The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Friday, January 28, 2000

The Growing Assault on the Truth of Absolute Evil
Those who would deny it twist testimony, disbelieve
evidence and dismiss the obvious.


In a London courtroom, British writer David Irving is suing Deborah
Lipstadt, author of "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and
Memory," for calling him a Holocaust denier.

"I do not deny the Holocaust," he said. "I merely redefine it." Irving's
"redefinition" includes that there was no killing of Jews in gas chambers
and that Adolf Hitler did not order, and perhaps for a time did not know of,
the "Jewish problem's" Final Solution--the Nazi name for the Holocaust.

How could this happen?

After all, documentation of the Holocaust is vast. The killers have never
denied the crime. The Germans kept meticulous records, and massive
documentation exists in the archives of many countries. Aerial surveillance,
photographic evidence, intelligence intercepts and even the archeological
remains of the sites reinforce the documents.

They all tell the story of the evolution of Nazi genocide, from the infamous
Nuremberg laws to the introduction of segregation, economic confiscation and
apartheid, to the mobile killing units that killed bullet by bullet, person
by person, and ultimately to the gas chambers at death camps such as
Auschwitz and Treblinka--assembly-line death factories.

Throughout the years, survivors of the Holocaust have bore witness in
memoirs, audio and video testimony and at trials. The Survivors of the Shoah
Visual History Foundation has videotaped more than 50,000 survivors in 33
languages in 57 countries. These eyewitnesses reiterate the story of the
Holocaust, testimony by testimony. The perpetrators, too, have told their
stories in diaries and letters, memoirs and trial testimony.

Yet how, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, can the
Holocaust be denied? A series of techniques are employed:

* If there is any conflict in testimony, the entire testimony is negated,
not just the issue in dispute. So, for instance, if there are discrepancies
between survivors' accounts, or minor factual errors, all testimony is
discarded as worthless. To deniers, perpetrator testimony is equally
worthless, the fruits of coercion.

* If historians dispute information, then all positions in the debate are
equally credible. Raul Hilberg, the dean of Holocaust historians, has
conservatively estimated the Jewish dead at 5.1 million. The eminent German
historian, Wolfgang Benz, has argued that 6.1 million Jews were killed. If
two such eminent historians can be at odds, then a figure of less than 1
million Jewish dead can also be put forward as credible.

* Documents are taken out of context, misread, misinterpreted or
mistranslated. An example from the Lipstadt trial: Irving had claimed that
he discovered irrefutable documentary proof that Hitler had ordered a halt
to the murder of Jews. Under cross-examination it became clear that the
document in question was an order given by SS chief Heinrich Himmler to halt
the killing of one trainload of Jews from Berlin. Half-truths are stretched
to cover a myriad of falsehoods.

* Dubious experts draw conclusions with bizarre methods. A new "definitive
test" is made, and the conclusion reduces all previous knowledge to rubble.
Thus, the "definitive scientific tests" of the gas chamber walls for the
residue of the gas Zyklon B are bandied about as proof that no gassing took
place in the gas chambers. A recent documentary film, "Mr. Death," has
exposed the test as unscientific and the expert as a fraud.

There is soft-core and hard-core denial. Soft-core denial is the refusal to
face the evil of the Holocaust, the search for the happy ending or the good
that can mitigate the overwhelming evil of the what took place and thus
protect us from the difficult fact that educated, cultured and civilized
people can commit the most heinous crimes.

The Holocaust forces a confrontation with absolute evil. It denies the
consolation of triumphant goodness. It is about atrocity, not tragedy. In
the end, what we will learn will never be equal to the price that was paid
for such knowledge.

Hard-core denial is more pernicious, more evil. The motivation of some
survivors is political. Hitler gave fascism a bad name. If the magnitude of
the crime can be diminished, then fascism can enjoy new prominence.

Other deniers are anti-Semitic. If the Holocaust is a hoax, then the most
outrageous fantasies of the anti-Semites are true. Jews could be seen as
controlling the archives of many countries, the judiciary, the media, the
Swiss banks and German corporations, and Italian insurance companies that
have come forward to settle past claims. The leaders of more than a score of
countries will gather in Stockholm this week to advocate education about the
Holocaust as an antidote to racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance and as a
tool for teaching the values of human dignity, not just history. They, too,
must be under Jewish control.

How serious is the problem?

