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Trial and Error

Studying the 1961 Adolf Eichmann trial provided a reminder that it’s always crucial to confront Holocaust denialism, whether among Nazis in the immediate postwar years or from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Trial

Fifty years ago, Adolf Eichmann was tried for war crimes. In a new book from Nextbook Press, historian Deborah E. Lipstadt examines the proceedings that changed the way we think about genocide.

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?”

Feeling a bit flummoxed at the request that I pare a couple of years of research and a complex legal proceeding down to something akin to a sound bite, I found myself momentarily and uncharacteristically at a loss for words. Did my interlocutor think that everything—including scholarship—could be reduced to an answer that would fit in a Twitter post?

As I tried to formulate a short but nonetheless nuanced answer, my friend popped up with another question: “And how does the Eichmann trial relate to all those years you have spent studying and fighting Holocaust denial?”

When he asked his second question, I knew the answer to the first.

***

First, some background. When I began my research on the Eichmann trial I told my colleagues and friends that I felt relieved to be dealing with something other than Holocaust denial. First of all, it was nice—if one can use that term in relation to anything associated with the Holocaust—to move on to another topic. When I first wrote Denying the Holocaust, published in 1993, I never imagined that I would become enmeshed in the topic in not just a scholarly way but also in a legal and personal context.

But having a new topic to investigate was not the only reason for my relief. Writing about the Holocaust is always a difficult proposition. One must analyze horrific events and information while maintaining a requisite scholarly distance. Allowing emotions to intrude only distorts one’s scholarship. It is neither easy nor pleasant. Yet when writing about Holocaust denial I was presented with an added discomforting element: I was not just studying a terrifying historical event. My subject was a movement that was alive, kicking, and working vigorously to distort history and inculcate anti-Semitism. There was immediacy to this issue that was not present when I dealt with events that happened seven decades earlier.

I encountered yet one additional challenge in my study of Holocaust denial. Many people consider deniers “nutters,” as the British would say. They dismiss them as the historical equivalents of flat earthers. These same people told me that I was making a mistake in taking deniers seriously. As I began my work many of my colleagues in the field of Holocaust studies told me that this topic was not worth my time. They said quite bluntly: “You are writing about crackpots, Deborah. Why bother?” In response I explained, generally to no avail, that, while I did not think deniers a clear and present danger, I did think that they were a potential future danger and that therefore it was important that we understand their modus operandi. Furthermore, I thought it crucial that the world recognize the inherent anti-Semitism girding their entire enterprise. Some of them may be nutters, but they are Jew-hating ones. As survivors die and the option of hearing about the Final Solution in the first person singular fades, deniers, I feared, would only find it easier to spread their pseudo-intellectual wares. It was important to expose them, their lies, and their tactics.

I encountered the same skepticism a number of years later when I was sued for libel by David Irving. Many people, among them leading scholars, counseled me to ignore the matter. “You should not take his threat seriously,” I was repeatedly told. I chose to ignore their advice. If I did not fight he would have won by default because British libel law puts the burden of proof on the defendant. Once again my explanations were to no avail. “So what if he wins by default?” I was told. “No one takes him seriously, anyway.” (With no sense of irony, some of the same people subsequently congratulated me on my “great victory” against this man and told me that what I did was very important.)

We convinced the court that the “proof” Irving claimed to have to validate his assertions regarding the Holocaust did not prove his claims at all. His arguments were, we demonstrated, a tissue of lies. What then does all this have to do with my work on the Eichmann trial?

***

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.

In the 1930s and 1940s, of course, observers—and the potential victims—could not fathom where Hitler and his cohort’s anti-Semitism might lead. They could, in retrospect, legitimately claim ignorance. Today we do not have that luxury. When anti-Semites speak of their hatred of Jews and their desire to do them harm, we should accept their threats at face value. That does not mean we should panic or declare that the sky is falling at every expression of anti-Semitism. It does not mean that every anti-Semite poses the same potential danger. It does mean that we should not reflexively dismiss anti-Semites as crackpots or the equivalent of flat earthers.

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.

Ahmadinejad did not, of course, introduce Holocaust denial to the Middle East and the Arab/Muslim world. Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser spoke of the “lie of the 6 million Jews.” Mahmoud Abbas, as a young student, wrote a dissertation that was pure denial, though he subsequently repudiated this view, and while I fully believe his repudiation, the fact that as a young man he could have been seduced by this falsehood is telling. Spokesmen for Hamas have also engaged in Holocaust denial. Holocaust denial themes can be found in newspapers in many parts of the Arab world, including in Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon.

In virtually every other part of the world where Holocaust denial can be found it is relegated to the extreme political fringe. Only in the Middle East can it be found in more legitimate circles. There is no counternarrative to challenge these claims. Young people are growing up convinced that the Holocaust is a myth produced to justify the existence of their enemy, Israel. In Iran, Ahmadinejad’s denial and hatred of Israel are particularly frightening because Iran is close, we are told, to having nuclear weapons. It would be a form of denial—that is, willful blindness—not to recognize the nexus of Iranian leaders’ overt Holocaust denial, threats to destroy Israel, unquestionable anti-Semitism, and possession of nuclear weapons. They are not separate and unrelated phenomena.

