Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Judith Miller, David Cole, and the Holocaust, by Ron Unz - The Unz Review


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Last week I published a long article that noted the astonishing acquiescence of America and the rest of the West in Israel’s unprecedented slaughter and starvation of Gaza’s civilians. In a related development, Elon Musk, one of the world’s wealthiest and most influential figures, humbled himself for making a few mild, casually critical remarks regarding Jews, and went on an apology tour to Israel and Auschwitz, seeking Jewish forgiveness.

This is obviously a very strange situation, and I argued that it was probably the consequence of two generations of pervasive psychological conditioning by our media and entertainment industries, which had succeeded in totally anathematizing any criticism of Jewish behavior. A central element of that conditioning had been the story of the Jewish Holocaust, now widely regarded as one of the most important events of modern world history.

This led me to explore the strange and convoluted historiography of the Holocaust, which I discussed in the context of several major books by some of its leading historians.

Judith Miller and the Memory of the Holocaust

In preparing that article, I had also read one additional book on that same subject by a prominent journalist of the early 2000s. But its focus was somewhat different and since my article was already overly long, I excluded it from my discussion. However, I do think some of the points raised in that work and its broader implications are now worth addressing.

Judith Miller had joined the Washington Bureau of the New York Times in 1977 as a young journalist, but although I’m sure I’d seen her byline on countless stories during the decades that followed, I’d never paid any attention to her until around the time of our Iraq War.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 Attacks, the Neocons launched a major campaign promoting war with Iraq, hoping to convince our political class and citizenry that America faced a deadly danger from Saddam Hussein’s WMDs. Influential Neocon sources both inside and outside the George W. Bush administration successfully persuaded much of our elite media to publish numerous high-profile articles declaring that Iraq was secretly developing nuclear and biological weapons in violation of UN sanctions, with Miller’s many Times stories being among the most important of these. The Times then held huge influence among the Democratic Party elites who despised Bush, so her work probably played a crucial role in winning over much of Congress and the rest of the media for our 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Afterward, when no WMDs were found and our Iraq occupation became a widely acknowledged disaster, the Times needed a scapegoat and Miller was selected for that role, forced to resign in 2005 after 27 years as one of the paper’s star reporters, with numerous front-page stories to her credit and sharing a 2002 Pulitzer Prize for her post-9/11 reporting. Although I do think that Miller was guilty of overly relying upon her biased Neocon sources, I also feel that such guilt was much more widely shared and others at the paper could have been similarly condemned.

Indeed, many other elite American journalists had committed equally serious offenses, and nearly all of these escaped any substantial penalty and were often instead promoted. For example, Jeffrey Goldberg of the New Yorker was such a zealous partisan of Israel and its Neocon allies that in his younger years he had notoriously volunteered to serve as an Israeli prison guard, watching over the miserable Palestinians imprisoned for protesting their occupation. His post-9/11 articles in the New Yorker had described how Saddam’s Iraq had developed deadly biological and chemical weapons and was considering an attack on America, a total fabrication that terrified our East Coast elites and surely did as much damage as any of Miller’s work. But instead of being fired and blacklisted, he was rewarded, heavily recruited for a senior role at The Atlantic and eventually became editor of that illustrious publication, thereby gaining one of the plum posts in American elite journalism.

Although Miller’s own fall from grace was considerable, it was far from complete, and after she lost her lofty perch at the Times, she became a regular contributor to FoxNews and an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a leading Neoconservative thinktank. As a result, I’ve still occasionally seen her pieces on the Middle East in the latter’s City Journal quarterly and also in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal. Moreover, in 1997 she had married Jason Epstein, a leading New York editor and co-founder of the prestigious New York Review of Books, and they remained together until his death in 2022, so I’m sure she was still a welcome guest at the many exclusive cocktail parties held in that city.


Miller seems to have spent nearly her entire career at the Times covering the Middle East and related Washington politics, and those were the main subjects of four of the five books she published. All of those were fiercely hostile to Israel’s regional rivals and sharply critical of the broader Islamic world, therefore fully compatible with the Neocon agenda. But I recently discovered that her first book, One By One By One, published in 1990, focused on an entirely different topic, indicated by its subtitle “Facing the Holocaust.” Reading it provided me some interesting insights into the ideas that may have shaped her own world-view. That book may help explain why a dozen years later she was willing to play such a major role in enabling America’s destruction of Iraq and our attacks on other enemies of Israel, eventually leading to the deaths or displacement of many millions of unfortunate Middle Easterners.

Her text opened with a Preface and I think its first two sentences sincerely indicated her emotional feelings towards the topic of the first book she had ever published:

This book is not about the Holocaust but about how it is remembered. It is about memories of an event so horrible that scholars disagree to this day about what it should be called.

In 1986 she had become Paris Correspondent for the Times, and soon afterward the 1987 trial of a wartime Gestapo chief suddenly returned the Holocaust to the center-stage of French political life, leading to enormous media coverage and a great deal of related political controversy. A new journal challenging the reality of the Holocaust began publication but was soon legally banned, while Shoah, Claude Lanzmann’s epic Holocaust documentary was broadcast nationwide on four consecutive nights, garnering enormous ratings. Far right nationalist presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen made remarks that seemed to trivialize the importance of the Holocaust, and the resulting outcry across nearly the entire ideological spectrum allowed his political and media opponents to successfully demonize him in the 1988 elections that followed, in which he also lost his seat in the National Assembly.

