Historical News and Comment
Reviews of IHR Books Show Greater Acceptance of Revisionism
Books published by the Institute for Historical Review are gaining increasing acceptance, as indicated by reviews that have appeared in reputable journals and newspapers during the last several years. These respectful and often laudatory reviews show that the IHR is increasingly regarded as a legitimate publisher of serious works of history. Some highlights:
How I Survived the A-Bomb, Akira Kohchi's moving memoir, has received critical acclaim both in this country and in the author's homeland. In Japan, where the taboos against historical revisionism are not as stringent as in the United States, that country's leading English-language daily, The Japan Times, praised Kohchi's book as a "noteworthy" and "authentic" personal account in a lengthy review published December 11, 1990.
The Bookwatch, a monthly newsletter published by the Midwest Book Review -- and distributed to about 600 community libraries in California and about 400 in Wisconsin -- similarly praised Kohchi's memoir in its June 1990 issue as "a moving, gripping account." The complete text of the review:
U.N. finance officer Kohchi offers a personal, political and economic review of the atom bombing of Hiroshima as he recounts his survival of the nuclear attack, his observations of the radioactive city's recovery process, and the experiences of being a survivor and handling world reactions and explanations. A moving, gripping account.
Kohchi (Kawachi), a former United Nations finance officer, addressed the October 1990 IHR conference. His memoir was published by the IHR in 1989, and was reviewed in the Spring 1990 issue of the IHR Journal.
Leon Degrelle's memoir, Campaign in Russia: The Waffen SS on the Eastern Front, was hailed in Our Town, a paper serving readers in northern New Jersey (Jan. 9, 1991). Reviewer Wilfred Isepig began by empathizing with readers who might "find repugnant the idea of reading a book written by a man who voluntarily led his countrymen from Belgium into service with Hitler's 'deaths head' SS against the Communist allies of the United States and Britain during World War II." The reviewer then went on to comment:
In years of reading and writing history, this reviewer has never seen a more apt or truthful description of the horror of battle and its harvest of death than Degrelle.
As the focus of the world now turns to the Middle East and the possibilities of war there, it is well to read Degrelle so that we do not grow too fond of the possibility of war, and remember truly its horrors.
Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam will -- on reading Degrelle's lines -- remember their own experiences and acknowledge how truthfully Degrelle has rendered the horror, panic, brutality and heroism of battle. Politicians should read this book so they realize what they commit the young men and women of their country to when they decide for war.
The message of this "sobering book," the reviewer concluded, "should be learned by heart by everyone- For the truth it tells about war, read it."
Campaign in Russia received conditional praise from Matthew Gore of Western Kentucky University's history department in a review published in the Daily News of Bowling Green, Nov. 26, 1989. Describing the work as a "valuable first-person narrative of World War II's largest campaign," Gore added that Degrelle's "prose is quite readable." "Factually accurate in most respects," Gore went on, Campaign In Russia is "with reservations, [a] useful addition" to the existing literature.
US Army Brigadier General John C. Bahnsen had high praise for Degrelle's Campaign in Russia in a review published in the November-December 1986 issue of Armor: The Magazine of Mobile Warfare (published by the U.S. government's Department of the Army). Bahnsen first sets the stage with a few words about the author and the Wallonian SS combat formation:
Leon Degrelle rose from private to colonel in the Waffen SS based on his combat exploits and his brave survival on the Eastern front during World War II. This is a soldier's story with all the color and gore of the battlefield mixed extremely well -
Politics aside, this story tells about a legion of Belgian volunteers who fought bravely with Germany to the bitter end ... The Wallonian Legion of volunteers, from all writings, had a sense of duty and a sense of humor in equal amounts. Based on the extraordinary losses suffered in combat, you cannot doubt their idealism.
This story covers 76 months of combat on the Eastern front by Belgian volunteers. Thousands of Belgians enlisted in the German army according to their languages: in a Flemish legion and a Wallonian legion. At first, two battalions; then, in 1943, two brigades; lastly, in 1944, two divisions, the Wallonian Division and the Flemish Langemarck Division.
