REFORM JUDAISM
Union of American Hebrew Congregations


Patrick J. Buchanan: Master Holocaust Denier

by Charles R. Allen, Jr.


See also Congress Adopts Resolution on Holocaust Denial


In his unwavering and passionate defense of Nazi war criminals since the late seventies, Patrick Buchanan has introduced revisionist themes into the mainstream media and, in so doing, has become the most effective Nazi war criminal apologist and Holocaust denier in America.

Buchanan has consistently portrayed war criminals as patriotic Americans, innocent victims of "revenge-obsessed Nazi hunters" in Washington. Virtually everything the accused and their defenders have said he accepts as truth, and, in the words of one critic, he wages "journalistic guerilla warfare" on their behalf. Says Neal Sher, former director of the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations: "Buchanan went to bat for every Nazi war criminal in America."

Liberty Lobby, the leading anti-Semitic and racist organization in America, overwhelmingly endorsed Pat Buchanan during the 1996 presidential primaries. An editorial in its publication, The Spotlight, pointed out that "the 112 issues or legislative positions that Liberty Lobby has taken over the past 40 years...shows that Pat Buchanan stands with us." The predominant issue they share is Holocaust revisionism, the spearhead of the international anti-Semitic movement.

Buchanan used his syndicated column and his office as communications director in the Reagan White House from 1981-1987 to assist pro-Nazi Eastern European organizations in trying to block the denaturalization and deportation of Karl Linnas, John Demjanjuk, and at least seventeen others who had been charged by the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations or had been convicted in federal courts of concealing war crimes in order to gain illegal entry into the U.S.

The Karl Linnas Case

In 1981 the Federal District Court in Westbury, NY stripped 67-year-old Karl Linnas of his citizenship for having lied to immigration officials thirty years earlier about his Nazi past. Linnas's crimes, the judge said, "were such as to offend the decency of any civilized society." From 1941-43 Linnas had commanded a Nazi concentration camp at Tartu, Estonia, where he directed and personally took part in the murder of thousands of men, women, and children who were shot into anti-tank ditches. A 1986 federal appeals court upheld his deportation order, ruling that the evidence against the defendant was "overwhelming and largely uncontroverted."

Summarily rejecting the court's findings because evidence had been obtained from the Soviet Union, Buchanan orchestrated a national media effort to exonerate Linnas, demanding that his citizenship be reinstated. He championed the Linnas cause in his syndicated newspaper column and TV program "Crossfire," and arranged for then U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III to meet with him and members of Eastern European =E9migr=E9 organizations who hailed Linnas as a hero.

On March 31, l987, Menachem Rosensaft, founder of the International Network of Children of Holocaust Survivors, wrote a New York Times Op-Ed piece calling for a congressional investigation to determine whether any American official or functionary had intervened on Mr. Linnas's behalf. Buchanan responded by saying it was the Office of Special Investigations that needed to be investigated. "Let us get it all out in the open," he wrote, "...nothing un-American can live in the sunlight."

Attorney General Meese delayed the deportation of Linnas as long as possible, all the while searching for a haven. After sixteen countries had refused, Panama agreed to accept Linnas "on humanitarian grounds." News of the decision prompted Rosensaft and others to intercede with Panamanian officials in Washington, who told them that their government had not been informed of Linnas's wartime atrocities. Panama withdrew its offer and issued a statement saying that "our country and our Government reject and condemn the crimes committed by fascists."

On April 20, 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a final appeal. At that point Meese was legally bound to comply with the deportation order. Linnas was flown to the Soviet Union and three months later died in a prison hospital while awaiting trial.

Denying Treblinka Gassings

Buchanan's oft-used tactic of reversing the roles of accuser and accused served him well in the sensational John Demjanjuk/Ivan the Terrible case. In 1986 Buchanan wrote, "Demjanjuk may be the victim of a greater miscarriage of justice than Alfred Dreyfus," equating the former death camp guard with the classic victim of 19th-century anti-Semitism. In a March 17, 1990 column he wrote that the camp survivors were unreliable witnesses because they all suffered from "group fantasies of martyrdom and heroics." Where did Buchanan obtain his treatise on the "so-called survivor syndrome"? He would not say.

