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The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory




In the Shadow of World War II

Denial's Initial Steps

The end of World War II meant the defeat of Adolf Hitler's dream of a Third Reich. Most rational people assumed it also meant the end of fascism as an ideology. As long as fascism could be linked with Nazism, and Nazism, in turn, could be linked with the horrors of the Final Solution, then both would remain thoroughly discredited. There were those, however, who were not willing to abandon these political systems. They knew that the only means of trying to revive them would be to separate them from the Holocaust and the multitude of atrocities that accompanied it. Nowhere would this effort be more evident in the immediate aftermath of the war than in France, where Holocaust denial found some of its earliest proponents.

Within a few years after the liberation of Europe the effort to minimize the scope and intensity of the Nazi atrocities was overtaken by claims that the death of six million Jews was not only greatly exaggerated but a fabrication. Though the earliest deniers did not become part of a larger group, their tactics and arguments have since become integral elements of contemporary Holocaust denial. They made little, if any efforts, to disguise their antisemitism.


In 1947 Maurice Bardeche, a prominent French fascist, began a concerted attack on Allied war propaganda. He also engaged in a vigorous defense of the Nazis. In his first book, Letter to Francois Mauriac, Bardeche strongly defended the politics of collaboration. In his second, Nuremberg or the Promised Land, he contended that at least a portion of the evidence regarding the concentration camps had been falsified and that the deaths that had occurred there were primarily the result of war-related privations, including starvation and illness. Bardeche claimed that since the end of the war the world had been "duped by history." (1) According to Bardeche, Nazi documents that spoke of the "final solution of the Jewish problem" were really referring to the proposed transfer of Jews to ghettos in the east.

His fundamental argument was not only that the Nazis were not guilty of atrocities, but that the true culprits were the Jews themselves. Jews, both those who died and those who survived, deserved no sympathy because they had helped to instigate the war by supporting the Treaty of Versailles. He argued that it was morally wrong to hold German soldiers or officers of any rank culpable for following orders. Nazi Germany had to defeat the Communists in order to survive. A strong state with a strong and loyal army were absolute necessities for it to do so. The Nuremberg trials were both morally and legally wrong because they punished Germany for having done what was needed in order to defeat Stalin. For Bardeche the Allies' bombing policy constituted a war crime.

While some of these notions, particularly those regarding the Versailles treaty and the Allied bombing policy, were being articulated by others, including isolationists in the United States, Bardeche was the first to contend that the pictorial and documentary evidence of the murder process in the camps had actually been falsified. He was also the first to argue that the gas chambers were used for disinfection -- not annihilation.

Bardeche's dubious credentials -- he remained a committed fascist all his life -- made him a controversial figure in denial circles. Despite his contentions that the Holocaust was a myth and that the Nazis were wrongly implicated, Bardeche has never been openly embraced by contemporary deniers. That has not kept them from adopting his ideas. Though they use his arguments, they rarely mention him by name because of his political views, about which he was always quite explicit. Indeed, he began his book What Is Fascism? with the unequivocal declaration: "I am a fascist writer."


In Bardeche's second book he laid out his objectives, which remain, almost verbatim, the credo of contemporary deniers: "I am not defending Germany. I am defending the truth.... I know a lie has been put about, I know a systematic distortion of facts exists.... We have been living with a falsification: it captures the imagination." (2) Today deniers protest that they are neither for Germany nor against Jews. They are not out to defend Hitler or castigate the Allies. They are interested only in revising history so that it will convey the truth. But such claims notwithstanding, examination of their methods and arguments reveals that since Bardeche's work, truth has been the antithesis of their enterprise.

The next assault on the history of the war also emanated from France. In 1948 Paul Rassinier, a former Communist and a Socialist who had been interned in the concentration camps of Buchenwald and Dora, published Le Passage de la Ligne (Crossing the line). This was the first in a series of books he would write during the next two decades intended to show that survivors' claims about the behavior of the Nazis, particularly in relation to the atrocities, could not be trusted. Rassinier, who became a member of the Communist party in 1922 when he was sixteen, left the Communists in the mid-1930s and joined the Socialists. When the war broke out he became part of the resistance. Eventually he was captured and sent to Buchenwald. On liberation in 1945, he returned to France and was elected a Socialist member of the National Assembly, where he served for a year. Shortly thereafter he began a prolific publishing career, the bulk of which was devoted to vindicating the Nazis by proving that the atrocity accusations against them were inflated and unfair. Given his earlier role in the French resistance, his arguments have the flavor of the utterances of a repentant sinner.

