I 1 I 2 I
One of the ironies of our time is that just as technology makes it ever easier to communicate ideas, the freedom to express those ideas is being subject to continuous erosion. The world-wide spread of electronic communications, and of the Internet in particular, is progressively reducing the power of the state to exercise control over the flow of information and ideas. In the years ahead we will experience not only a dramatic increase in access to the Internet, but also a vast extension of the range of material available on it, which appears to be entirely outside the control of any censoring body.(1) Arthur C. Clarke, the distinguished science-fiction writer and inventor of the communications satellite which largely made these developments possible, said as long ago as 1983 that:
[T]he debate about the free flow of information which has been going on for so many years will soon be settled -- by engineers, not politicians. ... No government will be able to conceal, at least for very long, evidence of crimes or atrocities -- even from its own people. The very existence of the myriads of new information channels, operating in real time and across all frontiers, will be a powerful influence for civilised behaviour. If you are arranging a massacre, it will be useless to shoot the cameraman who has inconveniently appeared on the scene. His pictures will already be safe in the studio 5,000 kilometres away; and his final image may hang you. Many governments will not be happy about this, but in the long run everyone will benefit. (2)
SERIOUS ATTACK ON PRESS FREEDOM
These insights appear to have eluded the British government. On 14th November, 1997, Saxon Burchnall-Wood, Noel Molland and Stephen Booth, the editors of Green Anarchist, were each sentenced to three years' imprisonment for "inciting their readers to carry out attacks on property and acts of violence". (3)Green Anarchist, as its name implies, is a magazine which combines collectivist-anarchism with environmentalism. It publishes a "Diary" section which lists "direct-action" events worldwide, mostly without editorial comment. These include "ecotage", a name given to such actions as the disabling and damaging of property and machinery such as earth-moving vehicles on the sites of new roads. The prosecution successfully argued that by publishing such reports, the editors were "conspiring to incite persons unknown to commit further acts of violence".(4) Other publications cited in court as examples of "conspiracy to incite", which have not so far been prosecuted include Do or Die, the annual publication of Earth First. The magazine Index on Censorship described the Green Anarchist case as "one of the most serious attacks for many years on press freedom in Britain". (5)
On 27th April 1998 a trial will begin at Harrow Crown Court which promises to be an even more fundamental attack on freedom of expression. Nick Griffin and Paul Ballard, both members of the British National Party, are being prosecuted under the Public Order Act 1986 for publishing material liable to incite racial hatred in the form of certain articles appearing in their magazine The Rune. Griffin is the editor of the magazine and Ballard the distributor. If convicted, they face a sentence of up to two years in prison each. The case is currently sub judice, and the press has not been permitted to publish any details of the prosecution's case. Nevertheless, Griffin is distributing for sale an edited version of the police audio tape of his interview while under arrest, and the Director of Public Prosecutions has accepted that this distribution is lawful. I have summarised the contents of this tape in an appendix to this paper, and will only point out here that one of the articles for which they are being prosecuted is one denying that the Nazis carried out a policy of extermination of Jews during the second world war.
The criminal offence of publishing material liable to incite racial hatred was introduced under the Race Relations Act 1965. The first prosecution was of Michael de Freitas, a Trinidadian Black Power advocate later known as Michael X, who was sentenced to a year's imprisonment for advocating the killing of white men who lay hands on black women. In virtually all cases, however, members of white racist groups, such as the National Front, British Movement and British National Party, have been prosecuted and fined or imprisoned for the breach of these laws. Subsequent legislation, such as the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Public Order Act 1986, have drastically widened the definition of "incitement to racial hatred". Under the latter Act a two-year prison sentence can be imposed merely for possession of literature wherever there is an "intent or likelihood" of inciting racial hatred. In 1997 three members of the National Socialist organisation Combat 18 were imprisoned for possessing material which spoke of "the myth of the Holocaust" and outlined the aim to "execute all Jews, who have actively helped to damage the White Race and to put into camps the rest until we find a solution to the eternal Jew". (6) Libertarians are, of course, totally appalled by such opinions, but would argue that putting people into prison simply for possessing such material is a greater evil than their possession of it (as distinct from acting in accordance with the views expressed).
The British courts have so far ruled that historical arguments denying the Holocaust are not a form of incitement to racial hatred and therefore cannot be prosecuted under these laws. There was never any indication that these laws were ever intended to apply to arguments about history. Publications denying the Holocaust may be lawfully imported, published and distributed without official restriction. In 1996, Michael Howard, the Conservative Home Secretary, negotiated an opt-out from a European Union agreement to introduce laws to criminalise Holocaust denial. In the same year, the Board of Deputies of British Jews called for the first time for the introduction of such laws in Britain. Although this request was rejected by the Conservative government, the Labour Party announced in September 1996 that it intended to make Holocaust denial into a criminal offence, punishable by two years' imprisonment. The Sunday Times reported that
Jack Straw, the shadow home secretary, is expected this week to call for the outlawing of right-wing intellectuals and political campaigners who claim the Holocaust never happened or was unknown to Hitler.
The right-wing historian David Irving, who argued that the diaries of Joseph Goebbels proved Hitler was unaware of the extermination programme against the Jews, would be among those facing possible prosecution. ... Labour's support for legislation follows an all-party campaign by the London-based Holocaust Educational Trust. (7)
Janice Lopatkin, spokeswoman for the trust, said:
There is a gap in the legislation because courts do not regard Holocaust-denial material as insulting to Jews. (8)
Lord Merlyn-Rees, former Labour Home Secretary, said:
It is wrong to deny the Holocaust. It is done for anti-semitic reasons and it should be made a criminal offence. (9)
This is the same politician who, as Home Secretary in 1977, refused to ban the National Front march through Lewisham on the libertarian grounds that the NF had the right to freedom of speech. That march ended in the most ferocious street battle seen in Britain since the 1930s. If his Lordship was then so committed to the principle of freedom of speech that he authorised the NF demonstration, and police protection of that demonstration, despite the known risk of violence, we are entitled to ask why he now calls for the introduction of laws which would imprison people for two years simply for expressing an historical opinion which differs from his own. Between the Home Office and the House of Lords, he seems to have taken a detour to Damascus.
A Labour Party spokesman said:
We already accept that there are limits to absolute freedom of speech, and Holocaust denial is often used as a means of spreading anti-semitic propaganda. (10)
At its 1996 conference, the Labour Party voted unanimously in favour of a motion to introduce such a law. Tony Blair has made several announcements that Jack Straw, who is now Home Secretary, is exploring possible ways to change the law in this direction. In 1997, Mike Gapes MP (Labour, Ilford South) introduced a Holocaust Denial Bill which failed because of the dissolution of Parliament before the May general election. The introduction of this bill led to considerable discussion in the media about the merits or otherwise of the introduction of such a law. John Major, who was then Prime Minister, Paddy Ashdown, leader of the Liberal Democrats, and the historian Lord Russell all went on record as opposing the introduction of such a law, as did Dr Anthony Lehrman, director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. No proposals have been heard so far since Labour took office about any legislation which would curtail or prohibit the right to deny the Holocaust.
Nevertheless, if in the forthcoming Rune trial Griffin and Ballard are successfully convicted of "incitement to racial hatred" simply for making an historical argument that the Holocaust never happened, then such a conviction would establish a very ominous precedent from the point of view of freedom of expression. It would mean that the distribution of any publication denying the Holocaust could suddenly be deemed illegal and liable to prosecution, and thus be effectively prohibited. The way in which law works in Britain would mean that once a court had ruled that Holocaust denial per se is a form of "incitement to racial hatred", it would mean that any person who denies the Holocaust could receive up to two years in prison. Such a change to the law would be the first time in which it has ever been a criminal offence in Britain to express an opinion on an historical subject. And this change in the law would have taken place without any public or Parliamentary discussion of its nature and implications.
HOLOCAUST DENIERS ARE NOT NECESSARILY NAZIS
The purpose of the present paper is not in any way to defend Holocaust denial, but simply to give an accurate description of what it is and what it is not, and to describe efforts in other countries to use the law against it. I will then put forward an argument, based on the nature of historical inquiry, in defence of the right of Holocaust revisionists (as they call themselves) to express their beliefs without civil or criminal law being brought into action against them. No part of this paper should be interpreted as either supporting or opposing any particular historical or other idea, except the universal right of freedom of expression and the free market in ideas. I am essentially adding factual information and arguments to the position already taken, as we have seen above, by various public figures. My concern is that a form of censorship may come in by the back door through the Rune case which would have a devastating effect on intellectual freedom, the concept upon which, as Sir Karl Popper and numerous other philosophers have amply demonstrated, all human progress ultimately depends.
