November/December 1993, Volume 13, number
6, page 18
Lunch With George Will
Influential Journalist Twists the Truth
by Mark Weber
a syndicated column that appears in several hundred
daily papers, regular appearances on ABC
television's "This Week With David
Brinkley," several successful books, and
well-paid appearances on the lecture circuit,
George F. Will has a deserved reputation as
one of America's most influential commentators on
So when his secretary phoned to ask me to meet
with him for lunch, I was both hopeful and wary:
Hopeful about the good that could possibly come
from such a meeting; Wary because, given his
well-known biases, he might distort whatever I say
or do as part of a smear.
Still, I was optimistic, in part because his
secretary had assured me that Will merely wanted to
meet and talk. She indicated that this would not be
From the outset of our August 19 
luncheon meeting, Will made clear that he was
interested in revisionist motives (or what he
believes them to be), not revisionist arguments.
Indeed, at one point he said that it is not the
truth or validity of what a revisionist says that
determines whether it is evil, but rather his
In response to a question early on, Will told me
that he had read the issues of this Journal and
other IHR material I had sent him prior to our
meeting. It was quickly, even embarrassingly
obvious, though, that he was either lying, or was
not able to understand what he had read.
When I asked Will if he
considered himself to be well informed about the
Holocaust, he replied that he did -- citing
visits to the sites of some of the wartime
German camps, and his reading of a good bit of
was struck by what Will (right) did not know
about this subject. He was completely unfamiliar
with the Einsatzgruppen -- the special
German security police units that operated in the
occupied Soviet territories. He did not know (or
remember) that Anne
Frank -- along with others in her family --
had "survived" internment in Auschwitz.
(She died later in Bergen-Belsen
camp, a victim of typhus.)
He confirmed that he accepts as accurate and
reliable the often-cited "testimony"
of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss.
Will acknowledged that he did not know that this
important piece of Holocaust evidence was obtained
by torture, and that, on a number of key points, it
is not even consistent with the current version of
the Auschwitz extermination story.
He said that he also accepts as authentic the
frequently quoted but now thoroughly discredited
"testimony" of Hermann Rauschning. Will made
clear that he was not aware of the many German
wartime documents that plainly show that the "Final
Solution" policy was not one of extermination.
It soon became obvious during the course of our
conversation that Will is unable or unwilling to
view Holocaust claims with the same refined
skepticism with which he critically dissects so
many other official and historical claims.
I reminded Will of something he had written
about Auschwitz a decade earlier. In his
Washington Post syndicated column of March
10, 1983, he told readers:
You could tell from the smoke the sort
of persons consumed in the crematoria. Newcomers
to Auschwitz, who still had some fat on their
bones, made black smoke. Persons who had been
there for awhile made white smoke. There: that
is an emblematic fact of 20th century politics.
What Will calls an "emblematic fact" is, rather,
an instructive fable, and the way he cites it not
only points up the reverential, even awestruck way
he regards the Holocaust story, but shows his
careless disregard for facts.
When I told him that this statement is simply
not true -- that in fact crematory chimneys give
off no flame and almost no smoke -- he asked me how
I know this. I explained that I had studied the
matter, and had spoken with crematory managers --
adding that anyone who takes a little time to look
into this question can determine the truth for
WILL responded by somewhat snidely asking if the
Auschwitz crematories were like those at Forest
Lawn. In reply, I explained that the crematories at
Auschwitz were of the standard design used
throughout Germany during the war years. Will
responded with silence.
then asked Will for his source for this anecdote,
adding that in all the reading I have done on this
subject, I had never come across any other mention
of this particular story. Will replied that he
couldn't remember, but that it was something an
Auschwitz inmate (perhaps Elie
Wiesel, right, he mentioned) had
said or written.
Will's rigid bias with regard to the Holocaust
story and Israel is no secret. Even William
Buckley, himself a staunch friend of Israel and
Zionist interests, has taken note of what he calls
Will's "perverse" partisanship with regard to these
matters. (The Washington Post, Jan. 27,
1987.) With regard to the Holocaust issue, wrote
the founder of National Review magazine,
"Will is losing sight of rather a lot of things."
