1.Family Background: I am a single woman born in New York City in 1947. My father came to the United States from Germany in the late 1920s and my mother emigrated with her family from Canada in the 1920s. Her parents had come to Canada from Poland during the first decade of the twentieth century. They originally settled in New York City but having decided that they could not properly raise their children there, moved to Toronto, Canada. My mother’s father ran a small Jewish bookstore. Eventually they left Canada and moved to the United States for economic reasons. My mother, an honors student in Latin, had to prematurely end her education because of the Depression and the difficult economic circumstances in which her family found itself. Eventually she moved to New York City where she ran a Jewish youth organization in New York City. My mother, after staying home to raise three children, became a specialist in antique and rare Jewish ritual art. She was invited to many different cities in the United States to lecture on the topic.
2.My father, who was descended from a prominent family of rabbis and teachers in Germany and Central Europe, left Germany in the late 1920s because he could not find work there. When he first came to the United States he worked as a traveling salesman in order to support himself. Subsequently he started his own business in New York City which he ran until he died at the age of 66 in 1972. During the era of the Third Reich, my father attempted to bring his five sisters from Germany to the United States. Despite his efforts he could not do so. However, they survived in other countries and he succeeded in bringing four of them to the United States in the post-war period.
3.Though my parents placed a great premium on education, neither was able to finish college because of financial reasons. Consequently, ensuring that their children received the best education possible was exceptionally important to them. They also wanted their children to be knowledgeable and literate Jews. All three of their children attended private Jewish schools for their primary and high school education. All of us continued for post-graduate education after receiving our Baccalaureate degrees. My sister received her Ph.D. in Architectural History from the Sorbonne in Paris and my brother received his M.A. in Business Administration from Columbia University in New York City. Books filled our house and we were greatly encouraged to expand our intellectual horizons.
4.The home in which I was raised was a traditional Jewish home. My parents were active volunteers in the community and, in that capacity, they worked for their synagogue, the schools their children attended, and various welfare and charity organizations both secular and religious. They were cited on a number of different occasions for their work on behalf of charitable institutions. .
5.Educational Background: I attended the City College of New York for my B.A. In my third year of college, I traveled to Jerusalem for a year of study at the Hebrew University. I was there during the 1967 war and worked as a volunteer in an orphan home. I decided to remain there for another year so that I could continue my work in Contemporary Jewish Studies. During this period I took a number of courses on the history of the Third Reich and on the Holocaust. Upon my return to the United States, I continued for a M.A. and Ph.D. in Jewish Studies at Brandeis University. I concentrated on modern Jewish history. It was at this point that I began to intensively study the history of the Holocaust. While I was in graduate school I helped pay for my education by directing a Jewish youth organization administered by the Reform [Liberal] movement in the United States.
6.Work Experience: Prior to completing my Ph.D. I was hired by the University of Washington as an Assistant Professor in the History Department with a joint appointment to the Program in Comparative Religion. I was the first professor at that university to specialize in Jewish Studies and was responsible for laying the foundation for the university’s Jewish Studies program. I began teaching courses on the history of the Holocaust during my second year at the University of Washington (1976) and have been teaching such courses ever since. I subsequently left the University of Washington for a position at UCLA [University of California at Los Angles]. From there I moved to Occidental College, a small private college, in Los Angeles. At UCLA I taught courses in modern Jewish history including a number of seminars on the Holocaust. At Occidental virtually all my courses related in one way or another to the Holocaust.
7.My Current Professional Position: Background on Emory University: From Occidental I moved to Emory University in January 1993. Emory, founded in 1836, is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) a group of the sixty-two most productive and accomplished research universities in the United States. It is an international teaching and research university with a most selective admission policy. It has 11,300 students and 2,500 faculty members. In addition to Emory College, the University encompasses nine schools and divisions, including a graduate school of arts and sciences, professional schools of medicine, theology, law, nursing, public health, and business. There is a distinct difference between Emory’s Department of Religion and its Candler School of Theology. The latter is a professional school which ordains Ministers in the Methodist Church and teaches religious education. The Department of Religion, of which I am a member, is responsible for the scientific and critical study of the history of religions.
8.Emory is also home to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Archives and Library. President Carter is a member of the faculty. Emory College has consistently been ranked as one of the top twenty universities in the United States. (In 1997-98, it was ranked as number nine by the U.S. News and World Report Survey of American Colleges and Universities.) It has the fifth largest endowment of any university in the United States. Last year it had well over 10,000 applications for approximately 1,000 places in its entering class. Generally students who are accepted to Emory are in the top 10% of their high school classes, if not higher. Among its faculty members are Wole Soyinka, Nobel Prize laureate in literature. Currently, Bishop Desmond Tutu is teaching at the university. Last year the Dalai Lama was in residence here and delivered the commencement address.
9.Teaching/Administrative Activities at Emory: I was hired by the Department of Religion to teach courses on the history of the modern Jewish experience with particular emphasis on the Holocaust. The Department of Religion has fifteen faculty members who teach an array of courses on the history, literature, anthropology, and theology of a wide array of religious traditions. Their fields of expertise include specific religious traditions such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism. They also teach comparative categories such as sacred texts, religion and ethnography, religion and violence, and gender and religion.
10.Shortly after my arrival at Emory, the University submitted a proposal to the Dorot Foundation, a major foundation which has endowed a number of positions at various universities throughout the United States. The proposal suggested a number of different ways the foundation might support Emory. The Foundation selected the most “costly ” of these proposals and elected to endow a chair. They made a gift to the university of 1.25 million dollars. The President of the Foundation, the late Joy Ungerleider Mayerson, informed the university that it chose the option of the chair because I would be the occupant. In recognition of my areas of expertise, the Foundation named the chair the Dorot Chair in Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies.
11.At Emory I have served as chair of the Graduate Program in Jewish Studies since its inception. This program, which offers a Masters is designed to allow students to expand their knowledge of Jewish culture, society, and history, prior to entering the job market or continuing for their Ph.D. This program is four years old. It was recently evaluated by a external evaluating committee which was invited to the university by the Dean of Emory College. That committee was chaired by the former Provost of Brown University, an Ivy League university with the most selective admission’s policy in the United States. He described the Jewish Studies graduate program as a “stunning success.” As Chair of this program I am responsible for devising the budget and the recruiting program, monitoring student progress, and working with the central administration of the university to promote its growth and development.
12.I am currently coordinating the establishment by Emory University of an Institute for Jewish Studies. Such an Institute will encompass the various programs in Jewish Studies which are currently spread out across the campus. It will allow students to major in Jewish Studies and receive their Baccalaureate in the field. This effort demands coordinating the five or six departments which would be involved in the effort. It is an arduous and administratively complex effort which has stretched out over two years.
13.A significant portion of my teaching activities involve working with graduate students. I advise students in various graduate departments who are studying different aspects of the Holocaust. Among the graduate students with whom I work are Lissa Skitol, a Ph.D. student in Philosophy, who will write her dissertation on the use of philosophic tools to understand the Holocaust; Jonathan Lewis, a graduate student in the History Department, who is concentrating on America’s response to the Holocaust, 1933-1945; and Maureen MacLaughlin, also of the History Department, who is working on the history of the Holocaust in Italy.
14.Teaching Awards: Since I arrived at Emory, I have received a number of teaching awards. In 1996, I was voted by the students as the professor with the highest ability to captivate students and make subject material interesting. In 1997, I received Emory’s highest teaching award, the Emory Williams Teaching Award. This award is based on a vote by alumni who are asked to cite the teacher who has had the greatest impact on them. In 1998, my courses were cited by the students as among the most worthwhile on campus.
15.Administrative Responsibilities: At the university I serve on the Presidential Advisory Committee, a group of ten faculty members [one from each division or school at the university] who are personally selected by the president. It is our responsibility to advise the President of the University on all matters relating to faculty promotions and hiring. We are also used by the President as an unofficial cabinet to advise him on significant issues facing the university.
16.In addition, I was elected by my colleagues in Emory College to the Faculty Council, one of the most significant entities in Emory College. The Faculty Council’s responsibility is to review the files of all faculty members who are being considered for any form of promotion. We recommend to the Dean of the College whether these promotions should be granted or rejected. If we reject a promotion of a faculty member who is being considered for tenure then that faculty member must resign from the University.
17.Non-University Academic Activities: In addition to my work at the University I am engaged in various activities outside the University. I am often asked to visit other universities to give lectures on topics related to the Holocaust. Among the universities to which I have been invited to lecture in the recent past have been Harvard, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania.
