Institute for Historical Review

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Institute for Historical Review
Key people
David McCalden, founder
Willis Carto, co-founder

The Institute for Historical Review (IHR), founded in 1978, is an organization based in California, United States, best known for publishing articles and books promoting Holocaust denial.[1][2][3][4][5] It is considered by many scholars to be central to the international Holocaust denial movement.[1][6][7] IHR promotes antisemitic viewpoints,[8] and has 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.[9]

In 2009, Institute director Mark Weber published an article questioning the relevance of "Holocaust revisionism" in general, triggering infighting in the movement.[10]


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. Austin App, a La Salle University professor credited for being the first major American holocaust denier, inspired the creation of the IHR.[11] 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,[12] 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.[10] He has been editor of the IHR's Journal of Historical Review for nine years.[12] Currently, its main method of spreading its message is through its website IHR Update and e-mail list.[13] 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."[10]

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 occupied Poland during the summer of 1944."[14][15][16] 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.[16]

On July 4, 1984, a firebomb destroyed the Institute's offices and warehouse. Thousands of books, cassette tapes, and pamphlets, 90% of their inventory, were lost. Carto had not insured the facilities or the stock.[17]

In 1996, IHR won a $6,430,000 judgment in a lawsuit against Carto in which IHR alleged that Carto embezzled $7.5 million that had been left to IHR from the estate of Jean Edison Farrel.[18][19]

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.[20]

In January 2009, Weber, the IHR's director, released an essay titled, "How Relevant Is Holocaust Revisionism?" In it, he acknowledged the death of millions of Jews but did not wholly reject Holocaust denial. 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 was a shift to a directly antisemitic position.[10][21]

Holocaust denial[edit]

Although the IHR comments on a variety of subjects, it is most criticized for its Holocaust denial.[1] IHR is widely regarded as antisemitic and as having links to neo-Nazi organizations. Multiple writers have stated that its primary focus is denying key facts of Nazism and the genocide of Jews.[2][3][4][22]

When the IHR devoted itself to publishing Holocaust-denial material, it insisted that its work in this regard was "revisionism" rather than denial:

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.[23]

On the IHR website, Barbara Kulaszka defends the distinction between "denial" and "revisionism" by arguing that considerable revisions to History 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."[24]

American environmentalist Paul Rauber wrote:

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.[25]

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 [has been] 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.[26]

In 2007, the United Kingdom's Channel 4 described the IHR as a "pseudo-academic body based in the United States which is dedicated to denying that the Holocaust happened,"[5] while the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called the IHR a "blatantly anti-Semitic assortment of pseudo-scholars".[27]

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the IHR as a hate group.[28] In an article for The Jewish Chronicle, British writer Oliver Kamm, described the IHR as being "a pseudo-scholarly body". The British Holocaust denier David Irving delivered a speech to the organisation's congress in 1983.[29] Irving returned to speak at IHR conferences on at least four more occasions, in 1989, 1990, 1992, and 1994.[28]

Connections with Islamic opponents of Israel[edit]

In an article published in Hit List magazine in 2002, author Kevin Coogan claimed there had been attempts to forge ties between American and European Holocaust-denial groups such as the IHR and "radical Middle Eastern extremists." According to Coogan, Ahmed Rami, a former Moroccan military officer "founded Radio Islam to disseminate antisemitic, Holocaust denying, and often pro-Nazi propaganda," and tried to organize, with the IHR, a conference in a Hezbollah-controlled section of Beirut, Lebanon.[6]

The Daily Star, the leading English-language paper in Lebanon, in response to a planned IHR meeting in the country, called its members "loathsome pseudo-historians" and the Institute itself an "international hate group." The paper reported "one former PLO official [stating], 'with friends like that, we don't need enemies'."[30] With the help of the anti-Israeli Jordanian Writers Association, an alternative event was held with the theme "What happened to the Revisionist Historians' Conference in Beirut?"