It is commonly believed that Holocaust revisionism is promoted solely by neo-Nazis, racists and anti-semites. While such individuals have certainly taken up such ideas and promoted them extensively, they did not initiate them. Most of the authors of books denying that the Holocaust occurred have no connection with such movements. Paul Rassinier was a French Socialist Party member and pacifist academic who was arrested in 1943 and imprisoned in the German concentration camps at Dora and Buchenwald for his non-violent activities in the French Resistance. After the war he was elected as a Socialist member of the Constituent Assembly, decorated by the French government for his work in the Resistance, and went on to write a series of books denying that the Nazis had carried out any policy of extermination in their concentration camps. Some Holocaust revisionists are academics, such as Professor Arthur R. Butz, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Northwestern University, Illinois, and Dr Robert Faurisson, formerly professor of French literature at the University of Lyons-2, who have simply published their considered opinions based on the research they have carried out, and are not known to have any political affiliation or agenda. The best-known historian who has associated himself with these arguments is David Irving, author of numerous books about the second world war, and especially the Third Reich. In 1977, in his book Hitler's War, Irving argued that Hitler knew nothing about the extermination of the Jews, and he gradually became convinced that no such exterminations at all occurred in the concentration camps. Another is a retired German judge, Dr Wilhelm Staeglich, who claims to have been stationed at Auschwitz during the war, and who wrote a book arguing that no exterminations occurred there. Another is Fred A. Leuchter, an American specialist in execution technology, who visited Auschwitz and wrote a report stating that the building presented to visitors at Auschwitz as a homicidal gas chamber could not have been used for that purpose. There are Palestinian, Moroccan, Saudi Arabian, South American and Japanese Holocaust revisionists, as well as American blacks associated with the Nation of Islam. In France, Jean-Gabriel Cohn-Bendit and Claude Karnoouh are both Jewish Holocaust revisionists with left-wing political beliefs. Bezalel Chaim, of the Revisionist Press of Brooklyn, is an American Jew who argues that the Holocaust "myth", as he calls it, has created divisions between Jews and Gentiles, encouraged a belligerent Zionist nationalism, and is used to justify the Israeli oppression of the Arabs. (David Cole, another American Jew, produced a video about Auschwitz which claimed that no gassings occurred there, but has since recanted his views and now accepts that the Holocaust occurred.) Extraordinary as it may seem, the late Josef Ginsburg, a German Jew who spent the entire second world war in Germany and Romania, and who was imprisoned in several Nazi concentration camps, wrote several books under the pseudonym J. G. Burg denying that any extermination of the Jews had been carried out by the Nazis. Professor Pierre Vidal-Naquet, the most outspoken French academic critic of the Holocaust revisionists, states that:
In several countries ... revisionism is the speciality not of the racist and anti-Semitic extreme right, but of several groups of individuals coming from the extreme left. This is the case in Sweden following the intervention on Robert Faurisson's behalf of the extreme left-wing sociologist Jan Myrdal, whose intervention was on behalf not merely of the man but, in part, of his ideas; in Australia, following the action of the former secretary of the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties, John Bennett; and even in Italy, where a small Marxist libertarian group invokes its debt to Paul Rassinier. (11)
Other Holocaust revisionists are American libertarians who have associated themselves with the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), the California-based organisation which denies that the Holocaust occurred, as well as promoting other revisionist views about twentieth-century history. Professor James J. Martin, the author of numerous studies of nineteenth-century libertarianism and anarchism, as well as revisionist studies of the two world wars and the cold war, and who has contributed three times to the Encyclopedia Britannica, is closely associated with the IHR. The IHR has published one of his books, The Man Who Invented Genocide, a biography of Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term "genocide" to describe what the Nazis were doing to the Jews in wartime Europe. The radical libertarian Samuel Edward Konkin III is also a supporter of the IHR, has spoken at its conferences and provided a platform for Holocaust revisionism in his magazine New Libertarian, although I do not know his exact position, if any, on the Holocaust. L. A. Rollins, the American author of the philosophical pamphlet The Myth of Natural Rights, which has caused considerable controversy in libertarian circles, is another Holocaust denier. It is difficult to classify Rollins' views in terms of conventional political labels, but he is an anti-authoritarian individualist and certainly no kind of National Socialist or fascist.
One of the most active American Holocaust revisionists is Bradley R. Smith, a libertarian journalist and playwright who was convicted for selling a banned erotic novel, Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, in his Los Angeles bookshop in 1960-61. In 1983 his play The Man Who Stopped Paying, dealing with tax resistance, was favourably reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, which described it as the work of a "libertarian-anarchist". In 1979 he first became convinced that the Nazi extermination of the Jews never happened, as a result of reading an article by Professor Robert Faurisson which appeared in Le Monde. He subsequently formed the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, and has promoted Holocaust revisionism on hundreds of radio and television talk shows, placed advertisements in college newspapers and spoken at universities throughout the US. In an interview with the radical American publisher Loompanics Unlimited, Smith explained his motives for doing so:
In 1960-61 I was arrested, jailed, tried and convicted of selling a book banned by the U.S. Government, Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer. At that time the best people among the progressive forces supported my refusal to participate in censoring Miller's book in this country. Today it's the progressive forces who work with such dedication to suppress the Revisionist critique of the Holocaust orthodoxy. The progressive forces will go to the wall for sexual freedom. What they balk at is free inquiry into the foundations of their own world view. ... I reject the authoritarian ideal in every form, but particularly as it is expressed by the State. ... My interest is in the ideals of free inquiry, an open society and, if you will, my own moral being. As a writer, how do I stand aside from the issues that I see corrupting public discourse, and thus the lives of my friends and neighbors? As a man, how do I stand aside from them? ... Almost thirty years ago, the night I got the word that a bookseller on Hollywood Boulevard was going to be arrested and prosecuted for selling Miller's Tropic, my first reaction was to remove the book from my store window. When I went to the window to take the book out something caused me to pause. ... The next morning I took a walk along the Boulevard and looked over the display windows in the other bookshops. Tropic wasn't in any of the windows any longer. That was good enough for me. I went back to my own shop and climbed into the window but I couldn't bring myself to remove the display stack. ... That same afternoon I was arrested by a couple of L.A.'s finest in plain clothes and the stage was set for the longest civil trial to have taken place in the city up to that time.
It wasn't First Amendment idealism that made it impossible for me to remove Miller's book from my window. ... It made me ashamed to think of removing a book from my displays that I respected and that I had gotten so much pleasure and encouragement from. ... [W]hen the State put me to the test to declare myself publicly, I chose my heart's desire hands down and told the State to shove it along. ... I feel something similar for Revisionist scholarship. While I have no love for the work, to not stand up for it now that I know what it is would make me ashamed. That's why I can't "just drop the subject." Hostility is easy to face when the alternative is shame. (12)
LIBERTARIAN OPPOSITION TO AMERICAN INTERVENTIONISM
It is worth pointing out here why some libertarians and others who have no connection with fascist or anti-semitic movements are interested in Holocaust revisionist arguments. Although libertarians do not agree with each other on all issues, libertarians could be defined as believers in the value of individual freedom, property rights, a legal and economic system which enables the voluntary exchange of property rights in a free market, voluntary rather than coerced cooperation between individuals and groups within society, and the reduction of the interference of the state in the economy and life of the people. Although these ideas go back many centuries, the contemporary libertarian movement emerged in the United States in the post-war period, and clearly differentiated itself from conservatism in the 1960s. Since 1941, American foreign policy has been based on the principle that the US government has an obligation to intervene in the internal affairs of all countries of the world on a massive scale in order to promote such concepts as "democracy", "Americanism", "freedom", "anti-fascism", "anti-colonialism", "anti-communism", "anti-terrorism", "anti-apartheidism", "self-determination", "economic development", "the new world order", "the war on drugs", "the survival of Israel" and several dozen other ideas developed at places like Harvard University and the State Department. In order to advance these concepts, young Americans, many of them conscripts, have been sent out to kill or be killed in various wars throughout the world, and hundreds of thousands have lost their lives. In addition, US foreign policy has destroyed political and economic systems, such as the European colonial empires, which, while by no means perfect, certainly functioned far better than the "national independence" which has followed them. The American taxpayer has paid hundreds of billions of dollars in "economic aid", "dev-elopment aid" and "military aid" to governments throughout the world, and also to revolutionary movements which the US government considers to be more "pro-Western" or "democratic" than the government in power. It has actively attempted to re-shape the political and economic systems of nations throughout the world, in a process which would end, presumably, only when every corner of the earth from Paris to the interior of Papua New Guinea is an exact replica of Madison, Wisconsin. Perhaps the most succinct and perceptive commentary on this policy was given by Hadj T'hami el Glaoui, pasha of Marrakesh, in 1944:
American policy today stirs up everything and settles nothing. The result is that it creates a void, opening the way to new tyrannies instead of new freedoms. At the bottom of America's attitude is the assumption that all the world wishes to be American. And that assumption is false. (13)
Now libertarians argue that massive government intervention in the economy and life of the United States has produced a lengthy series of economic and social disasters. Most American libertarians would argue that the US government is just as disastrous, if not more so, when it intervenes in the economy and life of other countries. They ask how American conservatives can complain about the intervention of "big government" at home while enthusiastically supporting the intervention of that same government in every other country on the surface of the planet. Most American libertarians argue for a non-interventionist foreign policy in which the US enjoys good relations with all other countries without in any way interfering in their internal affairs. Those individuals in other countries who want to become Americans are free to apply at the US embassy to emigrate there. Those who are quite happy to remain Bhutanese in Bhutan, Bedouins in the Middle East, or whatever, should be left in peace, and if their economic, social and political systems differ in certain respects from those of the United States, no American should stay awake at nights worrying about the fact.
Those American libertarians who argue in this manner are interested in critically examining the governmental and non-governmental propaganda which has been used to justify American global interventionism in peace and war. They are therefore open to historical studies which demonstrate that what governments have said about these interventions has not always accorded with the facts. Such historical studies, they believe, can help Americans to learn from the past and to develop a foreign policy which is more in accordance with the interests of the American people and of the stability, peace and prosperity of the entire world. (And what is true of America is also true, to a great extent, of Britain and other Western countries.)
