Modern Holocaust denial draws inspiration from a variety of sources. Among them are a legitimate historical tradition that was highly critical of government policies and believed that history was being used to justify those policies; an age-old nexus of conspiratorial scenarios that place a neat coherence on widely diverse developments; and hyperbolic critiques of government policies which, despite an initial connection to reality? became so extreme as to assume a quality of fantasy. The aforementioned historical tradition was taken over and coopted by the Holocaust deniers. In the other two cases, denial was their logical successor.
The deniers consider themselves heirs of a group of influential American historians who were deeply disturbed by American involvement in World War I. These respected scholars, who called themselves revisionists, would have been appalled to learn of the purposes to which their arguments were put. In contrast to the Holocaust deniers, who make no distinction between fact and fiction, the World War I revisionists engaged in serious research and relied upon established canons of evidence. Despite these differences, deniers have tried to link the two
traditions, arguing that each has sought to create an alternative history for major events of the twentieth century. However, one of these schools used traditional historiographic methodology to do so, whereas denial relies on pseudoscience.
The opening salvo in this fight was fired in 1920, when Sidney B. Fay, a professor at Smith College, published a series of articles in the American Historical Review on the origins of World War I. In these articles and in his subsequent book, Fay used archival material released after the war to argue that, contrary to prevailing American opinion, the Germans had not sought to go to war. Americans, Fay protested, had been fed a great deal of "silly propaganda" about who was really responsible for the war. (1) He insisted that Germany had neither plotted nor wanted a war and had made real efforts to avoid one. On the eve of World War I, according to Fay, German statesmen were the last leaders in Europe to abandon the quest for peace and mobilize their army, doing so only when all other options had been closed. (2)
Thus was born American World War I revisionism. One of Fay's earliest associates in this effort was Harry Elmer Barnes, who in 1923 became his colleague at Smith College. Barnes, a prolific writer and a full professor by the age of thirty, quickly joined the battle. Soon he surpassed Fay and virtually every other revisionist in his vehement criticism of American foreign policy. His relentless attacks on the "orthodox" presentation of the war made him a hero in Germany. In American historical circles, he was infamous for his ad hominem assaults on those whom he believed advocated the traditional historiography of World War I. (3) While Barnes played a seminal role in the post-World War I revisionist debate, his importance for us is as the "father" of American Holocaust denial: He became one of Holocaust denial's earliest proponents and wrote some of the first attacks on the history of the destruction of European Jewry. As we shall see in chapter 5, his method in both contexts was remarkably similar.
Prominent among the other academics who joined Fay and Barnes was Charles A. Beard. (4) Beard derisively dismissed the "Sunday-school theory" of the war: namely that Russia, France, and England, "three pure and innocent boys," were assailed by two villains, Germany and Austria, who had been conspiring to commit "cruel deeds in the dark." (5) Not only did they reject the idea of German responsibility, but they were distressed by the Versailles treaty's use of the notion of war guilt in order to impose severely punitive conditions on Germany. The revisionists considered Article 231 of the treaty, which held German aggression responsible for imposing a war on the Allies, "historically incorrect and morally unjustifiable.'" (6)
But these revisionists did not just exonerate Germany; they excoriated the Allies, accusing them of behaving duplicitously before and after the war. In their view, the British and French, anxious to lure the United States into the war, prevented it from learning about the very real German desire for peace and the "reasonable and statesmanlike" proposals offered by the Germans in order to avert war.' France's aggressive and combative policy repeatedly closed off options for peace. Britain falsely accused Germany of committing horrible atrocities. According to the revisionists, even when World War I ended the Allies continued to behave in a deceptive fashion and refused to consider evidence that contradicted the notion of sole German war guilt. (8) The British, French, and American acts of postwar deception were particularly odious to the revisionists because as victors, the Allies knew that Germany was not really guilty. Using their power to keep the truth from emerging, the Allies engaged in a calculated refashioning of fact and forced the dregs of defeat down German throats even though the Germans did not deserve it.
Some of the more extreme revisionists, Barnes prominent among them, specifically castigated President Woodrow Wilson as responsible for the expense, losses, and miseries of the war and for the "arrogant and atrocious policies of France and England." (9) They claimed that Wilson's initial support of American neutrality was disingenuous. According to their account, Wilson had long been convinced that England could not defeat Germany without American aid. Consequently he decided to enter the war on England's side as soon as possible and simply waited for the proper provocation to do so. (10) World War II revisionists would voice virtually the same arguments about President Roosevelt. They contended that, just like his predecessor Wilson, Roosevelt had long intended for the United States to enter the European fray and was only waiting for the right opportunity to make it happen. According to these critics, both men were less than honest with the American people and both led the United States down a disastrous foreign policy path.
In fact, much of the revisionist argument was historically quite sound. Germany was not solely culpable for the war. The Versailles treaty contained harsh and vindictive elements that placed so onerous a financial burden on Germany as to virtually guarantee the collapse of the Weimar regime. The French did have ulterior motives. The American munitions industry and bankers did benefit greatly from the war. The war did not bring peace to Europe or resolve any of its long
simmering disputes. The revisionist cause was strengthened by the fact that during the war the British propagated all sorts of false horror stories about German atrocities against civilians, including that the Germans used homicidal gas to kill noncombatants, employed babies for target practice, and mutilated Belgian women. The American public, unaware that a hoax was being perpetrated, proved particularly susceptible to these stories. (11) (This effort was so successful that an entire industry was born as a result: The field of public relations traces its origins directly to British and, to a lesser degree, American propaganda regarding the war.) Twenty years later, when reports reached Americans about Nazi Germany's use of gas to kill Jews, the lingering impact of these false atrocity tales was evident. Americans dismissed the second spate of stories as yet another set of tall tales about the Germans. The problem, of course, was that this time the stories were true.
