After a long covid delay, my paper, “The Pre-History of American Holocaust Denial” is finally published at the journal, American Jewish History. It is part of a special double issue on American antisemitism. The roster of authors is distinguished and I’m honored and delighted to find myself in their company.
Holocaust denial is the idea that the Nazi genocide of European Jews has been greatly exaggerated or, in its most severe form, never actually happened. It is, quite correctly, labeled an extreme form of antisemitism. In the United States, the Institute for Historical Review, founded in the late 1970s. My paper focuses on the decades before that, from the end of World War II to the founding of the IHR.
Here are some of the highlights of my paper:
- Conservative publishers, Regnery, Devin-Adair, and Caxton Printers published fascist activists in the twenty years after World War II. These fascists argued that Roosevelt and Churchill, not Hitler, started the war and that the Nazis war crimes were equivalent or less destructive than the Allies.
- The libertarian Volker Fund funded some of the earliest work of Holocaust denial in the Untied States. I’ve written about a bit of this before in this space.
- The first work by an American to claim that the Nazi’s did not kill six million Jews, was written by an author while he was being paid by the Volker Fund.
- Murray Rothbard, foundational libertarian thinker, admired what he called “six million revisionism,” which was the claim that six million Jews were not killed by the Nazis.
- The infamous 1976 issue of the libertarian Reason magazine in which the Holocaust was denied was not an outlier among libertarian thought, but a continuation of the denial fostered by the libertarians since the end of World War II.
There is more, all fully documented from archival sources. All of this is not in spite of libertarian ideology but a consequence of it: they were isolationists and were perfectly willing to distort the history of World War II to suit their ends. They made active alliances with overt antisemitic, right-wing activists and, in many cases, shared their antisemitism. It is time the libertarians stopped denying their ugly history regarding Holocaust denial and started taking responsibility for it.
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