FIRST WORLD WAR REVISIONISM
The term "revisionism" referred originally to that school of historical inquiry which sought to re-examine the origins of the first world war at the end of that conflict, in the light of new documents and interpretations which had become available. The first revisionist work on the conflict was How Diplomats Make War (1915), by Francis Neilson, a pacifist British MP who resigned his seat in 1914 when the British government decided on war and wrote the book in order to expose the real origins of the conflict, as opposed to the government's propaganda line for public consumption. After the war, a number of American historians, beginning with Sidney B. Fay in 1920, examined the available diplomatic papers, and in particular the documents which had recently been published by the German, Austrian and Soviet governments, relating to the outbreak of war in 1914. They concluded that responsibility for the war lay with Russia, Serbia and France, and to some extent the actions of the British foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey, who failed to take action to stop the drift to war, and not with Germany and Austria-Hungary.
The revisionist history of the first world war was of more than purely academic interest. The American intervention in that war in 1917 marked a monumental departure from the traditional American policy of non-intervention in the quarrels of European countries, which had been the guiding principle of US foreign policy since the days of Washington and Jefferson. This policy was only breached when the United States attacked Spain after the American warship the Maine was sunk by an mysterious internal explosion in Havana harbour in 1898. In 1917, Woodrow Wilson, rather in the manner of Pope Urban II in 1095, preached a great crusade, not to free the Holy City of Jerusalem from the Moslems, but to fight a war to end wars, to save civilisation and to make the world safe for democracy. Revisionists considered such a transformation of American foreign policy to be an important subject for historical examination.
Also, the Treaty of Versailles (1919) had included an article which affirmed that Germany was solely responsible for the outbreak of the war. The Weimar government signed the treaty against enormous domestic opposition, and only because the British navy was maintaining a blockade of Germany that had led to the death by starvation and disease of tens of thousands of children after the Armistice of 1918. The treaty imposed extremely harsh measures on this basis, including the transfer of a large proportion of German territory and people to the rule of foreign states such as France and Poland, and the requirement to pay vast sums of money in financial reparations to France and Belgium. By challenging the claim of sole German responsibility for the outbreak of war, the revisionist historians were undermining the credibility of Versailles and strengthening the case for revision of the entire settlement. This case was put forward not only by Germans of all political persuasions, but also by the Soviet Union and the political "left" and "centre" in most Western countries. In books such as The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1920), for example, John Maynard Keynes exposed the economic and political dangers to Europe of the vindictive terms of Versailles.
The historian who took the lead in addressing the Kriegsschuldfrage was the distinguished American scholar Harry Elmer Barnes. Barnes' magnum opus is generally considered to be the three-volume Intellectual and Cultural History of the Western World, a landmark in historical scholarship as well as an essential libertarian text on account of its orientation in favour of intellectual and cultural freedom. Before the United States entered the war, Barnes was an outspoken advocate of intervention. When Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany in 1917, Barnes was recruited by the US government into its propaganda operation, and was noted for the zeal with which he promoted the Allied cause and denounced the Boche in that capacity. After the war, however, he examined the documentary evidence on the origins of the war and wrote a series of publications which argued against German responsibility for the outbreak of that conflict. In books such as Genesis of the World War and In Quest of Truth and Justice, he argued that Serbia, Russia and France were primarily responsible. In the 1920s, revisionist arguments achieved enormous international influence, and Barnes travelled to Europe, where he established links with European revisionists and even had an audience with the former Kaiser. By 1930, revisionist arguments had attained general acceptance in both Europe and the US, and had contributed significantly to the desire of Americans to stay out of any future foreign conflicts. Nevertheless, although the financial reparation terms of Versailles were somewhat modified, the revision of the territorial terms was not addressed at all. In 1930 Barnes urged an immediate revision of Versailles in order to forestall the rise of Adolf Hitler. He wrote:
The gains of the Hitlerites and other German nationalists indicate that Europe cannot safely go on basing its diplomacy on this absurd lie which never could have been solemnly maintained except in the fog of wartime hatred which held over into 1918-1919. In 1927, von Hindenburg asked Europe in conciliatory tones to investigate the facts of war guilt. In 1930, friends of peace in Europe are appealing to Hindenburg to save them from Hitler. What will be happening in 1933 if the spirit of Lloyd George, Clemenceau, and Poincaré still rules Europe? (14)
Barnes' call was ignored. Hitler came to power and began taking vigorous steps to revise the Versailles settlement. The British and French governments, which were later condemned for carrying out a policy of "appeasement" of Hitler, were simply granting him what every German government from 1919 to 1933 had asked for, and been refused, by those same governments.
SECOND WORLD WAR REVISIONISM
With the increasing threat of war in the late 1930s, and especially after the outbreak of the European conflict in 1939, Barnes was an outspoken opponent of US intervention. In his nationally-syndicated newspaper column, he alerted Americans to the danger of involvement in the war. In 1940, heavy pressure by pro-war interest groups was brought to bear on his employers, who dropped Barnes as a columnist in order to avoid a ruinous advertising boycott. After the second world war, Barnes became the leader of the historical revisionist school relating to that conflict. He raised funds in order to finance the research, writing and publication of books addressing different aspects of the 1939-45 war, and assembled scholars throughout the US and western Europe to carry out this work. In addition, Barnes edited <MI>Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, a major collection of revisionist essays on the Roosevelt-Truman foreign policy, and produced a series of pamphlets critically reviewing what he called the "court historians", those scholars who were paid vast sums by governments and semi-official institutes to produce works which were no more than ex post facto justifications of government policy.
In the United States, revisionist historians, who included the distinguished Charles A. Beard, produced studies of the diplomatic history which led to American intervention in the war in December 1941. The Roosevelt administration had claimed that it had done everything in its power to keep the US out of the war, until it was subjected to a treacherous and unprovoked attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. The revisionists argued that Roosevelt had in fact been actively doing everything in his power to involve America in the war from 1939, or even as early as his "quarantine the aggressors" speech of 1937. However, he had to do so serruptitiously because of the strong non-interventionist sentiments of the American people. Other writers, including George Morgenstern, Admiral Robert Theobald, John Toland and Barnes himself, argued that the Roosevelt administration had deliberately provoked the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor. They argued that the freezing of Japanese assets in the US in July 1941 and the subsequent cutting off of oil supplies put the Japanese into a position where they had no alternative but to strike at the US. They claimed that the administration had known in advance that the attack was due, as the Japanese code had been deciphered, and had deliberately withheld that information from the commanders at Pearl in order to ensure the maximum loss of life and therefore be sure of obtaining a declaration of war from Congress. Indeed, I have heard that a researcher in the US National Archives has recently discovered a German intelligence transcript of a wiretap of a telephone conversation between Roosevelt and Churchill discussing the forthcoming attack on Pearl several weeks before it actually took place.
The definitive revisionist study of the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 was The Origins of the Second World War (1961), by the distinguished historian A. J. P. Taylor, of Oxford University. Taylor challenged the generally-held myth that in the 1930s Hitler had rapidly re-armed Germany and carried out a master plan for the conquest of Europe which would inevitably lead to war. Taylor demonstrated that Hitler had hardly re-armed at all until 1936, and then did so no more rapidly than other European powers. Although he was determined to revise the terms of Versailles, he merely responded to situations such as the Austrian and Sudeten crises of 1938 and the Polish crisis of 1939 as they arose, and acted in just the same manner as any other great power did. He had no plan for war, and, indeed, wanted to achieve the revision of Versailles while avoiding it. When war broke out, it was a result of various miscalculations by several powers during the Polish crisis, in which Hitler was trying to recover the German city of Danzig from Poland by negotiations. The myth of a Nazi master plan for world domination was dead. Taylor was highly amused by the wailing and gnashing of teeth which followed the publication of his book, which included claims that he was some sort of Nazi apologist. An entertaining incident is related in Adam Sisman's biography of Taylor:
When Alan flew to Munich for another televised debate ... the taxi-driver who drove him in from the airport queried whether he knew a certain Englishman called A. J. P. Taylor. Alan was taken aback; he explained that he knew him well, being himself A. J. P. Taylor. The taxi-driver stopped in mid-traffic, explained that he had been part of Hitler's SS bodyguard, and extended a hand to congratulate Alan for proving that Hitler had not caused the War after all. (15)
Of course Taylor was no kind of a Nazi sympathiser. In private life he was a socialist whose political views approximated to those of the left wing of the Labour Party. But he kept his personal opinions separate from his professional historical work. His approach to history was a simple one:
There is only one profound responsibility on the historian, which to do his best for historical truth. If he discovered things which were catastrophic for his political beliefs he would still put it in his books. He has no responsibility whatsoever to fiddle the past in order to benefit some cause that he happens to believe in. (16)
Taylor was scathing about the "court historians" who were employed by governments and semi-official institutions. He described Between War and Peace, by Herbert Feis, a former US State Department employee, as "a State Department brief, translated into terms of historical scholarship". He said that:
Dr. Feis's conclusions were not derived from the evidence; they were assumed as self-evident before the book was begun.
The academic historians of the West may assert their scholarly independence even when they are employed by a government department; but they are as much 'engaged' as though they wore the handsome uniform designed for German professors by Dr. Goebbels. (17)
Other British revisionists, such as Emrys Hughes, David Irving and John Charmley have produced critical studies of the policies of Winston Churchill before and during the 1939-45 war which tend to undermine the popular image of Churchill as a national and world saviour. They have argued that his policies ruined Britain and its empire, and that his behaviour did not display the heroic characteristics presented in the mythology. For example, Irving has demonstrated that during the Blitz, which Churchill had himself provoked by his continuous bombing of German cities, in breach of international agreements, Churchill knew in advance from intelligence sources when German air raids on London were due. He left for the countryside on those dates, only to return later and tour the bomb sites for the benefit of the newsreels and press photographers.
