Thursday, May 25, 2006
Deborah Lipstadt - Denying the Holocaust (*)
When David Irving was sent to jail in February 2006, for statements he had made denying the Holocaust, there was a mass of debate in the press whether this was an appropriate punishment. I decided it was a good time to look into the whole issue of “Holocaust Denial”.
Remembering that Irving had once sued author Deborah Lipstadt for her book Denying the Holocaust which portrayed him as a denier, I thought this would be a good place to start and certainly a place that Irving would have hated.
Denying the Holocaust is a difficult book to read. Not because it is badly written or too academic, but because the material is so awful. It is very difficult imagine what drives someone to spend so much time and effort distorting and lying about the Holocaust.
In many cases they are driven by their own anti-Semitism, though not always. In the immediate aftermath of WW2 there was an attempt to play down the holocaust by those who wanted to portray the US and her allies as being the real mass murderers.
In time, these views have become accepted belief for neo-Nazi and Fascist organisations around the world. In addition to simply regurgitating lies and reprinting phamphlets, these groups often have attempted to inject Holocaust Denial into mainstream discussion.
In the strongest sections of the book, Lipstadt shows how once Holocaust Denial reaches the level of debate, it is elevated from something with no basis in reality, to something that can be discussed as a real theory.
Lipstadt domuments this particularly with the attempts by Holocaust Deniers to place adverts in US campus newspapers. Often the deniers were happy to have their adverts refused, because they had created a discourse on campus about the Holocaust that treated their views seriously. Lipstadt believes that this in part has led to a situation in the US, where many people accept that it's possible the Holocaust never happened.
In passing the author also looks at those who have tried denial in other forms – claiming that Anne Frank’s diary was a fake for instance. Lipstadt’s final word is brief documentation of why there is irrefutable evidence for the gas chambers, mass premeditated murder and the Holocaust.
This book is a service to all those who believe in historical truth and that history is a science that must be based on evidence, facts and documentation. It is also a weapon for those who want to stop the rise of fascism again, for those who argue that stopping the new Nazis also involves preventing them getting the oxygen of publicity.
Since reading is not enough to stop the far-right. I recommend those who want to fight the BNP visit this site or this campaign to get involved.
(*) Full title - Denying the Holocaust, the Growing Assault on Truth and History