His life has been a colorful one. He has been a deputy sheriff, construction worker, a soldier in the Korean war (twice wounded), a bullfighter, a playwright, a book store owner-manager, an ice cream truck vendor, and a merchant seaman. But he is best known as an activist for open inquiry on the Holocaust issue.
For many hundreds of thousands of Americans, perhaps millions, Bradley Smith has been the introduction to a skeptical view of this emotion-laden issue. This outspoken defender of freedom of speech and thought has been widely, and wrongly, denounced as a “hater” and a “Holocaust denier.” The Zionist “Anti-Defamation League” has absurdly smeared him as one of America's “Ten Top Extremists.”
Bradley R. Smith was born on February 18, 1930, in Los Angeles, where he lived the first 18 years of his life. After service in the US Army, he lived and worked in New York City, and then, throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s, in Hollywood. In 1989 he moved with his Mexican-born wife, their young daughter, his step-daughter, and his mother to Visalia, California. Since 1997 he has lived with his family in Rosarito, Mexico.
During the early 1960s, he was arrested, jailed and prosecuted for selling Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer from his book store on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. (The book was banned in the US at the time.) The case attracted considerable media attention. In the years since, Smith’s devotion to intellectual freedom has never diminished.
In 1979, when he was 49 years old, his life changed forever when he read a leaflet by Robert Faurisson, “The `Problem of the Gas Chambers’.”
Through his efforts in the years that followed, millions of Americans learned for the first time about Holocaust revisionism and the scholarly debate on this chapter of history.
In the mid-1980s, he published Prima Facie, a newsletter aimed at journalists and editors that focused on cultism, suppression of free inquiry and censorship on the Holocaust issue.
During the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, he was active as director of the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH), a group dedicated to defending free speech and free inquiry on the Holocaust issue, to encouraging greater public access to revisionist scholarship, and to promoting awareness of the controversy regarding the Holocaust story.
During those years, Smith organized the publication of essay-length advertisements calling for open debate on the Holocaust issue in newspapers distributed at colleges and universities across the country. In the 1991-92 school year, CODOH advertisements or statements appeared in 17 student newspapers, several at major universities. During the 1993-1994 academic year, his ad -- headlined "A Revisionist Challenge to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum" -- appeared in at least 35 college and university campus papers, as well as one major metropolitan daily. By the end of the 2000-001 academic year, his ads had appeared in more than 350 student papers.
Smith’s effort defied a well-organized campaign of threats, intimidation and smears. On one campus after another, his ad touched off a furious free speech debate, in some cases provoking physical attacks, bitter resignations, boycotts, threats of law suits, and a lot of soul-searching. Two influential Jewish-Zionist organizations the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center -- devoted considerable money and effort to countering what they regarded as a serious threat to their interests. In one case the ADL flew officials to a campus to cajole and pressure student editors into rejecting Smith's ad. The ADL also published a booklet circulated to student newspapers around the country warning against Smith's dangerous campaign.
Deborah Lipstadt, a Jewish academic and a prominent figure in the Holocaust lobby, took aim at Bradley and other "Holocaust deniers" in a front-page article in the May 1992 newsletter of the US Holocaust Memorial Council, a taxpayer-funded federal government agency. In a back-handed tribute to his effectiveness, she wrote: “In recent months, a lone [Holocaust] denier, Bradley Smith, has garnered incredible amounts of attention with a tactically brilliant but devious maneuver: the placing of advertisements in student newspapers arguing there was no Holocaust.”
Smith has spoken on these issues as a guest on more than 400 radio talk shows and news broadcasts, as well as on nationwide television, including an appearance with Michael Shermer and David Cole as a guest on the Phil Donahue Show.
In February 1992 a portion of an interview with Smith was aired nationwide on the CBS television program "48 Hours” as part of a sensational report on the “rising tide of hate" in America. The broadcast, which included segments on the Ku Klux Klan, Al Sharpton, and an anti-homosexual group in Oregon , predictably portrayed Smith in maliciously distorted way. In fact, the only bigotry and intolerance displayed by anyone in the segment about him was by a mob at Ohio State University that screamed against Smith's ad.
Smith's campaign generated news reports and commentary in such prominent periodicals as The New York Times and Time magazine, and editorials in The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
More recently, Smith has been active in a new organization, The Campaign to Decriminalize World War II History (http://www.codoh.com), which highlights the anti-free speech laws in some European countries that criminalize expressions of doubt about the orthodox view of Second World War history, and especially “Holocaust” history.
The Committee’s website declares:
“Countries that have laws that limit the scope and substance of World War II and Holocaust research include France, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, and Spain. These laws make it a crime for anyone, regardless of their credentials or the factual basis of their views, to question or revise any aspect of the history of World War II or the Holocaust in a manner that goes beyond the somewhat arbitrary standards established by the governments of those countries.”
Smith has had a long association with the Institute for Historical Review -- as a contributor to IHR publications, as a speaker at IHR conferences, and, during the late 1980s, as its Media Project director, a role that generated numerous radio and television interviews.
He is the author of many articles, some of which have appeared in the IHR Journal, and two books. The first, Confessions of a Holocaust Revisionist, was praised by Canadian journalist Doug Collins as “fascinating" and as an "amusing walk through the valley of the shadow of doubt…”
Smith’s second book, Break His Bones: The Private Life of a Holocaust Revisionist, is a witty and thoughtful 315-page memoir published in 2002 that looks back on the challenges, disappointments and joys of his years-long battle against taboo and censorship.
Break His Bones details the organized campaign to suppress free speech and intellectual openness on the “Holocaust” issue, showing how skeptics are blacklisted, and their works banned. Smith gives a human face to the much-maligned “Holocaust deniers.” “It might be said,” he writes, that Break His Bones ”is an exercise revealing the subjective life of a thought criminal.”
The Holocaust story, he also writes in Break His Bones, has been “the instrument, the contrivance, that was used to ‘morally’ legitimate Jewish claims to Arab land in Palestine ... It remains the instrument used to morally legitimate the ongoing colonization of Palestinian Arab land by Jewish settlers... The Holocaust story, with all its fraud and falsehood, continues to be used to support Israeli policies in Palestine , and to secure the funding of the Israeli military by the US Congress.”
What drives this modern-day Don Quixote and incorrigible idealist?