In the 1960s, several American "new left" revisionist historians, such as William Appleman Williams and Gabriel Kolko, produced studies arguing that US foreign policy during the second world war aimed at extending the economic, military and political power of the United States over the world, at the expense of other powers, and was not the altruistic "crusade for democracy" of wartime propaganda. The work of these historians was a milestone in the development of 1939-45 revisionism, in that criticism of the Roosevelt administration's wartime foreign policy had hitherto been something of a taboo subject among American scholars of the political "left" and "centre".
The background to the outbreak of war between Germany and the Soviet Union in June 1941 has also been the subject of revisionist inquiry. Professor Ernst Topich, an Austrian philosopher, and Victor Suvorov, a Soviet defector who had access to first-hand Soviet material, have both written books arguing that Stalin was massing colossal military forces on his western borders in the spring of 1941 in preparation for an invasion of Germany in the summer of that year. Topich and Suvorov argue that Hitler's Operation Barbarossa aimed to pre-empt this threat before it was too late, and was not the culmination of any long-term plan.
Other revisionist studies critically examined the "unconditional surrender" doctrine upon which Roosevelt insisted from January 1943, which, it is argued, undermined the position of the anti-Hitler plotters in Germany, extended the war's duration, death toll and destructiveness, and eliminated Germany and Japan as bulwarks against the expansion of Soviet and Chinese communism. Vast Anglo-American material assistance was handed over to the Soviet Union without any conditions relating to the future of the eastern European nations, which ended up under Soviet rule for over 40 years.
Revisionist scholarship has also examined Allied atrocities. During the war, some 500,000 to 1 million Soviet citizens fought as part of the Wehrmacht and its auxiliaries, and toward the end of the war a Russian Liberation Army was set up under General Vlasov, who had been captured by the Germans in 1942. Other Soviet citizens went over to the Germans as forced or volunteer labourers and prisoners of war. After the war, the British and US authorities forcibly repatriated some two to three million Soviet and Yugoslav citizens who had surrendered to the British and Americans in return for guarantees that they would not be sent back. These people were then either murdered by the NKVD or Tito's communists, or sent to the slower death of the Gulag archipelago.
F. J. P. Veale, A. J. P. Taylor and others have demonstrated conclusively that Britain, and not Germany, initiated the aerial bombing of civilians in 1940, in breach of binding international agreements and centuries of European practice. The Lindemann Plan, which was formally adopted by the Churchill government in 1942, called for the deliberate saturation bombing of German civilians, and led to wholesale massacres in German cities. Martin Caidan has demonstrated that the ten-day British raid on Hamburg in 1943 killed a total of 60,000-100,000 civilians. David Irving has estimated that in 1945 the RAF and US Air Force killed some 70,000-90,000 civilians, mainly refugees, in the raid on Dresden, a city with no military value, war industries, or anti-aircraft defences. Altogether, over 400,000 German civilians were killed by bombing. For every British civilian killed by German bombing, nine Germans died from Anglo-American raids, and for every ton of German bombs dropped on Britain, 315 tons of British and US bombs were dropped on Germany.18 Once American bombers were within range of the Japanese home islands in 1945, the US carried out the saturation bombing of Japanese cities. The attack on Tokyo was the largest air raid in history, and pilots reported the smell of burning flesh two miles above the blazing city. The only unusual feature of the raids on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was that they were carried out with a single bomb in each case. Gar Alperovitz, among others, has demonstrated that the Japanese had been trying to surrender since January 1945. The atomic bombing of those cities in August was the result of internal US politics and inter-service rivalries, and completely unnecessary from a military point of view.
Other Allied atrocities which have been studied by revisionists include the Soviet massacre of 23,000 Polish prisoners of war at Katyn in 1940, and the mass killing, rape, looting and destruction which the Soviet Army carried out in its advance across Germany and Hungary in 1944-45, including the deliberate sinking of German hospital ships which were transferring refugees to the west. Such atrocities continued long after the final German surrender, and were deliberately incited by Soviet propaganda. The treatment of German prisoners of war in Soviet captivity was so bad that only a handful of them returned home alive, some as late as 1955. Other studies have examined the forced expulsion of some 15 million German civilians from their homes in the eastern provinces of Germany which were ceded to Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union at the end of the war. Somewhere between one and two million are estimated to have died from hunger, exposure, and murder in the long march to the rump of western Germany.
Revisionists such as the Italian historian Luigi Villari have revealed that the Anglo-American invasions of western Europe in 1943-5 were far from the wonderful process of "liberation" displayed in Hollywood films. In 1944, for example, a division of Moroccan troops under the command of General Juin, of the Free French Army, went on the rampage in the Italian countryside between Naples and Rome. They raped 2,000 to 3,000 females aged from 11 to 86, as well as some men, murdered 100 of the women and 800 men who tried to protect them, destroyed 81% of dwellings and farm buildings, stole 90% of the farm animals and took virtually every valuable belonging to the villagers. (19) During the Allied "liberation" of Italy, the American authorities closely co-operated with vicious Mafia killers such as "Lucky" Luciano, who re-established the Mafia's death-grip over Italy, which had been successfully destroyed by Mussolini in the 1920s. In "liberated" Italy and France, armed communist death squads roamed the country and murdered, with or without a show trial, anybody they classed as a "collaborator", which included anyone known to hold anti-communist opinions.
Revisionists have argued that the wartime German shootings of civilians in occupied countries, harsh though they certainly were, were a response to partisan warfare carried out by individuals fighting in civilian clothes who carried out killings of German soldiers and then blended back into the civilian population. This form of warfare was expressly prohibited under the Geneva Convention, which provided for a strict division between combatants and non-combatants. The communists, in particular, engaged in such warfare in order to provoke German retaliation against the civilian population, and thus increase hatred against the Germans, which would bring more recruits for the "resistance" movements. The distinguished British military historian and tank warfare expert Major General J. F. C. Fuller describes how the Soviet partisans operated:
[T]he partisans were instructed to kidnap German soldiers, torture them to death, and expose their mutilated bodies in places which would incriminate the local inhabitants. German reprisals followed; villages were burnt, hostages shot, cattle removed, and sometimes entire districts in which partisans operated were devastated. The results of reprisals were negligible, because all that the partisans had to do was to move into another district and repeat their devilry. But for the Germans they were disastrous. The peasants, deprived of means of living and filled with intense hatred for those [the Germans] whom they had welcomed as liberators [when they first arrived in the Soviet Union], joined the partisans in tens of thousands. (20)
Similar events happened throughout German-occupied Europe. When the killing of their soldiers occurred, the Germans announced that any further partisan actions would be dealt with by shooting ten civilians for every German soldier killed. These threats were carried out when partisan warfare continued in spite of the warnings. The German response, ruthless though it certainly was, was nevertheless carried out in accordance with international law and the military manuals of all major countries. Exactly the same methods were used after the war by the British in Malaya and Kenya, the French in Indochina and Algeria, and the Americans in Vietnam.
The Anglo-American-French post-war occupation of western Germany was inspired by the Morgenthau Plan, which called for the destruction of Germany's industrial capacity and its reduction to an agricultural economy with a greatly reduced population. Numerous accounts from the immediate post-war period testified to the appalling conditions of starvation and disease which had been imposed on the German people through the post-war destruction of factories, mines and other economic resources, as well as the deliberate withholding of food supplies. Prisoners of war were illegally used as slave labourers after the war, often in extremely bad conditions, or deliberately left to die of starvation, disease and exposure in prison camps without shelter. One can only imagine what conditions were like in the Soviet zone. Only in 1948, with the growing Soviet threat, did the Western occupiers begin to reverse the Morgenthau Plan and replace it with a policy of German reconstruction. In his recent book Crimes and Mercies, the Canadian journalist James Bacque has claimed that, overall, as many as nine million Germans died premature deaths as a result of Soviet and Western Allied occupation policies from 1944 to 1950, but this is considered an overestimate.
The Nuremberg Trials, and other prosecutions of German and Japanese leaders for war crimes, have also been the subject of revisionist scholarship, especially in Advance to Barbarism, by the British lawyer F. J. P. Veale. Revisionists have criticised what happened when the Allied powers created a "court" with "laws" and "crimes" invented for the occasion, in which judges and prosecutors both represented the Allied powers, in which technical rules of evidence did not apply, in which generals, admirals and diplomats were imprisoned or even hanged simply for performing their normal duties, in which sentences were announced in advance, and in which no Allied official was ever charged with any war crime. Revisionists contend that there was not a single crime proven at Nuremberg, such as the use of slave labour, which the Allied powers had not also committed. For example, Admiral Raeder received a life sentence for the invasion of Norway in 1940, which, as the official British history of the war has stated, was precisely what the British were preparing to do before the Germans successfully pre-empted them. Colonel-General Jodl was hanged primarily for being the most popular and respected of the German generals. Joachim von Ribbentrop was hanged for "plotting aggressive war" on evidence which could have convicted the foreign minister of any major power. Field Marshal Keitel was hanged for taking reprisals against civilians on the Eastern Front of exactly the sort which, as we saw above, the British, French and Americans carried out in various post-1945 conflicts. Rudolf Hess, who had tried to end the war with his flight to Britain in 1941, received a life sentence (and supposedly "committed suicide" under mysterious circumstances in 1987 after Mikhail Gorbachev had agreed to release him). A. J. P. Taylor said of the Nuremberg Trials that they were a "macabre farce" and that "there are few episodes of modern history more nauseating". (21) He might have said the same about the trials of Japanese leaders at the Tokyo and Manila war crimes trials, which were run on similar principles. The Nuremberg Trials were denounced by numerous public figures throughout the Western world. For example, in his book Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy, later President of the United States, praised Senator Robert A. Taft for his public denunciation of the Nuremberg Trials while they were going on, and argued that Nuremberg represented the Soviet idea of trials as an instrument of government policy rather than of Western ideals of justice.
