Matt Forney
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The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes by Samuel Crowell

The Holocaust is unique among historical events in that it’s the only one where questioning the official narrative is not allowed. You can speculate about happened on the grassy knoll all day long, win a Pulitzer for denying the atrocities committed by the Soviet Union, and blame America for 9/11, but suggest that maybe, just maybe, the Germans weren’t cartoon villains bent on shoving every single Jew on Earth head-first into a smoldering oven and you suddenly become a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews. Being a Holocaust revisionist is illegal in many Western countries, and even in those where it is not, being tarred as a “denier” will almost certainly mean the end of your career and the ostracism of your peers.

Holocaust revisionism is lèse-majesté for the multicultural age.

When I was in college, I recall reading a book on Judaism that I forget the title of, a sort of introduction to the Chosen People for gentiles or something. One section discussed the anti-Semitic slur of referring to Jews as “Christ-killers.” As the author explained, the insidiousness of the “Christ-killer” epithet (beyond blaming the Jews for Christ’s crucifixion) is that it implies that by not converting to Christianity, Jews are killing him all over again. The irony is that the Jews have created their own parallel slur, where anyone accused of being a “Holocaust denier” is treated like they’re killing the Holocaust’s victims all over again by disputing the official story.

Samuel Crowell is not a Holocaust denier or an anti-Semite. He acknowledges that millions of Jews were killed in a deliberate extermination campaign by Hitler and the Nazis. He is not motivated by racial revanchism or anything other than his beliefs in free speech and free inquiry. But his studies make a convincing case that the infamous mass gassings committed by the Nazis either didn’t happen at all or happened in far smaller numbers than is typically claimed. He’s compiled his research into The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes, a meticulously research collection of dissident scholarship on one of the defining events of the past century.

Even if you have zero interest in the Holocaust, The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes is an important, must-read book.

Crowell’s volume is important because it stands as an example of intellectual freedom, a right that is slowly being eroded by both the left and corporations. In a world where merely making a rude comment about trannies can cost you your job, Gas Chamber dares to ask questions and uncover unsettling answers. While I’m not fully convinced of Crowell’s assertions, he makes them with such care and evidence that it’s impossible to dismiss him out of hand.

And I’m not exaggerating when I say that Gas Chamber is legitimate scholarship. Crowell writes in a formal, academic tone, carefully using literary analysis and extensive historical research to back up his claims. While this can make his prose dry and dull at time, it’s a necessary corrective to the legions of mouth-breathing Nazitards who deny the Holocaust happened period:

Nevertheless, history, if it makes claim to be an academic discipline, should never lead with moral judgments. To do so creates the risk of distorting history to make it comport with our preferences. Any kind of ideology that heightens distinctions among groups of human beings, that extols the virtues of one group while demeaning the humanity of another group, will rob an individual human being, somewhere, of his or her unique dignity. Therefore I hope we can agree that racism, anti-Semitism, chauvinist nationalism, or group hatreds of any kind are incompatible with a just and life-affirming approach to our brief and contingent human existence. Even so, these negative aspects of human thought are not kept in check by carefully crafted historical narratives, or by laws, or by the police. They are only defeated by their opposite, which manifests itself in a libertarian and egalitarian mood, which respects and tolerates difference, and which recognizes the dignity of the individual human being, who has the right to think, to speak, and even the right to be wrong.

Gas Chamber’s first third is taken up by its namesake essay, a lengthy dissertation on the nonexistence of gas chambers at Auschwitz and other concentration camps. Crowell’s explanation, as weaved through countless cross-referencing of the contradictory accounts of what went on at the death camps, is perfectly logical and sensible compared to the Nazitards’ whining of “teh Joooooooos are EVUL!” His assertion is that the hysterical fear of gas attacks among Europeans and Americans during that period—similar to the fear of nuclear attacks during the Cold War, or terrorist attacks after 9/11—created an environment where rumors of gas showers mushroomed into a worldwide panic. Furthermore, since the Allies sought to demonize the Axis powers as much as possible to justify the war, they exaggerated or outright fabricated tales of Nazi crimes (such as the now-discredited stories of human fat soap and lampshades made from dead Jews’ skin) as part of war propaganda.

His case is a lot more convincing than the belief that the Nazis were comic book villains who wanted to exterminate the Jews just because.

The remainder of the book is consumed by two more essays, “Bomb Shelters at Birkenau” and “The Holocaust in Retrospect.” The former builds on “The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes” by asserting that the supposed gas chambers at Birkenau were actually air raid shelters, a fact supported by German civil defense literature of the time. The latter essay is Crowell’s look back at how discourse vis-a-vis the Holocaust has changed in the past decade since he first began writing about it (both “Gas Chambers” and “Bomb Shelters” were written and published on the Internet in the late nineties):

Now, from my point of view, if someone wanted to pass a law making German national chauvinism a crime, or making the pubic expression of anti-Semitism a crime, that would be one thing. I could accept the sentiments behind such legislation although I would still oppose it, because I think all such attempts to tinker with freedom of thought are bound to fail. What I cannot accept is the idea that any fact or idea is sacrosanct and cannot be subjected to criticism or revision, whether it be the Holocaust or any other subject under the sun. The problem, however, is that the laws against Holocaust revisionism do not, in fact, forbid either German nationalism or anti-Semitism: they criminalize contesting the facts as established by the Nuremberg trials over sixty years ago.

That is ultimately the central message of The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes. It’s not that the established narrative about the Holocaust is wrong, it’s about the fact that questioning said narrative should not be a crime, no matter how it is questioned. Crowell isn’t merely defending Holocaust revisionism, he’s defending free speech itself: when challenging official history becomes a crime, our government is no better than the Nazis themselves. The way to fight an idea is not to ban it, but to combat it in the light of day, to disprove it rather than declare it verboten.

Unfortunately, I don’t share Crowell’s optimism for the future of free speech.

While it’s true that the movement to criminalize Holocaust revisionism has more or less receded in the Anglosphere (at the time Crowell originally wrote “Gas Chamber,” Tony Blair’s Labour Party had just won election in part on a promise to ban Holocaust denial in the U.K.), that’s only because the commissars of the left no longer find banning speech to be effective. Instead of enforcing political correctness through the government, the left now does it through corporations and the mob-run megaphone of social media. Say or do something that some social justice warrior finds offensive? She and hundreds of her friends will shout abusive Tweets at you until your employer fires you to cover their asses.

Why should governments bother outlawing speech when the peoples of the West have outlawed speech already?

That’s why The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes is an important book. Even if you disagree with Crowell’s assertions, it stands as a testament to our world’s relative freedom that he is allowed to speak them. Free speech is unconditional, and The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes is the kind of book that the First Amendment was written for. It is absolutely worth your money.

Click here to buy The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes.

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