His books are a mixture of blatant falsehoods, half-truths, quotations out of context, and attacks on the "Zionist establishment." In 1977 Rassinier's major books concerning the Holocaust were reissued in one volume, Debunking the Genocide Myth, by the Noontide Press, which publishes neo-Nazi material and is connected with the California-based headquarters of the contemporary deniers, the Institute for Historical Review. The first part of this composite volume is made up of his first two works, Crossing the Line and The Lie of Ulysses, in which he focused on the concentration camps and the behavior of both inmates and Nazis administrators. He set out two propositions: Survivors exaggerate what happened to them, and it was not the SS that was responsible for the terrors of the camps but the inmates to whom they


entrusted the running of the camps. He dismissed as gossip the testimony of survivors who claimed they had witnessed atrocities and denigrated the credibility of their assertions regarding the number of Jews who had been killed. "Concerning figures the 'witnesses' have said and written the most improbable things. Concerning the implementation of the means of killing, also." (3) He described concentration camp literature as "a collection of contradictory pieces of ill-natured gossip." (4)

Rassinier initially limited his argument regarding the killing process to denying that there was a policy of annihilation. People may have been killed, he declared, but those who conducted such "exterminations" were acting on their own and not in the name of "a state order in the name of a political doctrine." (5) Rassinier sought to absolve the National Socialist leadership from responsibility for the gas chambers, claiming there appeared to have been no official Nazi policy of gas exterminations. Though Rassinier would eventually deny the existence of gas chambers altogether, in these early works he stopped short of doing so and posited that there probably had been exterminations by gas, but not as many as had been claimed. At this time even the most extreme neo-Nazi groups were not denying that gas chambers had been used to murder Jews. Instead of denying Nazi atrocities, however, they defended them -- one of the major distinctions between the earliest deniers and more recent ones. Bardeche, Rassinier, Barnes, App, and others among the first generation of deniers differ from those who followed them. The first group sought to vindicate the Nazis by justifying their antisemitism. While they argued that the atrocities were exaggerated or even falsified, they also contended that whatever was done to the Jews had been deserved because the Jews were Germany's enemy. Distorting the truth, they blamed Jews for Germany's financial and political plight and made the wildly exaggerated claim that Jews had been the prime beneficiaries of the chaos of Weimar. Jews were disloyal citizens, likely to be subversives and spies.

Only in the 1970s, when they finally began to recognize the futility of trying to justify Nazi antisemitism, did deniers change their methods. They saw that, from a tactical perspective, the proof of Nazi antisemitism was so clear that trying to deny or justify it undermined their efforts to appear credible. As deniers became more sophisticated in the subtleties of spreading their argument, they began to "concede" that the Nazis were antisemitic. They even claimed to deplore antisemitism, all the while engaging in it themselves. They acknowledged that some Jews may have died as a result of Nazi mistreatment but continued to argue that there was no Holocaust.


In Crossing the Line Rassinier chose an interesting tactic to express his most radical contentions regarding the inmates and their experiences. Instead of arguing in his own voice, he quoted a fellow inmate, whom he described as a Czech, a lawyer who had been the assistant mayor of Prague before the war. ( 6 ) It is not clear whether this Czech really existed or whether Rassinier created him as a foil for his own controversial notions. What is clear is that the Czech voiced ideas that became part of Rassinier's litany of claims regarding the Holocaust. Rassinier may have put this argument in the Czech's voice for a practical reason. In the early 1950s, when he was arguing that the Nazi leadership bore little, if any, responsibility for atrocities, war wounds were still quite fresh. This was particularly so in France, which had been occupied by the Nazis. Rassinier may have been reluctant to express his views about the innocence of the Nazi leadership, the inmates' culpability in their own suffering, and the trustworthiness, or lack thereof, of survivors' testimony. Such views would have been particularly odious in the 1950s.

In truth, whether this Czech existed or was a literary creation is immaterial, since Rassinier not only articulated no reservations about his views but in fact acknowledged that he was convinced that this Czech was right. Even when Rassinier challenged the Czech's views, in the end he always conceded that his friend's ideas vanquished his own.

