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

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Denying the Holocaust : Addressing An Issue of Pressing Moral Concern

80.This book is a traditional work of scholarship, designed to illuminate the evolution of Holocaust denial since the end of World War II. It did not have any purpose other than documenting a trend. I strongly believe, as I indicated earlier in this statement, that teachers must be vigilant about not bringing their personal views into the classroom. Moreover, I believe that the horror of the Holocaust and the toll it took on its victims can be laid out simply and starkly. Similarly, when one writes about the topic one need not wax rhetorical about it. The facts speak for themselves. My scholarship highlighted the audacity of the deniers' claims, and the way they abuse historical inquiry in order to sow confusion.
81.As an academic enterprise, this book is strictly grounded in scholarship. It is an attempt to expose those who would deliberately skew history and further aggravate the anguish caused by the Holocaust, anguish to those who suffered and their descendants and anguish to all those who see this event as an example of the terrible horrors that can occur when hate and prejudice are allowed to run rampant.
82.Denial of the Holocaust is as unbelievable as the Holocaust itself and, though no one is being killed as a result of the deniers' lies, it constitutes a form of abuse, especially for the survivors. The book became, therefore, an attempt to convey to others the pain Holocaust denial inflicts.
83.But this work must also be seen as a fight on a larger front. In the course of analyzing Holocaust denial, I came in contact with other forms of historical denial, e.g. Japan's refusal to take responsibility for its abuse of the Korean "comfort women" during the war or the rape of Nanking. Such attacks have the potential to alter dramatically the way history is transmitted from generation to generation. They foster a climate in which no fact, no event, and no aspect of history has any fixed meaning or content. Any truth can be retold. Any fact can be recast. Should Holocaust deniers succeed, no historical fact is safe from either denial or revision. This is particularly true if the area in question concerns "inconvenient history," i.e. history that today is troublesome whether it be for a country, institution, religion, or political group.
84.I was often challenged by friends and colleagues as to why I, a serious historian, was studying the equivalent of flat earth theorists. These good natured critics fell prey to an obvious danger: the assumption that because Holocaust denial is so outlandish it can be ignored. The deniers' world view is no more bizarre than that enshrined in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a report purporting to be the text of a secret plan to establish Jewish world supremacy. The deniers draw inspiration from the Protocols, which has enjoyed a sustained and vibrant life, despite the fact it has long been proven to be a forgery.
85.It is important to understand the close connection between Holocaust denial and antisemitism. The former is grounded in the latter. Therefore my work also became a fight against this awful form of prejudice. But in fact, it was more than just that, for when one fights and exposes one form of prejudice it is the equivalent of fighting them all.
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