One of the reasons many Americans were intrigued by revisionism and supported the noninterventionism of the interwar period was that although the war had ended in victory, the outcome was far less than had been anticipated. During the war politicians such as Wilson nourished the notion that this was a crusade for democracy, when in fact it was more often a matter of distasteful national interest. (12) For many people, including World War I revisionists, these efforts to cast the war in grandiose, hyperbolic terms backfired. They were bitterly disappointed that the war had been neither the democratic crusade nor the war to end all wars Wilson had promised.
Neither did it establish peace among the war-weary peoples of the earth. As the situation in Europe became increasingly volatile in the interwar years, growing numbers of Americans, the revisionists and isolationists foremost among them, became embittered and disillusioned. (13) They were convinced that an unsuspecting American public had been duped and that American intervention in the war had been an unmitigated disaster not only for the United States but for the world. (14) Their ex post facto attacks were bitter and unwavering. During the interwar period the debate over World War I's origins provided a framework for the passionate discussion of American foreign policy. The revisionists' aim was to alter public opinion. (15) Revisionism became the prism through which future policies were refracted. (16)
Harry Elmer Barnes is the only link between these revisionists and Holocaust denial. But the revisionists' arguments were nonetheless a perfect foil for the deniers. Their contentions about government chi-
canery, mistreatment of Germany, and atrocity reports and their desire to change public attitudes were too tempting to be ignored. The deniers would hijack this movement and use it for their own purposes.
On both the home and international fronts the interwar period was a turbulent time. Critics of American foreign policy were to be found at all points of the political spectrum. (17) On Capitol Hill, liberals, conservatives, and progressives faulted Roosevelt and the direction of his overseas policies. (18) In certain quarters there was a conviction that there existed a conspiracy or a series of conspiracies to do America harm. Red scares took on the character of a witch-hunt. A deep-seated xenophobia tinged with significant antisemitism emerged in the United States. As the impact of the depression intensified, there was also a growing sentiment in various quarters that someone -- a group, ideology, financial interest -- was to blame. The ramifications of these fears could be seen in a variety of arenas.
The passage of the Immigration Act of 1924 was motivated by a desire to limit the number of people not of Anglo-Saxon Protestant background who could enter the country. Opponents of the new type of immigrants charged that they were changing the face of America. Passed when Americans felt financially secure, the act won even stronger support as the economic and international situation deterioriated. The depression fostered a deep distrust of business and banking interests. For many people the culprits responsible for this steadily deteriorating situation were easily identifiable.
In 1935, Sen. Gerald P. Nye (R-ND) convened hearings on the role of shipbuilders, munitions manufacturers, and international bankers in World War I. The premise of the hearings was that it was not only political leaders who bore the blame for getting the country into this war. 'Wicked" Wall Street bankers aided and abetted by "sinister" arms merchants were part of an insidious self-enriching effort to lure the United States into the conflagration. (19) The Nye committee hearings aroused intense isolationist sentiment in the United States and had profound implications for American foreign policy. (20) Though they found no evidence to prove Wall Street responsible for precipitating American involvement, some senators believed the heaAngs the most effective medium for fostering American isolationism during this period. [We presume this is the place for (21) but the printed text omits this footnote] When Sen. Homer T. Bone (D-WA), a vehement isolationist, observed in 1935 that the war had been "utter social insanity," and that America had "no business" being in it, his view resonated with millions of people. (22)
In certain quarters there was little doubt as to the identity of those responsible for the dire situation facing the United States. Roosevelt was accused of pandering to "Jewish interests" with his foreign policy. Sen. Hiram W. Johnson (R-CA), echoing a view harbored by a growing number of antisemites, complained in February 1939 that all the Jews were "on one side, wildly enthusiastic for the President and willing to fight to the last American." He charged that Jews' loyalties were to their group and not to their nation. Arrayed against this powerful entity, Johnson continued, were "those of us -- a very considerable number who are thinking in terms of our own country, and that alone." Johnson argued that though Germany's treatment of its Jewish population was at the heart of the struggle over American policy in Europe, no one was brave enough to say so because they were afraid of "offending the Jews." He accused Roosevelt, whom he believed had a "dictator complex," of having found the Jews powerful supporters who vociferously demanded that he provide aid for "their people, who neither live here, nor have anything in common with our country." (23)
Father Charles C. Coughlin's antisemitic diatribes on CBS radio had a nationwide listening audience in the millions, and his journal, Social Justice, reprinted antisemitica that came directly from the propaganda machine of Joseph Goebbels (without, of course, identifying the source). In 1941 Democratic congressman John E. Rankin of Mississippi, a known antisemite, accused 'Wall Street and a little group of our international Jewish brethren" of trying to precipitate a war and complained that "white Gentiles" were being persecuted in the United States. (24) In 1941 isolationist senators investigated the movie industry's use of propaganda to "influence public sentiment in the direction of participation by the United States in the present European war." (25) The hearings took on an antisemitic tone because virtually all those named by the investigation were Jewish. Charles A. Lindbergh believed that Jews constituted a separate, distinct, and cohesive unit committed to a policy of interventionism and possessed of the political power to realize their goal.* His public expression of these views attracted tremendous controversy. (26)
In the wake of Germany's absorption of Czechoslovakia in March
1939, even such a respected scholar as Charles Beard attacked two "major pressure groups" for thwarting a realistic American "foreign policy based on geographical position and its democratic ideals." The two groups were the idealistic internationalists and the "boarders," ethnic groups and communists whose "hopes and passion are linked with the fate of foreign governments and nationalities." (27)
