Follow Up: A Reply to Critics of My Essay
on the Relevance of Holocaust Revisionism

By Mark Weber
Director, Institute for Historical Review

February 13, 2009

My January 7 essay, “How Relevant is Holocaust Revisionism?,” ( http://www.ihr.org/weber_revisionism_jan09.html ) has generated a lot of discussion, including a report in the nationally-distributed Jewish community weekly Forward. It has prompted many messages of praise and support, and, as expected, heated criticism from some in the “revisionist community.”

Critics accuse me of “defeatism,” “surrender,” “betrayal,” and of “abandoning” Holocaust revisionism. Some complain that I've taken a “new position,” or that my article signals a “new direction” for the IHR.

And yet, what I wrote in the essay is not at all new. I've been making the same points for years, both publicly and in private, including in an address, “The IHR and Revisionism: Challenges in the New Century,” at the 14th IHR Conference in June 2002. My recent essay does not represent a “new position” or attitude, nor does it signal a new direction or policy for the IHR. For years the Institute's work has been entirely consistent with what I wrote in my recent essay.

Some critics say that I now regard Holocaust revisionism as irrelevant, unimportant, or a “waste of time.” In fact, I have never said or suggested any such thing. In my recent essay I specifically wrote: “Revisionists have published impressive evidence, including long neglected documents and testimony, that has contributed to a more complete and accurate understanding of an emotion-laden and highly polemicized chapter of history.”

Few Americans have done more than I have – in writing, interviews, courtroom testimony, and so forth – to counter Holocaust lies, distortions and propaganda, or to help set straight the historical record about “the Holocaust” from a critical, revisionist perspective. And as director of the IHR, I have maintained the Institute's position as an important center of Holocaust revisionism.

Some of the most bitter criticisms of my essay have come from individuals who seem to think that the IHR is, or should be, the “Institute for Holocaust Review.” Such persons do not understand the IHR's well-established purpose and mission.

Not long after its founding, the first IHR director explained his vision of the Institute's focus and direction. In the Summer 1980 issue of the IHR Journal, he wrote:

“... On a longer term basis, we need to have Historical Revisionism over a whole range of 20th century events, particularly the lead-in to the world wars. For it is only by understanding the real reasons and real nature of warfare that we will be able to avoid future warfare. Therefore as of the next issue, we will be devoting more of our space to non-'Holocaust' matters than we have done so far. We will cover as wide a range of 20th century events as possible, in order to gain more insight and understanding of the real reasons behind them.”

For years, each issue of the IHR Journal explained that the Institute “upholds and continues the tradition of Historical Revisionism of scholars such as Harry Elmer Barnes, A.J.P. Taylor, Charles Tansill, Paul Rassinier and William H. Chamberlin.” Of these five men, only Rassinier is noted for writings on the Holocaust.

Our mission is also laid out in the “About Us” section of the IHR website: “The Institute for Historical Review works to promote peace, understanding and justice through greater public awareness of the past, and especially socially-politically relevant aspects of twentieth-century history. It strives above all to increase understanding of the causes, nature and consequences of war and conflict.”

Some critics claim that I have “abandoned” Holocaust revisionism because I no longer regard it as an effective propaganda weapon against Israel. In fact, I have always believed that revisionism is important regardless of its relevance to Israel and Zionism.

Holocaust revisionism -- that is, setting straight the historical record about the fate of Europe's Jews during World War II -- is important. Countering Jewish-Zionist power is important. But we should have a clear understanding of the real relation between those two things. As important as Holocaust revisionism has been, I do not think that it's proven very effective in countering Jewish-Zionist power. That's why I wrote that “Holocaust revisionism cannot play a central role” in “the task of exposing and countering” that power.

