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From oneb!!utcsri!utnut!torn!!agate!ames!decwrl!decwrl!netcomsv!netcomsv!banished!dgannon Sun Feb 20 22:31:39 PST 1994

     Following are excerpts from an article published in _The Journal of
Historical Review_.  The complete article is available under the filename
"BESTWITN.TXT" from Banished CPU's FTP Mail Server -- see the end of this
message for instructions on how to access the server.


>From _The Journal of Historical Review_, Vol. 14, Number 1 (Jan./Feb. 1994):


                          Theodore J. O'Keefe


     The frustrating thing [...] was that the IHR's researchers were aware
from the beginning, thanks to the very affidavit Mermelstein presented to
claim the $50,000 reward, that when he described watching his mother and
sisters enter "gas chamber no. 5" through a tunnel, he was speaking of an
impossibility, an absurdity that became even more absurd six months later,
when, in sworn testimony, he said he'd seen them going down the stairs into
the tunnel to the gas chamber.  Why?  Because even then it was well known to
all students of Auschwitz that "gas chamber no. 5" -- in fact, Auschwitz
Krematorium building V -- had no stairs descending from the outside, no
tunnel, and no basement.  It was entirely above ground!

     [...]  In Mermelstein's own book, _By Bread Alone_, which offers a
detailed account of the single night and day he spent at Birkenau (May
21-22, 1944), and which was published only two years before his sworn
affidavit in application for the reward, Mermelstein wrote NOTHING of
witnessing his mother and sisters enter any building at all, let alone any
gas chamber -- whether down the stairs, up the ladder, through the window,
or down the chimney.


     Working from a mass of statements, either direct or reported, made by
Mermelstein [...], Rollins was able to compile a list of instances in which
[...] Mermelstein had either:

     First, CONTRADICTED HIMSELF in his various statements on what he had
seen or experienced during the Holocaust (for example, his several different
accounts of how and where his father died), or;

    Second, made ABSURD claims about what had happened to him and others
during the Holocaust -- for example, witnessing a non-existent tunnel
leading to the imaginary cellar of Krematorium 5, or being ordered to wash
with soap made from dead Jews.

     Contradictions and absurdities -- Lou Rollins compiled 33 of them on a
list that ran to eleven pages.  [...]

     [...]  In 1984 [...] Bradley Smith approached the Institute seeking
funding for a newsletter; Smith had decided to take on the thankless task of
alerting America's journalists to the falsehood and fraud they were
accepting and disseminating uncritically under the rubric of the Holocaust.
Smith went on to publish some of the most flagrant instances of these claims
in his newsletter _Prima Facie_, and not surprisingly, among the ripest
contradictions and absurdities in the lore of the Holocaust were the
testimony and statements of Mel Mermelstein [...]

     Alas, Smith's trumpet calls in _Prima Facie_ went unheeded by our
nation's press corps.  In July 1985 came the settlement and the triumph of
Mermelstein, followed by his false gloating about how he had collected the
reward, and his false claim, made during a radio broadcast from New York
that August, that the IHR had signed the 1981 judicial notice, and thus
accepted the "fact" of homicidal gassings of Jews at Auschwitz.

     As had happened after the 1981 judicial notice, tributes and
congratulations flowed in to the "survivor" from around the globe.  How
galling it was for Revisionists to see Mermelstein vaunt himself to the
nation and the world as the man who proved the Holocaust, who had humbled
IHR and the Revisionists!


     In the wake of this bitter defeat, IHR had two tasks:

     First, to explain the settlement to its subscribers and supporters
around the world, to reassure them that IHR had accepted a compromise to
avoid the expense and uncertainty of trial but -- and in spite of what Mel
Mermelstein and our other enemies were saying -- had not abandoned its
skepticism on the gas chambers, and had NOT accepted the judicial notice.

     Second, to show the flag, to proclaim our defiance, to fight back.