The age-old inclination to find a Jewish conspirator behind a country's problems was deeply ingrained. Jews had been blamed for poisoning wells, killing Christian children, spreading the Black Plague, and causing famines, earthquakes, and droughts. In twentieth-centuryAmerica this kind of conspiratorial delusion was given a major boost when Henry Ford, whose name was synonymous with American ingenuity and industriousness, blamed a Jewish conspiracy for social and economic upheavals. Between 1920 and 1927, Ford's Dearborn Independent, which had a circulation of 600,000, published the Protocols in English and ran a series of articles accusing Jews of utilizing communism, banking, labor unions, alcohol, gambling, jazz music, newspapers, and the movies to attack and weaken America, its culture and people. The Jews' objective was to absorb the country into the ''All-Judan,'' a putative world government. Published in book form, The International Jew: The Worlds Foremost Problem sold over a half a million copies in the United States and was translated into sixteen foreign languages. (28)
The Protocols were often cited as "evidence" of a Jewish conspiracy. An article in the Chicago Tribune contended that communism was intimately linked to the Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world. On the same day that this article appeared, the Christian Science Monitor's lead editorial, entitled "The Jewish Peril," argued that the Protocols bore a striking similarity to the conspiracy of the Order of the Illuminati. (29) Conspiracy theorists had long identified the Illuminati as Lucifer's modern successors. They supposedly used reason to undermine religion and the political order and establish world government. Not only were they said to be the force behind the French revolution but they were also held responsible for Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto and facilitated the rise of communism. According to this nexus of conspiratorial delusions, which the Dearborn Independent repeated, Jews, and Jewish bankers in particular, were responsible for the Illuminati's nefarious deeds. Those who unearthed this conspiracy were able to impose a logical coherence on the seemingly irrational nature of their charges -- bankers aiding communists -- by arguing that the bankers anticipated that the communists would create a world government that they would then appropriate and control. (30)
Ford, facing a lawsuit, eventually apologized for fostering this fantasy. But the damage had already been done. The image of a Jewish conspiracy that connected communist and capitalist forces in an attempt to dominate the world had taken root in the minds of many Americans, particularly those from the extremist right.
Many of these Jewish-conspiracy theories, including Holocaust denial, share common features. Behind each conspiracy is a collective that has targeted another group. Though the victims are more numerous than the conspirators, because they remain unaware of the conspiracy they are highly vulnerable. It is the responsibility of those who have uncovered the scheme to bring it to the victims' attention. The conspirators are thought to pursue their goals with a diabolical skill that far exceeds that of their enemies. Endowed with almost mystical powers, they control the stock exchange, world banks, and the media. Having successfully carried out such conspiracies in the past, these conspirators are so adept that, unless they are stopped, they will surely triumph in the future. (31)
These delusions impose orderly consistency on situations that seem inexplicable -- worldwide depressions, famines, and the death of millions -- and draw on familiar stereotypes. The Holocaust deniers have built on this tradition. Some among them may actually be convinced of the truth of their charges. The conviction that they are right does not, of course, make their claims any more rational or true than the earlier claims of those who accused the Jews of poisoning wells, killing Christian children for ritual purposes, and fomenting world revolution.
In the immediate aftermath of World War II a number of isolationists again took up the cudgels on behalf of Germany. Among the post-World War II revisionists were extremists who shared a belief that a military and political conspiracy of major proportions had again been perpetrated to drag the United States into war. According to them, Roosevelt had been intent on U.S. participation from the outbreak of the war in 1939. With a select cadre of advisers and the support of certain ethnic and interest groups, he sought a "back door" into World War II. In order to achieve his objective he concealed information indicating that an attack on Pearl Harbor was forthcoming. Convinced of Roosevelt's complicity in allowing the attack to occur, the Chicago Tribune accused him of deliberately sacrificing the lives of thousands of American soldiers. Led by journalists, pacifists, and politicians, critics argued further that Pearl Harbor was part of a bigger
and more complex picture. They believed that the Roosevelt administration needed a war to divert public attention from the failures of the New Deal.
Criticism came from those who were bitterly disappointed that the war had taken place and unhappy with its outcome. Bitterness was reflected in their rhetoric. In his book The Roosevelt Myth, America First leader John T. Flynn accused Roosevelt of finding war a "glorious, magnificent escape from all the insoluble problems of America." Flynn argued that nothing had been accomplished by the war except to "put into Stalin's hands the means of seizing a great slab of the continent of Europe." Flynn's book, which was rejected by all major publishers because of its inflammatory rhetoric, was eventually released by Devin-Adair, which would in turn become one of the leading publishers of Holocaust denial material. Its rhetoric notwithstanding it reached the number two position on the New York Times best-seller list. (32)
Charles Beard also argued that the defeat of one totalitarian entity resulted in the rise of an equally despotic regime. Nazism had been replaced by another despotism, consequently there was no justifiable reason for going to war. Juxtaposing the outrages committed by the Nazis with those committed by the Soviets, Beard wondered how it could be argued "that the 'end' justified the means employed to involve the United States in the war?" (33) Citing Beard for a purpose that would have appalled him, Holocaust deniers' journals and publications argue that the war against Hitler was not just folly but counterproductive to American interests. Consequently, the deniers contend, there must have been some interest group that wanted the war to occur.
These critics had various objectives. Some, possibly prompted by their German American heritage, wished to win more lenient economic and political terms for a defeated Germany. Others may have been motivated by their conservative midwestern roots and were wary of foreign entanglements. Many among them were anticommunists who believed that a strong postwar Germany provided the best defense against the spread of Communism. Others, such as Barnes, were World War I revisionists who did not distinguish between one conflagration and the other. While the idea of a strong Germany became the linchpin of American postwar policy, some of the more extreme post-World War II revisionists took it a step further and, echoing a prewar argument, contended that Nazi Germany had also been an excellent defense against Communism but that the Allies had been blind -- or blinded -- to this fact.
