Thank you, Dr. Toben, Ladies and gentlemen. I am particularly glad to see that the distinguished guests include John Bennett, whom I call the “grandpappy of revisionism in Australia.” His annual Your Rights booklet has made it the case that Australia is the only country in which revisionist material has been consistently and readily available to the general public.
Regrettably others, above all Robert Faurisson, are missing for reasons I will discuss. Happily some of those who have been prevented from being here will participate on a remote basis.
There are two reasons why I have been chosen to give this particular talk. First my book, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, first published in 1976, is today referred to by some as a revisionist “classic.” Second, as I said, many other candidates can’t be here on account of the terror.
I look back fondly to 1979 when the only legal action against my revisionist writings (thus far anyway) took place. In Germany “X-rating” is controlled by a government agency, which “indexes” literature deemed “dangerous to youth.” The domain of this agency is not restricted to pornography but includes much that is considered dangerous on political grounds. In 1979 the German translation of my book was indexed, implying restrictions on the ways it could legally be sold that amounted to a ban. As I say, that has been the only legal action against my writings. I thought the action was an outrage but, as I say, I now look back fondly to 1979 because things have gotten much worse since then, and people now serve prison terms for the sorts of things I have done. At the minimum, they can be excluded from places such as Australia.
Robert Faurisson is not here because the Australian government decided he is of “bad character” on account of convictions for offenses in France, notably contravention of the Fabius-Gayssot law of 1990, which forbids contesting any “crime against humanity” as claimed in the 1946 judgment of the big Nuremberg trial. British historian David Irving has similarly been banned from Australia for thought crime offenses in Germany. It did not matter that these are not offenses in Australia.
I have not been convicted because we don’t have such laws in the USA, so that is part of the reason I’m giving this speech. Although the same legal grounds for exclusion do not exist in my case, I assure you I am just as bad a character as Faurisson, but I can’t present myself to you as an Australian-government-certified bad character. I can however present myself as a German government certified purveyor of X-rated material. Be assured that you have become just as naughty, that is, as a patron of X-rated affaire, by listening to me.
A Tacit Tribute
It is obvious that our enemies give us a tacit tribute by resorting to such measures, which are contrary to the essence of the civil reform of the past two centuries. They are scared because, to look at it one way, revisionists are just saying that the Allies, Vatican, Red Cross, and so forth, were right, during the war, in their assessment of the extermination stories. It is so simple. Remember that when somebody says we’re way out.
Earlier today we heard of a concern from their camp that I have heard many times before. This time it was expressed by Deborah Lipstadt: the “survivors” are now dying off at such an alarming rate that it will soon be difficult to confound the revisionists. Such a view can only be advanced in hysteria, because of what it tacitly admits. No sane person would fear that, because all those alive at the time of the US Civil War are now dead, it will be difficult to confound those who might deny it happened. The defenders of the hoax have quite lost their grip on historical reality, and on what it means for something to “happen” in real time and real space.
Such acts of repression are of course backhanded concessions that Holocaust revisionists are not cranks, and that the legend can now be supported only by terror. Observe that there is a lot of crackpot stuff out there that nobody is trying to ban — Afrocentric history, for example.
Laws applied against revisionists differ from one country to the next and are of three types:
1. Laws proscribing certain historical claims. The paradigm is the Fabius-Gayssot law in France, which is not hypocritical, has a clear meaning, and expresses exactly what the law is trying to do.
2. Laws outlawing statements which are said to have an undesired effect, mainly to “cause hate” or “incite hate.” Canada and perhaps Britain have such laws, and Australia’s largely impotent “Human Rights” (there’s an Orwellian term!) legislation is in this category
3. Laws of no clear meaning. Germany has such laws covering “glorifying National Socialism,” anti-constitutional activity, “insulting the dead.” However in 1996 a law of type one was passed in Germany, providing a penalty of up to five years in prison, and an earlier law of type two, against incitement to racial hatred, was applied against Günter Deckert in 1994.
All three types share the feature that truth is no defense. A good example is Faurisson’s conviction under the Fabius-Gayssot law for merely clarifying the meaning of “revisionism.” Another is Irving’s conviction in Germany for saying that the “gas chamber” that is shown to tourists at the Auschwitz Stammlager (main camp) is not authentic — a fact that is now admitted by the Auschwitz Museum. Another feature is that intent is irrelevant, either because the law specifically excludes it from consideration or because that’s what happens in court. These are obviously not traditional notions of culpability. One thing I believe is that the type two laws, which focus on the effect of statements, really reduce to type three, that is, laws of no clear meaning.
Effect or likely effect is considered crucial in only the second type, but it is strangely dealt with. One formulation is “cause hate.” Now “cause” is a difficult concept even outside the sphere of social affairs, but I went to be practical here and avoid insolvable epistemological problems. My complaint is that the charge of causing hatred is not tested empirically. If the charge is that it “causes hatred,” then readers of the offending literature who became haters should be produced. If the charge is that it is “likely to cause hatred,” then past readers of comparable literature who became haters should be produced. However such considerations are considered impertinent. There is no empirical test.
