Obituary

Memories about Russell Granata (Aug. 22, 1923 – Aug. 14, 2004)

By Carlo Mattogno

My first revisionist writings appeared in 1985. A few years later, I made an initial contact with the Institute of Historical Review. Russell was a most very ardent supporter of the IHR at that time. He was of Italian descent, but considering the anti-Italian atmosphere prevailing in the U.S. at that time, his parents had decided to cut off all ties to their heritage and not to teach their son to speak Italian. This way his parents hoped to save him from having to fight a bad reputation, which Italian immigrants had at that time due to a minority of criminals whose names became infamous for organized crime.

As he grew older, Russell sensed the blood of his ancestors in his veins, which made him search for his roots and learn the language of his parents. He started socializing with a circle of Italian immigrants that had formed not too far away from his home. The next logical step was to visit Italy, the home of his ancestors, to which he was increasingly attracted. Perhaps that was a reason as well for him to get in touch with me.

Our first telephone conversation was soon followed by a vivid exchange of letters. Russell was interested in my Italian revisionist writings and started to translate them into English. It did not take long for him to turn into a valuable liaison between me and the Institute for Historical Review. It was probably due to his persistence that I was invited to the 9th International Revisionist Conference in California in 1989. During our first meeting I found that I already enjoyed and valued his politeness, his maturity, his practical sense, and his generosity.

Russell accepted me in his home, where I experienced his wife Doris as a lovely and affable hostess. I also had the chance to meet his magnificent three daughters, of whom he was very proud.

At the conference mentioned above, Russell was not only my official translator, but also my co-speaker, because he stood with me at the podium; I read one paragraph in Italian, and Russell translated it into English. We first had to practice it so that this synchronization would work! After our presentation, Russell drove with me in his car to the coast of the Baja California peninsula, showing me the proud cities of northwestern Mexico.

In subsequent years Russell was repeatedly a guest in my house, sometimes all by himself, sometimes together with Doris. This way he got to know the land of his ancestors, and he inhaled the elixir of life with deep breaths, just as he enjoyed the Italian food and its wines. Because he always was young at heart, he always craved the contact with young people. Sometimes he simply vanished, only to be found later standing in some shop peacefully chatting with some young Italians. All of my friends also became his friends, and the all welcomed him cordially and treated him with greatest affability.

My second visit to his house took place in 1994 at the occasion of the 12th International Revisionist Conference. During that meeting of scholars he distinguished himself by his modesty; he always avoided forcing himself into the foreground and was happy to be presented as my friend and translator. He was well aware that his talents were primarily to organize things. And he made good use of his talent by setting up his own quite important website and his own small publishing company – Granata Publishing. He installed a separate section just for me on his site that after a while contained dozens of articles, which Russell translated into English.

Following this conference, Russell, Jürgen Graf, and I discussed the project of traveling to Moscow, where the archive of the Central Construction Office of the Auschwitz camp is kept. After the second book by Jean-Claude Pressac had appeared, which was heavily based on these Moscow documents, our plan quickly came to fruition.

Before I returned back home to Italy, Doris organized an excursion for all of us to the Sequoia National Park with its giant trees. What a great idea! The sight of these gigantic mammoth trees many centuries old made Russell and me awestruck.

In 1995, Russell wanted to participate at our Russian adventure. He arrived early at my home, because we wanted to contact another person in Germany before heading for Moscow. On our way back from Germany to Italy, we stopped by in Basel, where we met Jürgen Graf. Three weeks later, in the middle of July 1995, Russell and I flew to the Russian capital, where Jürgen was already waiting for us at the airport.

I remember a strange incident. Before we left, Russell asked me to accompany him to the U.S. embassy in Rome, where he intended to change a $100 bill into one hundred One Dollar bills, because somebody had talked him into believing that this is the best way of paying in Moscow. Of course, we quickly realized in Moscow that this was not true, because only the small Tourist stands accepted those small bills.

The experiences we had in Moscow are unforgettable, not only because we gained access to the archives with all their documents, but even more so because we could experience the daily life of the average Russian. Russell and I lived with a family, which soon after our arrival left for a journey, leaving the entire apartment to us. Jürgen lived with a different family. Since we were all by ourselves, we had to organize everything: shopping, cooking, washing the dishes, cleaning. We also had to commute independently, at least to the point where we would meet Jürgen. After some initial difficulties, traveling through Moscow actually became quite pleasant, as we had now figured out the Moscow underground system. After we had visited several archives, we also went to the Russian Central State Archive, were we were admitted thanks to Russell.

Our American friend always carried his video camera along, of which he made use in the most unexpected situations, while commenting his footage at the same time. In Moscow he produced a small documentary with many scenes from the daily life, but also with many pictures of cultural places of interest of the city, which we frequented regularly during our spare time with our Russian hostess.

After we returned from Moscow, Russell stayed a few more weeks at my place, because he wanted to celebrate his 72nd birthday here. On August 22, some twenty persons – all of them close friends – wished Russell all the best at a lavishly filled table at a nice restaurant.

On October 6th and 7th, the first international Italian revisionist conference took place in Trieste. It was a substitute conference for a conference planned by the Institute for Historical Review as well as the Swiss organization Verite et Justice (Truth and Justice) to be held in Beirut in March of that year. This conference on revisionism and Zionism had been banned by the Lebanese authorities after the U.S. threatened to cut foreign aid for Lebanon. Russell was one of the lecturers in Trieste. With adorable energy and enviable enthusiasm, he flew all by himself from Los Angeles to Italy und presented an anti-conformist paper about the attacks on the WTC twin towers in New York. Before he returned back home, I had the pleasure to have him as my guest in my house and to listen to his experiences.

In August 2003, Doris accompanied her husband to Valledolmo, a village in Sicily, on the occasion of his 80th birthday. From this village, Russell’s grand parents had started their journey across the big pond. Today, some distant relatives of Russell still live in that town. For Russell it was like returning back home to his origins. Shortly thereafter I met him for the last time. He advised me as to his arrival time so that I could pick him up from the airport of Fiumicino, which is named after Leonardo da Vinci.

He resided with Doris in a Hotel, where I met him with my entire family. From the granate apple tree in my yard I had picked the most beautiful fruits for him, because I knew that the Italian word for granate apple “Granata” was his family name and was considered the symbol of his clan. For half a day we had a lot of fun together, enjoying good wine, raising our glasses to each other, and promenading along the beach.

Full of pride, he then gave me a CD. During the festivities of his birthday, he had sung fervently, and he had turned to a professional recording studio, where he had it record him while singing various traditional Italian and American songs with his melodious voice. For me, this is the last and sonorous memory to a sincere and loyal friend, who contributed with passion and ambition to the progress of revisionism.

Editor’s Remark: C. Mattogno’s English language Internet documents can be found at www.vho.org/GB/c/CM.