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.

Among many other things, that is one of the lessons that both The State of Israel v. Adolf Eichmann and David Irving v. Penguin UK and Deborah Lipstadt taught me. It is what I now know in my gut that I may not have really known before.

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

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Good for you Deborah! I am rooting for you and am proud of your accomplishments.
Judith Margolis, Israel

Deborah Lipstadt is worse than any Holocaust denier. The Holocaust of Zionist myth has few points of contact with the historical reality and is naturally subject to question and doubt.

In contrast Lipstadt commits a vast sin of omission by never discussing the context of ethnic Ashkenazi violence, sabotage, assassination, mass murder, ethnic cleansing, white slaving, economic exploitation, financial crime, and revolutionary subversion (without limitation) to which non-Jews (and also sometimes Karaite Jews) throughout Europe and the Soviet Union were reacting:

http://eaazi.blogspot.com/2007/02/pattern-of-ethnic-ashkenazi.html

asherZ says:

Excellent piece. I would ask Deborah what practical steps Israel should take against Ahmadinejad. Most Jews do take him seriously and he must be verbally repudiated at every instance of his Holocaust denial. But that would not be enough. Hitler could have been stopped in 1935-1938 with minimal military means. Does Deborah believe that Israel should now destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities? Should Israel strike now at Iran’s allies, Hezbollah and Chamas with severe blows? Or something else. Appealing to the United Nations or a P.R. campaign is IMO a waste of time. How does taking him seriously translate into action?

asherZ says:

Joachim Goebbels Martillo, just above, is the kind of crackpot that Lipstadt is talking about.

rlgordonma says:

Joachim Martillo is an anti-Jewish bigot and troll on Jewish-themed websites who seems to take pleasure in spreading defamatory literature for the sole purpose of inflicting pain. He has posted under many aliases in the past. Recognize the language in his posts, they have a distinct signature, that of an unrepentant bigot who thrusts the charge on the targets of his hatred.

In the meantime, Deborah Lipstadt is a hero for withstanding the libel charges against her 11 years ago – it should be recalled that she was the Defendant and not the Plaintiff as so many assume. She continues to do yeoman’s work in keeping the memories alive – not because they have prevented other genocides (they won’t), but because not even the murder of 1/3 of the world’s Jews has been able to convince people of the evils of anti-Semitism.

Ed Greene says:

I congratulate Jochim on including so much of anti-Jewish hate into one sentence without bothering to include substance. You did leave out the Khazar foolishness but I’m sure you’re not through.

Deborah, thank you for your steadfastness and willingness to face such hate.

Actually, it’s pretty neat, to have an article on Holocaust deniers and then to produce a bona fide specimen to support her arguments, one displaying all their bestial traits in spades, no less.

Roll over, Joachim. Now, stay. Give us a paw. Good!

Thank you, Deborah, for the clarity of your insight.

Joachim Martillo is a well known anti-Semitic activist in the Boston area and is spreading his usual anti-Semitic conspiracy theories: in this case blaming Soviet era atrocities on “the Ashkenazim” — little wonder that he attacks a historian like Professor Lipstadt, as he deals in ideologically motivated pseudo-history just like the Holocaust deniers. Furthermore, in his other writings, Martillo makes the rather odious claim that concern to stop the atrocities committed in Darfur and give relief to the victims only serve a “Zionist” and “Neocon” agenda.

And yes, I know Martillo will say that people who call him “anti-Semitic” in order to shut him up, but quite frankly: I’ve never known an anti-Semite to shut up after being identified as one.

It is amazing how ignorant modern racist Jewish Zionists are.

One does not have to look at Khazars to realize that the vast majority of Jews have no ancestral connection to the Greco-Roman Kingdom of Judea. The Book of Esther, which belongs to the second temple period mentions massive conversion in Mesopotamia to Judaic religion.

From http://eaazi.blogspot.com/2008/04/followup-ii-origins-of-modern-jewry.html :

The Hasmonean-specific content of Purim seems to have consisted of attempt to elevate a native Palestinian priesthood over the Zadokite Priests of Mesopotamian origin by depicting the Persians as villains and by challenging the lineage of Mesopotamians practicing Second Temple Judaism. At the same time the Book of Esther explains why there were so many more so-called Judeans in Mesopotamia than in Judea:

And in every province, and in every city, wherever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Judeans had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Judeans; for the fear of the Judeans fell on them. (Esther 8:17).

κατὰ πόλιν καὶ χώραν οὗ ἂν ἐξετέθη τὸ πρόσταγμα οὗ ἂν ἐξετέθη τὸ ἔκθεμα χαρὰ καὶ εὐφροσύνη τοῖς ιουδαίοις κώθων καὶ εὐφροσύνη καὶ πολλοὶ τῶν ἐθνῶν περιετέμοντο καὶ ιουδάιζον διὰ τὸν φόβον τῶν ιουδαίων

וּבְכָל־מְדִינָה וּמְדִינָה וּבְכָל־עִיר וָעִיר מְקֹום אֲשֶׁר דְּבַר־הַמֶּלֶךְ וְדָתֹו מַגִּיעַ שִׂמְחָה וְשָׂשֹׂון לַיְּהוּדִים מִשְׁתֶּה וְיֹום טֹוב וְרַבִּים מֵעַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ מִתְיַהֲדִים כִּי־נָפַל פַּחַד־הַיְּהוּדִים עֲלֵיהֶם׃

The Hasmoneans may have used this text as implicit justification for the compulsory Judaization policy that they applied to pagan populations under their rule.

