Legalienate: What is a skeptic?
Schlermer: A skeptic is a person who looks for the logic, reason, and evidence for a claim.
Legalienate: This makes you, in general, quite distrustful of conspiracy theories, no?
Schlermer: Absolutely. The more elaborate a conspiracy theory is, and the more people that would need to be involved, the less likely it is true.
Legalienate: So how do you respond to the claim of A. S. Marques posted on your website, to wit: “So how about the great ‘Holocaust’ conspiracy? . . . You know, the vast German plan to secretly exterminate an entire race in the hope future historians would be at a loss to determine what had happened to it, allegedly resulting in 6 million murdered Jews, with no procedural plan, no written orders at any level, no assigned method of mass murder or bureaucratic control, leaving it to the imagination of a whole bunch of telepathic improvisers who came up with mass execution by such methods as steam, electrocution, non-toxic Diesel exhaust and Zyklon B pesticide. And, of course, not leaving the slightest vestige of such a carnage accessible to forensic examination in any of its precisely located alleged sites.”
Schlermer: I’m a believer.
Legalienate: Really? So much for skepticism, right? Well, let’s take this one step at a time. Just how do we know that homicidal gas chambers existed in WWII?
Schlermer: From the death camp remains for one thing.
Legalienate: You mean things like a small unsealed room with an unlocked door that opens outwards and has a window in it and is called a “gas chamber” by those with a huge vested interest in demonizing everything German?
Schlermer: Well, not only that. We also have eyewitness testimony that swears people were gassed in such places. This corroborates the physical evidence.
Legalienate: I see.
Schlermer: We also have tons of documents from the Nazi archives.
Legalienate: But none of them mention homicidal gas chambers.
Schlermer: They do indirectly. Experts have determined that when the Nazis spoke of eliminating the Jewish problem they actually meant physical extermination in gas chambers. I’m talking about very rational, scientific researchers who wear white coats.
Legalienate: Impressive. Is there any other evidence?
Schlermer: Yes. There are speeches by Hitler and other Nazi officials venting their hatred for Jews and their desire to rid Germany of their presence.
Legalienate: Do they mention homicidal gas chambers?
Schlermer: No. But we have photographs, too.
Legalienate: Of mass gassing chambers?
Schlermer: No. Distant shots of the outside of buildings said to contain mass gassing chambers.
Legalienate: What about the eyewitness testimony?
Schlermer: Very credible.
Legalienate: Like claims that 800 people were packed into a space the size of a file cabinet?
Schlermer: Every bit of evidence doesn’t have to be right for the general conclusion to be sound.
Legalienate: Like 42,000 gassings a day at a single camp?
Schlermer: Ballpark figures aren’t necessarily dishonest . . . .
Legalienate: Like the floor of the mass gassing chambers opening up and depositing the corpses in a “subterranean chamber” that is nowhere to be found in the concentration camp where this event allegedly happened?
Schlermer: Look, anecdotal samples can’t disprove a general proposition . . .
Legalienate: So could you give us the systematic evidence for mass gassing chambers?
Schlermer: With pleasure. Hitler hated Jews and gave anti-Semitic speeches. Nazi documents allude to permanently solving the Jewish “problem” in Europe. There are Zyklon B pesticide traces in former German concentration camps. Eyewitnesses swear mass gassings occurred in these camps. There are also photographs of burning bodies from the camps. And we have architectural blueprints for cremation ovens, as well as gas chambers, which Holocaust deniers say are merely fumigation chambers. There are photographs of the outside of buildings in former concentration camps showing prisoners lined up as though waiting to be gassed. All this evidence converges on the conclusion that the gas chambers existed and were used for mass murder.
Schlermer: It all points to the conclusion that they must have existed.
Legalienate: Must have existed? I thought we were proving what did exist.
Schlermer: We are. The evidence says they must have existed, therefore they did.
Legalienate: Is that really the same thing?
Legalienate: I see. A customer on Amazon who reviewed your book “Denying History,” says this: “I learned this concept (convergence) under a different name in religion class. It was called ‘leap of faith.’”
