By Dr. Christian Lindtner
IRAN, Teheran, December 11-12, 2006
One of the main tasks of historical revisionism, including Holocaust revisionism, is undoubtedly to investigate by means of traditional source criticism what actually happened, why it happened, and how it happened.
Holocaust revisionism is obviously a fairly recent phenomenon, and even though there were precursors, modern scholarly refutations of the numerous stories that make up the Holocaust myth may be said to begin with Dr. Arthur Butz: The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, first published 1976, i.e. exactly 30 years ago.
Since then much important work has been done in this highly controversial field of historical research. I need only mention the names of Robert Faurisson, Wilhelm Stäglich, Udo Walendy, Jürgen Graf, Fred Leuchter, John Ball, Carlo Mattogno and Germar Rudolf. Writers depend on publishers, and without the various activities of brave men like Ernst Zündel and Thies Christophersen, Siegfried Verbeke and Pedro Varela, - to mention only a few names – the achievements of the scholars just mentioned would have remained little know and have had a very limited impact. With the enormous impact of the modern Internet the old state of affairs has, of course, changed dramatically.
All the important results achieved within the last decades or so are now easily available in the most up-to-date book by Germar Rudolf: Vorlesungen über den Holocaust, which first appeared in April 2005. With this fine handbook, and perhaps a few other titles mentioned in that book, you have virtually everything you need for all practical purposes. Even though this brilliant young scholar deserves to be put on a postage stamp, he is now behind bars in Germany, and under trail in Mannheim. That scholars and publishers are put behind bars, not just in Germany, is highly deplorable, and, in the long run, a serious threat to the fundamental democratic ideals. So, the issue is not just a purely historical one, but also a serious political matter.
Today, as far as I can judge, Holocaust revisionism has reached its main objective in demonstrating that there is no valid internal or external piece of evidence for claiming that Hitler by means of gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau or elsewhere, murdered millions of Jews in cold blood. From whatever angle you look at it this claim is so absurd that it in itself becomes a most interesting problem how it can be that so many people for so long have believed in what we now safely can call the Holocaust myth. The Hitlerian gas chambers, like the alleged weapons of mass destruction of Irak´s former dictator, have now been assigned to the realm of myth. Or, if you wish, they are mere rumors, as Dr. Faurisson phrased it in a famous note in 1979. And without a weapon of mass murder, it follows that there can be no mass murder. Thus the Holocaust, in the sense of mass murder of Jews by means of gas chambers is, if you believe in logic, a mere myth.
Now, Holocaust revisionism is one thing, whereas the history of Holocaust
revisionism is another. By and large the history of Holocaust revisionism deals
with the various difficulties in getting the research of Holocaust revisionists
out to the public. The history of Holocaust revisionism, even before 1976,
covers a wide field. Much still remains obscure. Surely, it is a most
interesting story, with serious as well as amusing aspects. Again, by and large,
it has to do with freedom of speech and freedom of research. It focuses on the
behaviour and activities of individuals, historians as well as publishers and
politicians, and on the institutions and the media, who, as a rule have been
engaged in suppressing Holocaust revisionism.
So much for the general background.
The main purpose of this paper is to provide you with a survey of the history
of Holocaust revision in Denmark from about 1998 to 2006. Some of you will
recognize certain patters familiar from other countries. But there are also some
noteworthy specific features.
In this respect I myself am a first-hand witness. My own personal contribution to Historical revisionism is, to be sure, quite modest. On the other hand, I have devoted a considerable amount of energy to make the results of other scholars better known. Other tasks I had to put aside. Today, Denmark is one of the few European countries where the whole matter can be discussed rather freely. Surely, Holocaust revisionism is still somewhat of a taboo, but I think that none of my many opponents would dare to deny that the traditional rules of source criticism should also be applied to the testimonies of the alleged witnesses to the Holocaust. Denmark has a long and well-established tradition of historical source criticism. My main reason for moving from my own field – history of religions – into Holocaust studies, was as simple as can be. Some 15 or 20 years ago, I observed that my colleagues – not to speak of the mass media – were more than willing to forget all about source criticism when it came to politically dangerous or controversial issues such as the Holocaust. This meant a real dilemma. What is a historian if he is not critical of his sources? And how can he be critical if he lacks courage?
