Thursday, November 19, 2009

Will Continue to Support Holocaust Denial?

Charles Fishman sent the following article by Randall Bytwerk, Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at Calvin College, regarding the promotion of books denying the Holocaust at the site:

If one goes to and searches for books promoting Holocaust denial, most of them have 5-star reviews at the top. How has that happened? Amazon ranks reviews by how "helpful" or "unhelpful" customers rate them. Take Arthur Butz's The Hoax of the Twentieth Century. There are a total of 49 customer reviews. 17 are 5-star. 25 are 1-star. However, the top review (5-star) has been rated as helpful by 83 of 110 customers. One of the better 1-star reviews has 61 helpful ratings out of 105 total ratings, with the result that it is way down on the list. The consequence is that unsuspecting customers, seeing all those 5-star reviews at the top, may be inclined to think the book must be good.

What to do? First, one must be an amazon customer. If you are, there are two things to consider.

First, it would be good to have some strong reviews of the various Holocaust denial books. Quite a few of the 1-star reviews are filled with invective, which is not persuasive to many readers. Amazon allows one to post reviews under one's real name if one wishes, but since that opens one up to various unpleasant consequences, one can also use a different name.

Second, and easier, one can rate existing reviews as "helpful" or "unhelpful." That option is available at the end of each customer review. Most readers of this list will know the names to look for, but here is my list of leading "Revisionist" authors: Arthur Butz, Thomas Dalton, Germar Rudolf, Veronica Clark (a relative newcomer), and Carlo Mottogno. Others will probably suggest additions to this list.

I'd also appreciate help with a related book: Michael Ford's self-published translation of Mein Kampf. I don't think Ford himself is a neo-Nazi (although the promotional material for his book on amazon states: "decide for yourself if he was a mad-man or a genius," and it's clear that he doesn't think Hitler was a mad-man). Ford's translation is pretty bad (his previous books include how to avoid being scammed on eBay and how to find a job if you are a felon). However, some neo-Nazis have jumped to his defense, and have been going after me with some energy (look at the comments on reviews if you are curious). "Helpful" ratings of my review would be appreciated.

A hundred or so "unhelpful" ratings will drive most of these books into the amazon cellar.


Professor Bytwerk is currently working on a website exploring Nazi Propoganda.


If you're interested in finding out what you can do, drop Writing the Holocaust a note c/o of jzguzlowski (at) (substitute @ for "at").


  1. Some good points. However, note that Holocaust denial has a marginal following. Were not such a fuss made about Butz, no one would've even heard of him.

    Censorship is dangerous. If Amazon were to remove all Holocaust-denial material, then what else could it remove? Would Polish rebuttals to anti-Polish attacks by certain Jews be labeled "anti-Semitic hate speech", and removed?

  2. I'm not sure what is being alluded to when you mention "Polish rebuttals to anti-Polish attacks by certain Jews," but perhaps my colleague, John Guzlowski, who focuses on Polish literature & history in his other blogs, can address your question.

  3. The claim that discouraging bad books is "censorship" is a a standard argument neo-Nazis use when their books are criticized. It seems to me the goal is not to ban books like Butz's, but rather to do something about the practice of boosting the boosting 5-star reviews of such books by the step of voting them "unhelpful."