Schlermer: But the Holocaust is science. Official Holocaust history is objective, scientific, and infallible.
Legalienate: I see. Isn't it interesting that whenever someone wants to use false or unrelated evidence to support a favored conclusion he talks about how it “converges” on that conclusion? Theology professor David Ray Griffin used that method to “prove” that the twin towers in New York were brought down by pre-planted exposives.
Schlermer: That’s not really fair . . . I oppose Griffin . . .
Legalienate: But not his method. Now how do the existence of cremation ovens carry implications of murder? Aren't dead bodies cremated in every country?
Schlermer: Of course.
Legalienate: So can I ask why cremation ovens are always mentioned in the same breath as gas chambers, as though cremating corpses were the same as murdering people?
Schlermer: You certainly may.
Legalienate: That’s all you have to say?
Legalienate: You accept that Zyklon B gas was used to fumigate the camps?
Legalienate: So there were fumigation chambers and mass gassing chambers?
Legalienate: How come there are no physical remains of the enormous gas chambers that supposedly executed 2000 Jews at a time?
Schlermer: The Nazis destroyed them.
Legalienate: Why were no photographs of the homicidal gas chambers taken by Nazi guards? After all, there are many photographs of American lynch mobs proudly smiling after their grisly deeds were done, why no celebratory Nazi pictures of the gas chambers?
Schlermer: Because the Nazis wanted to keep the final solution secret.
Legalienate: So how come there are roughly a million survivors churning out endless Holocaust testimonials? If they were really determined to maintain secrecy, shouldn’t the Nazis have shot them all, so they couldn’t tell their story to the world?
Schlermer: No conspiracy is perfect . . .
Legalienate: I should say not . . . . Now on the objectivity issue, isn’t it self-serving of you to claim that your side in the debate is the product of scientific historiography, while that of your opponents is the fruit of prejudice?
Schlermer: No. Deniers only seek to confirm their biases. They doggedly look for evidence to substantiate their preconceived views. The mark of intellectual honesty is the willingness to subject one’s favored hypothesis to vigorous attack.
Legalienate: So why won’t Holocaust true-believers debate their opponents?
Schlermer: They don’t want to legitimize them.
Legalienate: But if their opponents’ arguments are hopelessly flawed, wouldn’t demonstrating this in front of a mass audience lead to their delegitimization?
Schlermer: One would hope so. But people tend to believe a lot of weird things, no matter how much they are reasoned with.
Legalienate: Indeed. . . . Like Jewish bodies were converted to soap by the Nazis?
Schlermer: Yes, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the story is wrong.
Legalienate: And Jewish skulls were converted to shrunken heads?
Schlermer: Some of the particulars may be wrong, but . . .
Legalienate: And Jewish skin was made into lampshades?
Schlermer: Look, I’ve already pointed out that a general proposition can’t be invalidated by anecdotal evidence.
Legalienate: What’s the general proposition here, that Holocaust historians are brain-damaged?
Schlermer: Not exactly, but . . . .
Legalienate: Now, as for dealing with Deniers, you say that censorship is no way to handle them.
Schlermer: Right. I’m a firm believer in free speech.
Legalienate: How do you react to the beatings, torchings, bombings, book shreddings, heresy trials, blasphemy laws, and jailings inflicted on Holocaust deniers?
Schlermer: They’ve invited this, so there’s really nothing to be done.
Legalienate: In other words, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to your death your right to be given summary justice by a howling mob.”
Schlermer: Well put.
Legalienate: Thank you. You say Holocaust Deniers are “ideological.”
Legalienate: Their fondness for fascism leads them to minimize or deny crimes of the Nazi state?
Legalienate: And how about the other side? Doesn’t the Holocaust Industry’s incestuous relationship with the state of Israel predispose it to distortions and fabrications that favor the interests of that state?
Schlermer: Not that I’ve noticed.
Legalienate: I see. Why are political affiliations relevant to the Holocaust debate in the first place? You go to considerable lengths to point out the “right wing” associations of Holocaust Deniers.
