Institute for Historical Review
The Institute for Historical Review (IHR), founded in 1978, is an organization primarily devoted to publishing and promoting books and essays described by critics as pseudo-historical that attack the mainstream historical consensus concerning the Nazi genocide of Jews. It is considered by many scholars as the center of the international Holocaust denial movement. IHR is widely regarded as antisemitic and as having links to neo-Nazi organizations. The Institute published the Journal of Historical Review until 2002, but now disseminates its materials through its website and via email. The Institute is affiliated with the Legion for the Survival of Freedom and Noontide Press.
The IHR was founded in 1978 by David McCalden (also known as Lewis Brandon), a former member of the British National Front, and Willis Carto, the head of the now-defunct Liberty Lobby. Liberty Lobby was an antisemitic organization best known for publishing The Spotlight, now reorganized as the American Free Press. Dave McCalden left the IHR in 1981. Tom Marcellus became its director, and Carto lost control of it in 1993, in an internal power struggle. Since 1995, the director of the IHR has been Mark Weber, who previously worked with the white supremacist National Alliance. Since taking over, Weber has continued to publish writing on the Holocaust and on World War II and has pushed to broaden the institute's mandate. He has been editor of the IHR's Journal of Historical Review for nine years. Its main form of spreading its message is through its website IHR Update and e-mail list. The website that Weber has built features such articles as "The Jewish Role in the Bolshevik Revolution" and "Israel at 60: A Grim Balance Sheet."
At the IHR's first conference in 1979, IHR publicly offered a reward of $50,000 for verifiable "proof that gas chambers for the purpose of killing human beings existed at or in Auschwitz." This money (and an additional $40,000) was eventually paid in 1985 to Auschwitz survivor Mel Mermelstein, who, represented by public-interest lawyer William John Cox, sued the IHR for breach of contract for initially ignoring his evidence (a signed testimony of his experiences in Auschwitz). On October 9, 1981, both parties in the Mermelstein case filed motions for summary judgment in consideration of which Judge Thomas T. Johnson of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County took "judicial notice of the fact that Jews were gassed to death at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland during the summer of 1944." On August 5, 1985, Judge Robert A. Wenke entered a judgment based upon the Stipulation for Entry of Judgment agreed upon by the parties on July 22, 1985. The judgment required IHR and other defendants to pay $90,000 to Mermelstein and to issue a letter of apology to "Mr. Mel Mermelstein, a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Buchenwald, and all other survivors of Auschwitz" for "pain, anguish and suffering" caused to them.
On July 4th, 1984, the warehouse of the IHR and its publishing outfit, Noontide Press, suffered an arson attack after assailants detonated a firebomb at the Institute's office. The resulting fire destroyed the Institute's warehouse, along with thousands of books, cassette tapes, and pamphlets and caused nearly $400,000 in damages. This was the climax of numerous acts of violence against the IHR, which included five minor firebombings and a drive by shooting. In 2002 the 1984 attack was tied to an operative of the Jewish Defense League, who had been arrested on an unrelated charge. No one was prosecuted for the bombing.
David Irving, Robert Faurisson, Ernst Zündel, Fred Leuchter, Arthur Butz, Joseph Sobran, Pete McCloskey, Bradley R. Smith, Carlo Mattogno, Jürgen Graf, Doug Collins, Tony Martin and Radio Islam founder Ahmed Rami have attended conferences and/or contributed to publications of the IHR.
In 2001, Eric Owens, a former employee, alleged that Mark Weber and Greg Raven from the IHR's staff had been planning to sell their mailing lists to either the Anti-Defamation League or the Church of Scientology.
In January 2009, Weber, the IHR's director, released an essay titled, "How Relevant Is Holocaust Revisionism?" In it he noted that Holocaust denial had attracted little support over the years: "It’s gotten some support in Iran, or places like that, but as far as I know, there is no history department supporting writing by these folks." Accordingly, he recommended that emphasis be placed instead on opposing "Jewish-Zionist power", which some commentators claim is a shift to a directly antisemitic position.
The Institute for Historical Review describes itself as on its website a "public-interest educational, research and publishing center dedicated to promoting greater public awareness of history."
Although the Institute for Historical Review comments on a variety of subjects, it is most noted (and criticized) for its Holocaust denial. IHR is widely regarded as antisemitic and as having links to neo-Nazi organizations. Critics argue that its primary focus is denying key facts of Nazism and the genocide of Jews.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has listed the IHR as a hate group for its denial of the Holocaust and neo-Nazi ideologies.
