Revisionism in Academe

Joel Hayward’s M.A. on “The Holocaust”


By Francis Clark-Lowes


Note. In this article the word ‘Holocaust’ when used by me is always written within inverted commas. This is because the very word itself, with its capital letter, guides one unconsciously into a way of thinking which I oppose.


*       *       *


‘Of course no one’s questioning the Holocaust; it just the way it’s used that we’re criticising.’ How easily that sort of phrase rolled off the tongue, without a thought as to whether (a) it was true, and (b) whether it ought to be true. We had read Norman Finkelstein’s The Holocaust Industry and we took our stand on the relatively safe position he mapped out. ‘The Holocaust’ happened more or less as we have been told, but had been unscrupulously used both to further the interests of Israel and for mercenary gain.


The ‘we’ in the above, refers specifically to the British ‘Palestine Solidarity Campaign,’ and more generally to progressive circles, and the ‘no one’ meant ‘no one in their right mind.’ We subscribed, even if we didn’t know it, to Simon Wiesenthal’s view that

‘a person denying the existence of the Auschwitz gas chambers is invariably either an old Nazi or a neo-Nazi. Moreover, he is probably a fool, for he is venturing out on ground where, except with children or mental defectives, he has no chance of success.’[1]


But in fact people have been questioning the received wisdom about what happened to the Jews under the Nazis ever since 1945, and on the whole they have not been demonstrably foolish, nor Nazi, nor neo-Nazi, and those they have convinced have neither been children nor mental defectives. Being a convert myself, I would say that wouldn’t I?


Following in the tradition of revisionism going back to the 1920s, ‘Holocaust’ revisionists, after extensive research, have come to deny that ‘there was a deliberate German policy of systematic extermination of Jews, such policy implemented mainly by mass-murder in gas chambers in extermination camps, with the total number of dead in the area of four to six million or even more.’[2]


In 1993  a 29-year-old New Zealander named Joel Hayward, a Jew by descent and a member of the New Zealand Friends of Israel, presented a history MA thesis to the University of Canterbury (New Zealand). His subject, surprisingly in view of his background, was ‘The Fate of Jews in German Hands: An Historical Enquiry into the Development and Significance of Holocaust Revisionism.’ (Download it here.) Hayward had been struck by the lack of any serious academic assessment of this strand of historical thought, and had decided to fill the gap. He was prepared to go wherever it might lead him.


Where it did lead him was a place he clearly hadn’t foreseen. The story is told here from the perspective of a ‘Holocaust’ believer but also an advocate of academic freedom. After awarding Hayward a first-class degree, the University of Canterbury came under enormous pressure from the local Jewish community to withdraw it. An investigation by the university found serious flaws in Hayward’s thesis, considered the first-class grade was unjustified, but refused to remove his degree.


The trouble didn’t end there, though. Hayward was the recipient of a spate of hate mail against himself and his family and a book which he had co-edited on a quite different subject was suddenly dropped by the publisher. Eventually he recanted saying that he now disagreed strongly with his paper and apologizing profusely to the Jewish community who had taken such draconian action against him. Even this was insufficient for his persecutors, who drove him to a nervous breakdown and the resignation of his lectureship at Massey University.


So what had Hayward said which caused him such grief? Put briefly, he contradicted Simon Wiesenthal. He showed that ‘Holocaust’ revisionists were not all fools, old Nazis or neo-Nazis, and those who were convinced by their arguments were not only children or mental defectives. But if you mess with ‘Saint Simon’ and his holy pronouncements you can expect a lot of trouble.


As Hayward himself puts it at the beginning of Chapter I, ‘Holocaust’ revisionists are considered to ‘have "blasphemed" about something considered inviolable to a great many people in the western world. Indeed, for many Jews the Holocaust has become an event not only of historical importance, but also of immense theological importance – an event almost comparable in its enormity to the revelation at Sinai. As such it is regarded by many as a sacrosanct subject, not open to legitimate private investigation, let alone public debate.’


Nevertheless, he strides out into the minefield, no doubt believing that truth will prevail, and that his revelations will bring him praise for his courage, even if they also arouse some animosity. There is only space here to look at a few highlights of Hayward’s extremely detailed examination of the history of ‘Holocaust’ revisionism and his evaluation of their arguments and evidence.


He starts with Paul Rassinier, a French teacher of history and geography who was sent to  Buchenwald concentration camp and nearby Dora labour camp for his (non-violent) Resistance activities. After the war, Rassinier ‘realized that a false picture of the German camps had been created.’ In his book,  Le passage de la ligne (Crossing the Line), published in 1948, Rassinier presented a picture of a brutal regime at both camps, but denied the belief at that time, that there were any genocidal activities there. Mainline history now accepts his testimony.


After the war Josef Ginsburg, a Jew who had been deported by the Germans, though he hadn’t been in a camp, visited and carefully examined a number of concentration and labour camps, including Auschwitz and Majdanek, and interviewed over one-hundred ex-internees. He found no evidence that gas chambers had existed and none of the ex-internees said they had seen such, and he also believed that the German word ‘Endlösung’ (final solution) as used by the Nazis referred to deportation, not extermination.


Louis Marschalko, a Hungarian nationalist, drew attention in 1958 to the use of torture to extract erroneous confessions from Nazis brought before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. He also challenged the claim by the Americans that Dachau was a death camp, asserting that the supposed gas chambers there had been constructed after the war. This version of history is also now accepted.


