Foreword to the French edition, Confidences d’un révisionniste américain
Bradley Smith was born in Los Angeles in 1930 to working-class parents who were of Roman Catholic background but hardly church-going. As a child, he liked the stories his mother read to him, and enjoyed reading as well. At the age of ten or eleven, he discovered The Song of Roland. It was decided then and there: like Roland, he would be a hero and, it went without saying, meet his death on the battlefield defending his people. For if a man isn’t killed for his ideal, it’s either because he hasn’t sacrificed everything to it, or because his ideal isn’t worth it.
In adolescence, the young Bradley was enthralled by heroic tales of the American Civil War and the struggles against the Indians. Much later on, in 2001-2002, in his 70s and at the time of writing the confidences that we are about to read, he was to find fault with himself for having remained a 16-year-old. His mother, his successive wives and girlfriends, his children and his friends, who all hold him dear for he is endearing, would voice the same reproach. It must be said that he has a particular gift for charging into battles that are lost beforehand. With his talent for writing, he publishes books that bring in no money but earn him only troubles and enemies. This doesn’t stop him from asserting that his problem is that he hasn’t any enemies, for he persists in seeing those who have come to hate him as potential friends. His whole life long he’ll remain an American apparently unable to understand anything about business or the dollar.
In childhood and adolescence he was a sort of Roland of Roncesvalles who had lost his way in Southern California, and later, as will be seen in his own account, he often took on the traits of a Don Quixote de la Mancha whose silhouette would seem to sketch itself on the backdrop of the American Sierra Nevada. Slender and vigorous as a young man, he has since ended up in the full figured shape of Sancho Panza.
The dictionary of the Académie française, in its 8th edition (1932), gave a definition of Don Quixote (Don Quichotte) that I find elegant and vivid. Let the reader judge!
One who, like the famous hero of the name, stands up for every cause, and even without cause, as the righter of wrongs, the defender of the oppressed; who supports, in a generous and chimerical spirit, a cause that he lacks the means to lead to victory. To do the Don Quixote thing. He made himself the Don Quixote of all the lost causes.*
While heroism happens to express itself both in man and woman, it may be feared that Don Quixotism is an exclusively male trait and that woman, for her part, sees it as a kind of childishness in her mate that leaves her nonplussed. In Bradley Smith, Don Quixotism takes on a subtle and touching colour, tinted as it is with that Anglo-Saxon humour so difficult to render into French.
The youth attended school up to the age of seventeen. He found little of interest either in class or at Sunday school, where his mother thought that every child needed to go, although she would have nothing to do with the Roman Catholic Church. He earned a bit of money delivering newspapers, working in dairy plants or selling ice cream. He wanted to be a Marine but seventeen was too young. At eighteen he joined the army where he was made a radioman but, becoming bored with that, he went and volunteered for combat duty in Korea. Twice wounded there, he found himself hospitalised for many months in Japan and California.
He left the army, went to work as a railway brakeman, was injured in an accident, became a sheriff’s deputy, then a bullfighter in Mexico; he took part in a number of such contests, fell ill, then went to New York where he practised various trades before working on the East Side at the Bodley Art Gallery, owned by two Jews. He lived in Jewish circles. In 1959 he married Pamela, a nurse of Anglo-Canadian origin, returned to Los Angeles, then went to Mexico again, this time to take up studies in pre-Colombian archaeology. Then, back in Los Angeles, he opened a paperback bookshop. He was prosecuted and convicted for his refusal to stop selling Henry Miller’s banned novel Tropic of Cancer.
In 1964 he separated from Pamela, who then divorced him. He worked in a casino in Reno, Nevada. On returning to Hollywood he was a labourer in the film studios, then a dockworker before shipping out as a seaman on tramp steamers calling at ports in Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.
His new partner would be Jenny, a Jewess, with whom he stayed for nine years: she was the mother of two, a boy of five years and a girl, Marissa, of three. During this time he went to Vietnam to write for a national magazine, returned to Los Angeles, opened a photo-framing shop that he transformed into an art gallery, went bankrupt and, to finish, worked in the hilly region around the city in house building and cement making.