A Roper Poll that found that 20% of Americans believe it is possible that
the Holocaust did not happen was withdrawn as unscientific. Its question was
ambiguous. A new Roper Poll indicated that 8% of all Americans are prone to
Holocaust denial, a far more marginal phenomenon but still of considerable
concern. For if the Holocaust is denied while the eyewitnesses are among us,
what will happen after they are no longer?

Ignorance of the Holocaust is more pervasive and the challenge of education
and documentation is more important. Thus, the outcome of the conference in
Stockholm will overshadow whatever occurs in the London courtroom.

- - -

Michael Berenbaum Is the Former President of the Survivors of the Shoah
Visual History Foundation and Director of the Research Institute of the
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


Lineone News


Friday, January 28, 2000

An internal Auschwitz document which ordered that building plans for the
crematoria at the camp were to be kept secret showed that they had been
"committed to genocidal use", the High Court heard today.

The existence of the "house order", dated May 5, 1943, emerged during
historian David Irving's cross-examination of Auschwitz expert Professor
Robert van Pelt, who is giving evidence for the defence in Mr Irving's libel
action over claims that he is a "Holocaust denier".

Prof van Pelt told Mr Justice Gray that the first trial gassing in
Crematorium Two - where ultimately 500,000 people were to die - took place
in March 1943, with nearly all the crematoria in operation by May.

During 1944, he added, there were seven gas chambers in use at the camp.

Mr Irving, who accepts there were gassings on a limited basis but denies the
existence of "factories of death", said that the order covered blue-prints
for the crematoria.

It read: "It must be pointed out that we are concerned here with works that
are connected with the war economy and are to be kept secret. In particular,
plans for the crematoria are to be kept under the strictest surveillance...".

It said that in connection with the building works, a responsible
construction leader had to give instructions to the prisoner inmates on the
spot and that the original plans were to be kept "under lock and key".

Mr Irving asked if the professor could see "no harmless reason" for such a

Prof van Pelt said: "I can't see what the problem would be so it's
remarkable that the crematoria seem to be designated here with a particular
type of internal security clarification."

He added: "The Germans certainly had reason to be ashamed of the homicidal
use of the buildings ... the date is May 5, 1943 - revealing that by this
time all these buildings had been committed to genocidal use."

He speculated that once this happened, someone must have decided that any
leak of the information to the outside world must be prevented.

He said it was known from eye-witness testimony that a Czech female member
of the camp resistance did steal some plans in 1944 and smuggle them out.

Prof van Pelt agreed that none of the blue-prints showed any modification to
create holes in the roof necessary for the introduction of cyanide into the

Mr Irving, who says that the apparent lack of such holes means that
genocidal gassing did not occur, said that he would abandon his action
tomorrow if the Auschwitz authorities would agree to clear the rubble from
the ruined crematoria and find the holes.

Such a move, he said, would thwart neo-Nazis who currently benefited from
the existence of doubts over the gas chambers.

Prof van Pelt said that the condition of the site was such that it was
unlikely that one would find an intact slab to inspect.

Mr Irving, the 62-year-old author of Hitler's War, is seeking damages over
American academic Deborah Lipstadt's 1994 book, Denying The Holocaust: The
Growing Assault On Truth And Memory.

Accused by the defendants of being "a liar and a falsifier of history", he
depends on a 1988 report by a man called Fred Leuchter, who has taken
samples from ruins at Auschwitz and concluded that there were never
homicidal gas chambers there.

Mr Irving says Prof Lipstadt's book has generated "waves of hatred" against

The hearing was adjourned until Monday.


Los Angeles Jewish Journal

Deborah Lipstadt's Trial and Us

Every once in a while someone I know comes forward with an idea that is so
right, so simple and so obvious, that I find myself clapping hand to head
and saying, "Why didn't I think of it?" In this instance the person with the
idea is Anita Hirsh of Studio City.

She has suggested that those of us who know Deborah Lipstadt, as well as
those who have only read about her recently, send a message of
encouragement, support and, in general, thanks for her present stand.
Deborah Lipstadt, a historian and Holocaust scholar, is in London today,
where she is being sued for libel by British historian and Holocaust
revisionist and denier David Irving in what looks to be a landmark trial.

While she is now a professor of Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory
University in Atlanta, many Angelenos remember her from the days when she
was a professor of history at UCLA; she subsequently served as director at
Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley during the mid and late 1980s.

The charge of libel revolves around Irving's claim that Lipstadt defamed
him, ruined his reputation, and, beyond that, is leading an international
Jewish conspiracy to destroy him. The defamation occurred, he says, in
Lipstadt's 1993 book, "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth
and Memory" published by Penguin Books. According to Irving, Lipstadt
charged him with "praising the internment of Jews in Nazi concentration
camps" and with skewing historical accounts as well as misrepresenting "data
in order to reach untenable conclusions."

