Author of Holocaust Book Cited by Harry Belafonte Criticizes BelafonteBreaking News
Belafonte had dismissed the presence of African-Americans in the Bush administration on the grounds that there were "a lot of Jews high up in the hierarchy of [Adolf Hitler's] Third Reich." (CNS News, August 5, 2005)
After Belafonte's baseless statement was strongly criticized by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, he changed his position--but continues to distort the historical record. Belafonte subsequently admitted that "Jews weren't 'high up'" in the Hitler regime, but he then claimed: "Jews did have a role, some did, in the demise and brutal treatment of the Jewish people." (Jerusalem Post, August 11, 2005) To support his allegation, Belafonte cited the 2002 book 'Hitler's Jewish Soldiers', by Prof. Bryan Mark Rigg.
Rigg, who teaches history at American Military University, today issued the following statement of response, via the Wyman Institute:
"Belafonte continues to distort history. My book Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers shows that a number of people of partial Jewish ancestry served in the German military, but they did not even consider themselves Jews. Moreover, the vast majority of them were drafted--they were forced to serve Hitler just as other Jews were forced to become slave laborers in Auschwitz and elsewhere. In fact, many of them were later dismissed from the German military and sent to forced labor camps where they themselves were persecuted and some were murdered. Belafonte should take the trouble to read the books he cites, before claiming they support him. My book doesn't support him."
In his Jerusalem Post interview, Belafonte also reiterated his claim that the policies of the Bush administration are "very much similar to the things that were done when Hitler was on the rise." The Post reported that Belafonte also said that the criticism of his remarks about Jews and HItler was due to the fact "that 'sometimes the Jewish people have laid claim to such a high and pure morality' that they take great exception to facts which challenge that claim, despite that theirs 'is a DNA that sits within the entire human family'."
Wyman Institute director Medoff responded: "Hitler and his regime murdered six million Jews and launched a world war that caused more than forty million deaths. How can that be compared to current U.S. government policy?" Dr. Medoff said that Belafonte's remark about "the Jewish people claim[ing] a high and pure morality" smacks of bigotry, and he urged Belafonte to retract and apologize for his remarks.
ABOUT THE WYMAN INSTITUTE: The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, located on the campus of Gratz College (near Philadelphia), is a research and education institute focusing on America’s response to the Holocaust. It is named in honor of the eminent historian and author of the 1984 best-seller The Abandonment of the Jews, the most important and influential book concerning the U.S. response to the Nazi genocide.
The Institute’s Advisory Committee includes Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, Members of Congress, and other luminaries. Its Academic Council includes more than 50 leading professors of the Holocaust, American history, and Jewish history. The Institute’s Arts & Letters Council, chaired by Cynthia Ozick, includes prominent artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers. (For a complete list, please visit www.WymanInstitute.org)
News Release from
The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies
August 11, 2005
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