The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/l/lipstadt.deborah/press/washington-times.0793

Archive/File: people/l/lipstadt.deborah/press/washinton-times.0793
Last-Modified: 1994/07/29

               Copyright 1993 News World Communications, Inc.     
                              The Washington Times 
                      July 18, 1993, Sunday, Final Edition 
SECTION: Part B; BOOKS; Pg. B8   
LENGTH: 951 words   
HEADLINE: Debunking those who say the Holocaust never occurred   
BYLINE: Alvin H.  Rosenfeld   
    Thanks to the recent opening of major Holocaust museums in
Washington and Los Angeles, a great deal of public attention is once
again focused on the Nazi crimes against the Jews.  While there are
those who are critical of these museums, few would argue that they
can serve no useful purpose.   
    On the contrary, as recent polls have shown, a disturbingly large
number of Americans seem never to have heard of Auschwitz and do not
know what the Holocaust was.  If these two museums can help correct
such a shocking state of ignorance, they will prove their worth many
times over.     
    With respect to knowledge of the Nazi crimes, however, it is not
just ignorance that we have to contend with but, worse still,
programmatic attempts to undermine historical truth and subvert
public memory of the Holocaust.  As Deborah Lipstadt shows in her
clarifying new book, denial of the Holocaust is being promoted
actively today by individuals and groups who are determined to
replace the historical record of the Nazi period with a blatantly
fictitious pseudo-history of their own making.   
    As she convincingly argues in "Denying the Holocaust," those
involved in this defamation seek to "reshape history in order to
rehabilitate the persecutors and demonize the victims." Their
ultimate aim is to restore credibility to a neo-fascist political
agenda, one that resembles the racist and extreme nationalist
authoritarianism of Nazi Germany.  In order to revive interest in
such a program, however, they must first remove the scandal from the
history of the Third Reich by "exposing" the Nazi Holocaust of the
Jews as a "hoax."   
    One of the virtues of Miss Lipstadt's important book is that it
argues that this massive lie needs to be taken seriously.  While in
its American form it has existed to date mostly on the fringes of the
far right, Holocaust denial has begun to find its way into the
mainstream of our culture by posing as the "other side" of an ongoing
"debate." Miss Lipstadt describes how a new "controversy" about Nazi
crimes has begun to make its appearance on popular radio and
television talk shows and also on college campuses.   
    While most people presumably will recognize this display of bad
faith for what it is, the steady repetition of lies, no matter how
blatant, is bound to have a corrosive effect and, over time, can
begin to undermine the foundations   
of historical truth and moral reasoning.  That, of course, is
precisely the aim of those who engage in this vicious assault, and
Miss Lipstadt has done us a valuable service by analyzing and
exposing the outrage in fine detail.   
    It could not have been a pleasant task for a serious researcher
to wade through books with such titles as "Debunking the Genocide
Myth," "The Myth of the Six Million," "The Hoax of the Twentieth
Century," "The Hitler We Loved and Why," "The Holy Book of Adolf
Hitler" and "Did Six Million Die?" These are the kinds of books that
the author examines.  She shows that they all employ rhetorical
strategies of misstatement, distortion, suppression and denial of
evidence and other forms of misrepresentation.   
    These characteristics only serve to reveal the fact that this
"research" is all the product of wild anti-Semitic obsession and
willful delusion.  Like other morally polluted works, such as "The
Protocols of the Elders of Zion," the genre is political pornography
at its most extreme, yet that is no guarantee that it will not have
an audience.  Indeed, there evidently are sizable numbers of readers
as well as purveyors of such books.   
    Miss Lipstadt cites the latter by name - among them Austin App,
Lewis Brandon, Arthur Butz, Willis Carto, Robert Faurisson, Dietlieb
Felderer, Richard Harwood, David Irving, Fred Leuchter, Paul
Rassinier, Bradley Smith.  She also describes the often sordid nature
of their careers and deftly exposes the bogus nature of their
    Moreover, she offers a helpful exposition of the historical and
ideological roots of the revisionist movement and links its aims to
resurgent racist and nationalist movements that have once again
become a prominent part of contemporary political culture in Europe
and on the far-right fringes of America.  She shows how there has
been a direct progression from earlier efforts to justify Nazi crimes
to more recent efforts to deny them altogether as a Zionist hoax.   
    Not surprisingly, she finds a confluence of anti-Israel,
anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial circles and believes there is a
strengthening of ties among these groups.  It is disturbing but
necessary to recognize that they exist in a social and political
climate that has also given us skinheads, Nazis and other racists who
openly flaunt the symbols of the Third Reich as part of a campaign of
aggression against "foreigners," Jews and others they happen to
    In such a climate, Holocaust denial, Miss Lipstadt believes, will
grow in intensity and increasingly find its way from the disreputable
precincts of the racist right toward the respectable mainstream.  "We
have only witnessed the beginning of this movement's efforts to
permeate cultural, historical, and educational orbits," she warns. 
As "Denying the Holocaust" makes abundantly clear, it is a warning
that reasonable people should not ignore.   
    Alvin H.  Rosenfeld is director of the Robert A.  and Sandra S. 
Borns Jewish Studies Program and professor of English at Indiana
    By Deborah E.  Lipstadt   
    Free Press, $22.95, 278 pages   
GRAPHIC: Photo, Deborah Lipstadt ; Book Jacket, Denying the
Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory   

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