From the Editor

Ted O'Keefe

There are different kinds of revisionism, and different sorts of revisionists. That's no news to veteran revisionists. In fact, the diversity of opinion among revisionists has been far more troubling to the wardens of opinion on the Holocaust and other historical taboos than to the revisionist movement. Ernst Zündel's association with Jews such as Josef G. Burg and David Cole outraged the Holocaust police, not the revisionists.

This issue of the Journal, from its cover photo of Ernst Zündel and John Sack to its concluding review of Richard Evans' snarling attack on David Irving, will surely affront the high priests of the extermination cult. Containing as it does two feature articles by authors who avow their belief in gassings at Auschwitz, it will doubtless surprise many revisionists as well.

As it happens, both of these dissident revisionists, John Sack and Charles Provan, figured in a landmark article that appeared in the February 2001 issue of Esquire, as did Ernst Zündel, who is also featured in this issue. Sack, of course, wrote that article, based largely on his participation in the Institute of Historical Review's conference of May 2000. And while the JHR has criticized aspects of Sack's article (see "John Sack's Defective Esquire Article," Nov-Dec 2000 JHR), it was still a long stride forward in major media treatment of Holocaust revisionism: for the first time revisionists were portrayed as persecuted, rather than as persecutors, and as humane and tolerant, to boot.

The tolerance that allows revisionists to give a fair hearing to their adversaries is far from a flabby indulgence. On the same day that the chummy photo that graces our cover was taken, Ernst Zündel and John Sack could be overheard at IHR's offices jousting wholeheartedly on the Holocaust, the origins of the Second World War, the Jewish involvement in Communism, and John Sack's book An Eye for Eye. There was no sacrifice of either civility or passion: tolerance need not mean stifling criticism, abiding untruth, or abandoning the relentless search for facts.

World-class journalist John Sack has written many controversial stories in his fifty years of journalism, but, as he relates here, none as controversial as the story of those Jews who ran postwar concentration camps for Germans. Himself Jewish, Sack tells of his struggle to research, write, publish, and promote that story in the face of stonewalling by Yad Vashem, censorship at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and attacks from major Jewish organizations -- a toughening that stands him in good stead here as he runs a gauntlet of polite but skeptical questioners at IHR's conference.

Freelance researcher Charles Provan, whom Ernst Zündel calls "a revisionist who believes in the gas chambers," has found important new documents on a key Auschwitz witness, Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, just when it seemed that revisionist researchers had said the last word on the Hungarian pathologist. Provan suggests a "novel" solution to the inconsistencies and absurdities in Nyiszli's testimony. His solution may trouble the Auschwitz orthodox more than it does revisionists.

Revisionists tend to think of Ernst Zündel as more a warrior than a diplomat, but in this issue the victor in the Toronto Holocaust trials urges that revisionists be tolerant: not only of our adversaries, but of ourselves. In his address to IHR's May 2000 conference, Ernst shows several of his many sides: transcontinental publisher of revisionist research; Prospero of worldwide revisionist outreach; spin doctor on the Irving trial; and prophet of the present Palestinian revolt.

It has been a while since the Journal ran dual reviews of one book, yet, like Arno Mayer's Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?, reviewed by both Arthur Butz and Robert Faurisson in the fall 1989 JHR, Peter Novick's Holocaust in American Life is that rare book from the historical establishment that merits extended consideration. After Greg Raven and former academic Samuel Crowell mine Novick's jaundiced study for its many implications and admissions, Crowell examines Norman Finkelstein's still more acidulous Holocaust Industry. Then Crowell dissects two books that testify to the establishment's increasingly dishevelled efforts to counter and to contain Holocaust revisionism, Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman's Denying History and Richard Evans's post-Irving trial Lying about History.

This issue of the Journal of Historical Review marks an editorial changing of the guard that signifies both growth and continuity. As the Institute of Historical Review builds and expands in the aftermath of the long Carto wars, IHR director Mark Weber, who since 1992 has edited this journal to the highest standard, finds himself compelled to devote all of his considerable talents to his directorial duties. I shall devote my energies and my experience as editor of the JHR (1988-1992) to upholding that standard.


From The Journal of Historical Review, January/February 2001 (Vol. 20, No. 1), page 2.