Mermelstein: Holocaust remembrance hero

In early August 1985, Melvin Mermelstein struck a powerful blow against bogus history and historical hoaxes. Mel won a decision in a California court, in a contract case.

A group of Holocaust deniers had offered a $50,000 reward for anyone who could prove that the Holocaust actually happened. Mermelstein had watched his family marched to the gas chambers, and could testify. He offered his evidence. The Holocaust deniers, of course, had no intention of paying up. They dismissed any evidence offered as inadequate, and continued to claim no one could prove that the Holocaust actually occurred.

Mermelstein, however, was a businessman. He knew that the offer of the reward was a sweepstakes, a form of contract. He knew it was enforceable in court. And he sued to collect. The issue in court would be, was Mermelstein’s evidence sufficient?

Mermelstein’s lawyer had a brilliant idea. He petitioned the court to take “judicial note” of the fact of the Holocaust. Judicial note means that a fact is so well established that it doesn’t need to be evidenced when it is introduced in court — such as, 2+2=4, the freezing point of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, 0 degrees Celsius, etc.

The court ruled that the evidence presented overwhelmingly established that the Holocaust had occurred — the court made judicial note of the Holocaust. That ruling meant that, by operation of law, Mermelstein won the case. The only thing for the judge to do beyond that was award the money, and expenses and damages.

You can read the case and other materials at the Nizkor Holocaust remembrance site.

Appalachian State University takes the Holocaust seriously — there is a program of study on the issue, recently reported by the Mountain Times (the school is in Boone, North Carolina — not sure where the newspaper is).

Teaching the Holocaust to Future Generations

Mountain Times, August 17, 2006

As co-directors of Appalachian State University’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies, Rennie Brantz and Zohara Boyd are always eager to expand and improve the center’s methods of education. Seldom, though, does this involve airfare.

Brantz and Boyd recently visited Israel to participate in the Fifth International Conference for Education: Teaching the Holocaust to Future Generations. The four-day conference was held in late June at Yad Vashem, an institute and museum in Jerusalem that specializes in the Nazi Holocaust.

“Yad Vashem is an incredible institute,” Brantz said. “It was founded in the ’50s to remember and commemorate those who perished in the Holocaust, and has been the premier international research institute dealing with the Holocaust.”

As Santayana advises, we remember the past in order to prevent its recurring. Clearly, this is a past we need to work harder at remembering.

28 Responses to Mermelstein: Holocaust remembrance hero

  1. […] The man who forced us to remember I first posted a version of this back in August 2006.  Since that time not much showed up on the internet to commemorate the story of Mel Mermelstein, […]


  2. Thank you Ed, I will check them out at my earliest convenience and follow up with comments.


  3. Great essay dealing with the meat of the subject matter here:

    I also found and will post a great academic piece on the gas chambers used as support for Lipstadt in the Irving trial. The point being they did not just resort to judicial note but rather actually tackled and examined evidence. I printed it out but need to find it to get the link.


  4. DaveK says:

    “…The general theme for his cluelessness is that he is unbalanced, aggressive, and largely ignorant.”

    All this coming from somebody who is using “Miracle on 34th St.” as a debating point.


  5. DaveK says:

    “…I think the missus and Elijah could do better but their choice has been made.”

    First off, nothing illustrates better the character of this racist then the above statement. Tell me, what kind of a coward talks about another man’s wife and child in order to score debating points? You see the problem with all of the forums and blogs, and talkbacks, is that this sort of behaviour is prevalent because there are no physical consequences. In the real world, you’d be gumming your food. Alas in cyberspace, no one gets punched in the face.


  6. DaveK says:

    “…I would like to point out that DaveK was banned from the LA Jewish Journal Forum for making death threats against the moderator (among other abusive behavior). He created a new account (mdanin) and is allowed to continue to spew his hatred there though everyone (including the moderator) is aware that it is the same person who made the original death threats”