In these early works Rassinier set out to do three things: First he had to demolish the credibility of his fellow prisoners' testimony. As long as one could trust what they said, any attempt to absolve the Nazis would be futile. But given the sympathy toward the inmates that existed particularly during the years immediately after the war, he could not ascribe to them diabolical or even devious motives. Instead he explained their supposed behavior in psychological terms:

Human beings need to exaggerate the bad as well as the good and the ugly as well as the beautiful. Everyone hopes and wants to come out of this business with the halo of a saint, a hero, or a martyr and each one embroiders his own Odyssey without realizing that the reality is quite enough in itself. ( 7 )

Had Rassinier or his Czech argued that some concentration camp inmates were wont to exaggerate certain aspects of the treatment they endured, few would have questioned their conclusions. For a variety of reasons, some inmates did and still do embellish their experiences. Others sometimes adopt the experiences of fellow survivors as their own. Historians of the Holocaust recognize this and do not build a his -


torical case on the oral history of an individual survivor, engaging instead in what anthropologists call triangulation, matching a survivor's testimony with other forms of proof, including documents and additional historical data. But Rassinier blatantly dismissed all survivors' testimony. Nor did he stop there in his attack on the survivors. He not only cast doubt on the testimony of victims but he exonerated the perpetrators -- the Nazi leadership in general and the SS in particular. According to Rassinier, the "SS never meddled with the camp life." If there were any excesses in the camps it was the responsibility of the inmates. Outrages in the camps were always made "still worse" by the prisoners. ( 8 )

In response to those who argued that the camps constituted a peculiarly Nazi form of punishment and incarceration, Rassinier asserted that the camps were not uniquely German institutions. Incarceration in concentration camps was a "classic method of coercion" practiced by all countries, including France. Once again we see a harbinger of what would become a familiar method for absolving the Nazis: Whatever they did was not as severe as that of which they were accused. Moreover, all nations did the same.

Finally, in one of his most extreme arguments, Rassinier attempted to transform the Nazis from perpetrators into benefactors. He claimed that they had benign, if not positive, motives when they put people in concentration camps. Initially the National Socialists' incarceration of people in concentration camps was a "gesture of compassion." Their objective was to protect their adversaries by putting them "where they could not hurt the new regime and where they could be protected from the public anger." Not only did they want to shield them, they also wanted to "rehabilitate the strayed sheep and to bring them back to a healthier concept of the German community, [and] ... its destiny." ( 9 ) This latter claim evoked memories of some of the explanations and justifications offered by Goebbels's propaganda bureau during the early years of the regime. When people were placed in camps or in ghettos, the Nazis claimed they were doing so for educational or rehabilitative purposes. They were "helping" them become more productive members of society by incarcerating them. Rassinier ignored two essential elements: This "rehabilitation" was conducted in the harshest of fashions and, according to Nazi philosophy, there was no way Jews could be "rehabilitated. "

Given his own experiences and those of a myriad of others in the camps, Rassinier could not very well argue that they had been character-building institutions. He had to acknowledge that the Nazis' sup -


posedly benign intentions notwithstanding, life in the camps was quite difficult. Intent on rendering the Nazi leadership blameless, he shifted responsibility from their shoulders by explaining that the escalating severity was not the intention of those at the helm but of those in the lower echelons of the SS who disobeyed their orders. According to Rassinier, when the authorities in Berlin discovered something "awry in the way the camps were being administered, the SS staffs were called to account.'' (10) Even the SS decision to select criminals, murderers, and rapists to serve as Lageraltester (camp elder) and Kapos was justifiable, despite the fact that these people were particularly ruthless to other inmates. The SS did not select such individuals to run the camps out of "sadism" but to "economize personnel." The Kapos were brutal but that was not the fault of the SS. In fact, Rassinier preferred dealing with the SS because they were "in principle .. . better and ... more humane. '' (11)

In the 1960s Rassinier began to change the focus of his attacks. No longer did he devote his primary energies to defending the SS or casting doubt on the stories told by concentration camp survivors. His preoccupation became the "genocide myth." In The Drama of European Jewry (1964) he argued that the accusation that the Nazis committed mass murder through the use of gas chambers was an invention of the "Zionist establishment." Moreover, he contended, the charge about gas chambers was a fabrication, as was the claim that six million Jews died. In his attempt to explain who was responsible for the hoax, Rassinier did not blame the survivors. Though they may have "exaggerated" their experiences, Rassinier forgave them that: "They are victims who are fired by a resentment in proportion to what they suffered." As did other deniers, he had to explain away the perpetrators' confessions. Those who falsely admitted that they had committed atrocities had little choice but to tell Allied officials the story they wanted to hear. "In order to get into the good graces of his captors, some poor SS private attached to an Einsatzgruppe reports that his unit exterminated... tens of thousands of Jews.'' (1 2 ) * The testimonies of Nazi leaders who were tried at the war crimes trials also had to be discounted because they were "testifying under threat of death" and they confessed what they thought would "be most likely to save [their] ... life." For Rassinier such behavior was "easily understood," and consequently the credibility of such testimony could be summarily dismissed. (1 3 )