[In the 2nd century CE Dio Cassius notes the non-Judean/non-Palestinian origin of the vast majority of the people practicing Judaic religion.]

Joachim presents us with an excellent example of the paranoid’s fetish for extravagant amounts of arcane documentation, to buttress outlandish conspiracy theories and the outright denial of plain historical fact, however amply documented it may be. I believe Hofstadter’s famous essay addressed this.

I think we can also look forward seeing some of the more perverse tendencies endemic to other’s of his ilk, and it might prove worthwhile to speculate on their psychological origin, and the paradoxical need Joachim has to be accepted among those he denigrates as ignorant. He’s not totally dissimilar to Philip Weiss, with that ravenous hunger for attention, even if he draws his disciples from the sociopathic fringe.

Frank Messmann says:

Tablet readers may not know that Mr Martillo and his wife are Jewish. If you look at his website, I believe you will find him to be extremely well informed on Jewish history. The ad hominem attacks on him are disgraceful.

asherZ says:

Mr. Messman, some of the worst anti-semites were born jewish. As for ad Hominem attacks, are you referring to martillo’s statement,”Deborah Lipstadt is worse than any Holocaust denier. ” This against a respected scholar and defender of our people.

Gene says:

Frank Messmann, have you heard of a person by the name Torquemada? (If you read history books you should know about him). Guess what? He was also Jewish (from his mother’s side).

I guess the Book of Esther is an arcane source when it happens to conflict with Zionist propaganda.

If Mr. Martillo were “well informed on Jewish history” (as Frank Messmann puts it) then he wouldn’t be using the canard “that the vast majority of Jews have no ancestral connection to the Greco-Roman Kingdom of Judea” as DNA sampling of Jewish populations throughout the world has generally shown a distinct shared ancestry, as well as the shared religious and cultural traditions.

Yes, Mr. Martillo may be widely read, but he is also selectively read, and spreading unsubstantiated conspiracy theories designed to arouse hatred and hostility.

Furthermore, you’ll notice that he has the usual modus operandi of the anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist: he attacks Professor Lipstadt’s professionalism without actually calling into question any aspect of her scholarship and then switching the topic to blaming Soviet-era atrocities on the “Ashkenazi” and then switching to the claim that modern day Jews have no ancestral ties to the land of Israel. I.e.: He is incapable of making a sustained argument or engaging the thoughts of others.

MonkFish says:

This Martillo guy is clearly suffering from the “anti-Zionist” type of acute brain fever. Some symptoms are easily identified:

1. Spends and inordinate amount of time on Facebook, message boards, IRC and other fora. Each visit he marks with a fresh smear of verbal excreta (is particularly fond of long lists of harsh epithets such as “genocidal, homicidal, conspiratorial, greedy, baby-killing child-molesting X). Finds little to time to tend to basic needs other than the constant vilification of Jews (a group with which he purports not be obsessed). Dabbles in Palestinian nationalism from time to time, especially in its substantive debates about Palestinian identity such as Jewish conspiracies, Israeli genocide, and Jewish genetics (would probably not detect any irony here).

2. Has a vastly over-inflated opinion of himself. Eager to emphasize his scholarly credentials by cutting and pasting liberally from various Biblical, historical and Talmudic sources. Probably goes by the appellation “Independent Scholar” – no doubt a regressive identification with the other much maligned, misunderstood and persecuted “scholar”, Norm Finkelstein. Considers his range of political, historical and sociological insight to encompass First and Second Temple Judaism, the early Rabbinic Period, Al Andalus, Persian Judaism from 597 CE to the present, Yemenite Judaism, the Kazars (in which he is a leading expert, naturally) the Haskala, 19th century Ashkenazi Jewry, Zionism etc. etc. Expert in Hebrew (got past chapter 1 of First Hebrew primer).

3. Has amassed a vast collection of internet pseudonyms, many of them Hebrew sounding (again, not to be construed as an unhealthy fixation on Jews or the expression of a bizarre jealously of the Jews/desire to be a Jew).

Diagnosis: Emotionally fragile. Six months without internet (digital shabbos?), a hearty diet of Matzah Ball soup and Brisket, Ahava stress relief treatment. Allow one anti-Semitic outburst per day as might die if ignored.

Alan H Zwiebel says:

Deborah,

I thought your book was brilliant and I’m proud to have known you and your wonderful family
back in the “good old days” in Far Rockaway.

I wish you continued success in your teaching, writing and speaking about our people in history.

Cordially,
Alan

Bravo, MonkFish. This will be an entertaining, scholarly vivisection of a crank.