The most extreme revisionist account of America's entry into World War II, Back Door to War, by Charles C. Tansill, a professor of American diplomatic history at Georgetown University, was published in 1952. Tansill had previously addressed the issue of distorted accounts of American history when he accused Lincoln, whom he called a "'do-nothing' soldier, invincible in peace and invisible in war," of having tricked the South into attacking Fort Sumter and thereby precipitating the Civil War. (34) Tansill's book made a strong impression on Holocaust deniers who energetically promote it and use his arguments as a foundation for their own. Tansill declared that the "main objective" of American foreign policy during the first half of the twentieth century was "the preservation of the British Empire." He linked U.S. entry into World War I with the rise of Nazism in Europe, the former having resulted in the latter: "Our intervention completely shattered the old balance of power and sowed the seeds of inevitable future conflict." According to him this sordid set of affairs did not end with World War I, and in his view America's entry into World War II was thus an attempt to preserve, irrespective of the cost, the "bungling handiwork of 1919." (35)
Tansill set out a number of arguments that would become essential elements of Holocaust denial. Most have no basis in fact; for example, Tansill and other revisionists contended that Hitler did not want to go to war with Poland but planned for Germany and Poland to dominate Europe together. If Poland had agreed to Hitler's scheme that it become the chief satellite in the Nazi orbit, its security would have been guaranteed. (36)i It was the Poles' refusal -- prompted by promises they had received from the British and made at America's urging -- to accede to the Nazi plan that was responsible for the outbreak of the war. Therefore it was American machinations that were ultimately responsible for pushing Poland into war and precipitating World War II. (37) Roosevelt, according to this extreme revisionist point of view, played a "grotesque role" in the entire episode by pressing British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to make promises to the Poles that could not be fulfilled. (38) These extreme arguments, which are rejected by virtually all historians, ignore the fact that Hitler did not intend to make Poland a satellite but to decimate it and that he regarded the Poles as Untermenschen, less than complete human beings. These arguments also exaggerate Roosevelt's role in convincing the British and the Poles to go to war. Stretching existing historical evidence to distorted limits, these arguments exonerated Nazi Germany and placed responsibility for the war on the Allies. Not surprisingly, deniers would make them a critical component of the nexus of arguments that together constitute their world view.
Among the extremists who, within months of the end of the war, were engaged in an attempt to lessen Germany's burden of responsibility were the vanguard of the deniers. They generally agreed that the United States should not have allowed itself to be drawn into the war. But their primary objective was to help Germany regain moral standing in the world. They believed that a strong, revived Germany was the key to the future of Western Europe. They recognized that the Allies in general and Americans in particular were likely to balk at aiding a country that was perceived as vicious, if not genocidal. It was necessary, therefore, to mitigate, if not totally dissipate, the uniqueness of Germany's wartime behavior. They did so in a number of ways: by portraying Nazi Germany in a positive light, by minimizing the severity of its hostile actions, and by engaging in immoral equivalencies -- that is, by citing what they claimed were comparable Allied wrongs.
Some of them were quite sympathetic to Hitler and portrayed him as a leader whose only motivation was the good of his own country. In addition to demonstrating a conciliatory attitude toward Poland, he had sought to avoid war. He was, according to Austin App, a "man of architecture and art, not of armaments and war." He did not want to go to war and was reluctant to mobilize the German people. (39) Hitler's Germany had been a society with many positive features that were overlooked because of disproportionate focus on some of its less appealing domestic policies. (40) The war could not be defined as a moral struggle: All sides had been equally devious and, consequently, were equally guilty. In order to free Germany of its particular burden of guilt those engaged in this effort had to address directly the issue of the atrocities committed under the Nazis. The most extreme among them tried to neutralize German actions by directly comparing the Nazis' annihilation of the Jews and murder of millions of others with Allied actions They contended that the United States had committed wrongdoings of the same magnitude. The ardent isolationist Freda Utley made the same point in The High Cost of Vengeance:
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery no one ever paid a higher compliment to the Nazis than their conquerors.... We reaffirmed the Nazi doctrine that "might makes right." Instead of showing the Germans that Hitler's racial theories were both wrong and ridiculous, we ourselves assumed the role of a master race. (41)
The argument that the United States committed atrocities as great, if not greater, than those committed by Germany has become a fulerum of contemporary Holocaust denial and a theme repeated continually in
their literature. But the deniers do not stop with this. In order to achieve their goals, one of which is the historical rehabilitation of Germany, they must "eliminate" the Holocaust. Once they do so, this equation cveryone is equally guilty -- becomes even easier to make. If there was no Holocaust and the Allies committed terrible atrocities, then what was so bad about Nazi Germany?
It is also a central argument for those who relativize the Holocaust -- that is, those who say the Nazis were no worse than anyone else. For the relativizer, these charges serve as immoral equivalents that mitigate the uniqueness of German wrongs. George Morgenstern, an editor of the Chicago Tribune, offered a mild example of American postwar equalizing, or relativizing, wrongdoings when he argued that none of the Allies had "clean hands" or were real "exemplar[s] of justice." While the fascist "slave states" were abhorrent to decent people, the British Empire, whose existence was dependent on the "exploitation" of millions of natives, was equally abhorrent. (42) William Neumann, who had been one of the first to attack prewar U.S. foreign policy, believed that Allied atrocities were the "point by point" equivalent of the Nazis'. (43) Stalin had invaded Poland in 1939, England and France had declared war on Germany, and the United States had committed acts of aggression against Germany before Pearl Harbor in the form of lendlease. Frederick Libby of the National Council for the Prevention of War tried to lessen Germany's burden by stating that "no nation has a monopoly on atrocities. War itself is the supreme atrocity." (44)
There were also those who, not satisfied with attacking Roosevelt or equating German and American wrongdoing, went a step further and portrayed Germany as the much-maligned victim of Allied aggression. Such arguments served as the model for those who would eventually seek not just to exculpate Germany for the Holocaust but to deny its existence altogether. According to these postwar revisionists, the bombing of Dresden and Cologne as well as Allied postwar policy toward Germany were equivalent to Nazi atrocities. They assailed Allied acquiescence in allowing the bifurcation of Germany and Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe, ignoring the fact that the West had no alternative short of armed conflict with the Soviets. They demanded, and succeeded in getting, special American immigration permits for Germans. (45) Ignoring similar conditions in other parts of Europe, they accused the United States of allowing the German people to starve and insisted that special relief plans be instituted to help Germany. Isolationist forces in the Senate persuaded a total of thirty-four senators to inform the president jointly that Germany and Austria were
"facing starvation on a scale never before experienced in Western Civilization." (46) Utley and other revisionists falsely claimed that, for three years after their unconditional surrender, the Allies had kept the Germans on rations that were less than or, at best, the same as those in a concentration camp.