In essence she accused him of falsifying history in order to deny that gas
chambers existed in Auschwitz, or that Hitler and the German government
systematically murdered Europe's Jews during the Second World War.

The suit is taking place in England(where Irving resides) because libel laws
are quite strict there, with the burden of proof placed upon the defendant.
Lipstadt must prove that the British historian deliberately lied and
falsified information in his books (about 30 of them on World War II).
Otherwise she will be found guilty of libel and she and her publisher
ordered to pay damages to Irving. One other concern is that Irving will then
claim the courts, in England at least, support his contention the Holocaust
may have been in large measure a Jewish fabrication.

During the past two weeks as the trial has gotten underway, Irving has been
freely quoted in the press (he is functioning as his own lawyer). Meanwhile
Lipstadt has been silent, even impassive. She is under orders from her
attorney, barrister Richard Rampton, not to speak to the press.

Anyone who knows her from the years in Los Angeles will find it difficult to
imagine Deborah Lipstadt sitting quietly, not responding, while statements
and arguments swirl about her. One of her more characteristic qualities was
the speed at which she processed information and ideas and, almost before
the processing was complete, began to articulate an opinion or argument in
the most forceful and cogent terms.

She is not allowed to speak today -- which, perhaps, is all the more reason
for us to speak to her. The trial, as she well knows, reaches beyond Deborah
Lipstadt. Hers is a battle to keep the memory of history and truth alive, so
that it will be part of the human record long after the last survivor and
his or her family is able to render testimony. In that regard her charges,
and defense, are ours as well.

Anita Hirsh proposes that we write Deborah, that we e-mail her, that we
speak out -- for and to an old friend. Under the present circumstances, most
of her focus is on the trial and responding to messages from friends and
acquaintances may not necessarily serve her well. However we -- The Jewish
Journal -- can function as bulletin board and messenger. So please write her
or send along e-mail greetings via us. We will publish some -- the emphasis
is on the word some -- of the correspondence. And, more to the point, will
collect all the incoming mail and forward it to her via her attorney in London.

Please address all correspondence: Deborah Lipstadt, c/o The Jewish Journal,
3660 Wilshire Blvd, LA 90010. If you prefer e-mail, send it to:

We have never actually tried this before; but on our side of the transom, it
feels like the right thing to do. -- Gene Lichtenstein, Editor


Ha'aretz [English Internet ed.], Friday, January 28, 2000

              "Denial isn't out of style"

              By Yoram Bronowski

              A television critic who works for this newspaper
              recently wrote that wallowing in the Holocaust is
              hard for him and on ordinary days (any day that is not
              Holocaust Day), the Holocaust interests him less than
              last Monday's rainstorm. Although one doubts he
              would dare to write, let alone feel such a thing, about
              genocide in Rwanda, what was most impressive
              about this confession was its unquestionable
              sincerity, duly rewarded by a letter of praise from a
              Holocaust survivor.From the sound of it, it was just
              the bluster of a very young man being negative, and it
              would be an exaggeration and surely unfair to
              associate such a pronouncement with anything as
              serious as Holocaust denial. Nevertheless, I could
              not help being reminded of this as I watched Yaakov
              Achimeir ("World News Magazine," Channel One,
              Saturday, 20:00) briefly interviewing the prime
              minister of Sweden, Goran Persson, who opened the
              International Forum on the Holocaust this week in
              Stockholm. The Forum is devoted to the dangers of
              denying or forgetting the Holocaust. "There is no
              need for denial. Indifference and forgetfulness are
              enough," said the Swede. Participating in the forum
              were representatives from all over the world,
              including Israel.

              This interview with Persson was part of an excellent
              sequence of reports about Holocaust denial that
              included a documentary on the growth of
              anti-Semitism in Austria ("If we don't want to go
              back to the terrible Nazi era, we have get rid of the
              Jews," declared one Austrian, interviewed on the
              street) and coverage of the visit to Israel of the prime
              minister of Bulgaria, who begged us to forgive his
              country, the most righteous in all of Europe, for
              having allowed German trains to pass through its

              The opening report, however, was about a major
              figure in the sphere of Holocaust denial, the British
              historian David Irving, who is suing an American
              historian, Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, for defaming him in
              her book. While there have been trials against
              Holocaust deniers in the past, especially in France,
              this one seems likely to be the biggest of them all.
              Will it put an end to Holocaust denial? Logic and
              bitter experience have taught that the answer is
              probably no. Irving, unlike most Holocaust deniers -
              beginning with the so-called "founder of
              Negationism," a French language teacher by the name
              of Forestier - is a genuine historian, whose high
              level of professionalism is acknowledged even by
              his opponents.