In December 1997, or perhaps January 1998, the editor of the cultural section – called “Eksistens” – of the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende invited me to write an essay which was published on January 24th , 1998 as “Holocaust i nyt lys” – i.e. “Holocaust in a new light”.. It created a stir, not just in my own country. Others translated it into English and German – you can easily trace these translations on the Internet. Extracts were given in a pamphlet called “HALT”: “Holocaust-Demontage in Dänemark: Revisionistische Provokation für Pan-Europa!”
I had many personal letters coming in, especially from Sweden, and I still meet people who, when they hear my name, confess that they very well remember the deep impression my 1998 essay left on them. Friends in Sweden and Norway tell me that this essay first opened their eyes to the fact that there was something seriously wrong with what they had been taught about the Holocaust in school and in the mass media. The essay in Berlingske Tidende also gave me many opponents – probably many more than I know of. Since some of these opponents still refer to that essay - for instance Jacques Blum and Eva Bøggild in their book: Løgnens Veje – om benægtelsen af Holocaust, Copenhagen 2002 – it is fair to say that my essay was, indeed, a break-through. In this book I am, considered a liar – even though no lies could be pointed out in my essay. So you have this paradox of someone being called a liar who does not actually lie, like a circle that is said to be square.
All this turned out to be a costly affair, personally, but not unexpectedly. By profession, I am a historian of religions (especially Buddhism and Christianity). As such I had to depend on public funding which never used to be a problem. From my CV you can see that I have published numerous books and learned papers in leading scholarly journals. From now on most of my former friends and colleagues turned their backs against me. For instance, I had been invited to participate in various conferences (Buddhism, philosophy etc.). But then came the protests, in most cases from colleagues with Jewish names. Thus I came to know of something you might call “dis-invitations”: Since you do not believe in the Holocaust, we do not want you to attend the conference to which we initially had the honour of inviting you. More seriously, I could no longer count on public support for my work in the field of religious or textual studies. We all have our bills to pay, but since 1998 I have not received a penny from the foundations or institutions that used to fund my scholarly work.
Most revealing about the state of Academic affairs in Denmark, is the reaction to my publication of two volumes of Buddhist texts translated directly from the original languages, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Pâli and Chinese. They appeared in print in September 1998. It must have taken a good deal of effort for my opponents to marshal their troops against my. In the summer of 1999, some 23 theologians and so-called historians of religions, signing a letter of protest to the publisher, demanded that my books be withdrawn from sale, i.e. burned. At that time I had two more volumes of translations, directly from the Sanskrit original, ready for print. The publisher, who “had never experienced anything of this sort”, bent down to the pressure, and broke his contract with me. The two first books were not burned, the two other books my publisher dared not publish.
There were many other similar incidents, and I should only add that I also came under attack, again and again, from historians and journalists – all of this because of my Essay in Berlingske Tidende. The important thing, however, is that no errors in what I had published were pointed out. My opponents, forgetting all about source criticism, simply repeated the old stories about the Holocaust – ad nauseam.
Permit me to give you a few other examples of typical reactions from
professional Danish scholars.
The historians at the University of Copenhagen were very much upset by my Essay on Holocaust in a new light. After all, I had accused them for failing to inform the public honestly. This was their simple duty. In a February 1998 letter to the editor, I pointed out how even the National encyclopaedia lied about Auschwitz.
So the University invited a famous German professor, Eberhard Jäckel, in order to help save the myth. This was in May, and, indeed, our German professor spoke eloquently about the uniqueness and incomprehensibility of the Holocaust. It was a theologian, not a historian who spoke to those of us from the Society of Free Historical Research that afternoon in May 1998. For we were also present.
In the break I had the opportunity to talk to Prof. Jäckel, a very typical “decent German”. When I asked him for his comments to the well known October 1919 article in the American Hebrew about the 6.000.000 and the holocaust, he suddenly turned pale and stiffened. No answer. One Danish professional scholar came running to his rescue.. He screamed to me:” Are you the one who wrote in the newspaper?” Assuming that the good man who thus yelled at me was referring to my Essay, I answered: Sure, I am. And then he screamed out the memorable five words that describe so well the attitude of all professional scholars to the controversial issue: That we will not hear! ((Danish: Det vil vi ikke høre.) Before I could ask him for his views on source criticism, if any, he grasped Prof. Jäckel and both of them ran away and soon disappeared. This mode of behaviour was also a sort of answer to my question.