In her Acknowledgements section, Miller explained that those huge French controversies surrounding the wartime events of more than four decades earlier led her to consider writing a book on the role the Holocaust currently played in several European societies. Her suggestion received strong encouragement from Abe Rosenthal, the normally irascible executive editor of the Times, who gave her eight weeks to travel around Europe and explore the idea.

Although she returned to the Times Washington Bureau in 1987, she continued to work on her book, doing further traveling and finally completing the manuscript in January 1990. She ultimately provided chapters on four Western European countries—Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and France—and also included ones on the Soviet Union and the United States, with those last two being the longest.

Her Preface closed by emphasizing that she was approaching this subject as a journalist rather than anything else, and she seemed an excellent one, providing vivid details of the incidents and stories she encountered in each of those countries. Her last and second longest chapter described the memory of the Holocaust in American society and I found that one the most interesting, partly because it seemed to suggest her own story as well.

Just as numerous Holocaust scholars have asserted, she emphasized that in the immediate postwar years, the Holocaust had received very little attention among American Jews, let alone across the broader public. This “suppression of memory” had continued on through the 1950s, only ending with the Israeli kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann in 1960 and his trial and execution a couple of years later.

Miller herself had been born in early 1948, and she described the transformative impact that the 1962 Eichmann trial had on the thinking of American Jews, yet both times that she mentioned the date, she got it wrong, saying it occurred in 1963. She was a young teenager at the time, and I wonder if she had retained such a vivid memory of those events that she felt no need to check the actual date when she wrote her book.

An even greater inflection point in America’s recognition of the Holocaust came a few years later, in the aftermath of Israel’s 1967 war. Misled by dishonest propaganda, most American Jews had feared that Israel stood on the brink of destruction so its sweeping military victory over several neighboring Arab states and its conquest of the West Bank and the Sinai seemed almost miraculous. Miller quoted a prominent Jewish activist who declared that after Israel’s victory, it finally felt “safe” to talk about the Holocaust. Indeed, according to the author the Holocaust was soon transformed into a “quasi-religious event, a sign not only of suffering but also of resurrection, somewhat akin to Christ’s crucifixion and the resurrection for Christians…Auschwitz…became a sacred site.”

Some would subsequently call this emergent doctrine “Holocaustianity,” a quasi-religious faith that has gradually become the reigning dogma of much of our secular West, certainly including the Gentile 99% of the population. But at that early stage, she probably recognized those burgeoning elements because of her own mixed ethnic heritage. Her father was a Jewish Las Vegas casino manager originally born in Russia, while her mother was a “pretty Irish Catholic showgirl” whom he married, and she grew up in Los Angeles, graduating from Hollywood High School, where such mixed marriages were probably quite common in her social circle.

Miller graduated from Columbia University’s Barnard College in 1969 so she would have been a student in NYC at the time of Israel’s sweeping military victory, and surely must have been caught up in those same sentiments. She quoted her former Columbia classmate, Mark Rudd, a notorious 1960s student radical, who said that his awareness of the horrors of the Holocaust had been the inspiration for his Jewish activism regarding the Vietnam War and other political causes. Because of the Holocaust, “indifference” became seen as a “mortal sin” in the Jewish community, helping to explain why such a large fraction of America’s radical activists shared that ethnic background.

“Indifference” is often closely associated with “silence” and although neither Miller nor Rudd made the explicit point, I suspect that they and many other American Jews of their generation were quietly outraged at the near total silence that had enshrouded the Holocaust prior to 1960, a silence that had been almost complete since shortly after the end of World War II. Six million of their fellow Jews—more than one-third of that entire worldwide population—had been horrifically put to death in the world’s first case of industrialized extermination, certainly the greatest crime ever committed in the modern world.

Yet although there were whispers about that history circulating in some Jewish families, the enormous event was almost totally ignored by our entire media during the decade of the 1950s, with virtually no mention appearing in any of the standard textbooks she and her classmates used. Indeed, as late as 1972, their own university’s Columbia History of the World, running 1,237 pages and having a Jewish co-editor, devoted a full chapter to World War II but confined its discussion of the Holocaust to just two short and somewhat ambiguous sentences, surely stoking the outrage of many Jewish students when they noticed that fact. Six million Jews had been slaughtered and apparently no one knew or cared about what had happened.

It’s easy to imagine the emotional reaction of young Jewish college students such as Miller, Rudd, and their fellows during the late 1960s as they gradually recognized that their elders had spent nearly a full generation carefully concealing the truth about a cataclysmic event of such colossal magnitude. These underlying themes of the long concealment and eventual rediscovery of the Holocaust were also central to Miller’s discussion of the other countries that she covered.

Miller was already an experienced, hard-bitten reporter, and much of the rest of her chapter on America focused on some of the mundane, even sordid, aspects of America’s recently-established “Holocaust Industry,” including the rival groups and individuals that bitterly competed for funding and media attention. Some of these “Holocaust entrepreneurs” successfully parlayed their cause into enormous budgets and media influence, while often back-stabbing or betraying each other. She seemed disgusted by these organizations as they sold off naming privileges to wealthy Jewish backers for multi-million-dollar donations while creating high-tech audio-visual extravaganzas perhaps more suitable to Disneyland than to the sincere commemoration of a great historical tragedy.

I was surprised to learn the origins of our own government’s official focus on the Holocaust, eventually culminating in the U.S. Holocaust Museum. Like many others, Miller emphasized the enormous impact of the mid-1978 broadcast of the TV miniseries Holocaust, a Hollywood production whose gigantic audience ensured that most ordinary Americans finally discovered those wartime events of more than three decades earlier. Meanwhile, the Carter administration had been provoking a great deal of Jewish hostility over the pressure it was exerting on Israel as part of its Middle East peace effort, so a few months after the show aired it decided to placate that community by sponsoring a Holocaust remembrance project.

