Some General Comments
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Gate from Auschwitz
The following series of comments are not an analysis of the arguments made for Holocaust Denial; but just some general comments about the phenomena and nature of Holocaust Denial.
1, Holocaust Denial is not a legitimate historical dispute. In Holocaust Denial we are not talking about a real historical dispute concerning the Holocaust. After all there is among specialists in the Holocaust disputes such as the one between the Intentionalists and the Functionalists. This dispute involves whether or not the Nazis / Hitler ever made a clear decision to murder all the European Jews or whether the genocide emerged from a functional process of accelerating radicalization, among the various institutions of the Nazi state. Of course the above is a hugely simplified version of the dispute but it is a contentious dispute.1
Other disputed issues include such things as the role of the Jewish Councils in German occupied Europe, The role of anti-Semitism and the exterminatory process. Hitler’s exact role in inaugurating the genocide. (Note this is NOT a dispute over Hitler having very important role in causing the genocide but exactly what was Hitler’s input. In other words the details of Hitler’s involvement.) Such issues as the planning for Barbarossa and the development of the plans for genocide, or the exact significance of the Madagascar plan, and the whole issue of the banality of evil.2 All of the above are matters of scholarly research and differing opinions.
What is not a matter of scholarly opinion is that millions of Jews and others defined as Jews were murdered by the Nazi regime. To argue that this is a matter that may be subject to scholarly debate makes about as much sense as stating that Lincoln was not assassinated, that Columbus never voyaged in 1492 or that Augustus never ruled the Roman Empire. In other words it is simply absurd. Someone might as well argue that black is white and the current Queen of England is not Elizabeth II.
In fact the lack of legitimacy of Holocaust Denial is rather apparent given that as mass human crimes go the Holocaust is probably the most studied and the amount of documentation enormous. The Nazis were very prolific in terms of creating a paper trail for their crimes. In fact the evidence is so massive that it has given rise to different explanations for it myriad aspects. A comparison would be the causes of the American Civil War of which there are different opinions and a huge mass of material to examine.3
Since the Holocaust itself is not a legitimate subject for debate in the sense of did it happen? What are the motives of the deniers?
2. Well one can say with little contradiction that a strong motive with little grounds for dispute is good old fashioned anti-Semitism. It is totally tiresome watching and reading the usual anti-Semitic crap issue from deniers. But issue forth it does.
The deniers usually have as an article of belief the belief in intrinsic Jewish wickedness. Thus we learn that the testimony of survivors are lies and exaggerations and how do we know that? Well; because Jews lie. We learn that Jews and those they corrupted faked evidence, tortured confessions and engaged in massive skulduggery.
This goes back to the notion of Jews as evil, as the spawn of Satan as agents of destruction and decay. Everything the Jews do is tainted by them being a “Satanic” people. By “nature” Jews are liars and deceivers in this mythology; they are nothing less than a sort of anti-people.
The similarity of the above with Nazi and extreme anti-Semitic views regarding Jews is not accidental. Of course many Deniers will at least publicly deny the above but given their views about how the so-called “hoax” was created no other conclusion is possible except that they demonize Jews.
Along with a belief in intrinsic Jewish wickedness is a belief in Jewish power. The Deniers see themselves as brave, courageous fighters for truth against a formidable adversary who will stop at nothing to suppress the truth. The power of this adversary seeps into everything and has corrupted everything in their view leaving them lonely and desperate in their dogged struggle to get at the truth.
The myth of omnipotent Jewish power goes back a long way. The trope that the “good”, “pure” etc., are caught in the coils of a vast satanic conspiracy that has been developing for thousands of years is typical and common trope of ant-Semitic lunacy.
The Jews are demonic spawn, agents of darkness, the “anti” race, the locus of evil and wickedness in the world. Thus Holocaust Denial sets up the Jews as Demonic liars, who have systematically lied, and faked and used their power to foist a lie on the world all in pursuit of their demonic aims of domination and of course lucre.
Thus Holocaust deniers see themselves as victims fighting against overwhelming odds. Thus we have paranoid fantasists like Mark Weber and Ernst Zundel. Thus we have Mark Weber calling Jews, “The traditional enemies of truth”, and Robert Faurisson foaming at the mouth with:
Obviously, it is ‘sweet’ to be Jewish in those final days of the century, but only a Jew has the right to say so. In effect Finkielkraut acknowledges, it is no longer possible to publish without the imprimatur of organized Jewry. In effect, I might add, the Jew reigns unopposed.4To call this a paranoid fantasy is merely correct.
3. A third element of Holocaust Denial is the old, very tiresome syndrome of epater le bourgeoisie. Shock for the sack of shock. That Holocaust deniers get a great deal of pleasure in shocking people is undeniable. It is evident that they do enjoy upsetting people. Holocaust deniers who are inveterate anti-Semites of course enjoy and the joy is evident upsetting Jews because of course the Jew is the enemy and upsetting him / her is a good thing.
For the small minority of Holocaust deniers not primarily or not at all motivated by anti-Semitism, shocking established “authority” and being out of step are strong motivations, if not the primary ones.
