Magazine shut for denying Holocaust

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A well-known Japanese magazine aimed at young readers has been closed by its publisher because it said the gas chambers of Auschwitz were a myth. All copies of the monthly Marco Polo were ordered withdrawn from shops and news-stands following protests by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre over an article entitled "The greatest taboo of post-war history: there were no Nazi gas chambers". The magazine, which had a print-run of 250,000, had tried to lure "sophisticated" readers by combining features on lifestyle, fashion and social trends with supposedly in-depth investigative reporting. But the gas-chamber article prompted Volkswagen and Mitsubishi to stop advertising in the magazine; Cartier said it would stop advertising in any outlets of the magazine's publishers.

The article, in February's Marco Polo and on sale since the middle of this month, was by Masanori Nishioka, who says he is a doctor. It had been rejected for publication by the liberal Asahi Shimbun. Marco Polo made clear in the introduction to the text that it was timed for the 50th anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation. The preface continued: "At present there are some major doubts regarding the `Holocaust' ... there is scant evidence that Jews were systematically killed in gas chambers ... "The gas used, in the view of a scientist, could not possibly have been used on large numbers of people ... Here is the astounding new historic truth that a young doctor has taken it upon himself to investigate."

Mark Schreiber, a writer who has been keeping track of anti-Semitic publications in Japan, said the article was "a rehash of revisionist writing in the United States which tries to deny the Holocaust. He [Nishioka] never visited Poland or Germany before writing the article and the editors never checked his story."

Kazuyoshi Hanada, sacked editor of now defunct Marco Polo, had offered to print rebuttals of Nishioka's claims in the next issue but defended his decision to publish.