Concluding his review, Bahnsen writes:
The pace of the writing is fast; the action is graphic, and a warrior can learn things from reading this book. I recommend its reading by students of the art of war. It is well worth the price.
By contrast, a review in the January-February 1987 issue of Infantry magazine, "a professional journal for the combined arms team," dismissed Campaign in Russia as a book that "leaves much to be desired." Reviewer William J. Fanning, Jr., is put off, for example, by the author's "incessant praise for a good 'lost cause'."
Degrelle's sweeping work, Hitler: Born at Versailles (published by the IHR in 1987), was given a respectful if not entirely laudatory appraisal in a review by Ludwig Schaefer of Carnegie Mellon University that appeared in the October 1988 German Studies Review, a prominent scholarly journal.
After noting that "sole German guilt [for the First World War] has long been discredited as has the purity of the shapers of the Treaty [of Versailles]," Schaefer expresses the view that "Degrelle's case, which has some basic merit, would have been better served by a more judicious balancing of the evidence."
The reviewer goes on: "This said, Degrelle's style has verve and at times a certain acid humor, notably in the first section of the book on the steps leading to the war. His comments on his childhood in German-occupied Belgium ring true, as do many of his reminiscences of people and events ... This general account often makes for exciting reading."
Hitler: Born at Versailles was acclaimed in the February 1988 issue of The Bookwatch, monthly newsletter of The Midwest Book Review for librarians and other bibliophiles:
A weighty, studious and essential (for Hitler researchers) undertaking [that] utilizes neglected documents and the author's personal relationship with Hitler to reveal facts and viewpoints not covered in previous ([and] more superficial) Hitler studies. Popular modern myths are refuted, little-known postwar atrocities by the West are exposed, and economic and political maneuvering revealed.
A critical and rather snide review of Hitler: Born at Versailles appeared in the Sunday Book Review section of the Los Angeles Times, March 13, 1988. In spite of its derisive and inaccurate disparagement of Degrelle's work as a "fascist interpretation of the history of the 20th Century," this serious critique by one of the most influential and widely read daily newspapers in the United States is itself a noteworthy indication of growing influence.
Matthew Gore, the university history teacher mentioned earlier, told readers of the Bowling Green Daily News (Sunday, January 27, 1991) that "Hitler: Born at Versailles is, perhaps, as interesting for its author as it is for its content." Leon Degrelle is "a romantic figure in a twisted right-wing sort of way. No doubt he would have been held up as a great hero had Germany been victorious in World War II."
Gore acknowledges that "Degrelle is correct to place a great deal of the blame for the Second [World] War on the First. World War I was a cataclysmic event that left the fabric of Europe tattered, with Germany absent from the great powers. The fault of the war could not be assigned just to the vanquished, yet it was."
Dr. Arthur Butz' book, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, came under criticism from Matthew Gore in a review in the Bowling Green Daily News, October 28, 1990.
According to Gore, Butz argues that "the entire Holocaust was an elaborate propaganda tool of the Allies and Zionists." For example, he explains, "the astonishing photographs of mass bodies resulted, Butz claims, from the typhus epidemic that swept the camps in 1945." Without actually saying so, Gore suggests that Butz is wrong on this point. In fact, as any serious researcher can rather easily determine, the Northwestern University associate professor is absolutely correct.
Butz' book, concludes Gore, is "a most dangerous volume because it appears respectable on the surface." While it "seems well documented in both primary and secondary source material," it should be regarded merely as "an interesting study and a valuable document of a bizarre point of view."
Wilhelm Stäglich's analysis, Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence, was respectfully reviewed October 17, 1990, on the weekly "Book Shelf" television program, which is produced by The Midwest Book Review. Reviewer Diane C. Donovan commented:
So many other titles have appeared on this subject that yet another examination might tend to get lost in the shuffle. But Stäglich offers a focus which is unique and startling, and this consideration should not be neglected merely because of a surface likeness to other similarly titled treatises.