Miller’s chapters on Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and France similarly explain that until the early 1960s and especially the broadcast of Holocaust and other electronic fare in the late 1970s, the astonishing story of the wartime Holocaust had been almost totally ignored and forgotten in those countries as well, treated with the same silence and “indifference” as had been the case in America.

For example, when Jewish Socialist Bruno Kreisky became Austria’s Prime Minister in 1970, he brought former Nazis and SS officers back into politics as senior members of his government; he later formed a coalition with the right-wing Freedom Party, the longtime political home of postwar Austrian Nazis and also backed a former SS officer for President of the Austrian Parliament. Such close political relations between Jews and Nazis in an important part of Hitler’s Third Reich suggests that little if any consciousness of the Holocaust held sway in Austria at that time. Indeed, a 1973 survey showed that 67% of Austrians felt they had no special degree of responsibility toward the Jews, while only 5% fully supported the opposite position. When former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim ran for Austrian President in 1986, an international media furor denounced the candidate as having played a major role in the Holocaust based upon documents released by the World Jewish Congress, but he still won by a very comfortable margin.

Although the particular details differ and generally aren’t quite as extreme, Miller’s description of the societies of Germany, the Netherlands, and France seem to follow a similar pattern. The Holocaust was largely ignored until the 1960s, gained visibility due to the impact of Hollywood productions in the late 1970s, and then sometimes became a major political issue during the 1980s.

Miller’s longest chapter was devoted to the Soviet Union and during her late 1980s visit, the Holocaust still remained totally unknown in that country. Whereas in America and most of the West, Holocaust Deniers were socially marginalized or even legally repressed, behind the Iron Curtain, matters were reversed, with any claims that the Nazi forces had ever targeted Jews in particular being completely excluded from the media and history books and their Holocaust affirming promoters subject to government sanction.

According to the official Soviet history, what we call the Holocaust had never occurred, and almost no one in that huge superpower was aware of it, with no such term even existing in the Russian language. Soviet propaganda endlessly glorified its victory in the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany and presented the latter as every bit the same story-book villain portrayed in the West, but according to the official Party line, all Soviet citizens—whether Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, or Tajiks—had been equally mistreated and killed by those cruel enemy invaders. This Soviet version of “official truth” surprised and dismayed Miller, not least because she believed that such a large fraction of the Soviet Jews had been the victims of the huge genocidal massacre whose reality their own country denied.

One of her official Soviet sources, a well-educated and knowledgeable individual half-Jewish by ancestry, explained to her that the Nazis had diabolically intended to exterminate all of the Slavs in the USSR, and she gently reproved him in a footnote, declaring that belief to be totally mistaken. So within the Soviet framework, Miller revealed herself to be an outright Holocaust Denier.

Miller’s European travels apparently didn’t extend to any of the other Warsaw Pact nations, which was unfortunate since they had been the actual epicenter of the Holocaust, being both the source of most of the Jewish victims and also the sites of the Nazi death camps and gas chambers. But if she had visited Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, or Romania, and broached the subject, I think she would have surely encountered the same blank stares as she had in the USSR, with almost no one having heard of the Jewish Holocaust that was the subject of her book. Adding to such popular puzzlement would have been the undeniable fact that the ruling political regimes in all those countries had been heavily or almost entirely Jewish during the immediate postwar years, with that ethnic skew sometimes continuing on through much of the 1950s.

Poland had long maintained Auschwitz as a memorial site to the unspeakable Nazi atrocities, with a plaque describing the four million lives destroyed in its gas chambers, but without any indication of the ethnic identity of those victims. Indeed, even in America the first major Holocaust film was Sophie’s Choice, winning an Oscar in 1982 and based upon a bestselling William Styron novel published in 1979, which told the horrifying story of the young Polish Catholic children gassed at Auschwitz, a narrative totally contrary to that of all Western Holocaust scholars but fully compatible with those on the Soviet side.

However, Miller had visited a USSR that was far gone in decay, with its Warsaw Pact on the verge of dissolution, and the influence of wealthy Western Jews such as the Bronfmans was beginning to break down Soviet resistance on Jewish matters. In 1989, the first officially sanctioned Jewish cultural center opened its doors, and its inauguration featured Holocaust posters and pictures, a breakthrough that Miller described as “extraordinary.”

Much more was to come just after the publication of her book, including the collapse of the USSR and the total 1990s domination of its Russian successor state by a handful of Oligarchs, nearly all of them Jewish, which naturally led to sweeping reversals of policy both with regard to the Holocaust and relations with Israel. The winners of wars, whether military or political, are the ones who write the histories, and when new groups come to power, those histories may quickly change.


If I had read Miller’s book when it first appeared in 1990 or even ten or fifteen years later, I probably would have merely nodded my head at all of her material, much of which I had already encountered in the individual news stories of preceding years, probably some of them under her own byline. For those reasons, none of us should be too critical of a reporter who was writing nearly 35 years ago, long before the Internet had opened the doors to a cornucopia of divergent ideas.

But with the benefit of hindsight, it does seem telling that none of the societies she covered, including her own, seemed to have demonstrated any significant awareness of the Holocaust during the many years after it had supposedly occurred. Indeed, the widespread popular rediscovery of that enormous historical event only came about after Hollywood had fictionalized it in big budget productions, allowing the story to reach the global masses via Western television.

