about books journalism links contact2 home2
Heart of Darkness?

It is not just militant Islamists that seek to profit from the current Middle East crisis. Far-right Holocaust “revisionists” are attempting to capitalise on it too, as author Nick Ryan witnessed.


Anti-semitism is raging across the West. That at least is the impression from newspaper headlines all over Europe: Jews stabbed in Belgium, Jewish cemeteries daubed with graffiti, a pipe bomb injuring several Jewish students in a Dusseldorf station.

Not only that, but European Jews today speak of an increasingly hostile media and intellectual climate. After all, according to a recent EU survey, many Europeans thought Israel (and America) the most significant dangers to world peace.

Of course, most observers would agree that the current Middle Eastern conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has catalysed matters. It has placed anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism firmly onto the centre stage once again – long after we thought them buried with Hitler’s ashes.

For some people – the ardent Holocaust deniers (or “historical revisionists” as they like to see themselves) – now is the perfect opportunity to insinuate their views into the wider discourse. I know: I spent six years living and moving amongst such folk for my book Homeland: Into a World of Hate, a journey into the world of the extreme right.

For a long time such fascists and neo-fascists have talked about “The Jewish Problem”. And during my own travels, I witnessed this hatred of the Jews as the ideological ‘glue’ which binds together many far-right organisations, as well as links them to a wider network of other militants. Just look at the internet for shared “Zionist conspiracies” between neo-nazis and Muslims about 9/11. I’ve heard such stories many, many times.

Almost every single leader of each extreme right party I met had comments to make about “one world” governments, the fabled “East Coast [of America]” or the power of “financiers” running the world today. I met Pat Buchanan, failed presidential candidate for the Reform Party, and listened to his talk of Israel draining America’s coffers. Then I was invited to a meeting of right-wing Holocaust “revisionists” and Islamic militants in Beirut discussing revisionist issues. It was organised under the auspices of the LA-based Institute for Historical Review (IHR), a major force in the Revisionist scene.

Here in England, I met many times with Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party (BNP), a far-right group which now holds 21 local council seats and has aspirations for national and European parliament. Though he now denies anti-Semitism has any relevance to the electorate, Griffin wrote a booklet called Who are the Mindbenders?, in which he described Jewish influence over the British media. But he also attempted to deny the Holocaust, using the description the “Holohoax”.

He wrote: “I am well aware that the orthodox opinion is that six million Jews were gassed and cremated … Orthodox opinion also once held that the earth is flat… I have reached the conclusion that the ‘extermination’ tale is a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie, and latter witch hysteria.”

Griffin saw the Holocaust as a lie propagated by Jews to make money: “As your Hollywood friend is fond of remarking, ‘there’s no business like Shoah business’.” For these anti-Semitic rants, he received a two year suspended jail sentence for inciting racial hatred.

Travelling Griffin’s network of contacts in the USA, I encountered John Tiffany, a long-haired Celtic fanatic in his mid-50s and self-educated historian. He edited the Barnes Review magazine. The Barnes Review is one of the bibles of the Revisionist movement. For many years it has been controlled behind the scenes by Willis Carto, a notorious figure on the far right and founder of the Liberty Lobby pressure group.

The Barnes Review not only publishes magazines, it also organises various conferences and it was at one of these that I met Tiffany. I listened to a lecture by the infamous Fred Leuchter, who claimed to have ‘proven’ there were no gas chambers, and met the smart-dressed Germar Rudolph, who was wanted in Germany (having been sentenced in absentia to 14 months for Holocaust denial).

The Barnes Review mission statement says: TBR aims to tell you the truth—the whole truth about history—things you need to know to figure out how things got so screwed up—and why. It’s a good investment in your family’s future. No other history publication in America can truthfully say that.

A nervous, mumbling speaker, Tiffany explained: “We’re oriented towards the white race and the Germanic peoples and the Celtic peoples, primarily. We think that every race should have pride in its heritage.” When I met him he was wearing an Irish kilt.

He then described how he had got into this field via the anti-tax movement in the US. “I thought income tax was unconstitutional, Marxist and so forth, and for various reasons did not apply to the working American.” Later he added by way of explanation: “I have a compulsion, ah, to correct things that I see wrong in writing. I always have my pencil out when I’m reading anything. I always mark things up.”

Talking with him was a very matter-of-fact, mundane experience. He seemed nothing other than a slightly eccentric scholar. “It’s a fascinating thing history,” he said, as we spoke inside the sweltering Liberty Lobby offices. “You’re always finding out new things. The great thing about history is that it tells you how you got where you are. And also we can learn from the mistakes of the past and try not to repeat them in the future. For example, why did we have World War II when we’d already had World War I? Didn’t we learn our lesson then?”

“Hu-huh,” he laughed contemptuously, and rhetorically. “Obviously not.”

I asked him what ‘historical revisionism’ meant. “Well, it sort of goes back to Harry Elmer Barnes, who was our patron saint,” he answered. “He was the founder and our namesake, the inspiration for our magazine. He wrote about the causes of World War I and basically said contrary to the Establishment, it wasn’t all the German’s fault."

“History is being written by the victors, so all we hear about is the evil Germans,” he felt, his voice passionate.

"A large part of our thrust is towards correcting the ‘evil Germans’ image, the ‘German Hun’, where the Establishment not only blames them for World War I but World War II, claiming they wanted to exterminate the Jewish ‘people’ and other various peoples.”