Schlermer: Because they establish that Deniers have an ideological axe to grind, which interferes with their ability to objectively assess history.
Legalienate: I see. And the political affiliations of the Holocaust Industry don’t have a prejudicial effect?
Schlermer: Not all historians who accept the Holocaust are part of the “Holocaust Industry.”
Legalienate: They are if they intend to continue publishing.
Schlermer: In truth, there is no “Holocaust industry,” just honest researchers seeking truth against a rising tide of obtuse Deniers motivated by racism.
Legalienate: I see. Your co-author Alex Grobman is a founding editor-in-chief of the Simon Wiesenthal Annual. That doesn’t interfere with his objectivity?
Schlermer: Not in the least.
Legalienate: O.K. let’s continue. You say that the moral superiority of the Allies in WWII is demonstrated by the fact that the killing stopped the moment the Allies won.
Legalienate: But the U.S. firebombed Tokyo and nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki while the Japanese were trying to surrender. The Purple code had been broken and Washington knew they were petitioning the Soviets for surrender. After the war, the U.S. War Department announced that there was no military necessity to the atomic bombings.
Schlermer: But all that occurred on the road to victory . . .
Legalienate: So a lost war is the only crime . . . .
Schlermer: No. The Axis powers would have gone on killing had they won.
Legalienate: How do you know that?
Schlermer: It was part of their ideology. Aryan supremacy. They were committed to killing off their racial inferiors.
Legalienate: Like Teddy Roosevelt and Manifest Destiny?
Schlermer: Look. I’m talking about the racism in WWII.
Legalienate: Right. So let me read you a quote about how bad it got: “We shot prisoners in cold blood, wiped out hospitals, strafed lifeboats, killed or mistreated enemy civilians, finished off the enemy wounded, tossed the dying in a hole with the dead, and . . . boiled the flesh off enemy skulls to make table ornaments for sweethearts, or carved their bones into letter openers.”
Schlermer: That’s exactly the ideology of hatred I’m talking about. It needed to be defeated militarily.
Legalienate: But it wasn’t. That’s a quote from war correspondent Edgar L. Jones, describing the U.S. war in the Pacific.
Schlermer: Well, in that case it was an unfortunate excess caused by the stress of battle.
Legalienate: You say that the Axis “killed for geography, for political control, for economic power, for racial purification, and for pleasure.”
Legalienate: The United States doesn’t do such things.
Schlermer: Of course not.
Legalienate: Did the indigenous nations of North America voluntarily disband to make way for the United States?
Schlermer: No, but . . .
Legalienate: Weren’t they physically eliminated through genocide, or something very much like it?
Schlermer: Maybe, but there was no poison gas involved . . .
Legalienate: Didn’t the United States launch war with Mexico in 1846 in order to take California?
Schlermer: Possibly, but . . .
Legalienate: Isn‘t that killing “for geography?”
Schlermer: Perhaps, but . . .
Legalienate: When Thomas Jefferson shared his aspirations for founding a country “without blot or mixture” and urged that the Indians be "exterminated" or driven “with the beasts of the forest into the Stony mountains,” was he not endorsing killing for racial purification?
Schlermer: Look, we were talking about Europe . . .
Legalienate: When U.S. troops exulted in their “turkey shoot” in the Gulf War in 1991, were they not “killing for pleasure?”
Schlermer: We are not Nazis!
Legalienate: In 1898, when the U.S. began slaughtering a couple of hundred thousand Filipinos to gain a “gateway to the Orient,” were they not killing “for economic power?”
Schlermer: I really don’t know . . . .
Legalienate: By establishing slavery did the U.S. not kill “for political control” of people they reduced to chattel? And who is in political control in the dozens of countries where Washington maintains military bases to this day? Aren’t the deaths of dissidents that occur in those countries in large part Washington’s responsibility? Isn’t that, too, “killing for political control?” How many of those countries are permitted to have military bases inside the United States?
Schlermer: We are a democracy, we stand for human rights . . . .
Legalienate: Thank you for your time.