Dance, Hitchens, Dance

May 27, 2005 | Updated May 25, 2011

Hey Hitchens, since you've recounted how much fun you had sweatin' to the oldies at my Bar Mitzvah -- and since you described me as "cowardly" for pointing out your habit of enabling Holocaust-deniers -- I wanted to provide you with some new tunes to dance to.

The first tune is called "Faurisson's Witness." It's a Teutonic People's Chorus inspired by your involvement with Robert Faurisson (we'll get to David Irving later), the French Holocaust denier who claimed the gas chambers at Auschwitz didn't exist. You know him very well. You called him "insanitary" but defended his right to free speech in an impassioned article in 1985. That would have been enough, but you just couldn't help yourself.

In December 1993, in a Vanity Fair piece called "Whose History Is It?" you tried to verify one of Faurisson's charges: that the Holocaust Museum contains false information on the Holocaust. You asked the Institute for Historical Review, the premier center for Holocaust denial research, to give you their "best shot." They provided you with an essay by Faurisson which claimed that one of the commandants at Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoss, had been tortured by the British into "confessing to a fantastic and unbelievable number of murders." (2.5 million). You also interviewed esteemed Holocaust scholars Christopher Browning and Deborah Lipstadt, whom you incredulously referred to as "counter-revisionists." You quoted Browning as saying, "Hoss was always a very weak and confused witness."

Ultimately, you confirmed Faurisson in the article, writing that, "according to the counter-revisionists, an important piece of evidence in the Holocaust Museum is not reliable."

Dancing yet, Hitchens? If not, maybe we should throw some Wagner on.

Faurisson's assistant, Andrew Gray, is a Wagner expert and noted revisionist. On August 31, 1994, you went with him and Faurisson to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC to confront Michael Berenbaum (currently the head of the Shoah Project in Los Angeles). In his book on Revisionism, Faurisson refers to you as one of his "witnesses:"

We spoke in his [Berenbaum's] office, in the presence of four witnesses (two on either side). I forced him to admit that, paradoxically enough, his Museum contains not a single concrete representation of a Nazi gas chamber (since the model of Krema II is only an artistic creation bearing no resemblance to reality).

According to Berenbaum, the confrontation was taped by his assistant. Hitchens, will you call for the public release of the tape? Yes or no?

While you think about it, the beat goes on.

On September 23, 1994, Faurisson wrote a preface to his book on "revisionism" in which he cited seven other revisionists or partial revisionists who he said were Jewish and who he asserted had a special role in "revisionism". He named you as one of them, writing:

... [ Jews] will ultimately give up the gas chambers just as they gave up the stories of Jewish soap and the four million of Auschwitz. But they will go further. Just as in the latter two cases, they will again make themselves seem to have discovered the myth, and will accuse the Germans, the Polish or the Communists of having fabricated the 'myth of the gas chambers' in the first place. To lend credence to their claim, they will then name Jews who are partial or full revisionists (J.G. Burg, Jean-Gabriel Cohn-Bendit, Roger-Guy Dommergue, Arno Mayer, David Cole, Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Hayward.)

Dance, Hitchens, dance.

You then wrote your Minority Report column for the Nation on October 3,1994 about a dialogue between you and Faurisson. "It is widely alleged that gas chambers-- 'chemical slaughterhouses' -- were used to destroy European Jewry," you reported Faurisson telling you. "Very well, where is there a surviving authentic model, or photograph, or model of the operation of one such?"

You replied, parrotting Faurisson's own words to Berenbaum:

"My own first answer must be that I have never seen such a relic of an operating gas chamber (though I have seen small-scale crematoria in camp museums in Germany)."

Faurisson then asked you whether you "understood that much anti-Nazi propaganda is just that? That there was no soap made from human fat? That the confession of Rudolph Hoss, commandant of Auschwitz was extorted by coercion and in any case mentioned a total death at Auschwitz that not even the Israel experts at Yad Vashem credit?"

Your unbelievable reply: "Here, my answers are yes and yes, because I know that the story in the first case, and Hoss in the second, have been debunked." And who "debunked" these stories other than Faurisson himself? Who?

In the end, you concluded, "Both Faurisson and [Holocaust denier David] Irving have been subject to a lot of stupid censorship and harassment for their writing." Poor victims.

In a letter to you after your article, Faurisson wrote, "You told me you have been very impressed by my article on 'How the British obtained the confessions of Rudolf H~ss [...].' You had the
opportunity of revealing this to the readers of Nation. Why didn't you do it?" If Faurisson's not lying, then what was it about his article that impressed you so much?

Now it's time to change tunes a little, Hitchens. I'll let you take a cocktail break if you're getting tired. Ready? Good. Because the next song is a blithe waltz called, "Dinner with the Denier." It's about your innocent fox-trots with infamous Holocaust denier David Irving. You know, the self-described anti-Semite who said in 1998, "No documents whatever show that a Holocaust had ever happened."

In 1994, you held a dinner for Irving at your home in Washington. Who was there? What did you say to Irving to charm him? What drinks were served? Schnapps? According to Irving on his website, you had dinner or lunch with him "two your three times in [your] chosen hometown, Washington."

Dance, Hitchens, dance. Shake what yo' mama gave ya!

A year later, in your Vanity Fair article, "Hitler's Ghost," (which Irving has posted on his website) you argued that Irving's books deserve to be published in America, described criticism of Irving as "hysterical and old-maidish," and declared, "David Irving is not just a Fascist historian, he is also a great historian of Fascism." Nevermind all the lies contained in Irving's biography of Goebbels.

You also were compelled to write, "And, incidentally, [Irving] has never and not once described the Holocaust as a 'hoax'." I guess you weren't aware of Irving's statement in 1990 that, "The holocaust of Germans in Dresden really happened. That of the Jews in the gas chambers of Auschwitz is an invention." Were you?

Well, Hitchens, I know you want to keep shakin' that tail-feather of yours, but it looks like the band's all worn out. The party's over. I sure hope you designated a driver.

(Don't worry, Horowitz. I've got some tunes for you to dance to, too. Just be patient.)