    That certainly was not the case. But it is understood that in order to divert attention from your blatant attempts at Jew-baiting across the web, your Jew-hatred will require some spin control. Hence the need to lie and mis-characterize. BTW, the name of the webmaster over at the Jewish Journal Forum(the one who’s life was supposedly “threatened) is Dennis Wilen. Dennis is a good guy and very fair and even handed. Dennis and I are good friends and he has even been so kind as to allow me to start a thread on the forum chronicling the various activities of my 14 month old, Gideon(Just for the cuteness factor, not for any hidden “Zionist” agenda) As you can see, I’m very unstable. Yes it is true that I re-entered the forum under mdanin(my wife’s maiden name). I did this after communicatiing with Mr. Wilen, apologizing for any bad feeling, and suggesting that we start anew. Mr. Wilen, to his credit, graciously accepted my offer and apology. I did not want to erode Mr’ Wilen’s authority as the Webmaster of the forum by re-entering as “DaveK” And aging I must re-iterate that It was not I who removed you from The JJ forum. That was Mr. Wilen’s decision. After several exchanges with Lancethruster, in which William stateed several times that his purpose for being on a Jewish forum was to “seek the truth” all the while denying the holocaust and Israel’s right to exist. It was at this point that Mr. Wilen came to the conclusion, That yes, in fact LanceThruster was in fact an anti-semite and removed him fortwith from the forum. I believe Mr. Wilen’s last words to William were something along the lines of; “I think your experiment is over. Adios”


  7. I would like to point out that DaveK was banned from the LA Jewish Journal Forum for making death threats against the moderator (among other abusive behavior). He created a new account (mdanin) and is allowed to continue to spew his hatred there though everyone (including the moderator) is aware that it is the same person who made the original death threats. I see him as no more than a barnacle and a sayan as he seeks to harass anyone who would dare to question the role of Israel in US foreign policy. The general theme for his cluelessness is that he is unbalanced, aggressive, and largely ignorant. He might someday find that one with the same characteristics as he has chooses to subject him to similar treatment. That was the message of “A History of Violence.” I think the missus and Elijah could do better but their choice has been made.

    As to the pros and cons of judicial notice, it seems more like the gimmick used in “Miracle on 34th St.” to prove Santa Claus’ existence because the Post Office was willing to deliver the “letters to Santa” to him. As far as couts ruling on “truth”, they also at one time determined that some human beings were actually 3/5ths of a man.


  8. Ed Darrell says:

    Oh, and Galileo is no longer considered a heretic. The Pope officially apologized to Galileo — what — about a decade ago.

    Of course, for denialists, what’s a decade?


  9. Ed Darrell says:

    Judicial note means that the point has evidence enough of that point that it need not be evidenced again, over and over. I’m not up enough on what Mermelstein offered as proof — the offer was for anyone who could prove “the Holocaust” — but I’m confident enough in the judge to say that if part of Mermelstein’s case involved the existence of gas chambers, one would be a great fool to bet against their existence.


  10. Steven Stern says:

    Judicial notice is a legal concept that does not have any validity in the realm of historical research. You could say that the Catholic Church took judicial notice of the fact that the sun revolves around the earth and convicted Galileo of heresy for saying the opposite. Today, Galileo is still considered to be a heretic because he defied the chuch’s teaching but that doesn’t mean that the earth is actually the center of the universe. Similarly, the fact that a court took judicial notice of gassings at Auschwitz does not provide any proof that gassings did indeed take place at Auschwitz. Mermelstein was not able to prove that anybody was gassed at Auschwtiz and nobody else has provided any evidence either. What we are shown as evidence (piles of shoes, people getting off a train) doesn’t prove anything. Interestingly, Mermelstein himself proved he is lying about his experiences when he claims his family was sent to gas chambers disguised with fake showerheads. There were no fake showerheads at Auschwitz. Other camps allegedly had fake showerheads in the gas chambers but not Auschwitz.


  11. DaveK says:

    I apologize to any and all who have been offended by my above comments. I would like to say one thing more and then I will cease and desist fortwith. I don’t mind the fact that Lance doesn’t like Israel, Zionists, or Jews. He’s entitled to his opinion. What is despicable about Lance, is his duplicitous manner and the dishonest and disingenous way he presents himself on blogs and forums such as these all over the internet. Believe me, It doesn’t take much to prove or disprove this statement. Simply google LanceThruster+Israel or + Jews and one becomes witness to the sort of Jew-baiting that hasn’t been seen since Julius Streicher edited “Der Steurmer”. To debate someone for whom the debate is merely a means to an end, a stage in which to propagate the sort of anti-semitism that disguises itself as a scholarly endeavour, is an insult to the intelligence of any honest person.