I have been observing the course of controversy surrounding Holocaust revisionism for a quarter century, and I have yet to see the development of any of the hate alleged. Thus this sort of regulation is really type three. Logically you could never prove yourself innocent, and you will be guilty if the court decides it wants you to be. This concept of “causing hatred,” unsupported by evidence from experience, is also applied in the USA, but outside the legal or courtroom context.
As for literature that appears to incite hate, experience suggests it would be hard to beat the Bible.
However, we obviously do cause hatred! We cause hate because our enemies hate what we say, and they hate us for saying it. This idea (of causing or inciting hatred) is perhaps the most Orwellian notion in current circulation.
I also want to talk some about my book, the other reason I am here to give this speech. It was going to be on sale here but the shipment didn’t arrive on time. This is no great catastrophe, because after you hear my thoughts on it you may decide you wouldn’t have bought it anyway.
The Hoax of the Twentieth Century was first published 22 years ago, but it is still apparently of interest. It is sometimes called a “classic,” a designation that makes me feel very old.
Of course, from the perspective of today the book has defects and several people, of whom I am one, could do better today. In admitting such defects, I can plead that I was one man working with no significant help. The correspondents I had were not then, and have not subsequently become, experts in the field. The literature of revisionist orientation was scanty. Some of it was rubbish that constituted a minor nuisance. On the positive side were Paul Rassinier, Thies Christophersen, and Wilhelm Stäglich. The writings of the last two were of value mainly as primary sources, that is, in relating their own experiences, although Stäglich later wrote a book of historical analysis. Even taking them into account, the historical complex was not there. I will elaborate.
The style of my book is certainly not elegant. I believe my style has improved much since then but, like most men with a technical education, my style remains at best dry and not elegant.
It is not immodest for me to say that mine is the best book of its type, because it is the only book of its type. To compare my book to others, the approach of mine is horizontal, the others vertical. Subsequent investigators have taken specific subjects and gone more deeply into them than I did. Such vertical approaches should be contrasted with my horizontal. I attempted to cover every reasonably relevant aspect of the problem. The question of the existence of gas chambers was only one of many. I tried to show what did happen as well as what did not. I showed the relevance of the Zionist and related movements. I discussed the Allied policies end the Jewish influences in them. My use of sources (such as the Nuremberg trials, Red Cross reports, Vatican documents, and contemporary newspaper accounts) today seems obvious, but it was not then. To aid in comprehending the early war crimes trials, I gave witchcraft trials as a useful precedent.
I believe my analysis provoked investigation of specific problems, even when such influence was not conceded. My skepticism about the reality of the mysterious “German industrialist” who in 1942, according to the World Jewish Congress, passed along information that Jews were being exterminated, probably provoked the later investigations attempting to determine his identity. Walter Laqueur and Richard Breitman, in Breaking the Silence (1986), unconvincingly proposed Eduard Schulte. I also stressed the inaction of the Allies with respect to Auschwitz, which Laqueur and Martin Gilbert tried without success to explain.
The existence and relevance of the 1944 aerial reconnaissance photos of Auschwitz were, to the best of my knowledge, first argued in my book. I also believe that my book provoked, perhaps through some intermediary, the 1979 release of these photos by the CIA, but again such influence is not admitted.
I consider my book generally “right” even today in the sense of how the historical parts fit together, and they fit perfectly without major or fundamental mysteries.
This horizontal analysis remains unique in the revisionist literature. The book presented a historical complex that remains valid today. The main contribution was that the book made specialized studies easier because investigators did not have to worry about coherence of the larger picture; they could direct a curious person to my book. I did a good enough job for that, even if not a perfect job. The proof is that, among revisionists, the defects of the book are certainly seen, but there seems to be no great demand for an improved work of comparable scope.
An example: You want to discuss the question of gas chambers at Auschwitz. My old book won’t help if you want to be current, and there would not necessarily be any reason to cite it. There are much more recent and conclusive writings, notably Faurisson’s, but I could not imagine a person securely venturing into such a controversy without having a grasp of the general historical complex, as provided in my book. Thus I cannot imagine contemporary Holocaust revisionism existing without a book such as mine, even if it is never necessary today to cite it.
It is still the only book of this sort. A better one would be nice, but there are two problems that occur to me. First, such a book, if written from the point of view of our knowledge today, would not fit into a single volume.
Second, a paradox: a weakness of the book explains some of its strength. From the present point of view, there seems much in the book that is awkwardly presented. This is because I did not write this book as an expert. The book was written as works of research normally are: I was myself struggling to understand, as would an intelligent and serious reader. Thus the book expresses a relationship of common perspective, and mutual empathy, between author and reader that could not exist in a new book, written today from a position of expertise, and directed at a neophyte reader (that is the only kind possible today). I believe this explains the occasional overwhelming effect the book has. From this point of view the book is still contemporary, as well as “right.”
Where is Revisionism Today?
All objective observers, revisionist or not, are well advised to take note of this: Apostasy among us has been rare, despite our persecuted status. The exceptions are illuminating. In France Abbé Pierre recanted, but he wasn’t really a revisionist, just a visitor.