This recalls something I’d written in 2016:

We naively tend to assume that our media accurately reflects the events of our world and its history, but instead what we all too often see are only the tremendously distorted images of a circus fun-house mirror, with small items sometimes transformed into large ones, and large ones into small. The contours of historical reality may be warped into almost unrecognizable shapes, with some important elements completely disappearing from the record and others appearing out of nowhere. I’ve often suggested that the media creates our reality, but given such glaring omissions and distortions, the reality produced is often largely fictional. Our standard histories have always criticized the ludicrous Soviet propaganda during the height of Stalin’s purges or the Ukrainian famine, but in its own way, our own media organs sometimes seem just as dishonest and absurd in their own reporting. And until the availability of the Internet, it was difficult for most of us to ever recognize the enormity of this problem.

To Miller and others of her generation, those long years of postwar silence and concealment all across the Western world were deeply shameful and her own ideological trajectory may have been greatly impacted as she reacted to those unpleasant facts. But there is another obvious possible explanation, though one that she seems never to have considered.

The term “Holocaust Denial” appeared in her index and she mentioned the topic on more than a half-dozen pages, but always in totally dismissive fashion. Its proponents were “malevolent cranks,” “a tiny isolated minority,” individuals with “no intellectual credibility in Europe or the United States.” There was no sign that she had ever seriously explored their material.

Why should she have done otherwise? All her trusted media sources and peers would have provided the same uniform verdict, an attitude confirmed by every college professor under whom she’d studied and every academic book that she’d consulted. Taken together, these provided the overall frame of reference under which any journalist such as herself must operate.

Her book represented a work of first-hand reporting rather than historical scholarship and she never claimed otherwise, instead relying upon the latter to set the boundaries of her knowledge of the world. She did provide some 300 footnotes, many of them citing books, but I doubt that she had read most of them in detail, and anyway all those works would merely have confirmed her existing perspective. Prior to the appearance of the Internet, how would she have ever encountered any strongly divergent materials? But although she may have interpreted the facts she reported in one way, at a distance of more than thirty years, a careful reader might draw somewhat different conclusions.

In the late 1980s every book and article published in the USSR said one thing about the policies of Nazi Germany in World War II while every book and article published in the West said something quite different. So in that period almost no one in the USSR or its Warsaw Pact satellites had ever heard of the Holocaust, but almost everyone in the US and its NATO allies surely had, though that certainly would not have been the case in the 1950s. The subsequent collapse of the former group due to the economic failure of Soviet Communism temporarily resolved that historical disagreement, but hardly in objective, scholarly fashion.

Miller generally seemed like a good reporter but I noticed an additional example of how her very establishmentarian framework of assumptions sometimes led her astray. For example, in her chapter on Germany, she briefly mentioned that in the early 1950s many of the leading publications of that country had reported that the Americans were committing very serious war crimes in Korea, including the use of illegal biological weapons, and Miller casually dismissed those reports as “spurious accounts” spread by dishonest Communist-front organizations. But as I’d discussed in one of my articles, there was actually overwhelming evidence that those accusations were true, with some of the supporting information drawn from declassified American documents. I strongly suspect that she later discovered those same facts, leading to her very suspicious silence on the subject in the national bestseller that she published a dozen years later on the history of biological warfare, which I had read and discussed late last year:

My own decision to finally revisit the anthrax attacks after so many years was prompted by a particular book I noticed a couple of months ago at the local Palo Alto library sale.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 Attacks, Judith Miller, a longtime reporter at the New York Times, had published numerous front-page stories on Saddam’s non-existent WMDs based upon information fed to her by her Neocon sources. Her falsehoods had played a hugely influential role in setting the political stage for our disastrous invasion, and she was forced to resign from the Times in 2005.

In a remarkably fortuitous example of timing, she had earlier been the lead author of Germs, published with her Times colleagues Stephen Engelberg and William Broad, a book that was released on the very same day that the first anthrax victim was admitted to a hospital. Subtitled “Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War” it purportedly represented a comprehensive history of biological warfare and the dangers America faced, with a major focus on the Iraqi program and its anthrax capabilities. Given such perfect timing, Germs quickly rocketed to the top of the best-seller lists in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax mailings, further propelled when Miller herself received one of the anthrax hoax letters, containing harmless white powder. I’d always been aware of the major role her book had played in shaping the events of that period, so I purchased it for $0.50 and eventually read it, leading me to reexamine the anthrax story. Although the book obviously lacked any discussion of the anthrax letters themselves, I found it revealed much about the ideological biases of Miller and her co-authors.

Over the years I’ve noticed that respectable journalists writing books are reluctant to destroy their credibility by lying outright to their readers; instead, they prefer to mislead by selective omissions, carefully avoiding those items that would force them either to knowingly promote falsehoods or to present facts damaging to the intended sweep of their narrative. And this certainly seemed to be the case in Miller’s very influential book.

Its account of America’s own biological warfare programs and the Ft. Detrick facility correctly began with their establishment during World War II, and discussed America’s plans for the possible use of anthrax against Germany and Japan as well as Japan’s own biowarfare efforts during its invasion and occupation of China. But although the subsequent Korean War was mentioned, the narrative almost entirely skipped over that period, which I found extremely odd.