1. Professor Lipstadt and I met in Melbourne in 1994 where she stated and signed her book with ‘Let truth prevail’, something I have fearlessly embraced in this quest of mine to find out the real facts of the Holocaust-Shoah.
2. At the December 2006 Teheran Holocaust Conference I titled my presentation: ‘The Holocaust has no reality in space and time, only in memory’, which dealt with the nonsense Treblinka narrative.
3. Since then I have spent time in various prisons because I refuse blindly to believe in the Holocaust-Shoah narrative. My latest book is called: ‘Arbeit Macht Frei: Impertinent Incarceration’ wherein I detail how physical work for me on a prison farm caused me to lose 13 Kilo, among other things.
4. Anyone who prevents my questioning any aspect of this Holocaust-Shoah narrative is set on switching off my thinking processes, and so unless I wish to become their slave, I must resist them because only the quest for truth will set me free.
5. Is it not time for Professor Lipstadt to admit that we should have an open debate on this topic without the subject matter itself being lost in the debate?
6. The latest Holocaust-Shoah questioner is Anthony Lawson who – NOT YET – cannot be tagged with the usual ‘offensive’ labels: hater, Holocaust denier, antisemite, racist, Nazi! – at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gycNMf0xAc

How ironic that Doctor Töben (one of the eminences of Holocaust denial) calls for “open debate” has but can’t seem to actually present an argument to counter anything stated by Professor Lipstadt.

I should also point out that as much as Töben (I find it odd that he doesn’t know that his surname is written with an umlaut over the “o”) is trying to link Professor Lipstadt’s work with his imprisonment, I would note that Professor Lipstadt has in the past stated opposition to the criminalization of speech.

Thank you to all the commentators who made thoughtful comments. [Those who engage in vituperative rants I simply ignore.] I am not a military analyst so I do not know what Israel or any other country can or should do to halt Iran’s weapon development.

For a range of reviews of the book, interviews, and podcasts etc. see http://on.fb.me/g6lMZ9

Alan: I remember you well. Glad you enjoyed the book.

Hey, Toben, you moron, if the Holocaust never occurred, why would you be offended by the term ‘Nazi’?

Amy Aremia says:

As I see it, there are two reliable facts that disprove that a Holocaust as presented did exist…

Frist: Hitler had less than 3 million Jews under his command…England and France had declared war on Germany which made it impossible for Germany to wage a war and at the same time be able to gas 6 million…

For more than 2000 years they have been seeking revenge because their God, in his final reprimand for their disobediance and evil ways, took back his promised land of milk and honey and told them that they, and their generations to follow will wander the world without a land… Yet, in spite of this, they still claim to be god’s chose ones regardless of the fact that they were responsible for the death of Christ. If they were not responsible for His death,then who was? Pontius Pilate? That would be too fraudulent an answer because the mobs had a choice between a convicted killer and the innocent Jesus. It was this mob that cried, “Crucify him, crucify him!”

jzsnake says:

Deborah, I know if my parents who were holocaust survivors were still alive would be so proud of you. I know I am. You are a real warrior and a mensch to boot.

mrsjzoo says:

Bless you Deborah. I recently had a similar argument with a fellow historian about the re- writing of WWII istory. Many of your words are my own. Thank you for speaking out in defense of what is right.

Regards,

Marie – MA WWII History

R.E. Prindle says:

‘An unrepentent bigot’? Hmm. How universal is that?

fw says:
Mar 24, 2011 at 6:57 PM
Hey, Toben, you moron, if the Holocaust never occurred, why would you be offended by the term ‘Nazi’?

fw, my Reply to you:
1. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me – has been a maxim that I impart to students – but Holocaust/Shoah believers are ‘offended’ when I ask questions, and especially when I point out blatant lies told about the belief that Germans systematically exterminated European Jewry mainly in homicidal gas chambers.

2. Such an allegation is justifiably hurtful to many Germans who want to know whether their parents were such murderers but then are not allowed to ask question, nor openly investigate the matter because it has been criminalised and is thus legally protected, thus making the Holocaust-Shoah an ideology/religion.

3. Remember the Iranian president, Dr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stated: ‘Is the Holocaust not an historical event? – yes! Then like any other historical event why not investigate it openly without fear of legal/social sanction?’ – hater, Holocaust denier, antisemite, racist, Nazi = end of discussion!

4. Truth has been my defence but it did not save me from spending reflective time like a monk in a cell, and write another book.

5. Of interest is the fact that Prof Lipstadt has attacked American media personality Glenn Beck because he dared to write about financier George Soros – http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/glenn-beck-david-carr/2011/03/24/id/390653?s=al&promo_code=BEFB-1

6. Perhaps Prof Lipstadt can get an international commission going where specifics are addressed – not just verbally but also physically investigated. It will be traumatic for individuals who have believed in the Holocaust/Shoah for a life-time, then to be confronted with truth. Notice how the Iraq WMDs issue is still played out in the media, not to mention the lies of 9/11.

7. If anyone can get a Truth-Commission going on the Holocaust-Shoah, then it would be Professor Lipstadt-in shā’ Allāh

‘Colonel Trojan Qaddafi’
http://www.zoharme.com
Graphic Commentaries on the Middle East

On the Tehran Conference: http://eaazi.blogspot.com/2007/04/holoexaleipsis-holocaust-holosphage-and.html

BTW, if the USA continues to inject a false Zionist mythological narrative of the Holocaust into its foreign policy, it makes perfect sense for nations like Iran to hold Holocaust conferences to scrutinize this ridiculous narrative.

