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Last-Modified: 1994/07/26

                     Copyright 1993 The Washington Post    
                              The Washington Post 
                     October 3, 1993, Sunday, Final Edition 
LENGTH: 1818 words   
HEADLINE: Denying the Deniers   
SERIES: Occasional   
BODY:    I HAVE BEEN asked to respond to the letters from
Holocaust-deniers (Book World, Aug. 15), which you published in
response to Paul Johnson's review of my book, Denying the Holocaust:
The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. But I will not do that. As I
argue in the book, the most disturbing media response to Holocaust
denial has been the mistaken notion that every fact has an equally
valid "other side" which should be given equal space and time. To
some in the media, it is irrelevant that Holocaust denial has as much
intellectual validity as the statement two plus two equals three.
Would you have published, in response to a book on the history of
slavery, letters which claimed slavery never existed or was a
voluntary relationship?   
   We must not debate people with no fidelity to the truth. Moreover,
deniers' arguments are so riddled with antisemitism and racism and so
lacking in any historical logic or reason that we should all refrain
from dignifying them with a response. I wish you had done that too.  

   Emory University   
   Atlanta, Ga.     
   Willis A. Carto's letter (Book World, Aug. 15) offers no support
for his statement, " 'everyone' knows that there were no gas chambers
at Dachau. Even Abba Eban and Simon Wiesenthal have stated this."
Actually, Eban's book My People (1968) cites William Shirer's Rise
and Fall of the Third Reich as quoting a document in the form of a
letter from a firm called C.H. Kori, soliciting orders for "our
perfected cremation ovens . . . which hitherto have given full
satisfaction" in Dachau and Lublin.   
   If Carto is trying to distinguish between gas chambers and
crematoria in this respect, for whom does he think the latter were
intended if not for the victims of the former, just those who died
peacefully in bed? For what it's worth, I, along with many thousands
of other visitors, have seen both at Dachau -- unless the pro-semitic
German authorities have deceived us by misrepresenting as gas
chambers what were only shower baths after all.   
   What is the purpose of the revisionists' exercise anyway? Does it
really matter if the ultimate extermination figures total 6 million
or only 3 million? Or if they were killed by gas or by machine guns
or merely by barbaric "medical" experiments? Or that greater numbers
of murders may have occurred at Treblinka or Auschwitz or Belzec or
Majdanek or Sobibor? If this sort of nitpicking were regularly
applied to our courts of law, our criminal justice system would
entirely collapse.   
   Noted with disgust is the letter from a Roger Leonard of Bowie,
who argues on behalf of "limited anti-Semitism." All you need to do
is play "fill in the blank" with that concept to see how totally
ludicrous it really is (limited racial hatred, limited misogyny,
limited anti-Asianism, limited rape, limited slaughter, etc., ad
nauseam anyone?).   
   This is one Jew who is not so dumb as to buy into any low-level
intellectualizing concerning the killing of my own people, dubious
quotes from the Encyclopedia Britannica notwithstanding. Leonard's
apologia for Hitler on the grounds that some Jews may have had the
gall to hope for a return to a recognized Jewish homeland prior to
the implementation of the "Final Solution," or that fewer than 6
million of us may have been gassed to death in the Nazi concentration
camps isn't worth dealing with. It just so happens that it was about
6 million Jews who died in those camps. But let's just say it was 5
million, 4 million, 3 million -- why would that make our torture and
murder any more acceptable? Kill me a little bit or kill me a lot,
the bottom line is I'm dead. Only a very dumb Jew (or someone who
wouldn't mind seeing a few more dead Jews around) would care to play
that little numbers game.   
   R. COHEN   
   Beneath the distortions and smoke screens they used to criticize
Paul Johnson's review of Deborah Lipstadt's book on Holocaust denial,
Willis Carto, Mark Weber and several others whose letters appeared on
your pages claim disingenuously that they do not question the central
fact that there was a systematic Nazi enterprise to rid the world of
Jews. Their noble mission, we are led to believe, is to clean up the
rough edges of that history. But these pseudo-scholars do not want to
clear the record. They want to muddy it.   
   If we apply to other historical events the logic these and similar
Holocaust "revisionists" use in their "scholarship," then we cannot
be certain the American Civil War ever happened because we don't know
exactly where every soldier fell at the Battle of Gettysburg; nor can
we say there was really a Middle Passage because we'll never be sure
precisely how many African slaves died on their way to Europe and the
   Responsible scholars debate details about the Holocaust all the
time (but not its wholesale existence), a fact that the deniers
conveniently forget to mention as they grouse about conspiracies to
squelch academic debate about that episode in history. But real
historians don't debate with the likes of Carto, Weber, David Irving,
Robert Faurisson and David Duke, who have distinguished themselves as
nothing more than promoters of antisemitism and whose real agenda is
to make the Third Reich seem more palatable to current and future
readers of history.   
