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American influence in Britain

Just as the work of Britons found its way abroad, so too did foreign denial literature and writers find an audience in Britain. Major General Fuller, for example, wrote to Liddell Hart praising the work of Harry Elmer Barnes for being ‘most illuminating’ though he felt, in reference to Barnes’ work on the historical blackout, that ‘the blackout over here is much blacker than in the U.S’.56 Fuller was not alone in admiring the work of Barnes, with Captain Russell Grenfell quoting from him and describing him as a ‘distinguished American historian’ in his 1954 book Unconditional Hatred.57 Barnes returned the favour describing Grenfell’s book as ‘one of the really great books of our time’.58 He was not alone in America in his admiration, with the far-right newspaper The Cross and Flag lauding Unconditional Hatred as ‘a tremendous book’?9 It was also being sold by the American fascist National Renaissance Party in the back of National Renaissance Bulletin.60

However, the transnational nature of early Holocaust denial went beyond mere admiration, and there are examples of prominent American Holocaust deniers actively cooperating with the British far right. The best-known example is Francis Parker Yockey who worked for Oswald Mosley’s Union Movement, employed as part of the European Secretariat.61 The UM also seconded the services of the leading American Holocaust denier Austin App to write for the party’s newspaper. App lacked the moderation and academic credibility of his compatriot Elmer Barnes and had been a member of numerous German-American groups with a history of defending the Nazis.62 As Lipstadt has explained, App’s Holocaust denial was more developed and more explicit much earlier than Barnes’.63 This is backed up by a series of letters written by App dating from the war years and in its immediate aftermath. Writing to Mr F. P. Kenkel at the Social Justice Review in 1945, App argued that the crimes of the Nazi regime ‘were no greater than those of dozens of other countries and much less than those of Russia’ and that the Allied policy of unconditional surrender ‘was a greater atrocity than any attributed to Hitler’.64 He regularly used terms such as ‘so-called war criminals’ and ‘the German so-called offenders’.65 Even as early as this his determination to negate German crimes cannot be put down to ignorance of them. The concentration camps had been liberated, and news had reached America, notably via the now famous issue of Life Magazine that showed pictorial evidence from Belsen and told its readers:

Last week the jubilance of impending victory was sobered by the grim facts of the atrocities which the Allied troops were uncovering all over Germany. For 12 years since the Nazis seized power, Americans have heard charges of German brutality. Made sceptical by World War I “atrocity propaganda,” many people refused to put much faith in stories about the inhuman Nazi treatment of prisoners. . . . [But] With the armies in Germany were four LIFE photographers. . . . The things [their photos] show are horrible.66

By May 1945, with the help of articles such as this, 93% of Americans believed the atrocity stories to be true, thereby making App’s position a marginal one.”7

The ever-increasing body of evidence that emerged in the immediate postwar period did nothing to alter App’s position confirming his inherent bias. This bias is clearly evident in a series of vitriolic articles he wrote for the Cross and the Flag. A core aspect of his writing regarded the treatment of women by the Soviets. The issue was a legitimate one considering the widespread abuse and rape of women by the Red Army during and after the war. However, he used the issue to reduce the uniqueness of the Holocaust and to deflect blame from the Germans for their war crimes and place it on the Allies: ‘While Americans kept screeching for a harsher and harsher peace, their unconditional surrenderism had delivered German women helplessly into mass Eurasian beastiality’.68 In fact, he felt that the treatment of German women by the Soviets far outweighed any atrocities committed by the Nazis and that it happened

under the smirking conspiracy of silence of the conniving Anglo-American governments . . . and was thoroughly smokescreened by sadistically ballyhooed war-crimes trials, atrocity films, executions of Germans, who committed no atrocities which the Anglo-Americans did not commit or hold military justifiable, and whose crimes in any case did not include the most beastly of atrocities, the one utterly and ever without any possible military necessity, the mass outraging and the lust-murder of women.69

This argument was fleshed out in his 1950 pamphlet German Women in Russian Hands.

More generally App was critical of the Nuremberg Trials and the prosecution of German prisoners, which he described as ‘Judaistic revenge barbarism’.70 His 1947 pamphlet History’s Most Terrifying Peace concisely summed up his position with the opening line asking, ‘Who committed the greatest crime of this age? The Italians, Japanese, or Germans? Wrong. It is the Allies’.71 Unsurprisingly, these pro-German sentiments caught the eye of the British far right, and App began to write for Union, the newspaper of Mosley’s Union Movement. He contributed a number of articles on numerous topics including the immorality of forced German disarmament.72 Raven Thomson,73 the Editor of Union, wrote to App in 1950 upon receipt of one of his articles, stating, ‘It is very good to hear once again from such a good friend in the States, and one who really understands what it is that we are striving for on this side, which very few Americans seem to appreciate’.74 App went on to be one of America’s leading Holocaust deniers with his so-called eight incontrovertible assertions and became ever more open in his denial of Nazi crimes with the publication of works such as The Six Million Swindle: Blackmailing the German people for hard marks with fabricated corpses. He spent the last years of his life active in the Institute of Historical Review.75 His influence on the British far right went well beyond his period writing for Union as he ‘inspired a generation’of Holocaust deniers such as Arthur Butz who later influenced the British National Front.76 These early transatlantic networks were symbiotic and just as early British denial literature found an audience in American and Europe, early American deniers influenced the scene in Britain.

Interestingly, many of the works discussed previously were not just influential at the time but became core texts within the denial movement with their influence often lasting to this day. Dr Michael F. Connors’ influential denial work Dealing in Hate, published in 1966 by the notorious antisemitic Britons publishing house and later reissued in America by the Institute of Historical Review, is still circulated to this day. Among the books on its short recommended reading list are: Grenfell’s Unconditional Hatred, Veale’s Advance to Barbarism and War Crimes Discreetly Veiled, Captain Ramsay’s The Nameless War, Arnold Leese’s The Jewish War of Survival and Harry Elmer Barnes’ Blasting the Historical Blackout.71 Connors’ use of early British denial literature in Dealing in Hate, published by the IHR into the 1990s and still available on its website, is proof of the continuing influence of early British Holocaust deniers.

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