What they then talked about, I can only guess. Probably it was not about source criticism. But very soon some of the professional historians took contact with some politicians. They were all horrified, they said, by the fact that members of the audience had asked Prof. Jäckel some critical questions. It was about time that Denmark got an institute for Holocaust propaganda. Well, that was no the way they phrased it, but that was what it was actually supposed to be. The institute is still in existence, now under a new name. It has its own website. It was established with the purpose and promise to prove that the gas chambers had existed. To this day it has failed to do so. We have often reminded them of their duty. They have attacked us in many ways – but utterly failed to do their duty.
Was this we-do-not-want-to-hear-this attitude of the University also characteristic of other learned bodies in my country.? Already back in 1996, a very active revisionist friend of mine, Mr Lars Thirslund, had asked himself this question. And so, puzzled about the gas chambers and the 6 million figure, he wrote a letter, very polite, too, to the famous Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, founded in 1742. Please tell me what is true and what is false, he wrote.
Some months later my friend received an official reply from The President of the Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. Apart from a personal attack on Mr Thirslund and his wife, the letter referred to the doctoral dissertation about the Holocaust by Dr. Faurisson. The President found this dissertation to be without value. Instead he recommended the Kalendarium of Danuta Czech as a reliable source of information. Moreover, the Academy did not want to discuss the Holocaust any further.
As we all know, Prof. Faurisson´s dissertation had nothing to do with the Holocaust, and the work of Danuta Czech is, while rich in factual information, largely a piece of Communist propaganda, that must be used with much critique. It contains no proof of the notorious gas chambers. It merely assumes their physical existence – exactly as did the President of the Danish Academy. So, if the reply of the President was not very helpful to those interested in reliable information about the Holocaust, it still serves as an excellent primary source for those interested in learning more about the intellectual and moral whereabouts of the “best professional scholars” in Denmark here and now.
For his disgraceful scholarly timidity, Professor Birger Munk Olsen, the former President, was honoured (or dishonoured) with “The First Ever Cremonini Prize Awarded” in 2000. The award was handed over to him by our brave American friend and learned theologian, the late Dr Robert Countess. Whether Dr Countess received a letter of thanks from Professor Munk Olsen, I do not know. You can read more about this revealing episode in Dr. Countess´ personal report in Germar Rudolf´s VffG, Jahrgang 4, Heft 2, August 2000, pp. 190-192.
Clearly, the hide-and-not-seek behaviour thus is more fundamental than the source critical attitude as far as professional scholars is concerned.
With the Danish journalists it is better. I must say that I have, as a rule, been given an opportunity to reply to public attacks. For instance, Weekend Avisen printed a full page interview with the title: “The Question is – Did the gas chambers really exist?” This was in April 1999. And when I was attacked by some prominent Jews for my Essay, Jyllands-Posten was good enough to print my reply to the Jews: Superstitious and unwarranted attacks on the freedom of research and speech, was my reply.
As to the politicians, they succumbed to the pressure from professional scholars, who, as said, in their own way actually exploit the Holocaust myth for their own personal benefit.
The Stockholm Conference on the Holocaust in January 2001 brought this out
clearly. Swedish PM Persson stated on January 28: “ We pay homage to Stéphane
Bruchfeld and Paul A. Levine, who wrote the magnificent book “Tell your children…”.
In fact, PM Persson´s “magnificent book” is only magnificent in the sense that hate-propaganda and sloppy scholarly work can be said to be magnificent. But perhaps PM Persson was being ironical? It is now available in several languages, unfortunately also in Danish, free of charge, which means that it is financed by tax-payers. The authors already get their history wrong on the front cover – the famous photo of Hungarian women, children and old men, from May 1944. There is no evidence to prove that “they are going to be gassed” – on the contrary.