But if the survivors and the perpetrators were not responsible, who then perpetrated the hoax? For Rassinier the culprits in the dissemination of this fraud were easily identifiable. The "Zionists," abetted in their conspiracy by a select number of Jewish historians and institutions that conduct research on the Holocaust, were the responsible parties. Rassinier unleashed his most acerbic comments and unrelenting attacks on them. Unlike the survivors who lied because of all they had suffered, and the Nazis, who fabricated confessions to please their captors and protect their lives, the perpetrators of this hoax did not have motives that were either psychologically understandable or morally justifiable. The only reason these historians and the institutions that backed them spread this calumny about Germany was to reap institutional, communal, and personal gain.

Regarding the prominent historian of the Holocaust Raul Hilberg, Rassinier wrote that only "dishonesty" could "excuse" his actions. Rassinier informed readers that Hilberg was associated with a Jewish publication: "As I ... read his biographical note, I find that he is a collaborator in the Jewish Encyclopedia Handbooks." This, in Rassinier's opinion, explained "everything." But Hilberg was not alone in his culpability for spreading this myth on behalf of a Jewish institution. Hannah Arendt's "intellectual outlook" and writings on the Holocaust were not trustsvorthy, according to Rassinier, because of her position as research director with the Conference on Jewish Relations. (1 4 ) The testimony at the Eichmann trial by the renowned historian Salo Baron, the first occupant of the chair in Jewish history at Columbia University, was clearly open to question because of Baron's Jewish identity. Lest readers be unaware of Baron's background, Rassinier made a practice of referring to him throughout his book as "Mr. Shalom Baron.'' (15)

Their dishonesty and that of the Jewish institutions with which they were formally or informally associated was motivated by what Rassinier considered a traditional Jewish vice: the love of money. Their motive for concocting the genocide myth, Rassinier bluntly stated, "is purely and very basely, a material problem.'' (1 6 ) They wished to "make Germany an ever-lasting milk cow for Israel.'' (17) They devised the hoax and then demanded that "Germany pay to Israel sums calculated on the basis of about 6,000,000 dead." Rassinier contended that the amount of reparations Germany paid to Israel was calculated on the basis of the number of dead; the higher the death toll, the greater the financial reward. (1 8 ) Israel, with the aid of cooperative Jewish historians and the "Zionist establishment," had inflated the number of dead in order to "swindle" the Germans out of millions of marks. They claimed that six million died,


but, in truth at least four-fifths of those six million "were very much alive at the end of the war.'' (1 9 ) Rassinier offers no evidence to prove this or most of his other claims. Their existence had been kept a secret in order to inflate the amount of money Israel was able to extract from the Germans.

Rassinier based his argument on a completely false premise. One must assume that he did so knowingly, given the documents he cites. The reparations Germany paid to Israel were not based on the death toll but on the cost to Israel of absorbing and resettling both Jews who fled Germany and German-controlled countries during the prewar period and survivors of the Holocaust who came to Israel during the postwar years.

Israeli officials detailed their claims against Germany in their communique of March 1951 to the Four Powers, and this document became the official basis for the reparations agreement. It contained an explanation of Israel's means of calculating the size of the reparations claim. In the communique Israeli officials explained that Nazi persecution had stimulated a "second Jewish exodus " of close to five hundred thousand. Based on the size of this exodus, Israel determined the amount of the reparations it would request:

The government of Israel is not in a position to obtain and present a complete statement of all Jewish property taken or looted by the Germans, and said to total more than $6 thousand million. It can only compute its claim on the basis of total expenditures already made and the expenditure still needed for the integration of Jewish immigrants from Nazi-dominated countries. The number of these immigrants is estimated at some 500,000, which means a total expenditure of $1.5 thousand million. (20)

It seems hardly necessary to point out that since the money the state received was based on the cost of resettling survivors, had Israel wanted to increase the amount of reparations it obtained from Germany it would have been in its interest to argue that fewer than six million had been killed and that more had managed to flee to Israel.

