A timeline of events from 1918 to 2016
1918 November 11
World War I ends.
Sidney B. Fay writes a series of articles criticizing the prevailing view that Germany had been the main cause of World War I. Fay was respected as a legitimate and serious revisionist historian, as were his colleagues Charles A. Beard and Harry Elmer Barnes.
1939 September 1
Germany invades Poland and World War II begins.
1942 January 20
The Wannsee Conference is held in Germany to decide the fate of European Jewry. In all official documents from the Conference, the Nazis use euphemistic language to describe the extermination of the Jews, which they call the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.” Deportation to extermination camps is termed, “resettlement in the East.” In later years, Holocaust deniers would misinterpret the documents and conclude that the extermination of the Jews was never an intention of either Hitler or the Nazis because it was not explicitly stated. Deniers would also use this same tactic to obfuscate their own intentions (i.e. claiming to be “anti-Zionist” rather than antisemitic or anti-Jewish).
1945 September 2
World War II ends.
Maurice Bardèche, a French fascist, defends the Nazis and suggests that much of the evidence about the concentration and extermination camps was fabricated. He maintains that any deaths in the camps should be attributed to disease and starvation and blames Jews for taking action against the German people and instigating World War II.
Harry Elmer Barnes, who had been a part of the revisionist movement after World War I, produces a pamphlet, The Struggle Against Historical Blackout, which suggests that the Allies were responsible for World War II and that the Germans had once again been unfairly blamed for starting the conflict. The “historical blackout” refers to a supposed conspiracy of “court historians” who support establishment views and will not allow Germany to be exonerated.
Paul Rassinier, a French Socialist who had been imprisoned in the concentration camps Buchenwald and Dora when he was a member of the Communist party, publishes La Passage de la Ligne (Crossing the Line). This book, and the others he would produce over the next two decades, declares that atrocity stories from the camps were exaggerated and unfair to the Germans. Rassinier tries to justify Jewish suffering at the hands of the Germans by describing the Jews as the enemy of the German people and laying the blame for the war on the “Zionist establishment.”
Rassinier publishes Le Monsonge d’Ulysse (The Lie of Ulysses).
Charles C. Tansill’s Back Door to War is published. Tansill was a revisionist historian who discussed the culpability of the Allies in both World Wars but did not deny that the Holocaust occurred Still, many of his more extreme arguments that try to exonerate Germany form the base for the later theses of Holocaust deniers.
Willis Carto founds the Liberty Lobby, which is billed as a “lobby for patriotism.” The Anti-Defamation League refers to the Liberty Lobby as the most influential right-wing extremist propaganda organization in the United States.
David Leslie Hoggan’s book, Der Erzwungene Krieg (The Forced War) is published in Germany because no publisher could be found for the original English version. Hoggan asserts that England and Poland had forced a reluctant Germany into war, and that German policies concerning the Jews were benign when compared to their treatment at the hands of the Poles.
Rassinier’s The Drama of European Jewry is published. In this book, Rassinier begins to actively deny that the Holocaust happened and charges that the “genocide myth ” was created by the “Zionist establishment.”
The Public Stake in Revisionism, written by Harry Elmer Barnes, moves closer to explicit denial of the Holocaust by hinting that Allied actions against the Germans were much worse than any German war crimes, “real or alleged.” He also escalates his claims of an historical blackout to that of a “smotherout.”
The Myth of the Six Million is published by Noontide Press, the publishing arm of the antisemitic Liberty Lobby. The book is apparently written by David Leslie Hoggan, author of The Forced War, and accuses Jews of using the Holocaust to discredit the German nation and its attempts to maintain national identity and racial purity.
Austin J. App, a professor of English literature at LaSalle College, publishes The Six Million Swindle: Blackmailing the German People for Hard Marks with Fabricated Corpses. The pamphlet states openly that the Holocaust “hoax” was created by Communists and Jews, particularly the Zionists. It also lays out eight axioms that will become the founding principles of the Institute for Historical Review (IHR).
Heinz Roth publishes Porque nos mienten? O acaso Hitler tenia Raz”n? (Why Do They Lie to Us? Perhaps Hitler Was Right?) in Argentina.
The booklet Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth at Last, written by Richard Harwood, is published in Great Britain. Richard Harwood was the pseuedonym of Richard Verrall, the editor of Spearhead, the periodical associated with the British right-wing, neofascist organization the National Front. The book was based on an earlier American publication, The Myth of the Six Million.
Palestine My Homeland, written by Ahmad Hussein, claims that the Holocaust never happened.
