Holocaust Denial and neo-Nazism

Posted by T on July 09, 2009
Ethics, Politics

One thing I can’t figure out in the current rhetoric is why holocaust denial is so often associated with Nazism or neo-Nazism [note 1]. A classic example is the strident, screaming late Lucy Dawidowicz, but consider also the French court as narrated by herself:

If any Jews had been murdered, Rassinier said, it was the Jewish kapos in the camps who had killed them. The book was widely denounced in France. Later Rassinier sued a newspaper editor for having called him a fascist; he was, he insisted, an anarchist. But the Paris court ruled against Rassinier on the ground that his book expressed ideas “identical with those proclaimed by the neo-Nazis.” (Commentary, vol 70 #6, Dec 1980, p. 33)

Rassinier believes P;  neo-Nazis believe P; neo-Nazis are fascists; therefore, Rassinier is a fascist. So much for the favorable stereotype of the French as guardians and preservers of logic.

More recently, even my friend the affable, witty British Presbyterian Carl Trueman ominously suggests that Rassinier is “very popular among skinheads, Klan freaks, the British National Party and characters like David Irving. ” While he doesn’t exactly use the N-word, his more charitable assessment that

[Rushdoony] was historically incompetent, probably racist and, if he thought this kind of writing was intelligent scholarship, probably unhinged

amounts to much the same thing.

I.

Reflect with me first on the logic contained in the premise:

if (holocaust denier) then (Nazi or neo-Nazi)

on the assumption that it is true.

Ask yourself: which is worse, to favor the Nazis, believing they perpetrated the Holocaust, or to favor the Nazis, believing they did not?

That question remains, no matter what content you fill in for the name, “Nazism.” But now, ponder the actual content: Absent the Holocaust, what is National Socialism (=Nazism)?

Answer: it is a political program of national economic renewal, labor reform, public works projects, manipulation of business, national subsidies, and preparation for and willingness to wage war. In other words, allowing for all differences of place and circumstance, it is basically the continental version of Roosevelt’s New Deal .

Holocaust-free Nazism = American New Deal.

So if holocaust-deniers are holocaustless Nazis, why don’t conservatives scream at holocaust-deniers, “da#ned New Dealer”?

And why don’t liberals embrace them as the shock troops for New Deal liberalism?

(Oddly enough, Nazism is usually painted as extreme conservatism, even by analogy with American politics where conservatism has strong overlap with Libertarianism.)

Since Nazism absent the holocaust is, roughly speaking, F. D. Rooseveltism, I can see why someone might say, “you must be crazy” (to not believe in the holocaust). But why wouldn’t they regard it as a benign, benevolent craziness? Like the crazy uncle that has lost his mind, but at least continues to praise Roosevelt? Or, from the other side, “he praises Roosevelt because he’s crazy.”

II.

The comeback will probably have something to do with “anti-semitism.” The idea will be that even if it were granted that there was no holocaust, no planned extermination, yet undeniably, many Nazis were mean to jews, and the Party wanted them out of Germany, and eventually forced them out.

Deborah Lipstadt says, quite bluntly, “Holocaust denial is naught but a form of antisemitism.”

(Couldn’t it be a form of pro-Germanism? Why must it have something to do with an attitude toward Semites at all? But I digress.)

Unless it could be shown that this view is essential to Nazism — that the Nazi program could not exist without this aspect — then wouldn’t charity at least require asking the holocaust-denier-and-therefore-neo-Nazi whether he approves or disapproves of the ejection of jews from Germany? Should he not at least have the right to say, “no, I disapprove of that aspect of 1930’s Nazism”?

Moreover, it must be admitted that the number of people that would be sympathetic to ejecting jews, but stopping short of a holocaust, is greater than the number that would favor the extermination program. Obviously. Many cities and countries have “thrown the jews out” at one time or another, including Spain, France, England, and numerous cities such as Mainz, Frankfurt, Moscow, and various of the Italian city-states. Unless one thinks that jews have a right to live wherever they want, or that a country is better off having jews than not, why is a desire to “send the jews home” simply unthinkable?

My point here is not to argue the point, but simply to point out that the teeth of the “if holocaust denier then Nazi” rhetoric depends on the holocaust-aspect of the picture of Nazism to have its full effect; and just that is the thing that is contradictory to hold someone to if he denies it.

III.

Perhaps the rhetoric can be rescued along a different line. Suppose that holocaust denial is not taken to be an actual belief, but rather a deliberate lie.

For example, the Jewish Virtual Library states, “the Institute for Historical Review, or IHR, publishes many small pamphlets designed to misinform people about the Holocaust.” Note that the claim is, not merely that the material is false, but that it is “designed to misinform.” The Jewish Virtual Library knows this.