The contention that Israel is the main financial beneficiary of the "genocide myth" has become a critical element of Holocaust denial for a number of reasons. This explanation is particularly important for the deniers because it provides a rationale for the "hoax." Moreover, it harks back to traditional antisemit ic imagery: Jews' association w ith money, particularly ill-gotten gains. For those with an inclination to believe antisemitic charges and to accept the stereotypes associated with


them as true, this is a charge that feels familiar and makes sense. This is but one of many instances in which the deniers have woven a web that deftly combines pseudohistorical research with traditional antisemitism. The depiction of Israel as the beneficiary of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy also plays on preexisting hostilities toward the Jewish state. Those who are opposed to its existence and believe it came into being through nefarious means find this myth compelling. In fact, the vast majority of reparations went to individual survivors, not to Israel.

But it was for Raul Hilberg that Rassinier reserved his greatest contempt. Hilberg's internationally acclaimed study of the German death machine in The Destruction of the European Jews, which was first published in 1961, made him an obvious target for Rassinier and subsequent generations of deniers. Because of his extensive research on the German bureaucracy during the Third Reich, specifically as it was used in the killing process, deniers have long felt obligated to try to destroy his credibility. In The Drama of European Jewry Rassinier branded Hilberg "dishonest" and accused him of being a falsifier of information particularly in regard to the number of Jews killed by the Nazis. Revealingly, on the same page that Rassinier made those accusations, he engaged in the very same tactics of which he had accused Hilberg.

One of the methods Rassinier used to convince his readers that the Holocaust was a fraud was his use of the numbers game. Among the first to engage in this practice, he established a pattern followed by all deniers who try to prove that the death tolls are not valid. Rassinier argued that Jewish historians have fraudulent intentions and manipulate the data accordingly. For Rassinier the proof of this dishonesty is that they each interpret the data in a dramatically different fashion. Consequently their findings cannot be relied on, and they cannot be personally trusted.

In trying to make his case, Rassinier fabricated data, misquoted, and used quotations out of context. He first tried to demonstrate that Arendt and Hilberg were in disagreement about the number of Jews who were killed in Poland. According to Rassinier, in her February 23, 1963, New Yorker article Arendt "coolly inform[ed] us that 'three million Polish Jews were massacred during the first day of the war'" He then wrote: "Mr. Raul Hilberg found that 'about 2,000,000 Polish Jews, ... were transported to their deaths in 1942 and 1943 " Rassinier complained about this apparent contradiction between the findings of these two historians and added: "It would be a good thing to come to an understanding: were there in Poland 3 to 3.3 million Jews during the war, as all statisticians unanimously claim, including those who are


Jewish, or were there 5.7 million as Mme. Hannah Arendt is obliged to claim, since here are 5 million exterminated." (21)

Rassinier simply falsified Arendt's statement. In addition, he made minor but strategically important changes in Hilberg's quote and then quoted it out of context in order to make it appear as if there were some contradiction between the two scholars. In The Destruction ofthe European Jews, Hilberg analyzed the role of the railways in the annihilation process. He observed that the "railway network managed to carry about 2,000,000 Polish Jews to their deaths in 1942 and 1943" Rassinier ignored the references to the railway network. He makes it appear as if Hilberg is citing the total number of Polish Jews who were annihilated and not just those transported by rail. (Hilberg does not include in this total Jews deported by other means and those who were killed in ghettoes or in areas immediately adjacent to their homes. ( 22 ) When those Polish victims are included, Hilberg's total comes to three million Polish Jews.)

But Rassinier committed an even more egregious falsehood in connection with Arendt's quote. Arendt did not write that three million Polish Jews were killed in the first day. Discussing German estimates of the number of Jews left in Europe in 1940, Arendt observed that one particular estimate "did not include three million Polish Jews, who, as everybody knew, had been in the process of being massacred even since the first days of the war." ( 23 ) By changing Arendt's quote to say three million had been killed on thefirst day, Rassinier manages to make Arendt sound not only in total contradiction to other historians but quite out of touch with reality. Deniers would repeatedly rely on this tactic to try to make the findings of Holocaust historians seem particularly fantastic.

While Rassinier wished to cast doubt on the findings and motives of as many Jewish scholars as possible, he was particularly intent -- as we have seen -- on destroying Hilberg's status. Ironically, after attacking Hilberg's credibility, he used Hilberg's standing as the premier historian in this field to cast doubt on the finding of other Jewish historians and institutions. In an obvious attempt to throw into question the findings of the World Jewish Congress, he wrote that while the congress "gives the figure of 1 ,000,000 (dead in the USSR) Mr. Raul Hilberg finds only 420,000." ( 24 ) Once again Rassinier misrepresented Hilberg's findings. In one of his tables delineating the number of victims according to their countries of origin, Hilberg lists the prewar and postwar populations of the USSR. The difference between the two figures is 420,000. But the two figures represent dramatically different cate -