Thus we get the maverick who feels himself being daring, bold and brave, by going against the established view. Thus we have those who delight in shocking people like David Cole, A young Jewish man who seems to have had a really strong desire to “courageously” rebel against his upbringing and became involved in denial before repudiating it.5
Another example is the late Science Fiction writer James P. Hogan, who came across Holocaust Denial as part of a very childish need to rebel against authority. Having embraced AIDS denialism Velikovsky’s crank celestial mechanics and assorted other nonsense out of an apparent psychological need to attack authority, he embraced Holocaust Denial to both satisfy his need to rebel and too shock people it seems. What made his defence of this crap compulsively amusing is his projection that those who attacked his opinions were motivated by emotional reasons whereas he was simply being objective and scientific. This was of course the exact opposite of the actual case.6
This motive is essentially childish, but it does allow the person to think of himself as brave and daring at little to no real risk. A common characteristic of the position is to deliberately conflate criticism as persecution.
4. Most Holocaust deniers aside from being anti-Semites are also profoundly racist. They believe most devoutly in the division of humanity into different races. Like Mark Weber and Ernst Zundal, both of whom view themselves as waging a lonely struggle on behalf of “White” people. In fact a leitmotif of Holocaust Denial is liking Nazism. And it is not liking aspects of Nazism like their anti-smoking campaign but of liking, such features of Nazism as its authoritarian political nature, its anti-Semitism / racism, its military ethos.
Most Holocaust deniers seem to have a great contempt for democracy and “non-whites”. What they oh so obviously wish for is an authoritarian state and the “disappearance” in one fashion or the other of “non-whites”.
5. Finally most Holocaust deniers must deny the Holocaust because if it actually happened then their delusion of omnipotent, satanic Jewish power is refuted. After all if the Jews were all powerful, then how could it have happened? The conclusion is that Jews were not and are not all powerful, Satanic etc. This conclusion is unacceptable so the Holocaust Denial is concocted about an all powerful, demonic conspiracy by the insidious, lying Jews to foist a monumental lie on the world for the purpose of advancing the long term Jewish plot to control the world.7
The Holocaust Denial is in the last analysis, intellectually dishonest, psychologically childish and morally corrupt and evil.
1. The literature on the Holocaust is huge. Probably the best place to start is Hilberg, Raul, The Destruction of the European Jews, Revised Edition, (Three Volumes), Yale University Press, Cambridge MASS, 2003. Regarding the Intentionalist / Functionalist dispute see Fleming, Gerald, Hitler and the Final Solution, University of California Press, Berkeley CA, 1992, and Browning, Christopher, The Origins of the Final Solution, Arrow, London, 2005.
2. Ibid, and see Arendt, Hannah, Eichmann in Jerusalem, Revised Edition, Penguin Books, London, 1964, Bartov Omer, Hitler’s Army, Oxford University Press, New York, 1992, Bartov, Omer, The Eastern Front 1941-1945, German Troops and the Barbarisation of Warfare, Second Edition, Palgrave, London, 2001, Wette, Wolfram, The Wehrmacht, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass, 2006, Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Vintage Books, New York, 1997, Rich, Norman, Hitler’s War Aims, W.W. Norton & Co.,New York, 1973, Dawidowicz, Lucy S., The War Against the Jews 1933-1945, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1975.
3. Again the literature is massive. A good overview is McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom, Ballatine Books, New York, 1988, pp. 47-307, see also Levine, Bruce, Half Slave and Half Free, Hill and Wang, New York, 1992, Stampp, Kenneth M., The Imperiled Union, Oxford University Press, New York, 1980, pp. 191-245, Potter David M., The Impending Crisis 1848-1861, Harper Torchbooks, New York, 1976.
4. Faurisson, Robert, Ah, How Sweet it is to be Jewish, Journal of Historical Review, November – December 1998, p. 11. See also Shermer, Michael & Grobman, Alex, Denying History, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA., 2000, pp. 39-97, Shermer, Michael, Why People Believe Weird Things, W.H Freeman and Company, New York, 1997, pp. 175-241, Lipstadt, Deborah, Denying the Holocaust, Plume Books, New York, 1993, pp. 1-29, 103-121, Evans, Richard J., Lying About Hitler, Basic Books, New York, 2001, pp. 104-148.
5. Shermer, 2000, pp. 69-74. David Cole continued to rebel even as a Holocaust denier by bringing a Black girlfriend to the denier conferences which would upset the largely racist attendees. Later David Cole apparantly retracted his Holocaust Denial.
6. See Hogan, James P., Free Speech Hypocrisy, from www.jamesphogan.com, archived at Wayback Here See also Here’s to You, Ernst Zundel: A Lonely Voice of Courage, www.jamesphogan.com, Here. See also Heretics Catalog in which James P. Hogan recomends a whole slew of pseudoscience crap, Here. See also the following James P. Hogan books of non fiction for just how cracked he became, Kicking the Sacred Cow, Baen Books, New York, 2006, Mind Matters, Del Rey, New York, 1998, Catastrophes, Chaos and Convolutions, (mixed fiction and nonfiction), Baen, New York, 2005. See also James P. Hogan, Wikipedia Here.
7. Footnote 4.