Tying this approach back to our test proposition, the position is something like this:

(1) Since the evidence for the Holocaust is overwhelming, one could not fail but to conclude that it took place; therefore, anyone denying it is lying.

We would still need the additional premise,

(2) Anyone that would lie about this is a Nazi.

(2) seems dubious indeed. The converse might have a bit more plausibility, namely: All Nazis would lie about it. They hope to rope people into the “movement” and only plan to spring the anti-Semitism bit on them later. But how silly is that? Work for years spreading New Deal Rooseveltism, knowing that the Party Members will go along with the “anti-semitic” hidden agenda once they are roped in?

At any rate, (2) is not the converse of itself. (2) says that “all liars about the holocaust are Nazis.” And this is implausible. There might be lots of reasons that would motivate one to lie: to draw attention to oneself, to gain a reputation as someone that does not follow the herd, etc.

Even so, what about (1)?

(1) contains an ambiguity that needs to be resolved. If the evidence is overwhelming, this is something that is known only to specialists. We should charitably assume that Carl Trueman has done the primary research. But clearly, most people believe in the Holocaust on the weight of authority, not on the basis of examination of evidence. Such has been the case for me, for most of my life, for example; is true of all the people I have ever discussed it with; and I suspect is true for most people. More or less, most people believe in the Holocaust for the same reason they believe that the earth revolves around the sun: because they have always been told so, and the experts seems to agree.

Thus, affirming the Holocaust is, for most people, not related to any particular stance toward evidence. At most, one could say it relates to one’s stance toward authority. Rejecting authority might be a sin in some cases, but it is not the same as the sin of lying. And it is rather odd to associate “rejecting authority” with Nazism.

——————-

[Note: I use the term “Nazi” throughout to conform to popular usage. However, it is actually just as silly constantly to say “Nazi” for National Socialist as it would be constantly to say “commie” for Communist. Next time you read a narrative about WW2, about the Nazi government, the Nazi army, Nazi policy, etc. substitute the word “commie” while pretending it is about the Soviet Union and see just how childish it sounds.]

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19 Comments to Holocaust Denial and neo-Nazism

  • I would say, having examined the evidence (and it is not something only accessible to specialists, but something which is one of the better attested facts of the 20th century), that it is overwelming in its scope, from the existence of the concentration camps and death camps, to eyewitness testimony, to primary documentation, even to artifacts such as the shoes taken from Holocost victims upon arrival to the place of their doom. One does have to question the motives of someone who would deny the Holocost given this evidence, but it does not definitively make someone a Nazi-sympathizer.

  • Nathan — if you have time, could you flesh out 2 or 3 of the lines of evidence that you find the most air-tight? For example, the shoes — what date/place/time have you been able to track the heaps of shoes to?

  • I’ve just realized I don’t actually know whether the Earth does revolve around the Sun and I could never calculate the mass of any of the planets on my own.

    Piles of shoes = death camps

    That’s logical.

  • Daniel — indeed. You are pointing out the implausibility of the “major premise” in the shoe argument. I’m also keeping my eye out for the first actual heap of shoes — the “minor premise.” Dr Berman’s testimony at the Eichmann trial won’t work, because it contradicts other aspects of the Treblinka story — that the place was razed over without a trace. Likewise, Gerstein’s 12-story high heap of shoes is impossible. And so forth. Still looking. Nathan, please help!

  • […] “Ask yourself: which is worse, to favor the Nazis, believing they perpetrated the Holocaust, or to favor the Nazis, believing they did not?” The latter “is basically the continental version of Roosevelt’s New Deal.” And while we’re neither socialists, liberals, nor Democrats, the New Deal is hardly the worst thing ever to have happened. It was probably no worse than the George W. Bush regime. But denying the Holohoax now equates to illegal incitement, fascism, and Nazism in courts of law. Brother T asks another important question: Which is worse, to reject authority or to lie? The theonomic libertarians he knows have asked if they could get back to him on that. […]

  • T – That doesn’t help me with my sun problem though? :)

    I’m moving back to California in a few months and was thinking about heading up your way for church sometime.

    Are you up in Palo Alto or something at an OPC?

  • Jews= sons of Satan [ John 8:44]
    Satan= the accuser of the Brethren [Rev. 12:10]

    Therefore, Jews+ Lying Christ-killers.

    (You know, I kinda like logic when I get to posit the premises…)

    Excellent post, sir. Excellent.

  • Daniel (and all other readers) — no, I’m in the OPC in Wilmington, Delaware. Please look me up if traveling along the mighty 95 with time to grab a cup of coffee or a whiskey. (However, a move may be in the offing soon, so make sure to check first if possible.)

    I know the OPC in San Francisco used to be excellent when I was there in the 90s, and hopefully still is.