18.There are, however, two non-university academic activities which occupy the lion’s share of the time I devote to activities outside the University. They are The United States Holocaust Memorial Council and the United States Department of State Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad.
19.The United States Holocaust Memorial Council: I was an historical consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum [hereafter USHMM] when it was being built. I was asked to prepare a film which would delineate various aspects of the American response to the Holocaust. In that capacity, I determined the topics to be covered by the film. In addition, I did the research and wrote the treatment, i.e. the filmic equivalent of script. My direct supervisors for this project were Raye Farr and Martin Smith, who directed and produced segments of the twenty six hour Thames Television production, World at War. The film on the history of the American response to the Holocaust is part of the permanent exhibit at the Holocaust Museum. It has won a series of awards since the opening of the USHMM. It has won the following awards: GOLD HUGO: Intercom ’93, Chicago, Highest award given, 1 of 6 awarded in 1993, Category: Educational – Social Sciences/Humanities; MUSE AWARD: American Association of Museums Media & Technology Committee, Recognizing Outstanding Museum Film & Video, Category: History; CINE GOLDEN EAGLE: Cine Film & Video Festival, Category: Documentary; BRONZE PLAQUE: 41st Columbus International Film & Video Festival, Category: Social Issues.
20.In 1994, after completing my professional work for the museum, I received a Presidential appointment to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. The Council, which has sixty members, fifty of whom are appointed by the White House, and ten of whom are members of the Congress, is the Federal body which has been charged by the United States Congress with responsibility for administering the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The USHMM is the American government’s Federal museum of the Holocaust. It is located adjacent to the Washington Monument, the United States Treasury, and the Smithsonian Institution. Built to accommodate one million visitors a year, in the six years since it opened it has been visited by two million visitors every year. Approximately 80% of these visitors are not Jewish.
21.The Chairman of the Council appointed me to chair the Education Committee. In that capacity my responsibility is to supervise the work of the Education Department of the USHMM. Education is one of the USHMM’s most significant activities. The USHMM is visited by over 400,000 children in organized groups ever year. I work with the staff and assist in the design and coordination of these visitors. In addition, the Education Committee is responsible for the planning and execution of temporary exhibitions at the USHMM and for an array of traveling exhibits. The Education Committee runs a series of conferences for teachers which I help to plan and to which I deliver lectures. As a result of my serving as Chair of the Education committee, I automatically serve on the museum’s Executive Committee. This is the twelve- member committee which is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the museum.
22.In addition, I am currently serving on the committee which is conducting a search for a new executive director of the museum. The work that I do at the museum, which is entirely voluntary, occupies a minimum of three working days a month and often far more than that. I am eligible to receive payment from the United States government for my service to the USHMM. I have, however, waived this and do my work on a voluntary basis.
23.United States Department of State Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad: In November 1996, I was appointed by the Secretary of State to the newly formed Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad. In this capacity, together with a small group of leaders and scholars, I advise the Secretary of State on matters of religious persecution abroad and to seek ways in which to advance the universal right to religious freedom. There are twenty members on this committee. They include the leaders of various denominations in the United States and three professors, of which I am one, who specialize in issues of religious pluralism and/or religious persecution. I was appointed because my study of the Holocaust has focused on how the reaction of foreign governments to religious persecution can affect the nature of that persecution. We meet at the State Department approximately every other month and confer by telephone at other times. We have been asked by the Secretary of State to prepare a report for her to submit to the President. The report will analyze the nature of religious persecution worldwide and offers some insight on how the United States government might address some of the problems that arise when issues of religious freedom intersect with foreign policy.
24.In addition, I am an active member of the American Jewish community. I belong to a myriad of organizations and am frequently invited to speak to synagogue and communal groups on various matters of contemporary Jewish interest. I have twice been invited to Australia by the Jewish community there to address them on the history of the Holocaust and on Holocaust denial.
25.Research and Writing on the Holocaust: My books and articles on the Holocaust have all explored, in one form or another, the American response to the Holocaust from the perspective of social, political, and cultural history. The overarching question which interests me is what impact the Holocaust had on America. I have explored this issue for the period of the Third Reich itself and am currently doing so for the post-war period. In addition, I have examined the impact of the Holocaust on different segments of American society including the general populace, political leaders, media, Jewish community, purveyors of popular culture, and a relatively small group of people who deny the Holocaust. In other words, my books and articles on the Holocaust are an attempt not to just to shed light on the event itself but to also illumine the manner in which it has reverberated in American society and culture.
26.I have written two books on the responses to the Holocaust and am currently attempting to write a third. The first is Beyond Belief: The American Press and The Coming of the Holocaust, 1933-1945. The impetus for writing Beyond Belief, which analyzes the way the American media covered the news of the persecution of European Jewry, came from a challenge hurled at me by a student a number of years ago. Having just delineated for my students the detailed information regarding the destruction of European Jewry which was available to the Allies during the course of the war, I was asked by a student about the amount of information available to the public. How much of the information in the hands of the American State Department and British Foreign Office reached the general public? I contended that given all the public declarations, international conferences, and government-authorized information which was released, the public could have known a great deal. Furthermore, I contended, America had reporters in Germany until May 1942. (After America’s entry into the war in December 1941, those reporters who remained in Germany were interned. However, they still managed to collect information on developments regarding the war and the persecution of the Jews. When they were released and returned to the United States in May 1942 they publicized much of this information.) My student found it hard to comprehend how people could have read about this in their daily papers and “not done anything.” He pointed out that there was significant dissonance between my claim, that a great deal of information was available, and the general perception extant in the late 1970s that the public knew nothing until after the war was over. Rather than let the class become a debating match, I determined to explore this issue in greater and more systematic detail.
27.My research for this book, which consisted among other things, of reviewing the news about the persecution of the Jews between the years 1933 and 1945 in over one hundred American newspapers, revealed the complex relationship between information and knowledge. Information on the persecution of the Jews — which was to be found in many American newspapers — did not necessarily lead to knowledge of the actual event.
28.Whether information results in knowledge is also dependent on how the information was presented, i.e. its placement in the paper or magazine, the source of the story, and whether it was accompanied by pictures or documentation of some sort. My research proved to me that the relationship between information and knowledge is quite complex. This situation was not unique to the United States. Even at the very end of the war, the BBC felt it had to address the great skepticism prevalent among its listeners about the reports of German murder and destruction. Much of the public, in both the United Kingdom and the United States, was inclined to dismiss news of Nazi Germany as “atrocity stories” or wartime propaganda. Consequently, in 1945, at the conclusion of the war, the BBC set aside a report prepared by its own correspondent on Buchenwald. Instead it used a report prepared by Edward R. Murrow, London correspondent for the American radio network, CBS. Murrow, who was held in exceptionally high esteem by the British public, would, the BBC believed, be more readily believed than would the BBC reporter. It is worth noting that even Murrow included in his famous report the words, “I pray you to believe.”
29. Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory is, in many respects, a continuation of my work in Beyond Belief. From a certain perspective, it reverses the question of information and knowledge. Today, in contrast to the situation during the war, the Holocaust is probably among the widest known historical events. Despite the widespread general awareness, many people are not aware of the historical research and primary documents upon which our knowledge is based. This haziness about “how we know what we know” leaves room for those who deny the Holocaust to make all sorts of fantastic claims. The deniers manipulate information so that the general public will question whether the knowledge it has is accurate. They seek not to illumine but to deceive.
30.I was intrigued by the tactics deniers use to plant these seeds of doubt in people’s minds. They present themselves as a legitimate “other side” of an academic or historical debate. They do this despite the fact that among legitimate historians there is no debate about the existence of the Holocaust.
31.The reception by critics in both scholarly and popular journals to Denying the Holocaust was exceptionally positive. The book was reviewed on the front page of the New York Times Book Review and the Washington Post Book World on the same day. It also received exceptionally positive reviews in the Los Angeles Times and other regional newspapers. In addition, I was interviewed on a number of leading news and radio interview shows. There were reviews that took issue with my findings but even those treated the book in a serious fashion. I do not include in this last category the various reviews of the book in Holocaust denial publications and on their various web sites.
32.As a result of the book I was invited to appear on a number of television shows with large audiences. I declined to do so because they wanted me to engage in a discussion or debate with a Holocaust denier. My rationale for declining these appearances was that it accorded deniers a legitimacy they did not deserve. For example, an astronomer or aerospace engineer would not sit down in a legitimate debate with someone who contends that the earth is flat.