Many of these isolationists seemed -- according to Justus Doenecke, who has written a sympathetic portrait of them -- to draw righteous justification from the fact that they had found a way to portray Germany as the victim and the United States as the victimizer and "malicious power." (47) Some World War II revisionists found it hard to exonerate the German political and military leaders who led the nation in war. Instead they attempted to distinguish between the behavior of the "people" as opposed to their "leaders," depicting the Germans as a people who had themselves been persecuted and victimized. While there may have been elements of truth in their charges, these extremists carried them to a point where fantasy subsumed reality. (48)
Relativists and German apologists cited the Allies' mass transfer of German citizens from Czechoslovakia and Poland in the immediate aftermath of the war as the ultimate example of Allied brutality. Sen. William Langer (R-ND), who had vigorously opposed Roosevelt's foreign policy, spoke of a "savage and fanatical plot" to destroy fifteen million German women and children. (49) Senator Langer claimed that three million of the German refugees had died en route. (50) Freda Utley described these population transfers as "crimes against humanity." Her choice of this particular phrase, which had already gained wide currency as a result of the Nuremberg indictments, was telling. (Eventually Utley would become one of the most vocal of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's supporters, branding one of those he accused of being a Communist spy as a "Judas cow," an animal who led others to be slaughtered). (51) Using a tactic that typified the actions of those who, in their quest to defend Nazi Germany, stopped short of denying the atrocities, she compared these transfers with what had been done to the Jews. According to her the expulsion of millions of people from their homes for the sole "crime" of being part of the German "race" was an "atrocity" equivalent to "the extermination of the Jews and the massacres of the Poles and Russians by the Nazis." Utley continued: "The women and children who died of hunger and cold on the long trek from Silesia and the Sudetenland to what remained of the German Reich, may have thought that a quick death in a gas chamber would have been comparatively merciful." (52)
She exonerated the German war criminals who were tried at
Nuremberg because what they did was "minor in extent if not in degree" compared with the postwar behavior of the Russian armies and the "genocide" committed by Poles and Czechs against Germans. (53) Taking the tactic of immoral equivalencies to its ultimate extreme, she argued that "there was no crime the Nazis had committed which we or our allies had not also committed." (54) Although Utley was an extremist who did not abandon her political beliefs even after the war, such charges were not only made by extremists. The Chicago Tribune accused the French of not permitting more than half a million German prisoners of war to return home. According to the paper they were being kept as "slaves," denied food sufficient to allow them to work, and beaten by "Moroccan savages." (55)
Many of the critics focused on a plan proposed toward the end of the war by Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, which would have prevented the economic rehabilitation of Germany. Though the plan was never put into effect, World War II revisionists and Holocaust deniers claim it was and cite it as an example of the Allies' diabolical attitude toward Germany and of the way Germany was to be made the victim of Allied postwar retribution. Henry Regnery, who published much of the World War II revisionist material, issued a pamphlet comparing Morgenthau's proposal with the Nazi plan to destroy millions of Jews through starvation. (56) The fact that Morgenthau was not only a member of Roosevelt's cabinet but an identifying Jew was something these critics were quick to exploit. **
These postwar isolationists and World War II revisionists also cast Germany as the victim by stressing the "inhumanity" and "injustice" of the Allied war crimes trials and de-Nazification programs. (Lindbergh accused the Allies of imposing an "eye for an eye" punishment.) They questioned the legality of the Nuremberg trials and accused the Allies of hypocrisy in holding them, arguing that had the outcome of the war been reversed the Allied leaders would have found themselves in the docket. Beard also attacked the trials. (57) Sen. Robert Taft (R-OH) argued that the trials were marked by a "spirit of vengeance," and the
Chicago Tribune declared that Russia's participation transformed them into a "kangaroo court." (58) Congressman Rankin accused the court at Nuremberg of having "perpetrated more outrages than any other organization of its kind." He found it particularly appalling that Soviet Communist Jews, who he argued, bore responsibility for the murder of tens of millions of Christians, should be able to sit in judgment of "German soldiers, civilians and doctors, five or six years after the war closed." (59) Robert McCormick, probably America's most influential isolationist, refused to have dinner with former Attorney General Francis Biddle because, as a result of his role in the Nuremberg trials, McCormick considered him a "murderer." (60) The New York Daily News declared that the defendants' "real crime was that they did not win.'' (61)
Allied behavior in the immediate aftermath of the war was not without fault. There had been insufficient planning for this period, and there were many shortcomings in Allied policies. The de-Nazification program was applied unequally, and inequities in punishment resulted from it. But the critics ignored the circumstances that had produced this situation. Furthermore there was no starvation program in Germany, and the rations Germans received far surpassed anything concentration camp inmates were ever given by the Nazis. The vigor of the isolationists' attacks on the de-Nazification program did not abate even when it became clear that Washington wished to change, if not totally abandon it.
