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Early American Holocaust denial

While it has been shown how early British denial literature reached an audience beyond Britain and influenced some of the most famous international Holocaust deniers of the period, it is worth exploring similarities and differences between early denial on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps the best known early American Holocaust denier is Francis Parker Yockey who, in his 1948 book Imperium, wrote:

Thousands of the people who had been killed published accounts of their experiences in these camps. Hundreds of thousands more made fortunes in postwar black markets. “Gas-chambers” that did not exist were photographed, and a “gasmobile” was invented to titillate the mechanically minded.162

The argument and tone of Yockeys denial echoes the work of the British ‘pioneer revisionists’ discussed earlier. While American, Yockey was based in Britain, with British fascists, during much of the late 1940s, and his work Imperium was published first in the UK, which likely accounts for the similarities with early British denial literature.

Like much of the denial literature published in the UK, Imperium also gained an audience among foreign sympathisers. The Frenchman Bardeche was in contact with Yockey, and they met in the winter of 1950/1951. Yockey had contacted him, and they then entered into correspondence that saw Yockey send him ‘extremely valuable documents’, which Bardeche used in Nuremberg 2 or the Counterfeiters. Yockey also sent him a copy of Imperium, which interested Bardeche ‘a great deal and to such a point that I began the translation of it’. Yockey asked to be put in contact with the most important far-right people in France, and Bardeche obliged by organising a meeting at his home with Rene Binet.163 For a period Yockey also formed transatlantic via G.L.K Smith who mentioned Yockeys Proclamation of London and his organisation, the European Liberation Front (ELF), in his newspaper The Cross and the Flag. Yockeys supporter Anthony Gannon also claims that Smith provided financial assistance to the ELF, though the relationship was to later end.164

Biographer of Yockey, Kevin Coogan, has argued that his work ‘may have been the first attempt by an American to deny the Holocaust in print’.165 However, this is incorrect, and as is the case in Britain, American denial also started earlier than is generally believed. Though not quite as early as in Britain, one can find examples of Americans denying Nazi crimes in print as soon as the war finished. One example is Leon de Aryan in his newspaper The Broom. De Aryan, born in Romania in 1886, arrived in America in 1912 following stays in Austria, Egypt and Mesopotamia, was a prominent antisemite and anti-communist on the West Coast and claimed to have the unique ability of being able to tell a communist over the phone because of the ‘gutter sound’ in their voices.166 This prominent West Coast Fascist was among those indicted during the war joining Americas leading Nazi sympathisers in the ‘Great Sedition Trial’. Just as much of the British far right believed that Jews were to blame for the start of war, so too did de Aryan. The pages of The Broom claimed that Jews secretly pushed for war, even by funding Hitler to arm and organise the Brownshirts.167 After the war it was common to find pro-Nazi articles in the paper, with one declaring, ‘Hitler is not dead in the hearts of the German people, for Hitler is not a man. Hitler is a legend. . . J The legend of Hitler is dear to the German people as a liberator from the yoke of the Rothschild clan, the usurers’.168 Unsurprisingly, the paper was vocally opposed to the ‘Nuremberg travesty’,169 greeting the Trials’ announcement with the headline, ‘Mass pogrom of 6,000,000 Nazis demanded’, obviously a reference to the 6,000,000 dead Jews.170 Any crimes that the Germans did commit were laid squarely at the feet of the Jews themselves, absurdly arguing: ‘The real instigators of war crimes are the Jews. . . .Jewish hate and sadism has poisoned the German mind. . . . The atrocities committed by Himmler’s Gestapo are nothing but the Jewish chickens come home to roost’.171 They even printed a letter from a Mr Eugen Brand that offered the novel hypothesis that Jews died not because of a systematic programme of murder by the Nazis but because

Jews were soft living people (extremely rich food and no exercise), not devoted to physical exercise or sport but coffeehouse denizens (twice a day). It is easy to understand why so many Jews died in wartime when the shortage of food became acute thru the English blockade.172

Thus, the decline in Jewish numbers was to be explained by Jewish laziness and the actions of the British. Those who suffered in concentration camps were said to be Marxists and thus legitimate targets. This was not the only fantastical hypothesis advanced in the pages of The Broom. Leon de Aryan believed:

While the Jews got their revenge at Nuremberg, it must be kept a “top-secret” that one of the conditions by which Wall Street and London, Amsterdam and

Paris financed Hitler was that he institute a reign of terror against Jews, to enrage America, “outrage” humanity.173

This is a uniquely American-centric form of Holocaust denial arguing that the primary aim of Jewish persecution by the Nazis, instigated and encouraged by Jews themselves, was to draw America into the Second World War. While printing numerous explanations for Jewish persecution, all of which were said to be the fault of the Jews, there was a consensus within the pages of The Broom that ‘in their unlimited hatred of Germany and Germans, the Jews continue to spread the lie that Hitler murdered 6 million of them’.174 The most they would concede is that the Nazis murdered just 600,000 and the number was then inflated ten times by the Jews.175