33.The book on which I am currently working examines the various ways American commemoration of the Holocaust has evolved during the past five decades. Tentatively entitled, America Remembers the Holocaust: From the Newsreels to Schindler’s List, this book will examine the manner in which America has dealt with the memory of the Holocaust. In it I plan to explore how the Holocaust has been given expression in the cultural, political, sociological, and theological arena. The evolution of America’s memory of the Holocaust, which begins with a willed amnesia and culminates [as far as the parameters of this book are concerned] with the opening of the United Sates Holocaust Memorial Museum and the movie Schindler’s List, can only be understood by a complete examination of the social, political, and religious developments in the American Jewish community and in American society in general. I believe that America’s greater willingness to confront the Holocaust today reflects the fact that American society is generally more inclined to confront its own historical shortcomings, e.g. slavery and segregation, the suppression of women’s rights, and the internment of the Japanese Americans in World War II.
34.That book was scheduled to be completed by now. It has been significantly delayed because of my involvement in this lawsuit. In fact, instead of having drafted the majority of the manuscript, I have only completed preliminary drafts of two chapters. There is great interest in the book as is evidenced by the number of invitations I have received to speak on this topic at various universities and academic conferences. I delivered a paper on this topic in August 1997 at the World Congress of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem (see Appendix, Tab1). The paper examined the intersection between Holocaust commemoration and domestic politics during the Carter Administration. In November 1997, I delivered a paper at a conference sponsored by Harvard University on the history of the observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day in the United States Capitol (see Appendix, Tab 2). The conference conveners responded enthusiastically. The paper will be published in the near future. In addition, I have just completed an essay concerning the historiography of America’s response to the Holocaust, i.e. the way different historians have analyzed the American role (see Appendix, Tab 3).
35.These three essays will eventually constitute a limited portion of this book. They constitute less than 15% of the total manuscript. The manuscript should have been well near completion by this point in time. David Irving’s actions against me have seriously and significantly disrupted my ability to perform one of the major aspects of my profession: creative research and writing.
36.Personal Background: I have had long-standing interest in many aspects of twentieth-century Jewish history. I received a traditional Jewish education, attending Jewish schools until I entered university. There was little discussion of the Holocaust in my home when I was a child. However, on Passover night my father would read a commemoration of those who died in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. He would become quite emotional as he recalled friends, relatives, and classmates with whom he had grown up in Hamburg who had perished. Though I knew of the event and its broad outlines, I cannot help but be struck by the fact that, even in a Jewish school, we learned so little about it. I attribute this to the fact that it was terribly difficult for American Jews to address this issue in the two decades following the war. They did not begin to do so until a post-Holocaust generation came of age and other dramatic shifts occurred in American society.
37.I attended City College of New York. There I studied American social and political history, concentrating on the late 19th and early 20th century. I was particularly interested in the history of the acculturation of Eastern and Southern European immigrant groups into American society. As part of this course of study, I wrote a number of research papers on the hostility and prejudice encountered by immigrants, particularly those from Eastern and Southern Europe. This work on American prejudice towards those immigrants who were not WASPS [White Anglo Saxon Protestants] led me into a systematic study of antisemitism. When my interests turned to the 20th century, I paid particular attention to the case of refugees from Nazi Germany. This work helped prepare me, to some degree, for my study of Holocaust denial. It exposed me to what some scholars have come to call the “paranoid style in American politics,” a style which is particularly susceptible to all sorts of conspiracy theories, including Holocaust denial. I became intrigued by the use of conspiracy theories to foster prejudice in general and antisemitism in particular. During the Holocaust, for example, despite a total lack of evidence to substantiate these charges, those who were adamantly opposed to the immigration of refugees in general and Jews in particular, convinced the American public that Jewish refugees posed a significant threat as a German Fifth Column, i.e. domestic spies.
38.During the 1966-67 academic year, I attended Hebrew University in Jerusalem to which I received a tuition fellowship and stipend in recognition of my academic record. I studied at the Institute for Contemporary Jewry where I took a series of courses on the history of the Holocaust. But I also encountered the Holocaust outside the classroom in a non-academic setting. I met Holocaust survivors in every walk of life. Professors at the university, bank tellers, and the shoemaker who repaired my shoes were among the survivors I met. Although I had grown up knowing some survivors, I never heard them speak of their experiences in more than a passing fashion. The most I recollect them saying was a comment such as, “When I came here after the war…” In Israel I began to encounter these people in a sustained fashion. Replicating the behavior the survivors I had known as a child, they also did not refer to their experiences except in a passing fashion. But towards the end of the 1966-67 academic year that changed dramatically. In the weeks prior to the June 1967 Six Day War survivors in Israel began to make much more frequent reference to the Holocaust. They were not the only ones to connect the events then occurring in Israel with the Holocaust. In the weeks, that followed as the Tehran Straits were closed to ships bearing cargo for Israel, as Egypt expelled United Nations forces which patrolled the border with Israel, and as all the Arab League countries joined in a military alliance against Israel, I began to hear a great deal of speculation as to whether the Jewish people were poised on the brink of another Holocaust. Mass graves were prepared in Tel Aviv in the anticipation of a myriad of casualties. American students at the university received phone calls and telegrams from their parents urging them to leave because a major tragedy seemed to be in the offing. The university shut down because so many students were drafted. Tension was palpable but life continued. I delivered mail and volunteered at a children’s home outside of Tel Aviv where most of the counselling staff had been drafted. There were a number of Holocaust survivors on the staff. They too spoke of their experiences during the World War II. This was the first time I heard so many survivors talk in such graphic terms about their experiences.
39.This increased my interest in the Holocaust and other aspects of contemporary Jewish history. I remained at the university in Jerusalem for another year. In the fall of 1968, I returned to New York to finish my B.A. degree. In 1969, I received my B.A. with high honors and was elected to the prestigious honor society, Phi Beta Kappa. By that time I had decided to move from my study of American history and society to study of Jewish history and society. Much of the research I did in graduate school examined the intersection between Jewish history and American history.
40.In 1972 events outside the classroom propelled me to deepen further my commitment to study of the Holocaust. I visited the former Soviet Union and had the opportunity to see a number of sites that are of particular importance in the history of the Holocaust, e.g. Ponary, Babi Yar, Czernowitz. I had as my guide younger Jews who were in the process of challenging Soviet totalitarianism. One of the ways in which they did so was by study of Jewish history. I also heard many Holocaust survivors talk about their experiences under the Third Reich. I was struck by the fact that many of them were reluctant to speak to me openly about the persecution they endured during the war and only did so when they were relatively sure they were not being watched by the Soviet authorities.
41.During this and subsequent visits, I spent a great deal of time with young Soviet men and women born in the wake of the Holocaust. Many were children of Holocaust survivors. Some of their parents had been in concentration camps, most however had fled eastward as the Germans approached. These “Refuseniks,” i.e. people who had been refused permission to leave the USSR, and dissidents were among the “freest” people I met on my trip, they had liberated themselves from a terrible fear of the authorities.
42.These young Jews stressed that while Soviet authorities did not deny that the Holocaust happened they significantly skewed its history. The Holocaust was portrayed by Soviet officials as an act by the Fascists against the Communists. To have described the Holocaust as an act by Germans would have been to implicate not only West Germans but East Germans as well. Moreover, to have focused on the fact that while many people suffered horribly at the hands of the Germans and their allies, Jews were the target of the Final Solution, would have been to validate the existence of an ethnic group, i.e. the Jews, something which was contrary to Marxist ideology. Nazi Germany’s explicit and unambiguous policy of antisemitism disappeared in the process. This policy of de-Judaizing the Holocaust was a legacy of Soviet antisemitism, which, in the wake of the 1967 war, had been terribly exacerbated.
43.This policy played itself out in many ways. These young men and woman had learned about the terrible persecution by Nazi Germany but had barely heard a reference to the suffering of Jews and the German intent to annihilate European Jewry. Sites at which the Nazis had murdered Jews commemorated the death of Soviet citizens but failed to mention that all the Soviet citizens killed at that spot were Jews. Yevteshenko’s famous poem “Babi Yar,” about the massacre site outside of Kiev, protested this policy of Soviet de-Judaization of the victims. Even in a Jewish cemetery burial sites were de-Judaized. One Jewish cemetery I visited in the Czernowitz area proclaimed that it held the remains of 800 victims of the Fascists and that the victims were Russians, Georgians, Bukovinians, Ukrainians etc. Jews were not mentioned.
44.The Soviets did not deny German brutality. Soviet citizens experienced horrendous suffering at the hands of Nazi Germany; they simply tried to deny both the national identity of the perpetrators and the ethnic identity of the victims.