   Washington Area Director   
   American Jewish Committee   
   In reference to Roger Leonard's letter, I am also a Christian more
of philosophical than fundamentalist persuasion. I was also taught
early in elementary school that an encyclopedia is a useful place to
begin research on a topic, but it certainly is not the definitive
source. I was also taught that leaping to extraordinary conclusions
on the basis of a single quote is simply not good research.   
   Adolf Hitler's quote regarding the dubious threat of a "second
Palestine" in Germany can only be regarded as a comment on the
Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which the British government endorsed
the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The established of
this homeland, the primary aim of the Zionist movement, was not
carried out after the First World War, in an effort to maintain good
relations with Arab leaders. Palestine in 1938 was far from a Jewish
homeland, and the Arabs certainly had not been "subjugated" by
Zionists at this time. Zionist "manipulation" of the British
government had not been particularly successful, demonstrated by the
lack of response by British authorities to devastating riots (pogroms
might be a better term) aimed at Jewish settlers in 1920, 1921, and
1929. British concessions to Arab demands in the White Paper of 1939,
which limited further Jewish immigration to Palestine despite the
increasingly desperate efforts of German Jews to leave, is hardly a
testament to "Zionist manipulation."   
   It is also worth mentioning that Hitler had always espoused
strongly antisemitic political views (a brief perusal of Mein Kampf
might confirm this), using them as a foil against political opponents
and as a unifying theme within Germany. Spurious concepts of racial
purity, the superiority of the so-called Aryan race, and the concept
of Jewish manipulation of world affairs had a powerful and peculiar
resonating effect in post-Weimar German society. Hitler was aware of
this, and used the unsubtle propaganda unique to the Nazi regime with
enormous effect.   
   The fact that, in the course of hundreds (if not thousands) of
antisemitic, inflammatory public addresses before the beginning of
the Second World War, Adolf Hitler happened to mention the issue of
Palestine in September, 1938, seems awfully thin evidence on which to
build a completely revisionist theory of the Holocaust. Contrary to
Leonard's apparent opinion, Zionists were not particularly
influential in Britain in the pre-war period, were far from   
universally supported in the international Jewish community as a
whole, and far from "subjugating" the Arab population of Palestine
were under the constant threat of sniping, assassination, and
terrorist attack by Arabs. A more reasonable assumption, for which
ample evidence exists, is that the Holocaust, which both Leonard and
I agree did occur, was ultimately the result of the psychopathic
antisemitism of a mad leader, and was unfortunately supported either
actively or tacitly by the population of one of the most powerful and
cultured states in Europe. To blame the Holocaust on the Zionists is,
at best, bad history.   
   Mt. Rainier   
   With friends like Roger Leonard, who needs enemies?  His letter
contains some of the most blatantly antisemitic ideas I have seen in
mainstream media in some time. Why would Book World run this?   
   The notion that Zionist behavior in Palestine between 1918 and
1938 was in any way the cause of Hitler's policies is outrageous and
deeply offensive. Leonard is rationalizing moral obscenity (giving it
some basis in logic) and blaming the victims; he presents a severely
distorted picture in order to do so. The writer of these ideas, who
does not want to hear from "dumb" Jews, is exceedingly dumb himself
when it comes to a sophisticated grasp of history. Examine the roots
of German philosophy and political thought in the century or two
before the Holocaust and you discover an antisemitism -- a racism --
that is virulent and by definition non-rational. Examine the role of
Jews in German society before the rise of Hitler, and you find they
were part and parcel of the society and not remotely a fifth column:
Regrettably, they considered themselves Germans. Examine the policy
of extermination of the Jews during the war and you see that it was
frequently counter-productive to the larger German war effort, that
is, it was decidely non-rational.   
   Good of Leonard to acknowledge that there was a Holocaust. Since
he has the wisdom to determine that the number of Jews who died was
considerably less than 6 million, perhaps he can account for the
missing Jewish population of Europe.   
   The letters in response to Paul Johnson's review only add greater
urgency to Deborah Lipstadt's work and prove her essential point.
Pseudo-scholarly arguments were advanced and the freedom of the media
was used to advance an argument that is factually false. Your letters
page was a model of deniers' propaganda. I know that the public was
wise enough to see through it. I presume that the editors wanted to
put on a demonstration of deniers' techniques.   
   Professor of Theology   
   Georgetown University   
   Book World welcomes letters from its readers. Letters must be
typed. They should be signed and include the writer's address and
daytime telephone number. Because of space limitations, those
selected for publication are subject to abridgment. Address letters
to Book World, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.   
LOAD-DATE-MDC: October 14, 1993    

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