  12. DaveK says:

    I don’t stalk you William. To stalk you, I would’ve had to invade your personal space. You know, like calling you at your home, where your wife and kid lives. But….I guess you would know more about that sort of thing than I would. I harass you. Theres a difference . Is my harassment of you justified? Absolutely. You’re a Jew hater and a racist. You have searched for any information that might rationalize that hatred. You then proceed to enter Jewish websites (under the guise of being a “truth-seeker”. You can almost taste the cynicism)s pew forth any bile, substantiated or not, wait for the inevitable agitated responses, claim to be an innocent victim, and twisto-presto, instant agit-prop disguising itself as socially redeeming editorial.


  13. DaveK says:

    Spoke with the Office of Religous life over there at USC. Apparently they chose to forgo your sevices this semester. Well, thats a shame.


  14. DaveK says:

    Rehashing who did what to whom William, is pointless. It wasn’t I who banned you from the Jewish Journal Forum, Israpundit, Jewlicious, or any of the other Jewish-themed websites where you decided to ply your wares. That you did all on your own. By the way, how are things in Monrovia?


  15. Ed Darrell says:

    I’m trying desperately to figure out what argument you think I’m trying to rebut that you’re not making.

    You end up with this grand piece of denial, Lance:

    So in conclusion, the “findings” of the Mermelstein case seem less about establishing a particular ‘truth’ than finding a way within the legal system of sidestepping/avoiding it.

    Mermelstein took the denialist claims head on, sidestepping nothing. His lawyer insisted on a full hearing on the evidence, no sidestepping of anything. The case was over whether the Holocaust happened, not how many died or by what means. The judge’s ruling was that the evidence was clear and convincing, leaving only issues of law left to resolve. The whole case was about taking the evidence head-on and NOT sidestepping anything, as Carto and the revisionists had done in the past.

    Taken head on, sidestepping nothing, the fact is the Holocaust occurred.

    Taking judicial note doesn’t put a fact beyond question, by the way. It creates a rebuttable presumption. No one has any evidence to rebut it, though, so the ruling stands.


  16. Thank you Ed for the link. I will check it out when time permits. Again, you make rebuttals to arguments I do not make. And I am more interested in rejecting the notion of thought crimes than making a particular case for or against any particular aspect of the Holocaust. Legitimate historians have scaled down the numbers but certainly not so much that it is not still a human tragedy. yet questioning the 6 million number would potentially fall into that category of denial. Numbers for the individual camps have been revised from examination of the historical record yet the sum total remains sacrosanct.

    It’s not unexpected to get an appearance from my own personal stalker DaveK (also known as ‘Lazarro’ from his mirror image in Slaughter-House Five). His arguments tend to be nothing more than personal attacks and he operates in a world whereby his pronouncements go unchallenged (such as the false superlative “greatest mass murder in history” – Stalin and Mao might beg to differ). It has been a while since he chose to venture out of the safety of his little pond as someone there posted his personal information much in the same way he had done previously before he petitioned the web master to remove it. He attempted at one point to claim I was the one doing it under a different handle but later conceded the issue. I had mentioned to him that he might open himself and his family to the kind of retribution seen in the movie “A History of Violence” as the posting of his personal information online attested to. He’s sought to subject others to that same sort of harassment but gets a little shaken when he finds himself in a similar position.

    So in conclusion, the “findings” of the Mermelstein case seem less about establishing a particular ‘truth’ than finding a way within the legal system of sidestepping/avoiding it. There are too many concessions to the “official narrative” throughout history. To place any aspect of the record beyond questions serves only to weaken, not strengthen it.


  17. DaveK says:

    “…You appear really not to get it.” No Ed, you got him all wrong. He gets it. He just using this opportunity and your blog to obfuscate the details, confuse the reader with inconsequential minutiae (door locks on the f**kin’ gas chambers, you’ve got to be kidding me!) and therefore attempt to delegitimize the holocaust in order to “cleanse” the gentile collective conscience of any residual guilt associated with the greatest mass murder in history, while at the same time legitimizing any rationalizations for his particular brand of Jew hatred.


