Parent Recommends Holocaust-Denying Book To His PTA

As the New York Times pointed out, PTA listservs are not known to provoke heated moral controversies.  But a message sent to the email list of New York Public School 290, a sought-after school on the Upper East Side, has created a serious stir among its recipients.  Michael Santomauro, the parent of a 3rd-grader at P.S. 290, sent an image of the cover of Debating the Holocaust: A New Look at Both Sides, with the message “You should read this book! It is rocking my world!”

Santomauro realized his mistake a few moments later, when several parents wrote outraged messages back.  He said that he had meant to send it to another listserv, and apologized for the “total confusion.”  Two parents have already contacted the Anti-Defamation League, although the school has not.  The regional director explained that Santomauro was a “hard-core Holocaust denier.”

The message was shocking not just because of the content but because many parents did not realize that Santomauro, the editorial director of a press which publishes authors whose works question the Holocaust, but who live in countries where doing so is a crime.  Santomauro’s house has been protested in the past, and he says that he has recently received threatening phone calls.

Santomauro says that he is not a Holocaust-denier, but that he is merely trying to encourage debate.  “There’s not hate coming from me,” he said. “There’s no reason if you question aspects of what may or may not happen or what murder weapon was used during the Holocaust that you should be called an anti-Semite.”

One thing is clear: the book that Santomauro inadvertently advertised to his child’s classmates’ parents gives serious credence to the idea that the Holocaust might be a massive hoax.  In the introduction to the book, which is available online, the author writes, “We vist Holocaust museums.  We take college courses from endowed chairs in Holocaust stores.  This is not by accident.  It is a deliberate plan, to make sure that we ‘never forget.’  And if we can never forget, we should at least get the story straight.”  It seems unlikely, reading this, that Santomauro is trying to start a debate instead of proposing the highly offensive view that one of the worst genocides in history was a political invention.

Whether this should result in better policing of the PTA listserv is another question.  One parent responded pragmatically, saying that she “came to the conclusion that this guy is a moron.”  She added, “I am sure that that parent won’t make that mistake again.”

And she’s probably right.  However offensive Santomauro’s views are, the most the school can do is what it did, which is to say that they do not endorse anything he says.  Santomauro can apologize again (and he probably means it, given that he’s getting in an undesired media firestorm as a result – although having a spotlight on his odious activities is probably a good thing), but short of creating new rules about how the PTA listserv is used, the consequences for Santomauro may not be severe.  At least they can be sure that Santomauro won’t be sending out any of his anti-Semitic publications to their list in the future.

Photo from Flickr.


William C
William C2 months ago


W. C
W. C2 months ago

Thank you for the information.

Ge M.
Gillian M3 years ago

To give children a book of lies merely because it is about Jews enforces anti-Semitism which is not acceptable in a mutli-cultural society nor is the persecution of any minority for any reason. You cannot debate about the evil that happened nor excuse it. You may as well say that Hitler was right to put those with mental illnesses in there along with the disabled, the Gypsies, the blacks etc as well as anyone that disagrees with the government, the police etc. So those that demonstrate against the XL Pipeline, killing wolves, the death of Michael Brown etc should all go into the camps along with the minorities.

Sorry, the only people that belong in the camps are those that pretend it never happened so as to hide the truth and encourage it to happen again elsewhere.

Briony C.
Briony C3 years ago

It's dangerous to expose kids to Holocaust denial material. They are unlikely to understand its true nature and therefore more open to believing what it says at face value.

I reckon there are adults like that too. Gullible, ignorant, conspiracy theory minded people who buy the Holocaust denial material. There is one Holocaust denier I know of who may be one such, but I am not saying who. Anyway, he does not even use his real name, and sources on his true name are conflicting.

Briony C.
Briony C3 years ago

The guy says he's not a Holocaust denier but just encouraging debate. Yeah, right. I've met deniers who say they're not. They're just skeptical, promote certain Holocaust denial videos as making valid points, are quality viewing, they don't hate Jews...just some of the rubbish I've encountered on YouTube.

Have you ever noticed that they say the Holocaust was a hoax - but they never tell you how the hoax was pulled off? Nope, they just make as much mileage out of every inch they think they've found as "proof" that it was a hoax.

Bart V.
Bart V.6 years ago

I have always wondered if those who deny the Holocaust; do so only because of their antisemitism. I think they really know that it happened. But they would never accept any evidence at all, & to say that the evidence is overwhelming; doesn't begin to cover it. Because we instinctively react to their claims; it gives them the attention they crave in order to spread their messages of hate.That will never change. Lord have mercy on anyone denying the Holocaust around me.

Sharon Balloch
Sharon Balloch6 years ago

Well for my Uncle who stood outside the ovens there is not debate.. and he took pictures. And stood in the camps.. not years later..not months later but shortly after they were liberated. He saw mass graves, and dead starved bodies. No one can tell him it did not happen.

Gillian no fwds please no
Gillian M6 years ago

I lost family and, growing up in a large Jewish community where we knew most member of the congregation, knowing about the Holocaust was part of our upbringing. I did not need to question anything about it as a few of the parents of my friend had tattoos and would tell us of their lives and losses. My Israeli family could also tell me what happened and why they were lucky to reach Israel. I also grew up with extreme anti-Semitism but none of the racists questioned the Holocaust.

Today I watch the range of anti-Semitism growing, Holocaust denial, however it is put including the "discussion of both sides", is nothing more than that. Anyone who doesn't believe should travel to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and see for themselves. I have been there and it is the most heart wrenching experience, no-one came out without tears, Jews and non-Jews alike.

Because of this we need to speak out and prevent genocide in many countries and not just invade because there is oil. Far too many African countries or Eastern European countries have suffered and no-one does anything. It can also mean tribes within a country such as denying water to Bushmen or building a dam on a South American tribal ground. Speak out against another Holocaust.

Mary L.
Mary L6 years ago

Mr. Rizoli, My father helped to liberate a concentration camp. Since he spoke Hungarian he helped to translate for the few Hungarians who survived there. I believed my dad when he said they existed. He was there. He was one among many witnesses. Sorry you can't seem to believe them.

I do believe in God. my God is not yours, nor is my Goddess.

jane richmond
jane richmond6 years ago

To quote my daughter's response to her teacher teaching the holocaust with a they say attitude--- " Okay, so if it didn't happen where are my aunts, uncles, cousins, and great grandparents?"
Eleven million people disappeared - 6 million Jews and 5 million non-Jews- where did they go????
The over whelming evidence is that they were murdered by the Nazis in Europe.