As was common in Europe among apologists for the Nazis, de Aryan and The Broom engaged in immoral equivalency arguing that both Britain and America had committed crimes equal in scale to those of the Nazis.176 They often referenced the use of rape, claiming that ‘Communist-Jewish French “white” officers’ ordered the Senegalese regiment in Stuttgart to ‘round up over 5000 German girls into the subway and rape them for 5 days’.177 In 1958 de Aryan published a long article, accompanied by a series of graphic pictures of mounds of charred bodies, telling the story of the Allied bombing of Dresden.1/8 Austin App advanced similar arguments, whose articles they occasionally published.179 The US racist newspaper White Sentinel also vocally condemned the Nuremberg Trials and defended German war criminals by condemning the chief US ‘persecutor’ for evolving ‘the strange theory that planning and conducting a war was a crime punishable by death and that a man could not absolve himself of guilt even when he acted on the direct orders of his superiors’.180 Furthermore, it argued that ‘he knew that the Communists were far more guilty of such crimes that the representatives of the German Third Reich’.181 Essentially, the American far right employed all the same tactics as their British counterparts to diminish Nazi crimes.

As the 1950s began American pioneer deniers were to be joined by an ever-increasing number of likeminded activists. In 1952 WD. Herrstrom wrote in Bible News Flashes that there were five million Jews illegally residing in America and that it was, ‘No use looking in Shickelgruber’s ovens for them. Walk down the streets of any American city. There they are’.182 G.L.K Smith, the clergyman and far-right political organiser who founded the America First Party and then The Christian Nationalist Crusade, was another source of such denial material during the first half of the 1950s. He had long been a campaigner for non-intervention in the war and sought to rationalise Hitler’s atrocities. During the prewar and war years he was joined in his attempts by other antisemites such as Lawrence R. Griffith who wrote and distributed the pamphlet Why Do yon Hate Hitler? which argued that ‘Franklin Roosevelt’s hate Hitler program and love Churchill and Stalin is nothing more than a political Jewish method of getting the public mind off' the Jew, and as a smoke screen, placing the blame on Hitlerism’.183 Griffith, Smith and antisemites like them sought to minimalise the crimes of Hitler with a view to avoiding

American intervention. Smiths biographer Glen Jeansonne states that while his views ‘might seem eccentric or comical to modern readers, millions of Americans shared them’.184 In 1940 The Nation estimated that more than 15 million people were influenced by such ideas.185 However, after the war Smith shifted from rationalising Nazi crimes to outright denial of them. A 1952 article in his newspaper, The Cross and the Flag, stated that:

The last big lie to be put over by the world propagandists was that six million Jews were killed by Hitler. This falsehood has now been exposed by the new census of Jews which shows that the world Jew population is many, many millions more than it was before World War II.186

In the following years this argument became commonplace in the pages of Smith’s newspaper, usually referring to the Holocaust and Nazi crimes as ‘the big lie’.187

Also peddling pernicious denial in the early fifties was the National Renaissance Party (NRP). The NRP was America’s first avowedly postwar fascist organisation, headed by James H. Madole.188 Writing in the National Renaissance Bulletin Kurt Mertig, leader of the Citizens’ Protective League, talked of the, ‘myth of 6,000,000 Jews killed during the Nazi regime’.189 As had others before them, the NRP played the numbers game, using figures from different sources to supposedly show that it was impossible for six million Jews to have died. ‘Where are those six million Jews who were murdered by Hitler?’James Madole asked in 1952.t9<) For him, ‘the myth concerning six million European Jews allegedly roasted and barbecued by the National Socialist government of Germany is the most colossal swindle ever perpetrated’.191 Going well beyond simply denying Nazi crimes, Madole was determined to paint the victims as the perpetrators, arguing that ‘World Jewry not the German military and political leaders who were legally butchered at the infamous Nuremberg trials were the real war criminals’.192 Any attacks against the Jews that did occur were said to be beyond reproach and legitimate: ‘National Socialist attacks on the Jews were based solely on the fact that Jews were the motivating force behind Communism in Germany. National Socialist antisemitism had nothing to do with the Jews as either a religion or a race, but was based solely on Jewish treachery’.193 Such views were increasing aired publicly by the end of the 1950s. In 1959 an article by Benjamin Freedman called ‘Six Million Jew Hoax’ appeared in the journal Common Sense, and in the same year an article in the Cross and the Flag called ‘Into the Valley of Death Rode the Six Million Or Did They?’ argued that the six million missing Jews were actually living in America.194 One can also find examples of explicit denial coming from George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party. In the late 1950s he pretended to be an ex-SS officer and fabricated a letter claiming that he knew the Nazis had performed vivisections on Jewish concentration camp inmates. A magazine published the fake article, and this was, in his eyes, definitive proof of the falsification of the Holocaust myth.195

 
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