Nor has he revealed the source of his phony evidence disputing the well-documented fact that diesel exhaust was one of the methods used to gas thousands of Jews at Treblinka. "The problem is," Buchanan wrote in the March 17, 1990 column, "diesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody." How did he know? "The Environmental Protection Agency never requires emission inspections of diesel cars or trucks. In 1988, 97 youths, trapped 400 feet underground in a Washington, DC tunnel, while two locomotives spewed diesel exhaust into the car, emerged unharmed after 45 minutes. [Therefore] Demjanjuk's weapon of mass murder cannot kill...."

Buchanan provided no evidence to substantiate his claim that the conditions of the trapped children in a tunnel simulated a death-camp gas chamber. In fact, he exaggerated the severity of the train tunnel incident to suit his purposes. According to the original Washington Post story, "5th Graders' Trip Turns to Terror in Train Tunnel" (May 13, 1988), "one [not two] of the train's engines continued to run for several [not 45] minutes" (emphasis added). Buchanan neglected to tell his readers that "two [of the pupils] appeared to be 'seriously affected,' to the point of suffering nausea or vomiting." Thus, as George F. Will observed in a Newsweek essay (March 4, 1996), "even though the tunnel was open at both ends, some children were made sick.... By saying it [carbon monoxide] cannot kill, and by saying survivors' testimonies are unreliable, Buchanan abets the principal neo-Nazi obsession-Holocaust denial."

What was the source of the carbon monoxide anecdote? "Someone sent it to me," said Buchanan. According to the ADL, "Claims denying the well-documented use of diesel engines in the Nazi extermination program emanate from the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review (IHR)." The originator of this patent fabrication is Friedrich P. Berg, a featured speaker at the IHR's International Revisionist Conference in 1983 on the topic "The Diesel Gas Chambers: Myth Within a Myth"; his speech was later published in the Spring 1984 edition of the Institute's Journal of Historical Review. "From all the evidence we have seen regarding diesel exhaust and its effects," Berg concluded, "a more hideously clumsy and inefficient method of committing mass murder would be hard to imagine...something better was needed."

Who sent Buchanan the diesel gas data? Jerome A. Brentar, the founder and main financier of the Demjanjuk Defense Committee, told RJ in a 1992 interview that, in the late 1980s, both he and the IHR "gave Pat the documentation about the scientific data that diesel engines and their gas exhausts do not kill humans....Pat used those scientific findings that all those Jews were not killed as they claim....There were no gas chamber death camps. That was a Jewish fiction." Asked if Buchanan used the materials they had sent him about diesel gas and the gas chambers, Brentar said, "Yes, of course he did. He's a courageous person."

Mark Weber, director of the Institute of Historical Review, confirmed in a May 10, 1996 RJ interview that the IHR originated the diesel gas argument cited by Buchanan. "Nobody paid any attention," said Weber, "until Pat Buchanan repeated the whole study and materials in one of his syndicated col umns, and that really caught everybody's attention. Everybody was talking about it. Very effective. Pat took all of our findings and worked [them] into his column."

Buchanan and Bitburg

In addition to his journalistic outlets, Buchanan took full advantage of his influence as White House Communications Director in the Reagan Administration to advance the neo-Nazi agenda. During the Bitburg Affair, he insisted that President Reagan not back down from his scheduled visit to the military cemetery in Germany and lay a wreath honoring the Waffen SS troops buried there.