From a libertarian perspective, revisionists have also demonstrated the drastic extension of the power of the state at the expense of individual liberty which occurred in consequence of the second world war. For instance, peacetime conscription was introduced for the first time in Britain in 1939 and the US in 1940, and was continued after the war. In Britain, fascists, suspected German sympathisers and other opponents of the war, including Admiral Sir Barry Domvile, formerly director of Naval Intelligence, Captain A. H. M. Ramsay MP, and Sir Oswald and Lady Diana Mosley, were imprisoned without charge or trial under Regulation 18B in 1940, in breach of the provisions of Magna Carta. The Communist Party papers Daily Worker and The Week were banned in 1940, and the anarchist magazine War Commentary in 1945. In the US, Japanese-Americans, whether immigrants or born in the US, were rounded up and put into concentration camps without charge or trial, in breach of the provisions of the Bill of Rights. In both countries a vast range of "wartime emergency" economic controls were introduced "for the duration" and continued after the end of the war.
Revisionists have also argued that the trials of alleged Nazi war criminals that have occurred since then have led to severe breaches of the protections of the rights of the accused. The Israeli kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann from Argentina in 1960 was a breach of Argentinian national sovereignty, and Eichmann was tried before a court which had no jurisdiction to try him, in circumstances in which there was not the slightest chance of objectivity or acquittal. Britain's War Crimes Act 1991, which was passed by the House of Commons after it had been rejected by the Lords, was introduced in order to bring prosecutions against several elderly eastern Europeans living in Britain for alleged crimes committed during the second world war. The Act retroactively made their actions a crime and brought them under British jurisdiction. For centuries it has been recognised that a retroactive law, that is, one which subjects to the criminal law actions which were not crimes at the time when they were carried out, or were carried out under a different jurisdiction, is a fundamental breach of the protection of individual rights. After all, if the authorities can introduce laws which retrospectively criminalise actions which were not unlawful at the time they were carried out, there can be no protection against arbitrary tyranny. Although it is very unlikely that any convictions will be obtained under the Act, the extremely dangerous precedent of retroactivity has been established as a part of British law.
Revisionists have also expressed concern about the deportation of alleged "Nazi war criminals" from countries such as the US, Canada and Australia to face trials in the Soviet bloc and Israel in circumstances where Anglo-Saxon protections of the rights of the accused do not exist, and they have virtually no chance of a fair trial. The courageous Israeli lawyer Yoram Sheftel has described how the Office of Special Investigations (a division of the US Justice Department), the Israeli authorities and the Soviet KGB deliberately framed his client, John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian-born American citizen, as the "Ivan the Terrible" who allegedly operated the gas chambers at Treblinka. On the basis of forged evidence, a US court stripped Demjanjuk of his citizenship and ordered his deportation to Israel to undergo a show trial in which the basic principles of justice were flouted. Sheftel was subjected to vilification, death threats and an acid attack in the face for his vigorous defence of his client. Fortunately, the collapse of the Soviet Union made available documents in Soviet archives which proved that "Ivan the Terrible" was someone else, and Demjanjuk returned home to the US. Anybody who reads Sheftel's account of the Demjanjuk affair will learn of the severe breaches of the rights of the accused involved in the international "Nazi-hunting" and "war crimes" business, quite apart from the problem of proof after a delay of over half a century. (22)
COLD WAR REVISIONISM
We have seen above how Harry Elmer Barnes was the leader of historical revisionism relating to both the world wars. After the onset of the cold war, which followed the promulgation of the Truman Doctrine in 1947, a revisionist historical school developed for the study of that conflict. Revisionist historians, including Barnes, examined the available evidence, and challenged the assumption that the cold war was a world-wide crusade for democracy that could only benefit the peoples of the world. Revisionist historians such as William A. Williams, Kenneth Ingram, D. F. Fleming, David Horowitz and Lloyd C. Gardner argued that the onset of the cold war was not solely caused by the Soviet Union, and that US and British foreign policy were also responsible. "New left" revisionist historians argued that American global interventionism had little to do with the spreading of "democracy" and "human rights", and a great deal to do with maintaining an economic, military and political hegemony which ensured profits for American big business, and which included support for dictatorships and the overthrow of elected governments. Noam Chomsky has argued that this international system is built on the subordination of Third World peoples to American imperialist interests, and on "manufacturing consent" for this system by an alliance of powerful media, economic and political interests within the US, which works against the interests of working people, of ethnic minorities and of political dissidents. Chomsky is generally considered to be the most prolific, well-informed and outspoken scholarly critic of American foreign policy from a libertarian socialist perspective. He and other left-wing critics of US interventionism have demonstrated that, quite apart from the devastation inflicted on Indochina and elsewhere by direct military intervention, the US has overthrown constitutional and elected governments through covert action and terrorism, and supported and maintained in power various repressive and sometimes genocidal regimes. Since the end of the cold war, a vast quantity of documents from the Soviet and eastern European archives has become available, and new histories of the conflict, such as We Now Know, by John L. Gaddis, are incorporating this hitherto inaccessible material. The definitive history of the cold war, if it is ever written, will await the study of the totality of the extant material.
Barnes argued that the global expansion of US interventionism which the cold war involved was unjustified by the realities of the world situation, that it was logistically impossible, that it inflicted damage on the countries involved, and that it imposed a semi-permanent "warfare state" on American society, with severe consequences to American freedom. It also involved conscripting young Americans to fight and die in places like Korea and Vietnam. In the name of "anti-communism", it made America increasingly adopt such features of communist states as military conscription, greater state economic controls, the restriction of political dissent, and the launching of a space programme. Barnes wrote in 1953 that:
The security measures alleged to be necessary to promote and execute global crusades are rapidly bringing about the police state in hitherto free nations, including our own. Any amount of arbitrary control over political and economic life, the most extensive invasions of civil liberties, the most extreme witch-hunting, and the most lavish expenditures, can all be demanded and justified on the basis of alleged "defense" requirements. ... This is precisely the psychological attitude and procedural policy which dominate "Nineteen Eighty-Four" society. (23)
He argued that within this new system
[W]ars must be ... made perpetual ... so as to assure full employment and facilitate the propaganda of fear and terrorism upon which the maintenance of the regime depends.
He noted that an Orwellian "hate campaign ... is well under way against Soviet Russia, Communist China, and the `Reds' generally." He condemned the prosecutions of US Communist Party leaders under the Smith Act in 1951 for the expression of their opinions. Barnes believed that the Smith Act
... repudiated the fundamental principles on which our nation was founded ... Though the Smith Act is now being used to suppress the vending of unpopular Communist opinions, it could readily be turned against the very conservative groups that have sponsored the law. (24)
He compared official American cold war rhetoric with the slogans of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four:
Double prices and we double national income. ... Our great national debt is a blessing in disguise, because we owe it to ourselves. ... Cold war is peace. ... A `free nation' is any nation -- whether liberal and democratic, socialist, fascist, or anti-Kremlin communist -- which will join the anti-Russian crusade. Aiding socialist nations of Europe under the Marshall Plan is a bold stroke to promote free enterprise abroad. ... Launching the atom bomb will assure peace and security.
Barnes argued that a study of revisionist history relating to the two world wars was essential in order to formulate a foreign policy for the cold war period. The condemnation of "appeasement" of Germany, Japan and Italy in the 1930s, Barnes argued, led to a needlessly confrontational approach to the Soviet Union. He argued instead that the US should
... return to neutrality ... combined [with] every possible effort to limit warfare, and to encourage better international understanding. (25)
In 1959, he deplored the fact that
... when we are unable to enforce the law in Little Rock without upsetting the nation, it is proposed that we enforce the law in Saigon, Bangkok, Rangoon, and Nairobi. (26)
He regretted the fact that American conservatives, who had in many cases opposed intervention in the two world wars, had almost all become vigorous cold war partisans:
the conservatives overlook entirely the fact that this very globalism and spatial fantasy, with the astronomical expenditures involved, are the main cause of the growing statism, debt burden, inflation ... which are destroying the free economy that they abstractly worship. ... The building of a dam costing some millions is denounced as `pure socialism,' while a rigidly State-controlled armament economy costing forty or more billions each year is hailed as the chief bulwark of free enterprise. (27)
THE VILIFICATION OF BARNES
Needless to say, Barnes was subjected to sustained vilification for his historical researches. Because of his 1914-18 revisionism he was accused of being a tool of the Prussian general staff. The absurdity of that claim was demonstrated by his enthusiastic pro-Allied agitation during the first world war, before he came to examine the diplomatic papers relating to that conflict and reverse his position.
For his 1939-45 revisionism, he was accused of being pro-Nazi and an anti-semite. This absurdity was demolished by the distinguished American journalist Clyde R. Miller, who wrote that:
In dealing with race problems, Barnes exposed the fallacies in race prejudice, dealt with civil rights for minorities, and attacked the extremes of anti-Semitism in Hitler's Germany. ... Rabbi Stephen S. Wise distributed one of Barnes' series on this subject by the tens of thousands. But Barnes was often admonished by his Jewish readers not to overlook the Jewish situation in Poland, where there were six times as many Jews as in Germany, and where they were treated as harshly as Hitler treated the German Jews. Barnes' attitude toward the Negro situation in the United States was as broad-minded as that toward the Jews. ... Barnes agreed with Lewis Gannett that the Negroes had been treated worse in the United States than the Jews had been by Germany under Hitler. ... In his World-Telegram column he frequently called attention to the danger in postponing a forthright and far-reaching program for the solution of the Negro problem. (28)
In fact, before 1940 Barnes had been a close friend of the American Jewish community, and a frequent speaker in lectures and debates organised by New York synagogues and Jewish organisations. Unfortunately, because of his outspoken opposition to US intervention in the the second world war, and because of his post-war historical revisionism relating to that conflict, a number of Jewish spokesmen and groups turned against him and subjected him to completely unjustified attacks.