In my essay I distanced myself from the efforts of “some revisionists” to promote Holocaust revisionism for political purposes. Robert Faurisson, for one, has been emphatic in spelling out a political agenda for revisionism. In a recent interview with an Algerian newspaper ( http://www.globalfire.tv/nj/09en/history/faurisson_echorouk.htm ) he said:

“We all have the means to help in the liberation of Palestine. These means consist in making known to the whole world the findings of revisionist research. All credibility must be taken away from the alleged 'Holocaust,' which has become the number one weapon of Zionism and the State of Israel; this lie is the sword and shield of that State. It would be absurd to try to defend against the Israelis' military armament whilst sparing their number one worldwide propaganda weapon.

“Whoever allows himself to claim that the alleged Nazi gas chambers and the alleged genocide of the Jews are a historical reality is, whether he likes it or not, giving support to a horrid lie that has become the number one war propaganda weapon of the State of Israel, a colonialist, racist and imperialist State. Let whoever has the nerve to support the 'Holocaust' myth look at his hands. His hands are red with the blood of Palestinian children!'.”

In my view, such rhetoric is irresponsible. I do not accept that the hands of Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer, Kevin MacDonald, Norman Finkelstein, Mahathir Mohammed or George Galloway, to name just a few who embrace the familiar Holocaust narrative, are “red with the blood of Palestinian children.”

Some have seized on my essay to rebuke me for my work. These critics do not understand, or do not want to understand, my responsibilities as director of the IHR, or my managerial and administrative duties as president of the Institute's parent corporation. Some complain, for example, that the IHR's Journal of Historical Review is no longer issued, and refuse to accept that publication was halted for compelling financial and personnel reasons.

In that regard, it's worth noting that, through the Internet, the IHR now routinely brings revisionist writings to vastly more people than was ever possible just a few years ago. Each week many more people read IHR Journal articles and reviews posted on our website than ever saw them in their original, printed form.

Some critics are unhappy that the IHR has not been more successful in promoting Holocaust revisionism in society at large. They may look back wistfully on the “good old days” of the late 1980s and early 1990s when Holocaust revisionists were in the news, and making headlines across the country.

During those years Bradley Smith, chairman of the “Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust” (CODOH), was appearing regularly as a guest on radio talk shows, and his work was highlighted in the press and on television. On campus after campus, Smith's CODOH ads provoked enormous publicity, while the resulting furor generated news reports and commentary in newspapers, magazines and television and radio broadcasts across the country.

During the 1991-92 school year, Smith placed advertisements or statements calling for open debate on the Holocaust issue in 17 campus newspapers, including student papers at several major universities. During the 1993-94 school year, his CODOH notice was published, in one form or another, in at least 35 college and university student papers, as well as in one major metropolitan daily. In April 1992 David Cole and I were promoting Holocaust revisionism as guests on the nationally broadcast “Montel Williams” television show, and in March 1994 Smith and Cole were doing the same as guests on the popular “Phil Donahue” television show.

But that was then. In recent years Smith has been much less successful in promoting Holocaust revisionism. Why? Certainly not because he is lazy, incompetent or insincere. It is due to factors beyond his or anyone's control – factors specified in my January 7 essay.

I am pleased that, as I had hoped, my recent essay has generated a vigorous discussion about important issues – issues that we revisionists have too often avoided. My confidence in the validity of what I wrote there has been bolstered by the many messages and telephone calls of support I've received from individuals whose discernment and intelligence I respect, including unexpected praise from noteworthy writers and activists. In some cases, supporters have matched their praise for my essay with new pledges of financial support for the IHR.

During the 1920s historical revisionism was largely devoted to debunking the victorious powers' portrayal of the origins of the First World War. During the 1960s a major focus was on correcting the official view of the origins and course of World War II. In this first decade of a new century, the focus of historical revisionism is not, and cannot be, the same as it was in the 1920s, 1960s, or 1980s.

This is a time of great change and great opportunity. The IHR, I believe, is uniquely positioned to deal forthrightly and effectively with issues of intense and growing worldwide interest. To be vital, historical revisionism must be relevant. If the Institute is to survive and prosper, it must adjust its focus and work to match the times. We must reach aware and concerned people -- especially younger men and women -- far beyond the small and insular “revisionist community.” I will continue to do my best to strengthen the Institute as a vital and pertinent factor in the real world.