Denial, an audio play I wrote a some years back, was a fictionalized documentary whose main character, Ari Fleischman, was based partly on real Holocaust denier David Cole. At the end of the play, Ari drops out of sight. In reality, David Cole did too, assuming a new identity and recasting himself as a Hollywood conservative. (From The Guardian)
To those who knew him, or thought they knew him, he was a cerebral, fun-loving gadfly who hosted boozy gatherings for Hollywood’s political conservatives. David Stein brought right-wing congressmen, celebrities, writers and entertainment industry figures together for shindigs, closed to outsiders, where they could scorn liberals and proclaim their true beliefs.
Over the past five years Stein’s organisation, Republican Party Animals, drew hundreds to regular events in and around Los Angeles, making him a darling of conservative blogs and talkshows. That he made respected documentaries on the Holocaust added intellectual cachet and Jewish support to Stein’s cocktail of politics, irreverence and rock and roll.
There was just one problem. Stein was not who he claimed. His real name can be revealed for the first time publicly – a close circle of confidants only found out the truth recently – as David Cole. And under that name he was once a reviled Holocaust revisionist who questioned the existence of Nazi gas chambers. He changed identities in January 1998.
In my play, after Ari drops out of sight, he leaves a recorded message saying he’s recanted his Holocaust revisionism. I leave it up to the audience to decide how seriously to take this. In the real David Cole’s case, his recanting was a fake:
Cole today still challenges established Holocaust scholarship, including the certainty about Nazi gas chambers. “The best guess is yes, there were gas chambers” he says. “But there is still a lot of murkiness about the camps. I haven’t changed my views. But I regret I didn’t have the facility with language that I have now. I was just a kid,” he said this week.
Stranger than fiction, isn’t he?