  18. Ed Darrell says:

    There were no gas chambers for delousing clothing. You appear really not to get it. It takes a lot more cyanide to kill a louse than it does to kill a human, a heavier dose. When people are “deloused” with cyanide, the intent is to kill the people.

    Whether or not the gas chambers would accommodate more than a hundred or so at a time is really quite beside the point. The scale of gas as a tool of genocide in a set of tools used to kill millions of people is quite beside the point. Had gas not been one of the tools, the genocide still exists. As I noted earlier, there are lots of ways to kill people. Gas chambers were just one. Nazis were not interested in delousing prisoners to aid the prisoners’ health. The “delousing” processes were designed to kill prisoners.

    By the way, you’ll discover that cyanide was not the only gas used. Carbon monoxide was also used. As with cyanide, the dosage needed to kill lice is much higher than the dosage needed to kill humans.

    I find several pictures of gas chambers in a quick search, even a lot from denialist sites picking nits (“the shower heads are no connected to anything” — no not now; it’s a museum display, and in Dachau’s case, the shower heads were always fake in the killing chambers); “this chamber never had cyanide in it” — no, as noted in the caption, CO was used instead). Here, for example, you can read a report on Dachau.

    As a pragmatic matter, most of the death camps were bulldozed shortly after the war. Occupying Allies could not dream that anyone would want to preserve such things. I’m not sure what you expect to see, but photos that fail to meet your expectations in no way mitigate the facts of the Holocaust, nor does anyone’s way-after-the-fact complaints about the Mermelstein decision change the facts. In a fair trial where evidence rules apply and all evidence was weighed fairly, the judge determined that the evidence of the Holocaust is so overwhelming as to be worthy of judicial note.

    The Holocaust is a fact, and we forget at our peril.


  19. I don’t see your point other than to end the discussion. As shown in links associated with the rebuttal link, the gas chambers for delousing clothing had more safety features in regards to the sealing of the chamber and the cautionary warnings on the outside. Again, for something as self-evident as 2+2=4, it should be a simple thing to provide a link or two regarding gas chambers on a scale commensurate with mass murder. I do not deny their existence, I just thought it would be easier to find. The Holocaust Memorial links have photos and blueprints labeled “Gas Chamber and Crematoria” but it is less than clear that actual gas chambers are shown (often the caption is for a buildings exterior only with the only interior shots being the ovens).


  20. Ed Darrell says:

    Would people choking on cyanide gas storm the doors and try to get out ? What sort of denial of gas chambers is that?

    Seriously — what’s the point of arguing door locks with someone who doesn’t have the first clue about war, about prisons, or about the death methods under discussion?


  21. I think the critque of Michael Shermer is pretty valid. See:
    I also think that any support of punishing thought crimes is reprehensible.

    I believe that the illegal renditions of at least one of the so-called deniers involved the US (either as citizens or by the govts lack of action in regards to the illegal renditions). If/when I find it I’ll post it in the comments. Nevertheless, examining the Holocaust and coming up with anything not in line with the official narrative is afforded a status that no other position or pseudo-science is given. This should trouble anyone who supports reason and intellectual freedom. I do not see the question of gas chambers (regardless of what some would use that argument for) on the same level as 2+2=4.

    Ed, I appreciate the studious manner with which you approach this issue even where we disagree. I myself thought it would be easy to establish the existence of gas chambers used for mass murder. It seems the record of this particular act was somewhat less documented than other crimes of the Third Reich. Also, as shown in the Micheal Shermer critique, arguments claimed as providing evidence for gas chambers seem less compelling than first believed. I would truly love to have a link or reference from you that definitively established the existence of the gas chambers.


  22. Ed Darrell says:

    Puzzled by the lack of evidence for gas chambers? Are you joking?

    Photographs, testimony, the gas chambers, the cyanide pellets, the construction orders, and so on.

    I’m puzzled why deniers tend to focus on gas chambers, as if a gas chamber is the only way to murder someone. The gas chamber stories are simply among the most horrific.

    Serious deniers claim that the numbers are way off, too.

    The study of the historical record should not be hampered by hurdles placed in the way by fact deniers.