The United Kingdom's Channel 4 describes the IHR as a "pseudo-academic body based in the United States which is dedicated to denying that the Holocaust happened," while the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called the IHR a "blatantly anti-Semitic assortment of pseudo-scholars".
In an article published in Hit list Magazine in 2002, author Kevin Coogan claimed there had been attempts to forge ties between Western Holocaust denial groups such as the IHR and "radical Middle Eastern extremists." According to Coogan, Ahmed Rami, a former Moroccan military officer who founded Radio Islam to disseminate antisemitic Holocaust denial and pro-Nazi propaganda, teamed up with the IHR to organize a conference in a Hezbollah-controlled section of Beirut, Lebanon.
The Daily Star, the leading English-language paper in Lebanon, in response to a planned IHR meeting in the country called the IHR "loathsome pseudo-historians" and an "international hate group," and reported "as one former PLO official has put it, 'with friends like that, we don't need enemies'." Oliver Kam, writing for The Jewish Chronicle, has called IHR "a pseudo-scholarly body".
The IHR has insisted that they do not deny the Holocaust, claiming that, "The Institute does not 'deny the Holocaust.' Every responsible scholar of twentieth century history acknowledges the great catastrophe that befell European Jewry during World War II. All the same, the IHR has over the years published detailed books and numerous probing essays that call into question aspects of the orthodox Holocaust extermination story, and highlight specific Holocaust exaggerations and falsehoods." On the IHR website Barbara Kulaszka defends the distinction between denial and revisionism by arguing that considerable revisions have been made over the years by historians and concludes:
For purposes of their own, powerful special interest groups desperately seek to keep substantive discussion of the Holocaust story taboo. One of the ways they do this is by purposely mischaracterizing revisionist scholars as 'deniers.'
Commentators have argued, however, that the avowals by the IHR that they do not deny the Holocaust are misleading. Paul Rauber writes that:
The question [of whether the IHR denies the Holocaust] appears to turn on IHR's Humpty-Dumpty word game with the word Holocaust. According to Mark Weber, associate editor of the IHR's Journal of Historical Review [now Director of the IHR], "If by the 'Holocaust' you mean the political persecution of Jews, some scattered killings, if you mean a cruel thing that happened, no one denies that. But if one says that the 'Holocaust' means the systematic extermination of six to eight million Jews in concentration camps, that's what we think there's not evidence for." That is, IHR doesn't deny that the Holocaust happened; they just deny that the word 'Holocaust' means what people customarily use it for.
According to British historian of Germany Richard J. Evans:
Like many individual Holocaust deniers, the Institute as a body denied that it was involved in Holocaust denial. It called this a 'smear' which was 'completely at variance with the facts' because 'revisionist scholars' such as Faurisson, Butz 'and bestselling British historian David Irving acknowledge that hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed and otherwise perished during the Second World War as a direct and indirect result of the harsh anti-Jewish policies of Germany and its allies'. But the concession that a relatively small number of Jews were killed was routinely used by Holocaust deniers to distract attention from the far more important fact of their refusal to admit that the figure ran into the millions, and that a large proportion of these victims were systematically murdered by gassing as well as by shooting.
Criticism of methods
The IHR is not regarded as conducting serious historical research by mainstream historians and academics but rather as conducting pseudo-science aimed at proving that the Holocaust did not happen. The editorial board of one of the leading historical journals, the Journal of American History, wrote, "We all abhor, on both moral and scholarly grounds, the substantive arguments of the Institute for Historical Review. We reject their claims to be taken seriously as historians." Mark Weber argued that there were smears issued by the Organization of American Historians against the IHR and that "A letter by Journal editor Mark Weber responding to these false allegations was rejected. Not a single word in defense of the IHR and its work been has so far been permitted to appear in the pages of the OAH Newsletter." He then printed the text of his letter disputing the claims of the editorial board of the Organization of American Historians.
In April 2004, following a complaint by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, The Nation magazine refused to accept advertising from the IHR, stating "[T]here is a strong presumption against censoring any advertisement, especially if we disagree with its politics. This case, however, is different. Their arguments are 'patently fraudulent.'" Weber responded with critical commentary in a letter to Leigh Novog of the advertising department of The Nation.
Journal of Historical Review
The IHR published the Journal of Historical Review, which its critics (including the ADL, the Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide studies, and other scholars, such as Robert Hanyok, a National Security Agency historian, accused of being pseudo-scientific. Hanyok referred to the IHR as a "scholarly organisation", but denounced them because "in its content, the JHR carries a heavy emphasis on articles pressing a revisionist or denial viewpoint about the holocaust."
