Preface to Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte (Foundations of contemporary history)
Historical revisionism is the great intellectual adventure of the end of this century.
Despite its large size, the present handbook offers only a glimpse of that adventure; and so it seems necessary here first to specify the precise historical problem upon which the revisionists have concentrated their research, then how revisionism arose in the 1940s and how it developed in the years 1950 to 1978; and finally how it really took off in the years 1978 to 1979, to experience such an increase in the present day that nothing any longer seems likely to halt its onward march.
In the Nuremberg Trial (1945-1946), Germany had been judged and condemned for “crimes against peace”, for “war crimes” and for “crimes against humanity”. The revisionists have been led in a way by their successive discoveries concerning these three points to call for a revision of the Nuremberg Trial. Regarding the first two points, the revisionists have been able to present their arguments without too much difficulty, and it is probable that no serious historian today would contend that anyone is in a position to lecture Germany concerning “crimes against peace” and “war crimes”: as a matter of fact, it has become evident that the Allies bear their share of responsibility in the starting of the war, and that they themselves committed innumerable “war crimes” (if that expression has any meaning, given that war itself may be held a crime). On the other hand, concerning the third point, that is with regard to “crimes against humanity”, they keep on dinning into our ears that Germany attained a peak of horror all her own with the “genocide” of the Jews. It is on the study of this precise point that the revisionists have specifically concentrated their efforts. And so, by degrees, historical revisionism has become what the Americans now call Holocaust Revisionism.
According to the accusers, Germany was not content just to persecute the Jews, to deport them and put them into concentration camps or forced labor camps; those “crimes” – as every historian knows – are unfortunately frequent in the history of mankind, and we have only to turn on our TV sets today to note that all kinds of human societies continue to suffer such “crimes”. Germany, her accusers still contend, went far beyond that. Taking a giant leap in horror, in 1941-1942 she allegedly decided on the total extermination of the European Jews, and in order to perpetrate this specific crime, supposedly devised and utilized a specific weapon: the homicidal gas chamber (or gas van). Making use of abominable chemical slaughterhouses, she allegedly began a collective assassination of industrial proportions. That crime (the genocide) and that weapon used in the crime (the homicidal gas chamber) are in that sense inseparable, and it is consequently impossible to maintain, as some do, “that whether or not there was a gas chamber makes no fundamental difference”. Germany thus presumably committed an intrinsically evil crime against the Jews. The Jews say further that the whole world knowingly allowed the Germans to perpetrate that crime. The paradoxical result of so enormous an accusation is that today in the dock of the accused, “criminals” Hitler, Himmler, and Goering are joined by their “accomplices”, Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Pope Pius XII, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as the representatives of many other countries and organizations. Things are such that in the United States, for instance, from Los Angeles to Washington, they hammer away at it in the “Holocaust museums”, where today’s Jews have set themselves up as accusers of the whole world; they go so far as to incriminate the Jews in positions of responsibility who were living in Europe, in America, or in Palestine during the war: they have the effrontery to reproach them for their collaboration or their indifference, or for the spinelessness of their reaction to the “systematic extermination” of their co-religionists.
The earliest rumours of a gassing of Jews by the Germans apparently circulated in December of 1941 in the Warsaw ghetto . But throughout the war such rumours found only a feeble echo in circles hostile to Germany. One has only to read a book such as that of Walter Laqueur’s The Terrible Secret  to realize that the scepticism was general. People still held long-lived memories during the Second World War of the invention of atrocities during the First World War, when stories were already being spread about the gassing of civilians (in churches or elsewhere), as well as stories about corpse factories. The Foreign Office saw the new rumours of the Second World War only as Jewish inventions and many in American circles shared that conviction . Edward Beneš, President of Czechoslovakia (in exile in London), announced in November 1942, after inquiry by his staff, that the Germans, contrary to what had been reported to him, were not exterminating the Jews . The American Jew, Felix Frankfurter, a Supreme Court judge, stated to Jan Karski on the subject: “I can’t believe you” . In August of 1943, Cordell Hull, Secretary of State, warned the U.S. ambassador in Moscow by telegram that in planning a joint Allied statement on “the German crimes in Poland”, it would be advisable to eliminate any mention of the gas chambers, since, as the British pointed out, there was “insufficient evidence” in the matter .
Even after the war, such high-ranking Allied officials as Eisenhower, Churchill and de Gaulle, in their respective memoirs, would refrain from mentioning the existence and operation of Nazi gas chambers.
