Article 107500 of sci.skeptic: Subject: An Open Letter to Holocaust Revisionists Date: Sun

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

Article 107500 of sci.skeptic: Path:!!user From: (James J. Lippard) Newsgroups: alt.revisionism,sci.skeptic,soc.history,alt.paranet.skeptic Subject: An Open Letter to Holocaust Revisionists Date: Sun, 19 Mar 1995 23:43:43 -0700 Organization: Skeptic magazine Lines: 328 Message-ID: NNTP-Posting-Host: Xref: alt.revisionism:26758 sci.skeptic:107500 soc.history:46728 alt.paranet.skeptic:2170 [I am posting the following at the request of Michael Shermer, It will also be made available on the Skeptics Society Web ( and FTP site (, /pub/skeptic). -jjl] March 20, 1995 An Open Letter to Holocaust Revisionists In Response to W.D. Brockschmidt's "Open Letter to Michael Shermer" in the Newsletter of the Adelaide Institute, 27 January, 1995. This letter is for publication. Dear Mr. Brockschmidt and Holocaust Revisionists: 1. A Rational Response. Although I have received hundreds of letters from revisionists, Mr. Brockschmidt is the first person to produce a point-by-point analysis of my essay. A few revisionists focused on one point or another, but most of them just attacked me personally, precisely what they claimed traditional historians were doing to them. Ironic, uh? (See the letters sections of the subsequent issues of Skeptic after Vol. 2, #4.) Revisionists claim to want an open debate about the Holocaust, but I suspect otherwise. We gave revisionists an open debate (the longest article ever published in Skeptic), and offered virtually unlimited letters-to-the-editor space, but no one has taken us up on the challenge. Before going to press I even went so far as to read to Mark Weber what I wrote about him and the IHR so that there could be no misunderstanding of their claims. Who has ever done that? What revisionists want, I suspect, is not an open debate, but agreement with their position. David Cole, one of the most knowledgeable and brightest of all the revisionists I interviewed, had an entire lecture at the last IHR conference in which he could have taken on my arguments point-by-point. Instead, what did he do? He spent a full hour attacking me personally, alleging that I was using the revisionists to sell magazines; that I was filtering money from Skeptic magazine to support my cycling activities; that I had no integrity; that I was dishonest; and all manner of slanderous statements. Cole even foolishly confessed to secretly recording a phone conversation we had (illegal in California and subject to a $10,000 fine and six months in jail), threatening to use it to "expose" me. Yet not one comment on my analysis. Mark Weber, whose knowledge of the Holocaust far surpasses my own and whose understanding of World War II is formidable, has been promising a proper rebuttal for 8 months now but has not produced. I made the same offer to David Irving. (Like me, however, Weber has a magazine to get out and Irving another book, so I do not read too much into this fact.) 2. David Irving. Irving's account of his surprise visit to a Deborah Lipstadt lecture was somewhat amusing since I too have experienced the sharp end of Lipstadt's rapier for my appearance on the Donahue show with David Cole and Bradley Smith. She claimed (almost hysterically) that one should not honor revisionists with a response. Three days later she was on 60 Minutes with none other than Ernst Zundel and Mark Weber! But I cannot support Irving's actions. He did not go to a Deborah Lipstadt lecture for an intellectual discussion; he went there to stir things up, something revisionists seem to be fond of doing (some would call this Jew baiting). These are sophomoric actions unbecoming to a historian of Irving's abilities. Having now ploughed my way through Hitler's War and Goring (c. 1,200 pages), Irving is obviously a first rate documentarian and narrative historian. But I think he is not a good theoretician and does a lot of selective quoting to support his bias. First it was Hitler who was unaware of the Holocaust. Then it was Goring. Who's next, Himmler? I suspect it will be whomever it is Irving is writing on, so his next tome on Goebbels should be interesting. If he can exonerate Goebbels, Irving can take pride of place as the world's greatest revisionist. As I illustrated in my brief analysis in Skeptic (and as Irving also demonstrated so thoroughly in Hitler's War and Goring in his exoneration of these two on the Holocaust), we have Goebbels dead to rights on the Holocaust. Thus, I am surprised he would hand out free copies of Goring to Lipstadt's students so they could see "which of us is lying." What? If there was no plan to exterminate the Jews, then what will these students make of page 238, when Irving writes: Emigration was only one possibility that Goring foresaw. "The second is as follows," he said in November 1938, selecting his words with uncharacteristic care. "If at any foreseeable time in the future the German Reich finds itself in a foreign political conflict, then it is self-evident that we in Germany will address ourselves first and foremost to effecting a grand settling of scores against the Jews." Since Irving told me that emigration is all the Nazis ever meant by "ausrotten" and the Final Solution, then just what did Goring mean by the second plan? And what will these students think when they get to page 343, when Irving writes: History now teaches that a significant proportion of those deported-particularly those too young or infirm to work-were being brutally