In 1978 he married a Mexican woman, Alicia, mother of Marisol. Following a serious accident working with concrete, he found himself unable to work, without any money, and with a wife and stepdaughter to take care of. The three of them moved into the small flat of his aged, ailing mother. With a rare filial devotion, and with the selfless aid of his wife, he took the utmost care of her until the end, some fifteen years later. Eight months after his injury he went back to working as a builder for a while. He definitively left that line of work in 1984, since which time he has made a meagre living with his writing. In 1986 his daughter Paloma was born. He was 56.
Throughout his life, this great booklover has amassed the most varied readings and written thousands of pages of stories and memoirs, of which he has destroyed a good part. In 1983 he wrote and produced a rather savoury stage play entitled The Man Who Stopped Paying, in which he protested against the American nuclear weapons policy. It got some good notices, but failed nonetheless.
His vocation of revisionist was perhaps born in the early 1960s when, on the occasion of the Adolf Eichmann trial, he began to ask questions about Eichmann and about Hitler. He recalls a discussion in 1964 or ’65 in the course of which he came to espouse the argument that no people as a whole is responsible for the actions of its leaders. He considered that his own father had had no responsibility in the crime of Hiroshima and that, consequently, for their part, the Germans, as a people, were not guilty of “the extermination of the Jews” supposedly desired by Hitler.
One day in 1979, while attending a convention of the Libertarian Party, he came upon an English translation of two articles of revisionist character that had appeared in Le Monde under the signature of a French academic. He got something like an electrical charge from it, a mixture of excitement and apprehension. In the same year he discovered the masterly book of his compatriot Arthur Robert Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century. It was then that he began to gauge, in all its dimensions, the likely fraud of the “Holocaust”. Noting that the Jews and intellectuals generally protected the Jewish “Holocaust” like a taboo, he wondered about the responsibility in the matter of the intellectual class as a whole. He asked himself what could possibly bring them to argue against the freedom of opinion and the spirit of inquiry.
He made the acquaintance of such revisionists as Tom Marcellus and David McCalden, and later on he would also meet Mark Weber: all three were associated with the Los Angeles based Institute for Historical Review. On July 4th, 1984, when Bradley Smith learned that the premises of the Institute had just been firebombed and burned to the ground by some local Jews, he approached its directors and offered to represent their group publicly. His idea was to solicit interviews primarily via radio talk shows and news broadcasts. The IHR agreed to back his project, and over the next four years Bradley Smith went on a kind of crusade for revisionism during which he gave hundreds of interviews to radio and television, always putting forth the simple idea that the “Holocaust” story should be examined in the same regular manner in which all other historical questions were.
For it was not revisionism itself that especially attracted his attention. After an initial burst of enthusiasm for the subject matter, Bradley Smith soon found the specific revisionist arguments not particularly interesting. What was fascinating, however, was the existence of a taboo against examining revisionist arguments. His instinct told him that the revisionists were very likely right; in any case those rebels had set their guns on a highly questionable point of the official history of the recent past: the Nazi gas chambers. The taboo in force against free inquiry into the “Holocaust” story presented him with the chance, the duty to fight for the noblest cause of all: that of freedom and independence of mind.
During the 1990-91 academic year, Bradley Smith began a second ingenious scheme of his devising: a revisionist offensive, christened the “Campus Project”, directed at the world of the American university. One must bear in mind that in the United States each university possesses its own newspaper, written and published by students who in general have the knack of media business. These papers enjoy a large autonomy and finance themselves thanks, in part, to the manna of advertising. In principle they will not refuse to print paid “advertisements” in which a writer expresses his thoughts on a given subject. Thus, by this means, the door to academia seemed open even to the revisionists and their questioning of the “Holocaust” religion.
Effectively, with the advertising space that he bought in a considerable number of college publications, Bradley Smith lit a prairie fire. Some organisations and professors, especially Jewish ones, sounded the alarm. Journalists of the mainstream press, especially Jewish ones, came onto the scene. As for the academics who weren’t Jewish, they behaved with all the cowardice that might rightly be expected of them, for even in free America, with the famous First Amendment to its constitution, university professors are in the habit of respecting the powers in place, or of striking heroic poses merely the better to blow their air in the direction of the wind. It was then that a right ruckus arose at those campuses and, in some cases, in the mainstream press as well. Bradley Smith stood up to it all with the smile that seldom leaves his face. He gave the impression of one who remained Zen and relaxed, California style. He was efficient. The Jewish organisations did not leave off, and their calls against the new Satan were to mobilise their most fearsome organisations.
