Oregon Daily Emerald - Professor to discuss Holocaust denial
Professor to discuss Holocaust denial "Denying the Holocaust" author Deborah Lipstadt will address instances of denial and litigation at 8 p.m. [Tuesday April 29, 2003] in the EMU Ballroom
IT HAS been almost six decades since the Holocaust, but some people still deny it ever happened.
Deborah Lipstadt will speak about her legal battle with a Holocaust denier at 8 p.m. today in the EMU Ballroom, part of the local commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Lipstadt, the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, was involved in a six-year fight with English historian David Irving, who has questioned whether 6 million Jews really were killed by Nazis during World War II.
Irving sued Lipstadt for libel when she called him a Nazi sympathizer in her book, "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory." The professor said the trial was especially taxing because it took place in an English courtroom.
"In England, in terms of libel, one is guilty unless proven innocent," she said in a telephone interview. "The legal battle consumed my life for six years. In many times, it was a long and disturbing fight."
Oregon Hillel Director Hal Applebaum said Lipstadt is one of the world's leading authorities on Holocaust denial.
"Holocaust denial is out there -- people and groups say it never took place," Applebaum said. "We should not forget, lest it happen again."
Lipstadt said people deny the past for differing reasons. One of them she calls "inconvenient history."
"When history is troublesome, you can try to rewrite it," she said, adding people such as Irving are motivated to rewrite terrible events because of personal biases such as anti-Semitism.
"This guy has said some racist things," she said.
Lipstadt said there could have been many implications had Irving won the trial. She said if people could believe the Holocaust never happened, some would believe Nazis were good people. Some people in the United States have used such thinking to ignore the slaughter of American Indians and the cruelty of the Ku Klux Klan, she said.
The verdict "felt great because so many survivors had been moved by this," she said, adding that for people who weathered the Holocaust, the victory was about remembering lost loved ones as well as reaffirming history.
The author is currently finishing a new book about the trial, and HBO is producing a movie for next year.
Half an hour before tonight's lecture, members of the University's Jewish Student Union will begin their annual "reading of the names," where students read names of Holocaust victims out of a book for 24 consecutive hours at the EMU Amphitheater. Because the list is so long, only the names of people who perished in Germany will be read.
"So many Jews in Europe perished that for many of them, all that's left are statistics," JSU Director Daniel Gruber said. "What we are doing is remembering them."
Gruber said he expects only one letter of the alphabet to be completed in 24 hours.