Surely the authors must have been aware of the very high-profile accusations of illegal “germ warfare” that were made against American forces during that conflict by Russia, China, and their international Communist bloc allies? These were the most serious biowarfare claims made anywhere in the world during the last eighty years, and prompted the establishment of an international commission of distinguished scientists, including Joseph Needham, one of Britain’s most eminent scholars, which eventually published a long report declaring that the accusations were probably true. Admittedly, the American government and its allied media outlets always denied those claims and especially after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, most American academics came to regard them as false. But as I pointed out in an article two years ago, more recent evidence seems to show that the Communist charges had been correct:

If Miller and her co-authors had mentioned those accusations only to dismiss them as debunked wartime propaganda, I would not have faulted them since that was a widely-held belief at the time the book was published in 2001. But to completely ignore the greatest international biowarfare controversy of the last three generations in a book focused on exactly that topic was inexcusable. Such total silence seems very suspicious to me and I wonder if the authors’ extensive research had led them to conclude that the accusations had probably been true and the entire subject best avoided.

However, I have no reason to suspect that her views on the Holocaust had wavered by that date, and instead the strongly pro-Israel sentiments they had helped to cement established her as a leading journalistic ally of the Neocons, as indicated by what she said and avoided saying in that same book:

Similarly, the Middle East was a leading focus of the book’s overall coverage and it repeatedly mentioned the possible development of ethnically-targeted bioweapons, a particularly alarming technological project. But just a couple of years earlier, the London Sunday TimesWired News, and other international publications had broken the story of Israel’s extensive research in exactly that area, with the Israelis working to develop ethnic bioweapons that would selectively target Arab populations. Yet the authors strangely chose to omit the only such real-life example that had reached the global headlines. Obviously, a book meant to concentrate American public fears upon the terrible threat of Iraq’s biological warfare programs—which actually no longer existed at that point—would have lost much of its effectiveness if it had also included any mention of Israel’s far more advanced capabilities in exactly that same area. Indeed, Israel was almost never mentioned anywhere in the text, a very strange omission given the heavy focus on the alleged biowarfare efforts of its regional adversaries such as Iraq and Iran.

While I have absolutely no reason to believe that Miller’s book had been commissioned and funded by the Israeli Defense Ministry, I don’t think the contents would have been all that different if such had actually been the case.

David Cole, “the Jewish Holocaust Denier”

During the 1980s and 1990s I would very occasionally read about Holocaust Deniers in the pages of my morning newspapers, with some of those articles probably even appearing under Miller’s byline. But I gave little thought to such deluded individuals, vaguely lumping them together with UFO cultists, JFK conspiracists, and numerous other eccentric fringe activists. I casually dismissed all of them in exactly the same cavalier fashion that Miller had done in her own 1990 book.

However, by the early 2000s the appearance of the Internet meant that I began encountering Holocaust Denial and other controversial theories much more frequently, while our disastrous Iraq War and the non-existence of Saddam’s WMDs had greatly damaged the credibility of our mainstream media in my own mind. Those latter developments gradually left me much more open to those ideas that I’d always seen ridiculed or denounced.

My discovery of Pulitzer Prize winner Sydney Schanberg’s remarkable investigative reporting on our abandoned Vietnam War POWs marked an important turning point. One of America’s most highly-regarded mainstream journalists had exposed the political scandal of the century, and the media had totally ignored those revelations. I concluded that if our entire political establishment and its media lackeys could successfully suppress Schanberg’s astonishing findings, they could suppress absolutely anything.

Many other surprising discoveries on my part followed and in 2013 I described some of these in my original American Pravda article. I also gradually learned that a few individuals whose opinions I respected on other matters had long been quietly skeptical of the Holocaust narrative, further raising my suspicions. Finally, I gingerly ordered and read a few of the relevant books from Amazon, then eventually published my own article on the subject in 2018.

My very lengthy 2018 article provoked a great deal of discussion on the Internet and was republished elsewhere, while prompting a massive outpouring of over 2,300 comments, many of them quite long and detailed. Soon after publishing it, I received a note from a certain David Cole, a right-wing Jewish writer whose name was only very slightly known to me, but when I later investigated I discovered that he had an interesting personal history.

Apparently while still in his early 20s, Cole had become quite active in the 1990s Holocaust Denial movement, with his own Jewish background giving him a certain amount of notoriety in those circles, and in 1992 Cole had visited the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. Despite being an avowed atheist, Cole had ostentatiously emphasized his Jewish origins by wearing a skullcap, thereby successfully luring the research director of the memorial museum into admitting on camera that some elements of the gas chambers were actually postwar reconstructions. Cole eventually used that footage to produce a simple documentary video about his visit that became popular in Holocaust Denial circles, and I recently watched it for the first time.

Video Player

Cole later summarized those events in a short talk he gave at the 1992 conference of the Institute for Historical Review, which they published in a 1993 issue of their journal:

As he mentioned in the video, several years earlier the Polish government had sharply reduced the official Auschwitz death toll from 4 million down to about 1 million, a hugely embarrassing blow to the established Holocaust narrative. In my ignorance, I’d had the impression that Cole himself had been responsible for that important achievement, but I was mistaken.

During the 1990s, nationally-syndicated daytime talk shows of the Jerry Springer-type had often sought out highly-controversial guests, boosting their ratings by inviting Klansmen and black militants, who engaged in verbal and sometimes physical combat, and Holocaust Denial apparently fell into that same category.

Although Cole seemed to lack any serious research credentials, never having published any books or major articles on the topic, his status as “the Jewish Holocaust Denier” naturally drew their interest, much as would a three-headed man. In a recent column, he boasted that he had appeared on more of those TV shows than any other member of the Holocaust Denial community, while also being invited to speak at various college campuses. Since I’d never watched any of those shows nor paid any attention to the subject, I’d been unaware of this.

Prompted by the 1993 theatrical success of Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, the issue became particularly prominent the following year, and the high point of Cole’s media career probably came with his 1994 appearance on the Donahue Show, which I located on the Internet and watched. I thought he did a pretty credible job, though he apparently stormed off the set half-way through the show.