gories, as Hilberg clearly acknowledges at the bottom of the table, where he notes that the first column was based on prewar and the second on postwar boundaries. The postwar boundaries of the USSR were significantly larger than those of the prewar period, and Hilberg's list reflects this. Since the Baltic republics were independent when the war began they are listed as separate countries in the prewar table. Because they became part of the USSR as a result of an agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union in 1941, in postwar totals Hilberg treats their Jewish victims as part of the toll for the entire USSR. Moreover, Hilberg's postwar total must also be adjusted because it includes, as again he clearly notes, three hundred thousand refugees, deportees, an d survivors from other regions. ** With these adjustments Hilberg's total was one million, precisely that of the World Jewish Congress. By ignoring these critical and obvious pieces of information, Rassinier makes it sound as if Hilberg is not only contradicting other historians but himself as well, since elsewhere in the book he cites the total dead in the USSR as approximately one million. ( 25 )

Rassinier devised this alleged contradiction in order to depict these historians as willfully creating farfetched facts and figures. "One would like to invite all of these people -- [Arendt, Baron, and Hilberg] and the multitude of others in the same boat -- to please get together and agree on their figures before undertaking to explain us to ourselves." ( 2 6) The fact is that while there are differences in totals, there are no fundamental contradictions between the findings of these or any other major historians. Virtually all agree that of the total killed approximately three million were Polish Jews. There is some variation of opinion on the number of Soviet Jews killed. The estimates range between l million and 1.3 million. The total death toll is somewhere between five and six million. ( 27 )

Rassinier's thesis, built on falsified data, is that the discrepancies be -


tween these historians invalidate their findings. Rassinier is correct in one regard, however: There are variances in each of their findings. Few agree on precisely the same number. But rather than invalidating their credibility, these discrepancies support it. According to Rassinier, if Hilberg has one toll for the victims and Baron another, it is proof that both are creating fictionalized accounts. Since both use official documents and testimonies to reach their conclusions, the contradictions in their findings supposedly illustrate that neither they nor the documents can be trusted. But in making this argument Rassinier ignores a critically important historical fact. Complete unanimity among historians regarding an event of such magnitude would itself be highly suspicious. A death toll on which all historians unequivocally agreed would raise legitimate suspicions about the independent nature of their historical research. It is precisely these differences that show that these are not "court-appointed" historians but independent researchers, each trying to assemble a myriad of details regarding one of the most brutal and chaotic chapters in recent history.

Despite having "discovered" the ones who are responsible for generating this myth, Rassinier still faced, as do all deniers, a fundamental obstacle -- one he could not manipulate as easily as he had the misinformation regarding the reparations. Hitler and those around him had explicitly stated many times the Nazi intention to destroy the Jews. Hitler's best-known diatribe in this regard was made on January 30, 1939:

Today I want to be a prophet once more: If international finance Jewry inside and outside of Europe should succeed once more in plunging nations into another world war, the consequence will not be the Bolshevization of the earth and thereby the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe. ( 28 )

This was not his only public threat to annihilate the Jews. In September 1942, six months after the gas chambers began to operate, he recalled his speech of 1939 and reiterated his predictions about the Jews' fate. This time he was even more specific about the outcome:

In my Reichstag speech of September 1, 1939, *** I have spoken of two things first, that now that the war has been forced upon us, no array of weapons and no passage of time will bring us to defeat, and second, that [62] if Jewry should plot another world war in order to exterminate the Aryan peoples in Europe, it would not be the Aryan peoples which wou ld be exterminated but Jewry...
At one time, the Jews of Germany laughed about my prophecies. I do not know whether they are still laughing or whether they have already lost all desire to laugh. But right now I can only repeat they will stop laughing everywhere and I shall be right also in that prophecy. ( 29 )

Rassinier had to explain away such statements -- which had to be interpreted as meaning something other than what they clearly say -- in order to maintain that genocide was a myth. Rassinier dismissed the 1939 statement as irrelevant hyperbole, typical of the "kind of defiance that was hurled by the ancient heroes" and consequently of "little significance." ( 30 ) Here too -- as in the case of the total number of victims -- Rassinier positioned himself on both sides of the argument. He repeatedly demanded explicit proof specifically indicating that it was the Nazis' objective to murder the Jews. The absence of such proof, he argued, invalidated all conclusions regarding mass murder. But when a document or statement explicitly indicating an intention to annihilate was cited as proof, Rassinier dismissed it as euphemistic, hyperbolic, or irrelevant. These tactics were later adopted by deniers in their treatment of historical documents that, they argued, proved that the genocide of the Jews was not a myth. (If the documents are specific they are dismissed as euphemistic. If they are euphemistic they are interpreted at face value.)

