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

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Refighting the Battles of the Past

72.Ultimately we must teach this material because we must do that which the French philosopher Walter Benjamin taught many years ago: we must keep refighting the historical battles of the past. Prejudice has not disappeared. Genocide keeps rearing its head. I have long been engaged in two levels of intervention against Holocaust deniers: one is implicit, the other is explicit. The first is by teaching about the Holocaust. (It should be noted that I do not teach about Holocaust deniers in any of my courses.) The second through the writing of this book. I am now engaged in a third, though it is through no will of my own. Defending myself against these spurious charges of libel constitutes one of the most difficult and disruptive battles I have ever fought. Not only has my research and writing work faced serious setbacks, but the deniers have engaged in a highly personal and, at times, almost vile campaign against me. They have vilified me on the Internet and have branded me an "intellectual furer" and accused me of "fascist behavior" in advertisements they have placed in college newspapers (see Appendix, Tab 5). They write to me at my home address and call me there as well. They have left notes in my home mailbox. They depict me on their web sites in an ugly and sometimes demeaning fashion.
73.Despite these attacks, I continue to work in this field. Therefore while this book was written as an academic project, it has become, because of this legal action, also a form of intervention -- intervention against those who would engage in what might be called a "double destruction." The deniers are not engaged in a physical destruction. They are engaged in an attempt to pervert the world's memory of how a state almost succeeded in destroying an entire people, along with many others. Currently they are trying to taint the world's memory of those who were entrapped in this horror. If they succeed at that they will then seek to eradicate any memory of them. This is a "double dying." One hopes to prevent that second dying. It is too late to do anything about the first.