The Holocaust Historiography Project

Arthur R. Butz archive

The Hoax of the Twentieth Century

Preface to the 1976 Edition

In common with virtually all Americans, who have had their opinions formed since the end of World War II, I had, until not very long ago, assumed that Germany had given the world a particularly murderous outburst during World War II. This view has ruled Western opinion since 1945 and earlier, and I was no exception in accepting the essentials of it.

An important qualification in the preceding is the term essentials, for the collection of crimes of which the Germans were supposedly guilty in World War II grows rapidly smaller as one examines the evidence and arguments assembled in readily available revisionist books. An elementary critical examination reveals that most of the crimes that are real even in the minds of intellectuals (e.g. lampshades manufactured by some Germans from the skins of human beings killed in concentration camps for the purpose) obviously had no basis in fact. Likewise with legends about mistreatment of American and British prisoners of war. Moreover, the general problem is elaborated considerably when one weighs, as the revisionists do, the appalling wartime and postwar brutalities of the Western Allies.

Such an investigation does not overturn the Holocaust legend, however, and the six million Jews murdered, mainly in gas chambers, can seem immovable fact. The revisionist books which overturn some of the most popular misconceptions seem to accept the gas chambers as factual. All educated opinion that the investigator consults accepts the extermination story. Professors of history who have specialized in Germany, if asked, seem to consider the charge as established as the Great Pyramid. Liberal and conservative publicists, though they have very different attitudes toward World War II and America’s entry into it, and though they squabble with each other on almost everything else, close ranks on the reality of the Holocaust.

Noting the obvious ways in which this legend is exploited in contemporary politics, notably in connection with the completely illogical support that the U.S. extends to Israel, I had long had lingering doubts about it, and there was also the fact that there existed a small number of respected observers whose views had not been formed entirely after World War II and who, in the very limited channels open to them and with various degrees of explicitness, denied even the approximate truth of the legend. A good example is the distinguished American scholar John Beaty, who was called to active duty in the military Intelligence Service of the War Department General Staff just before the entry of the U.S. into the war and attained the rank of Colonel by the end of the war. Among other things, Beaty was one of the two editors of the daily secret G-2 Report, which was issued each noon to give persons in high places, including the White House, the world picture as it existed four hours earlier. In his book Iron Curtain Over America, published in 1951, he ridiculed the six million legend with a few remarks that were unfortunately brief and inconclusive, but, coming from a man who was one of the best informed in the world during the war, carried some amount of authority.

Elementary investigation into the question, of the sort the non-historian customarily does, led me nowhere. The meager amount of literature in the English language which denied the truth of the legend was not only unconvincing; it was so unreliable and unscrupulous in the employment of sources, when sources were employed, that it had a negative effect, so that the case for the truth of the essentials of the legend (disregarding quantitative problems, e.g., whether it was six million or four million or only three million) seemed strengthened. At the time I became aware that there existed additional literature in French and German but, being quite unaccustomed to reading texts in those languages except on rare occasions when I consulted a paper in a French or German mathematics journal, I did not undertake to acquire copies of the foreign language literature.

Moreover, I assumed that if such literature was worth more than what was being published in English, somebody would have published English translations.

Still possessing my lingering doubts I sat down, early in 1972, and started to read some of the Holocaust literature itself rather more systematically than I had previously, in order to see just what claims were made in this connection and on what evidence. Fortunately, one of my first choices was Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews. The experience was a shock and a rude awakening, for Hilberg’s book did what the opposition literature could never have done. I not only became convinced that the legend of the several million gassed Jews must be a hoax, but I derived what turned out to be a fairly reliable feel for the remarkable cabalistic mentality that had given the lie its specific form (those who want to experience the rude awakening somewhat as I did may stop here and consult pp. 567–571 of Hilberg[1]).

Although my long-lingering skepticism in regard to the legend was no longer on the defensive, my information could not, early in 1972, be considered conclusive, and my knowledge of the subject was not comprehensive, so I set out, at first in my spare time, to investigate the subject with the thoroughness that was required.

The reader will have surmised that my spare time eventually expanded considerably.

Several — for me startling — discoveries made the subject irresistible in a purely intellectual sense. I acquired the foreign language literature. Ultimately, I spent the entire summer of 1972 working on an exposé of the hoax, since by then I had penetrated and demolished the whole sorry mess. While the book you are holding differs considerably in quantity of factual content and general quality from the picture I had formed by the summer of 1972, that picture, whose essentials are transmitted here, was in such overwhelming contradiction to the lies that Western society had equipped me with, that my attention could not be drawn from the subject by any appeal to prudence or any such practical calculation. Because even early in the summer of 1972, it was evident that my research had carried the subject beyond the existing literature, I felt an inescapable obligation and an intellectual imperative to put forward for society’s evaluation what I knew about this most pernicious hoax. It quickly became clear that only a book would do; the subject could not, given the years of propaganda, be treated in a research paper or pamphlet and, a fortiori, it could not be treated in the form of a lecture.

The body of a text was written in the summer of 1972, and then the manuscript was gradually improved in the course of the next two years. A trip to Europe in the summer of 1973 was very rewarding, as was a trip to Washington later in the year. The book was essentially finished in late 1974.

There will be those who will say that I am not qualified to undertake such a work, and there will even be those who will say that I have no right to publish such things. So be it.

If a scholar, regardless of his specialty, perceives that scholarship is acquiescing, from whatever motivation, in a monstrous lie, then it is his duty to expose the lie, whatever his qualifications. It does not matter that he collides with all established scholarship in the field, although that is not the case here, for a critical examination of the holocaust has been avoided by academic historians in all respects and not merely in the respect it is treated in this book. That is, while virtually all historians pay some sort of lip service to the lie, when it comes up in books and papers on other subjects, none has produced an academic study arguing, and presenting the evidence for, either the thesis that the exterminations did take place or that they did not take place. If they did take place then it should be possible to produce a book showing how it started and why, by whom it was organized and the line of authority in the killing operations, what the technical means were and that those technical means did not have some sort of more mundane interpretation (e.g. crematories), who the technicians involved were, the numbers of victims from the various lands and the timetables of their executions, presenting the evidence on which these claims are based together with reasons why one should be willing to accept the authenticity of all documents produced at illegal trials. No historian has undertaken anything resembling such a project; only non-historians have undertaken portions.

With these preliminary remarks, therefore, I invite your study of the hoax of your century.

Evanston, Illinois
August 1975

[1] Vol. 3, 885–890, in the revised and definitive edition of 1985. Editor’s note: Cf. Graf.