Rassinier used a slightly different approach for the 1942 speech. Rather than simply dismissing this as hyperbole, Rassinier contended that the fact that this threat against European Jewry was not cited at the Nuremberg war crimes trials proved that it was not considered to be serious evidence. Had the Allies considered it a serious document, they would have introduced it as evidence. But Rassinier failed to note that Hitler was not on trial at Nuremberg and that, consequently many of his statements and speeches, including those with specific antisemitic themes, were not cited. Moreover, it is both ironic and revealing that Rassinier, who had such contempt for all that went on at Nuremberg, should have used the trial as a standard for determining what does and does not constitute serious evidence.

Rassinier's attempt to explain how the Holocaust hoax has been perpetrated and spread worldwide is even more clumsy, and it revealed the true objective of his Holocaust denial. His explanation relied on traditional antisemitic imagery in order to explain the Jews' intentions. It can be briefly summarized:



In isolating the source of this huge conspiracy against Germany, Rassinier rooted it in the actions of one Polish Jew.

After some fifteen years of historical research, I have come to the following conclusion it was in 1943 that National Socialist Germany was accused for the first time of the systematic mass extermination of the Jews in the gas chambers. The author of this first, horrible and infamous accu sation was a Polish Jew,... Rafael Lemkin. (31)

Lemkin, who in 1944 introduced both the word and concept of genocide into international law, served as counsel to Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson when Jackson was the United States chief counsel for the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials. ( 32 ) Rassinier was wrong about this, as he was on so many other things. Nazi Germany was first accused of mass murder of Jews in 1942, not 1943. Lemkin had nothing to do with this accusation. Rassinier attributed Lemkin's success in making such an accusation take hold and stick to the fact that he was supposedly aided and abetted in his efforts by falsified documents and an amenable world press, which took its marching orders from Jews:


The media were one of the primary instruments the Jews used to spread this calumny. Here again Rassinier relied on traditional antisemitic imagery. The media had to help Jews because they were dominated by them. Consequently the media "publicize[d], with remarkable consistency," the thesis that six million Jews had been victims of the Nazis. ( 34 )

According to Rassinier the real culprits behind Lemkin, the historians, Jewish institutions, and all others who participated in the hoax were the "Zionists," who used their remarkable powers to prevent the truth from emerging, including thwarting a census of world Jewry from being taken so that they could subject the Holocaust death toll "to all kinds of manipulation." ( 35 ) (His source for this claim was the Ame ri can Mercury, which from 1952 until its demise in the 1970s was a publica -


tion whose most distinguishing feature was its antisemitism.) ( 36 ) Their ultimate objective was financial: Once they had rendered Germany a "cash cow" for Israel and its supporters, they could turn to their larger and more monstrous objective: control of world finances. Rassinier, who had already relied on an almost unbroken chain of traditional antisemitic images -- Jews' nefarious use of their inordinate international political powers, control of the press, and financial chicanery -- now slipped into a purely antisemitic diatribe in his description of what would happen when the Jews consolidated their power:

Today speaking metaphorically, the aim [of the zionists] is the gold of Fort Knox. If the plan should succeed -- and all that is needed is for the American branch of international zionism to get its hand on Wall street -- the Israeli home-port of the Diaspora would become .. . the command post of all the world's industry. "You will earn bread by the sweat of your brow, the Eternal One said to Adam and to Eve, "You will give birth in pain, as he chased the couple from the earthly Par adise he had created for them.. . The women of Israel would, to be sure, continue to bear their children in pain, but their men would earn their bread and that of their children by the sweat of other's [sic] brows. Then at the very least, it could be said that the designation "Chosen People," which the Jews claim for themselves, would assume it [sic] full significance. ( 37 )

Ultimately it was arguments such as these that conclusively demonstrated that Rassinier's Holocaust denial was no more than a guise for the expression of a classic form of antisemitism. Though Rassinier's work may be "distinguished" by its Holocaust denial, it is in fact no different from the myriad of antisemitic tirades that have been published over the centuries. His invective about Jewish power and influence and his conviction that Jews have the most sinister intentions qualify him for the company of a host of antisemites.