For his cold war revisionism, he was accused of being a Soviet apologist. The absurdity of that claim is demonstrated in the following passage:
Stalin and his successors were content with the Cold War because war scares and the alleged threat of capitalistic attack enabled the Politburo to maintain unity and prevent any threat of civil war in Soviet Russia, despite much slave labor and low living standards. (29)
(One might, indeed, argue in retrospect that the confrontational "brinkmanship" policies towards the Soviet bloc pursued by US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles in the 1950s tended to reinforce Soviet power, while the detente of the 1970s at least enabled some progress towards human rights and multilateral disarmament agreements, and an increase in trade. This increase in East-West trade, it might be argued, involved the construction of those modern telecommunications and computer networks which enabled dissident organisations like Solidarity and Charter 77 to function, and gradually led to the peaceful collapse of the entire Soviet system and its transition to multi-party democracies.)
Barnes, in short, was none of these things. Instead, as the late Murray N. Rothbard, the economist who was the most important figure in the development of post-war American libertarianism, wrote of Barnes:
Absolute fearlessness, absolute honesty, absolute independ-ence have been his guiding stars. He has, therefore, been nothing if not "anti-Establishmentarian" in a world where such a quality has been so desperately needed. And his presence has been particularly vital precisely in leading the opposition to the great barbarity of our day -- the war system and its manifold intellectual myths.
In the face of the two great wars of this century, and of the enormous pressures to fall into step behind them, Barnes has intrepidly led the revisionist movements in analyzing the causes, the nature, and the consequences of both wars. Revisionism, of course, means penetrating beneath the official propaganda myths spawned by war and the war-making state, and analyzing war independently of court pressures and court emoluments. ... Throughout his life, whether surrounded by the leading lights of his day or battling alone, whether heaped with laurels or with abuse, Harry Barnes has fought uncompromisingly for truth and justice, for reason and peace. In a century of craven "other-direction," he has always been his own man ... a worthy embodiment of the better, and let us hope, the truer America. (30)
Rothbard and other libertarians worked closely with Barnes, recognising the value of his historical researches to the promotion of a free society. Perhaps the most important libertarian colleague of Barnes was James J. Martin, who has written numerous revisionist studies of twentieth century history, quite apart from his well-known works on nineteenth-century anarchism and individualism. His revisionist magnum opus is American Liberalism and World Politics, 1931-41, a two-volume study of how American "liberals" gradually converted from being peace-mongers in 1931 to being war-mongers in 1941. His two collections of essays, Revisionist Viewpoints and The Saga of Hog Island, are exceptionally well-informed critical studies of various aspects of the two world wars and the cold war. His most recent pamphlet, An American Adventure in Book-burning, deals with American military censorship in 1917-18. Martin is generally considered to be the dean of modern revisionism. What is perhaps most significant in his contribution to revisionism, apart from his extraordinarily detailed knowledge of the twentieth-century English-language literature on politics, warfare and international relations, is his demonstration of the necessity of examining revisionist history as a unit. One simply cannot separate the revisionist history of the first world war, the second world war and the cold war; they are the study of a single phenomenon. Martin's approach demonstrates the equal absurdity of those conservatives who vigorously opposed American intervention in the second world war but signed up for the cold war after 1947, and that of the "radicals" and "liberals" who wrote perceptive revisionist accounts of the cold war and the Vietnam war but repeated all the hoary interventionist clichés relating to 1939-45. All the great crusades of the twentieth century, Martin argues, are based on common illusions and common policies, and must be examined with a common historical methodology, no matter what sacred cows get slaughtered in the process.
No cow is more sacred in the contemporary United States than that country's relationship with the state of Israel. Another aspect of revisionism of the post-1945 period is the study of American policy in the Middle East. It is a well-known fact that the US has given gigantic financial, military and diplomatic support to the state of Israel since its formation in 1948, regardless of that state's treatment of the Palestinian Arabs and its invasions of neighbouring countries. The American taxpayer currently gives approximately $3.5 billion every year in direct economic and military aid to Israel, that is to say over 20% of the total US foreign aid budget to a country which has a population of about 5 million and an advanced economic and technological infrastructure. Since 1948 the American taxpayers are estimated to have handed over about $150 billion to Israel. This is quite apart from the enormous US diplomatic support for Israel and the unofficial, and often illegal, transfer of military equipment and other technology from US military forces to Israel's. There is only one reason for this unparalleled "special relationship", and that is the astonishing power of the pro-Israeli lobby over American governmental institutions. The history of US-Israeli-Arab relations has been critically examined by a number of courageous and informed Jewish scholars, such as Alfred M. Lilienthal, in The Zionist Connection, and Noam Chomsky, in The Fateful Triangle, as well as by such Arab writers as Edward Said, all of whom have documented US complicity in, and financing of, the wholesale massacres, robberies and repression of Palestinian, Lebanese and other Arab peoples. Lilienthal has emphasised the role of Holocaust propaganda both in encouraging belligerent nationalism and exclusionism among Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora, and in estopping any criticism of Israeli policies or American taxpayer financing of those policies. Some measure of the gratitude awarded to the American taxpayers for the tens of billions of dollars they have poured into Israel is given in James M. Ennes, Jr's Assault on the Liberty, an account of the Israeli attack on the US communication ship Liberty during the 1967 war, which killed 34 sailors and injured another 117 in an attempt to prevent the Americans from learning about Israel's plans for the illegal seizure of more Arab territory. The Israelis intended to kill the Liberty's entire crew and blame the attack on the Egyptians. The author was a US Navy officer on board the Liberty at the time of the attack, which, he demonstrates, was successfully covered up by the US authorities for a decade. Richard Deacon's History of the Israeli Secret Service describes the Lavon affair of 1954, in which the Israeli government deliberately arranged for the bombing and murder of Americans and Britons in Egypt, in order to blame the Nasser government and rupture its relations with the West. The systematic informal suppression of criticism of Israel or sympathy for the Arabs in the US is given in They Dare to Speak Out, by Paul Findley, a former Congressman who lost his seat because he gave some circumspect criticism of American support for Israeli policies and was immediately targeted by the pro-Israeli lobby and unseated at the next election. In their book Publish It Not, Christopher Mayhew, a former Labour under-secretary of state at the Foreign Office, and Michael Adams, a former Guardian Middle East correspondent, documented the informal suppression of criticism of Israel in the media and political forums in Britain.
The Middle East is an important area for revisionists because recent Western military interventions in that region have been carried out primarily in support of Israeli strategy. In 1986, for instance, the US Air Force carried out a bombing of Libya, which killed numerous civilians, from bases in Britain. (None of America's other European allies would permit such a breach of international law being carried out from their territory.) The raid was carried out not because of Libyan backing for "terrorism", which was never proven, but because the Israeli government wanted Colonel Gaddafi humiliated. The Israelis also regard Saddam Hussein's Iraq as a major enemy, and the Gulf War of 1991, in which over 100,000 Iraqi civilians are believed to have been killed by bombing, was fought largely at the behest of Israel. Since then, economic sanctions have caused the death by starvation and disease of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, mainly children. Revisionists warn that the suppression of the vital facts about the history and current situation in the Middle East has led to policies which have severely damaged Western relations with the Arab and Moslem nations, and may lead to the British and American peoples being dragged into further wars.
The usual response of the Israeli lobby is to talk about "anti-semitism" at any criticism of Israeli policies or the size of the US economic and military contribution to Israel. This is complete nonsense. One could point to Britain, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Germany, Poland or any number of countries from which millions of Americans are descended, and with which the US enjoys excellent relations, without handing over billions of dollars in aid, and without handing those countries control over US policy in Europe. Yet nobody claims that US policy towards these countries is "anti-British", "anti-Irish", "anti-Italian" or whatever. Those Americans -- Jewish and Gentile alike -- who are courageously breaking the taboo on this subject are simply proposing that the US should enjoy similar relations with Israel as it does with the countries just mentioned.
CRUSADING IN THE MIDDLE AGES AND THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
I have described at some length the development of the revisionist school of history relating to the two world wars, the cold war and the Middle East. It is not expected that every reader will agree with any or all of the ideas which that school encompasses, or that the authors I have cited by any means agree with each other on any issue at all. The only point I wish to make with this description is the fact that revisionist history has been a significant dissident and minority view on the events of the twentieth century. Unless the reader takes the totalitarian view that the criminal law should prohibit historians from challenging the official government line on any historical question, it is surely healthy in a free society to have a variety of interpretations of historical questions available which must stand or fall in the free market of ideas.
