Witness Statement of Deborah E. Lipstadt: Electronic Edition, by Deborah E. Lipstadt

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The Purpose of the Book >>

Persecution Under the Guise of Law

67. The Holocaust offers graphic example that under the mantle of official government action the worst kind of persecution can occur. The Holocaust constituted a state-sponsored policy of genocide which targeted for death, among others, all the members of a particular group -- men, women and children -- both within the state's borders and outside of it. It did not differentiate between those Jews who might conceivably pose a military threat to the Reich because of their age or abilities and those who did not. Young and old, fit and unfit, and men and women were all potential victims.
68.The Holocaust was not an extra-governmental action. It occurred within the German legal system. It is hard for American students, particularly those who are not of a racial minority, to understand how evil can be perpetrated through the rule of law and that law itself can be the instrument of evil. (They forget or, tragically, simply do not know, how law was used in their own country to perpetuate evil. Not far from the classroom where they sit there were once slave plantations. Those disappeared well over a hundred years ago but until shortly before these students were born, the laws of the State of Georgia sanctioned racially segregated schools, train station waiting rooms, restaurants, and even water fountains. All these forms of legally sanctioned persecution existed within a mile's radius from where they today sit and learn about the Holocaust.)

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