In a manner of speaking, all these sceptics were in their own way revisionists. Neither the Vatican, nor the International Committee of the Red Cross, nor the anti-German Resistance acted as if they put any faith in the rumours which, moreover, took the most fantastic forms: invariably the Germans were said to be exterminating the Jews, but as to the methods of extermination they were most varied: steam, gas, electricity, fire, acid, an injection of air, drowning, vacuum pump, etc. Why gas wound up the winner in the Greuelpropaganda competition is not exactly known.
The Frenchman Paul Rassinier was the first true revisionist of the postwar period. In 1950, this former deportee began to denounce the “myth of the gas chambers” in Le Mensonge d’Ulysse  and in a whole series of works. In 1976, the American engineer Arthur Robert Butz published The Hoax of the Twentieth Century  which is the most profound revisionist work written to date on the subject of the alleged genocide and the gas chambers. In 1979, a German judge, Dr Wilhelm Stäglich, in turn published Der Auschwitz Mythos, a study devoted principally to the manner in which the German courts of law were able to collaborate in the fabrication of a myth, somewhat the same way that the judges of the witchcraft trials in the past, above all from 1450 to 1650, lent their support to even the most preposterous stories told about the stake, the grill and Satan’s ovens .
Without wishing to diminish the great importance of Paul Rassinier, of Arthur Butz, and of Wilhelm Stäglich, I hope I may be permitted to say that, at the end of the seventies, revisionism would for once become materialistic and scientific with the research conducted on the ground by Ditlieb Felderer, the Swedish revisionist, as well as with my own discoveries at Auschwitz proper, my observations on the use of Zyklon B for disinfestation (Entlausung), and my reflections on the utilization of hydrogen cyanide gas in the gas chambers of US-American penitentiaries for the execution of men condemned to death. Neither Rassinier, nor Butz, nor Stäglich had gone to Poland to the supposed sites of the crime, and none of them, moreover, had really utilized to their fullest extent the arguments of a physical, chemical, topographical, and architectural nature which today, following the investigations of D. Felderer and my own inquiries, are currently employed by the younger generation of revisionist researchers. As for the Jewish researchers, who defend the theory of the extermination of the Jews, they have resolutely remained what I call “paper historians”: Léon Poliakov and Raul Hilberg have stayed with paper and words and in the realm of speculation .
It is surprising that this vast field of properly scientific argument was not seen by Germany, which has so many chemists and engineers, and by the USA, itself with no lack of scientific minds who even had the examples right there before them of their own gas chambers using hydrogen cyanide. In 1976 at Auschwitz, I discovered both the exact configuration of the crematories that were supposed to contain homicidal gas chambers, of the delousing gas chambers (Entlausungsgaskammern), and the plans (hidden until then) of certain crematories. In 1978-1979 I published two articles in Le Monde  in which I summarized some of my discoveries. In 1979, at the first conference of the Institute for Historical Review, in Los Angeles, I presented those discoveries in detail. Among those present in the audience was one Ernst Zündel, a German now living in Toronto. From 1985 on, this man would prove to be the most ardent, the most effective, and also – though many seem not to know it – one of the most innovative minds among all the revisionists. He was the first to understand why I so insisted on the chemical argument and, in particular, on the importance that the technology of the American gas chambers in the thirties and forties had for us. He understood why I wanted a specialist in these American gas chambers to go and examine the alleged execution gas chambers on the spot, in Poland. Thanks to my correspondence with American penitentiaries in the seventies, I had already discovered such a specialist in the person of Fred Leuchter, but it was Ernst Zündel, and he alone, who had the brilliant idea of asking him not only to make an examination of the buildings, but to take constituent samples of material from the disinfestation gas chambers on the one hand and from the alleged execution gas chambers on the other. In February of 1988, he took the risk of sending Fred Leuchter and an entire team to Poland at his own expense to study the alleged gas chambers of Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdanek. The results of the study of the buildings and of the analysis of the samples taken proved spectacular and totally in favour of the revisionist thesis. In the following years, other reports would confirm the basic accuracy of the “Leuchter Report“ : first the very learned report of Germar Rudolf , then the involved and secret specialist’s report of the Poles , and finally the study of the Austrian Walter Lüftl .
It only remains to be said that if Germany’s accusers are not satisfied with these studies, they are at liberty to initiate their own specialist’s report. What has kept them from doing it publicly, in broad daylight, these past fifty years?