Criticism of methods[edit]

The "Holocaust revisionist" arguments published by the IHR are not regarded as serious historical research by mainstream historians and academics; rather, they are regarded as works of 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."[31] In response, IHR printed Weber's letter disputing the claims.[32]

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.'"[33] Weber responded with critical commentary in a letter to Leigh Novog of the advertising department of The Nation.[34]

Journal of Historical Review[edit]

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[35] – accused of being pseudo-scientific.[36] 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."[37]

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'."[38]

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.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c 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 Archived June 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 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.
  2. ^ a b Extremism in America: Institute for Historical Review Archived January 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Anti-Defamation League. Retrieved February 28, 2007.
  3. ^ a b Peter Vogelsang & Brian B. M. Larsen. Holocaust Denial:The Institute for Historical Review Archived March 10, 2005, at the Wayback Machine, The Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2002. Retrieved February 28, 2007.
  4. ^ a b Jack R. Fischel. "The New Anti-Semitic Axis: Holocaust Denial, Black Nationalism, and the Crisis on Our College Campuses" Archived December 1, 2005, at the Wayback Machine, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 1995. Retrieved February 28, 2007.
  5. ^ a b Other Holocaust deniers: Institute for Historical Review (IHR) Archived March 19, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Channel 4. Retrieved February 28, 2007.
  6. ^ a b "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?", Hit List, April/May 2002.
  7. ^ Insight Archived February 5, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, 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.
  8. ^ Levin, Sam (September 12, 2018). "California transit agency allows ad from Holocaust denial group". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on December 11, 2018. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  9. ^ "Guidestar entry on the Legion for the Survival of Freedom". Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  10. ^ a b c d Popper, Nathaniel (January 15, 2009). "Revisionist: It's Time To Quit Shoah Fight". The Jewish Daily Forward. Archived from the original on January 20, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2009.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ a b "Mark Weber - A Biographical Profile". Archived from the original on August 27, 2011. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  13. ^ ADL - Institute for Historical Review Archived January 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Mermelstein Victory", Heritage, October 23, 1981.
  15. ^ "Footnote to the Holocaust", Newsweek, October 19, 1981, p. 73.
  16. ^ a b "Mel Mermelstein v. Institute for Historical Review Judgment and Statement of Record". Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2010.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 14, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ Los Angeles Times, November 16, 1996: Judge Awards $6.4 Million to O.C. Revisionist Group Archived January 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "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
  20. ^ Michael, George. Confronting right-wing extremism and terrorism in the USA, Routledge, 2003, p. 89 & p. 231, footnote 192.
  21. ^ Heidi Beirich, Revisionism, Interrupted, Southern Poverty Law Center, archived from the original on December 7, 2009, retrieved December 7, 2009
  22. ^ "Institute for Historical Review". Anti Defamation League. Archived from the original on October 1, 2013. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
  23. ^ "ABOUT THE IHR". Archived from the original on November 29, 2005. Retrieved October 5, 2005.
  24. ^ "What is 'Holocaust Denial'?". Archived from the original on February 9, 2010. Retrieved November 14, 2009.
  25. ^ Paul Rauber, East Bay Express, January 17, 1992, page 4.
  26. ^ Evans, Richard J.. Telling Lies About Hitler: The Holocaust, History and the David Irving Trial, Verso, 2002, ISBN 1-85984-417-0, p. 151.
  27. ^ Dennis Roddy. "The woman who defended history", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette p. J-1, May 29, 2005.
  28. ^ a b "Institute for Historical Review". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  29. ^ Kamm, Oliver (December 11, 2008). "Analysis: Listen to him, but remember that he is a liar". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on June 3, 2009.
  30. ^ "Don't tolerate hate", Daily Star, March 24, 2001.
  31. ^ Journal of American History, Vol 80, No. 3, p. 1213.
  32. ^ Weber, Mark. The Organization of American Historians: Faithfully Reflecting Prevailing Standards Archived September 15, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. The Journal of Historical Review, July–August 1993 (Vol. 13, No. 4), pp. 20-24.
  33. ^ David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, 22 April 2004 Archived November 3, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ "IHR Letter to The Nation". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved November 22, 2015.
  35. ^ "404". Archived from the original on November 2, 2005. Retrieved August 18, 2005.
  36. ^ Right-wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, by Chip Berlet, Matthew Nemiroff Lyons, Guilford Press, 2000, p. 189
  37. ^ Robert J. Hanyok. Eavesdropping on Hell: Historical Guide to Western Communications Intelligence and the Holocaust, 1939-1945. Courier Corporation, April 10, 2013. p. 12
  38. ^ History Teacher, Vol 28, No.4, p 526.

External links[edit]