 Video Link

Unfortunately for Cole, such notoriety also attracted the extreme hostility of Jewish activist groups, who sometimes even physically assaulted him at his college speaking engagements. So during 1994, he began disassociating himself from Holocaust Denial and refused an invitation from Sixty Minutes to be interviewed on camera, leading the producers to dredge up a couple of his old clips for their segment in which Mike Wallace interviewed Ernst Zundel, the founding father of Holocaust Denial activism.

Such reticence on Cole’s part failed to placate his outraged tormentors and the Jewish militants of the JDL allegedly put a price on his head in 1997, hardly an idle threat given the lethal terrorist bombings and arson attacks for which they had been known. Soon afterward, Cole publicly recanted his Holocaust Denial heresy, declaring that he had seen the error of his ways and now fully accepted the official narrative. And just to be on the safe side, he supposedly also faked his own death and disappeared, soon afterwards resurfacing under a different name as a Republican activist working with the Hollywood community, organizing support for all the various causes of the post-9/11 Bush Administration and its Neocon backers. As a business sideline, he also drew upon his past expertise to produce Holocaust videos promoting the mainstream narrative of the same event that he had always previously challenged.

Unfortunately, this successful career of mainstream Republican activism came to an end in 2013 when an angry former girlfriend betrayed his secret past and his Republican Hollywood allies reacted in horror at the former Holocaust Denier whom they had unwittingly admitted into their ranks. He told this story in a 2014 book that settled many scores with his erstwhile allies, but unfortunately it is no longer easily available on Amazon or elsewhere. Soon afterwards, he became a popular weekly columnist at Takimag, a small right-wing webzine, which has remained his venue for the last decade, regularly featuring his “gonzo-type” punditry.

Although I very much doubt that his sudden ideological conversion on the Holocaust was sincere, I can hardly fault him for it, given the extreme personal pressure and threats that he had faced.


I knew very little of this background when Cole emailed me in 2018, explaining that he was a long-time expert on the Holocaust and that the considerable skepticism that I had expressed was totally mistaken. Since he claimed to have spent decades “neck-deep” in the topic while I had merely devoted a few weeks to my casual exploration, I emphasized my lack of expertise but still said that I found his arguments on the other side quite unconvincing, a response that seemed to enrage him.

I later discovered that just a year or two earlier, he had very loudly declared that “Holocaust Denial is Dead” followed by another column denouncing any remaining Holocaust Deniers as “ignorant…idiots…anti-Jewish nutjobs.” Since he’d previously expressed considerable admiration for my publication and suggested that I republish his columns, his reaction to my contrary views on that topic was perhaps not too surprising.

After a couple of these increasingly testy email exchanges, I sent him a very polite 1,500 word summary of several of my main points, and never heard anything back from him. My vague recollection was that he’d published a Takimag column or two denouncing me in insulting fashion, and after I’d briefly glanced at those, I’d completely forgotten about him.

In the years since then, I’ve regularly revisited the Holocaust topic, expanding and extending my analysis, and embedding it in a much broader discussion of World War II. In 2022, I’d been interviewed on the subject in a couple of long segments aired on Iranian broadcast television and last summer I also explained my analysis in two lengthy Q&A interviews that received a great deal of readership.

My 2012 Meritocracy analysis had been a major factor behind the lawsuit by Asian groups challenging Harvard’s admissions practices. So as the case wound its way through the courts, media activists desperate to preserve Affirmative Action could have easily derailed the lawsuit by demonizing it as having been substantially based upon the research of a notorious Holocaust Denier. But they instead totally avoided the subject. This strongly suggested that their editors and activist groups such as the ADL regarded my Holocaust analysis as just too dangerous to be allowed any public attention whatsoever.

Then late last year, the horrifying slaughter in Gaza returned the topic to the forefront, leading me to recapitulate some of my previous arguments:

One or two commenters challenged my strong Holocaust skepticism, saying that I should agree to debate David Cole on the issue. This prompted someone else to mention that such a “debate” had actually taken place back in 2018, something I’d totally forgotten.

Counter-Currents is a small right-wing webzine. For many years, it had been a Neo-Nazi publication, annually celebrating Hitler’s birthday and specializing in books glorifying the Third Reich, but over time it gradually shifted towards hardcore White Nationalism. Apparently Cole had published our contentious 2018 email correspondence on his blogsite, including a long final response that he’d never emailed me, and a young writer had summarized those exchanges as an Unz-Cole Holocaust debate. I’m sure I must have noticed that piece at the time, but since it all happened five or six years ago, I’d completely forgotten about it.

Although Quinn judged the “debate” a draw, I don’t think he was being very fair. He seemed like a rather young activist and his main complaint against my lengthy Holocaust article was that I had been too mealy-mouthed and never explicitly declared that the Holocaust was a hoax. However, that’s quite unreasonable. At that point, I’d only spent a few weeks investigating the subject and I always try to be ultra-cautious when discussing ultra-controversial topics, so I hardly felt comfortable in issuing any definitive verdict. Instead, I had closed with this carefully crafted conclusion:

However, as an outsider exploring this contentious topic I think it far more likely than not that the standard Holocaust narrative is at least substantially false, and quite possibly, almost entirely so.

One problem with Cole seems to be his very loose association with the truth, an especially serious failing when discussing a complex and controversial issue such as the Holocaust. For example, in one of his lengthy replies he denounced me when I’d claimed that no documents relating to the Holocaust had ever been found:

That is a complete lie. A 100% complete lie…[Irving’s] Goebbels biography…contains DOZENS of “documents related to the Holocaust.”