The taboo-buster or, as Céline’s friend Albert Paraz might have said, the “toppler of tall-tales” gave hundreds of interviews to student journals and the regular press. There was more exposure on radio and television. In 1979 he had launched Smith’s Journal, which addressed political issues from a libertarian perspective. Early in 1980 he began writing about “Holocaust” revisionism, and soon lost his few distributors. Over the next couple of years he put together a small book entitled Confessions of a Holocaust Revisionist, which failed to sell. Then, in 1991, without any institutional backing, he began to publish a monthly newsletter, Smith’s Report, which sought to give readers the “behind the scenes” story of his running of the “Campus Project.”
Fifteen years on he is still producing Smith’s Report. He also created his Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH) and, on the Internet, set up one of the biggest revisionist sites in the world. He began working in association with Germar Rudolf, the world’s leading scientific revisionist. And so it was that, resorting to the most modern means of communication – radio and television talk-shows, the worldwide web – as well as the print press, Bradley Smith would be the first revisionist to reach millions of Americans.
Yet, all told, the result was not to come up to his expectations. On the one hand, the universities, subjected as they were to a formidable barrage fire, yielded to Jewish pressures, by which campus newspaper editors were increasingly persuaded not to run Smith’s “essay-advertisements.” On the other hand, contributors to the campaign, both actual and potential ones, began to back off for fear of being “exposed.” The Campus Project was losing its effectiveness. Decidedly, revisionism on the whole seemed headed, if not for failure, then at least towards a lack of success with the general public.
Let’s stop for a moment at this sad observation, which will enable us to get a better grasp of the ins and outs of Bradley Smith’s intellectual adventure.
The revisionists seem to have tried everything. Within the bounds of their derisory financial resources, they have used all conceivable means to make themselves heard. They have addressed all sorts of audience. They have knocked on every door. They have published the most scholarly works as well as the most widely accessible ones. There may be found amongst them the language of erudition along with that of familiar exchange, both gravity and irony, scientific treatise and pamphlet, historical documents and statistical curves as well as caricatures and cartoons, scholarly articles and polemical ones, seriousness and laughter, reflection and action.
For his part, the German-Canadian Ernst Zündel succeeded for years in mobilising, in numerous places throughout the world, the most varied energies and skills to put in the service of revisionism, and nonetheless his enterprise was shattered in the end. In 2003, by way of a frame-up on the part of the American authorities, he wound up being handed over to Canada by the United States, where he had sought refuge. Canada held him for two years in a maximum-security prison, ostensibly for criminal conspiracy. The judge of a recently created special court there, presiding alone without a jury over modern-day witchcraft proceedings admitting of no appeal and taking some of the prosecution’s evidence in secret, declared him to be a potential terrorist – Zündel, the pacifist par excellence, ever mindful of respecting the democratically made law. As a result Canada, in its turn, handed the potential terrorist over to Germany. Today in his prison in Mannheim the heroic Ernst Zündel sits waiting for a trial at which neither the accused himself nor his counsel will have the right to make a case that is the least bit revisionist in nature. E. Zündel has become a new Rudolf Hess.
The cause of our defeats lies quite simply in the disproportion of the forces at work. The Jews have made of their alleged “Holocaust” the crux of a religion, an industry and a business that are all thriving, and extraordinarily so. Thanks to their hold on the media, this religion, domineering and self-assured, has acquired for itself a quasi-universal legal status, more unassailable than even the United Nations charter. On this score, one may well ask oneself who could ever defy, all at one time, the written and unwritten laws of the United States of America, the State of Israel, the Jewish and Zionist lobbies and all the governments of the Western world that have sworn allegiance to the dominant ideology. The abandonment in which the Palestinians have lived since the theft of their land and their belongings in 1948 illustrates the disproportion in question, the omnipotence of the strong and the solitude of the weak. The rifts within the Palestinian people, just like the dissensions in the camp of the revisionists, are, for their part, far from being the cause: they are rather an effect of the tyrannical might wielded by a world superpower which, considering that it reigns in open view and to the knowledge of all, needs neither plots nor conspiracies to conduct its business.