     In the September 1986 issue of the _IHR Newsletter_ [...] Bradley Smith
took direct aim [...] at that minority he firmly believed, on the basis of a
reasonably careful (or "duly diligent") study of the evidence, was actively
engaged in spreading falsehoods about their experiences.  Smith wrote of
"the vainglorious prevaricators," "the false-tale spinners who claim to
speak for the survivor community," and "such demonstrable frauds as Melvin
Mermelstein and Elie Wiesel."  Smith's [...] assertion that Mermelstein was
a fraud was based on the previously mentioned list that Rollins had compiled
for the first trial.

     The sweet taste of victory had done nothing to mellow Mermelstein's
disposition, and when he learned of Smith's short _IHR Newsletter_ article,
he sued for defamation.


     After Mermelstein launched his second suit, the Institute, learning of
his misrepresentation of the settlement of the reward case, filed a
defamation suit of its own against Mermelstein in August 1986.  The IHR
never served this suit, and later voluntarily dismissed it.  Thereupon
Mermelstein sued the IHR for malicious prosecution, and with the help of his
attorney [...], concocted an $11 million suit for four causes of action:
libel, malicious prosecution, conspiracy to inflict emotional distress, and
intentional infliction of emotional distress.


     Hulsy [...] decided to oppose the libel complaint by convincingly
demonstrating to a jury, if possible, that everything Smith had written
about Mermelstein was true.  [...]

     Thanks to the evidence carefully compiled by Lou Rollins and others, we
could show that what had appeared in the _IHR Newsletter_ about Mermelstein
was true.  [...]

     My first assignment was to demonstrate to Bill Hulsy that the IHR and
revisionists were not "neo-Nazis" or cranky flat-earthers, but responsible
researchers with a different viewpoint on modern history.  After winning his
confidence, he set me to work gathering, compiling and evaluating evidence
to defend against Mermelstein's libel complaint [...]

     Aided by numerous volunteers [...] we searched for whatever we could
find about Mermelstein and his family.  This included evidence about his
mental soundness (Mermelstein had admitted to being under the care of a
psychiatrist); information as to his litigation with persons other than the
IHR; newspaper reports quoting Mermelstein on his Auschwitz experiences;
and, of course, wartime documents from Auschwitz and elsewhere that would
disprove his claims about witnessing atrocities, above all the alleged
gassing of his mother and sisters at Auschwitz in May 1944.

     My first step was to nail down the existing evidence [...]


     While Mermelstein was a rather difficult witness who had attempted
(sometimes with success) to intimidate IHR attorneys during depositions by
playing the Holocaust card, he was often boastful and extravagant, and
provided many nuggets for analysis and comparison.

     I began my compilation of contradictions and absurdities in
Mermelstein's Holocaust claims with the list that Lou Rollins had put
together.  With much more evidence and a great deal more time than was
available to Rollins, I compiled a new list, longer and more thorough than
his original, but including many of the discrepancies and exaggerations that
he had caught years earlier.

     This listing had to be not only exhaustive, but reasonable and
persuasive.  [...]


     In all, I discovered 30 absurdities, 22 contradictions, and a number of
exaggerations.  These examples went directly to the matter of Mermelstein as
a "demonstrable fraud," a "vainglorious prevaricator," and a "false-tale

     Among the absurdities were the nonexistent subterranean tunnel to the
above-ground crematory, the soap made from Jewish bodies, a claim that
Auschwitz camp "kapos" were rewarded for every prisoner they killed, and
that there was a railroad track leading from the crematory to a pond for
dumping ashes.


     Since the summer of 1980, Mermelstein has repeatedly stated that he saw
his mother and sisters go into a gas chamber, or into tunnel leading to it,
from a distance of "a stone's throw away," a distance of "40, 50 feet," and
that he watched the "gas chamber" building for "a couple of hours."
Remarkably, though, Mermelstein made no mention of witnessing any of this in
any account available prior to 1980, including his supposedly
autobiographical book, _By Bread Alone_.

     This is nothing compared to his varying versions of the fate that
befell his father.  In a declaration given in November 1969 at the German
consulate in Los Angeles, Mermelstein said his father died during
"evacuation marches to Blechhammer from other camps."  According to the
account given in _By Bread Alone_, though, Mermelstein's father died in bed
after working himself to death, trading food for cigarettes.  In a May 1981
deposition, his father had died of overwork and exhaustion, while in a June
1985 deposition, he died of "exhaustion, cruelty, starvation, and beatings."