In other the words the Iranians quite reasonably took the position “If Americans want to discuss Holocaust nonsense instead of negotiating a reasonable international relationship, we Iranians have to scrutinize American Holocaust nonsense.”

2. Such an allegation is justifiably hurtful to many Germans who want to know whether their parents were such murderers but then are not allowed to ask question, nor openly investigate the matter because it has been criminalised and is thus legally protected, thus making the Holocaust-Shoah an ideology/religion.

Except, Doctor Töben, you know full well that over the decades there have been many volumes of peer-reviewed scholarship into the Holocaust published in countries without prohibitions on Holocaust denial– these researchers have confirmed that a genocide occurred, as well as the techniques used, the plans ennacted, and the ideological motivations of these plans. You also know that there is nothing illegal about Germans who were either children during that era or who were born afterwards from investigating if their parents (or grandparents) were participants in genocide.

The first paragraph of the above statement was meant to be in italics as it was a quote from the poster claiming to be Fredrick Töben. Apparently, the comments section does not read the html code for italics.

MonkFish says:

This article encapsulates in the notion of “radical loser” the Holocaust denier personality type (the Toben and Martillos of this world). Highly recommended!

http://www.signandsight.com/features/493.html

While I think it is awful to incarcerate person for his/her words (where those civil rights advocates who care about poor Arabs in Israel?) I wonder how many kilos Mr. Toben would loose would he end up in Treblinka (which he does not believe) instead?

Rebecca says:

to all the quacks and deniers who have suddenly appeared here on Tablet: explain what happened to the 6 million people who are gone. As with the Armenian genocide deniers, to whom I ask the same question, no one has an answer. I’m guessing then that a huge UFO just appeared one night and – poof- 1.5 million Armenians were whisked away to a new planet. Then it happened again -poof- 6 million Jews vanished. And we haven’t even started with Bosnia, Rwanda and Sudan. I’m sure that in about 40 years, we will be hearing how all of those deaths were just a “misunderstanding” and that it really wasn’t meant to eliminate a tribe or religion, those people just happened to be in the way of …. oil? religion? land? money?
so, Amy and Joachim, whose last name doesn’t seem to fit a racial purist ideal anyway, when you get done your so called research, and I’m expecting accuracy here, get back to those of us who lost family in the genocide or Holocaust with photographic evidence, documents from governmental organizations such as the Soviet Union archives, the UFO body of governance, and then we can talk. Until then, take your rhetorical nonsense to another forum and stop harassing Dr. Lipstadt and the rest of us with your moronic rants.

Hilberg put the number of European Jews dying for various reasons from Jan 1942 through the end of WW2 at approximately 5 million. I consider his number high because he did not account for changing of nationality as the Soviet Union moved its border West in the aftermath of WW2.

After reviewing Soviet archival data, I would reduce Hilberg’s estimate by approximately 1 million. Of the remaining approximately 4 million about half were probably killed by Eastern European populations or by liberated Soviet nationalities — either angry at Jews or afraid of them because of the crimes of high-ranking Soviet Jews.

One can debate how and where the rest of the Jews died. A lot of the archival data is only just now becoming available.

The number of Jews killed as a consequence of direct German Nazi action seems highly exaggerated. Western cold warriors probably wanted to avoid dealing with the possibility that oppressed Soviet populations, with whom Americans and West Europeans were supposed to sympathize, did a lot of the killing.

When comparing numbers of people killed or ethnically cleansed by Germans or by ethnic Ashkenazim in Eastern Europe, in the Soviet Union or in Palestine, absolutely the numbers are probably about equal. If the numbers are normalized by the sizes of the German and ethnic Ashkenazi population, ethnic Ashkenazim can reasonably be considered much more of a Tätervolk (perpetrator people) than Germans.

Not that I believe Martillo will change his views, but it is useful to note the deceptions he uses:

“…ethnic Ashkenazim can reasonably be considered much more of a Tätervolk (perpetrator people) than Germans”

Martillo not only chooses to minimize the Holocaust but argue that the Ashkenazi are collectively perpetrators and by implication, deserved the Holocaust. Elsewhere, he argues that these Ashkenazi perpetrators were Soviet officials; the problem, of course, is that most Jewish victims (both Ashkenazi and Sephardic) did not reside in the Soviet Union and were also not communists. He is trying to argue for a “justifiable genocide.”

Martillo: “Hilberg put the number of European Jews dying for various reasons from Jan 1942 through the end of WW2 at approximately 5 million. I consider his number high because he did not account for changing of nationality as the Soviet Union moved its border West in the aftermath of WW2.”

The changing borders are irrelevant. Hilberg’s estimate of 5.1 million is conservative, in part because he was the first one to do the research and had to rely on documents that were available at the time, so his estimates are based on actual body-counts and as subsequent findings of mass graves in the former Soviet Union reveal much of the killing by the Einsatzgruppen was undocumented. Nonetheless, due to the documentation that Hilberg did use, a lower estimate is not reasonable.