Buckley took exception to a reference by Will to
the "Vatican's contemptible behavior toward the
George Will begins any discussion on the Middle
East, Buckley wrote, "by siding with Israel on
every single point." He went on: "The problem with
devising peaceful solutions in the Mideast, where
George Will is concerned, is that there he sees
only a single position: Israel's -- at all times,
in all places. George sometimes sounds a little
like Rabbi Kahane" (founder of the terrorist
Jewish Defense League).
As part of a discussion with Will about the
double standard that prevails in America with
regard to the Holocaust story, I mentioned the ban
against Austrian President Kurt Waldheim. He
was barred from this country, I pointed out, even
though no evidence of his personal involvement in
any atrocity or war crime has ever come to light.
At the same time, I went on, American presidents
have rolled out the red carpet for Israeli leaders
Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir --
each of whom has a well-documented record as a
Will had no comment,
but when I asked him if he agrees that Waldheim
should be barred from the United States, he said
yes. When I asked on what basis he deserves to
be banned, Will replied: because Waldheim is a
"suspected war criminal."
Will said at one point that he has been
particularly impressed with the presentation in
Claude Lanzmann's film "Shoah" of the
"testimony" of Treblinka
camp barber Abraham Bomba. Contrary to the
impression given in the film, I responded, this
"testimony" is actually a staged recitation, the
absurdity of which should be obvious to any really
Will himself seems to understand this, at least
implicitly. Writing in a November 1985 column, he
apparently concluded that Bomba's claim to have cut
hair of doomed Jews inside the Treblinka "gas
chamber" is not credible, deciding instead to shift
the action to "the threshold of the gas chamber."
(Lanzmann's nine-and-a-half hour film
"Shoah," wrote Will in that 1985 column, is
"the noblest use to which cinema -- the technology,
the techniques -- has been put, ever.")
At one point, and suddenly changing the subject,
Will asked me why I think that anti-Semitism
exists. I said that this is a complex issue, and
that a better way to put it might be to ask why
hostility toward Jews has persisted over so many
centuries, and in so many different cultures.
I went on to say that I largely agreed with what
Theodor Herzl, the founder of the modern
Zionist movement, had written (in The Jewish
State) on this issue. I mentioned that Herzl,
along with many others, often referred to the
relationship between Jews and non-Jews in society
as "the Jewish question." (Grossly misrepresenting
this aspect of our conversation in his column, Will
also pretentiously cited the German term,
Judenfrage, as if this version is somehow more
When I put this same question to Will, he
expressed the view that the phenomenon of
anti-Semitism is probably rooted in Christianity,
but said that he is completely unable to explain
why it has persisted through the centuries. "Why is
there is no 'Baptist question'?," he rhetorically
asked, an exclamation that is either disingenuous
or manifests intellectual poverty.
Near the conclusion of our meeting, Will spoke
-- in a tone almost of exasperation -- of having
once stood in a Birkenau barracks with a former
inmate who pointed out the exact place where she
had once slept. He cited this anecdote as
particularly compelling reason for his belief in
the Holocaust story.
While I didn't expect the column that Will said
he would write about our meeting would be
flattering, I was surprised at just how
mean-spirited and inaccurate it turned out to be.
He was unwilling even to concede my sincerity. (The
column appeared in The Washington Post on
August 29,  and in dozens of other
daily papers on or about the same day.)
As unfair as it was, on balance it was probably
more helpful than harmful. It at least made many
more people (most of them relatively well-educated)
aware of the growing skepticism about the orthodox
Holocaust story. And he paid for my lunch.
Letters of response from the IHR were published
in perhaps half a dozen of the papers in which
Will's column had appeared. It was also gratifying
to note that letters from other revisionists taking
issue with Will on this matter appeared in at least
several daily papers.
