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Copyright 2000 National Public Radio (R).

SHOW: ALL THINGS CONSIDERED (9:00 PM ET) February 4, 2000, Friday




In London, the libel trial of Debra Lipstat and Penguin Books has heard
testimony from their accuser, David Irving, for the past three weeks. Irving
is the British historian of Nazi Germany who claims that the number of Jews
killed by the Germans is vastly overstated.  Lipstat is the American
academic who, in a book published by Penguin, branded Irving a Holocaust
denier.  He is suing under Britain's libel laws, which place the burden of
proof on the accused.  Lipstat and Penguin must prove in court that Irving
is wrong about the Holocaust, and intentionally so.

D.D. Guttenplan wrote the cover story in the February issue of The Atlantic
Monthly, The Holocaust On Trial--it's about this trial--and he is covering
the trial in London.

Mr. Guttenplan, what's happened, so far?

Mr. D. D. GUTTENPLAN (The Atlantic Monthly): Well, the trial began with
David Irving telling the court how he'd been defamed--in other words, what
had been said about him and how it had hurt him; how it had injured his
reputation and cost him book contracts and earnings.  After that, Irving was
cross-examined by Debra Lipstat's lawyer, Queen's Counsel Richard Rampton.
And Mr. Rampton interrupted his cross-examination, which lasted more than a
week, in order to hear testimony about Auschwitz from an expert on
Auschwitz, a Professor Robert Jan VanPelt.

SIEGEL: Yes, David Irving's position is, I gather, that there may not have
been any Jews actually who were gassed at Auschwitz.  He disputes what's
fairly commonly held to be the historic truth.

Mr. GUTTENPLAN: Well, he says the vast majority of Jews who died at
Auschwitz died of typhus or other natural causes, as he puts it.  But one
problem that he has is that historians, such as Raul Hilberg, have already
shown that well over a million Jews were sent by train to Auschwitz from all
over Europe and never appear anywhere else afterwards. So a big problem for
Irving is that he has no account of what happened to these Jews if they
weren't gassed at Auschwitz.

SIEGEL: It seems that much of what's come out in this case, so far, is about
David Irving's character and his personal views on race and even on
immigration in Britain, as I understand.  What's the relevance of all this?

Mr. GUTTENPLAN: Well, certainly the last couple of days have seen a lot of
testimony about Irving and race and Irving and anti-Semitism, and part of
that is because the defense are attempting to show what his motivation might
be for denying the Holocaust, or for distorting information about the
Holocaust or for ignoring evidence about the Holocaust.

So that, for example, on Tuesday the court heard the defense counsel read
out a little limerick that Irving had written in his diary.  And the
limerick goes like this.  It was written to be recited when, as he put it in
his diary, 'half-breed children were wheeled past his own daughter on the
sidewalk.' And it goes: 'I am a baby Aryan, not Jewish or sectarian.  I have
no plans to marry an ape or Rastafarian.'

This produced a pretty predictable response in the court, and I suppose the
point is to show, as the defense claims, that he is an unvarnished racist.

SIEGEL: This sort of thing would seem to be quite effective with the jury,
but there is no jury in this case.

Mr. GUTTENPLAN: That's a very good point.  I think both sides, but
particularly the defense, are keeping in mind that there's no jury and
aiming their shots mostly at the judge.  But I think also both sides have to
be aware of the court of public opinion.  They've actually had to move the
trial twice, to larger courtrooms each time, in order to accommodate the
crush of press. Irving particularly, I think, likes playing to the
gallery--he tries to play to the gallery--and has been doing a pretty good
job of scoring points in the gallery; I don't know whether he's doing as
well with the judge.

SIEGEL: Now one of the witnesses who was called to testify on David Irving's
behalf is Kevin MacDonald, who is a professor of psychology at Cal
State-Long Beach.  What was his role in all this?

Mr. GUTTENPLAN: Well, I think his role was twofold.  One, he's a more
presentable witness for Irving than David Duke, who Irving helped edit a
book but who probably wouldn't do much good with the judge.  And secondly,
his role was to testify regarding his views as an expert, as he calls
himself, on the ways in which Jews, as a group, advanced themselves at the
expense of other groups, thus stimulating hostility.  I mean, it's a
long-winded way of saying anti-Semitism is the Jews' own fault, which is, I
gather, Professor MacDonald's view.

