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Posted Monday, July 13, 1998


WE REPRODUCE with permission (see below) this article by MICHAEL SHERMER from the latest issue of Skeptic magazine. It throws into sharp relief the problems still encountered by those writing Real History :






IT HAS BEEN several years since Skeptic reported on the activities of the Holocaust revisionists (see Skeptic V.2, #4).

On Saturday, March 28, 1998, Michael Shermer attended the Institute for Historical Review's (IHR) latest conference, featuring noted author and sometime revisionist David Irving, and a mathematician named Costas Zaverdinos from the University of Natal, in South Africa. About 130 people attended the lectures, from 6:30-9:30 pm in Costa Mesa, California. The evening began with an IHR update and request for donations from IHR Associate Director Greg Raven and Director Mark Weber.

Raven reminded the attendees that this marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the IHR, then briefly summarized their legal battles with rival Willis Carto, which they anticipate something decisive happening in another three to six months. He also announced that they had finally been granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status by the IRS, after considerable difficulty. Raven discussed their progress on the internet, noting that they now have their own domain name,, and that their goal is to create a research facility where documents can be archived, press clippings organized, and their library be made available for research by World War II historians. The IHR plans to be around in 50 years, but to do so they must raise an estimated $2 million, starting with hoped-for donations from the evenings' attendees.

Mark Weber began his presentation by observing that on the United States entry visa application you must declare that you did not participate in the Nazi regime. Weber concluded that it is unfair that the Nazis have been singled out and that, for example, other groups have not been targeted, such as Communists.

Why, Weber asked, do we have this double standard where only persecution of the Jews is targeted on the visa entry application, but no one else?


Would the Chinese, for example, require entering Americans to sign a statement that they did not participate in the Korean War? Why, Weber continued, do we support Clinton's justification for conflict against Iraq for their crime of defying the U.N., but we do not hold Israel to the same standard when they defied the U.N. in refusing to withdraw from Lebanon 20 years ago? Weber noted that denying the Holocaust in Israel could result in a five-year jail sentence, whereas denying God only results in a one-year sentence. The bottom line is that "the traditional enemy of truth" receive special status in America whereas almost everyone else is given an inferior status. In Washington D.C., Weber concluded (repeating himself from four years earlier), the United States has built a museum for foreign victims who suffered at the hands of a foreign regime in a foreign land.

IrvingThe highlight of the evening was David Irving, who has become something of a celebrity amongst this group. Irving was set up at the back of the room with his numerous books, including his latest works on Goebbels and the Nuremberg trials. In a box and under glass Irving had an original self-portrait sketch of and by Hitler himself, given to Irving by one of Hitler's assistants whom he had interviewed for his research. He autographed books with a backdrop of large color posters of Hitler and his generals. He and several attendees conversed in German, and one elderly gentleman handed him a check "for the fight against our traditional enemy." Irving began his lecture by, paradoxically, distancing himself from the revisionists, saying that he does "alternative history," or "real history." He gave out his web page address ( on which one can find updates on his various activities and fights against "the traditional enemy" (the buzz phrase of the evening). He received an enthusiastic applause when he announced that no matter what the "traditional enemy" did to him, he was in the fight for the duration.


ChurchillIrving then segued into discussing his next volume, due out in June, on Winston Churchill. There is compelling evidence, Irving claimed, that Churchill knew about the planned attack on Pearl Harbor in time to notify the Americans, but that he chose not to in order to galvanize the American public into joining the British fight against the Nazis.

Irving based his conclusion on the now famous "winds" message, a coded message from Japan to the various Japanese embassies, which both the Americans and the British were deciphering. These messages were disguised as weather reports, such as "east wind strong," which meant war against the U.S. and Great Britain.

Irving implied that it is even possible that Roosevelt knew about the attack ahead of time and chose not to alert Pearl Harbor, in order to squelch the noninterventionist followers of Charles Lindbergh, who felt that America should stay out of any further European entanglements.

The evidence for these claims, however, depends on triangulating numerous diary passages, letters, telegrams, and possibly altered documents, all presented in his next book.

The strongest conclusion one can draw from what Irving has found in the archives, however, still seems to be, at best, a definite maybe.



Following the lecture Irving explained to Michael Shermer that he is suing Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt, author of Denying the Holocaust, along with the British publishing arm of Penguin books (who published her book in England), for libel.


LipstadtIrving is suing Lipstadt in England because English libel laws are much stiffer than they are in America. Specifically, Irving says Lipstadt told the following lies about him (quoted from David Irving's Action Report, December 1, 1997):

  • that Mr. Irving sits under a portrait of Adolf Hitler in his London study.
  • that he stole or destroyed the Moscow Goebbels-microfiches.
  • that he engaged to speak alongside Louis Farrakhan and Hezbollah terrorist leaders in Stockholm, Sweden, (and then failed to show up).

He says that Lipstadt and Penguin are having to be hauled kicking and howling into the Law Courts in London; they have delayed, dawdled, and dragged their feet at every possible opportunity. He has now obtained an Order from a High Court judge forcing them to undergo the same revealing process of discovering documents. Their barrister, Victoria Sharp, told the judge that she expects the case to last six weeks, as she will be calling scores of Holocaust survivors.


"I shall slap down that kind of extravaganza," says Mr. Irving. "This trial is not about whether or not Jews were persecuted in WWII (they were), but whether or not Lipstadt recklessly and maliciously peddled her lies about me, on orders from Yad Vashem and various other Holocaust educational trusts."