  • Hi. I have a question. T, you wrote, “Dr Berman’s testimony at the Eichmann trial …” and I want to know which Berman was this??? There were at least 3 Berman brothers who were dedicated mass murderers for Stalin, one of which headed the “de-Nazification” of Poland in the aftermath of WWII, which would have encompassed all “Nazi” “death camps” (including the rebuilding of Auschwitz) except one, and that one, in Germany, is questionable as a “death camp” and might have been merely (if I may use that word) a transit camp, fighting the cholera and typhus epidemics of the time, de-lousing, removing shoes, etc (why bother to give the victims tickets for their shoes and other belongings?) The evil Bermans were: Matvei, Jacob/Yakov/Yokub, and Boris. Look up: Belomor, Holomodor, Naftali Frenkel and you’ll see Bermans everywhere.

    Was ‘your’ Berman one of the ones I mentioned above?

  • Comments on the nickname, “Nazi”: Like you, I was curious about this, having read that the National Socialists never, ever referred to themselves as “Nazi’s”. In my studies on the Bolsheviks, I noticed that the Bolshies were mightily attracted to acronyms, and those acronyms, in English, were always apt. I suspect that, like Trotsky, many early Bolshies lived in NYC, but “went over” to partake of the Red Revolution in 1915 and 1917, when it really mattered, and so they knew English?

    Anyway, here are some apt Bolshie acronyms, and then you tell me if “Nazi” can logically belong as an acronym, at all:
    GenSec (General Secretary, ie, Stalin), Politbureau (Political Bureau, duh!), Agitprop (Agitation & Propaganda), CenCom (Central Committee), GULAG (I can’t remember, but it’s Russian and it’s a long string of words). Now, would anyone acronymize National Socialist to Nazi? How about National Zionism? Perhaps, to confuse the enemy, this was changed from referring to National Zionism, to referring to the Germans, early on in the fight between the Stalinists and Germany? I dunno. The whole thing is full of holes, the way the Holocause has been made into an unquestionable legend. Why write Holocaust Denial laws- LAWs- if not to dissuade people from looking into it all? Seems a bit drastic, if all you intend is to “protect” Jewish “sensibilities”!

    A search on National Zionism will yield a treasure trove of info on the beginings of modern-day Israel, from the early 20th century, on. A search on the Transfer Agreement (Ha’ avira, if memory serves)is very interesting in this regard, as well.

  • It’s interesting to try to find the earliest use of the term, “exterminate,” as applied to humans. As far back as I’ve been able to go, it originates with the early Jewish Bolshevik propagandists, who used to refer to Russian country people- peasants- non-Jews, really, as “insects” and, as we know, “exterminate” goes with “insects”. We’re talking at least 10 to 15 years before 1933 Germany, and of course, that’s more than 20 years before the ‘Holocaust’. The Russian Jew, Ilya Ehrenburg, comes to mind. Wicked, wicked man. I’ve often wondered if Ilya was related to Israel Ehrenburg, aka ‘Ashley Montagu’ in England, but I digress.

  • “But clearly, most people believe in the Holocaust on the weight of authority, not on the basis of examination of evidence.”

    This is part of a larger problem of whites blindly trusting authorities. We identify with and trust “our” institutions which are often universal-oriented (not white oriented) and if anything dishonestly anti-white, and thus untrustworthy.

    Big lies don’t happen in “our” country – that only happens in Russia and China but couldn’t happen here.

  • …most people believe…on the weight of authority….

    Is there a choice? Who can study all the source evidence of everything to know? And even then would belief not be “on the weight of authority”?

  • Yes but this is too broad a usage of the word “authority.” One could imagine saying, “I believe the earth goes around the sun not vice-versa on the authority of logic and the law of gravitation.” But my point is made when we distinguish between evidence and argument on the one hand, and appeals to experts on the other.

    If someone challenges your belief “the earth rotates around its axis, thus giving the illusion of the sun rising and setting,” you could either say,

    (1) My encyclopedia says so, and everyone believes that,
    or
    (2) The geodesic satellite would not work if the earth were not rotating. Though I do not see the geodesic satellite, I see TV dishes pointed at a fixed location and giving people TV reception.

    (2) enters into a discussion; it could possibly be falsified; (1) simply ends the discussion, or at any rate changes the subject to that of the authority rather than the matter at hand.

    It is quite offensive when someone says, “just believe it; don’t ask for evidence.” Even when we must for practical reasons (e.g. to save time) rely on experts, that should only be in the context that the information could be searched out and discovered in principle.

  • This is also exactly why, when I hear the words, “the scholarly consensus is… ” I reach for my revolver. Unfortunately we hear this especially often in theology articles.

  • Andy (#11)– I’m very sorry I missed your query.
    The Berman I was talking about was the one that testified at the Eichmann trial. I would be very interested if he is the same as one of the ones you listed.

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