Holocaust Denial, David Cole and CODOH


A few days ago, under our No Platform policy, we  banned a person who commented on our posts about the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. They were seeking to promote the idea that Historical Revisionism of the Holocaust was proper scholarly work and should not be confused with Holocaust denial. This visitor was wrong as “revisionists” is the term deniers use for themselves. A look at his Facebook profile showed this was not an understanding, he was a fan of the Facebook page for one of the most well known Holocaust denial sites on the Internet. In response, we banned him under our no-platform policy.

He came back, using another Facebook account, claiming we misunderstood him. Ignoring for a minute the breach of Facebook’s terms of service against using fake names and false accounts, his new comment was more explicit. He suggest there was a difference between “Holocaust denial” which he agreed was wrong, and “Holocaust revisionism” which he argued was legitimate as it made it’s arguments through books, documentaries and articles.

As already mentioned, Holocaust deniers like to refer to themselves as revisionists. They do indeed publish books and articles and create documentaries. One of the leading Holocaust deniers / revisionists is David Irving. He was called a Holocaust denier in a book by Deborah Lipstadt. Irving took Lipstadt and the publisher, Penguin Books, to court for defamation, arguing he was a serious scholar and it damaged his reputation to call him a Holocaust denier. Irving lost the case.

Judge Gray found that when it came to the murder of Jews by the Nazis, rejecting the magnitude, intention at the highest levels, and mechanisms including the gas chambers is Holocaust denial. Further, he examined Irving’s scholarship, as published in numerous books, journals and documentaries, and found that Irving, “for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence”. He found that “Irving has misstated historical evidence; adopted positions which run counter to the weight of the evidence; given credence to unreliable evidence and disregarded or dismissed credible evidence.” Further, “the nature of these misstatements and misjudgments by Irving is a further pointer towards the conclusion that he has deliberately skewed the evidence to bring it into line with his political beliefs”. The Judge also found Irving was an “active Holocaust denier; that he is anti-semitic and racist, and that he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism.” This is all based on Irving’s published books, articles and documentaries.

The post referred not to Irving, who is now widely discredited after losing both the court case and an appeal, but to David Cole and the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH). We have previously discussed both Cole and CODOH.

In 2013 the Guardian describes Cole as “a reviled Holocaust revisionist who questioned the existence of Nazi gas chambers” and exposed how we was living under another name as a high-powered Republican mover and shaker in Hollywood after he faked his own death. It also  explains how, in addition to his denial video, Cole under his alter ego became “the maker of respectable, conventional Holocaust documentaries” to earn an income. His views, however, never changed.

The Institute for Historical Review (IHR) is responsible for many of the books and articles on “Holocaust revisionism”. It was founded in 1978 by David McCalden formerly of the British National Front, and Willis Carto head of the Liberty Lobby, both antisemitic organisations. It is considered by many scholars to be the centre of the international Holocaust denial movement . The UK’s Channel 4 described it as a “pseudo-academic body based in the United States which is dedicated to denying that the Holocaust happened”.

The Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH) notes they were founded in 1987 by people associated with the Institute for Historical Review. The founders were Bradley Smith, a former “Media Project Director” for IHR, and the then leader of IHR Mark Weber. CODOH initially distributed material on university campuses and sought to get Holocaust denial articles published in student newspapers. It became an early user of the Internet and promoted Holocaust denial online by publishing electronic copies of the material it originally promoted on university campuses. As the ADL explains, CODOH then switch to running small ads in college newspapers which gave its web address and sought to draw people in with text like “Ignore the Thought Police” and “Judge for yourself” requiring people to follow the link to find out what it was about. CODOH has over the years given significant prominence to David Irving.

For those interested in understanding Holocaust denial and distortion, we encourage you to read the short Working Definition of Holocaust Denial and Distortion at the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. For more information on countering Holocaust denial, we suggest the Holocaust Denial on Trial website.

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