A Holocaust Historian’s Trial Against Holocaust Denier David Irving Hits the Big Screen

Historians in the News
tags: Holocaust, Holocaust denial, David Irving, Deborah E Lipstadt




Deborah E. Lipstadt never imagined that Holocaust denial would come to play such a prominent role in her life. Ms. Lipstadt, a professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University, initially doubted whether the subject even merited a book. After she eventually published one, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (Free Press, 1993), she anticipated moving on to other projects.

Then David Irving, a prominent British Holocaust denier, sued Ms. Lipstadt and her publisher for libel. The celebrated case, which she won, led directly to a 2005 book, History on Trial: My Day in Court With a Holocaust Denier (Ecco), and indirectly to her 2011 study, The Eichmann Trial (Schocken). Now the Irving saga has inspired a feature film, Denial, in which the historian is played by Rachel Weisz. I spoke with Ms. Lipstadt about the movie’s themes and scholarly fallout. What follows has been edited and condensed.

Q. I was trying to think if there are any movies starring historians as protagonists. I couldn’t think of one.

A. I can’t think of any. If someone said, Let’s make a movie about a historian, I’d say bo-ring.

Q. So how did this come about?

A. About a year or so after the book came out, one of the producers, whose son was getting ready to apply to colleges, was just looking around at different websites. He saw that Emory had raised $1 million to translate portions of my site [that archives material on the Irving case and Holocaust denial] into Arabic and Farsi. So the guy said, What? A professor was sued? He was very intrigued. So they read the book, and they approached me. ...




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