Wemustnotbe in denial about the Holocaust
THE WOMAN who fought one of the most high-profile Holocaust denial legal cases claims it is on the rise and taking on a new and disturbing form.
Prof Deborah Lipstadt identified the trend of equating the Shoah with modern-day events as a “soft-core” form of denegrating the Nazi genocide.
“It’s used politically, glibly, and I don’t like it. It’s a grim, cheap way of getting to your point.
“It’s much more frequent than in the past. I don’t think there’s much we can do about it,” she said
Topics as wide-ranging as abortion, animal rights and sporting defeats have been likened to the Shoah over the recent months.
Prof Lipstadt, 67, best known for winning a libel case brought by Holocaust denier David Irving in 2000, said this kind of equivalence was replacing more traditional Shoah rejection based on spurious “historical evidence”.
“The hard-core denial has suffered a real blow, in part because of my trial and the evidence we had,” she said.
“But I see a lot more the soft-core denial, which is harder to pin down. Comparisons of Israel to the Nazis are terrible and outrageous, and most importantly, incorrect. You can believe that Israel was wrong to go into Gaza, but to call it a Holocaust, is wrong.”
Nor was it right to liken the current rise in antisemitism in Europe to conditions in Nazi Germany.
“That said, am I disturbed and worried? Of course. When a Sainsbury’s manager takes kosher food off shelves — it’s not antisemitic, but you get worried,” she said.
Prof Lipstadt, professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust Studies at Atlanta’s Emory University, will be in Britain next week to deliver a lecture on the most appropriate methods to remember historic events when survivors and witnesses have died.
A British project set up by David Cameron earlier this year has focused heavily on identifying ways to educate future generations about the Shoah.
Suggestions put forward for the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission have included filming survivors’ telling their stories, building a memorial, or opening a museum.
Any or all of those options would be successful, said Prof Lipstadt, who has been called on by several American presidents to assist in Holocaust memorial work.
She said: “There’s no one way to remember. I sometimes teach the Holocaust through film, or a survivor’s talk, or historians’ records. Emotionally tugging at the heart-strings is not always necessary. There’s enough emotion inherent in the Holocaust.”
The loss of the remaining survivors in the years to come should not be seen as a turning point, she added.
“One of the things demonstrated by my trial was that we didn’t use survivors, we used historians, for evidence. The deniers will keep trying to do what they do whether there are survivors or not.
“The documentation we have is so rich and thick we don’t have to depend on survivors. The Holocaust has the dubious distinction of being the bestdocumented genocide in the world.” Prof Lipstadt will deliver the 12th Isaiah Berlin annual lecture at Hampstead Synagogue on September 4
Victory salute: Deborah Lipstadt celebrates her libel win over David Irving