Stäglich was a young German officer whose eyewitness experiences and memories challenged postwar revelations about Auschwitz atrocities.
This title is Stäglich's attempt to reconcile his memories of a clean, orderly facility with the horror portrait which emerged at war's end: it gathers documents, testimonies and confessions, and source materials in an effort to support a different view of both Auschwitz experiences and the camp's reputation as a systematic extermination center.
Any who are concerned with World War II experiences and atrocities will want to read this with an open mind: it gathers more than personal opinion and creates a startlingly different view of Auschwitz which should, at the least, be considered.
The Forced War, Dr. David Hoggan's monumental examination of the origins of the Second World War, was given a respectful review by Diane C. Donovan, West coast representative of The Midwest Book Review:
Diplomatic historian Hoggan presents a weighty Revisionist study of the origins of World War II which defines the climate and influences upon Germany's role in the war.
Failures in international cooperation, European nations' internal power policies and attitudes toward Germany, and Hitler's peaceful intentions, as well as influences on other European nations' internal affairs are documented.
Hoggan reveals that Hitler sought peaceful revisionism of the borders imposed on Germany at Versailles, presenting extensive documented research to support his claims.
Hoggan's Forced War was the subject of a thoughtful and generally laudatory review by Stephen J. Sniegoski in the Summer 1991 issue of Reflections, a Roman Catholic periodical. Sniegoski, who holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Maryland, has contributed articles and reviews to Chronicles, The World and I, and other scholarly journals.
The Forced War, writes Sniegoski, "is the most comprehensive and audacious revisionist account of the origins of World War II. It rejects the near-universal assumption that the aggressive policy of Hitlerian Germany was the sole cause of the Second World War in Europe."
Sniegoski goes on:
Originally published in 1961 in West Germany as Der Erzwungene Krieg, this book gained instant notoriety in that country although it was lambasted by the German political and academic establishments. No English-language press dared to publish this taboo-shattering history for over two decades. The book's American publisher, the Institute for Historical Review, specializes in promoting controversial books on World War II.
Sniegoski is fair in summarizing the book's argument:
Hoggan claims that Hitler's ambitions were limited to making Germany the preeminent power in Central Europe. Hitler did not seek world conquest, according to Hoggan, and his policies did not threaten Britain, the British empire, or Western Europe.
Leading British policymakers, however, opposed German hegemony in Central Europe on the basis of Britain's traditional balance of power policy ... To achieve the goal [a pretext for war], Britain, in March 1939, gave Poland an unconditional guarantee of its border with Germany, and later promised that it would support Poland in any conflict with Germany. Britain, however, had neither the intent nor the capability of actually defending Poland militarily... -
Hitler's demands on Poland, Hoggan emphasizes, were quite moderate. Hitler sought the return of the Free City of Danzig (detached from Germany by the Versailles Treaty) to the Reich, and German transit rights across the Polish Corridor ... In return, Hitler pledged to allow the continuation of Polish economic privileges in Danzig and to guarantee the Polish boundary with Germany ...
Emboldened by British promises, Polish Foreign Minister Jozef Beck was unwilling to make an effort to reach an understanding with Germany. Having an exaggerated view of Polish military capabilities, Beck even thought that a war with Germany would allow for Polish territorial gains.
It was Poland's aggressive intransigence, which included the persecution of the German minority in Poland, that ultimately led to war. Without the British pledge of support, however, Poland would not have been so bold, nor would a local conflict have escalated into a major war.
In Sniegoski's view:
Much can be said for Hoggan's thesis, and he backs it up with a massive amount of material, but it is not completely convincing ... Had Hitler truly sought peace, he should have avoided even the appearance of aggressiveness.
In conclusion, Hoggan goes too far in exonerating Germany of guilt for the onset of World War II. But he does provide a needed antidote to the usual portrayal of exclusive German responsibility for the war. Responsibility for the outbreak of World War II is not a simple black-and-white matter, but should be pictured in shades of gray.