We must understand the disarray of Germany’s accusers in the face of revisionism’s successes. For half a century they have sincerely believed that the tragedy undergone by the Jews during the Second World War was of exceptional seriousness and magnitude, whereas, when reduced to its proper proportions – that is, without genocide and without gas chambers – their tragedy was just one of many other tragedies of that terrible conflict. Under the thrust of revisionist inquiries their historians step by step have had to admit
- that there was neither an order, nor a plan, nor a budget for the alleged genocide of the Jews ;
- that “Wannsee” was at best only a “silly story” ;
- that there existed no specialist’s report on the weapon of the crime concluding that “the building (whether intact, ‘reconstructed’ or in ruins) served as a homicidal gas chamber”;
- that there is no autopsy that would allow us to conclude: “This is the corpse of a deportee killed by poison gas”;
- that the confession of Rudolf Höß was no longer of any value (“Höß was always a very weak and confused witness”) ;
- that their alleged witnesses had probably never seen gas chambers or gassings inasmuch as the best of them, the famous Rudolf Vrba, in 1988, had been obliged to admit before a Canadian judge and jury that in his famous book on the subject he had made use of “poetic licence” or “licentia poetarum” ;
- that the “Jewish soap” had never existed ;
- that the figure of four million victims at Auschwitz was only a fiction ;
- and that the “sources for the study of the gas chambers are at once rare and unreliable […]. Besides, from 1942 to 1945, certainly at Auschwitz, but probably overall, more Jews were killed by so-called ‘natural’ causes [starvation, disease, sickness and overwork] than by ‘unnatural’ ones” .
Since 2 July 1982, at the end of an international symposium the exterminationists had organized at the Sorbonne (Paris) to attempt to answer me, they had shown themselves incapable of producing the slightest proof of the existence and the operation of a single gas chamber. In March of 1992 I hurled my challenge:
“Show me or draw me a Nazi gas chamber!”
Jean-Claude Pressac, on whom the exterminationists counted so much, had proven himself incapable of bringing forth anything but what he called “traces of the crime”, and he had taken great care not to provide us with a total physical representation of the weapon used in the crime .
On 30 August 1994, I had a meeting with Michael Berenbaum, the scientific director of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, in his office and in the presence of four witnesses (two on his side and two on mine).
I forced him to admit that, paradoxically, his museum contained no actual representation of a “Nazi gas chamber” (the model of Krema II being only an artistic creation bearing no relation to reality). I asked him why. He finally replied:
The decision had been made [by us] not to give any physical representation of the Nazi gas chambers.
His response was equivalent to that of a Catholic priest – Mr. Berenbaum is a Jewish theologian – who decided to eliminate any representation of the cross from his church. To be driven to such extremities, one must surely feel that he has his back to the wall.
I think that the co-religionists of Mr. Berenbaum will at last abandon the gas chamber as they have abandoned the Jewish soap and the Auschwitz four million.
They will go further than that. As in the two previous cases, they will present themselves as the discoverers of the myth and accuse the Germans, the Poles, or the Communists of having fabricated the “myth of the gas chambers”. In support of their impudent thesis, they will then invoke the names of Jews who are revisionists totally or in part (J. G. Burg, Jean-Gabriel Cohn-Bendit, Roger-Guy Dommergue, Arno Mayer, David Cole, Christopher Hitchens, Joel Hayward…). They will then assign themselves the starring role.
At the same time, however, transforming the “Holocaust” of the Jews into a religious belief, this time divested of all material content, they will be only the more inflexible in denouncing authentic revisionists as “deniers”, or “negationists”, as being intolerant, heartless, basely materialistic and hostile to the free expression of religious sentiments. For those Jews, the true revisionists will thus continue to be diabolical in spirit even if they must be acknowledged to be in the right from a factual point of view.
The revisionists are neither diabolical nor negative. By no means are they “naysayers”. They are positive in outlook. At the conclusion of their research – which is positivist in character – they affirm that certain beliefs are just myths. Such myths are harmful in that they feed hatred. The revisionists strive to describe what has taken place and not what has not taken place. In sum and substance, what they proclaim to a wretched humanity is good news. Seeking only historical accuracy, they find themselves fighting against calumny and for justice. They have suffered and they will continue to suffer, but I believe, all things considered, that history will declare them right and render them justice .
September 23, 1994
Translated from the French by Tom Kerr