              In the report, we heard Irving claim that Hitler
              himself wrote a letter saying that one day a person
              would be found who truly understood him. This man
              would be an Englishman fluent in German, who
              would go into the archives, examine all the
              documents, and so on. In other words, Hitler
              "prophesied" Irving, who is now boasting about it.
              Irving, incidentally, does not say Hitler was not a
              war criminal, but he believes that Stalin, Churchill
              and Truman were just as bad. He also denies that six
              million were murdered, "as the Jews claim." It was a
              million at most, Irving is willing to concede.

              It is this phrase, "as the Jews claim," which gives
              Irving away, I think. One of the leaders of the French
              Negationists, a philosophy professor by the name of
              Marc Sautet, argued that even if he does not deny that
              the Holocaust took place, he should have the right to
              express doubt until being furnished with sufficient
              proof to the contrary. "We are told to doubt and not
              believe anything without inquiry," says this heir of
              French skepticism at its finest, "and then you have
              this one sphere where doubt is forbidden, so to
              speak, and that is the Jews' claim about having gone
              through a Holocaust." Sautet (whose name means
              pervert in Hebrew) is not prepared to believe what
              the Jews say without a fight.

              There are all kinds of motives behind Holocaust
              denial, including the argument that the subject is
              simply not interesting. Israeli supporters of this view
              like to hint that through no fault of their own, they
              already know too much about it, and are plain sick of
              it. This, in spite of the fact that the Holocaust really
              takes up very little space in the national agenda or in
              school curricula.

              It seems logical enough that as time goes by, the
              children of various nations, our own included (the
              signs are there) will not believe the stories of their
              parents or grandparents, and demand more and more
              proof, becoming increasingly disbelieving of what is
              already so hard to believe. The fears of the Swedish
              prime minister, it seems, are no joke. The day may
              come when people will argue about whether the
              Holocaust happened or not, in the same way that they
              argue today about the flood in the time of Noah.

              In his genes
              A couple of words in praise of our most maligned of
              presidents, Ezer Weizman, from someone who
              doesn't like him at all, who wrote against his
              candidacy for president, and has repeatedly
              criticized his charming but awkward narcissism (like
              when he recently remarked to a reporter who
              inquired whether he would retire to his villa in
              Caesarea, "you should only have a home like that").

              But when praise is due, it's due. The man is a master
              of anti-climax, an acrobat of the missing punchline.
              Where does this guy, a tough sabra, get such a elitest
              sense of humor, throwing the listener for a loop with
              such pleasing elegance? Maybe from the British
              army? There is something about his sort of wittiness
              that recalls British humor at its best. On the other
              hand, it could be genetic.

              In any case, after his short speech to the nation
              (Channels One and Two, Sunday, 20:00), I was
              reminded of an anecdote they used to tell about
              Chaim Weizmann, our first president and Ezer's
              distinguished uncle, who was also sent home in his
              day - but in this case, home was the President's
              House. The story goes that Weizmann asked a certain
              official he was angry with to come and see him
              immediately. The moment the official appeared,
              Weizmann shouted in Russian "Pashol von!" - Get
              out of here! On the face of it, not very funny, but a
              good example of how to dash a person's
              expectations, and actually, very subtle humor -
              despite the rudeness. This kind of humor in its most
              elevated form - Ezer Weizman still has far to go -
              involves a cross between the height of refinement
              and the height of boorishness. Something very

              But Ezer Weizman is nobody's entertainer ("I wasn't
              speaking for anyone's personal pleasure," he said the
              next day on "A New Evening"). After four hours of
              preparing us for a bombshell - at first, there was talk
              of out-and-out resignation - what he actually said
              when prime-time came around was: "I am not
              resigning." Twice, he said it, straight into the faces
              of all those sensation-seekers and lynch-lovers. I
              should get out of here? You should get of here! You
              could almost hear the "pashol von." All the reporters
              were duly removed before he began.

              Weizman is the king of this nation, a national symbol.
              He doesn't have to entertain, or do anything else for
              those plebian politicians of ours, red-faced and
              brimming with cocky self-importance. He talks
              straight to the people, and the people love him. You
              don't like it? So get the hell out

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