disposed of on arrival. The surviving documents provide no proof that these killings were systematic; they yield no explicit orders from "above," and the massacres themselves were carried out by the local Nazis (by no means all of them German) upon whom the deported Jews had been dumped. That they were ad hoc extermination operations is suggested by such exasperated outbursts as that of Governor-General Hans Frank at a Cracow conference on December 16, 1941: "I have started negotiations with the aim of sweeping them [further] to the east. In January there is to be a big conference in Berlin on this problem . . . under SS Obergruppenfuhrer Heydrich [the "Wannsee Conference" of January 20, 1942]. At any rate a big Jewish exodus will begin . . . . But what's to become of the Jews? Do you imagine they're going to be housed in neat estates in the Baltic provinces? In Berlin they tell us: What's bugging you-we've got no use for them either, liquidate them yourselves!" "Berlin," says Irving, "more likely meant the party-or Himmler, Heydrich, and the SS." The above passage is Irving's translation and interpretation, quoted verbatim from Goring, but I fail to see how this can be interpreted to support an "ad hoc" interpretation of nonsystematic killings with no order from above. This passage, in conjunction with many others (reproduced in Skeptic), sounds to me like the killings were very much systematic, the orders did come-directly or tacitly-from above, and that the only thing ad hoc about the process was the long term development of the Final Solution (I take the functionalist theory on this count, not the intentionalist). This is precisely what I mean by Irving's difficulties with theory. Finally, what can "liquidate" possibly mean other than exactly what Holocaust historians have always said that it means? It is too bad about David Irving. As they say in boxing, he coulda' been a contenda. Unfortunately, Irving has had to earn a living by lecturing and selling books (a difficult challenge for any author), and the more he revises the Holocaust the more books he sells and lecture invitations he receives from revisionist and right-wing groups. He has been slipping more and more into revisionism not, I believe, because the historical evidence has taken him there, but because he has found a home. The mainstream academy has rejected him so he has created a niche on the margins. Lipstadt is wrong to say that Irving is "not really a historian," or that he is "not a respectable historian" (if Irving is quoting her correctly here). One must be more specific. By definition Irving most certainly is a historian, more than many historians in the academy. In my opinion, however, he is not a good theoretical historian and this causes him to make many interpretive mistakes, some of which I noted in my article, to which he has yet to respond. 3. Motives. In a section in the Adelaide publication entitled "From Doubt to Scepticism," someone (no by-line) claims that I am "a deeply religious person for whom the Holocaust has become an Ersatz-religion, as is so often the case with self-professed disbelievers." This is a very interesting psychological analysis but one that I do not think quite applies since I have no vested interest in the status quo Holocaust story as it is normally understood. I am not Jewish; I have no Jewish relatives that I know of; and I do not know of anyone connected to my family in any way who lost someone in the Holocaust. I'm not going to lose my job at Skeptic, since I am the owner of the magazine. And I am willing to change my beliefs about the Holocaust should the evidence support such a change. Indeed, before I began to study the Holocaust in order to test the claims of Holocaust revisionists, I believed in the human soap and lampshade stories, that 4 million died at Auschwitz, that Dachau was an extermination camp, that Hitler directly ordered the genocide in writing, that 6 million was a firm number, etc. I have already "revised" my beliefs about the Holocaust considerably and am willing to continue to do so should the evidence compel me. 4. Associationist Fallacy. Regarding the violence of the Bolshevik Revolution, agreed, it led to one of the greatest Holocausts in history as Lenin and Stalin exterminated tens of millions of people. But it does not matter if 545 out of 545 members of Lenin's Petrograd government were Jewish, the Bolshevik Revolution was not about Judaism, it was about Communism; it was not about a religious takeover of the world, but a political takeover of the world. If you want to worry about a group trying to dominate the world with their religion, the Jews are the least of your worries, given their tiny numbers. The Muslims or Catholics should be atop your list, if that is your criteria. And if it's unevenly distributed money and power you are concerned about, you better look closely at such groups as the Church of Scientology or the Christian Fundamentalist Right. 