Deborah E. Lipstadt: Trial and Error

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Deborah E. Lipstadt, author of Nextbook Press’ The Eichmann Trial, is Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University.]

A few months ago, as I was finishing my book on the Eichmann trial, a friend asked me, “What do you know now that you did not know before you began your work?” I launched into a discourse on the various details of this fascinating trial. Before I could get too far, he stopped me. “No, I’ll read the book to get the story. Instead tell me what you now know in your gut that you did not know before.” He paused for a second and then added, possibly aware that it was a strange question to ask a scholar about a topic to which she has devoted an extended period of time and effort: “What’s the bottom line?”...

Thinking about the anti-Semitism, which is the foundation stone of denial and the refusal—denial?—of so many people to take the topic seriously, made the “bottom line” of the Eichmann trial and, by extension, the Holocaust patently clear. It is quite simple and straightforward. Had the world taken Nazi anti-Semitism more seriously from the outset of the rise of the Third Reich the subsequent tragedy might have been quite different....

Most of all, the actions of not just Adolf Eichmann but all those who played a role in the Final Solution remind us that we should pay particular heed to threats that emanate from those who have the ability to do real harm. During the past five years we have heard a stream of Holocaust denial, overt anti-Semitism, and threats against Israel emanate from the mouth of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Many people have dismissed him as a deranged person whose crazy comments are best ignored. Some scholars have gone to great efforts to explain away his threats against Israel. That is to engage in a form of self-delusion, if not denial. Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial is linked directly to his animus toward Israel. In 2009, after questioning the existence of the Holocaust, he declared it a ploy used by the Jews to get the West to accede to the creation of Israel. This, of course, comes on top of his infamous Holocaust denial conference in 2006. The Iranian Foreign Ministry, which was an official host of the gathering, made common ground with some of the world’s most infamous deniers and anti-Semites. It offered them a chance to express their animus toward both Israel and the Jews. The conference constituted a virtual Who’s Who of Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites, including Robert Faurisson, one of the leading “theorists” of the movement who lives in Vichy France; Australian Fred Tobin, whose Adelaide Institute is a bastion of denial activities; former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke; and Bradley Smith, founder of the Committee on Open Debate on the Holocaust, which was responsible for placing a series of ads in college and university newspapers denying the Holocaust. The conference itself followed the Iranian contest on Holocaust-denial cartoons, which had the official imprimatur of Ahmadinejad....

Seventy years ago people had an acceptable reason to say, “We could never fathom that Hitler meant what he said.” Today we no longer have that luxury. At the very least it behooves us to take Ahmadinejad and those among his fellow Muslim leaders and opinion-makers seriously. Their Holocaust denial is part of their contemporary political agenda....

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Joe Rizoli - 3/31/2011

You would think the History News Network would have a fair and reasonable take on the so called holocaust. But nay, nada ain't going to happen.

Don't tell me ALL people's testimony about the holocaust is true, not going to happen. Many books have been written and done through FRAUD in telling some stories of the holocaust.

I would suggest in keeping with your name as a HISTORY NEWS NETWORK, that you show WHY people are at odds with a lot of the "official" holocaust "news"

That would truly make you a HISTORY NEWS NETWORK and not a one way street with no other turns.

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