The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Pittsburgh Post Gazaette

New twists on history

Saturday, January 22, 2000

By Dennis Roddy

To get inside the noggin of David John Caldwell Irving, historian and 
provocateur, it is useful to consider that he believes a band of Jewish 
organizations has conspired for 10 years to destroy him.

Suing in plaintiff-friendly British libel court, Irving intends to prove 
that American author Deborah Lipstadt defamed him by calling him a 
Holocaust denier. In the course of preparing for trial, Irving says he 
discovered documents that show various Jewish groups calling him 
"dangerous" and trying to halt his speaking tours.

"You can see the defendants plotting to destroy my legitimacy as a 
historian," he says. "This has been an ongoing campaign."

Irving is a man already consigned to the public margins, his audiences 
often short-haired types for whom the Horst Wessel Song is dancing music. 
He tells them Hitler did not order the wholesale slaughter of the Jews, 
that the Holocaust body count is a gross exaggeration, that there were no 
gas chambers at Auschwitz.

Irving does not deny the Holocaust - just the parts of it that make it 
unique from the usual wartime train crash that kills loads of civilians.

Talk of an international Jewish conspiracy is, of course, the kind of thing 
many in an Irving audience would like to hear, and confirms long-standing 
suspicion by his enemies that he is just another right-winger with a case 
of Jews on the brain.

"Then they ought not to engage in this sort of endeavor," Irving says. "If 
they didn't want that perception to arise, they shouldn't have done this."

That sort of talk is why Irving, once lauded as a World War II historian of 
equal parts energy and promise, is now depicted as a right-wing loose 
cannon. He entered the public scene with a 1961 book that revealed the 
horrors of the Allied firebombing of Dresden. It was an astonishing 
illumination of an unnecessary wartime horror - hell on earth for the hell 
of it.

Irving's historical technique approximates a long wall coal mining machine: 
a crush-proof cab attached to an endless digging belt that simply ploughs 
through a likely seam, pulls it all loose, and lets everything collapse 
around it.

"I don't think historians can afford to be sensitive. They've got to report 
what they find," he says. The problem here, of course, is that what Irving 
sometimes finds, nobody else does. Or he turns to documents that are pure 
lunacy, such as the Leuchter Report, a hodgepodge of amateur science and 
fatuous speculation that concludes there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz.

As the libel trial enters its third week, Irving promises fresh proofs that 
Auschwitz had no gas chambers, evidence he'll unleash when he gets one of 
Liptstadt's expert witnesses on the stand.

"The battleship Auschwitz as the capital ship of the Holocaust legend will 
have sunk," Irving assures me.

Is his work being put to use by people like Kim Badynski, the Seattle Klan 
leader who provided security at one of Irving's speeches? Has his work 
helped people he ought to detest?

"It has in fact, but I couldn't care less," Irving says. His job is to tell 
the truth. What others do with it he can't dictate.

He did directly help at least one extremist - blow-dried Kluxer David Duke, 
who turned up a few years back and asked Irving to read a manuscript of his 

"I said 'You're going to have to use the word Jew substantially less,' " 
Irving recalls. "He's got an obsession about the Jews. He's an intelligent 
person, and it's a pity he's got these obsessions."

It's always a pity.

Saturday January 22 2:54 PM ET

Sweden Hosts Holocaust Conference

By KIM GAMEL Associated Press Writer

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - Three years ago, the government was stunned to
learn that nearly a third of Swedish youths did not believe the Holocaust
took place.

It immediately launched an ambitious information campaign, a so-called
Living History project that included films, lecture series, seminars and a
free book, translated into several languages, to guide parents in talking to
their children about the Holocaust.

``I have my doubts if there is anybody in Sweden who doesn't know about the
Holocaust anymore,'' said Lena Posner-Korosi, president of the Stockholm
Jewish Community.

Sweden's effort is being highlighted at a conference starting Wednesday in
Stockholm. The three-day International Forum on the Holocaust is drawing
more than 600 delegates and more than 650 journalists from more than 40
countries and dozens of organizations.

The gathering - which coincides with the Holocaust Remembrance Day
commemorated Thursday in many countries - will feature speeches by Nobel
laureate Elie Wiesel, German President Gerhard Schroeder and Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Barak, as well as panel discussions and remembrance ceremonies.

The 150-member executive committee of the World Jewish Congress also has
planned a two-day meeting starting Tuesday in Stockholm to discuss Holocaust
education, restitution and the future of Jewish communities.

``The international conference will turn the spotlight on the past and the
future at one and the same time,'' Prime Minister Goeran Persson said
Wednesday in a speech to the Riksdag, Sweden's parliament. ``Naturally, the
same applies to Swedish history.''

The Swedish government began efforts to raise public awareness of the World
War II-era genocide of 6 million Jews and 5 million other victims after a
1997 survey showed that nearly a third of youths between ages 12 through 18
did not believe the Holocaust took place.

The New York-based American Jewish Committee is releasing a Swedish public
opinion survey on Monday in Stockholm that examines knowledge about the
Holocaust, the importance given to Holocaust memory and attitudes toward
Jews and other minorities.

While the current government has gone to great lengths to raise awareness,
Sweden has come under more recent pressure to confront its own relationship
with Nazi Germany.

A recent Swedish television documentary, which profiled Swedes who
volunteered to fight for Adolf Hitler, has prompted some politicians and
Jewish leaders to call for an official war crimes investigation. Sweden was
neutral during the war and traded with both sides.

Persson has said he would consider a commission or research project to
investigate but has stopped short of requesting a formal investigation.

``I would like to see a full analysis of both the official Swedish policy on
Hitler Germany and the attitude of individual Swedes to the Holocaust,'' he
told parliament.

The Scandinavian country, whose egalitarian ideals have been tested by an
enormous immigrant flow, also has experienced several violent acts linked to
neo-Nazi groups.

``It is really to worry about in a democratic society like Sweden that 55
years after the war (Nazis) are showing their ugly faces again,''
Posner-Korosi said.

Organizers said they hoped the forum would keep its focus on research,
education and remembrance.

``The general goal is to prevent that these things happen again in any
society,'' spokesman Goesta Grassman said. ``We shall of course look at the
history but not only stay there ... it's very much a conference about
looking ahead.''


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