45.During this visit to the Soviet Union I encountered antisemitism face-to-face. I spent Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Judaism’s most holy day of the year, in Czernowitz, a city whose Jewish community had been decimated by the Holocaust. I went to the synagogue and spent a good part of the day talking to the Jews who were gathered there.
46.Prayer books were in terribly short supply because Soviet authorities restricted distribution of them. Consequently, I lent my prayer book to an elderly woman. Shortly thereafter, an official of the synagogue who, I subsequently learned, worked for the government, accused me of being a “provocateur.” (Since synagogues were government institutions these officials were government employees. Many worked for the police and the KGB and were placed in these positions in order to inform on any contact Jews might make with visitors from abroad.) When he saw the woman with my prayer book he accused me of distributing religious ritual items, which was forbidden by Soviet law, took the prayer book, and left the synagogue in anger. The next day, when I was scheduled to travel to Kishinev, my traveling partner and I were taken from the hotel by KGB police, brought to a remote train station outside of Czernowitz, held for an entire day, questioned separately, strip searched, forced to sign statements about our contacts with Jews, and forbidden from contacting American authorities.
47.I was accused of trying to subvert the USSR, being anti-Communist, and spreading false stories about the Soviet regime. The officials spoke of Jews using traditional antisemitic stereotypes. The contempt of these officials for me was made manifest in the most unambiguous fashion.
48.When my train finally crossed the Soviet border I realized that this was the first and only time in my life that I had confronted governmental totalitarianism face-to-face. And all because I had lent my prayer book to an elderly woman in the synagogue.
49.Though I was well aware that what I had seen could not be compared to the persecution Jews had suffered under the Nazis, I became greatly interested in the invidious nature of antisemitism. I began to intensely study the history of the Holocaust. I became increasingly convinced that this seminal moment in Jewish history had to be understood and remembered. It could not be something only taught by Jews to Jews. Given the way in which the Soviets skewed the history of this event, I also became convinced that it had to be taught on a straightforward absolutely factual level. The highest levels of scholarship had to be applied.
50.Our Responsibility to Teach about it: Why should we study the history of the Holocaust: “Why should we dwell on this horrible event of over fifty years ago?” “Let memories such as these fade. Don’t live in the past.” Such comments are made by those who do not believe or understand why the Holocaust should be taught. Those who make such comments often have sincere motivations. They have not, however, considered the issue carefully. For someone, such as myself, who has devoted so much of her creative energies to this field and who has spent over two years defending my right to do so, the answers have become painfully self-evident.
51.First of all, the Holocaust did not occur in the distant past. [No one would consider telling Allied veterans to forget World War II.] There are both perpetrators and survivors alive today. To tell the perpetrators that they may forget what they did constitutes the ultimate evasion of responsibility. Moreover, it also seems to be a guarantee that we will be condemned to repeat such horrors. To tell survivors that it is time for them to “forget” strikes me as the height of insensitivity. It would be the equivalent of telling a victim of a horribly violent rape or someone who had witnessed the brutal murder of his entire family, to “forget it” and move on. They may move on with their lives but they will never — nor should they — forget.
52.But personal sensitivity to an individual’s or group’s suffering is not reason enough for anyone, other than those in the group, to engage in the act of remembering. If study of the Holocaust were solely a matter of personal memories, there would be little need for museums, courses, movies, and books on the Holocaust. The rationale for study of the Holocaust transcends the individual memories of a particular group. There is much we can learn from the Holocaust and much, even more significantly, we can teach future generations. The tragedies in Cambodia, Uganda, Rwanda, and Bosnia, among other places, indicate that the world has not learned the lessons from the Holocaust.
53.For Jews, both those who were directly touched by this event and those, such as myself, who were not, there is a particular significance to the study of this event. It is hard for Jews to forget that but fifty years ago approximately one out of every three Jews in the world was killed. Central to Jewish belief is the act of remembering. One is to remember the bad (you were slaves in Egypt) and the good (you were liberated from there); you are to remember how you suffered and how you have been blessed. Even those who have not experienced an event are commanded to “remember” it. But, it is crucial to stress, remembering is not synonymous with bearing eternal enmity. One can forgive and remember simultaneously. In fact, there would be those who argue, that a prerequisite for forgiving is remembering.
54.Jews respond in many different ways to this “remembering” of the Holocaust. Some become more committed to preserving their ritual and tradition. Some contend that because Jews today are so few in number they must husband their energies for helping other Jews. They are determined to aid Jews who are in distress, particularly when that distress is antisemitic in origin. Others, convinced that the legacy of the Holocaust demands a more universalistic approach, feel that, as Jews living in a post-Holocaust world, they must shoulder a special responsibility for fighting evil and eradicating hatred irrespective of where it occurs and who is the victim. And some Jews combine these responses to one degree or another. I believe myself to be one of the latter, a little bit of all these things.
55.I feel a responsibility to teach other Jews about Jewish tradition, knowing that one out of every three Jews was killed shortly before my lifetime. This is not to suggest, of course, that the only or even primary reason to preserve Jewish tradition is because of the Holocaust. During the 1970s and 1980s, I worked hard on behalf of Soviet Jews when they were being persecuted, in part because I “remembered” that during World War II when European Jews cried out for help, they felt abandoned by the world. But I also believe that, as a member of the first generation of Jews born after the Holocaust, I have a special responsibility to respond to the suffering of others.
56.Thou Shall Not Stand Idly By: On Being a Bystander: While doing my research for my book Beyond Belief, I found an article from the front page of the April 22, 1943 edition of the New York Times. It told of the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and of the transmission from Poland of a secret underground radio broadcast describing how the “the last thirty five thousand Jews in the ghetto at Warsaw have been condemned to execution. The people are murdered. Women and children defend themselves with their naked arms.” Then, just before the station went dead, the following was heard: “Save us….” (see Appendix, Tab 4).
57.That article exemplifies the quandary faced by many “bystanders.” The war was at its height. There was relatively little that could be done at that point to aid these people and, yet, the words “Save us” carry with them a power of their own.
58.My experience in learning about and teaching the Holocaust also reminds that while it is true that by 1943 there was little the individual citizen could have done, in 1933 and for a number of years thereafter, there was much more room for action.
59.The Nazi regime was particularly susceptible to pressure and protest in its early years. By 1939, it was virtually too late for foreign nations to exert much pressure. This, as well as subsequent genocidal events, proves that generally once atrocities or massacres are underway protest is often futile. Then one can only place limited pressure on the perpetrators. Injustice of this nature can be far more efficaciously combated when it first rears its head, before it becomes a tragedy of major proportions.
60.To study the Holocaust and emerge as one who responds only to the cries of one’s own group would be to learn the wrong lesson. Today, when I read news stories of suffering in Kosovo or Rwanda I am sometimes inclined to turn the page without reading them. After all, I rationalize, what can I, a private citizen, do? But, the legacy of the Holocaust compels me to recognize that such a response is wrong. When I encounter — directly or indirectly — contemporary acts of persecution, I try to find someway to let my protest be heard. At times such as these I am reminded not only of the words from the New York Times article, “Save us,” but also of the verse from Leviticus 19: “Thou shall not stand idly by as thy brother’s blood is spilled.” As a result of my teaching of the Holocaust that verse has taken on new meaning for me. It has had an impact on my personal Weltanschauung. It has made it more difficult for me to be a bystander.
61.Those we tend to call “ordinary” Germans may also be counted among the bystanders and/or facilitators. By ordinary Germans, I mean those German “Aryan” citizens of the Third Reich who were neither government functionaries nor party members. They did not run businesses which profited from the fact that Jews were being deprived of their fortunes and virtually all their worldly possessions. They were the “people in the street,” who, though they may never have beaten up a Jew or thrown a rock through a store owned by Jews, stopped talking to Jewish neighbors before laws demanded that they do so and who kept silent even in the early years when protest was possible.
62.The early hardships experienced by Reich Jewry in the 1930s pale in the light of the severity of the ghettoes and concentration and death camps which followed. Nonetheless, the response of the bystanders, both domestic and foreign, during the 1930s to the acts of persecution perpetrated by the Third Reich are of particular significance because this period was a testing ground. Had Aryan citizens of the Reich and other nations with which the Germans wished to maintain diplomatic and commercial relations expressed unambiguous and sustained revulsion at the Nazi’s antisemitic policies, it is possible that the Final Solution would not have evolved as it did.
63.I try to impress upon my students the social and political realities of the time. They must understand that there was a limit to what the various bystander nations could have done and to the number of refugees they could have admitted. Yet, these obstacles notwithstanding, the question remains: did the bystander nations and institutions offer whatever aid it was plausible for them to offer?