The journal, History Teacher, wrote of the Journal of Historical Review that the "magazine is shockingly racist and antisemitic: articles on 'America's Failed Racial Policy' and anti-Israel pieces accompany those about gas chambers... They clearly have no business claiming to be a continuation of the revisionist tradition, and should be referred to as 'Holocaust Deniers'."
The journal commenced publication in the spring of 1980 as a quarterly periodical. Publication was suspended in 1986-87, and thereafter continued until 2002. Publication of the journal was halted in 2002 due to "lack of staff and funding", according to the organization's website.
- IHR-website; contact-page
- Holocaust denial
- Carlos C. Huerta and Dafna Shiffman-Huerta "Holocaust Denial Literature: Its Place in Teaching the Holocaust", in Rochelle L. Millen. New Perspectives on the Holocaust: A Guide for Teachers and Scholars, NYU Press, 1996, ISBN 0-8147-5540-2, p. 189.
- "While denial of the Holocaust's very occurrence had emerged already during the early postwar period, it gained new prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. During this period denial attempted to leave the lunatic fringe and set out for the mainstream in both the United States and Europe, as figures such as Arthur Butz, Bradley Smith, and Robert Faurisson, together with organizations like the Institute for Historical Review, attempted to lend academic credibility to Holocaust Denial." Gavriel D. Rosenfeld "The politics of uniqueness: reflections on the recent polemical turn in Holocaust and genocide scholarship" in David Cesarani, Sarah Kavanaugh. Holocaust: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-415-27509-1, p. 376.
- "In recent years, Holocaust denial has become a propaganda mainstay of organized racism. It is promulgated by racist groups and by organizations like the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), which publishes the non-peer-reviewed Journal of Historical Review." Kathleen M. Blee. Inside Organized Racism: Women in the Hate Movement, University of California Press, 2003, ISBN 0-520-24055-3, p. 92.
- "The pseudo-scholarly guise of Holocaust deniers is epitomised by the Institute for Historical Review - established in the United States in the late 1970s - and its journal, the Journal of Historical Review, which have provided the core of the more contemporary Holocaust denial movement (Stern 1995)." Lydia Morris. Rights: Sociological Perspectives, Routledge (UK), 2006, ISBN 0-415-35522-2 p. 238 note 1.
- "The chief organization promoting Holocaust denial is the Institute for Historical Review, a California organization founded in 1978 by Willis Carto, who also founded the extreme right-wing Liberty Lobby." Suzanne Pharr. Eyes Right!: Challenging the Right Wing Backlash, South End Press, 1995, ISBN 0-89608-523-6, p. 252.
- "Denial is an international phenomena with deniers active across the globe. This is not an incidental occurrence, but rather is the result of organized international networking. Organizations such as the California-based Institute for Historical Review (IHR) have played the pivotal role in this process by organizing regular international conferences since 1979 in America." Konrad Kwiet, Jürgen Matthäus. Contemporary Responses to the Holocaust, Praeger/Greenwood, 2004, ISBN 0-275-97466-9, p. 141.
- "A growing number of white nationalist and white supremacy groups have adopted innocuous-sounding names such as the Euro-American Student Union, the Institute for Historical Review (a Holocaust denial group), ..." Carol M. Swain. The New White Nationalism in America: its challenge to integration, Cambridge University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-521-80886-3, p. 28.
- "Since its inception in 1979, the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), a California-based Holocaust denial organization founded by Willis Carto of Liberty Lobby, has promoted the antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jews fabricated tales of their own genocide to manipulate the sympathies of the non-Jewish world." Antisemitism and Racism Country Reports: United States, Stephen Roth Institute, 2000. Retrieved May 17, 2007.
- "The IHR is the Holocaust-denial group in Costa Mesa that attempts to rewrite the history of World War II in favor of the Axis powers and present nazism in a favorable light. The IHR is sponsored by Willis Carto who also leads the anti-Semitic and quasi-Nazi Liberty Lobby." Russ Bellant, Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party, South End Press, 1991, ISBN 0-89608-418-3, p. 43.
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- Extremism in America: Institute for Historical Review, Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved February 28, 2007.
- Peter Vogelsang & Brian B. M. Larsen. Holocaust Denial:The Institute for Historical Review, The Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2002. Retrieved February 28, 2007.
- Jack R. Fischel. "The New Anti-Semitic Axis: Holocaust Denial, Black Nationalism, and the Crisis on Our College Campuses", The Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 1995. Retrieved February 28, 2007.