(The degree to which Germans could be singled out for having committed atrocities was a matter of debate from the moment the war ended. The concentration camps had barely been liberated when some critics and commentators began to argue that the reports, official photographs, and films of the camps were being released in order to implant in American minds a feeling of vengeance. James Agee, writing in the Nation of May 19, 1945, attacked the Signal Corps films of concentration camp victims even though he had not seen them. He did not believe it "necessary" to show them: "Such propaganda" -- even if true -- was designed to make Americans equate all Germans with the few who had perpetrated these crimes. (62) Milton Mayer, in an article in the Progressive, went a step further than Agee. He not only argued against vengeance but questioned whether the films and reports could really be true. "There are, to be sure, fantastic discrepancies in the reports." (63) Despite overwhelming evidence, doubts persisted.) (64)
Respected Americans voiced concern about a spirit of vengeance. They sometimes did so by casting doubt on the veracity of the stories and by defending the perpetrators. Robert Maynard Hutchins, presi-
dent of the University of Chicago, a vigorous isolationist who had been an advisor to America First, wrote in 1945 that "the wildest atrocity stories" could not change the "simple truth" that "no men are beasts." (The implicit message in Hutchins's juxtaposition of the terms "wild atrocity story" with "simple truth" may have been unintended, but it must have had an impact on his readers.) An article in the Progressive by William B. Hesseltine, a historian at the University of Wisconsin, compared the false atrocity stories that had been circulated in the aftermath of the Civil War with those that emerged from Germany after the end of hostilities there. (65)
Years later, in an example of how deniers pervert historical arguments, a virtually identical argument was made by Austin App:
The top U.S. media, possibly because they are dominated by Jews ... have no tradition of fairness to anyone they hate.... They have also in wartime subverted much of the public to a frenzy of prejudice. Even in our Civil War, where Americans fought against Americans, Americans of the North were told and came to believe that Choctaw County stunk with dead bodies of murdered slaves and that Southern belles had worn necklaces strung of Yankee eyeballs!... If Yankees could believe that Southern girls wore necklaces of Yankee eyeballs, would they not even more readily believe that Germans made lampshades out of the skins of prisoners, or that they boiled Jews into soap? (66)
Two decades later this argument would be reiterated in an essay in the Holocaust revisionist publication the Journal of Historical Review. (67) (See chapter 9 for a discussion of the Civil War analogy.) By finding what they deemed to be historical parallels, deniers hoped to demonstrate that the Holocaust was not the only time the public had been tricked by historical orthodoxies.
During the early years after the war, Germans also tried to minimize Nazi wrongdoings and place the blame elsewhere. Some German neo-Nazis maintained that German crimes were not as immense as the Allies had charged. (68) Others sought to clear Hitler of any responsibility. In 1952 the Institute for German Post-War History was organized in Tübingen by Dr. Herbert Grabert, who had known connections to extreme-right-wing and neo-Nazi groups. Grabert denounced those who claimed that Hitler had any ambitions to dominate the world, (69) despite the fact that in order to do so he had to ignore the clear statements to the contrary in Mein Kampf (see chapter 5). In 1960 the Committee for the Restoration of Historical Truth -- which argued that World War II had been caused by the Versailles treaty, that Britain had long sought a
war against Germany, and that Roosevelt had helped push Britain into the war -- was founded in Hanover. The committee's organizers denounced the Jews as a "cancerous growth" on the body politic. When dealing with such an adversary, "human considerations do not enter." (70) In 1962 Nation Europa, Germany's foremost neo-Nazi paper, claimed there was no "evidence that Hitler knew of the mad doings of a small clique of criminals." And in 1963 the Deutsche HochschullehrerZeitung, a newspaper for German teachers of higher education, argued that the Holocaust had been a legitimate "retaliatory action" against Jews, in response to Jewish "business methods" and the murder by Jewish Bolsheviks of German patriots. (71)
By 1950 the foundation had been laid for those who would not simply seek to relativize or mitigate Germany's actions -- the arguments they needed to buttress their charges of a Holocaust "hoax" had been made, some voiced by legitimate historians and others expressed by extremist politicians and journalists. Virtually all the revisionists' charges were adopted by the deniers, including Germany's lack of culpability, chicanery by both Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt, suppression of the truth after both wars, and use of propaganda -- falsified atrocity stories in particular -- to whip up public support. These arguments would become crucial elements in the deniers' attempt to prove that the Holocaust "hoax" is not a unique phenomenon but a link in a chain of tradition whose hallmarks were chicanery, conspiracy, and deception. -The French writer Nadine Fresco noted in her analysis of Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, "One cannot establish a science whose only ethic is suspicion." (72) Yet that is what the more extreme World War II revisionists were attempting to do.
Nonetheless, there was one thing these defenders of Nazi Germany and critics of American involvement and postwar Allied policy never suggested: namely that the atrocities in question had not happened. Irrespective of which side of the ocean they were on, they stopped short of this denial. They may have claimed that they were not as bad as had been reported. They may have argued that the Soviets or the Allies had committed similar acts or that Hitler knew nothing about them They may have also ignored the moral implications of such behavior in order to argue that Allied and Axis behavior were virtually equal. But they did not deny that they were factual. Accusations to that effect were not long in coming, however, gaining currency within a few years after the war.
* Lindbergh's best-known and most controversial statement during this penod was made in September 1941 at an America First rally in Des Moines, lowa. In a speech entitled "Who Are the War Agitators?" he told eight thousand people that the "three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt Administration... If any one of these groups -- the British, the Jewish, or the Administration -- stops agitating for war... [there would] be little danger of our involvement."
** In 1977, denier James Martin described Morgenthau's plan as an example of running postwar Germany "according to the Old Testament instead of the New." He claimed the plan had been implemented and resulted in the German population transfers, which he called the "most barbarous event of the history of Europe.... It is rare that one ever sees an animal forced to endure under such degraded and forlorn circumstances." Martin, a member of the Journal of Historical Review's editorial board, is listed as a contributor to the 1970 Encyclopedia Britannica. James J. Martin, The Saga Of Hog Island and Other Essays in Inconvenient History (Colorado Spnngs, 1977), p. 193.