64.The story of the bystanders is particularly significant because my students are convinced, as are most people today, that they could never be perpetrators. So too they are convinced that they would never “allow” themselves to be victims. In all likelihood, they will be neither. But they will be and, in many respects, have already been bystanders. Bystanders often comfort themselves with the claim: there was nothing we could do. One of the things my students learn as they explore the issue of Holocaust rescuers, is that in relation to the Holocaust there was often something that could be done. That is why Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler capture our imagination. There was something that could be done and they did it. Potential accomplices (Schindler) and bystanders (Wallenberg) became heroes. They were ordinary men who did extraordinary things. In the face of unmitigated evil a bystander becomes a facilitator of sorts.
65.The Slippery Slope of Persecution: The Holocaust also offers important lessons about the slippery slope of persecution, i.e. that terrible acts of hatred don’t emerge in one fell swoop. They develop over time, in a step-by-step fashion. Students must understand that an event of this magnitude did not emerge full-blown from the brow of the perpetrators, it began with a series of incremental steps. From 1933 on, life in Germany for the Jews constituted an unending series of terrible humiliations. Jews could shop for only one hour at the end of the day when a store’s stock was often depleted and any “Aryan” present had to be waited on first. Elderly Jews sitting on park benches designated “for Jews only” were easy targets for stones thrown by “Aryan” children. By the end of the 1930s, Jewish life in the Reich comprised restrictions, humiliations, degradations, and physical persecution. The Holocaust demonstrates that terrible outrages begin with small acts of hatred and prejudice.
66.The Holocaust demonstrates that prejudicial hatred is a slippery slope and that violence has its genesis in small expressions of prejudice and hatred.
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.)
Prejudice: An Irrational Sentiment
69.I often tell my students a joke which, it is claimed, was told by Jews in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. An ardent Nazi was giving a speech in which he accused Jews of the worst crimes against Germany. As he reached the crescendo of his diatribes someone cried out from the audience “and the bicyclists.” The Nazi turned to the person and asked, “Why the bicyclists?” The person responded, “Why the Jews?”. In learning about antisemitism, students must understand the nature of all prejudices: they are irrational sentiments.
Advocacy Teaching: A Cautionary Note
70.Though I have spent the previous pages talking about the “lessons” to be learned from the Holocaust, I must admit to significant discomfort. As should be clear, I have no doubt that there are significant lessons to be gleaned from these events. Yet, as an historian and a university professor, I believe it is inappropriate to impose these lessons upon my students. To do so would be to cross over from teacher to preacher, from pedagogue to ideologue. I am wary of advocacy teaching, irrespective of the cause one is advocating. My responsibility in teaching about the Holocaust is to educate my students about this event not to determine the conclusions they should draw from it. Some may draw conclusions which are different than mine for there are many areas of the Holocaust which are open to debate (see below), e.g. some may conclude that the Allies could have bombed Auschwitz while other may conclude that it would have been a tactical impossibility and a strategic mistake.
71.Moreover, as someone who has been teaching for close to thirty years, I have learned that when students are allowed to make their own connections rather than have the lessons drawn for them, the impact is far greater than when one “tells” them what lessons they should grasp. Consequently, I studiously avoid telling my students, either in the classroom or outside of it, why I think teaching the Holocaust is important.
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.
The Purpose of the Book
Impetus for Writing this Book
74.The impetus for writing this book came in the 1980s when I was approached by Professors Yehuda Bauer and Yisrael Gutman of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, both leading experts on the history of the Holocaust. They inquired if I would be willing to undertake a research project on Holocaust denial which would be sponsored by the Vidal Sassoon Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. They were particularly interested in a study of the history of the deniers in North America. I agreed to undertake the project. Over the course of the next four years I received approximately $20,000 which was designated to cover my travel/research expenses. These funds were used to subsidize a series of research trips to New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, France, and London. They were also designated to cover my xeroxing costs. In addition, I paid for a research assistant with these funds. According to my calculations I spent far more than that on my research. Other than to express an interest in my progress, neither Professors Bauer nor Gutman — nor, for that matter, anyone else — delineated in any way what I should write or how I might approach the topic. I sent Professors Bauer and Gutman finished copies of the manuscript as it neared completion in order to peruse it for errors or mistakes. Neither Professors Bauer nor Gutman offered any substantive or textual suggestions for changes.
75.According to the contract I signed, I was to receive 50% of the first two years of royalties on this book. The remainder were to go to the Vidal Sassoon Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University. The Hebrew University only sent me a small portion of the very first royalty payment they received [approximately 2,500 dollars]. I never pursued the remainder. After that I received no royalties on this book. I received no other funds for the writing of this book. I received no funds when the rights to the book were sold to other countries, including the United Kingdom. I have earned nothing from this book since the first year in which it appeared, in 1994.
76.In order to delineate the characteristics and objectives of Holocaust denial I undertook the following steps:
- (a)I read as much material by deniers as I could obtain.
- (b)I spoke with individuals engaged in studying and researching the deniers and/or other extremist groups.
- (c)I met with Robert Faurisson, one of the leading deniers in France. I spoke with David McCalden, then head of the Institute for Historical Review. I tried to interview Arthur Butz of Northwestern University but he refused to speak to me.
- (d)I visited archives in New York, London, Los Angeles, Eugene (Oregon), Sydney (Australia) and Israel. I also spent a great deal of time working in both university and organizational archives which possessed information pertaining to the deniers. These included the archival collections at the University of Oregon, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Library of Congress, Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, and the Institute for Jewish Affairs in London.
- (e)I engaged researchers. Their work was strictly administrative or bureaucratic, i.e. filing, retrieving items from the library etc.
- (f)I read extensively on the topic of post-war Holocaust denial, conspiracy theories, and on post-World War II antisemitic extremism.
- (g)I was given access to the legal records of a firm in California which had represented a Holocaust survivor in his case against deniers. This collection contained a significant amount of material by deniers, used by the lawyers in the preparation of their case.
Denying the Holocaust as a Work of Scholarship
77.I clearly remember the first time I heard about Holocaust denial. It was in the mid-1970s and I was then teaching at the University of Washington in Seattle. A scholar visiting from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem told a number of professors about the deniers. I laughed aloud at both the absurdity of their so called “conclusions” and at the notion that anyone, who was not ideologically wedded to them, might treat such material with any degree of seriousness. I said something akin to, “Let’s worry about something that is important, not such ridiculous matters!”. Given the extent to which David Irving’s legal action against me has circumscribed my ability to undertake that research which is a substantial part of my professional activity and the way in which one ultimately builds an academic reputation, laughter seems not to have been the appropriate reaction. In any case, it was hardly prescient.
78.My book explores both the history of Holocaust denial and the modus operandi of the deniers. I also analyzed how segments of the public, the media in particular, respond to Holocaust denial. Consequently, in addition to delineating the evolution of the denial movement, I also focused on the means deniers use to “package” their arguments so that the public will perceive them to be serious scholarship. I discovered that over the course of time the modus operandi of deniers has become increasingly subtle. Consequently, it has become more difficult for the lay person to separate the wheat from the chaff, i.e. differentiate between real scholarship — however radical it may be — and pseudo-scholarship — such as Holocaust denial.
79.My intention in this work was to demonstrate how deniers confuse and distort history. I did not wish to refute their findings point by point. Above all, I felt it was essential to expose the illusion of reasoned inquiry that conceals their extremist views.
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.
Holocaust Deniers: Their Modus operandi, Arguments, and Objectives
86.How then do deniers attempt to avoid being relegated by the public to the category of crazed conspiracy theorists with “off the wall” views; views that, by any measure of logic, should be simply dismissed as ludicrous? Deniers use simple but efficacious tactics. They camouflage their extremist and antisemitic agenda in the trappings of scientific investigation and scholarly discourse. They hold conferences that are structured as scholarly gatherings. They design their journals to appear, at first glace, to be academic publications. In their publications, they often adopt the language and form of academic inquiry. They do this as a means of entering the legitimate conversation and scholarly debate about the Holocaust.
87.Deniers claim that their objective is to uncover historical falsehoods, all historical falsehoods, and not to deny anything. They contend that they are only interested in getting at the truth and “revising” some of the mistakes that have crept into history writing. That is why they call themselves “revisionists,” i.e. those who revise the mistakes in history. I call them deniers because they are denying historical facts. By cloaking themselves in the trappings of academic inquiry they are less likely to be dismissed by the general public as the historical equivalent of “flat earth theorists.”
88.One might legitimately assume that the deniers’ strategy of presenting themselves as a group of academics engaged in an intellectual, not ideological, quest would be particularly efficacious with people who have only the haziest notion of the history of the Holocaust. Sometimes this strategy is also successful, due to the deniers skillful obfuscation of their real identity, with those who might be expected to know better. Staff members at the USHMM related the following incidents to me: a history major at Yale University submitted his senior essay on the Luftwaffe in the Spanish Civil War to the Journal of Historical Review, the leading Holocaust denial journal, which in format and tone mimics serious, legitimate social science journals. The student acknowledged that he had not closely examined the Journal before submitting his essay. He selected it from an annotated bibliography where it was listed together with respected historical and social science journals. (This bibliography, the student later discovered, did not differentiate between legitimate journals and those of far less, if any, historical value. It simply listed all journals which described themselves as interested in questions of history.) Based on its description, title, and, most significantly, its proximity to familiar journals, he assumed that it was a legitimate enterprise dedicated to the reevaluation of historical events. Only when it appeared in print and he saw the other articles in that issue of the Journal of Historical Review did he recognize the mistake he had made.
89.A number of student newspapers in the United States have accepted advertisements from a Holocaust denial group which has constituted itself as CODOH, the Committee on Open Debate on the Holocaust. Some did so without closely examining the text of the advertisement and had no idea as to precise nature of the contents.
90.Another one of their strategies is to present themselves as the victims of “fascists” who deny them their freedom of speech. They claim that I, a “Holocaust zealot,” am personally silencing their right to speak. In an ad published in many American university and college newspapers I was described as follows:
“Deborah Lipstadt argues in her much-praised Denying the Holocaust, that revisionists [‘deniers’] should not be debated because there ‘can not be’ another side to the Holocaust story. She charges that it is ‘hateful’ to listen to a defense of those accused of mass murder! In essence she argues that we bury America’s old civil virtues of free inquiry and open debate — but to what end?
The Deborah Lipstadts — and there is a clique of them on every campus — work to suppress revisionist research and demand that students and faculty ape their fascist behavior. If you refuse to accept the Lipstadt clique as your intellectual fuhrers, you risk being slandered as an ‘anti-Semite’. These quasi-religious Holocaust zealots claim that because of the ‘purity’ of their own feelings about the Jewish experience during World War Two, yours are soiled if you doubt what they preach as ‘truth.'” (see Appendix, Tab 5).
91.In the United States, because of the First Amendment, deniers have the right to claim the Holocaust never happened, to publish their articles and books, and hold their gatherings. They can make their speeches on any street corner or in any public auditorium which will grant them the right to do so. The First Amendment proclaims that “Congress,” a term which the American courts have interpreted to mean any governmental agency, shall make no law abridging a citizen’s right to freedom of speech, religion, and press. But that right does not guarantee them space in a newspaper. Newspapers are not obligated to accept deniers’s articles, letters, and advertisements — just as they are not obligated to accept other articles, letters or advertisements.
92.The accusation lodged against me, that I try to silence deniers, is patently false and insulting. I believe that newspapers are not obligated to turn over their pages to those who advocate prejudicial ideas that have no basis in history. Moreover, they are not obligated to accept advertisements that are designed to mislead those who read them. I have, however, repeatedly counseled those who have sought legislation preventing the deniers from speaking or holding gatherings that these efforts, while giving their supporters a sense of self-satisfaction, would ultimately be struck down by American courts because of the First Amendment. I have also refrained from speaking out in favor of European laws which would relegate Holocaust denial to the status of a crime. I have serious misgivings about the strategic efficacy of such legal manoeuvres.
Deniers’ Current Objectives
93.At this point in time, given the sheer impossibility of winning broad acceptance of their views, deniers apparently are content to be thought of as a “point of view” or an “other side”. The essential argument posed by CODOH in its advertisements and by other deniers is rooted in the following question: why should individuals espousing an “other side” or an “alternative point of view” be prevented from entering the debate on the Holocaust? To the historical novice, particularly one unfamiliar with material on the Holocaust or with conspiracy theories, this might sound like an entirely reasonable argument. What is wrong with letting all “views” be heard? What damage could be caused by letting another voice enter the conversation? Those who do traditional scholarship often find themselves on the defensive as they are perceived of by the general public and the media as being afraid of letting “alternative ideas” become part of the conversation about the history of the Holocaust.
94.There are a number of fundamental fallacies here. First of all, the notion that there are two sides to every issue is a reflection of the fuzzy thinking prevalent in the media and on many university campuses. The concept of “two sides to every issues” is, of course, a fallacy. Slavery existed in the United States until the end of the Civil War. Pearl Harbor was bombed. John F. Kennedy was assassinated. All these are matters of fact. One can debate the long term ramifications of slavery, whether President Roosevelt knew for a fact that Pearl Harbor was to be bombed, and who shot President Kennedy. But the facts themselves are beyond dispute.
95.The susceptibility of the public, including university students, to this notion of “two sides” is the legacy of sloppy academic thinking. Categorizing the deniers’ claims as “another point of view” or an “alternative interpretation” is rooted in yet another fallacy: that the deniers’ claims are based on historical data. In fact, theirs is not an iconoclastic rereading of history. It is an intentional misreading of the documentation. Yet another fallacy that the deniers would have the public believe, is that there exists a “debate” about whether there was a Holocaust itself. While there is much that is debated about the Holocaust, there is no debate over whether it actually happened or not. This is a non-existent “debate” in which only one side presents it as a debate: the deniers.
96.For the deniers to be right all of the following categories of witnesses must be wrong:
- (b)bystanders (this includes, among others, the Polish villagers who lived adjacent to the death camps);
- (c)facilitators, such as the train engineers who drove the trains into the death camps, and German lawyers who created racial definitions for legislation promulgated by the Third Reich;
- (d)liberators, particularly those who liberated the death camps;
- (e)perpetrators, who left behind reams of documents and testimony attesting to exactly what was done.
Deniers as an aspect of Holocaust historiography
97.Though not all deniers espouse the same argument, there are, certain themes that are commonly heard from many of them. Among those themes are:
- (a)Though some Jews might have died as a result of war related privations or some might even have been killed in haphazard actions, there was no organized program to annihilate the Jews.
- (b)The Reich may have mistreated the Jews but it never intended to destroy them.
- (c)Those Jews who died did so as a result of war related privations.
- (d)The claims regarding the existence of gas chambers are false.
- (e)The entire story has been conceived and spread by survivors and the Jewish community for political and/or economic reasons.
- (f)For some deniers Hitler was a man of peace, pushed into war by the aggressive Allies.
98.Denial is not a coherent intellectual position. It is based on lies and half-truths. Deniers pick and choose between different claims, some of which have been enumerated above. Though most deniers offer a web of interlocking claims, the single claim, that will generally indicate that an individual has cast his lot with the deniers, is that there were no gas chambers.
99.Deniers also tend to depict the question of the number of Jewish victims as an issue upon which the existence of the Holocaust can rise or fall. There will never be a final rendering of the death toll for a number of reasons, many of which are self-evident, e.g. the indiscriminate nature of the murders, the chaotic conditions extant at the war front, and the deliberate destruction of records by the individuals involved in the murder process when it was evident to them that the war would be lost. The historians who estimate numbers – and, it should be noted, not all historians believe this to be a principal objective of their work — place themselves at one or another place within a wide compass of somewhat under five million to more than six million. There is a principled difference between Holocaust deniers and Holocaust historians. Deniers base their numbers on spurious research and do not actively investigate records.
100.Deniers aim to turn Holocaust historiography on its head by rehabilitating the reputation and ideology of National Socialism. In contrast to neo-Nazis, rather than praise Nazism, many deniers begin with a relatively innocuous supposition: war is evil and during war all sorts of terrible things are done by both sides. Assigning blame to one side is a meaningless enterprise because all sides are guilty. By so doing, deniers are engaging in that which I describe in my book as a search for immoral equivalencies, i.e. for every terrible thing done by one side an equally terrible thing has been done by the other side.
- (a)The Germans conducted a blitzkrieg of London but the Allies bombed Dresden;
- (b)The Germans placed enemies of its regime in concentration camps but the Americans detained Japanese Americans in camps as well;
- (c)Some German personnel might have mistreated civilians but Soviet soldiers brutalized German women at the very end of the war.
Deniers must contend with one persistent problem in this approach. There is no immoral equivalency to equate with the Holocaust. Therefore, strategically, the most efficacious approach is to deny it.
101.The use of immoral equivalencies together with denial of the Holocaust leads to the following conclusion: one cannot differentiate between victor and vanquished. Both sides are equally guilty. To single out one side is more than wrong. It is to impose unjustifiable guilt on an innocent country and its citizens. Still, deniers assert, if guilt is to be assigned, it is not the Germans who were guilty of aggression and atrocities during the war. The real crimes against civilization were committed by the Americans, Russians, English, and French. The Germans were the victims. The Germans suffered the bombing of Dresden, wartime starvation, invasions, postwar population transfer from areas of Germany incorporated into post-war Poland, victors’ vengeance at Nuremberg, and brutal mistreatment by Soviet and Allied occupiers. The atrocities inflicted on the Germans by the Allies were–in the words of Harry Elmer Barnes, one of the seminal figures in the history of North American Holocaust denial– “more brutal and painful than the alleged exterminations in the gas chambers.”
102.Once we recognize that the Allies were the aggressors, we must turn to the Germans and, in the words of Austin App, a professor of English literature who became one of the major theoreticians of Holocaust denial, implore them “to forgive us the awful atrocities our policy caused to be inflicted upon them.”
103.Deniers acknowledge that some Jews were incarcerated in places such as Auschwitz, but, they maintain, as difficult as life may have been in these places, there was never any attempt to annihilate them. Some Jews did die but only as a result of the natural consequence of wartime deprivations. For the deniers, Jews are not victims but victimizers. They “stole” billions in reparations, destroyed Germany’s good name by spreading the “myth” of the Holocaust, and won international sympathy because of what they claimed had been done to them.
104.Germany’s acceptance of responsibility for the Holocaust presents a potential problem for the deniers. How can they, who did not witness what happened, claim that the perpetrators are innocent while the perpetrators themselves, acknowledge their guilt? Deniers contend that Holocaust historiography has treated Germany most unfairly. Falsely portrayed as a criminal nation that had committed one of the most heinous crimes in human history, Germany became and remains a victim of the world’s emotional and scholarly aggression. After World War II, the world’s venom toward Germany was intense. Moreover, there was widespread acceptance of the “myth” of the Holocaust. According to the deniers, in 1945 Germany faced a strategic conflict. In order to be readmitted to the “family of nations,” it had to confess to this heinous crime even though it knew that these charges were false. Consequently, Germany had no choice but to acknowledge its complicity.
105.Germans were not unlike a defendant who has been falsely accused of unspeakable crimes. If he admits guilt, even though he is innocent, then shows contrition and makes amends he may receive a more lenient sentence. But should he firmly refuse to do so, even after both the legal courts and the “court of public opinion” have found him guilty, he may well be subjected to harsher treatment.
Denial’s impact on Holocaust historiography
106.Polls have shown that the public in the United States, as well as in various Western European countries, have not responded to the deniers. In fact, in the United States there are apparently more people who believe that Elvis Presley is alive than who believe the Holocaust did not happen. Why then my concern? The real danger of Holocaust denial is one that looms in the future. This is one of the main reasons that I wrote this book. When the time comes and there are no survivors, liberators, or witnesses alive to tell their story, the deniers will find their path easier to tread. As long as there are those alive who can speak in the first person singular about this event, e.g. this is my story, this is what happened to me, the deniers face a serious obstacle. Most people find it hard to believe that all these survivors are purposefully lying. But when the survivors are no longer alive this obstacle will have been removed. Then, when no one can say “this is the story of me, my parents, siblings, cousins, and friends,” it will be easier for deniers to portray the survivors as willful liars.
107.Until then deniers will aim to capture the minds of those who have little or, at best, a hazy knowledge of these evils. In countries such as the United States, where there exist grave lacunae in knowledge of history, the general public is extremely susceptible to this form of obfuscation.
The Deniers’ Political Agenda
108.Some deniers have a political goal: the historical rehabilitation of National Socialism which, as a result of the Holocaust, is a thoroughly discredited movement. Deniers know that for them to attempt to justify National Socialism’s persecution and annihilation of Jews and others would bar them from entering the realm of serious discourse. It would gain them few friends or adherents. They would become aligned in the public’s mind with neo-Nazi, militia, and right wing extremist groups.
The Holocaust as a Historical Fact
110.In writing this book I approached the topic of the Holocaust in no different a fashion than if I had been writing a book about some other aspect of the war. The book is not, for the most part, a direct response to the deniers in which I disproved their falsified findings. I have long maintained the position that it is not only counterproductive to enter into a debate with deniers but intellectually dishonest to do so. It would be to suggest that this is a “debate” about which there are two sides.
111.My approach is akin to a scholar who writes about people who are flat earthers or “conspiracy theorists.” That scholar would devote herself to trying to understand how they reach their “conclusions,” assess whether they truly believe their arguments to be accurate, and analyze the public’s reaction to them. She would not spend time proving the earth is round or disproving their conspiratorial claims. For example, such a scholar would not “prove” that, contrary to the conspiracy theorists’ claims, there really was a moon landing and that it did not take place in a studio stage in Nevada. Similarly, historians who write about the invasion at Normandy may do one of the following. They may:
- (a)laud it as technically brilliant;
- (b)criticize it as poorly planned and costing a disproportionate high number of Allied lives;
- (c)or acknowledge that it cost many lives but contend that those deaths could not be avoided.
The do not, however, feel it necessary to prove that it indeed happened and was not staged on some beach in Hawaii.
112.Accepted as a given: In the course of writing my book I did not believe it necessary to research or prove various aspects of the Holocaust. I accepted them as a “given.” They included, among others:
113.Accepted as a given: The Third Reich devoted significant resources to the persecution and annihilation of European Jewry.
- (a)Accepted as a given: Antisemitism was a central motivating factor of National Socialist ideology and for the Third Reich the war was, at least in part, a war against the Jews.
- (b)Accepted as a given: Hitler knew about the annihilation of the Jews. This action would not have taken place without, at least, his approval if not on his explicit orders. Recent historiography agrees that this approval was probably never written down.
- (c)Accepted as a given: The persecution of the Jews occurred in incremental steps beginning in 1933.
- (d)Accepted as a given: The number of Jews killed was on the order of magnitude between 5-6 million.
- (e)Accepted as a given: Along with the Jews an unspecified number of Gypsies were murdered.
- (f)Accepted as a given: A portion of the Jews who were murdered were murdered by “mobile killing units” composed of German forces together with individuals from countries occupied by the Germans.
- (g)Accepted as a given: A portion of the Jews were murdered in gas chambers located in death camps [most, though not all, of which were in Poland or areas formerly controlled by Poland]. These gas chambers were built or converted from existing buildings for the sole purpose of killing people.
- (h)Accepted as a given: Many Jews were imprisoned or worked to death in concentration camps. They were used as slave labor in barbaric conditions. This resulted in their death. Jews were not the only ones to be used for this form of slave labor.
114.In writing my book I acknowledged that there is serious debate among historians over many aspects of the Holocaust, including the following:
- (a)Debate concerning: The Origins of the Final Solution: Did the Third Reich intend from the very outset of its rule or from the outset of the war to engage in the annihilation of the Jews? Was the annihilation a function of the course of the war, i.e. as the Germans occupied territories with more Jews it became increasingly difficult to incarcerate them therefore murder was instituted?
- (b)Debate Concerning Hitler’s Role: What was Hitler’s precise role in the conception and implementation of the Final Solution? Did he initiate the program and to what degree?
- (c)Debate Concerning the Military Situation of the Third Reich in the Summer of 1941 and its Connection to the Final Solution: Was the Final Solution begun at a time of euphoria over military victories or resignation at military setbacks? And what connection, if any, did this military situation have with the genesis of the Final Solution?
- (d)Debate Concerning: The Uniqueness of the Holocaust: Is the Holocaust the same as a variety of other acts of persecution and genocide, e.g., the massacre of Armenians by Turkey in 1915 or the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia? Or, as state-sponsored genocide against an entire people who lived in many different lands, does it stand as something unique and apart that is quite different from other forms of persecution?
- (e)Debate Concerning: The Role of the Ordinary German: Historians differ on the degree to which ordinary Germans were aware of the killing and how many played ancillary roles in the killing process.
- (f)Debate Concerning: Eliminationist Antisemitism- A Unique form of German Antisemitism: Historians differ on whether Germany was home to a long standing form of antisemitism which called for the elimination, i.e. killing, of Jews and that this antisemitism had been prevalent since the 19th century. This debate has been engendered by the publication of Daniel Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners.
- (g)Debate Concerning: The Response of the Jewish Victims: Could Jews have resisted the Nazis more effectively? Were the Judenrate, the Jewish councils installed by the Nazis in many ghettoes in order to supervise ghetto life, too compliant with Nazi demands? Was a Judenrat’s refusal to alert the ghetto population to the fate awaiting it an act of betrayal or an attempt to ease the victims’ mental anguish during their final days? Were these people complicit, however unwillingly, in the Jews’ destruction or were they placed in such an untenable and unprecedented situations that ultimately there was little if anything they could have done to relieve Jewish suffering?
- (h)Debate Concerning: The Response of the Bystanders: In this arena there are many matters which are vigorously debated including the role of the Allies and of NGOs such as the Red Cross.
- (i)Debate Concerning: The Allies: What could the American and British governments have done, if anything, to stop the killing or warn the victims? Is it valid to have expected them to do anything other than wage a conventional war against Germany? Was it not in their best interests to leave all rescue initiatives until after the war? Were there actions that could have been taken — and were taken for other captive peoples — to help the Jews? Could Auschwitz have been bombed? If camps adjacent to it were bombed — why were the gas chambers, which Allied reconnaissance planes had photographed, not bombed?
- (j)Debate Concerning: The Response of American Jews: Could American Jewish organizations have had a significant impact on the course of the Holocaust if they had been more organized and less engaged in internecine warfare? Did they fail to heed the cries for help from their fellow Jews? Was American foreign policy so fixed on rescue through victory and were the bureaucrats determining the policy so entrenched in their view that nothing could be done to help the Jews that no organization, of Jews or any other people, could have rendered a change in those policies?
- (k)Debate Concerning: The Vatican: What might the Vatican done, from both a strategic and a moral perspective, to assist Jews? Is there reason to assume that if the Pope had admonished Catholics against cooperating with the Germans in the killing process, more Jews might have survived?
115.Rejected as false: In my book I have treated the following claims as incontestably false. They do not require prior refutation before considering the motives of the people who advance them. In this case motive is the primary matter for investigation because facts are nowhere to be found.
- (a)Rejected: The claims made by deniers about the numbers of Jews killed and the cause of their death. Though different deniers given different estimates, the numbers generally range from 600,000 to approximately 1 million and the contention is that they died only because of war related privations.
- (b)Rejected: The claim that the Germans placed Jews in camps for their own protection.
- (c)Rejected: The claim that the gas chamber facilities were morgues or delousing units for clothes.
- (d)Rejected: The documents which discuss the number of victims and/or the means of killing those victims are forgeries or falsifications.
- (e)Rejected: The claim that Jewish groups conspired after the war to forge documents and place them in the archives and files of different German army and SS units in order to create the impression that the Holocaust was a hoax..
- (f)Rejected: The claim that The Diary of Anne Frank is a falsification written after the war.
- (g)Rejected: The claim that the Holocaust was a myth invented to win support for the creation of the State of Israel and to extract financial reparations from the Germans after the war.
116.Because this book was concerned solely with the deniers’ history and modus operandi, I did not explore the items that I accepted as a given or analyze the items that are currently being debated among scholars.
Irving as a Holocaust Denier
117.At the present moment David Irving’s notoriety as a Holocaust denier is quite substantial. This, however, was not the situation when I began my research on this book. He first began to publicly express his contention that the gas chambers were a hoax at the second trial of Ernst Zundel trial in 1988 (see Appendix, Tab 6). Zundel, a naturalized Canadian citizen, was brought to trial for violating a law prohibiting denial of the Holocaust. Zundel was found guilty. Subsequent to his trial the law under which he was accused was thrown out by the Canadian courts. After the trial Irving began to claim that other aspects of the Holocaust were also untrue. For much of the time that I was working on this book he did not publicly present himself as a Holocaust denier. He would appear at gatherings of the Institute for Historical Review but he did not publicly subscribe to their ideology. The Institute and its supporters were, nonetheless, delighted to have him participate. Moreover, they may have assumed — correctly it turns out — that if he moved in their orbit long enough he soon would begin to sing from their hymnal. Even when Irving had not yet declared himself a denier they still seemed to approve of his absurd “exoneration” of Hitler from responsibility for as well as knowledge of the Holocaust.
118.For these reasons he occupied a relatively minor role in this book.
119.At the second Zundel trial, when David Irving appeared as a witness on Zundel’s behalf, he endorsed Fred Leuchter’s supposed scientific findings that the gas chambers at Auschwitz were not genuine. Leuchter is a self-described “engineer”, although he has no formal qualification, and gas chamber expert, who claims to have conducted scientific tests at Auschwitz. Birkenau and Majdanek proving that the gas chambers there could not have functioned as homicidal killing units. (Leuchter acted as an expert witness at the trial of Ernst Zundel). Leuchter summarised his findings in The Leuchter Report: An Engineering Report on the Alleged Execution Gas Chambers at Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Majdanek, Poland, which was published by, amongst others, David Irving’s publishing house, Focal Point Publications. The edition published by Focal Point Publications, to which David Irving wrote the foreword, was entitled Auschwitz: The End of the Line: The Leuchter Report – The First Forensic Examination of Auschwitz.
120.With that David Irving publicly moved into the ranks of the deniers. In recent years Irving has come to occupy an increasingly pivotal role as a denier. His frequent involvement in lawsuits and his brushes with the law added to his notoriety.
121.That fact that his visits are often sponsored by or closely associated with groups that are considered to be neo-Nazi extremists tends to arouse both governmental and media interest.
122.On his Internet site and web page he consistently challenges the truth about the Holocaust. The web site contains a running and quite detailed account of his activities, particularly his challenges to those authorities in various countries who have, for various reasons, banned his entry (see Appendix, Tab 7). He also uses his web page to provide a running account of this and other legal actions he has taken. He presents the material in a quite sensational fashion. He has posted a less than flattering picture of me and has demeaned me. He has posted material from my discovery on the web site and only removed it after being challenged to do so by my lawyers. When that occurred he complained that we were hindering his freedom of speech. Given that I am the defendant in this case, I must admit that I find his claim about my suppression of his free speech to be beyond the pale.
123.I consider David Irving a Holocaust denier because, (the examples referred to in the following paragraphs are selected from many more that will form part of the experts’ evidence):
- (a)He has openly stated his belief that gas chambers were not used to murder Jews (see Appendix, Tabs 8, 9 and 10)
- (b)He estimates that no more than 600,000 Jews were killed (see Appendix, Tabs 7, 11 and 12).
- (c)He argues that Hitler not only failed to order or approve of this action but knew nothing about it; those Jews who were killed were killed in rogue actions by Germans acting without proper authorization (Hitler’s War, Focal Point, 1991) (see Appendix, Tab 13).
- (d)He rejects the notion that those Jews who died did so as a result of an organized annihilation of European Jewry by the Germans and their allies (see Appendix, Tabs 7, 12 and 13).
- (e)He markedly distorts, perverts and/or manipulates the meaning of documents as the reports of expert witnesses will repeatedly indicate.
- (f)He believes that Auschwitz was not a death camp but a slave labor camp with the highest mortality rate (see Appendix, Tab 7).
- (g)He claims that those who died at places such as Auschwitz and Treblinka did so as a result of starvation and disease (see Appendix, Tab 7).
124.The following activities and/or statements by Irving do not in themselves place him in the ranks of the deniers but are consistent with him being a denier and are disturbing nonetheless:
- (a) His repeated references to Jews in his Action Report newsletters and on his web site as the “traditional enemies of the truth” raises questions about his objectivity about the history of the period (see Appendix, Tab 14).
- (b)His comment in a speech given in 1990 that “our major task: Sink the Auschwitz.” (see Appendix, Tab 12).
- (c)His claim, included in a letter to the editor of The Australian [July 26, 1994], and posted on his web site, that I defame him “from a safe distance but refuse to debate in the traditional manner.”
He then tells the following story:
“I lectured in her home town of Atlanta, Georgia, at the old court house, on November 4 last year; challenged to share a debating platform with me, she refused, and fled to Boston, Massachusetts.”(see Appendix, Tab 15).
In fact, I never received any invitation from him to appear and left the city to appear at a previously scheduled appointment. His appearance “at the old courthouse” was in fact an appearance at a raucous rally on the steps of a building once used as a courthouse in Decatur, Georgia.
The contents of this statement are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.Dated this day of January 1999.
DEBORAH E. LIPSTADT
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE 1996-I-No. 1113
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION
B E T W E E N :
DAVID JOHN CAWDELL IRVING
PENGUIN BOOKS LIMITED
DEBORAH E. LIPSTADT
This is the bundle of documents referred to in the statement of DEBORAH E. LIPSTADT