- Other Holocaust deniers: Institute for Historical Review (IHR), Channel 4. Retrieved February 28, 2007.
- "Earlier this year, Huber and three of his closest collaborators, the NPD's Horst Mahler, Jürgen Graf (a leading Swiss Holocaust denier who fled to Iran to avoid serving a 15-month jail sentence for his activities), and the Swedish-based Ahmed Rami, a former Moroccan military officer who in 1987 founded Radio Islam to disseminate antisemitic, Holocaust denial, and pro-Nazi propaganda, teamed up with the California-based Institute for Historical Review (IHR) -- the world's leading "Holocaust denial" organization -- to organize an IHR-sponsored conference that was scheduled to take place in late March in a Hezbollah-controlled section of Beirut, Lebanon." Kevin Coogan, "The mysterious Achmed Huber: Friend to Hitler, Allah and Ibn Ladin?", HITLIST magazine, April/May 2002.
- Insight, CNN, March 5, 2002. Retrieved February 28, 2007. Similar descriptions are used by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, the Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, National Review (April 7, 2003), Michael Shermer, Alex Grobman, Denying History, University of California Press, 2002, Suzanne Pharr. Eyes Right!: Challenging the Right Wing Backlash, South End Press, 1995.
- Guidestar entry on the Legion for the Survival of Freedom
- Mark Weber - A Biographical Profile
- Popper, Nathaniel (January 15, 2009). "Revisionist: It’s Time To Quit Shoah Fight". The Jewish Daily Forward.
- ADL - Institute for Historical Review
- "Mermelstein Victory", Heritage, October 23, 1981.
- "Footnote to the Holocaust", Newsweek, October 19, 1981, p. 73.
- "Mel Mermelstein v. Institute for Historical Review Judgment and Statement of Record". Retrieved November 20, 2010.
- Los Angeles Times, 16 November 1996: Judge Awards $6.4 Million to O.C. Revisionist Group
- "Because of the views held by Carto and the institute, the case has been followed by the Anti-Defamation League in San Diego. Its director, Morris Casuto, found little comfort in the decision. 'Given the litigants, it's a pity there could only be one loser,' he said yesterday.'" Decision on Estate Fails to End Bitterness; Holocaust Skeptics win in court; where's cash? San Diego Union-Tribune, November 16, 1996, p. B-1
- Michael, George. Confronting right-wing extremism and terrorism in the USA, Routledge, 2003, p. 89 & p. 231, footnote 192.
- Heidi Beirich, Revisionism, Interrupted, Southern Poverty Law Center
- ABOUT THE IHR Our Mission and Record, IHR website
- "Institute for Historical Review". Anti Defamation League. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
- Dennis Roddy. "The woman who defended history", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette p. J-1, May 29, 2005.
- "Don't tolerate hate", Daily Star, March 24, 2001.
- Oliver Kamm "Analysis: Listen to him, but remember that he is a liar", The Jewish Chronicle, 11 December 2008
- About the IHR
- What is 'Holocaust Denial?' by Barbara Kulaszka]
- Paul Rauber, East Bay Express, January 17, 1992, page 4.
- Richard J. Evans. Telling Lies About Hitler: The Holocaust, History and the David Irving Trial, Verso, 2002, ISBN 1-85984-417-0, p. 151.
- Journal of American History, Vol 80, No. 3, p. 1213.
- Mark Weber. The Organization of American Historians: Faithfully Reflecting Prevailing Standards. The Journal of Historical Review, July-August 1993 (Vol. 13, No. 4), pp. 20-24.
- www.wymaninstitute.org David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, 22 April 2004
- Right-wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, by Chip Berlet, Matthew Nemiroff Lyons, Guilford Press, 2000, p. 189
- Robert J. Hanyok. Eavesdropping on Hell: Historical Guide to Western Communications Intelligence and the Holocaust, 1939-1945. Courier Corporation, Apr 10, 2013. p. 12
- History Teacher, Vol 28, No.4, p 526.
- Institute for Historical Review home page
- Willis Carto and the IHR (critical site hosted by the Nizkor Project)
- Institute for Historical Review (IHR): Outlet for Denial Propaganda (critical site hosted by the Anti-Defamation League)
- Institute for Historical Review (critical description of IHR from Channel 4's The Holocaust on Trial page)
- Deniers in Revisionists Clothing (information about the IHR and Mermelstein settlement)
- Holocaust Denial, a Definition (includes a description of the IHR and Mark Weber's views)
- The Mad Revisionist (spoof of the IHR and its Journal of Historical Review)