Binyamin in O says:

Two comments:

1. The Shoah was one of the worst crimes of all of human history, maybe the worst.

2. That fact does not justify Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinians, nor the occupation and imprisonment of what remains of their nation.

Jim M says:

Anti-Semites should only persecute Jews to the extent that they would like to see God bless Jews.

I unpersuaded by the game of musical massacres that some Holocaustniks play. There are many mass graves in the territory of the former Soviet Union (and of formerly occupied Poland). Some of the massacres were perpetrated by the German Nazis, some by Soviet government order (often planned and orchestrated by Jews in the Soviet hierarchy — Katyń appears to be such — some by liberated Soviet nationalities, some by brigands, and some as score-settling of various sorts.

Even without contrived attributions of mass graves, many calculations are questionable. Should a Jewish person dying in Poland because of a lack of access to medicine between January 1942 and the end of WW2 be counted in the death statistics of the Holocaust? Jewish Holocaust “scholars” tend to do so even though international genocide investigators in other (alleged) genocides usually do not.

The movement of Soviet borders westward is very relevant to establishing death counts. A lot of people that changed nationality from Jewish to Ukrainian, Russian, Belorussian, German, etc. ended up in Holocaust statistics.

Because of the role that Jews played in heinous criminality, mass murder, and genocide from the middle of the 19th century through the 1930s, treating the Holocaust as either the archetypal or worst genocide is simply inappropriate.

We Americans really must rethink and revise our understanding of the Holocaust. If we need to identify an archetypal genocide to use as the measure of all other modern genocides, the Holoexaleipsis, which is the Great Erasure that includes the Palestinian Nakba or Catastrophe, provides the best model. It was planned in cold-blood by racist Eastern Europeans during the late 19th century. The first major mass murders and ethnic cleansing took place in 1947-8. It continues right before our eyes. The Holoexaleipsis includes wholesale demonization of Arabs and Muslims along with the erasure of whole fields of scholarship in order to justify Zionist depredations.

“‘…ethnic Ashkenazim can reasonably be considered much more of a Tätervolk (perpetrator people) than Germans’

Martillo not only chooses to minimize the Holocaust but argue that the Ashkenazi are collectively perpetrators and by implication, deserved the Holocaust. Elsewhere, he argues that these Ashkenazi perpetrators were Soviet officials; the problem, of course, is that most Jewish victims (both Ashkenazi and Sephardic) did not reside in the Soviet Union and were also not communists. He is trying to argue for a ‘justifiable genocide.'”

I merely apply the logic that far too many Jews and Zionists apply against Germans, Poles, Ukrainians, Russians, Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims.

Jewish revolutionary violence extended into Hungary and Germany. Jewish business and financial misbehavior affected Europe from France to the territory of the Czarist Empire. The USA was hardly unaffected. Goldman Sachs triggered the Great Crash by overleverage in the closed-end fund market.

Actions have reactions. Palestinians never did anything to ethnic Ashkenazim before the Zionist invasion, but Jews did a tremendous amount of damage to non-Jews before the Holocaust, and the German Nazis cannot be considered completely delusional in claiming to react to the Judeo-Bolshevik threat. (Note that Zionists claim the excuse of compelling necessity in genociding Palestinians in 47-8.)

If we consider Nazism, the German Nazi state, and the Holocaust to be evil, we must consider Zionism, the Zionist state, and the Holoexaleipsis to be much more evil by far.

philip mann says:

Holocaust denial..what a waste of bandwidth.. what a waste of a life.

“it’s always crucial to confront Holocaust denialism, whether among Nazis in the immediate postwar years or from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today” (from the front page of Tablet.

I would only add that perhaps the most important form of denial, almost never confronted, is Jewish Denial. Not that the Holocaust did not occur, but that it is not likely to recur.

Lipstadt and all of our reputable historians of the Shoah and the history behind it know that, while 20th century technology made the mass murder of Jews possible and efficient, that bureaucracy meant that most of the actual perpetrators would be a safe distance from actual hands-on murder, that while the Holocaust occurred in the 20th century, it was a long time coming.

The Jewish Question may have been a product of the Enlightenment, but the Jewish Problem was born in the basal document of first century Christianity, in the letters of Paul and the gospels that followed.

Most historians are aware that the Jewish Problem developed and expanded in the centuries that followed, from the triumphalism of Augustine to the proto-Holocaust writings of Luther.

Which, logically and historically, should be a chapter of any “history” of the Holocaust: that the Holocaust was only the most recent effort of Christianity, more “final” perhaps that Crusader efforts, or the inefficient methods of the Inquisitors, but only the most recent effort at solving the Jewish Problem.

That Europe failed in its effort at a final solution means that the Problem remains still unsolved.

Two further notes. The Holocaust is not a matter for debate and engaging the likes of shallow antisemites such as Joachim Martillo only provides an opportunity for them to engage in their schadenfreude, there joy in provoking misery in their respondents. Better to leave them to their own limited defense of an indefensible past, and instead consider the implications of the Holocaust on our future in the Diaspora.

And to Deborah Lipstadt, I was pleased to see that a person of your celebrity still reads our comments to her writings, and even responds!