Above I compared Woodrow Wilson's war rhetoric of 1917 with the preaching of the First Crusade by Pope Urban II in 1095. The comparison between the medieval Crusades and the great crusades for "democracy", "civilisation", "the rights of small nations", and so on, in the twentieth century, has been made explicit by the Reverend John Godfrey in his history of the Fourth Crusade of 1204, in which the Crusaders were diverted from the Holy Land to the Byzantine Christian city of Constantinople, which they looted and put to the torch and the sword. Godfrey writes:
Moral idealism joined with strenuous effort, even with armed conflict, has indeed come to characterize the twentieth century scarcely less than it did the early Middle Ages, and we have seen a revival of the doctrine which justifies physical violence in the service of religion and humanity. ... [T]he study of the Crusades is all too often bedevilled by a reluctance to try to understand the medieval mind. It is easy, for example, to ridicule the early medieval obsession with relics; and yet a man like John of Salisbury (who died in 1180), greatest scholar of his time, political philosopher, administrator, humanist, and distinguished for his integrity and common sense, had as one of his personal treasures a phial containing some drops of the blood of St. Thomas of Canterbury. The Conquest of Constantinople, to westerners of 1204, far from being a 'crime', was eminently respectable. To us it is otherwise, an event made possible by an amalgam of feudal honour, martial courage, Christian idealism, French vanity, Venetian maritime skill, and human greed. It is a tale of men enmeshed in the toils of their own miscalculations, many of whom were to die `of love for dreams that were and truths that were not', and is European history's most outstanding instance of the dangers which lie in using physical force in the quest for the good. (31)
Any valuable account of the medieval Crusades, such as Sir Stephen Runciman's monumental three-volume history, does not use as its historical sources merely the chronicles of those events written by the crusaders themselves, which, as one might expect, are full of religious self-righteousness, denunciation of the heathen, and uncritical enthusiasm for the great quest in which they were engaged. On the contrary, the historian would base his history primarily on original documents, and would treat such partisan chronicles with a high degree of scepticism. He would also examine Byzantine chronicles, such as the Alexiad of Anna Comnena, daughter of the Byzantine emperor, as well as Arab sources which, as Amin Maalouf has demonstrated in The Crusades through Arab Eyes, described the Crusades as a frightful series of invasions by destructive and primitive barbarians against a superior Islamic civilisation. The revisionist historians of the great crusades of the twentieth century simply argue that the same critical and disinterested approach must be taken to the examination of all the great conflicts and events of our time, and of the ideas and assumptions relating to them.
A reading of history indicates that Americans seem to be particularly attracted to the "crusading" approach to international relations, which Europeans generally abandoned with the decline in the crusading ideal in the later middle ages, although they have revived it at intervals ever since then, especially during the religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the two world wars of the twentieth century, and to some extent after the French revolution. The essential techniques have remained unchanged since the holy wars of the middle ages. There is the construction of the propaganda image of The Enemy, a person or nation so evil and powerful, and who has committed so many monstrous atrocities, that only his or its total annihilation can save the world from infamy. There are martyrs whose life histories and relics can be manufactured to order, regardless of the historical reality. There is the appeal not only to patriotism but also -- significantly -- to quasi-religious and messianic concepts such as "the Union", "the war to end all wars", "making the world safe for democracy", or "the new world order", which put the recipient into a state of enthusiasm where he will believe virtually any propaganda, however improbable. In such a psychological -- and physiological -- state, the overwhelming majority of individuals will, at least for a time, do virtually anything that they are asked to do, and not only that, will in many cases go above and beyond the call of duty in the required direction. In such a state an ordinary man, who in civilian life might stay up all night in order to rescue a neighbour's kitten stuck in the branches of a tree, can be induced to commit atrocities which equal anything committed by the ancient Assyrians or the medieval Mongols. A full-length study of such phenomena would require the consideration of hundreds of sources, including not only historical examples of propaganda and their documented affect on human behaviour, but also such authoritative works as Gustave Le Bon's classic study of crowd psychology, Jacques Ellul's study of propaganda, Ivan Pavlov's neurological researches and the Behaviourism of B. F. Skinner, together with all the major schools of psychological interpretation, from Sigmund Freud's pioneering researches into the unconscious and Carl Jung's studies of symbols and archetypes to the contemporary "neuro-linguistic" model of the mind.
When the Southern states seceded from the American Union in 1860-61, as they believed they were lawfully entitled to do under the United States Constitution, a colossal propaganda campaign was mounted in the Northern states which incited the quasi-religious fanaticism in the Union armies which is reflected in the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" which is still sung in churches today. This fanaticism accounts for the wholesale destruction which the Northern armies inflicted on the South during their conquest of it, destruction so severe that the economy of Georgia did not recover its GDP of 1860 until 1911. When the United States mounted its war of aggression against Spain in 1898, the Hearst press manufactured the illusion that Spanish galleons were off the coast of New Jersey in order to induce war hysteria, an episode which was reproduced in the film Citizen Kane (US, 1941), directed by Orson Welles. Speaking of Welles, we have all heard of the mass panic induced in the north-eastern United States in 1938 by his radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells, which took the form of a spoof radio news report about a Martian invasion. It is worth noting that during the process of "brainwashing" which was carried out by the North Koreans and Chinese on prisoners of war during the Korean war, the brainwashers found that they achieved significantly better results with Americans than they did, for instance, with British, Turkish or South Korean PoWs. Since that time, television has become the dominant medium in the formation of mass opinion. During the Gulf War of 1991 it was noted that the American forces, as distinct from their allies, went out of their way to kill and injure as many Iraqis, civilians and soldiers, as possible. Iraqi food, water, electricity and medical supplies, as well as the civilian population, were treated as military targets. Saddam Hussein's birthplace, the city of Tiskit, which had no military function whatsoever, was totally destroyed, with half its population killed and most of the rest injured, by the US forces. There was little protest in the United States against this atrocity. By contrast, the publicity generated about the My Lai massacre in 1968 and the invasion of Cambodia in 1970 brought millions out on the streets in protest against the American intervention in Indochina. It all depended on how the media presented the situation. Such conditioning must be taken into consideration in the writing of the history of modern warfare.
NO HISTORICAL QUESTION IS EVER FINALLY SETTLED
No historical question can ever be regarded as finally settled. Indeed, among those who accept that the Holocaust happened, there is considerable controversy about interpretation. For instance, in Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, Lenni Brenner has sought to demonstrate that the Zionist leaders collaborated actively with the Nazis, because both wanted to get the Jews out of Europe and into Palestine. Brenner argues that Zionist leaders even sacrificed Hungarian Jews to the Nazis in order to ensure the flow of immigrants to the Promised Land. In Hitler's Willing Executioners, Daniel Goldhagen argues that the mass of ordinary Germans, and not simply a small minority of Nazis and SS members, were active participants in the Holocaust. The controversy over Goldhagen's book has led to civil lawsuits in the US, and attempts are being made in the American civil courts to prevent the publication of a reply to his thesis, entitled A Nation on Trial. Arno Mayer's Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? The Final Solution in History points to the rarity and unreliability of historical evidence relating to the gas chambers in the Nazi concentration camps, and argues that the extent of the Holocaust has been exaggerated. All these books, and many others about the Holocaust, are highly controversial, and the subject of heated debate. But nobody is demanding that their authors, publishers or distributors should be fined or imprisoned. So why should there be laws against the argument that the Holocaust never happened at all?
The denial of the Holocaust is the most controversial form of revisionism, and one which many Jewish people certainly find deeply objectionable. Nevertheless, the view that Holocaust revisionists are "all Nazis and anti-semites" has no basis in fact, and even if it did, that would not be a justification for making the expression of their beliefs a criminal offence. They are individuals who believe that what they are saying is true and needs to be said. Their arguments must stand or fall in the free market of ideas. Any attempt to suppress such individuals' opinions through bans, prosecutions and imprisonment is an evil far greater than any offence which may be caused by the expression of those opinions.
In 1978 the Institute for Historical Review (IHR) was founded in California, primarily with the purpose of promoting Holocaust revisionism. The IHR brought together a number of the second world war and cold war revisionists who had worked with Barnes (who died in 1968), as well as writers who denied that the Holocaust had taken place, a position which Barnes never explicitly took. The IHR is sometimes described by its enemies as a Nazi front organisation, but the reality is very different. In fact it has brought together, in its conferences and publications, individuals as diverse as Jewish anti-Zionists, members of the Ku Klux Klan, radical black separatists, the best-selling American historian John Toland, speakers from several countries in Europe, North and South America, the Arab states and Japan, and two former Waffen-SS generals. Perhaps the IHR deserves some sort of community relations award for bringing such a diverse selection of people together on amicable terms!
Unfortunately, however, the legislatures of a number of Western countries have introduced laws which restrict or eliminate, in one way or another, the right to deny that the Holocaust happened, and stipulate civil and criminal penalties for doing so. In addition, the authorities in some countries have taken measures to prevent Holocaust revisionists from entering or speaking in their countries, in some cases without lawful authority to do so. Although Britain has no laws restricting Holocaust denial, the American Holocaust revisionist Fred A. Leuchter was deported from Britain in 1991. Although Leuchter had entered the country lawfully, the police arrived at a meeting at which he was speaking, asked the chairman of the meeting (David Irving) to summon Leuchter in mid-speech, and took him to a police station, where he was kept in a cell in sub-zero conditions for many hours before being deported back to the US. This arrest and deportation was carried out without any legal authority, as Leuchter had not broken any UK laws. Such a deportation can only be considered to be a politically-motivated restriction on freedom of expression.
We will now examine how the law relates to Holocaust revisionism in four countries: France, Canada, Germany and the United States.
FRANCE: FROM RASSINIER TO FAURISSON
The country in which Holocaust denial arguments first made a significant impact in intellectual and public opinion was France. I have mentioned above Paul Rassinier, the former inmate of Nazi concentration camps who denied that any exterminations had taken place in them. French law enables prosecutions for such concepts as "group libel" and "falsification of history" by private organisations, and Rassinier was prosecuted on this basis by an organisation of concentration camp survivors. He was sentenced to fines, a suspended prison sentence and the court-ordered destruction of one of his books, although this conviction was later overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal. Francois Duprat, a member of the Chambre des Deputés and a founder of the National Front (FN), the political party now led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, was an active distributor of Holocaust denial material before he was murdered, and his wife severely injured, by a car bomb placed by persons unknown.