5. Consilience of Inductions. As for aerial photographs, gas chamber blueprints, Zyklon-B traces, crematoria figures, and total numbers killed, I never claimed that any one of these by themselves "proves" the Holocaust. In fact, the entire point of my essay was quite the opposite. My essay was entitled "Proving the Holocaust" for an important reason. The essay was really about historical "proof" and as such was a theoretical analysis. I am really more of a theoretician and philosopher of history than I am a narrative historian. For this analysis I borrowed from the 19th-century British philosopher of science, William Whewell, his idea of the "consilience of inductions," or the "convergence of evidence." The study of evolution is a historical science. No single fossil proves evolution. But there is a consilience or convergence of evidence from paleontology, geology, botany, zoology, physiology, anatomy, etc., all of which leads to a proof of evolution. The same is true of the science of human history. No single "fossil" of evidence proves a historical event, including the Holocaust. But there is a consilience of eyewitness testimony, letters, speechs, memos, orders, traces, blueprints, etc, that leads to a proof of the Holocaust. In my analysis I demonstrated how these "fossils" converged to the conclusion that the Holocaust happened. I have not received a single phone call or letter from anyone, revisionist or historian, that indicates an awareness of what I was doing in this essay. I take this to mean that I did not make it clear enough, which I am attempting to do in this letter. You are wasting your time nitpicking at these various single pieces of evidence. I will grant you that there are serious problems with some individual eyewitness accounts; that there is no written order from Hitler; that there is no blueprint that says "in this room we kill Jews;" that the crematoria could never have burned so many bodies; that the 6 million figure is symbolic and the real figure has been changing, etc. The reason that no single piece of evidence can either prove or disprove the Holocaust is that the Holocaust was not a single event. It was 10,000 events that took place in 10,000 places that is proved through 10,000 bits of evidence, no one of which stands alone. As Whewell stated in his The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1840): "Accordingly the cases in which inductions from classes of facts altogether different have thus jumped together, belong only to the best established theories which the history of science contains" (p. 230). The Holocaust is a well-established theory because of this consilience. Through the theory of consilience I have not only demonstrated how the Holocaust can be proved, but how any historical event can be proved. In order to prove that the Holocaust did not happen, a revisionist (hint, hint, Messrs. Weber, Cole, or Irving) will have to show that the consilience of inductions method is either philosophically fallacious in general, or misinterpreted in the case of the Holocaust in particular. This will require revisionists to go beyond the limited scope of narrative history, to become theoretical. I will be curious to see if anyone is up to the challenge. Case in point: Mr. Brockschmidt was "very surprised" that I "did not mention the work of the 'Pope of Revisionism', Robert Faurisson." I met Robert Faurisson at the IHR conference in Irvine. He invited me to his room for a private discussion of my article. Since Faurisson's speciality is linguistic analysis I thought that perhaps his mind might take a philosophical turn. In his room Faurisson announced that he spent less than one minute reading my article because he only had to look at the pictures to see that I had not proven the Holocaust. Why? Because I did not have a picture of a homicidal gas chamber. Then he alternated a rhetorical demand that I show him "just one proof" of the Holocaust, with the unpleasant gesture of leaning forward in his chair and jabbing his finger toward my face, a tactict, I suspect, intended to provoke me, as he had just done days before to the Director of Research at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Of course, in order to offer "just one proof," one first must be able to define what constitutes proof. So I turned his tactic against him by asking: "Can you tell me how you define proof, or what constitutes proof with regards to the Holocaust?" His response, over and over to my inquiry, was, in his inimitable French accent: "No, no, I ask you for proof." The more I asked him for his definition of proof, the more in my face he got, repeating over and over, "No, no, I ask you for proof." He didn't get it. A historical event is not proved through one artifact. I was thoroughly unimpressed with Pope Faurisson. The bottom line is this: if you really want "to go from political correctness to historical correctness," as Mr. Brockschmidt claims, begin with this question: what constitutes proof in history? The rest should follow. 6. Jewish Obsession. I say the rest should follow. Facts should follow from theory unless one's bias is overwhelming. Which brings me to my final point. What is it with you revisionists and the Jews? You all proclaim that that you are not anti-Semitic and you scream bloody murder whenever anyone accuses you of such a motive. Yet your collective actions and words speak otherwise (okay, Mr. Cole, you are an exception here). Just read the letters self-proclaimed revisionists have been sending me in response to our analysis of Holocaust revisionism, the fairest ever written about the movement: assuming I must be Jewish because of my name; claiming we are part of a Jewish Cabal; saying Skeptic is part of a Zionist Plot; calling Skeptic the "Jewish Propaganda Quarterly;" cartoon characterizations of Jews; photos of Schindler's List in a toilet; and these are just what revisionists have sent me. Your own magazines, newsletters, flyers, and literature are filled with diatribes against the Jews, featuring articles in every revisionist publication about "the Jews," what "the Jews" are doing, how "the Jews" are controlling the media, etc. You