‘Holocaust’ revisionism enjoyed a big upswing in the 1970s. Thies Chrisopherson, a Wehrmacht officer who had been invalided out, worked at an agricultural institute near Auschwitz-Birkenau for most of 1944. In 1973 he wrote a book called Die Auschwitz Lüge (The Auschwitz Lie) in which he related that he had seen no evidence of mass exterminations. Dr Wilhelm Stäglich was stationed at Osiek, near Auschwitz-Birkenau, from July to September 1944 and visited the camp a number of times. He wrote in an article around the same time as Christophersen’s book: ‘On none of these visits did I see gassing installations, crematoria, instruments of torture, or similar horrors. The camp gave one the impression of being well-kept and very well-organized.’[3]


Richard Harwood’s Did Six Million Really Die? and Authur Butz’s The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, both published in Britain, though Butz was an American, caused an uproar. Robert Faurisson first published two original blueprints of Auschwitz in 1979 to demonstrate that no gas chambers could have existed. Much later, in 1992 David Cole, a 23-year-old secular American Jew, conducted an interview with Dr. Franciszek Piper, the Senior Curator and Archives Director of the PMO, and extracted from him an admission that Krema I (a cremation furnace) at Auschwitz had been reconstructed after the war to resemble a gas chamber. He gained Piper’s confidence by pretending to be a religious Jew seeking to refute ‘Holocaust’ revisionism.


Hayward devotes a whole chapter to Butz’s The Hoax. That is followed by another on the Institute for Historical Review, founded in the US in 1978, ‘revisionism’s prime mover and shaker’ in Hayward’s words. Chapter IV looks in great detail at the Leuchter affair. Fred Leuchter, an engineer who specialized in the design and fabrication of execution hardware for the American penitentiary system, was commissioned by the German-Canadian revisionist, Ernst Zündel, to investigate the claims of industrial scale gassings. After secretly taking samples at the supposed gas chambers and the known disinfection installations at Auschwitz and Majdanek, and having them analysed, he concluded that no extermination gas chambers had existed. Germar Rudolf, a German chemist, concluded the same in a more rigorous investigation in 1991.


Chapter V deals with David Irving, the development of his ideas, and the increasing vilification of him. Following his conversion to ‘Holocaust’ revisionism after reading the Leuchter Report, he arranged for it to be published in the UK, with predicable outrage and frantic, but unsuccessful, actions to block the publication. There was even an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons three days before the launch of the book, condemning Irving and the Leuchter Report – signed by around a hundred MPs! As Hayward points out, those signing it were unlikely to have been fully aware of the report’s contents. Later a German court convicted Irving for his views, and on this basis the Canadian Immigration Service banned him from entering Canada. Nevertheless he travelled there and managed  to give a talk, before being arrested and deported. One is left in no doubt about Hayward’s admiration for Irving.


Hayward begins his summing up by referring to the story, during the 1990-91 war, about Iraqis disconnecting incubators in a hospital in Kuwait. This was later shown to have been deliberate propaganda. Hayward gives his opinion that such claims ‘are similar in nature and substance, although not in scope, to certain Holocaust claims.’ Indeed, atrocity propaganda has become a feature of modern warfare. He goes on: ‘A careful and impartial investigation of the available evidence pertaining to Nazi gas chambers reveals that even these apparently fall into the category of atrocity propaganda.’ Moreover, German sources ‘do not appear to bear out claims that Hitler personally gave an order for the extermination of Europe's Jews. Indeed, none indicate to the present writer that the Führer wanted anything other than to drive ruthlessly the Jews out of Europe and was careless of any incidental deaths.’


Hayward quotes George Orwell: ‘At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is "not done".... Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.’


Rassinier was sued and expelled from the SFIO (French Socialist Party). Faurisson lost his position at Lyon University and was later assaulted by members of a Jewish organisation, after which he spent ten days in hospital, Stäglich lost his post as a Hamburg judge and Leuchter’s business was ruined. Zündel and Rudolf served long prison sentences. Irving, as we have seen, was convicted in Germany and deported from Canada, and more recently he did time in Austria. Cole was put under such pressure by the Jewish Defense League that he recanted.


Though at the time of writing his thesis some of these reprisals against ‘Holocaust’ revisionists were not yet known to Hayward, he cannot have had any illusions about what might happen to him by the time he had finished his research. I suspect it was partly this awareness, no doubt shared by his academic supervisor, that made him ultra-cautious in the way he presented his thesis. He turns the evidence over and over again in the attempt to achieve a perfect balance of pro and anti-revisionist arguments. To a convinced ‘Holocaust’ revisionist this becomes tiresome, particularly where the anti-revisionist position is not really an argument at all. But it is what makes Hayward’s account the best summary of the revisionist position that exists to date. For those who are beginning to entertain the possibility that there might be something wrong with what we’ve been told – and it requires, after all, at least a degree of curiosity – Hayward is the man to take you across the red line. What a pity that he cannot publicly take credit for that.


Hayward has now established himself as a military historian in England, has become a ‘moderate’ Muslim and writes poetry and fiction. He has also written a biography of Nelson. In 2012 he was appointed Professor of International and Civil Security at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi. There is no indication that he wishes to return to the subject which brought him so much suffering. Though it is difficult to imagine that he has privately reverted to orthodoxy, to all outward appearances he is now a model citizen.


[1] S. Wiesenthal, Justice: Not Vengeance Translated from the German by Ewald Osers (London: Mandarin, 1989), p. 393

[2] Worldwide Growth and Impact of 'Holocaust' Revisionism, IHR Special Report (Costa Mesa: Institute for Historical Review, 1987.

[3] Appendix II in W. Stäglich,Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence Second Edition, 1990.