Committee for Open Debate
on the Holocaust
Formerly the "Media Project Director" for IHR, longtime Holocaust
denier Bradley Smith joined current IHR leader Mark Weber in founding
the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH) in 1987. On his
Web site, Smith presents himself as an intellectually honest gadfly with
no ax to grind.
Smith works hard to create the image of a man who wants to encourage
reasonable debate among reasonable people. His admission that "the
Hitlerian regime was antisemitic [sic] and persecuted Jews" seems
meant to show that it is intellectual honesty, not anti-Semitism, that
leads him to deny that "the German state pursued a plan to kill all
Jews or used homicidal 'gassing chambers' for mass murder."32
For many years, Smith has been at the center of the deniers' college
outreach program. He first drew public attention when about 70 college
newspapers published his Holocaust denial ads, which he still regularly
sends to campus editors, in the early and mid-1990s. All of these ads
are reprinted at the CODOH Web site.
At first, Smith's ads featured long essays that outlined the deniers'
position, such as Mark Weber's "The 'Jewish soap' myth." Smith's
first widely published ad stated "the figure of 6 million Jewish
deaths is an irresponsible exaggeration, and...no execution gas chambers
existed in any camp in Europe which was under German control." This
ad went on to note that the "purpose" of accounts of the Holocaust
is "to drum up world sympathy and political and financial support
for Jewish causes, especially for the formation of the State of Israel."
Another early CODOH ad claimed "The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
displays no convincing proof whatsoever of homicidal gas chambers."
Upset about the high cost of these lengthy ads, Smith soon realized the
power of the Internet. He began to place brief, inexpensive ads in school
papers that merely listed his Web site and E-mail addresses. Not only
did these ads cost less money, they also hid Smith's agenda. In addition,
Smith tried to draw his readers' attention with misleading slogans such
as "Ignore the Thought Police" and "Judge for yourself."
Smith's savvy marketing technique was tailor-made for students, many
of whom are comfortable with the Internet, predisposed against authority,
and willing to challenge received wisdom. Students responding favorably
to these deceptive ads would realize Smith's intention to deny the Holocaust
only after visiting the CODOH Web site, where they would receive his message
Smith's latest ad hooks readers with a promise of a $250,000 reward to
whoever can arrange a 90-minute, prime-time nationally televised debate
about the Holocaust between Smith and ADL. Smith readily admits he doesn't
"really expect a TV debate to take place." This ad, like Smith's
previous efforts, is a "bait and switch," a deceptive enticement
spouting hollow promises designed to encourage students to visit his "vast
Internet archive of revisionist scholarship and comment."
Once at the CODOH site, students are targeted further. They are urged
to distribute CODOH leaflets on their campuses and fight what Smith calls
the "Campus Thought Police" (that is, legitimate Holocaust historians).
Also, students are offered a set of links and asked to "choose a
major" such as "Mathematics," "Science," or "Politics."
By clicking on a "major," they are linked to Holocaust denial
articles specially tailored to their areas of interest. Also presented
is an innocuous-sounding section titled "Hot Links to Higher Learning,"
which contains links to a variety of Holocaust denial sites; Smith classifies
such sites as "Social, Political and Historical Activism & Commentary."
On June 1, 1998, Smith added to his site another feature aimed at students:
"AnswerMan!" Using what he believes is "hip" language
that will appeal to young Web users, "AnswerMan!" writes:
From a fleet of virtual time-travel and data storage vehicles, referred
to collectively as his Crystal Balls, AnswerMan! ranges the breadth
and depth of the 20th Century, copping knowledge shamelessly to bring
it to you...Which could mean helping you out with a term paper, if you
think about it.33
Though he seeks to appear stylish, in his answers to visitors' questions
"AnswerMan!" simply reiterates the same old lies, including
the claim that Jews deported from Polish ghettos were simply sent to settlements
"further East," not death camps.
The CODOH Web site today contains a vast amount of Holocaust-denial information.
Visitors to the site can look for any one of over 1,000 separate documents
using one of the site's eight search tools, such as its index of articles
by subject and its chronological list of additions.
Particularly troublesome are the sections titled "War Crimes Trials"
and "The Tangled Web: Zionism, Stalinism, and the Holocaust Story."
"War Crimes Trials" offers articles that attack the objectivity
and legal validity of the post-war Nuremberg Trials, where much information
about the Holocaust first became public, and where the basic history of
the genocide was first established. "The Tangled Web" suggests
that Jews were responsible for Bolshevism in the Soviet Union while linking
Zionism to Fascism. CODOH manages to present Jews as both International
Communist conspirators and ultra-nationalist bigots who willingly cooperated
with violent anti-Semites.
Smith also posts excerpts from his monthly print newsletter, "Smith's
Report," and urges visitors to subscribe. Additionally, he offers
the full text of his autobiographical book, Confessions of a Holocaust
Revisionist, as well as the works of more than 50 other Holocaust
deniers, including a group of "New Revisionist Voices." One
"revisionist" author who receives special attention is David