The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/american/codoh/university.response/duke.001

Subject: CODOH's paid advertisements: Duke University
Summary: Duke's history department responds to CODOH ad              
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Distribution: world
Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac
Keywords: CODOH,Duke

Archive/File: orgs/american/codoh/university.response duke.001
Last-Modified: 1993/10/24

	_The Chronicle_ [Duke Univerity's Newspaper]
	Wed, Nov 13, 1991, Page 7
	[Full page ad, paid for by the University's history department]

	On Tuesday, November 5, 1991,the Duke _Chronicle_ published a full
page advertisement, "The Holocaust Controversy:  The Case for Open Debate."
The advertisement endorsed a "revisionist" opinion denying that the
German [Nazi] state had a policy to exterminate the Jewish people (or
anyone else) by putting them to death in gas chambers or by killing
them through abuse and neglect."  The ad went on to claim that "the
figure of 6 million Jewish deaths is an irresponsible exaggeration,
and that no execution gas chambers existed in any camp . . under German

	The Duke History Department wishes to state that the assertions
made in this advertisement do not constitute "revisionism" as scholars
understand the term.  In the ad Bradley R. Smith was not identified at all;
Fred A Leuchter and Arthur R. Butz have not historical training; and
David Irving (who is an investigative journalist) debates Hitler's personal
involvemnt in mass murder, not whether mass murder occured.  Nothing
in the ad except the layout and the language suggests that these false
assertions deserve the name "scholarship."
	The scholarly presention of this advertisement were effective
enought to deceive the _Chronicle's_ editor, who believes that these
fraudulent claims fall within the range of normal historical inquiry.
"What revisionists are doing is reinterpreting history, a practice that
occurs constantly, especially on a college campus," she wrote.
	That historians are constantly engaged in historical revision
is certainly correct; however, what historians do is very different from
this advertisement.  Historical revision of major events (e.g. the
American Revolution) is not concerned with the actuality of these events;
rather, it concerns their historical _interpretation_ --their causes
and consequences generally.  There is no debate among historians about
the actuality of the Holocaust.  Scholars may discuss detail and nuance,
but there can be no doubt that the Nazi state systematically put to death
millions of Jews, gypsies, political radicals and other people.
	The apperance of historical interpretation in this ad is a very
clever deception.  Its "good news of Holocaust Revisionism" is surely
not that six million Jews thought to have been killed in death camps are
really alive and well (which would be factual revision).  Rather, it's
"revision" suggests that Jews (and their sympathisers) have conducted
a fourty-five year, world-wide conspiracy to elicit unwarranted support
and sympathy.  The advertisement is, thus, a restatement of the old
anti-semitic charges of Jewish conspiracy and control, enshrined in such
notorious documents as the forgery, _Protocols of the Elders of Zion_.
The "revisionism" in this advertisement is not really meant to rectify
a historical error; rather, it's aim is to hurt Jews and demean and 
demonize them.
	_The Chronicle_ editors made a serious error when they confuse
Holocaust deniers with historical revisionists.  Whatever one thinks
about the right of the _The Chronicle_ to accept this advertisement,
as historians, we deplore this effort to use the language of "scholarship"
to distort and obliterate an event which, to our everlasting shame,
did occur.  We urge all members of the Duke community to treat such
advertisements with the contempt that they deserve.

		Unanimously Approved at History Department Meeting, 11/8/91

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