His are the observations of a man whose work is cited by all subsequent deniers as the formative influence in their thinking. Rassinier's and Bardeche's contributions to the evolution of Holocaust denial in France would eventually be magnified by the work of their prot égé Robert Faurisson, a former professor at the University of Lyons, who today is one of the leading Holocaust deniers. But shades of French fascism and Holocaust denial would also be found in the political arena, as exemplified by the policies and statements of Jean-Marie Le Pen and his political party, the National Front. They constitute Bardeche's and Rassinier's most important legacies and demonstrate that both fascism and Holocaust denial have found a sympathetic environment in contemporary France.


* The Einsatzg ru ppe n were the special mobile killing units that conducted the massacres of Soviet Jewry immediately after the Germans declared war on the USSR.

** The section on the USSR appears as follows:

 Prewar Jewish Population    Postwar Jewish pop.













Note: The postwar USSR total includes 300,000 deportees, refugees, and survivors from other territories .

When the three hundred thousand deportees, refugees, and survivors are deducted from the 2.6 million the total corresponds to a loss of 1 million Jews in the USSR.

*** Author's note: Hitler changed the date of his original speech threatening the Jews with annihilation from January 30, 1939, to September 1, 1939.

Chapter 3. In the Shadow of World War II

1. Maurice Bardèche, Nuremberg ou la Terre Promise (Paris, 1948) cited in Gill Seidel, The Holocaust Denial: Antisemitism, Racism and the New Right (Leeds, England, 1986), p. 95.

2. Ian Barnes, "Revisionism and the Right," A Contemporary Affairs Briefing of the Centre for Contemporary Studies (reprinted in the Glasgow Jewish Echo, Jan. 8, 1982, p. 6).

3. Pierre Hofstetter, Introduction to Paul Rassinier, Debunking the Genocide Myth: A Study of the Nazi Concentration Camps and the Alleged Extermination of European Jewry (Torrance, Calif., 1978), p. x. (hereafter cited as Debunking).

4. Ibid., p. x.

5. Ibid., p. 164.

6. Ibid., p. 35.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid., p. 37.

9. Ibid., p. 36.

10. Ibid., p. 185.

11. Ibid., pp. 53, 55.

12. Ibid., p. 216.

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid., pp. 218-19.

15. Ibid., p. 219.

16. Ibid., p. 214.

17. Paul Rassinier, The Real Eichmann Trial, or The Incorrigible Victors (Silver Spring, Md., n.d.), p. 47.

18. Debunking, p. 214.

19. Ibid.

20. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel, Doeuments Relating to the Agreement Between the Gosernment of Israel and the Gosernment of the Federal Republic of Germany (Jerusalem: 1953), pp. 9-91. On March 14, 1951, Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett declared in a statement to the Knesset that "the dem and for reparation has been calc ulated according to the burden that the people in Israel and Jewish organizations throughout the world have taken upon themselves in financing the rehabilitation and the absorption of a half a million survivors of the Holocaust who have settled or will settle in Israel." Nana Sagi, German Reparations: A History of the Negotiations (Jerusalem, 1980), p. 55.

21. Debunking, p. 219.

22. Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York, 1967), p. 311, Debunking, p. 219.

23. Hannah Arendt, "A Reporter at Large: Eichmann in Jerusalem -- II," The New Yorker, Feb. 23, 1963, p. 66.

24. Debunking, p. 220.

25. Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, p. 670.

26. Debunking, p. 219.

27. Archival collections in the former USSR, which had previously been unavailable to historians, were recently opened for inspection. It is likely that the information they contain may result in a change in the estimate of the number of victims.

28. Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Je w s, p. 257.

29. Ibid., p. 266.

30. Debunking, p. 224.

31. Ibid., p. 288.

32. "Raphael Lemkin," Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (New York, 1990), p. 860 .

33. Debunking, p. 289.

34. Ibid., p. 309.

35. Ibid., p. 306.

36. The American Mercury was founded and edited for many years by H. L. Mencken. Under Mencken it was recognized as one of the literary lights of the American scene, publishing the works of Sinclair Lewis, Eugene O'Neill, Carl Sandburg, and Robert Frost. Mencken sold it in 1935. It then became an increasingly conservative publication. In 1955 Time magazine reported that most of its top editors had quit because they were convinced that "attempts were being made to introduce antisemitic material" into the magazine.

37. Debunking, p. 309.

This is a part of Deborah Lipstadt's book, Denying the Holocaust -- The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, 1993, Penguin. We offer this document in relation with a trial due to take place in the first days of Year 2000 in London, where British historian David Irving is suing Mrs. Lipstadt for defamation, --to allow the public to take freely cognizance of the sentences and words used by the author.

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