Mermelstein, Mel

Mel Mermelstein
Mel Mermelstein

Melvin Mermelstein (25 Sept. 1926 – 28 Jan. 2022) was a former Auschwitz inmate who tried to take advantage of the Institute for Historical Review (IHR), located in California. This organization had had offered a reward of $50,000 to anyone who could present “provable physical evidence for the extermination of Jews in gas chambers.” Mermelstein demanded that the reward be paid to him, yet the IHR refused payment, as Mermelstein merely offered his testimony but no provable physical evidence. Mermelstein subsequently sued the IHR for this sum. The judge dealing with the case determined on 9 October 1981 that the Holocaust and the killing in gas chambers with Zyklon B are indisputable facts, thus denying the defense to prove the opposite. So, the IHR grudgingly had to pay the reward plus expenses (Weber 1982). The mainstream mass media to this day celebrate this as a victory over Holocaust skepticism, although not a single argument was exchanged during that trial, let alone refuted or confirmed.

This case moreover had an important aftermath, which could have easily resulted in the financial ruin of the IHR. Four years after the above trial, Bradley R. Smith published an article in the IHR’s newsletter, in which he called Mermelstein a liar. Mermelstein sued the IHR again, but this time for eleven million dollars of damages. During the ensuing trial in 1991, the IHR was able to substantiate its claim that Mermelstein had indeed lied in a plethora of cases. Hence, Mermelstein met a crushing defeat, and his motion for an appeal was eventually denied (Piper 1994, O’Keefe 1994 & 1997).

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