In their own words
“Jewish Greed, Jewish monomaniacal self-regard, joined with the self-defeating and degenerate acquiescence of both by non-Jews throughout the American political system, media, and academic worlds, ensure that the taboo against questioning ay of this murderous nonsense is enforced.” Bradley Smith’s Blog January 2009
“We understand perfectly well that the Hitlerian regime was anti-Semitic and persecuted Jews and others. We understand many peoples, European Jews among them, experienced unfathomable tragedies in Europe during World War II. Nevertheless, to be clear, we no longer believe the German State pursued a plan to kill all Jews or used homicidal ‘gassing chambers’ for mass murder during the years of World War II.” CODOH (Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust) website
“The attempt to identify every call for open debate about the gas chamber controversy with anti-Jewish sentiment is juvenile. Those who protest that it is more important to be sensitive to “survivors” than truthful to the historical record represent a world view that has no place in Western culture.” CODOH website
“Today we have crossed over from a time of "political correctness" to one of outright Orwellian "thought-crime" where certain historical studies are strongly discouraged and in many once-free democracies even outlawed. But a recent interest in discovering the facts about the twentieth century’s two world wars and their aftermath as well as the consequences of those events inspires us with new courage and optimism” Inconvenient History website
“American Jews now own or control up to $50 trillion, which is sufficient to completely corrupt the democratic process and to bribe or bully congressmen into doing their bidding. It is sufficient to purchase complete control over American media, both left and right. And it is sufficient to steer events on the global stage in the direction of Jewish and Israeli interests.” — Clemens and Blair website.
Before his death in 2016, Bradley Smith was one of the most prolific holocaust deniers and revisionists in America. His pseudointellectual style and faux academic publications and organizations have shaped the revisionist and denial movement for nearly four decades with half-truths, misinformation, and lies. Smith claimed that he first encountered revisionism later in his life in 1979, after reading another revisionist, Robert Faurisson’s antisemitic pamphlet, “The Problem with the Gas Chambers.” Smith would later describe this as a life-changing event, and he would make it his goal to spread the gospel of revisionism under the guise of a truth seeker and educator.
In his book, Confessions of a Holocaust Revisionist, originally published in 1986, Smith details his descent into revisionism, which trivializes and refutes the atrocities of the Holocaust. Throughout the book, Smith uses standard tactics among revisionists and deniers: cherry-picking quotes out of context from legitimate scholars, relying on hearsay and half-truths, and constantly citing other revisionists with no evidence to back their claims. He started the CODOH under the guise of an organization focused on “truth” and “intellectual freedom.” CODOH’s framework ignores the Shoah’s -- The Hebrew word for ‘catastrophe’ that has come to apply to the Holocaust—concrete evidence and offers in its place insincere leading questions, fake experts, commentary, and evidence-free literature masquerading as legitimate academic inquiry and scholarship. Indeed, many publications made by and posted by Smith, CODOH, and its affiliates online only cite other known Holocaust Deniers and revisionists.
This style has not abated; even after Smith’s death, CODOH and its affiliates poison Holocaust memory and education. Whenever Smith was presented with evidence or eyewitness and survivor testimonies, he would immediately attempt to refute it with baseless questions and a reliance on other unfounded claims made by other deniers as evidence without any actual substantive inquiry. This remains a consistent methodology today; most of the sources cited by any revisionist in their “honest” and “academic” investigations are only from other revisionists.
Smith became associated with Willis Carto’s engine for Holocaust denial and antisemitism, the Institute for Historical Review (IHR,) in the 1980s. He wrote articles, gave speeches at conferences, and eventually became its media director, playing a significant role in IHR and being interviewed by several mainstream news outlets. Smith left his position at IHR in 1987 and founded CODOH, partly because he wished to engage with college students. At a presentation in August of 1987, he stated his intent for CODOH clearly: “I don’t want to spend time with adults anymore. I want to go to students. They are superficial. They are empty vessels to be filled.”
Despite having no concrete proof of his own, Smith began a campaign of antisemitic disinformation, and his principal targets were college campuses. From roughly 1987-2001, Smith utilized the “Campus Project” to make a concerted effort to influence young adults and voters by emphasizing the disingenuous position that CODOH only sought to elevate freedom of speech and academic inquiry. Through newspaper ads “disguised as op-eds, calculatedly provocative speaking tours” and actively “pitting students against idealogues,” Smith’s work invaded college campuses. According to CODOH’s website, Smith originated the “campaign for free speech on college campuses.” (Never mind the civil rights movement.)