Chapter 2. The Antecedents
1. Sidney B. Fay, "New Light on the Origins of the World War, " American Historical Review, vol. 25 (1920), pp. 616-39; vol. 26, (1920), pp. 37-53; vol. 26 (1921), pp. 225-54.
2. Sidney B. Fay, The Origins of the World War, vol. 2 (New York, 1966), pp. 552-54.
3. Novick, That Noble Dream, pp. 210ff.
4. Ibid., p. 212.
5. Charles Beard, "Heroes and Villains of the World War," Current History, vol. 24 (1926), p. 733.
6. Fay, Origins of the World War, vol. 1, p. 8.
7. Harry Elmer Barnes, The Genesis of the World War: An Introduction to the Problem of War Guilt (New York, 1929), p. 641.
8. For analysis of the evidence placed before the Commission on Responsibility for the War at the Paris Peace Conference and the conclusions based on it see A. von Wegerer, "Die Widerlegung der Versailles Kriegsschuldthese" (Refutation of the Versailles war guilt theory), in Die Kriegsschuldfrage (The war guilt question), vol. 6 (Jan. 1928), pp. 1-77; see also his article and the replies to it in Current History (Aug. 1928), pp. 810-28, cited in Fay, Origins of the World War, vol. 2, p. 549.
9. Barnes, Genesis, pp. 641-42.
10. Ibid., p. 647.
11. For a discussion of British propaganda, see C. Hartley Grattan, Why We Fought (1929), and Walter Millis, Road to War (1935), cited in John E. Wiltz, From Isolationism to War, 1931-1941 (New York, 1968), p. 8.
12. Wiltz, From Isolationism to War, p. 7.
13. Charles A. Beard, President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War (New Haven, 1948), p. 5.
14. Barnes, Genesis, p. 648.
15. Fay, Origins of the World War, p. 558.
16. Wiltz, From Isolationism to War, p. 17.
17. Wayne S. Cole, Roosevelt and the Isolationists, 1932-1945 (Lincoln, Nebr., 1983), p. 6.
18. For background on the isolationists-revisionists and a sympathetic portrayal of their efforts, see Justus D. Doene cke, Not to the Swift: The Old Isolation ists in the Cold War Era (London, 1982); see also Wayne S. Cole, Charles A. Lindbergh and the Battle Against American Intervention in World War II (New York, 1974), pp. 379-81.
19. Tom Connally, My Name Is Tom Connally (New York, 1954), pp. 211-14, cited in Cole, Roosevelt and the Isolationists, p. 161.
20. Cordell Hull, Memoirs of Cordell Hull, vol. 1 (New York, 1948), p. 404.
21. Cole, Roosevelt and the Isolationists, p. 161; Dexter Perkins, The New Age of Franklin Roosevelt, cited in Wiltz, From Isolationism to War, p. 50.
22. Wiltz, From Isolationism to War, p. 7.
23. Johnson to Hiram W. Johnson, Jr., Feb. 11, 19, 1939, Johnson to Frank P. Doherty, Feb. 11, 1939; Johnson Papers, cited in Cole, Roosevelt and the Isolationists, pp. 308, 607.
24. Edward S. Shapiro, "Antisemitism Mississippi Style," Antisemitism in American History, ed. David Gerber (Urbana/Chicago, 1986), pp. 129-47. Rankin also opposed the repeal of the Chinese Exclu sion Act because "Japs" would flood America in the postwar period (Doenecke, Not to the Swift, p. 21).
25. Congressional Record, 77th Congress, 1st sess., 1941, 87:6565; Cole, pp. 475 76.
26. Cole, Roosevelt and the Isolationists, p. 465. On antisemitism in America First see James C. Schneider, Should America Go to War? The Debate over Foreign Policy in Chicago,1939-1941 (Chapel Hill, N.C.,1989), p.210.
27. Charles Beard, "We're Blundering Into War, American Mercury, (Apr. 1939), pp. 388-90.
28. The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem (Hawthorne, Calif., n.d.). For an analysis of antisemitic conspiracy theories in the United States see Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab, The Politics of Unreason: Right-Wing Extremism in America, 1790-1977, 2d ed. (Chicago, 1978), chaps. 4, 5, and 6. For the impact of the belief in the Proto cols see Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide (New York, 1966), pp. 156-64. For a compelling overview of the role of conspiracy theories in America see George Johnson, Architects of Fear: Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia in American Politics (Boston, 1983). For a discussion of Henry Ford see ibid., pp. 111-14. For information on contemporary uses of the Protocols see Patterns of Prejudice, Nov./Dec. 1977.
29. Lipset and Raab, Politics of Unreason, p. 135.
30. Johnson, Architects of Fear, pp. 78-80.
31. Henri Zukier, "The Conspiratorial Imperative: Medieval Jewry in Western Europe," Changing Conceptions of Conspiracy, Carl F. Graumann and Serge Moscovici, eds. (New York, 1987), pp. 93-101.
32. Chicago Tribune, editorial, Nov. 9, 1945. John T. Flynn, The Roosevelt Myth (New York, 1948). Other books that made similar arguments included William Henry Chamberlin, America's Second Crusade (Chicago, 1950), and Frederic R. Sanborn, Design for War (New York, 1951).
33. Beard, President Roosevelt, p. 577.
34. Time, June 16, 1947, p. 29, quoted in Doene cke, Not to the Swift, p. 101.
35. Charles C. Tansill, Back Door to War: The Roosevelt Foreign Policy, 1933-1941 (Chicago, 1952), p. 9.
36. Tansill, Back Door to War, p. 510.
37. For Tansill's views on Hitler see Charles C. Tansill to Harry Elmer Barnes, November 10, 1950, Barnes Papers, Univ. of Wyoming. For background on Tansill's conservative and segregationist views see Doene cke, Not to the Swift, pp.101-2, 112.