Seth Spinolla says:

Quote David Turner: “The Holocaust is not a matter for debate”

That about sums up the way it’s always been. It is the foundation anyone needs to observe in assessing this controversy. It immediately doesn’t not bode well for the official representations/representatives of this prevailing view who speak of their dogma with so much smugness.

Gene says:

“The Shoah was one of the worst crimes of all of human history, maybe the worst.
That fact does not justify Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinians…”
I wonder: what could possibly justify “Benyamin in O”s ignorance? Palestinians became “dispossessed” as a result of war of 1948 which Palestinians (Arabs) had started in order to “dispossess” Jews. During that war not only Palestinians but also Jews, thousands of them, became “dispossessed” in the areas which fell under Palestinian control. So, if Holocaust does not justify “dispossession” of Palestinians – what justifies “dispossession” of Jews by the Palestinians? What justifies “ethnic cleansing” of Jews in East Jerusalem, Neve Yakov, Gush Etzion, etc.?
However, if we look in the general picture, taking into account global history, we may notice that every war creates refugees: people leave their homes for different reasons – some to find safer place, to avoid brutality, etc. That is a natural process and to question justification for it is a total nonsense. The problem with Palestinian refugees is not that they became refugees (million of others became too, they are not unique: Germans in WWII, French from Algeria in the 60-ies, Vietnamese during Vietnam war, Russians, Poles, Iraqis, Jews, etc and etc and etc.) The problem with Palestinians refugees is that they (unlike others) REMAIN refugees 60 years later. And the main reason for that, for their continuous sufferings, are Arab regimes, UN and ignorance of people like “Benyamin in O”.

Who knew that Tabletmag had such diverse readership? I look forward to comments on Tablet’s “Life and Religion” features from the comedy team of Martillo & Toben!

Seth Spinolla says:

I suspect Deborah Lipstadt might become a laughing stock if she took up the challenge to an open debate in the interests of Truth and Freedom of Expression. I doubt that, but I wouldn’t mind seeing it. Freedom to open and genuine debate on this long festering historical script is verbotten for those who challenge it. What kind of Truth needs protection of laws?

Holocaust, Hate Speech & Were the Germans so Stupid? .
http://www.rebelnews.org/opinion/history/729548-holocaust-hate-speech-a-were-the-germans-so-stupid

Mr Eks says:

Dear Dolly Lipstadt,

Next time a friend asks you some inane banal questions, how about about you keep them to yourself, instead of launching into the need to let the world know with appalling self-righteousness.

You see it’s like this.. when someone makes an allegation of a crime (in this case six million gassed jews), the default position isn’t that we all assume it happened until the day someone can prove otherwise (of course it has been made sure that day wont be happening soon). The onus is on you the one making the allegations to prove your case.

And just what is the evidence that gets rammed down our throats almost on a daily basis. Yeah that’s right, a few anecdotes from geriatric survivors of German prison camps. Who apparently seem to have trouble recalling the events… except to say everyone was gassed to death. Putting aside the fact that many of them have been shown to be liars.

How about you reply to people’s ‘denial’ claims with logic and reason. After all the truth should be naturally occurring and doesn’t need defenders or laws for protection. You would only need to point out the ‘deniers’ fallacy for the truth to prevail. Something you’re evidently reluctant to do. But what do you instead.. yeah that’s right, act as if you’re outraged, disgusted and insulted that anyone should question your claims… act as if god himself had made the ‘six million gassed jews’ claim, and how dare anyone question it. I’m afraid that’s not a logical argument. You see the events that happened way back then are independent of how outraged you are at being questioned about them now.

Your annoyance at being questioned about the holocaust is not a logical reply to the so called deniers’ claims… is it? And if you think it is, then it’s a rather poor one.

Semite says:

Deborah Lipstadt, you love to throw around accusations of “antisemitism” but at anyone who dares question your specific views of WW2 but I highly doubt that you have a drop of semitic blood in your body. Please stop this hijacking of the semitic people for your own agenda, thanks.

Semite says:

Joachim Martillo courageously speaks truth by the way and if Lipstadt has the chutzpah to call out Toben in her article she should at least engage him in open and free debate on the matter. I have seen too many ridiculous stories coming from the many survivors not to be skeptical about some of these claims. Herman Rosenblat with his apples and Irene Zisblatt eating her own poop come to mind.

David Gehrig says:

Apparently the raving, raging Jew-haters of the Holocaust denial movement bear a grudge just because Prof. Lipstadt mopped the floor with their king. In their lies they demonstrate that they haven’t had a new idea since App, and they haven’t gotten any smarter since Carto.

Lipstadt did the right thing in 2000, and she’s doing the right thing in 2011. But the idiots like “Semite” above — although they will always be with us, the fact that they’re reduced to anonymous online rage is a good measure of the completeness of their marginalization.

Dieter says:

what happened to the posts by Jerzy Ulicki-Rek?
That researcher spent many years researching what happened during the
war to the juuuz who were incarcerated…
I hate to see censorship which only means that the powers behind his
being banned are afraid of revelations pertaining to the alleged holocaust…
Let others, independent thinkers and researcher be heard.
Dieter

Dr. Gunther Kümel says:

I have been informed that the access to your blog is restricted, so that a frank discussion is not possible. I pointed one man from Poland to your site, however, he told me that he is obviously blocked by technical means from posting. The e-mail address is georgerek@hotkey.net.au .