Smith believed that his publications in hundreds of college newspapers would spark a debate about the Holocaust and lead others to question the facts and evidence that had accrued and been tabulated over decades. In effect, he cast Holocaust Denial and revisionism as a freedom of speech issue.
In the early 1990s, Smith published an ad entitled “A Revisionists Challenge to the U.S. Holocaust Museum” at several college campuses. Smith denounced all eyewitness testimonies and confessions as “ludicrously unreliable” or invalid because they were obtained by “coercion, intimidation, and even physical torture.” He dismissed it as unreliable or hearsay when presented with evidence that did not support his revisionism. Additionally, he would constantly try to hide behind arguments about the First Amendment and that any attempts to stop his hate-mongering were a suppression of his freedom of speech. These would remain common tactics used by deniers and revisionists in the 21st century.
After a brief hiatus, Smith resumed his campus crusade in 2009 with paid advertisements in university newspapers published at, among others, Brandeis, Boston College, and Harvard. Smith’s ads entitled “A Question for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum” attempted to challenge historians to provide “with proof, the name of one person who was killed in the gas chambers.” Still, none of the scholars’ replies appeared to satisfy him. This was coupled with an inquiry for students who were “carefree, independent students” to risk “challenging authority” and locate professors who can find proof and help explain to him why “it is ‘morally wrong’ to ask this question.” Smith preyed on the naivete or carelessness of many university libraries, resulting in “anti-Semitic propaganda alongside genuine scholarly works” on library shelves. Also in 2009, CODOH continued their persistent quest for relevance and authenticity by publishing “An Inconvenient History: A Quarterly Journal for Free Historical Inquiry,” a fake academic journal dedicated to the façade of “free historical inquiry.” The contributors to this journal are also known revisionists and deniers, including Arthur Butz and Germar Rudolf.
In 2010, Smith made his first foray into online advertising by placing an ad in the University of Wisconsin’s campus newsletter. From then on, most of the Holocaust denial and revisionism by CODOH was focused online.
While the IHR continues to decline, CODOH is filling the void. Taking on the same tactics and methodologies initially associated with Willis Carto and his group, CODOH has become an integral part of the web of Holocaust denial and revisionist organizations. As a result, CODOH has had a significant online presence and a frequently updated website. After Smith died in 2016, it was unclear who was in control of the organizations, but they remained a cemented publishing force for antisemitism and hate.
In 1998, Germar Rudolf, a noted associate of Smith, who three years earlier was sentenced to 14 months in prison in Germany for Holocaust denial, founded Castle Hill publications. He fled arrest and attempted to apply for political asylum in the United States. He was extradited in 2005 and sentenced to an additional two and a half years in prison. In 2011, he immigrated to the United States and resumed publishing revisionist falsehoods. In 2020, Rudolf was convicted and given two years' probation for indecent exposure for standing without pants at a children’s playground in York County, PA. By that time, Michael Santomauro was running Castle Hill, as he told Holocaust denier and antisemite Jim Rizzoli in a 2016 interview. In April of 2022, CODOH officially bought Castle Hill, making it the organization’s official bookstore and Santomauro acts as its CEO.
Additionally, Clemens and Blair, an online bookshop founded in 2020 that publishes antisemitic books and is an SPLC designated hate group, operates as part of the CODOH network. Santomauro and his address are listed as the contact or location for donations for CODOH, Castle Hill, and Clemens and Blair. Santomauro has become a leading voice in couching revisionism and denial as academic pursuits for truth.
With Santomauro as a leading figure, they have remained relevant and expanded their network to other previously assumed, seemingly independent groups. As recently as January 2023, CODOH has been soliciting donations through emails and social media. They also raise money through their online store, commercials, and videos.
The Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust is dangerous because it masquerades as an institution focused on free and fair expression and promotes itself as a legitimate academic entity. With Holocaust survivors passing away, public school education de-emphasizing the study of the Holocaust, and the continued shift for expertise to be unvetted online sources, the professional facade of CODOH poses a significant threat to Holocaust education and remembrance.