The only pieces of “proof” given for the gas chambers, are two modern
drawings (page 54, for Treblinka, page 57 for Auschwitz-Birkenau). PM Persson, I
recall, also spoke of stones that, if they could speak, would have told us what
had happened to the Jews. Good for the PM that stones do not speak – for they
would then have had another story to tell!
There were, to the best of my knowledge, no protests from professional historians in Sweden or elsewhere. The revisionists in Sweden and elsewhere, were, of course, not so easily fooled. My friend major Göran Holming was among the few who dared to point out some of the shortcomings of PM Persson´s “magnificent book”.
Our Society for Free Historical Research, mentioned above, was established in 1997, and it was from the very outset to serve a two-fold purpose, namely to offer scholars from abroad a platform from which they could speaks freely, and to inform the Danish public honestly. About the notorious suppression of freedom of speech in Germany, I had already published a full-page essay in the Danish newspaper Information, October 1996. There is a German version (by Jürgen Graf?) in the first volume of VffG, pp. 112-114, June 1997, under the title “Deutschland verletzt die Freiheit der Meinungsäusserung”. Unfortunately, as you all know, things have hardly improved in Germany in this regard since 1996! Brave Germans are still fined or send behind bars for expressing controversial opinions in public. Will our neighbours ever learn?
The first to accept our invitation was Jürgen Graf, in November 1997. Since then we have had the pleasure of inviting nearly all the major revisionists: Robert Faurisson, Udo Walendy, Robert Countess, Carl Nordling (Sweden), and Lars Adelskogh (the author of the best book on Holocaust revisionism in Swedish: En tom sack kan inta stå – Myten om “förintelsen I gaskamrartna” I Auschwitz, 2002). Other revisionists also honoured us with their visit, thus “propaganda tool “ # 1, Lady Michéle Renouf, January 2006. As you aware, Lady Renouf has only recently released a 116 mins DVD, “Jailing opinions”. In January 2006 we also had our friend Ahmed Rami coming to us from Stockholm. He has probably done more than any other individual in Scandinavia to dispel the myths about the Holocaust, thanks to his radio Islam. In my opinion, Ahmed Rami has done more good for Sweden than all those professional historians that ought to have discussed the Holocaust seriously.
As a rule, the Holocaust revisionists cannot find opponents willing to meet them face to face in a public debate. An exception to this rule occurred when Prof. Faurisson debated the Holocaust with a young self-styled anti-revisionist, Mr M. Andersson. You can listen to the debate yourself by tuning in on www.holocaust.nu. It started in 2002, in response to the cheap propaganda of the official Center that had been established in response to my Essay.
Having mentioned Sweden, I should also at least mention Finland and Norway. Of revisionist activities in Finland I am not aware. The same goes for Iceland and Greenland, to be sure. Since Finland has certain traditional links to Estonia, where I myself and, more recently, Jürgen Graf have spoken about the Holocaust, some inspiration may hopefully drift across the Baltic from that corner.
From friends in Norway, I understand that our activities in Denmark have served as inspiration. Since May 2002, there was an open debate in one of Norway´s leading papers, Aftenposten. Largely responsible for this turn of the tide was our late friend Arne Borgir, who as a young man served in the Waffen-SS (Div. Wiking). The reaction of the professional historians in Norway was, as expected, negative. Exactly as in Denmark and Sweden. The title of Borgir´s book: Genocide. Debatt i Oslo. The book was published in November 2003. Borgir has dispatched his book to 165 members of the Norwegian Parliament, and to 97 major newspapers. Only a few days before Arne Borgir was to speak in Copenhagen, we received the sad news that this lone fighter had passed away in his Oslo home on January 21st, 2006. His motto was the one inscribed on the SS belt buckle: "Meine Ehre heisst Treue".
The first book on Holocaust revisionism to appear in Norwegian, was by A.I.Bru: Holocaust, Oslo 1979. But I have never had it in my hands. I understand that the author was inspired by Thies Christophersen, whose (in-)famous Die Auschwitz-Lüge from 1973 – to come back from Norway - appeared in Danish in 1981. The publisher was Nordland Forlag, Aalborg, which also gave out the Report of Leuchter in 1990. In 1989 Nordland published a fine but little known monograph entitled Holocaust. Bakgrund, frågor och problem. The author was Lars Magnuson – a pseudonym for Lars B. Högbom, a Stockholm resident. Another gentleman, who attended our meetings, was Oluf Krabbe, a former SS-officer. Under the pseudonym Holger Dannis, Krabbe published the main revisionist work in Danish: De 1000 Løgne og de 1000 Sandheder, Allerød 1996.