In a scathingly hostile review of The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry, Prof. Henry Huttenbach of the City College of New York expressed alarm at what he regards as the great danger of Holocaust Revisionism for the Jewish people. His review appeared in the September-October 1984 issue of Martyrdom and Resistance, mouthpiece of the New York based International Society of Yad Vashem. The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry, Walter N. Sanning's carefully researched statistical analysis of the "six million" question, was first published by the IHR in 1983.
"The danger of this book (and of those that will doubtlessly follow)," Huttenbach warns, "is its clever veneer of scholarship. The bibliography is international in scope and the text has the panache of objectivity." Furthermore, he goes on,
It does not read like a shrill polemic, but has all the superficial attributes of a factual analysis. Not one in a thousand undergraduate students could find fault with it; only a few more graduates would be competent to identify its flaws and to convincingly question its credibility. The ultimate danger lies in the lack of a serious response to this continuing wave of attacks on history itself.
Huttenbach then seems to suggest that illegal and perhaps even violent measures should be taken against this "danger to the Jewish people":
If this campaign to defame the Holocaust, to disprove and deny it, is to be fought at all, it must be done off campus and handled by those who understand that propaganda, vicious but well organized and generally financed propaganda, can best be fought by other than academic means. What these must be is not the subject of this review. It can only raise the topic and stress its urgency in the hopes that others will accept the challenge as they recognize the danger to the Jewish people as a whole.
Under the headline "Historia Pogromu -- pogrom historii" ("History of a pogrom -- a pogrom against history"), a highly critical review of the IHR book, Flashpoint: Kristallnacht 1938 by Ingrid Weckert appeared in the November 16, 1991, issue of Nowy Dziennik, the leading Polish-language daily newspaper in the United States.
The new IHR edition of George Morgenstern's classic study, Pearl Harbor: The Story of the Secret War was given a laudatory review in the Summer 1992 issue of the Journal of Civil Defense (published by the American Civil Defense Association of Starke, Florida).
"When the book was [first] published at the end of 1946," notes reviewer Stephen Sharro, "it prompted a firestorm of controversy. The central issue was the extent to which the Roosevelt administration allowed the attack on Pearl Harbor to happen in order to overcome public resistance to becoming involved in another world war." Sharro goes on:
The popular history of America's role in World War II naturally emphasizes the struggle and the ultimate success the Allies achieved. What is frequently forgotten is the great opposition that many Americans felt in 1941 to becoming involved in another European war that did not seem likely to directly affect the United States.
Morgenstern's book has now been reprinted in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. In light of Watergate, Irangate, and perhaps the October surprise, we are more jaded today, more cynical, and more willing to accept the possibility that a politician of Roosevelt's stature might do what Morgenstern implies.
For those who are still excited by this controversy, the book will be fascinating. It is well written, even scholarly. For the most part the facts contained in the book have never been refuted.
While these reviews suggest that the IHR's influence is growing, they do not reflect the actual impact of the IHR and Revisionism. As readers of the IHR Newsletter and Journal know, Revisionist books are often subject to boycott, media blackout, and blacklist. In some cases, bigoted reviewers, distributors and librarians categorically refuse to handle Revisionist works.
And yet, as the reviews cited here indicate, IHR books are like seeds that, in some cases at least, are taking root in fertile minds.
All of the books cited in this article are available from the IHR:
- Why I Survived the A-Bomb; Hardcover, 230 pp., $19.95
- Campaign in Russia; Hardcover, 350 pp., $17.95
- Hitler: Born at Versailles; Hardcover, 535 pp., $24.95
- The Hoax of the Twentieth Century; Softcover, 369 pp., $9.95
- Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence; Hardcover, 386 pp., $19.95. Softcover, $11.95
- The Forced War; Hardcover, 900 pp., $35.00
- The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry; Softcover, 239 pp., $12.95
- Flashpoint; Softcover, 180 pp., $15.95
- Pearl Harbor: The Story of the Secret War; Softcover, 425 pp., $14.95
(Please add 10 percent for packing and shipping costs. California residents: please also add 7.75 percent sales tax.
From The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 231-240.