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    Witness Statement of Steven M. Wasserstrom

    150 150 Holocaust Denial on Trial

    I, STEVEN M. WASSERSTROM, of 3202 SE Woodstock, Portland Oregon 97202, USA, WILL SAY AS FOLLOWS:

    1.  I am the Moe and Izetta Tonkon Associate Professor of Judaic Studies and the Humanities at Reed College in Portland Oregon, USA. I have taught at Reed College for the past twelve years, where I most recently served four years as chair of the Religion Department. I also serve on the national Anti-Semitism and Extremism Committee of the American Jewish Committee. I have been President of the Institute for Judaic Studies in the Pacific Northwest and Co-Chair of the Comparative Studies Section of the American Academy of Religion.

    2.  In my capacity as a member of the Board of Directors of the Coalition for Human Dignity, a civil rights organization that monitors organized hate groups, I have had repeated occasion to deal with the visits of David Irving to our area of the United States. What follows derives from these activities undertaken in cooperation with the Coalition for Human Dignity.

    3.  David Irving has lectured in the Portland Oregon area four times in the past seven years: 16 October 1992 (at Mount Hood Community College, in Gresham, a suburb of Portland); 10 October 1994 (at a church in Southeast Portland); 15 October 1995 (in Clark County Washington, adjacent to Portland); and 18 April, 1998 (in Vancouver Washington, adjacent to Portland).

    4.  I attended the lecture given by David Irving on 16 October 1992. On Friday afternoon, 16 October 1992, I entered the Mount Hood Community College building where Irving was scheduled to speak. There were a number of skinheads, identifiable by their distinctive hair-style, clothing, tattoos and demeanor, providing security, inside and outside the building. Irving stood behind a table on which were displayed books, pamphlets (including the Leuchter Report), audio and video tapes, colour photographs of himself, and stacks of publicity materials for the new edition of his books Hitler’s War, and the German edition of Göring. Playing in the background was a tape of a speech he delivered in Germany, in German. I requested and received his autograph. The audience was comprised of mostly middle-aged, and older, males.

    5.  Michael T. “Reinhold” Clinton, an apparent leader of the group that sponsored the lecture, the Siegfried Society, introduced Irving as one of the most widely read authors in the world. As a Director of the CHD, I have had occasion to monitor Irving’s internet website. In Irving’s official Focal Point Press web-site, it is stated that “Mr Irving never had any contact with a Michael Clinton (see http://www.fpp.co.uk/Legal/Penguin/juliusaffid130598.html). After Clinton’s introduction, Irving took the podium. He carried a rolled up poster, which, when he unrolled it, comprised a glossy photo of himself, topped by a banner advertising and providing details of his 1991-1992 world tour. He read from the poster the names of countries he had visited. This led him into a vituperative tirade against those countries that have banned and/or expelled him, including Germany, Austria, and Italy. Mr Irving said that a group in Los Angeles had just succeeded in getting him banned from entry to Canada. He has had buckets of slime poured on him and, in his London neighborhood of Mayfair, surfaces have been covered with stickers proclaiming SMASH IRVING. He made it unmistakably clear that the enemies who were persecuting him were Jews. For example, he said that, in Germany, “the Jews” were allowed into the hallways of the courts during protest demonstrations against him. Mr Irving claimed that he was not anti-Semitic.

    6.  He then said: “I may be wrong…[but]…It is the prerogative of a free people to be wrong”. He said that the opposition refused to debate him. He then cited Winston Churchill to the effect that the historian is obliged to say what happened and why it happened.

    7.  With his newly revised best-selling Hitler’s War (“Nearly 1,000 pages, Over 50 Colour Photos Never Published Before”) on the podium, he launched into an extemporaneous defense of his Holocaust denial. The brunt of these remarks was the non-existence of the gas chambers. He made the following statements:

    1. That Auschwitz was a brutal slave-labor camp.
    2. There are “psychological” reasons why survivors’ testimonies are unreliable. For example, survivors’ “pride” may compel them to fabricate gas chambers, instead of the more mundane reality; that they “peeled potatoes and dug ditches”.
    3. He ridiculed Elie Wiesel, misquoting Wiesel to the effect that Wiesel could distinguish between the crematorium smoke of Jews and non-Jews. He then ascribed this claim to a kind of survivor one-ups-man-ship.
    4. That yes, Auschwitz was terrible; that “even one death” by criminal means is deplorable.
    5. That yes, the Nazis killed thousands of Jews, especially by means of killing-squads on the Eastern Front in 1941.
    6. He described Adolf Eichmann’s anguish on witnessing one such mass shooting. Eichmann had been standing so close to the event that the brains of a Jewish baby splattered on his greatcoat, which his chauffeur had to wipe off. After recounting this, Mr Irving concluded by saying: “You don’t make up this kind of detail, ladies and gentlemen”.
    7. That there were never any gas chambers, at Auschwitz or elsewhere, he says. He cited numerous pieces of apparent evidence:
      1. That Zyklon B was used only for delousing;
      2. that the chambers were structurally incapable of use for mass extermination, citing the existence of windows easily broken for ventilation;
      3. that the present chambers at Auschwitz were built by the Poles in the 1950s “so that tourists would have something to gawp at”;
      4. that the curator of the Auschwitz Museum, Francisk Piper, had confided this fact to a distinguished historian, who in turn told Irving, “over wine at 3:00 in the morning; though that historian subsequently denied the occurrence of this event;
      5. that Allied aerial photos, which he holds up, show no chambers; that the Leuchter Report (which was for sale along with other Irving wares at a table in the foyer) forensically demonstrates that the chambers were not Zyklon B extermination chambers.

    8.  He did not seem to dispute that hundreds of thousands of Jews were lost by other causes, for example: at the hands of the killing-units, cholera inside and outside the camps, Allied bombings and Russian atrocities. He also said that the Haganah (Jewish underground of Palestine) had spirited many to Israel, where they promptly exchanged Hebrew names for their German names, thus accounting for the misapprehension that they had been killed. The implication was that far less than 6,000,000 Jews had died in the Holocaust.

    9.  While saying yes, many Jews died, Mr Irving also said: but so did many others. He held up a color photo of the British firebombing of Wurtemburg, in which there were “20,000 dead in 20 minutes”. Mr Irving stated that if a Jewish survivor says to him, “But Mr. Irving, what happened to my family who were entirely lost?”, he would reply, and counseled the audience to respond, that there were many German families who were also entirely lost.

    10.  Mr Irving compared the attempts of those to silence his championship of these “truths” to the silencing of Galileo and said: “The myth of the Holocaust is great big colorful balloon waiting to pricked, and I am that prick”. Laughter ensued. At the conclusion of his talk, some 20 listeners awarded him a standing ovation.

    11.  Richard Flowers of Boring Oregon, a well-known Christian Identity activist in our region, and head of the Boring Oregon Christian Patriot Association, also attended the 1992 lecture. In an interview in the “Clackamas County Review” (May 28-June 3, 1992) (please see Appendix, pages 1 to 3), Flowers told a reporter that “God created man for woman, period. The Oregon Citizens Alliance (a Christian Right group that has proposed restrictions on gay and lesbian rights) has a good start on the homo issue, but I don’t think they have gone far enough. The Bible says to stone them but you really wouldn’t need to shoot too many of them to get the point across”. Through the Christian Patriot Association’s book distribution operation, the group peddles Holocaust denial material such as Arthur Butz’s “The Hoax of the Twentieth Century” and “The Leuchter Report”. They also offer for sale books on explosives and munitions, and white supremacist books which advocate racist and anti-Semitic murder, such as Christian Identity figure Richard Kelly Hoskins’ 1991 book “Vigilantes of Christendom”, which argues that “Identity” believers should commit murder in small, tight-knit groups so as to avoid detection by law enforcement (please see Appendix, pages 4 to 8).

    The contents of this statement are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.

    Dated this day of January 1999

    Steven M. Wasserstrom

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    title: Witness Statement of Steven M. Wasserstrom: Electronic Edition
    author: Steven M. Wasserstrom
    sponsor: Rabbi Donald A. Tams Institute for Jewish Studies
    extent: 4 pages

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    2004 http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/13p8d

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    title: Holocaust Denial on Trial

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    Witness Statement of Steven M. Wasserstrom Steven M. Wasserstrom London

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      Alice Hickcox Beck Center Staff