To Whom Does History Belong (if Anybody)?

[]British historian Dr John P Fox, eminent historian of the Holocaust and former Foreign Office historian, has joined the debate on the claimed sole entitlement of Jewish historians to write the history of their own World War II tragedy. We join the Internet debate at the uproar caused by a trenchant letter which he had posted on March 29, 1998, as below:-
Dr John P Fox:

In the postings for 26 March Neil Gregor wrote about the London-based The Journal of Holocaust Education being "a relatively young journal which some colleagues may not yet have come into contact with". This calls for some comment.

The JHE is the result of a "re-launch" under that title in late 1995 of what, from 1992/93 to 1995, had been known as The British Journal of Holocaust Education, likewise published by Frank Cass, London, on behalf of two Jewish organisations in London. I was the sole founding editor, sole review editor, sole copy editor, and sole correspondence secretary of the BJHE, using only my own facilities in my home for the production of the journal before it went to the publishing house.

The BJHE as such came to an end as of March 1995 when I resigned my unpaid position(s) as editor etc. I did so because in February 1995 a nasty little plot had been hatched behind my back by a group of Jews to ensure that Jewish hands "guided" so-called "Holocaust education" in the UK -- helped by such a journal as the BJHE -- and not the non-Jewish hands of mine.

At a specially convened meeting new proposals for the editorial management of the journal were discussed, some of which I agreed with. On the other hand, and as "the penny dropped", it became clear that what was really intended was that one person in particular should have a "special relationship" with the publisher which, together with other developments, would have meant placing a zero above any editorial control I might then have been able to exercise -- in effect reducing my position to that of general office dogsbody.

There are more serious concerns about what happened to me in February 1995 which relate even now to such matters as Robert Wistrich's strident and neo-Orwellian review of Albert Lindemann's book, " Esau's Tears" in the March edition of Commentary, and of reports one reads of Daniel Goldhagen's threats to all and sundry not to criticise him or his book, Hitler's Willing Executioners, if they wish to avoid legal action being taken against them.

Those concerns relate to the issue of free speech and whether the subject of "the Holocaust", and indeed that of modern Jewish history, should apparently only be a domain monopolised by Jews and in which non-Jews "may" only be "welcomed" if they pursue lines of thought which are "acceptable" to certain Jews.

In the letter I circulated in March 1995 to twenty-four people whom I had previously thought of as colleagues and friends -- but never more -- I put it plainly that the reason for the underhand moves against me over the BJHE was because on 3 and 10 February 1995 I published letters in The Times, The Guardian, and the Jewish Chronicle which defended, on the basis of archival documents as against recent hysterical emotional outbursts in the press, Britain's wartime position on the issue of Nazi Germany and the Jews.

Two things are significant. First, one of those who acted behind my back in February 1995 and whose "new" position with the journal was to be specially "special", had previously been continuously vociferous in the press about how "wicked" Britain had been over its alleged negative policies towards the Jews of Europe during the Second World War. Second, not one single correspondent of those twenty-four recipients of my letter argued against my standpoint.

All the time I had been editor of the BJHE, I made it clear that I would not permit anything to be published which did not meet the highest standards which I felt were basic for such a journal. Previously, that policy of mine had greatly upset one of the friends of the nasty little cabal which acted against me in February 1995, my rejection of his article resulting one summer in an attempt by the others to "gang bang" me into "submission" -- but I resisted and rejected such untoward pressures. Significantly, the first issue of the "new" JHE emphasised how thereafter, that journal was to be less scholarly oriented than I had made the BJHE.

Jewish Chronicle 1989While we are on the subject of how certain people wish to control, absolutely, what is published, how and when, on any aspect of the Nazi Third Reich and the Jews, let me relate this other appalling incident.

At the end of 1991 at a meeting of the United Kingdom Yad Vashem Educational and Academic Sub-Committee (held in the premises of the Board of Deputies of British Jews), and where as usual I was the only non-Jew present, concern was expressed at reports that Macmillan & Co. were due to publish David Irving's biography of Joseph Goebbels. The chairman, a survivor of Nazi policies in Poland -- again, someone I had always thought of as a friend but after February 1995 never again -- asked me to "intervene" with Macmillan to get them to cancel their reported publication of the book.

I refused point-blank. As a citizen of the United Kingdom, David Irving had and has the rights common to all other citizens to publish what he wants. If people don't like what he writes, that's one thing. But it is another altogether to try to stop the publication of anything by him or anyone else, simply because certain people "think" they won't like the publication.

Indeed, this is what makes the final paragraph of Robert Wistrich's indubitably nasty review of the Lindemann book - a publication which I find eminently sensible throughout - so sinister because it is by no means an isolated incident.

Dr John P Fox. Lecturer in Jewish History, and Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Jews' College London, and University College London.
March 30, 1998

Professor Paul Rose:

JOHN FOX'S nasty tirade about the British Jewish conspiracy to prevent non-Jews speaking out against the Holocaust cannot go unanswered.

I would point to the fact that Elisabeth Maxwell and other British non-Jews are highly regarded and have an extremely visible presence in Britain in the field of Holocaust education. Such independent minds cannot be written off as pawns of the Jews.

Moreover, I myself invited Dr Fox to speak at a conference at the University of Haifa in (I think, 1989) at which he retailed his usual apologies and excuses for the heartlessness of British policies towards Holocaust victims and the Palestine Mandate and the rescue of Jews.

(Dr Fox has long been known as a former unofficial spokesman for the British Foreign Office, as in the case of his notorious hostile review of Bernard Wasserstein's model study of "Britain and the Jews of Europe 1939-45", a book which was warmly received by British reviewers including non-Jewish ones).

Dr Fox's difficulties are of his own making.

Paul Lawrence Rose Mitrani Professor of Jewish Studies and History The Pennsylvania State University Weaver Building 108 University Park PA 16802 Ph: 814 865 1367; FAX 814 865 6204
Fox did not use the word "conspiracy." But here are some relevant links:

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