical event is
not proved through one artifact. I was thoroughly unimpressed with Pope
Faurisson. The bottom line is this: if you really want "to go from political
correctness to historical correctness," as Mr. Brockschmidt claims, begin
with this question: what constitutes proof in history? The rest should
 6. Jewish Obsession. I say the rest should follow. Facts should follow from
theory unless one's bias is overwhelming. Which brings me to my final point.
What is it with you revisionists and the Jews? You all proclaim that that you
are not anti-Semitic and you scream bloody murder whenever anyone accuses you
of such a motive. Yet your collective actions and words speak otherwise
(okay, Mr. Cole, you are an exception here). Just read the letters
self-proclaimed revisionists have been sending me in response to our analysis
of Holocaust revisionism, the fairest ever written about the movement:
assuming I must be Jewish because of my name; claiming we are part of a
Jewish Cabal; saying Skeptic is part of a Zionist Plot; calling Skeptic the
"Jewish Propaganda Quarterly;" cartoon characterizations of Jews; photos of
Schindler's List in a toilet; and these are just what revisionists have sent
me. Your own magazines, newsletters, flyers, and literature are filled with
diatribes against the Jews, featuring articles in every revisionist
publication about "the Jews," what "the Jews" are doing, how "the Jews" are
controlling the media, etc. You howl about the ADL and JDL being obsessed
with everything Jewish. What do you expect? They are Jewish organizations. Or
you cry about how defensive they are. Well, if you had an organization like
the IHR criticizing your every move and publishing it, wouldn't you get a
little defensive? And, I will point out, since you are obsessed with the ADL
and JDL and other Jewish organizations, what does that make you? That's
right, obsessed with everything Jewish. You are no different from the ADL and
JDL. Is this how you want to be perceived?
   Why don't you lay off the Jews? Give them a break. They have been
persecuted for thousands of years. Why don't you try doing something
different from what everyone else has been doing for millennia? Why not
admire the Jews for their accomplishments? No group in history can claim
greater persecution, yet has any group been so successful in pulling
themselves up by their bootstraps? "Oh," you say, "the Jews stick together.
They are a tribe." Well, if you were a minority persecuted for thousands of
years, would you not perhaps respond by "sticking together?" What's wrong
with that? It's no skin off your back. Let them have their museums  and their
businesses. So what? Instead of trying to tear down what they build, why
don't you try building something yourself? If you cannot admire hard work,
then why not try a little of it yourself on something constructive? In other
words, get a life.

Addendum to "Open Letter to Holocaust Revisionists"
& Letter to the Editor, Journal of Historical Review

For Publication

The Journal of Historical Review is to be congratulated for having the
courage to publish David Irving's essay on "Revelations From Goebbels' Diary"
(Vol. 15, #1), even though it provides incontrovertible evidence to
contradict the revisionists' conclusion that the Nazis did not intentionally
liquidate Jews. I quote from Irving's translation from Goebbels diary, March
27, 1942 (pp. 16-17):
"Beginning with Lublin the Jews are now being deported eastward from the
General Government. The procedure is pretty barbaric and one that beggars
description, and there's not much left of the Jews. Broadly speaking one can
probably say that 60 percent of them will have to be liquidated, while only
40 percent can be put to work."
Okay, let's do a simple calculation. According to Irving (p. 16), there were
11 million Jews left in Europe at this time. 11 million Jews x 60%
liquidation = 6.6 million liquidated Jews. Um, where have I seen a figure
like this before?
   This article provides additional data to my conclusion in my "Open Letter
to Holocaust Revisionists," that David Irving is an outstanding documentarian
and narrative historian, but leaves much to be desired as a theoretical or
interpretive historian. The article was interesting, informative, and
well-written, but Irving's interpretation of the above passage is startling
to say the least (p. 17):
"All he's actually saying here is that the Jews are having a pretty rigorous
time. They're being deported, it's happening in a systematic way, and not
many of them are going to survive it."
   Say what?? A "rigorous time?" "Deported?" This has to be the most
conservative interpretation of the word "liquidate" I have ever read. And
what does Mr. Irving say about this Goebbels' entry two days later?:
"So what if Jews are being machine-gunned into pits? They had it coming to
them. They declared war on us, and this is no time for sympathy and
   Irving admits "that's the way he may well have looked at it," since the
British had just bombed Lubeck. Right. Goebbels looked at what? I thought
revisionists claimed that Jews only died of starvation and disease?
"Machine-gunned into pits" sounds rather intentional to me, unless you think
it was some sort of accident. I can hear the revisionist interpretation now:
"The pit was already there for a mass latrine; Jews happened to be lined up
in front of it relieving themselves; a Nazi machine-gun set up to protect
these Jews from Russian snipers accidentally went off and into the pit they
   Sorry to sound so sarcastic, but this is about the quality of many
revisionist interpretations. Again, it is too bad about David Irving. The
question this begs is: what else has he misinterpreted? Why does Irving feel
the need to so obviously misinterpret such passages? To attract revisionists?
To stir up controversy? I just cannot imagine he really thinks this is what
Goebbels meant. Please elaborate Mr. Irving (or any other revisionists). I
really am curious.

Final point: David Irving has apparently put up $1,000.00 to anyone who can
provide him proof of homicidal gas chambers. I believe I can do so but I know
how these things usually go: Once the proof is provided the person says that
does not count as proof. So . . . could Mr. Irving or any other revisionist
please tell me what constitutes proof of homicidal gas chambers, short of a
gas chamber with a large sign hanging on the wall that says: "Here we gassed
Jews to death."

Michael Shermer, Publisher, Skeptic magazine.

(For a copy of the Skeptic magazine on Holocaust revisionism, and/or the
subsequent two issues featuring letters of response, send $5.95 + $6.00
shipping and handling for air mail to Australia, $3.00 in the U.S., to: P.O.
Box 338, Altadena, CA 91001. Visa or Mastercard accepted.)


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