This is a cross post from the CST Blog
Last night on Question Time, Nick Griffin came up with one of the most transparent evasions imaginable when asked whether he denied the Holocaust, replying: “I do not have a conviction for Holocaust denial.”
Like much of what Griffin said during the programme, this is not exactly the truth.
Griffin was convicted of incitement to racial hatred in May 1998, for publishing a magazine called The Rune when he was an activist in the Croydon branch of the BNP, rather than leader of the party. There were several items in the particular issue ofThe Rune for which he was prosecuted – issue 12 – that were used by the prosecution to prove the charge against Griffin: one of which was a particularly nasty antisemitic cartoon, showing a caricature of Steven Spielberg saying: “The movies we make are all full of crap and hate. And they’ve all got MILLIONS OF DEAD Jews in them. And they’re ALL FANTASY too!”. Elsewhere in the magazine, in reply to a letter from American Holocaust denier Michael A. Hoffman II, Griffin had written:
“The first Exterminationist tales centred on Dachau, Belsen and other camps in Germany. When that lie became untenable the court historians shifted their main accusations to Auschwitz. Now that too is an untenable thesis the Exterminationists are once again trying to wriggle off the hook of their own deceit. The accomplished and very practical liars amongst them are perfectly capable of recognising the extraordinary danger posed by Revisionism to their entire system, and accordingly of deciding to make certain sacrifices (what’s a couple of million between friends?) to keep the core of the story – mass extermination by any means believable – intact.”
Griffin’s response to this evidence was to invite French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson to appear as an expert witness in his defence, in an effort to turn the whole affair into a show trial about the Holocaust. So while it is technically correct for Griffin to say that he does not have a conviction for Holocaust denial – despite what Griffin thinks, there is no such law in Britain – his conviction for incitement to racial hatred was based, in part, on his denial of the Holocaust.
Griffin’s claim that he has changed his views on the Holocaust is also, well, not exactly the truth; at least not in recent years. His current position is that lots of Jews were killed by mass shootings in the East, but he doesn’t like discussing the gas chambers. Yet this is nothing new; here he is, saying exactly the same thing on The Cook Report in 1997:
What do you mean by the Holocaust?…There is no doubt that hundreds, probably thousands of Jews were shot to death in Eastern Europe because they were, rightly or wrongly, seen as Communists or potential partisans or partisan supporters. That was awful. But this nonsense about gas chambers is exposed as a total lie.
This refusal to acknowledge that Nazi Germany had industrial death camps is not just down to a difference of opinion, or an irrational refusal to acknowledge one of the best-documented events in modern history: it is the crucial part of Holocaust Denial. Mass shootings of civilians are war crimes, for sure; but there are many examples of such crimes in wars throughout history, which can be explained away by references to anti-partisan operations, the fog of war, loose lines of command and control and so on. The Nazi gas chambers only make sense as part of a cold-blooded, industrial genocide: an organised, systematic programme of extermination of European Jewry. They are what make the Nazi Holocaust unique; they are the reason why we have Holocaust Memorial Day today.
In February 1996, not long after joining the BNP, Griffin wrote in Spearhead, published by the then BNP leader John Tyndall, to explain why Holocaust denial is a crucial part of the far right programme:
For the last fifty years the vision underlying all the vile sickness of this age of ruins has been the so-called ‘Holocaust’…The New World struggling to be born cannot do so until this lie is publicly exposed, ridiculed and destroyed…If nationalists don’t bury this deadly lie, nobody will. In the case of Britain, that means that members of the British National Party have a duty to be involved as active participants in the revisionist struggle.
The BNP does not use Holocaust Denial in its public discourse any more, but it remains one of the defining characteristics of contemporary neo-Nazism. If Griffin were to completely change his position and accept all the facts of the Holocaust, he would cross a line that would take him and the BNP out of the far right forever. Indeed, if he truly wanted to leave the far right, David Duke and all, behind him, this would be the easiest way. The fact that he won’t do it says everything about the true nature of his politics, who he sees as his allies and his vision for the future of the BNP and this country.