[Continued in next message:]

From oneb!!utcsri!utnut!torn!!agate!ames!decwrl!decwrl!netcomsv!netcomsv!banished!dgannon Sun Feb 20 22:31:41 PST 1994

[Continued from previous message:]

According to still other accounts given by Mel Mermelstein, his father was
"gassed at Auschwitz."

     Mermelstein has given similarly contradictory accounts of what he did
while interned at Auschwitz (between approximately May 21 and July 1, 1944).
In a statement given in November 1969 at the German consulate in Los
Angeles, he had "no occupation."  Similarly, in a May 1981 deposition, he
declared that had done "practically nothing...just some detail work" and "no
physical work."

     In February 1987, a dramatically different account of Mermelstein's
time in Auschwitz appeared.  Ed Koch (who was then mayor of New York City)
told of a meeting with Mermelstein during a tour of Auschwitz.  Koch
reported in a newspaper article that Mermelstein had told him:  "I was part
of the special detail which hauled the bodies from the gas chamber and took
them to the crematoria."


     In claiming that Auschwitz camp kapos would kill an inmate if "they
didn't like the shape of your nose," Mermelstein seemed to suggest that his
own nose was not unattractive.  [...]  At Buchenwald, Mermelstein would have
us believe, he went swimming "in blood," even though he and others had been
transported to Buchenwald "only for one purpose" -- to be disposed of in
crematorium rather than "litter...the beautiful towns and cities with our

     Fortunately, Mermelstein and many others like him miraculously
survived.  One of these friends, Dr. Miklos Nyiszli (who wrote his own book
about his stay entitled, _Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account_), was a
truly exceptional survivor.  In a 1981 deposition, Mermelstein claimed that
Dr. Nyiszli, whom he supposedly knew personally, would testify on
Mermelstein's behalf about the alleged crimes of Dr. Josef Mengele at
Auschwitz.  At that time, though, Nyiszli had been dead for more than 25



     From the volume of evidence we acquired, we learned two important

     First, that Mermelstein is simply not a credible witness to gassings at
Auschwitz, or to very much else involving concentration camps and the
Holocaust.  [...] his testimony proves nothing about the existence of Nazi
gas chambers or a policy to exterminate Jews.  If anything, careful analysis
of his statements indicates the opposite:  that there were no Auschwitz gas
chambers or German policy to exterminate the Jews.

     Second, there is no evidence that Mermelstein ever claimed to have
witnessed the gassing of his mother and sisters until after he learned of
the IHR's reward offer.  He apparently first claimed to have personally seen
them enter a so-called gas chamber in letters attacking the IHR that
appeared in newspapers in southern California and Israel in the summer of



     After several postponements in the first half of 1991, the trial was
upon us.  It followed a new Mermelstein media propaganda blitz, the
centerpiece of which was the made-for-television movie _Never Forget_.  This
lurid and false account of the "reward case" was broadcast nationwide over
the Turner cable television network in April 1991 (or just before the
original trial date).


     Then we got a break.  [...] Lachs turned out to be a conscientious and
impartial judge, despite the sensitive nature of the case and the blatant
attempts by Mermelstein's attorneys to appeal to his Jewish background.

     [...]  The 49 pretrial motions crafted by Hulsy to withstand and
counter Mermelstein's case were like a mighty fortress protecting us and
blocking the enemy's advance.  [...]  When Mermelstein's lawyers attempted a
retreat it quickly turned into a rout.  In the end, a downcast plaintiff and
his (somewhat bedraggled) lawyers slunk from the courtroom, seemingly dazed
by defeat.


     This is not to say that Mel Mermelstein didn't have his day in court.
He and his counsel had unwisely declined to stipulate that he was a "public
figure," as we had tried to establish (mindful of the added protection
against defamation suits by public figures provided by the Supreme Court in
a landmark 1964 decision).  [...]