Jack Bonawitz says:

Prof. Lipstadt has forgotten more about the Holocaust than “Semite,” “Dieter” (whose clever spelling “juuuz” is a hint to his intellect), and “Dr. Gunther Kumel” will ever know because they filter all facts through their hatred. Like trolls under a bridge, they should go back to their dark little holes and ramble about their prejudices. For your part, Dr. Lipstadt, please keep exposing the facts. Light is a tremendous disinfectant.

Argaman says:

It always gets me when the Holocaust deniers fixate on the “fact” that six million Jews were not gassed. Reputable historians of the Holocaust know that, of course, since the Nazis used many other methods to kill that many Jews (plus many other people).

I also wonder why it’s so important to them to try to prove that the Holocaust didn’t occur – do they have a personal stake in it? Why do they need to believe that it didn’t occur?

Seth Spinolla says:

Prof. Lipstadt has forgotten more than she never knew.

Jedi Jones says:

Ok here’s the deal… you have paid Israeli agents who troll the internet and leave pro-Israeli comments on just about every website they can think of. A desperate attempt to give the impression that there is support for their actions (which there clearly isn’t). What the paid agents are attempting to do is to fake grass-root support. Israel has to fake it becuause it just doesn’t exist for them in the real world. Anyway it’s called ‘astroturffing’… and it’s well documented.

Now here’s the funny bit…. even on one of their own jewish websites like this one, they still have to fake their own support. I think that’s an indication of just how pathetic a situation Israel finds itself in.

In other words most of the pro-Israeli comments left here on this comment section are in fact fake and left by Israeli paid agents. Only paid agents leave pro-Israeli comments… no self respecting human being would take it upon themselves to defend that country.

Now.. when you go and plant you backside in someone else’s land and can only come up with the following pitiful justification… “God wants us to have it..”… as a nation you will always be in a permanent state of ‘propaganda spewing’. Hence those much needed agents.

re Argaman comments above from March 31st…. actually it’s you the jews who are making the claim of ‘6 million gassed jews’. The ‘deniers’, as you call them, are merely pointing out it’s not a plausible scenario. Question is why are you fixated with ‘6 million gassed’ and why do YOU feel the need to keep it alive. The so called ‘deniers’ are pointing out to you that YOUR CLAIMS (not theirs) are unprovable. Why do you suffer form an irrational urge to believe that 6 million were gassed? Just what is in it for you? And why do whinge hysterically when someone merely asks to see the evidence.

Hyman Rosen says:

After the recent Itamar massacre, crowds of Israelis were seen chanting Death to Arabs. Do you agree that the thesis of your column applies to them as well, so that we should not simply dismiss the possibility of Israeli pogroms against Palestinians?

I’m glad I had a chance to read an intelligence article, a majority of reasoned and insightful responses to it, and of course the asinine rantings of some of the least intelligent, reasoned or insightful posters I’ve ever read. Between the rabid response to the destruction of the central argument (deliberate targeting of civilians in Gaza during Cast Lead) and the flailings of the trolls here, I frankly feel appreciation they continued to dig their hole here. After all, you can’t have bloomings of knowledge without some quality fertilizer!

Chaim B says:

Last year, I attended a symposium at the New York Jewish Museum that was chaired by professor Deborah Lipstadt. The huge auditorium was filled with people who wanted to know three things: why did the Shoah occur, how could it have been stopped, and most importantly, how do we maintain REMEMBER the horror that occurred so that such evil can never exist again. I listened to an elderly woman, her voice shaking like the way it did when she was a 16 year old girl in the concentration camps. We learned, we discussed and most importantly, we left the gathering with a mission in our heart: we must not let the horror of the Shoah be buried with the victims. We must speak about the Shoah and teach others how to erase such an obscenity from the world.

Ilan says:

Why are some of the above, overtly anti-semitic comments not deleted by a moderator? They are not part of an intelligent discussion and do not add anything to the discussion. It’s not an issue of censorship – overt antisemtism should not be permitted in comments.

Ilan says:

I would add (as my own gut feeling) overt holocaust denial as seen above is inappropriate for comments on an article on the danger of holocaust denial.

What shocks me the most in this comment section is the number of obvious certified Jew haters that must read the Tablet trolling for bits and pieces of what they consider raw meat to feed their hateful obsession.If they are so certain of their accuracy why hide behind faux names and not step forward and identify themselves? Deborah Lipstadt should be commended for her courage and scholarly achievement. In the end, truth always wins.

“If they are so certain of their accuracy why hide behind faux names and not step forward and identify themselves?”
JERZY ULICKI-REK
MY ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER (BOTH HOME AND MOBILE YOU GET FROM GGOGLE0
Deborah Lipstadt should be commended for her courage and scholarly achievement.
YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING

In the end, truth always wins.
I HOPE SO

Jerzy Ulicki-Rek

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Trial and Error

Studying the 1961 Adolf Eichmann trial provided a reminder that it’s always crucial to confront Holocaust denialism, whether among Nazis in the immediate postwar years or from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today

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