Forum: Book Preview Section: An Eye for an Eye Subj: Eye for an Eye To : Michael S. Curtis, 105135,436 4/30/97 12:28 PM From : John Sack, 76711,3235 #13352 Thank you, Mike. Im sure that youre not aware that Goldhagens review has been completely discredited since it was published four years ago in The New Republic. A professor at the University of California wrote in The Nation, "Goldhagen seriously distorts history," and even the London Jewish Chronicle said, "Goldhagen strays from professionalism into passion." In February this year, I wrote a signed editorial in The Harvard Crimson that challenged Professor Goldhagen to a public debate, anytime. He still hasnt accepted, or even answered me, but here is a part of my Crimson editorial: A zealous assistant professor at Harvard named Daniel Jonah Goldhagenlet loose a volley of hatchets against An Eye for an Eye. Goldhagen hinted that I, a Jew, was an anti-Semite. He said I was morally sloppy and intellectually tawdry. He called my 65 pages of endnotes bewildering, and he complained that Id written, "Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew passions?" but hadnt attributed this to the English playwright William Shakespeare ("Many readers will not know"). Goldhagen said Id done outright fictionalization, although all the scholars whod check my bewildering notes at the German Federal Archives would write, "The story is there," "The facts are correct," "The writing is watertight." The sharpest of Goldhagens hatchets went at my "outrageous claims" about the Jewish commandant of the camp at Schwientochlowitz, near Auschwitz, although my claims that the man killed the Germans with clubs, crowbars, stools, and the Germans own crutches would be confirmed by 60 Minutes, The New York Times, and the German newspaper Die Zeit. In The New Republic, Goldhagen lied. He said that I hadnt written things that, at a glance, a freshman (in high school) could ascertain that I had. In An Eye for an Eye Id written in highly legible type of the commandant at Lamsdorf, "He insisted (and all the Jews accepted) that he was a Polish Catholic," but Goldhagen claimed, "It is only in the notes, eighty pages away. . . that the unusually diligent reader will discover [that] he was a Polish Catholic." Goldhagens hatchets were two-headed ones, for he also claimed that Id written things that I hadnt. Our high-school freshman could read in An Eye for an Eye that 75 percent of the officersthe majors, captains, lieutenantsin the Office of State Security in the province of Silesia in February 1945 were Jews, but Goldhagen claimed that Id written that "75 percent of those in the Office of State Security in Silesia were Jews." Of those? Of those what? The adjective in a nouns disguise was Goldhagens awkward way of concealing from innocent readers that I had been writing of officers only. May I go on? Having misrepresented me, Goldhagen then refuted me with statistics about the officers and the privates, about Silesia and the rest of Poland, and about an antithetical era. Goldhagen wrote, "We know how many Jews were in the Office of State Security. According to a tabulation of November 21, 1945, by Boleslaw Bierut, then President of Poland, the Office of State Security had 438 Jews. 438! Not Sacks 75 percent but 1.7 percent. . . ." "Uh, no," says our high-school thirteen-year-old, for Id clearly written that Jews left the Office "as early as June 1945," that "hundreds of Jews escaped from the Office" by September 1945, and that "all but a scattering of Jews returned to the Torah and Talmud and fled from the Office by December 1945." If, as Goldhagen said, there were 438 Jews in the Office as late as November 21, 1945, thats sixty times more than Id ever mentioned in An Eye for an Eye, though when I reported this in a letter to The New Republic, the editors (my avowed defenders) wouldnt publish it, and when I bought a $425 ad, the editors wouldnt publish that. What would entice a Harvard assistant professor to act as [the New Republics] willing executioner? "The facts are," Goldhagen said in The New Republic, his certitude unencumbered by certainty, "that Jews did not run the Polish Office of State Security." Oh? A full professor at Columbia told New York, "The great majority ofofficers were certainly Jews." A professor in Warsaw found a whos who of the 447 top officers from 1944 to 1953, and thirty percent declared they were Jews. (How many Jews didnt declare it? How many deserted in 1945?) A professor at the University of California wrote in The Nation, "Goldhagen seriously distorts history," and even the London Jewish Chronicle said, "Goldhagen strays from professionalism into passion." What was the source of Goldhagens unprofessional fit? His piece in The New Republic had such disregard for his Universitys motto that he may just have been seeking to immunize his upcoming book from any eyewitness evidence that what we must learn from the Holocaust isnt that all Jews are good and all Germans are bad. And yet I cant swear that a germ of veritas doesnt lurk in Goldhagens screed. Let Truth and Falsehood grapple, said Miltonlet former student and present professor debate at some forum in Cambridge what we Jews did or didnt do after the Holocaust. Professor Goldhagen, I challenge you.
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