David Irving’s controversial book, Hitler’s War, is published. While Irving does not yet deny the Holocaust in this book, he does surmise that Hitler was a weak and vacillating leader who knew nothing about the “Final Solution.” Many historians condemned the book as an attempt to rehabilitate Nazism and explained that it was filled with factual errors and fabrications.
Irving offers “$1000 for evidence that Hitler knew about Auschwitz.”
Arthur R. Butz, a tenured professor of electrical engineering at Northwestern University, publishes The Hoax of the Twentieth Century. Butz significantly changed the way Holocaust denial literature was written because of the sophisticated, “pseudoscholarly” tone he used in writing his book and his pretensions toward objectivity and legitimate research. While Butz claimed that he had no problem with Jews, his animosity toward Zionists was merely a disguise for his antisemitic views.
Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, the former commissioner of Jewish affairs in Vichy France and the man responsible for deporting Vichy Jews to death camps, tells the French weekly L’Express that the Holocaust was another Jewish hoax.
The Institute for Historical Review (IHR) is founded by Willis Carto. Carto insists that the IHR is an independent organization with no ties to any of his other organizations or publications. However, the umbrella organization that is responsible for the IHR, the Legion for the Survival of Freedom, links the Institute to the Noontide Press, the publishing arm of the IHR, and other Carto vehicles.
The IHR convenes its first Revisionist Convention in Los Angeles. IHR Director Lewis Brandon (the pseudonym of William David McCalden) offers $50,000 to anyone who “could prove that the Nazis operated gas-chambers to exterminate Jews during World War II.”
All members of the Organization of American Historians (OAH) receive a complimentary copy of the first issue of the Journal of Historical Review, the periodical for the IHR. The IHR had purchased the OAH’s 12,000 member mailing list in order to mail out the Journal, leading some of the OAH members to protest against the sale of their names and addresses to an antisemitic hate group.
1981, February 19
Mel Mermelstein, a survivor of Auschwitz whose mother, father, sister and brothers had died during the Holocaust, files a lawsuit against the IHR, Lewis Brandon/David McCalden and Willis Carto. Mermelstein, had submitted a notarized declaration of his experiences at Auschwitz in answer to the IHR’s $50,000 offer and, when the Institute did not respond to his claim, he turned for redress to the legal system of the state of California.
The German-American National Political Action Committee (GANPAC) is founded by Hans Schmidt. An organization which uses Holocaust denial to contribute to the rehabilitation of National Socialism, GANPAC is also devoted to fighting perceived anti-German sentiment in the media.
American actor Robert Mitchum, after playing leading roles in the World War II television epics Winds of War and War and Remembrance, expresses doubts about the veracity of the Holocaust in an interview with Esquire magazine. In the interview, he qualifies statements about the Holocaust with the statement, “So the Jews say.”
Robert Faurisson, a former Associate Professor of Contemporary Literature at the University of Lyon, France, is fined and given a three month suspended sentence for “racial defamation” after making remarks on a radio show that are anti-Zionist and support Holocaust denial.
The Canadian government charges Ernst Zündel, a German immigrant living in Canada, with “knowingly publishing false news that caused or was likely to cause damage to social or racial tolerance.” by publishing and distributing antisemitic literature. He is tried and convicted, but the ruling is overturned.
1984 July 4
Fire breaks out at the IHR headquarters in Torrance, California. While IHR members suspected that Israeli-trained terrorists had started the fire, the perpetrators were never found.
Henri Rocques receives a doctorate from University of Nantes in France; in his dissertation, Confessions of Kurt Gerstein: A Comparative Study of Different Versions – A Critique, he argues that Auschwitz had no functioning gas chambers.
The Los Angeles Superior Court orders the IHR to pay Mel Mermelstein $90,000, which includes the $50,000 reward and an additional $40,000 for pain and suffering. The judge also orders the defendants in the case to draft and sign a letter of apology to Mermelstein because of the trouble they had caused him. During pre-trial hearings, Judge Thomas T. Johnson, the presiding judge, had taken judicial notice of the undisputed fact of Jewish gassings at Auschwitz, and the letter of apology contained a verbatim reprise of this notice.
James Keegstra, a popular school teacher and also the mayor of Eckville (a Canadian town in the province of Alberta), is convicted of “willfully promot[ing] hatred toward a definable group, i.e. the Jewish people” by teaching social studies classes that included antisemitic conspiracy theories as well as Holocaust denial.