SIEGEL: Well, Don Guttenplan, thank you very much for talking with us.

Mr. GUTTENPLAN: You're welcome.  Thank you.

SIEGEL: Don, or D.D., Guttenplan, author of the story in The Atlantic
Monthly "The Holocaust On Trial," spoke to us from London about the libel
trial brought by David Irving against Debra Lipstat and Penguin Books.


Liars' Poker, Intercontinental Style  02.08.00

The Big Lie had a Big Week last week.
Thomas Friedman

In Austria, J=F6rg Haider -- who has expressed sympathy for Hitler's
full-employment policies, defended the Waffen SS and referred to Nazi
concentration camps as "punishment camps" -- saw his extremist Freedom Party
sworn into power after a strong finish in recent elections. And in Syria the
leading state newspaper, Tishreen, published an editorial that asked: "Why
does Israel insist on bringing up this alleged Holocaust policy?" It's just
to get money and to reinforce "the myth of the Holocaust in the face of
credible voices questioning it, including that of the controversial British
historian David Irving."

Nice stuff. Austria brings a neo-Nazi to power at the height of European
integration, and Syria calls the Holocaust a myth at the height of peace
talks with Israel. These cases are so perverse, they're interesting. They
also have a lot in common: Modern Syria and modern Austria are each built on
two lies -- one about their past and one about their present, and both want
to enter the 21st century without re-examining either.

The Syrian lie about the past is that the Golan Heights was lost not as part
of a failed attempt to destroy Israel, but in a war of self-defense.
Therefore Syria is entitled, before declaring publicly what it will give to
Israel, to an Israeli assurance that it will get back all the Golan, plus
areas Syria encroached upon before the 1967 war. The Syrian lie about the
present is that it's a democracy. You didn't know? When the State Department
spokesman Jamie Rubin rightly stated that Syria had an authoritarian regime
that didn't exactly have to take public opinion into account, the Syrians
lodged a diplomatic protest.

The Syrian regime self-righteously insists that Israel give back the Golan,
without even deigning to shake hands with Israeli negotiators, precisely
because this Syrian regime has lied to itself about what it did in 1967 and
about what it is today -- a brutal dictatorship that doesn't even shake
hands with its own people.

Austria, of course, the country that produced both Mozart and Hitler, has
made a career of lying to itself. Austria let the Germans take history's rap
for Hitler's rampage, neglecting the fact that Austria was the only country
that welcomed annexation by Nazi Germany -- with crowds throwing flowers at
Hitler's tanks. Precisely because the Austrians never came to terms with
their past, they never really absorbed the meaning of what it is to be a
member of the European Union -- that it is not just about accepting trade
rules, but erasing forever Europe's Fascist past and embracing forever
democratic norms. For some Austrians, the Anschluss with Nazi Germany in
1938 clearly still feels more organic than their Anschluss with the E.U. in

But Mr. Haider is not just a blast from the past. He is also a product of
the present. Austrian politics for the past 50 years has been dominated by a
cartel of two parties -- the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats -- who
together divvied up the spoils of a state-dominated economy, dabbled in
corruption and created political immobility for many Austrians. Mr. Haider
has promised to break this cartel for all those kept out of power --
particularly the shopkeepers, peasants and workers left behind by
modernization and immigration. "Haider is not the cause of Austria's
political stagnation -- he's the effect," says the German foreign-policy
expert Josef Joffe. Which is why Mr. Haider has two sides to him -- he's a
neo-Nazi and a high-tech free-marketer, an advocate of the Waffen SS and the
flat tax. He's Pat Buchanan and Steve Forbes.

"Both the Austrians and Syrians wanted to forget the past and the present,
and just jump into the future -- with the Syrians maintaining the illusion
that they were always right and always a democracy, and the Austrians that
they were always pure and always a democracy," says Stephen Cohen of the
Center for Middle East Peace. "A new awareness is being imposed on them from
the outside, but it will only have meaning if it emerges from the inside."

Indeed, it's hard to believe Austria will ever be a true member of the
European Union, or Syria in the club of Middle East peace, without a more
honest reckoning with their past and their present. History has a weight,
and lifting it always has a price. Nobody gets to enter the 21st century for


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