George Will's attitude about the Holocaust issue
is, unfortunately, all too typical of millions of
relatively well-educated Americans today. His smug
sense of moral and intellectual certainty about
this subject is characteristic of the close-minded
who know just enough about this trendy subject to
pronounce on it with arrogance. The self-righteous
and almost reverential way he writes about "the
Holocaust" is not merely fashionable these days, it
is all but obligatory -- particularly for a
successful commentator on current affairs.
Will's column concludes with the "good news that
this year two million people" will visit the U.S.
government's new "Holocaust Memorial Museum" in
Washington, DC. In the end, though, it will be
neither such state-sponsored temples nor the
motives of revisionists that matter, but rather the
historical reality -- which cannot be suppressed
A Letter to George
George F. Will
1208 Thirtieth St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20007
Dear Mr. Will,
I did not expect a friendly report by you of our
conversation over lunch, I was surprised at just
how mean-spirited, unfair and intellectually
dishonest your column turned out to be.
You attribute words to me that are either
invented or are crass distortions of remarks ripped
from their context. You attribute the following
sentence to me: "Anti-semitic and anti-democratic,
Hitler understood the necessity for severely
hierarchical and racially homogenous nations." I
said no such thing. For you to then go on to write
that "applying these ideas, Weber says ..." only
adds to the dishonesty.
I did not say that Hitler was "the most
philosophical" figure of the 20th Century. What I
said was that he was probably the most
philosophical of the great political figures of his
time. (As I recall, I added that Churchill
is a possible exception.)
Your presentation of what I said to you about
Hitler gives an utterly false impression of my view
of the man. (You may recall my remark to you that
your own statements to me about Hitler could, if
taken out of context, be taken as praise for the
Your assertion that "the deniers 'arguments'
always return to what Weber, like the Nazis, calls
'the Jewish question' "is likewise inaccurate and
dishonest. As you will recall, it was you who first
raised the issue of relations between Jews and
Your portrayal of the arguments of Holocaust
"deniers" is grotesquely inaccurate. No serious
revisionist has ever claimed that "Zyclon-B
[sic] gas was too weak to kill." Your
contention that revisionists claim that gas from
Zyklon was "too powerful to use for mass murder" or
that "the gas chambers were really showers" is
likewise a gross misrepresentation. You have
obviously not taken the time to familiarize
yourself -- even superficially -- with the findings
and arguments of revisionist scholars. Apparently
you have simply relied on Lipstadt's
grossly distorted portrayal of revisionist
arguments [in her book, Denying the
What you wrote about an IHR Journal
advertisement for Ingrid Weckert's book
about the "Crystal Night" is similarly dishonest.
Contrary to what you suggest, neither the
advertisement, nor Weckert's book, contend that
"the Jews" benefitted from that outburst of
violence on November 9th (not 6th), 1938. While you
chide a young reporter for his/her failure to read
Lipstadt's book, it is obvious that you have not
read the book by Weckert you inaccurately
Finally, your assertion that I "torture the past
in the hope of making the future safe for
torturers" is simply contemptible.
You should be ashamed of yourself for writing
such a column.
Photo: Mark Weber speaks at Costa Mesa in
LETTERS from individual revisionists, and from
IHR Journal editor Weber, responding to George
Will's polemic were published in several of the
papers in which the syndicated column had appeared.
The entire text of the IHR's response was published
in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and in the St.
Petersburg (Florida) Times. In most cases,
though, only a portion of the full text
Will's column, and Weber's response, touched off
an exchange of views in the "readers' letters"
section of the San Francisco Chronicle,
including a commentary by an ADL
official and this follow-up letter by Weber
(published September 15), that included the IHR
address. It resulted in about sixty letters and
postcards to the IHR from readers seeking further
information. Typical was this comment: "Thanks for
your letter to the editor. You are the biggest
secret around. Please send me your
Will's Ethics: None of Our Business?
New York Times:
Friendship and Business Blur in the World of a
Irving, Radical's Diary April 18, 2000: "...
because the Satellite link is off"
Will: Faux historians' political agendas deserve