Mermelstein wins $4.75 million in punitive damages and $500,000 in compensatory damages in a suit against Ditlieb Felderer, an Austrian living in Sweden whose Jewish Information Bulletin derided the Jews killed at Auschwitz and personally attacked Mermelstein.
Rocques’ dissertation is declared invalid by the French Minister of Higher Education, Alain Devaquet.
The Ontario Court of Appeals overturns the Zündel conviction.
David Irving’s Churchill’s War is published in Australia. In it, Irving hypothesizes that Winston Churchill was responsible for the deaths of millions of civilians and Allied soldiers instead of Adolf Hitler.
A new trial for Ernst Zündel is granted by the Ontario Court of Appeals.
It is found that public school teacher Dorothy Groteluschen, who teaches in Aurora, Colorado, instructed her students that the Holocaust was a “holohoax.” Although she was disciplined by the school, she eventually sued and won $3850 in an out-of-court settlement.
Jean Marie Le Pen says in a radio interview that the gas chambers were merely a “detail” of World War II. “Are you trying to tell me that [the existence of gas chambers] is a revealed truth that everyone has to believe?” he asked. “I say that there are historians debating these issues.”
1988 May 13
Ernst Zündel is convicted after his second trial and sentenced to nine months in jail. Some of the biggest names in Holocaust denial, including Robert Faurisson, David Irving, Bradley Smith, and Ditlieb Felderer had testified during the second trial. In addition, a self-styled engineer named Fred Leuchter presented a report entitled The Leuchter Report: An Engineering Report on the Alleged Execution Gas Chambers at Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdanek, Poland that attempted to prove that the gas chambers were a myth.
David Irving claims to have been converted to the idea that there were no functioning gas chambers and, thus, no Holocaust, after reading The Leuchter Report. Irving pledges to delete all references to the Holocaust in the next edition of Hitler’s War.
A criminal suit is filed in France against Robert Faurisson and two other Holocaust deniers, Pierre Guillaume and Carlo Mattogno because of a book, Annals of Revisionist History that was published by Guillaume and contained two articles by Faurisson.
Keegstra’s conviction is overturned by the Alberta Court of Appeals on the grounds that the “promoting hatred” law is unconstitutional.
1988 September 28
The Templeton Prize, a prestigious award for interreligious understanding worth $370,000, is given to Dr. Inamullah Khan, the Secretary-General of the World Muslim Congress (WMC). The WMC had promoted Holocaust denial material and expressed antisemitic ideas and views.
Miguel Serrano, the former Chilean ambassador to India, writes the introduction for the Spanish translation of Fred Leuchter’s report.
1989 October 31
The suit against Faurisson, Guillaume and Mattogno is dismissed.
1989 December 13
In an issue of El-Istiqlal, Cyprus-based Palestinian journal, Dr. Khalad El-Shamali suggests that the incineration of Jews in crematoria had been fabricated.
Jean-Claude Pressac writes Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers in response to the Leuchter Report. Pressac, who had once been a colleague of Robert Faurisson, turned away from embracing Holocaust denial after his own independent research convinced him that Faurisson was deliberately falsifying information and ignoring factual evidence pertaining to the gas chambers at Auschwitz.
1990 July 13
The French government enacts the Gayssot Law, which makes it a criminal offense to dispute the findings of the Nuremberg Trials.
Faurisson gives an interview to the far-right magazine Le Choc du Mois where he describes the gas chambers as a “myth” and is charged under the Gayssot Law.
Safet and Ingeborg Sarich, a couple in Winnetka, Illinois, remove their daughter from a junior high school class on the Holocaust, claiming that the subject was the product of Jewish propagandists.
Donald Hiner, a professor at Purdue University in Indiana, is found to be teaching a Western Civilization class where he claims that the Holocaust was a “myth” and that “the worst thing about Hitler is that without him, there would not be an Israel.” Hiner taught for more than half the academic year before a student brought his comments to the attention of the school.
1990 December 13
The Canadian Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the “promoting hatred” law in the Keegstra case.
1991 March 13
The Alberta Court of Appeals rules that the original Keegstra conviction must be quashed and a new trial ordered.
1991 April 18
Robert Faurisson is convicted and sentenced to a 250,000 franc ($50,000) fine of which 100,000 francs ($20,000) is suspended.
1991 June 12
Fred Leuchter, who holds a B.A. degree in history from Boston University, signs a consent agreement that admits that he misrepresented himself as an engineer and agrees to stop representing himself as such.
