Bradley Smith, who has tried to promote “open debate on the Holocaust” for decades, is at it again. In a new campaign, he is trying to run ads in college newspapers asking why prominent historians do not answer his request to provide, “with proof, the name of one person who was killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz.” He claims he has asked this question to more than 2000 scholars and none have provided a satisfactory answer. So now he is taking his question directly to students. His implication is that there is no answer, that the Holocaust is a fraud.
Engaging Smith on this question is futile. Smith is a Holocaust denier. He has admitted in his private newsletters that he is committed to spreading “revisionism.” He has also admitted that he specifically targets students because they are more likely to be taken in by his propaganda. “They are superficial...they are empty vessels to be filled,” he famously said in 1991.
Like all Holocaust deniers, he refuses to accept eyewitness testimony of mass killings of Jews.
“Many of these [eyewitness] testimonies are ludicrously unreliable….History is filled with stories of masses of people claiming to be eyewitnesses to everything from witchcraft to flying saucers…” (Bradley Smith, “The Holocaust Controversy,” 1992)
Smith dismisses confessions made by Nazis:
“Many [confessions] were obtained through coercion, intimidation and even physical torture.” (Ibid.)
Smith rejects documentation from World War II:
“All available documentation indicates that there was no order for [genocide], no plan, no budget, no weapon… and no victim…” (Ibid.)
And Smith claims that scholars around the world are obfuscating the issue:
“The American professorial class is still committed to a vocabulary of irrationality—that is, a deliberate decision to not communicate—with regard to the Holocaust question.” (Bradley Smith, speech at the 2006 Holocaust denial conference in Tehran, Iran)
Smith's latest campaign is just another cynical ploy to sow doubt in the minds of those who read of his “question.” Is it any wonder that reputable scholars refuse to be drawn into debate with him?
Make no mistake: Holocaust denial is a form of anti-Semitism. It suggests that Jews have pulled off a scam of monumental proportions, convincing virtually the entire world of a catastrophe that never really happened. Holocaust deniers imply that Jews have manipulated the media, the academic community, and governments – even the German government, which has admitted the culpability of the Nazi regime in the genocide of European Jews. Deniers claim that Jews were motivated to create such a scam out of greed, arrogance and a lust for power. These are classic anti-Semitic stereotypes.
Newspapers need not publish these ads. While the First Amendment guarantees a newspaper the right to publish them, neither it nor journalistic integrity require newspapers to become promoters of anti-Semitism.
A fair-minded person can find “proof” of the Holocaust in virtually any university or public library. Several online sources provide good information on Holocaust victims (including their names) and the functioning of Auschwitz, including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem, and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.