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Dr. Catherine Chatterley

Professor Deborah Lipstadt

Deborah Lipstadt to Speak for CISA on April 22 “'Hard-and Soft-Core' Holocaust Denial in the 21st Century”

by Dr. Catherine Chatterley, January 14, 2013

The Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism (CISA) is pleased to announce that Professor Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, will deliver our 2013 Shindleman Family Lecture: 

Professor Lipstadt is a leading Holocaust historian and the world authority on the phenomenon known as Holocaust Denial. Her book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory was the first full-length study of those who attempt to deny the Holocaust.


In 1996, David Irving sued her for calling him a Holocaust denier and a right wing extremist in this book. Professor Lipstadt’s brave, principled, and successful legal-historical confrontation with Irving lasted over four years and has inspired a series of scholarly books by some of the historians who provided expert testimony at the trial (Richard J. Evans and Robert J. van Pelt).

Her recent book, The Eichmann Trial, was a 2011 National Jewish Book Award Finalist and she is now working on a new study about Holocaust Denial in the 21st Century—the subject of her presentation for CISA in April.


Of particular value and significance is her concept of “soft-core” Holocaust denial, which surrounds us today:


 “Soft-core is more slippery. It's ‘Why do we have to hear so much about the Holocaust?’ or saying ‘the genocide of the Palestinians.’ Soft-core denial is not denying the facts, but inverting them so the victims become the perpetrators  -- ‘Why did the Germans hate the Jews? Because the Jews were rich and conniving,’ -- as if to say they deserved it. It's justifying it. Soft-core denial is also making a false comparison, and that dilutes what the Holocaust was. It's a much more slippery kind of manifestation, but it's very much there.” (JTA)


 When asked how one fights this new mutation, Lipstadt says:

“It's much harder. You have to go back and zero in on what it is -- you can say, ‘Look, you might disagree with Israel's policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians or that they should not have gone into Gaza, but to call this a genocide is to deny what a genocide is.’ They are not denying the Holocaust but they are making a false comparison, which elevates by a factor of a zillion any wrongdoings Israel might have done, and lessens by a factor of a zillion what the Germans did. And that's not to defend everything Israel does, but you can't call it a Holocaust unless you want to distort what the Holocaust is. When you begin to use the Nazi term and you begin to compare Israeli soldiers -- who are not angels and sometimes do awful things for which they should be criticized and punished -- that's different than genocide. The Holocaust was state-sponsored. It came from Berlin and Berlin worked to make sure that every Jew on which it could lay its hands would be killed. In no way can you compare what's going on in the Middle East to that. Even if you have the extreme belief that there should be no State of Israel, to make the argument that Israel is committing a genocide is a complete fabrication and a form of soft-core denial.” (Ibid.)

Add to these examples discussed by Lipstadt, the new and increasingly popular form of Holocaust revisionism, which re-defines the Holocaust to include all people who suffered under the Third Reich and during WWII without differentiation. This subject is of particular importance for the Jewish community and for our city given the August 2012 announcement by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) about the so-called “Holocaust zone”: 


“Indeed, according to the museum's director of communications, Angela Cassie, it is anticipated that the Holocaust zone will deal not just with Jewish persecution but also with the sufferings of ‘the Roma, persons with physical and mental disabilities, gay men, lesbians … among other communities.’ The ‘memorial-type nature of previous treatments of both the Holocaust and some other genocides,’ she said, ‘is not the approach being taken [by the CMHR].’” (Globe and Mail)

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the UN also subscribes to the new revisionism. UN Resolution 60/7, which instituted “UN Holocaust Memorial Day” defines the Holocaust in similarly distorted terms: 

“Reaffirming that the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice."

To the contrary in fact: over two-thirds of European Jews were murdered in Hitler’s Final Solution to the Jewish Question, which targeted them—and only them—for specific and comprehensive annihilation across the continent of Europe. Others murdered by the Nazis are not countless, as I wrote last year in another article:

Between May 1940 and February 1945, just over 1.1 million people were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau, one million of whom were European Jews. The remaining 100,000 include approximately 74,000 Poles; 21,000 Roma; 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war; and 10,000-15,000 members of other European nationalities (Soviet civilians, Czechs, Yugoslavs, French, Germans, and Austrians). Deaths during the Nazi period for other groups mentioned are as follows: 1.9 million Polish civilians died under German occupation and racial policies; 1,400 Jehovah’s Witnesses died in the camps and 250 were executed by the military; historians put the killings of German disabled people at 200,000; between 5,000-15,000 gay men; and 220,000 Roma. Over 6.3 million Jews were murdered across Europe by the Nazi regime and its collaborators during WWII.


In response to the question, “is Holocaust denial increasing?” Professor Lipstadt answers:  


“Holocaust denial is rising . . . It is increasing. In part because of the rise of antisemitism and anti-Israel [feelings], like you've seen ‘Sharon =Nazi,’ ‘Bush=Nazi.’ And because of anti-globalization forces, and because Israel is so close to America. Accusing Jews of atrocities is a very convenient way of engaging in antisemitism. It becomes a vehicle for antisemitism.” (JTA)

“In my first book . . . there was no Internet to address, we didn't have the rise of Holocaust denial in the Arab-Muslim world. We didn't have all these Holocaust denier trials. We didn't have soft-core denial. If you had told me way back [in 1994] when I wrote my first book that I would have been writing a second book, I would have said, ‘These people are like flat-earthers.’ I would have said, ‘they're not important.’ I've come to see that they're not important, but they can do significant damage.” (Ibid.)


Deborah is the first member of CISA’s distinguished Academic Council to speak for the Institute and we are very pleased to host her in Winnipeg.  


Please join us for this important and timely presentation.


The Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism (CISA) is an independent national academic organization committed to the scholarly study of the millennial phenomenon of Antisemitism in its classic and contemporary forms.

We are a registered Canadian charity committed to the uprooting of hatred and stereotypes through progressive education and by working cooperatively to build a more humane future for all people. 


Place: Hotel Fort Garry, Provencher Ballroom
Date: Monday, April 22, 2013
Time: 7:30 pm
Cost: Tickets are not required--Admission by donation ($20 minimum suggested)
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