In the annual report on “Antisemitism” 1992, Danish Rabbi Bent Melchior (p. vi) reported that: “There have also been more anonymous articles attempting to disseminate Holocaust revisionist ideas, but without any effect on the public debate”. His brother, Arne Melchior, MP, suggested during a debate in Parliament, November 25, 1994, that “Nazi and racist propaganda” should be punished by up to more than two years in jail. Foreign Jewish leaders often expressed similar views in Danish media. The President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), Mr Edgar Bronfman, was quite clear, when in the beginning of 1995 he stated: “ The growing numbers of revisionist supporters cannot be ignored. We must use every resource to stop revisionism, now, before it´s too late.” (Source: IHR Newsletter, February 1995). In March 1996, all the Ministers of Justice in the EU signed a document to the effect that Holocaust deniers should be punished. Denmark was the only exception. I have, on the other hand, not been able to find any documentation that any of these Jewish leaders expressed their concern about the suppression of freedom of historical research.
It was, therefore, the failure of the professional historians on the one hand, and the attempts to suppress free research that prompted us to establish the Society for Free Historical Research almost 10 years ago. The Society, as said, not only served as a speaker´s corner for foreign guests, but also as a source of honest and reliable information for the Danish public. Eventually, the Society thus got its own website: www.holocaust.nu. This was in 2002. Much has now been achieved, even though our resources were, to say the least, extremely modest. Let it also be mentioned that much work to inform the public about Holocaust revisionism has been done by Mr Ole Kreiberg, who is responsible for the website www.patriot.dk.
It soon became clear that Danish school children were now being systematically misinformed about the Holocaust. And so we decided to publish a Guide to school children who, with or without their teachers, paid a visit to Auschwitz. This Guide has perhaps been the most successful of all the outreaching efforts of the Society. The Guide simply asks students to be critical, and not the believe everything they hear or read, when they visit the camp in Poland. With this Guide in their hands, Danish school children started asking their teachers critical questions, and often their teachers, finding no good answers, were embarrassed.
On the 8th of April 2005, the Guide found its way to the front page of Kristeligt Dagblad, the major Christian daily in the country. The chairman of the union of history teachers expressed her indignation, but admitted that she had not seen the Guide herself. But she promised to do something about it. She never did, however. I was quoted for saying: “Our school children are being misled by the wrong information provided by the Danish Centre for Holocaust Studies. We cannot go on in this way!”. One spokesman of the Centre advised that school children refrained from using the Internet, and only read books recommended by the Centre. He was, in other words, a supporter of traditional indoctrination. The other party should not be given a fair hearing.
The Centre to which I here refer is now known under a new name. It was founded largely in response to the challenge posed by my 1998 Essay. Unlike our Society it subsists (to use an euphemism) on public funds. To this day, it has not responded. Essentially, the Director was hired in order to prove the existence of the gas chambers – not to speak of the invisible holes. The Director has failed utterly. Some time ago he announced his resignation by the end of this year.
The most serious attempt to refuse our Guide appeared on January 27th – Auschwitz Day, as we now call it in Denmark - 2006. It is a 64-page booklet, with many blank pages. The authors are Jacques Blum, and his fiancé Eva Bøggild. The title of the booklet is Auschwitz og Benægtelse (Auschwitz and Denial), and it has been distributed to all Danish schools and public libraries, free of charge, and subsided by various groups and individuals, mainly Jewish.
It is an important publication, not because of its contents, but rather for being the best that our opponents can muster. The booklet contains nothing that is not known to revisionists. It contains the usual distortions and misunderstandings, but it also admits that all our “knowledge” is based on witnesses only. It even claims to accept the traditional principles of source criticism – but fails to make good use of them. The main sources, then, are provided by the testimonies of Aumeier, Broad, Kremer – all from the SS – and by Filip Müller, Henryk Tauber, Stanislaw Jankowski, and Karl Bischoff. Finally, we also have a modern witness, as it were, namely Robert Jan van Pelt.
