Inside the Bunker with Holocaust Deniers

The people who believe that the Holocaust did not happen meet regularly, in secret, to exchange theories and research. Are they anti-Semites, or are they just horribly mistaken? The author went to find out. The last thing he expected was to like them.

  1. The people who say the Holocaust didn’t happen asked me to speak at their recent international conference. The invitation surprised me, for I am a Jew who’s written about the Holocaust and (for chrissakes, I feel like adding) certainly hasn’t denied it. To my eyes, however, the invitation, which came from the Institute for Historical Review in Orange County, California, the central asylum for the delusion that the Germans didn’t kill any Jews and that the Holocaust is, quote unquote, the Hoax of the Twentieth Century, was not just a wonderment; it was also a golden opportunity, a golden-engraved temptation. We journalists usually sit at the outer edge of occasions: behind the bar in courtrooms, far off the floor of Congress, well out of passing or pitching range at football or baseball games. We are the beggars at banquet halls, waiting for the brass bell and the two-second bite, and the institute offered me what every journalist hungers for: the feast of unhampered access. Its letter was a safe-conduct pass to a country so fogbound that you and I can’t discern it. Who are the Holocaust deniers? What are they like behind closed doors? And why are they motionless stones as avalanches of evidence crash onto them, roaring, You’re wrong, you’re wrong? I’d been invited to mingle with them like a mole in Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest and then ascend to a lectern to tell them off, and I wrote the institute saying that, yes, I’d come.

    I flew on a Friday to John Wayne Airport in Orange Coun...

Originally published in Esquire, February 2001