The case of Jean-Claude Pressac, who says he started out as a disciple of Faurisson but then became convinced that Faurisson was wrong, is worth noting. Pressac’s reversion was highly profitable to him, as the major media tried to lionize this obscure man.
David Cole has been a painful exception, but also a plausible one because he is a Jew, and the pressures on him were far greater than on a gentile. His recantation in terror of the JDL was pathetic and unconvincing. I will recant too, if enough pressure is brought to bear.
A concomitant fact is that revisionists have been very tough. Robert Faurisson is a brilliant man but, having lived and worked for many years in the midst of advanced technical development, I can’t truthfully say that he is the most brilliant man I have known. He does however appear to be the toughest man I have known. For 20 years he has been bearing the brunt of the malice of those in power in his country, and that malice is considerable. There exist other very tough revisionists. However, I wonder if “revisionists are tough” is really the right formulation. No sane person is tough in defending a stupid or flimsy cause. I tend to think revisionists are tough because they know they are right.
These observation should be weighed carefully by friends, enemies, and neutrals.
Some Holocaust museums, in particular the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, admit that they are trying to counter us; thus they are in a sense memorials to us.
I must make one sad observation. In-fighting among revisionists is today excessive, and seems in large measure motivated by vanities and jealousies. I won’t mention names, thereby starting another round of mutual denunciation. We should be more willing to look at other’s work and see what is half full, not merely what is half empty.
Our speed in adopting the Internet, and especially the World Wide Web, has been very satisfying to me.
We could be a hair away from a major upheaval. Recently I heard that the Auschwitz Museum denied the BBC and David Irving permission to do a documentary there. I hope that means the major media are getting more willing to listen to us, and will perhaps get angry at the intellectual dishonesty that has opposed us for years.
We heard Faurisson say that absolute victory is impossible, because there will always be those who doggedly cling to what they want to believe. I believe that is unimportant, because real victories can be absolute from a practical point of view. The American Indians are still there, but everybody knows who won that confrontation.
Unfortunately I no longer believe victory is assured. I ask myself: can these yarns really go on and on? I have to admit, yes. The endurance of religious myth provides ample precedent, and it is a commonplace that the Holocaust cult is really a religion.
I judge the present situation to be highly volatile. Anything could happen.
The Hoax Ends the Twentieth Century
The title of this presentation is obviously a play on the title of my book, but mainly it is an accurate statement. The Hoax ends the twentieth century, and revisionism has had a lot to do with this, as is clear when one considers that “holocaustomania” has been the rule only since the rise of contemporary Holocaust revisionism 20 to 25 years ago. Consider the increasing publicity since then, and the daily publicity today. We hear of aged alleged Nazi war criminals still being hunted down, Switzerland’s alleged wartime crimes (which get more and more vague as time goes on), the alleged hardness of the Vatican. From the relative silence of the 50s this propaganda has built up to a constant din today I know of nothing comparable. Try to imagine constant whining about the US Civil War, which ended in 1886, in 1918. The “Holocaust” has become the principal topic of current affairs.
I believe the “holocaustomania” is largely a reaction to revisionism. As I noted, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum admits this as part of its mission. The uproar over my book in early 1977 was amazing. I would say the holocaustomania started a year later, with the 1978 NBC television “docu-drama” series, “Holocaust.” It is important to note the sequence because some, particularly those new to the controversy, may assume we revisionists are reacting to holocaustomania. If anything, it’s the other way around.
Thus the Hoax ends the twentieth century also in the sense that the people who call it a hoax are implicitly getting much attention, despite their meager publishing resources. Logically, Holocaust revisionism ought to be the major intellectual freedom issue of the day Ronald Dworkin, in Index on Censorship (May-June 1995), asked “What justifies this exception?”
The Adelaide Institute Newsletter is at present the best in the English language in terms of timely publication of revisionist news and articles. The problem is that it is way down under here and very obscure in the USA and Europe; perhaps remedies are available. Remember that a lot of people can at least read English. Our Smith’s Report is good and timely, but it has a primary emphasis on US college campuses.
Meetings such as this have been rare outside the US, for legal, political and financial reasons. This meeting is a great accomplishment in the face of great odds, and will greatly enhance the visibility of revisionism, mainly in Australia, but I think it will also have repercussions elsewhere. Here I have made new connections and strengthened old ones. I am happy to have given whatever help I could. I thank and congratulate Dr. Fredrick Toben, Mr. David Brockschmidt and all the other associates of Adelaide Institute for organizing and conducting this meeting, and for inviting me to speak to you. Thank you for your time and attention.
This is the text of a talk delivered at the Adelaide Institute conference in Australia, August 7- 9, 1998. This text is copyright © 1998 by the Adelaide Institute.
From The Journal of Historical Review, Nov.- Dec. 1998 (Vol. 17, No. 6), pages 2-5.
About the Author
Arthur R. Butz was born and raised in New York City. In 1966 he received his doctorate in Control Sciences from the University of Minnesota.
In 1966 he joined the faculty of Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois), where he served for years as an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is the author of numerous technical papers.