In a final effort to convince Reagan not to go, Jewish leaders met with White House officials. According to Charles Lane, writing in The New Republic, "Buchanan provocatively reminded them [the Jewish leaders] that they were 'Americans first,' as fellow staffer Ed Rollins later recounted to Reagan biographer Lou Cannon. He also repeatedly scrawled the phrase 'Succumbing to the pressure of Jews' on his notepad during the meeting-and some of those present saw it."

Defender of the Faith

Buchanan seems to view any sign of concession to Jews as appeasement or surrender. When he perceived New York's John Cardinal O'Connor as having backed down in the battle over removing a Carmelite convent at Auschwitz, Buchanan wrote: "If U.S. Jewry takes the clucking appeasement of the Catholic cardinal as indicative of our submission, it is mistaken. When Cardinal O'Connor of New York seeks to soothe the always-irate Elie Wiesel... he speaks for himself. Be not afraid, Your Eminence; just step aside, there are bishops and priests ready to assume the role of defender of the faith" (The New Republic, October 22, 1990).

In an August 16, 1989 column calling criticism of the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz "scandalous," Buchanan wrote, "Here we have it, the blood libel. Because Pius XII did not speak out publicly during the Holocaust, the Catholic Church is morally culpable in Hitler's pogrom."

Buchanan's hostility to "the Jews" reflects a fervent family ideology built on four unshakable pillars: love of the pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic Church, love of pre-Civil War America, love of the U.S. military (although Pat himself has never served), and hatred of communists.

According to conservative author Garry Wills, "Buchanan's admiration for Pius XII helps explain his attitude toward Israel and the Holocaust. Pius opposed the settling of Jews in Palestine since it might challenge possession of the Christian Holy Places....And the Pope refused to protest the Holocaust because of his overriding anticommunism" (The New York Review of Books, February 13, 1992).

Buchanan's instincts, comments Jacob Weisberg in The New Republic, "are powerfully authoritarian and anti-democratic, and in a distinct sense, fascistic. A conspiratorial frame of mind and a misguided sense of loyalty lead Buchanan to view the world in terms of eternal struggles between Catholics and Jews, conservatives and liberals, anti-Communists and Communists, Americans and anti-Americans...."

In Buchanan's mind, the men and women who committed the most heinous crimes in human history do not deserve condemnation or punishment; instead, they merit respect.

Buchanan finds much to admire in Adolf Hitler. In an August 25, 1977 syndicated column, he wrote, "Though Hitler was indeed racist and anti-Semitic to the core, a man who without compunction could commit murder and genocide, he was also an individual of great courage, a soldier's soldier in the Great War, a leader steeped in the history of Europe, who possessed oratorical powers that could awe even those who despised him. But Hitler's success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path."

Notwithstanding all the evidence, Patrick Buchanan denies he is an anti-Semite, and his Jewish media friends will attest he has never displayed any signs of Jew hatred in their company. What cannot be denied,h owever, is that Buchanan stands with the Holocaust-denying Liberty Lobby and the Institute for Historical Review; he has been their most effective propagandist. Buchanan stands with John Demjanjuk, Klaus Barbie, and Kurt Waldheim; he has been their most outspoken apologist. Patrick Buchanan stands with the enemies of the Jewish people.=09


Charles R. Allen, Jr. has been called "the preeminent authority on Nazi war criminals in the United States."

Congress Adopts Resolution on Holocaust Denial

Last April, Congress adopted a resolution by unanimous consent on Holocaust denial. It reads in part:

Whereas the Holocaust-the systematic, state-sponsored mass murders by Nazi Germany of 6,000,000 Jews, alongside millions of others, in the name of a perverse racial theory-stands as one of the most ferociously heinous state acts the world has ever known; and

Whereas those who promote the denial of the Holocaust do so out of profound ignorance or for the purpose of furthering anti-Semitism and racism:

Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the House of Representatives deplores the persistent, ongoing, and malicious efforts by some persons in this country and abroad to deny the historical reality of the Holocaust....


Back to Winter 1996

Back to UAHC home page


Copyright © 1996, Union of American Hebrew Congregations