After telling a French magazine that the Nazis did not plan to exterminate the Jews and that there were no gas chambers, Robert Faurisson is convicted in France under the auspices of a law against “criminal revision” and is fined the equivalent of $20,000. Unfortunately, the court also denounced the 1990 law under which he was charged.
Over 700,000 Lousianians vote for David Duke as their governor, despite his history as a racist, antisemite and Holocaust denier.
Ernst Zündel’s conviction is overturned by the Canadian Supreme Court, which rules that the law against spreading “false news” is unconstitutional.
1992 July 10
Keegstra receives a $2,640 fine from Judge Arthur Lutz.
David Irving is hired by the Sunday Times in London to translate Joseph Goebbels’ diaries, which were found in a Russian archive. The Times claims that Irving is only being used to transcribe Goebbel’s handwriting and that translation and editing of the diaries will be done by Oxford professor and Times staff writer Norman Stone. The question remains, though, why Irving’s services were contracted at all.
Public opinion poll in Italy indicates that close to 10% of the Italian population believe that the Holocaust never happened.
1993 October 4
Willis Carto receives a letter from the IHR saying that they want to “fire” him from his position of influence at the Institute. At issue is an estimated $10 million in stock certificates given to the Legion for the Survival of Freedom by Jean Farrel, allegedly the grandchild of Thomas Edison. The IHR staff claims that Carto is skimming funds for the benefit of himself and his wife, Elisabeth, while skimping on salaries and benefits for IHR employees. The IHR hopes to gain control of the money from Carto and the Legion.
Deborah Lipstadt’s Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory and Kenneth S. Stern’s Holocaust Denial are published.
While the dispute is still in litigation, the IHR is declared independent of Carto and the Legion for the Survival of Freedom, and a Superior Court Judge in California awards $6.4 million to the IHR in their civil suit against Carto.
Carto creates the Barnes Review to rival the Journal of Historical Review as a denial periodical.
Germar Rudolf, a German Holocaust denier, is sentenced to 14 months in prison for inciting racial hatred by the district court of Stuttgart, Germany because of the Rudolf Report, which asserts there were no gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Rudolf avoids prison by fleeing to Spain, England and finally to the United States.
David Irving sues Dr. Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University for libel in the English court system, claiming that her assertion that he was a Holocaust denier in her Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory ruined his livelihood. In March 2000 the judge found that Irving was a racist, antisemite and Holocaust denier. Irving appealed but did not prevail.
Ernst Zündel, a German-Canadian Holocaust denier, was arrested in the United States and deported to Canada, where he was detained for two years pending a court decision.
The Institute for Historical Review stops publishing the Journal of Historical Review and limits its conference to small, one-day affairs with speeches by Mark Weber or other staffers.
2005 December 14
In a speech broadcast on live television, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calls the Holocaust a “myth.”
Germar Rudolf is deported back to Germany after a failed request for political asylum. In Germany he was wanted for inciting racial hatred and “disparaging the dead.” On his arrival there he was arrested by the police and transferred to prison.
2005 November 11
Austrian police arrest David Irving in Austria, acting under a 1989 warrant. Irving pled guilty to the charge of “trivializing, grossly playing down and denying the Holocaust.” He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Irving is released from prison and he returns to Great Britain.
Iran’s government sponsors a meeting of Holocaust deniers in Tehran cloaked as an academic conference called “Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision.”
2007 January 26
The United Nations adopts a resolution condemning denial of the Holocaust. The General Assembly declares that denial is “tantamount to approval of genocide in all its forms.”
Ernst Zündel, having been deported to Germany by Canada, is convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for inciting hatred.
Germar Rudolf is sentenced to two years and six months in prison.
The European Union approves legislation that makes Holocaust denial a crime punishable by time in jail.
Controversy erupts in Norway over an invitation of David Irving to speak at the 2009 Norwegian Festival of Literature. Several of Norway’s most distinguished authors protested. Some refused to attend if he spoke. The invitation was rescinded. Irving announced that he would go to Norway during the festival and deliver his two-hour lecture from a hotel room. He did not go.
2009 June 10
James Wenneker von Brunn entered the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and shot a police officer, Stephen Tyrone Johns. Von Brunn left a notebook in which he wrote, “The Holocaust is a lie. Obama was created by Jews. Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do.” Von Brunn was arrested and charged with first degree murder and died in prison on 2010 while awaiting trial.
English-born Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson denies the existence of gas chambers and minimizes the extent of killing during the Holocaust. The Vatican eventually calls on Williamson to retract his statements.
