Sleuthery in Retrospect
The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes: And Other Writings on the Holocaust, Revisionism, and Historical Understanding by Samuel Crowell, Nine Banded Books, Charleston, W. Va., 2011. 401pp. Indexed.
by Ezra MacVie
The account of the Holocaust that reigns today is itself a historical phenomenon. Many who have given its content close attention and undertaken to verify it against inanimate evidence surviving to later times have concluded that it is antifactual to a degree rivaled only by certain religious myths such as immaculate conception and the divine right of kings.
Author Samuel Crowell, however, refrains absolutely from addressing the factuality of the regnant Holocaust legend, and addresses himself instead to those conditions and antecedents that themselves reigned in the day (years, actually) in which the account was received, bruited about, accepted, and, yes, here and there rejected as it came into being. Taking this entirely novel, scrupulous approach enables Crowell to claim for himself the characterization of "moderate revisionist." He does not debunk; he merely examines and conveys to later generations, those circumstances that must have given rise to the production and acceptance of accounts of the Holocaust.
One historical matter that he does not address extensively is a very interesting one that he presumably could address with great authority: how has the Holocaust myth been modified, transformed, or appropriated over the sixty-plus years of its strife-torn life to date? Who has from time to time assumed stewardship over its perpetuation and enhancement? Who has undertaken to oppose or even deny it, and to what extent? What legal measures have been enacted and employed by defenders of the mythology, and how have these measures changed in severity and thoroughness of enforcement over the decades leading up to the present moment, in which the contest continues to rage with an intensity quite unanticipated forty years ago? The account of the Holocaust itself undoubtedly has ....