  23. I’ll post this over at the Deltoid Science blog site as well but it appears there is no argument in regards to the letter of apology. I am not a member of IHR nor any white supremacist organization. I am an atheist that finds the nature of debate interesting and value truth-tellers over all others.

    I find it troubling that Zionists can essentially make thought crimes illegal and that specifically in the Mermelstein case, the ruling of “Judicial Notice” can bypass what the original challenge was all about. I think one of the worst examples of presenting a supposed “proof” of the gas chambers comes from Skeptic magazine publisher Michael Shermer, whose arguments are full of logical contradictions themselves. I would think nothing of that except that he is in the forefront of trying to debunk the 9/11 Truth movements (with equally tortured logic).

    I grew up being fascinated with WWII history and up until 9/11, always saw Israel as the “white hats.” After 9/11 I felt it was my duty to further examine the conflict in the Middle East and discovered that the narrative was fully biased towards Israel. In pursuing this further, I found how those siding with Israel tended to pull out all the stops in defending the official narrative. If one truly has the truth on their side, they would not need to go to such lengths.

    Currently, new revelations have come out regarding Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty and the same sort of smears come to the surface. I never doubted the existence of the Nazi gas chambers, but am puzzled by the difficulty in actually providing evidence for it. There is no doubt (and plenty of evidence for) of the Nazi programs of mass extermination. But just as some eyewitness accounts have turned out to be false or fanciful (Elie Weisel explained that much of his work was not literal), the study of the historical record should not be blocked by those with a need to protect a particular agenda.


  24. Ed Darrell says:

    It’s astounding, isn’t it? IHR will even lie to its own membership about what they did, what they were ordered to do by the court — and dishonor themselves with such claptrap.

    IHR would deny the sky is blue and water is wet, if they thought it would promote their part of the hate agenda. Shame on them.

    The longer statement of apology can be found at the site I noted above:

    That apology was made in order to limit the greater award for contempt.

    And let’s be clear: There is overwhelming evidence of the use of poison gas on innocent people, including tens of thousands of Jews, by the Nazi war machine, in the death camps. That issue has been litigated elsewhere, including in Britain, and the cases all come out the same. People who deny that the death camps existed, that the death camps killed millions, that the death camps killed with poison gas, that the death camps killed innocent people, that the death camps killed millions of Jews, that the death camps killed children and women, are all crazy or lying — civilly liable for such distortions of the truth in the U.S., criminally liable in other nations where such lies are actually criminalized.


  25. Seems to be a little more to the story than you’ve let on.


    About the IHR/Mermelstein Settlement

    This article originally appeared in the IHR Newsletter shortly after the original settlement between the IHR and Mel Mermelstein. I have appended this item to the article above because the terms of the settlement agreement are often misrepresented.

    — Greg Raven

    by J. Marcellus

    With so many wild rumors still being circulated about the IHR/Mermelstein setlement, we want to remind our readers that, contrary to what has gone out through the press and media:

    The settlement agreement did not include any provision for a payment of any reward offer, and in fact was not such a payment.

    The IHR did not accept or in any way agree with Judge Johnson’s ridiculous 1981 “judicial notice” that Jews were “in fact” exterminated in “gas chambers” at Auschwitz.

    The IHR has not retreated one inch from its well-known position that there is no credible evidence to support the theory that Germans allegedly used homicidal poison gas chambers to exterminate the Jews of Europe.

    The letter of apology addressed the “suffering” some Jews said they experienced around the $50,000 award offer. It did not apologize for revisionist theory or revisionist literature in any way.

    Following is the complete text of the letter our lawyers signed:

    Each of the answering defendants do hereby officially and formally apologize to Mr. Mel Mermelstein, a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Buchenwald, and all other survivors of Auschwitz for the pain, anguish, and suffering he and all other Auschwitz survivors have sustained relating to the $50,000 reward offer for proof that ‘Jews were gassed in gas chambers at Auschwitz’.”

    Any person or organization that claims our lawyers signed any apology other than these few lines is either mistaken or knowingly distributing false information.

    (J. Marcellus was for many years director of the IHR.)


  26. Holocaust deniers beware

    I wanted to point people to this post at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, a cool history blog I like to hit up now and again.
    Holocaust deniers should be wary of offering ridiculous award amounts; I swear I saw one circulating the NIU campus a couple …


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