Mark Weber, of the Institute for Historical Review, published an essay asking “How Relevant is Holocaust Revisionism?” Weber’s conclusion was that it would be better to struggle against the real enemy, “Jewish-Zionist power,” than with the historical debate about the Holocaust. The essay set off acrimonious attacks on Weber by many of his former friends and colleagues.
Germar Rudolf is released from prison in Germany and now lives in the United States with his wife and daughter.
Bradley Smith places his first online Holocaust denial advertisement, which appears on the website of the University of Wisconsin’s Badger Herald in February. His ads suggest that scholars cannot provide the name of even one Holocaust victim along with proof that s/he was killed in a gas chamber. The Internet—because of its ease of access and dissemination, seeming anonymity, and perceived authority—is now the chief conduit of Holocaust denial.
David Irving, upon his release from prison in Germany in 2006, continues to travel the world, speaking and selling his books, including the United States. In 2010 he led his first tour to Poland, which included Treblinka as an itinerary stop. The Polish tours continue to the present (2016).
Bishop Richard Williamson, who is known for a televised interview recorded in Germany in 2008, is fined 12,000 euros for incitement.
Ernst Zündel is released from prison in Germany. The Canadians refused to accept him back into their country and he retired to his family home in the Black Forest in Germany.
Hungary makes Holocaust denial a punishable offense. Language in the bill made “denying, questioning or making light of the Holocaust” illegal.
Speaking in an interview on the Mega TV network, Nikolaos Michaloliakos—head of the neo-Nazi “Golden Dawn” party, winner of 21 seats in the new Greek parliament—declares: “There were no ovens. This is a lie. I believe that it is a lie. There were no gas chambers either.”
A Stern magazine (in Germany) poll shows that 21 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds do not know that Auschwitz was a Nazi death camp and nearly a third are unaware that it is located in Poland.
Gyorgy Nagy is the first Hungarian to be convicted of the offense of being a Holocaust denier. He was sentence to 18 months in prison but it was suspended and put on probation. He was arrested in 2011.
A survey the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of more than 53,000 people in over 100 countries finds that only 54 percent of the people had even heard of the Holocaust and only a third of the world’s population believe the genocide has been accurately described in historical accounts. Some said they thought the number of people who died has been exaggerated; others said they believe it’s a myth. Thirty percent of respondents said it’s probably true that “Jews still talk too much about what happened to them in the Holocaust.”
A school district in Rialto, California, assigned 2,000 eighth-grade students to write an essay on whether or not they believe the Holocaust was “an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme.”
Russian lawmakers approve a bill making Holocaust denial and the “rehabilitation of the Nazis” illegal. Those found guilty could be fined up to $8,300 or imprisoned for up the three years.
Greek lawmakers pass a law that bans Holocaust denial and imposes stricter penalties for hate speech. The bill criminalizes the denial or trivialization of the Holocaust or other recognized genocides. The law imposes fines and a prison sentence of up to three years.
Ernst Zundel’s wife, Ingrid Rimland, makes an appeal for funds to make a film on Zündel’s life on their website, Zundelsite, after which the website went into stasis.
Holocaust deniers assemble in London, England at the Grosvenor Hotel. Over 100 people attended and speakers came from the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada and the United States. Pedro Varela, a Spanish Holocaust denier, was the keynote speaker.
Romania signs into law legislation that punishes Holocaust denial with prison sentences of up to three years.
David Irving conducts a ₤2,650-a-head tour of former concentration camps, the Warsaw ghetto and Hitler’s headquarters so people “can make up their one mind about the truth.”
Nicholas Kollerstrom, an English conspiracy theorist, enters Holocaust denial with the publication of Breaking the Spell: The Holocaust: Myth and Reality. He has also published his views on Bradley’s Smith website, Codoh, and in his journal, Smith’s Report.
The Italian parliament adopts law combatting Holocaust denial.
Iran stages an international cartoon context on the Holocaust, although it claims it is not Holocaust denial. Some 150 cartoons are on display, mainly criticizing what they consider the use of the Holocaust by Israel to distract from the Palestinian issue. Some $50,000 in prize money with go to the 16 finalists with the top winner receiving $12,000.
Jean-Marie Le Pen is convicted again in France for calling gas chambers ‘a detail” of history. The founder of France’s National Front argued that he couldn’t be tried because of his immunity as a member of the European parliament. He was ordered to pay a 30,000 euro ($34,000) fine as well as 10,000 euros in damages to three associations that were the plaintiffs in the case. Le Pen was convicted three times before, in 1991, 1999, and 2012 for claiming the Nazi occupation of France was not “particularly inhumane.”