38. Tansill, Back Door to War, pp. 554-55.
39. Austin App, A Straight Look at the Third Reich: Hitler and National Socialism, How Right? How Wrong? (Tacoma Park, Md., 1974), p. 40.
40. William Henry Chamberlin, "Shifting American Alignments," Human Events ( May 22, 1946) .
41. Freda Utley, The High Cost of Vengeance (Chicago, 1949), p. 14.
42. George Morgenstern, Pearl Harbor: The Story of the Secret War (New York, 1947), pp. 4, 7, 283, cited in Doene cke, Not to the Swift, p. 97.
43. William Neumann to H. E. Barnes, Jan. 30, 1946, Barnes Papers, cited in Doenecke, Not to the Swift, p. 141.
44. Frederick Libby, Peace Action, vol.9 ( July 1945), pp.3-4.
45. Leonard Dinnerstein, America and the Survi vors of the Holocaust (New York, 1982), pp. 162-83.
46. Doene cke, Not to the Swift, p. 133.
47. Ibid., p. 145.
48. In a far milder and more rational defense of the German people, Philip La Follette, former governor of Wisconsin, described the German people as the first victims of Nazi brutalities.
49. Congressional Record, Mar. 29, 1946, p. 2801, and Apr. 18, 1946, p. 3962.
50. Extreme concern about the conditions of the German population did not always ipso facto indicate a lack of concern about what Jews had experienced. Langer was one of the outspoken supporters in the Senate of the activist Jewish leader Peter Bergson, who called for a strong American rescue program for European Jewry. In 1943 on the floor of the Senate, Langer had publicly criticized the Bermuda Conference as a ploy sponsored by the British and American governments to give the illusion that plans for rescue were under serious consideration. He warned that "2,000,000 Jews in Europe have been killed off already and another 5,000,000 Jews are awaiting the same fate unless they are saved immediately. Every day, every hour, every minute that passes thousands of them are being exterminated." Langer's positions both during the war and after it are attributable in great measure to his opposition to the Democrats' foreign policy (David Wyman, The A bandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941-1945 (New York, 1984), p. 143.
51. Doene cke, Not to the Swift, p. 215.
52. Utley, High Cost of Vengeance, p. 14 (italics added).
53. Ibid., pp. 14, 15.
54. She included in these crimes "the obliteration bombing; the mass expropriation and expulsion from their homes of twelve million Germans on account of their race; the starving of the Germans during the first years of the occupation; the use of prisoners as slave laborers; the Russian concentration camps, and the looting perpetrated by Americans as well as Russians (Utley, High Cost of Vengeance, p. 183).
55. "Slaveholders Always Defend Slavery," Chicago Tribune, December 10, 1946.
56. Karl Brandt, "Germany Is Our Problem," pamphlet (Hinsdale, Ill., 1946).
57. Chicago Tribune, July 26, 1945; Charles A. Beard to Oswald Garrison Villard, November 8, 1946, Villard Papers, cited in Doene cke, Not to the Swift, pp. 140, 141, 149 n. 43.
58. "The Nazi Trials," editorial, Chicago Tribune, July 24, 1945.
59. Congressional Record, 82nd Cong., 2nd Sess., Mar. 11, 1952, pp. 2106, 2110, cited in Shapiro, "Antisemitism Mississippi Style," p. 136.
60. Frank C. Waldrop, McCormick of Chicago (Englewood, N.J., 1966), p. 263. For additional background information on the foreign policy of the Chicago Tribune in the interwar period see Jerome Edwards, The Foreign Policy of Colonel McCormick's Tribune, 1921-1941 (Reno, 1971).
61. New York Daily News, October 6, 1945.
62. Nation, May 19, 1945, p. 579.
63. Progressive, May 14, 1945, cited in Robert Abzug, Inside the Vicious Heart (New York, 1985), pp. 136-37.
64. General doubts about the reports of mass murder and other atrocities committed by the Germans had persisted as late as the liberation of the camps. In April 1945 the BBC had chosen not to broadeast its own reporter's account of the liberation of Buchenwald because it feared the public would not believe him. It waited a number of days until it received Edward R. Murrow's account. Because Murrow was held in such high esteem by the British, the BBC was convinced that his description of the horrors perpetrated by the Germans would be more likely to be accepted as accurate. Even Murrow worried that his report would be dismissed as exaggerated, and in his famous broadeast he asked his listeners, "I pray you to believe what I have said."
65. William Hesseltine, "Atrocities Then and Now," Progressive, May 9, 1945 p. 4.
66. App, A Straight Look, p. 5.
67. Mark Weber, "Civil War Concentration Camps,' Journal of Historical Review (Summer 1981), pp. 144, 15 0-52.
68. C. C. Aronsfeld, The Text of the Holocaust (Marblehead, Mass.,1985), p. 52.
69. Ibid., p. 55. Grabert published David Hoggan's The Forced War, which would play a seminal role in the evolution of Holocaust denial in the United States and Germany.
70. Welt der Arbeit, May 26, 1961, cited in Aronsfeld, Text of the Holocaust, p. 56.
71. Deutsche Hochschullehrer-Zeitung (Tü bingen), no. 4 (1963), quoted in Aronsfeld, Text of the Holocaust, p. 56.
72. Nadine Fresco, "The Denial of the Dead: On the Faurisson Affair," Dissent (Fall 1981), pp. 473-74.
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.
We downloaded this document in October 1999 from <www.angelfire/ak3/deny/pira1.html>. We have seen another copy at <www.altern.org/lipo/pira1.html>. Thanks to them all. As revisionists, we feel grossly misrepresented by Ms Lipstadt; we are not looking for redress in courts, but only in the minds of good readers. The rest of this site is enough, we believe, to prove Ms Lipstad wrong on all accounts. You may retrieve informations on the trial on David Irving's website.
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