     As a result, Mermelstein took the stand, allowing Mark Lane to examine
him on the question of whether his activities qualified him as a public
figure according to the standards of the court.  Mermelstein attempted to
argue that he was not a public figure, in spite of his admission on the
stand that he is:  a published author; the founder of the "Auschwitz Study
Foundation"; the curator of a Holocaust museum (that was first a traveling
Holocaust exhibition); the willing subject of scores of newspaper and
magazine stories, radio and television interviews; an eager accumulator of
plaudits and testimonials from state and local governments, and laurels from
the likes of Israel's late Prime Minister Menachem Begin; and a lecturer who
has spoken, over nearly two decades, at numerous colleges, high schools,
synagogues, and so forth, across the United States.

     Lane led him carefully through each of these damaging admissions.
Evidently Mermelstein had believed that he could represent himself as
someone who had been dragged unwillingly into the public arena by the IHR
(even though most of his various public activities started before he'd ever
heard of the Institute).

     After establishing Mermelstein as an author, curator, founder of a
non-profit educational organization, political honoree, and media star over
the airwaves and in print, Lane zeroed on Mermelstein's activities as a
lecturer.  About how many lectures had he given on Auschwitz prior to 1985,
Lane wanted to know.  Here Mermelstein, uncommonly forthcoming so far, began
to prevaricate.  Despite ample testimony out of his own mouth and pen as to
his numerous lectures over the years, testimony of which the defendants were
very well aware, Mermelstein claimed that he had given only about as many
talks as "the fingers on my hands."

     Thereupon Lane flourished a typed list, signed by Mermelstein, of more
than 30 lectures given by him in a period of just 18 months in 1981-1982.
Mermelstein tried to be crafty:  he allowed that he might have lectured more
than once at the same place -- not the most effective answer, but one that
later might defuse the issue for an inattentive jury.

     At this point I recalled that in one of his depositions Mermelstein had
estimated giving an average of 20 lectures a year on Auschwitz since 1967.
I quickly found the statement in a deposition given in 1985.  After a break
for lunch, Mark Lane confronted Mermelstein with his own words, and then,
using a pencil and pad to multiply 18 by 20 (a calculation equalling 360),
Lane asked Mermelstein if he hadn't just told the court that he had only
given as many lectures as there are fingers on his hands.  A vexed
Mermelstein then blurted out, "I meant the fingers of my hands and feet!"

     At that point, Judge Lachs was seen to roll his eyes heavenward.  A few
minutes later, Bersin rose to concede his client's status as a public


     Several days later, after carefully considering the text of
Mermelstein's characterization of the IHR's 1985 settlement (which the
plaintiff had made on a New York City radio broadcast shortly after that
settlement), Judge Lachs declared that Mermelstein's claim that IHR had
"signed" the 1981 judicial notice of gassing at Auschwitz could indeed be
interpreted by a reasonable man as defamatory.  This meant, he ruled, that
IHR had had probable cause to sue Mermelstein in 1986, and that thus he had
no alternative but to grant the IHR's motion for dismissal of Mermelstein's
malicious prosecution complaint.

     Soon afterwards, Mermelstein dismissed his libel and conspiracy
complaints, and he and his attorneys trundled wearily out of the courtroom,
haggling over who would pay for the transcript, a requirement in any appeal.

     As reported elsewhere in this issue of the _Journal_, Mermelstein's
appeal of Judge Lachs's dismissal of his malicious prosecution complaint was
unanimously rejected by the California Court of Appeal on October 28 [...]


     At one point in a deposition, Mel Mermelstein referred himself as his
own "best witness."  [...]  In a very real sense, Mermelstein is indeed the
best witness to the gas chambers.  He twice succeeded in getting judges in
the state of California, a trendsetter in legal fashion as in so much else,
to pronounce the Auschwitz gassings as indisputable fact.

     While sharing with the Elie Wiesels, the Rudolf Vrbas and the Filip
Mullers the same knack for wild exaggerations, bizarre contradictions, and
flat absurdities, Mermelstein is unlike them in having submitted his claims
to careful scrutiny and relentless cross-examination.  And so, while Mel
Mermelstein is admittedly so far the best witness to the alleged gas
chambers at Auschwitz, the best clearly isn't good enough.


[Reprinted from _The Journal of Historical Review_, P.O. Box 4296, Torrance,
CA 90510, USA.  Subscriptions:  $40 per year (domestic).]

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