To return to Bradley Smith himself, when he began his modest Intifada, the whole Jewish artillery blared. The troublemaker was submerged with the usual accusations of racism, anti-Semitism and Nazism. He was described as a new Satan come to overturn the earthly order. The most influential of the Jewish organisations (“Hate”, he tells us, “is their cup of tea”) has put him in the Top Ten of its list of American extremists. In the case of our Californian, those grotesque accusations happened to be plainly belied by the facts. But, in such circumstances, who will bother with reality as shown by the facts?
Bradley Smith is in truth an antiracist and deplores having to note, according to his phrase, that “prejudice and racism are as widespread in America as pumpkin pie”. He had lived for years in harmony with his Jewish entourage, and when he speaks of Adolf Hitler it’s to condemn him in rather summary terms which, let it be said in passing, denote a certain misappreciation of the subject. In chapter XIII of the present book, he writes that the problem with the racists is not that they have their theory on races, but that they seek to impose it on others. He specifies, moreover: “I can live with the racists and have for fifteen years. I can live with the antiracists and did that for thirty years”. He adds that he found in one and the other group an identical degree of generosity, intelligence, good humour and intolerance. “The worst of them are made for each other, a human symbiosis of intolerance and irrational hostility” and, continuing, he writes: “I don’t believe in thought crimes”.
In him not the least animosity is to be noted with regard to the Chinese, the Vietnamese, the Japanese, the Blacks or, above all, the Mexicans; when he sees fit, he decries the wrongs that Whites have done them. But all the same, Bradley Smith is not what you might be tempted to call an anarchist, a dyed-in-the-wool pacifist or one to repudiate all violence unreservedly. He is simply an open-minded and tolerant man with a propensity to be taken in by the virtues of “an ideal that does not require a professor to explain it, a zealot to promote it, or a tyrant to protect it”. For him, September 11th was a strong signal sent out by the people down below (the Palestinians and other Arabs) in the direction of the people up above (the Americans and the Israelis). One page in chapter X is especially enlightening on what could be called the author’s spirit of openness. He is seen contrasting State Culture to Pop Culture; the latter, of course, has its vulgarity and a good number of other defects going against it but, in the United States, it is enriched by infinite human resources.
Bradley Smith doesn’t understand why it should be wrong to have intentionally killed Vietnamese civilians but right to have intentionally killed German and Japanese civilians. Seeing his compatriots die in Vietnam shook him, yes, but hardly more than did the devastation of a whole district of Saigon which the Americans annihilated to the point where the only sound to be heard was that made by coconuts from time to time falling to the ground. As he sees it, the American government advocates massacring the innocent in order to punish the guilty; this is, he tells us, indeed a constant of American policy towards the rest of the world.
He is nonetheless not fooled by the procedures of an exclusively anti-American propaganda. He observes that those who hold up the picture of a young girl whose leg was blown off presumably by the Americans will avoid showing photos of girls whose legs have presumably been blown off by the Sandinista guerrillas or the Vietcong. He also notes that the Jewish propaganda keeps trotting out the story of an Anne Frank who died of disease in a German concentration camp, whilst no one ever breathes a word of the young girls deliberately killed and burned to a cinder in such great numbers in the largely American-wrought holocausts of German and Japanese cities.
He has some striking remarks on the heroism of the German infantrymen of the two world wars, on the absence of hatred amongst American ex-servicemen after the war in Vietnam and, on the other hand, on the hatred for the Nazis or the Germans in general which is purposely kept alive by those who benefit from it. He denounces the senselessness that has people listen with horror to all kinds of stories about German “monsters” without ever thinking that those “monsters” also had mothers, fathers, and children and belonged to a community and a nation. People imagine they have a good heart because they feel sorry straight away on hearing the stories of Jewish “survivors” but, actually, they lack respect for those “survivors”. In not demanding accuracy or even honesty, they behave with them as with children. If they truly respected the “survivors”, they would treat them like adults, having them clearly understand that they were expected not to talk nonsense or give false testimony.
When it comes to dealing with false testimony, Bradley Smith has no equal. On this score I recommend his analyses of the Jewish soap myth, the fraud of the lampshades of human skin, the wild imaginings of Elie Wiesel (who, according to a friend of Bradley’s, deserves “the Nobel Prize for flying”) and, especially to those who would like a cheerful initiation into revisionism, I suggest a reading of the whole of chapter XV on the big witness of Treblinka, the carpenter Yankiel Wiernik.