The most surprising news of the evening, however, was the revelation that former Jewish Holocaust revisionist David Cole, who appeared live on Donahue with fellow revisionist Bradley Smith and Skeptic publisher Michael Shermer, has recanted his revisionism.

The context, however, is extremely questionable.

The retraction followed a Jewish Defense League Web page article by Robert J. Newman, entitled "David Cole: Monstrous Traitor," equating Cole with "a sickness," "a mental disease" and "a human parasite who clings to his ardent Nazi supporters and friends who back his ideas whole-heartedly." The JDL article concludes:

"Don't you think it's time that we flush this rotten, sick individual down the toilet, where the rest of the waste lies? One less David Cole in the world will certainly not end Jew-hatred, but it will have removed a dangerous parasitic, disease-ridden bacteria from infecting society."

This article was followed by an announcement of a Reward for Information:

"JDL wants to know the location of Holocaust denier David Cole, pictured above. Anyone giving us his correct address will receive a monetary reward."

Subsequently, a "Statement of David Cole," dated January 2, 1998, appeared on the JDL Web page in which Cole stated that everything he previously believed about Holocaust revisionism is false, and that he now believes the standard history as given in standard Holocaust books.


He explained that

"during my four years as a denier, I was wracked with self-hate and loathing…the hate I had for myself I took out on my people…I was seduced by pseudo-historical nonsense and clever-sounding but empty ideas and catch-phrases."

He concluded

"I am sorry for what I did, and I am sorry for the hurt I caused. This statement is made freely and under no duress, and is quite willingly, even happily, given to Mr. Irv Rubin of the Jewish Defense League for the widest possible distribution."

The David Cole signature, says the Web page notice, is notarized.

Something is amiss here. Assuming he really did pen the retraction, is it possible that this was done out of fear for his life, given the implications in the statement above? According to Irv Rubin, interviewed on April 6, 1998:

It was not a hit or a contract on him. We just wanted to find out what he was doing and get an update. We didn't know if he had really quit the Holocaust denial movement and we just wondered where he was. We wanted to sit down face to face with him to find out what he was doing.

I eventually tracked him down by phone and had numerous conversations with him. He begged me to take him off the Web page, explaining that he was worried that someone would take the internet posting as a hit or contract on his life. He has moved to Michigan and is taking care of a sick relative and he is worried something bad will happen. He sent us a couple of hundred dollars to help us get Bradley Smith to quit selling his videos. He says the videos are a fraud and a fake.


Rubin also reiterated Cole's belief that the IHR would have folded long ago were it not for the sale of over 30,000 copies of a videotaped debate between Mark Weber and Michael Shermer and therefore, Cole concluded to Rubin, Shermer is responsible for the continuation of the IHR.

Weber responded:

"That's ridiculous. We have sold a thousand, maybe two at most. The IHR is sustained by donations from supporters, subscribers to the journal, and the sale of all of our books and tapes. Our bestselling item is Butz's book, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century."

When asked if it was possible that Cole wrote the retraction in order to protect himself, Rubin responded:

I stake my personal credibility on his conversion. It is a result of the fact that someone made him see the light of day. Someone offered him stone cold proof of the Holocaust and so he converted. He realized he was previously distorting. I know it for a fact because I had a fist fight with him at UCLA and he was humiliated. For a guy to turn around and send me $200 cash he must really mean it.

He has total contempt for Bradley Smith and Ernst Zündel. I had great trepidation until I saw the notary stamp with the letter. People do make these radical changes. I think the guy is sincere. In correspondence with me he says he quit the denial movement three years ago, and we only put out our materials on the Internet a year ago.

Nevertheless, Rubin concluded his remarks by reiterating that Cole "was deadly afraid for his life, that someone would find him and shoot him."


According to the IHR, this interpretation on Cole's part would not be inappropriate, since the FBI has labeled the JDL as a terrorist organization. Rubin says that the FBI has lifted the "terrorist" charge, which they put on the JDL in 1985. It has been suggested in IHR literature that the JDL might be responsible for the 1984 firebombing of their headquarters, although Weber admits this has never been proven. Rubin denies the charge.

After numerous phone messages Cole finally called the Skeptics Society office shortly before midnight on April 10, asking Art Director Pat Linse to hang up so he could leave a voice message, which he did:

"Now listen up because this is going to be my only communication with you. Originally I didn't plan to answer your calls but after talking with Irv Rubin, whose counsel I have come to trust over the past few months, I've realized that my silence might be misconstrued by you as an attempt to distance myself from the statement I gave to the Jewish Defense League making clear my changed position on the Holocaust. So to that end let me make it absolutely crystal clear that that statement is a completely accurate summary of my present views. It was made willingly by me and was in no way the result of threat or blackmail or some kind of contract that was out on me. The people making that claim are either mistaken or are purposefully trying to make trouble for me. My refusal to return your calls was due to my personal opinion of you and your methods. This will be my only communication with you. Please refrain from calling anymore."

David Cole's retraction is so unlike anything previously produced by him that a healthy dose of skepticism is called for until further data can be gathered.


 © 1998. Reprinted with permission from Skeptic magazine, Vol. 6, #1.

For further information contact: Michael Shermer, P.O. Box 338, Altadena, Ca 91001; 626/794-3119;

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