Extracts from these sources are, as a rule, given out of context. The authors fail to ask whether these witnesses are really reliable or not. They remain unaware that Faurisson, Stäglich, Graf et al., have already asked these questions, and convincingly shown that we cannot rely on these testimonials for claiming the existence of the Nazi gas chambers.
The conclusion, then, to be had from reading the most ambitious attempt to refute our Guide, is a catastrophe. The authors admit that there is no physical evidence, and – very much against their will – are also forced to admit that there are no real witnesses. If we have no physical evidence and if we have no good witness on whose words we can rely – what, then, is the basis of our belief in the Holocaust as a historical event?
In retrospect we may look at the course of events as follows. Before 1998, it was the opinio communis that Hitler had murdered millions of Jews, in gas chambers, and in cold blood. My January 1998 Essay questioned this view seriously. For about 8 years a considerable number of professional (and not so professional) Danish scholars used all the resources they could get hold of, in order to prove that the Hitlerian gas chambers did not belong to the mythical realm. Mostly they used defamation, or silence, but finally came forth with arguments – something they had always, and as it turned out, wisely so, refrained from doing.
On March 12th this year I was interviewed on a serious programme on Danish radio. Here, Eva Bøggild conceded the point about the doors that opened the wrong way, but also held on to the falsehood that the existence of the holes had recently been proved to exist. Jacques Blum, adding a fantastic story of his own invention about what went on behind the closed doors of the gas chamber, expressed the view that my “greatness” consisted in the fact that Danish radio had come to interview me. So, on the one hand, there should be a public debate, but, on the other, it was not good to have a public debate.
So, if there is a public debate in Denmark – as opposed to virtually all other European countries - it is largely thanks to the activities of the Society, and those journalists who still attach importance to freedom of speech.
When Simon Wiesenthal, Sir Simon, passed away in September 2005, Dr. Karsten Fledelius, a professional historian from the University of Copenhagen, spoke on Danish TV about the Holocaust as “the Fall of Western civilization”, thus reflecting not any original idea of his, of course, but a widespread common opinion. And, as I recall, Fledelius also stated, perhaps in 1998, that the gas chambers existed. No proof was given.
On the other hand, when Germar Rudolf appeared before the Mannheim court on Tuesday morning, November 14th 2006, he, now 42, described the same Holocaust as “a gigantic fraud” – “ein gigantischer Betrug”, and the brave German was also quoted for stating: No court in the world has the right to decide scientific questions authoritatively – “Kein Gericht der Welt hat das Recht, wissenschaftliche Fragen autoritär zu entscheiden.” His words deserve to be kept in mind. The public prosecutor rejects the work of Rudolf as pseudo-scientific. But he is wrong.
Thus the public opinion is divided. On the one hand there is the religious view, without empirical evidence, that the Holocaust is the greatest tragedy in the history of mankind. On the other there is the view that the Holocaust never happened, that it is simply “a gigantic fraud”.
The conflict between superstition and science has, of course, a long and sad history.It is facile to take the stand of Fledelius, and to reject that of Rudolf.Unfortunately the scientific attitude to Holocaust has only very limited public support today, and with a few laudable exceptions, no political support at all.
Without personal courage, progress is an illusion. But there is great courage, and there is small courage. In politics – who can predict events to come? Once there is an opportune political situation, when there is no fear, the Holocaust may be discussed freely. But when will this be? How can we know?
My advice, therefore, is: Talk to people, especially young people, normal people, honest people, people who can think for themselves. Then, perhaps, little by little, change can be brought about. Try to help them get rid of their fear. Fear fails as a good adviser. Let us not, to quote our old Latin poet, Ennius, be among those miserable people
qui sui quaestus causa fictas suscitant sententias,
but rather emulate the man who, to quote Statius,
serit arbores, quae alteri saeclo prosint
Dr. Christian Lindtner, November 2006.
Dansk Selskab for Fri Historisk Forskning. www.holocaust.nu
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