Beginning in 1974, Professor Robert Faurisson, of the University of Lyons-2, began publishing articles and books denying the existence of gas chambers in Nazi concentration camps. Two of these articles were published in Le Monde, France's leading national daily paper, in 1978 and 1979. Professor Faurisson's views had a considerable impact in France, and attained a surprising degree of support in sections of the political far left. A lengthy interview in which Faurisson expounded his case appeared in the mass-circulation Italian magazine Storia Illustrata in 1979, and a three-hour programme was broadcast on Swiss television in which Faurisson and another Holocaust revisionist engaged in a debate with two concentration camp survivors and two orthodox historians. Faurisson also wrote a pamphlet arguing that Anne Frank's Diary is a post-war fabrication, written by her father, Otto Frank. Faurisson's books were published by a left-wing libertarian organisation called La Vieille Taupe, led by Pierre Guillaume. This group took the view that the constant emphasis on the Nazi Holocaust distracted attention from crimes committed by other nations, and therefore provided Faurisson with a platform for his views. As a result of the expression of his revisionist beliefs, Faurisson was subjected to severe harassment and physical violence, and the withdrawal of research facilities, and was eventually deprived of his tenure and prevented from teaching. Serge Thion, a French sociologist of left-wing political opinions, organised an international petition in defence of Faurisson's right to academic freedom and freedom of expression, which read, in part:
Dr. Faurisson has served as a respected professor of twentieth-century French literature and document criticism for over four years at the University of Lyon 2 in France. Since 1974 he has been conducting extensive independent historical research into the "Holocaust" question. Since he began making his findings public, Professor Faurisson has been subject to a vicious campaign of harassment, intimidation, slander, and physical violence in a crude attempt to silence him. Fearful officials have even tried to stop him from further research by denying him access to public libraries and archives. (32)
This petition was signed by 500 prominent individuals, including Professor Noam Chomsky, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is the world's greatest living philosopher of linguistics, and the anti-Zionist American Jewish writer Alfred M. Lilienthal. Professor Chomsky wrote a statement which was used without his knowledge as a preface to one of Faurisson's books, stating that Faurisson was "a relatively apolitical liberal of some sort". (33) He found "no proof" that Faurisson was an anti-semite, even though the latter claimed that the Holocaust was a "Zionist lie". Chomsky later asked:
Is it antisemitic to speak of Zionist lies? Is Zionism the first nationalist movement in history not to have concocted lies in its own interest?" (34)
He said that
... for those who have learned something from the eighteenth century (say, Voltaire), it is a truism, hardly deserving of discussion, that the defense of the right of free expression is not restricted to ideas one approves of, and that it is precisely in the case of ideas found so offensive that this right should be most vigorously defended. (35)
Chomsky believes that the right to freedom of expression is inherent in the individual, and is not dependent on what the authorities choose to "allow" because it might prove to be valuable:
[N]o one should have the authority to "allow" anything, and -- crucially -- I don't at all argue that the reason for "allowing" free expression of thought is that things that work (or are valuable) might be suppressed otherwise. The right of freedom of thought is far more fundamental than that, and the right of free expression of what one thinks (however crazy) is also far beyond these pragmatic considerations. I simply do not agree that the state, or any other system of organised power and violence, should have the authority to determine what people think or say. If the state is granted the power to shut me up, my counterargument is not that what I am saying might be valuable. That would be a contemptible position, in my view (though I recognize that it is the standard one of the people called "libertarians," back very far). (36)
Chomsky noted that Faurisson had been charged with being an anti-semite and a National Socialist, and that these were "serious charges that require evidence". Chomsky noted that Faurisson
... had written letters to the press (which they refused to publish, apparently) praising the heroism of the Warsaw ghetto fighters and in general, praising those who fought the `good fight' against the Nazis; and that he had privately published pamphlets denying the existence of gas chambers. (37)
The French press attacked Chomsky for his uncompromising defence of intellectual freedom in what became known as l'affaire Faurisson, without giving him the opportunity to reply. In 1981 an interviewer for Le Nouvel Observateur "modified" Chomsky's replies to the paper's questions in order, in Chomsky's words, "to accord with [the paper's] ideological needs". The paper then refused to publish the questions with Chomsky's original replies. Chomsky's replies to articles attacking him in Le Matin de Paris, Le Monde and Les Nouvelles littéraires were not published, and Libération, he recalled, "demanded that I cut out criticisms of France and Marxism, and when I refused, they wouldn't print" his reply. (38) He remarked that
It is striking that in France, alone in Europe, the press has regularly refused to grant me the right of response to lies and slander, though I read about a `debate' that is supposedly in progress.
He notes that
... for one thing, France does not have a civil libertarian tradition of the Anglo-Saxon variety. For another thing, there simply is a totalitarian strain among large segments of the French intelligentsia. Marxism-Leninism and Stalinism, for example, were much more viable and significant doctrines among the French than in England or the United States. What's called the left, especially in France, has a large segment that is deeply authoritarian. (39)
Throughout the 1980s prosecutions and civil suits against Faurisson and other Holocaust revisionists continued. In 1980 Faurisson made the following statement in a radio interview:
The alleged Hitlerian gas chambers and the so-called genocide of the Jews form a single historical lie whose principal beneficiaries are the State of Israel and international Zionism and whose principal victims are the German people, but not its leaders, and the Palestinian people in its entirety. (40)
Faurisson was referring to the fact that the Holocaust is constantly used as a justification for the Israeli massacre, repression and expropriation of the Palestinian people, and the fact that the German taxpayers have paid billions of Deutschemarks in reparations both to the state of Israel and to individual Jews throughout the world on the basis that the Holocaust is an historical fact. For making this statement, in 1983 the Court of Appeal convicted Faurisson of reducing his research to malicious slogans. He was fined and forced to make restitution to various Holocaust survivor and anti-racist organisations.
In 1985, the University of Nantes awarded a PhD to Henri Roques, one of Faurisson's associates, for a dissertation which challenged the veracity of the Gerstein statements, which testified to the operation of Nazi gas chambers at Treblinka and Belzec. In 1986, in an unprecedented state intervention against academic freedom, the minister of higher education in Paris announced that Roques' degree was revoked. For the state to unilaterally revoke a degree awarded by a university is a severe violation of the principle of the autonomy of the university which has been a foundation-stone of Western civilisation since the high middle ages.
In 1990 the Chambre des Députés passed a "law on the falsification of the history of the second world war", which is known as the Gayssot law after the politician who proposed it, who is currently the communist minister of transport in the French government. The Gayssot law makes it a criminal offence to deny the reality of any of the "crimes against humanity" for which the German leaders were charged at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1945-6. In 1991, Faurisson was convicted under this law for calling the Holocaust a "lie of history", (41) although the court denounced the law under which he had been tried and convicted.
The extraordinarily wide sweep of this law was demonstrated when Fabrice Saulais, a reporter on the French weekly Minute La France, carried out an interview with the British historian David Irving at the latter's home in London which was published in the magazine in 1992. In this interview, Irving made two remarks about the Holocaust which, it was claimed, broke the law. A committal order for trial was sent to the interviewer, to Serge Martinez, publisher of Minute La France, and to Serge de Beketch, the paper's editor, as well as to Irving in London. Martinez was prosecuted for "the offense [sic] of denying crimes against humanity" by publishing the interview, while the other three were prosecuted for being "the accomplices of the offence of denying the crimes against humanity committed by Mr. Serge Martinez, by supplying to the latter the means to commit this offense, knowing that they would be used for this purpose." (42) Even some of the words Irving had used were censored on the committal order. All four defendants were convicted, including Irving, even though his home in London, where the "offence" (that is, the interview) was committed, is generally understood to be outside French jurisdiction, even in this age of European unification. The court fined Irving about £500 for this "crime". Irving commented:
I have not been in France for years. Either the French government is off its rocker or my opponents are entering the final frenzy of defeat. The new French law ... is one that every historian should detest. It even becomes a criminal offence to state that the Russians, rather than the Nazis, killed the Poles at Katyn. It is designed to stifle all historical debate, which is what my opponents want. (43)
(Irving refers to the fact that 23,000 Polish officers and intellectuals, who became prisoners of war when the Soviet Union invaded Poland in 1939, were murdered by Stalin's secret police in 1940 and buried in the Katyn Woods in Russia. In 1943 their bodies were discovered and exhumed by the Germans. Although an international commission of experts assembled by the Germans demonstrated that the Soviets had massacred the Poles, at Nuremberg the Germans were nevertheless charged with and implicitly convicted of the Katyn massacre. In 1990, in an admirable and courageous gesture to the Polish people, Mikhail Gorbachev publicly and definitively stated that the Soviet NKVD, and not the Germans, had carried out the Katyn murders, thus ending half a century of Soviet deception on the subject. Apparently the news hasn't reached France yet.)
Further reading, annex and footnotes appear on part 2.
Historical Notes No. 29; ISSN 0267-7105; ISBN 1 85637 416 5; An occasional publication of the Libertarian Alliance, 25 Chapter Chambers, Esterbrooke Street, London SW1P 4NN; Email: LA-capital.demon.co.uk; http://www.digiweb.com/igeldard/LA; © 1998: Libertarian Alliance; David Botsford. (With the authorization of the author). David Botsford is a freelance writer and therapist. The views expressed in this publication are those of its author, and not necessarily those of the Libertarian Alliance, its Committee, Advisory Council or subscribers. LA Director: Chris R. Tame; Editorial Director: Brian Micklethwait; Netmaster: Ian Geldard
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See, from the same author: The case of R. vs GRIFFIN, and Coercion of opinion is a mistake, as complements of this document.
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