Quinn found Cole’s emphatic statement very convincing:

Watching David Cole maul the arguments of Ron Unz is a little like watching seals getting clubbed to death; only, the seals in question represent what Cole sees as lazy or dishonest historical revisionism, and so deserve to die.

However, in the comments on Quinn’s article, a knowledgeable individual pointed out that Cole seemed to have simply invented those claims:

As for this one, I have read Irving’s bio. of Goebbels, twice, I do not recall any clear mention of systematic mass-murder of Jews, let alone ‘twelve’, as ‘Cole’ claims.

Winning a debate is obviously easier if you simply invent your facts, and when I finally read David Irving’s Goebbels biography a couple of years ago, I also failed to see any of the references that Cole had claimed it contained.

Cole’s own 2018 blogsite has long since disappeared from the Internet, taking with it his final response in our email exchange, but from Quinn’s description, it sounds like it must have been a lunatic, ranting screed, filled with a tidal wave of crude insults:

In his follow-up email, which he posted on his blog, unsent, Cole calls Unz stupid three times, variations of dumb six times, a cretin, a dipshit, an asswipe, a shit-for-brains, an imbecile, a moron, and an idiot twice. He also describes Unz as “worthless” and speculates that he is mentally retarded. After reading such a jaw-dropping rant, one wonders if there are any English-language insults he didn’t use.

I don’t think I’d ever seen that last reply by Cole, but if I had, I certainly would have found his insults rather amusing, especially those regarding my “stupidity.” After all, Cole is a high-school dropout, while I won first place in America’s Intel/Westinghouse Science Talent Search then graduated Harvard with a double major in Theoretical Physics and Classical History, and prominent intellectual figures have praised my work of the last decade. Cole has described himself as a 24/7 drinker who expected that he would drink himself to death, so perhaps he was deep in his cups when he wrote those agitated remarks.

Given its own ideological orientation, it’s not too surprising that writers at Counter-Currents have occasionally revisited Cole and his shifting Holocaust views in recent years, in one case provoking an angry response by the subject. I came across these items when I Googled around a bit and I think that they help to flesh out Cole’s views for those who might be interested:


In early January, I published another long article on the Holocaust, drawing upon some additional books that I’d absorbed and emphasizing its important connection to the State of Israel and the ongoing slaughter in Gaza, a combination of issues that attracted a great deal of readership:

To my considerable surprise, I soon received an email from Cole, filled with his usual outpouring of crude insults, the first time I’d heard from him in many years. He’d apparently been carefully reading through the 1,100-odd comments to my article and directed me to his long Substack post from the previous year, which he challenged me to refute. I explained that I’d still never received any reply to the very polite 1,500 word analysis that I’d sent him in 2018, and wondered whether he’d finally come up with some effective responses after more than five years. He said he’d be glad to respond to my arguments but only if I paid him to do so, and I never bothered replying to that request.

Back in 2018, I was still very new to the topic of the Holocaust, but more than five years on, I think that points I’d made in September of that year still seem quite valid, so here’s the complete text:

Thanks, David. And given that you’ve been “neck-deep” in the Holocaust for 30 years, I’ve only spent a few weeks on reading and research into that same topic, digesting maybe 15-20 books, your knowledge is obviously *vastly* greater than my own. But I’m still not sure I find your arguments very persuasive.

(1) You say I’m completely mistaken in claiming that there don’t seem to be any official German documents, and cite a few vague sentences from Goebbel’s diary found by Irving to prove me wrong.

But that’s obviously not what I’m talking about. The Holocaust is supposedly the largest and most heavily industrialized campaign of mass murder in the history of the world, and surely it could not have been organized without many tens of thousands of pages of official German documents specifying all the details, but as far as I can tell, nobody’s found a single one. Supposedly Auschwitz and a bunch of other death-camps had gas chambers for exterminating millions of people and then making all their bodies disappear by cremation, and that obviously requires very organized planning, including specifications of the construction, use, and procedures, not to mention shipping the vast quantities of coal used for cremation purposes, supposedly sometimes even superseding German military needs in transport. You can’t do something on that gigantic scale without official documents, and surely if any such documents had been found, they would have been heavily emphasized in the 8-10 or so anti-Holocaust Denier books I read. But nothing was ever mentioned.

Interestingly enough, Dr. Nicholas Kollerstrom’s book does provide a very detailed discussion of some official Auschwitz documents captured by the Russians and then released by Gorbachev 25-odd years ago. These seem to indicate that Jewish deaths at Auschwitz were roughly 99% below the traditional figure, and according to him, the radio intercepts decrypted by the British generally confirm these numbers. So there are some official German government documents, but they suggest the opposite of the conventional story.

You quote Irving about the Goebbels’ reference, but when I glanced at the article you mentioned, his appraisal seems quite a bit different than what you’d suggested, much closer to mine actually. Indeed, your “editing” of his passage to remove his conclusion leaves me a little suspicious of your other references:

(2) Furthermore, the traditional story is that Zyklon B was used to exterminate all the people at Auschwitz and the other death-camps. Meanwhile, the Holocaust deniers claim it was just used as a pesticide, exactly like it had been used in America, and was intended to reduce the Typhus outbreaks that were killing so many of the Jews and others at the camps. Who’s right? Well, Kollerstrom claims that once large quantities of Zyklon B arrived at the camps, Jewish deaths sharply *declined*, which tends to support the second possibility.