howl about the ADL and JDL being obsessed with everything Jewish. What do you expect? They are Jewish organizations. Or you cry about how defensive they are. Well, if you had an organization like the IHR criticizing your every move and publishing it, wouldn't you get a little defensive? And, I will point out, since you are obsessed with the ADL and JDL and other Jewish organizations, what does that make you? That's right, obsessed with everything Jewish. You are no different from the ADL and JDL. Is this how you want to be perceived? Why don't you lay off the Jews? Give them a break. They have been persecuted for thousands of years. Why don't you try doing something different from what everyone else has been doing for millennia? Why not admire the Jews for their accomplishments? No group in history can claim greater persecution, yet has any group been so successful in pulling themselves up by their bootstraps? "Oh," you say, "the Jews stick together. They are a tribe." Well, if you were a minority persecuted for thousands of years, would you not perhaps respond by "sticking together?" What's wrong with that? It's no skin off your back. Let them have their museums and their businesses. So what? Instead of trying to tear down what they build, why don't you try building something yourself? If you cannot admire hard work, then why not try a little of it yourself on something constructive? In other words, get a life. Addendum to "Open Letter to Holocaust Revisionists" & Letter to the Editor, Journal of Historical Review For Publication The Journal of Historical Review is to be congratulated for having the courage to publish David Irving's essay on "Revelations From Goebbels' Diary" (Vol. 15, #1), even though it provides incontrovertible evidence to contradict the revisionists' conclusion that the Nazis did not intentionally liquidate Jews. I quote from Irving's translation from Goebbels diary, March 27, 1942 (pp. 16-17): "Beginning with Lublin the Jews are now being deported eastward from the General Government. The procedure is pretty barbaric and one that beggars description, and there's not much left of the Jews. Broadly speaking one can probably say that 60 percent of them will have to be liquidated, while only 40 percent can be put to work." Okay, let's do a simple calculation. According to Irving (p. 16), there were 11 million Jews left in Europe at this time. 11 million Jews x 60% liquidation = 6.6 million liquidated Jews. Um, where have I seen a figure like this before? This article provides additional data to my conclusion in my "Open Letter to Holocaust Revisionists," that David Irving is an outstanding documentarian and narrative historian, but leaves much to be desired as a theoretical or interpretive historian. The article was interesting, informative, and well-written, but Irving's interpretation of the above passage is startling to say the least (p. 17): "All he's actually saying here is that the Jews are having a pretty rigorous time. They're being deported, it's happening in a systematic way, and not many of them are going to survive it." Say what?? A "rigorous time?" "Deported?" This has to be the most conservative interpretation of the word "liquidate" I have ever read. And what does Mr. Irving say about this Goebbels' entry two days later?: "So what if Jews are being machine-gunned into pits? They had it coming to them. They declared war on us, and this is no time for sympathy and sentiment." Irving admits "that's the way he may well have looked at it," since the British had just bombed Lubeck. Right. Goebbels looked at what? I thought revisionists claimed that Jews only died of starvation and disease? "Machine-gunned into pits" sounds rather intentional to me, unless you think it was some sort of accident. I can hear the revisionist interpretation now: "The pit was already there for a mass latrine; Jews happened to be lined up in front of it relieving themselves; a Nazi machine-gun set up to protect these Jews from Russian snipers accidentally went off and into the pit they went." Sorry to sound so sarcastic, but this is about the quality of many revisionist interpretations. Again, it is too bad about David Irving. The question this begs is: what else has he misinterpreted? Why does Irving feel the need to so obviously misinterpret such passages? To attract revisionists? To stir up controversy? I just cannot imagine he really thinks this is what Goebbels meant. Please elaborate Mr. Irving (or any other revisionists). I really am curious. Final point: David Irving has apparently put up $1,000.00 to anyone who can provide him proof of homicidal gas chambers. I believe I can do so but I know how these things usually go: Once the proof is provided the person says that does not count as proof. So . . . could Mr. Irving or any other revisionist please tell me what constitutes proof of homicidal gas chambers, short of a gas chamber with a large sign hanging on the wall that says: "Here we gassed Jews to death." Michael Shermer, Publisher, Skeptic magazine. (For a copy of the Skeptic magazine on Holocaust revisionism, and/or the subsequent two issues featuring letters of response, send $5.95 + $6.00 shipping and handling for air mail to Australia, $3.00 in the U.S., to: P.O. Box 338, Altadena, CA 91001. Visa or Mastercard accepted.) -- Jim Lippard Internet Representative Skeptic magazine _Leaving the Fold_ and _Psychic Sleuths_ available--see my homepage. PGP Fingerprint: 35 65 66 9F 71 FE 50 57 35 09 0F F6 14 D0 C6 04


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank