Archive/File: orgs/american/ihr/press wp.100393 Last-Modified: 1994/07/26 Copyright 1993 The Washington Post The Washington Post October 3, 1993, Sunday, Final Edition SECTION: BOOK WORLD; PAGE X14; LETTERS LENGTH: 1818 words HEADLINE: Denying the Deniers SERIES: Occasional BODY: I HAVE BEEN asked to respond to the letters from Holocaust-deniers (Book World, Aug. 15), which you published in response to Paul Johnson's review of my book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. But I will not do that. As I argue in the book, the most disturbing media response to Holocaust denial has been the mistaken notion that every fact has an equally valid "other side" which should be given equal space and time. To some in the media, it is irrelevant that Holocaust denial has as much intellectual validity as the statement two plus two equals three. Would you have published, in response to a book on the history of slavery, letters which claimed slavery never existed or was a voluntary relationship? We must not debate people with no fidelity to the truth. Moreover, deniers' arguments are so riddled with antisemitism and racism and so lacking in any historical logic or reason that we should all refrain from dignifying them with a response. I wish you had done that too. DEBORAH E. LIPSTADT Emory University Atlanta, Ga. Willis A. Carto's letter (Book World, Aug. 15) offers no support for his statement, " 'everyone' knows that there were no gas chambers at Dachau. Even Abba Eban and Simon Wiesenthal have stated this." Actually, Eban's book My People (1968) cites William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich as quoting a document in the form of a letter from a firm called C.H. Kori, soliciting orders for "our perfected cremation ovens . . . which hitherto have given full satisfaction" in Dachau and Lublin. If Carto is trying to distinguish between gas chambers and crematoria in this respect, for whom does he think the latter were intended if not for the victims of the former, just those who died peacefully in bed? For what it's worth, I, along with many thousands of other visitors, have seen both at Dachau -- unless the pro-semitic German authorities have deceived us by misrepresenting as gas chambers what were only shower baths after all. What is the purpose of the revisionists' exercise anyway? Does it really matter if the ultimate extermination figures total 6 million or only 3 million? Or if they were killed by gas or by machine guns or merely by barbaric "medical" experiments? Or that greater numbers of murders may have occurred at Treblinka or Auschwitz or Belzec or Majdanek or Sobibor? If this sort of nitpicking were regularly applied to our courts of law, our criminal justice system would entirely collapse. IRVING M. HERMAN Charlottesville Noted with disgust is the letter from a Roger Leonard of Bowie, who argues on behalf of "limited anti-Semitism." All you need to do is play "fill in the blank" with that concept to see how totally ludicrous it really is (limited racial hatred, limited misogyny, limited anti-Asianism, limited rape, limited slaughter, etc., ad nauseam anyone?). This is one Jew who is not so dumb as to buy into any low-level intellectualizing concerning the killing of my own people, dubious quotes from the Encyclopedia Britannica notwithstanding. Leonard's apologia for Hitler on the grounds that some Jews may have had the gall to hope for a return to a recognized Jewish homeland prior to the implementation of the "Final Solution," or that fewer than 6 million of us may have been gassed to death in the Nazi concentration camps isn't worth dealing with. It just so happens that it was about 6 million Jews who died in those camps. But let's just say it was 5 million, 4 million, 3 million -- why would that make our torture and murder any more acceptable? Kill me a little bit or kill me a lot, the bottom line is I'm dead. Only a very dumb Jew (or someone who wouldn't mind seeing a few more dead Jews around) would care to play that little numbers game. R. COHEN Rockville Beneath the distortions and smoke screens they used to criticize Paul Johnson's review of Deborah Lipstadt's book on Holocaust denial, Willis Carto, Mark Weber and several others whose letters appeared on your pages claim disingenuously that they do not question the central fact that there was a systematic Nazi enterprise to rid the world of Jews. Their noble mission, we are led to believe, is to clean up the rough edges of that history. But these pseudo-scholars do not want to clear the record. They want to muddy it. If we apply to other historical events the logic these and similar Holocaust "revisionists" use in their "scholarship," then we cannot be certain the American Civil War ever happened because we don't know exactly where every soldier fell at the Battle of Gettysburg; nor can we say there was really a Middle Passage because we'll never be sure precisely how many African slaves died on their way to Europe and the Americas. Responsible scholars debate details about the Holocaust all the time (but not its wholesale existence), a fact that the deniers conveniently forget to mention as they grouse about conspiracies to squelch academic debate about that episode in history. But real historians don't debate with the likes of Carto, Weber, David Irving, Robert Faurisson and David Duke, who have distinguished themselves as nothing more than promoters of antisemitism and whose real agenda is to make the Third Reich seem more palatable to current and future readers of history. JEFFREY WEINTRAUB Washington Area Director