Furthermore, I’m actually no expert on chemistry or gas chamber design, but it’s interesting that Leuchter, Rudolf, and various other people who seem to be, all claim that the Zyklon B residue is only found in the small de-lousuing chambers rather than the large, alleged human gas chambers. Supposedly, Irving was persuaded by the Leuchter Report that the gas chambers were just a hoax. Offhand, it seems to me less likely that all these apparently disinterested technical experts would have come to such controversial conclusions without good cause.

(3) For the sake of argument, let’s suppose that the Holocaust Deniers are correct in claiming that the gas chambers were just a hoax (like the human lampshades and human soap), and that Jewish deaths at Auschwitz were maybe 99% below the traditional figure and almost entirely due to Typhus until it was finally controlled by use of Zyklon B. Since Auschwitz was always the most heavily emphasized “death camp,” it seems pretty likely that the same is true for all the others. So there wasn’t any massively-industrialized system of Jewish extermination, which I think is always what most people mean by the Holocaust. For example, there was just an editorial in The Economist this week talking about Zyklon B.

(4) Now *everybody* knows that the Germans deported large numbers of Jews from Poland to the East, and it seems perfectly possible that they massacred many of them along with the local Soviet Jews, or perhaps that the local Ukrainians or Byelorussians did so. How many? Who knows! Again, I’m not aware of any detailed German government documents spelling it out. Furthermore, I’m sure that lots of the Jews in occupied parts of the USSR were killed by the Germans in anti-partisan activities or just general massacres (or maybe killed by the local Ukrainians or others). Also, Jews were probably very heavily involved in partisan activities, so I’d assume that lots of them died in battle or from disease or hunger or all the other things that happened to civilians on the wartime Eastern Front.

I just don’t have any idea about the numbers. I’d assume that the figure was surely far more than just 100,000 during all the years of the the war, but other than that I just don’t have any idea.

(5) As for Treblinka, you say it was an extermination camp and my impression is that the Holocaust Deniers mostly say it was a transit camp. I think that according to your perspective, hundreds of thousands of bodies are buried there, but the Holocaust Deniers say that’s ridiculous and there’s absolutely no sign of any such mass graves. Obviously, doing some digging might resolve the disagreement, just like the mass graves as Katyn Forest were dug up, but the Holocaust activists supposedly won’t allow such a thing because it’s a sacred Jewish burial ground, which makes me suspicious. The Holocaust Deniers claim that ground-penetrating radar shown absolutely no signs of any mass graves, which makes me even more suspicious.

Supposedly, almost no such mass graves have been found anywhere near the various other massacre sites, which also is rather suspicious. And the claim that once they were starting to lose the war and retreating, the Nazis had millions of bodies dug up and cremated seems highly implausible to me.

(6) If I understand you properly, near the end of your remarks, you seem to suggest that there were something like a total of 2.4M Jews under Nazi control in 1942, and that number seems perfectly plausible to me, probably not all that different from what Sanning might estimate. So the question is, what happened to them? Well, I’m sure that the Germans killed some, the Poles and Ukrainians killed others, and many died from disease or hunger or other wartime hardships. Probably a good number of them ran away, hid their Jewish identity, and just tried to blend in with the local population. After the war was over, the DP camps had huge numbers of Jews, so that’s where some of them went, before going to the US or Israel or various other places. And some of them remained in Poland or other parts of Eastern Europe. I just don’t have a clue about any of these numbers, and I’m not persuaded that anyone else does either.

(7) Regarding the historical narrative, I just find it *extremely* suspicious that all those thousands pages of WWII memoirs by Churchill, Eisenhower, and De Gaulle never seemed to mention such a gigantic occurrence, and the same was apparently true for decades of most leading mainstream historians (though they sometimes tossed in a vague sentence here and there). And John Beaty spent the whole war preparing the intelligence summaries for America’s top officials—why would he simply claim it was just a hoax in 1951? And why did so many top American generals and Military Intelligence officials endorse the Beaty book where he said that? And although the ADL and other Jewish activist groups denounced his book for all sorts of reasons, as far as I can tell, they seemed to pretty much ignore his Holocaust Denial. All of that seems very suspicious to me.

(8) I summed up the few weeks of research that went into my article in the following sentence: “However, as an outsider exploring this contentious topic I think it far more likely than not that the standard Holocaust narrative is at least substantially false, and quite possibly, almost entirely so.”

Now if the gas chambers for extermination were just a hoax and the Jewish fatalities at Auschwitz were roughly 99% below the traditional figure, with Jewish lives having been saved rather than taken by Zyklon B, I’d certainly say that easily meets a reasonable standard of “substantially false.” Maybe gigantic mass graves of Jewish victims exist at Treblinka and elsewhere and maybe they don’t, but if they allow Treblinka to be dug up and the mass grave of hundreds of thousands of victims turns out to be a hoax as well, I think that would start moving things towards the second possibility in my sentence.

I almost never look at Takimag and I’d had the impression that over the years, Cole had published a couple of columns insulting me. However, when I Googled, I was utterly astonished to discover that I’d been the target of his wrath in fully fifteen—FIFTEEN—of his Takimag columns, and I might have even missed a few others. Reading through them, they mostly seemed pretty vacuous, overflowing with the crude insults that apparently seem to satisfy his right-wing, low-IQ readership, whether they were directed against blacks, immigrants, Muslims, or myself.

When I recently checked, I’d discovered that I’d never once mentioned Cole in any of my articles over the years, whether discussing the Holocaust or anything else, and perhaps that silence explains some of his intense hostility. So I decided I might as well finally do so, though this may provoke another fifteen of his insulting columns in retaliation.

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