In a more general way, Bradley Smith’s particular talent is in his art of storytelling, in which the sense of observation, the taste for reverie and subtle mockery through humour all mesh together. The revisionists are, by necessity, often dry and austere, and in being so cut themselves off from that whole section of humanity which wants to reflect on things, of course, but would also like to be amused or to dream a bit. Bradley Smith is not a writer of imagination, but a good part of his life and, therefore, of his written confidences feeds on dreams, nightmares and what, more or less ironically, he sometimes calls “visions”.
In chapter XVIII, he explains how a logical argument can alert his mind to something but nevertheless may well fail to win him over. In him, doubt may hold steadfast against the “evidence” of reason, no matter how strong that evidence is, but it may be swept away by the alchemy of a dream. The intellectual process is not enough. A dream, on the other hand, can “permeate the whole body”, powerfully making its mark on you. Bradley Smith got the shock of his life from reading a well-argued text on the impossibility of the existence of the Nazi gas chambers. That was good, but insufficient. After the reading, he was to have a dream in which he saw himself in a gas chamber surrounded by the bodies of the recently gassed and by the Jews of the Sonderkommandos, appearing as usually described for us, preparing to drag out the dead for cremation. And there, suddenly, he would understand that the scene was impossible; for a good part of his existence he’d lived with and among working-class and middle class Jews and knew in his heart that Jews would never have behaved, day after day, with such indifference towards their own dead. So it is, he says rather amusingly, that he became a “Holocaust” revisionist thanks to a dream.
In Bradley Smith, it’s not only the thinking man who has become a revisionist but also the artist. Therefore, the resolution was made: he would put his artist’s abilities in the service of revisionism. And in fact, when the artist goes over for us, line by line, the testimony of Yankiel Wiernik, when he follows the tracks of the great false witness Elie Wiesel or when he takes us on a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, it seems that he’s addressing not only our faculties of judgement but our sensibility as well. It’s here that Bradley Smith distinguishes himself from the rest of the revisionist lot.
The coin has its other side. In giving free rein to sensorial and sentimental expression, to emotions, dreams, nightmares, premonitions, “visions”, impulses or abrupt witticisms, our man sometimes ends up lacking in critical discernment. It’s all well and good to do the artist’s work, but it mustn’t be to the detriment of research work. Bradley Smith abhors reading revisionist studies of a technical, scientific or too purely historical character. That is his right. The drawback is that he sometimes neglects to keep abreast of on-going revisionist arguments and discoveries and, as a consequence, he may announce as fresh findings things that are in fact only being recycled, “old news” that is at times brought out again by hobbyists or prattlers.
The first courage is physical courage. Bradley Smith possesses it, just as he possesses intellectual courage. I remember a television talk-show in which he was taking part along with David Cole, a young Jewish revisionist, rather garrulous and demonstrative. When the tension in the studio, created by the behaviour of some Jews in the audience as well as by the arrogant and ignorant host, David Cole became annoyed and refused to reappear for the second half of the programme. Bradley Smith stayed there alone and, alone, faced his adversaries with the greatest calm, the fine attitude of a gentleman of the old days pitted against a band of louts. In a good number of other circumstances he has been able to show the same cool.
On this theme, I should recommend chapter XVII. The account of his tour of radio interviews, taking him first around the state of Pennsylvania, then on to Massachusetts and Ohio, will bring angst to the reader and, better than any other episode, will illustrate how hard and thankless, perilous and nerve-racking a revisionist’s life can sometimes be, especially when that revisionist has decided to show himself in the light of day instead of staying holed up with books in libraries and archives. Our American thinks that he himself will never win the match in which he has chosen to play. However, says he, when it is understood that the revisionists have indeed won the intellectual game – for Bradley Smith believes they have already won it – they will want to be judged not only as “winners,” but also as men and women who have played the game with the honour and the good will with which all “games” of high ideals ought to be played.
To those who think they have good reasons not to like either Americans or revisionism, I should advise the perusal of these far from ordinary confidences of a Californian revisionist. They are in for some surprises. They will discover revisionism in an unexpected light and will meet an American for whose strong, courageous and smiling personality they will feel esteem and perhaps even admiration.
May 2, 2005
Bradley R. Smith, Break His Bones / The Private Life of a Holocaust Revisionist, 2002. Available from Nine-Banded Books, P. O. Box 1862, Charleston, West Virginia 25327. $14.