“And this Jewish Holocaust thing, it’s become a cult in this country in particular. We call it sometimes ‘Holocaustiantiy’, a religion of Holocaust. An industry, ‘Shoah business’. But it is a kind of cult, in that it’s become this religious dogma where you can’t really question any aspect of it or else you’re considered a heretic and should be burned at the stake. That’s what we are,” he laughed, “we’re the heretics. We question everything: things that appear to be illogical, untrue or contradictory.”

I replied ‘so what?’. “Well, we’re supporting the state of Israel in the Middle East and we send them billions of dollars. And on what basis? Apparently because we’re supposed to feel guilty because of this Holocaust. Even though the United States was certainly not involved in causing this Holocaust, if anything we rescued them from it – if there was a Holocaust. Are we supposed to feel guilty because we’re white people and Germans were white people and Christians, and we’re Christians in this country and therefore we should feel guilty because we’re kin to the Germans, and the Germans are all evil?”

This obsession with the Second World War is something that unites many Revisionists, from David Irving downwards. If you look at the Barnes Review website, there are books on Nazi Germany’s Jewish soldiers, for example, or discussions of Hitler at Nuremberg (alongside the usual conspiracy theory and ancient heritage texts). All protected no doubt by the US constitutional right to freedom of speech.

“We Gemans don’t have any identity at all. We lost it after the war,” explained the soft-spoken, American-accented Horst Mahler. I met Mahler at his house in Berlin, the day after a Mayday march by over a thousand skinheads. They’d been shouting “Frei, Sozial, und Nation–aal!” as they walked, occasionally fighting with anti-fascist protesters.

Mahler was something of an oddity. He’d been a founding member of the left-wing terrorist group, the Red Army Faction (or Baader-Meinhof gang). After a 10-year spell in prison for armed robbery, he’d come out, reverted to his lawyer’s practice, then decided to join the neo-nazi Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD), defending it against a possible government ban.

Whilst Mahler initially railed against the Islamicisation of the West (and I listened to him whilst birds sang incongruously from his garden), he swiftly turned to an attack on capitalism, claiming that the ‘Jihad vs McWorld’ struggle will be the topic of this century.

“Neither capitalism nor communism, that’s what we say.” It sounded very much like the old Nazi slogans of a Third Way. "It translates as ‘volksgemeinschaft’, the community of the people,” he sought to explain.

He said that “everyone now believes that the Nazis were the Devil and who wants to give their hand to the Devil? But this will change soon.” He paused, perhaps for effect. “That’s why the government wanted to ban NPD. This social order can only be reached in the frame of a nation, so if this is national socialism it’s a good thing.”

A return to the Nazi era? “People say national socialism was all bad, only concentration camps, killing people, and this is national socialism, And if you are a national socialist you are the Devil and we can beat you. And this is untrue.”

“Of course, there were concentration camps,” he added quickly, “there were mass killings, and this should never occur again. But this is not the essence of national socialism. And now we are ready to make it clear that there is a difference between the ideology or the idea, like communism – this has slaughtered much more people than the Nazis – where everywhere in the world you can discuss about communism, whether it’s a good thing or bad thing, but you can never discuss about national socialism. Why? Why the difference?”

Like myself, Mahler had been on the guestlist for the IHR revisionist conference in Beirut. He had intricate theories on how President Roosevelt had joined the Second World War thanks to a Jewish conspiracy. He then talked about the resistance to his ideas from the “New World Order, which is dominated by the One World power now and I guess this will change very soon,” he said, ominously. “This model will be victorious all over the world and it will start here in Germany.”

One woman knows what it is like to be close to such men. She is Irene Zundel, ex-wife of the Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, a German national who’d spent many years living in Canada. Zundel had created and run the Zundelsite website, a haven for far-right discussion and thinking. He is now in jail in Canada fighting a high-profile extradition case to Germany (on charges of inciting hatred).

“Life with Ernst was always intense, and lived within the framework of being and doing everything for ‘The Cause’” said Irene. “Ernst frequently said ‘I AM The Cause’. He could not separate himself from his mission, in any fashion, not even for a moment. It literally was fused into his brain and being.”

“The atmosphere was always paranoid and conspiratorial. Ernst was considered a threat to national security and was convinced he was constantly watched, wiretapped, and plotted against from within and without. He recorded or listened to all my calls with friends and family, read every letter I wrote or received. He even had hidden cameras installed all over the common areas employees worked and socialised in. Naturally, all his woes were caused by the Jews, their plots against him, and their decades long ‘persecution’ of him.”

“But that wasn't all that drove him! You see, Ernst was born in 1939, and was six years old when the war ended. He suffered years of privation because of World War II and its aftermath. He was so constantly furious that Germany had lost her former glory, vast territory, and reputation, and had become known as a nation known for genocide of the Jews, led by a fanatical dictator.”

“In a nutshell, Ernst wants to punish all the nations that, as he puts it, ‘bombed Germany into the Stone Age’ and forced his Motherland to pay billions in reparations to the despised Jews. He wants to restore the reputation of Adolf Hitler, and usher in a revival of National Socialism. Everything he says, writes, broadcasts, and does in his personal life is geared towards accomplishing those goals.”

Such are the views and world beliefs of the men – and they are nearly always men – trying to capitalise on the pain of the Middle East today. Never again, the world once said. That hope now looks increasingly opaque.

This story was commissioned for New Internationalist magazine© 2004



You can buy this article, and seek new commissions, either by contacting me direct or my syndication agency, www.featurewell.com

Bookmark and Share


Blog: Ryan's Rants
Twitter: @ryanscribe

If you like this article...

Read how French neo-nazis and extremist Jews united to attack Muslims