American Jewish Committee Washington In reference to Roger Leonard's letter, I am also a Christian more of philosophical than fundamentalist persuasion. I was also taught early in elementary school that an encyclopedia is a useful place to begin research on a topic, but it certainly is not the definitive source. I was also taught that leaping to extraordinary conclusions on the basis of a single quote is simply not good research. Adolf Hitler's quote regarding the dubious threat of a "second Palestine" in Germany can only be regarded as a comment on the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which the British government endorsed the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The established of this homeland, the primary aim of the Zionist movement, was not carried out after the First World War, in an effort to maintain good relations with Arab leaders. Palestine in 1938 was far from a Jewish homeland, and the Arabs certainly had not been "subjugated" by Zionists at this time. Zionist "manipulation" of the British government had not been particularly successful, demonstrated by the lack of response by British authorities to devastating riots (pogroms might be a better term) aimed at Jewish settlers in 1920, 1921, and 1929. British concessions to Arab demands in the White Paper of 1939, which limited further Jewish immigration to Palestine despite the increasingly desperate efforts of German Jews to leave, is hardly a testament to "Zionist manipulation." It is also worth mentioning that Hitler had always espoused strongly antisemitic political views (a brief perusal of Mein Kampf might confirm this), using them as a foil against political opponents and as a unifying theme within Germany. Spurious concepts of racial purity, the superiority of the so-called Aryan race, and the concept of Jewish manipulation of world affairs had a powerful and peculiar resonating effect in post-Weimar German society. Hitler was aware of this, and used the unsubtle propaganda unique to the Nazi regime with enormous effect. The fact that, in the course of hundreds (if not thousands) of antisemitic, inflammatory public addresses before the beginning of the Second World War, Adolf Hitler happened to mention the issue of Palestine in September, 1938, seems awfully thin evidence on which to build a completely revisionist theory of the Holocaust. Contrary to Leonard's apparent opinion, Zionists were not particularly influential in Britain in the pre-war period, were far from universally supported in the international Jewish community as a whole, and far from "subjugating" the Arab population of Palestine were under the constant threat of sniping, assassination, and terrorist attack by Arabs. A more reasonable assumption, for which ample evidence exists, is that the Holocaust, which both Leonard and I agree did occur, was ultimately the result of the psychopathic antisemitism of a mad leader, and was unfortunately supported either actively or tacitly by the population of one of the most powerful and cultured states in Europe. To blame the Holocaust on the Zionists is, at best, bad history. TIMOTHY D. HOYT Mt. Rainier With friends like Roger Leonard, who needs enemies? His letter contains some of the most blatantly antisemitic ideas I have seen in mainstream media in some time. Why would Book World run this? The notion that Zionist behavior in Palestine between 1918 and 1938 was in any way the cause of Hitler's policies is outrageous and deeply offensive. Leonard is rationalizing moral obscenity (giving it some basis in logic) and blaming the victims; he presents a severely distorted picture in order to do so. The writer of these ideas, who does not want to hear from "dumb" Jews, is exceedingly dumb himself when it comes to a sophisticated grasp of history. Examine the roots of German philosophy and political thought in the century or two before the Holocaust and you discover an antisemitism -- a racism -- that is virulent and by definition non-rational. Examine the role of Jews in German society before the rise of Hitler, and you find they were part and parcel of the society and not remotely a fifth column: Regrettably, they considered themselves Germans. Examine the policy of extermination of the Jews during the war and you see that it was frequently counter-productive to the larger German war effort, that is, it was decidely non-rational. Good of Leonard to acknowledge that there was a Holocaust. Since he has the wisdom to determine that the number of Jews who died was considerably less than 6 million, perhaps he can account for the missing Jewish population of Europe. ARLENE KUSHNER Rockville The letters in response to Paul Johnson's review only add greater urgency to Deborah Lipstadt's work and prove her essential point. Pseudo-scholarly arguments were advanced and the freedom of the media was used to advance an argument that is factually false. Your letters page was a model of deniers' propaganda. I know that the public was wise enough to see through it. I presume that the editors wanted to put on a demonstration of deniers' techniques. MICHAEL BERENBAUM Professor of Theology Georgetown University Book World welcomes letters from its readers. Letters must be typed. They should be signed and include the writer's address and daytime telephone number. Because of space limitations, those selected for publication are subject to abridgment. Address letters to Book World, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071. LANGUAGE: ENGLISH LOAD-DATE-MDC: October 14, 1993
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