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It is being used as a location for Denial , a film about the astonishing legal battle fought 20 years ago by Deborah Lipstadt, at the time a little-known American academic who specialised in the Holocaust.
When Lipstadt and I meet on set, it is her first day in the recreated concentration camp. But it feels very real. As the actors file off for lunch, Mia Farkasovska, a bright-faced 9-year-old, who is wearing a scruffy brown jacket with yellow star attached, comes over to where we are standing to collect a warm coat. Lipstadt stops her to chat, asking if she has got the day off school to be in the film.
And then this professor, who is called Deborah has to prove it did happen. And she wins. Mia is spot on. Denial is the story of a five-year long case that finally came to court in But at the time it was hailed as nothing less than history on trial. It was a battle not just over the factual details of how six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, but over how we record our past, about the sacredness of facts and the fragility of memory.
Sixteen years later, it has reached the big screen. Lipstadt, now 69, never asked to appear at the Royal Courts of Justice 17 years ago. After writing it, she went back to teaching at Emory University, in Atlanta Georgia, where she still teaches and lives on her own.
She went on to write a number of well-received books on modern Jewish history, including The Eichmann Trial. But her peace was interrupted in , by a letter from her publishers informing her Irving was suing her for libel — a letter she initially did not take seriously.
At barely 5ft, she looks and sounds every inch the New York Jewish academic she is. She is also clearly enjoying being on set, advising the producers and seeing Rachel Weisz bring a glamorised version of herself to the screen. I dressed nicely for the trial, but I am not elegant: I am a professor! Timothy Spall is playing Irving, a once successful, popular historian, who specialised in writing about the Third Reich.
A number of leading historians, including Hugh Trevor-Roper , took him seriously and praised his research. Throughout the s, however, his revisionist views about Hitler became increasingly extreme. The Nazi regime did not systematically order the murder of millions of Jews, he said; in fact, there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz. It remains a mystery why Irving wanted to sue anyone who accurately reported his views. This figure, combined with the rise of neo-Nazism in Europe, alarmed Lipstadt.
Lipstadt was nervous about giving Irving a platform. He then calls her a coward for refusing to debate. If I started debating with him it would suggest to students that there were two sides. Lipstadt is a fierce advocate of free speech. But do I have to invite you Cambridge or Yale to give you a platform to say so?
There are not two sides to every story. You can argue [about] why the Holocaust happened, but not that it happened. Early in the case Irving agreed to settle if Penguin and Lipstadt apologised and destroyed all copies of Denying the Holocaust. The trial, which went on for 32 days, was far from a foregone conclusion. What he denies is the killing process. The main reason, however, not to use the testimony of survivors — many of whom came to court every day to watch — was that Irving represented himself, and revelled in being in court.
The page judgment there was no jury in April found that Lipstadt had not libelled Irving. He went on to be arrested in Austria in , where Holocaust denial is a crime, and was sentenced to three years in prison. Twenty years ago, Holocaust denial was a fringe activity, up there with conspiracy claims such as the moon landings were staged in Utah. Lipstadt is despondent. Many people saw it. I saw it.
Some shred of evidence. I know it. Opinion becomes fact. Both Irving and Breitbart take lies, and parade them as opinions in order to encroach upon facts. In America, we had it with our election. What does that say to them about truth, about facts?
In compressing a five-year legal battle into a film lasting less than two hours there has, of course, been some tampering with the chronology, some details left out. It is very weird to be thanked. The trial was complicated, it was hard, it was expensive, it was frightening at times. But someone who lost their family at Auschwitz thanking me? But it makes me feel so humble — almost on some level grateful.
And I had a chance to do it. I was dragged into it, but I had a chance to stand up. A life in Harry Wallop. Humbled … Deborah Lipstadt. Published on Sat 14 Jan J ust outside High Wycombe, a former tobacco machine factory has been transformed into Auschwitz. Topics Books A life in Rachel Weisz Denial Antisemitism features Reuse this content.
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The denial of the Holocaust has no more credibility than the assertion that the earth is flat. Yet there are those who insist that the death of six million Jews in Nazi concentration camps is nothing but a hoax perpetrated by a powerful Zionist conspiracy. Forty years ago, such notions were the province of pseudohistorians who argued that Hitler never meant to kill the Jews, and that only a few hundred thousand died in the camps from disease; they also argued that the Allied bombings of Dresden and other cities were worse than any Nazi offense, and that the Germans were the "true victims" of World War II. For years, those who made such claims were dismissed as harmless cranks operating on the lunatic fringe. But over the past decade they have begun to gain a hearing in respectable arenas, and now, in the first full-scale history of Holocaust denial, Deborah Lipstadt shows how - despite tens of thousands of living witnesses and vast amounts of documentary evidence - this irrational idea not only has continued to gain adherents but has become an international movement, with organized chapters, "independent" research centers, and official publications that promote a "revisionist" view of recent history.
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Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory
It is being used as a location for Denial , a film about the astonishing legal battle fought 20 years ago by Deborah Lipstadt, at the time a little-known American academic who specialised in the Holocaust. When Lipstadt and I meet on set, it is her first day in the recreated concentration camp. But it feels very real. As the actors file off for lunch, Mia Farkasovska, a bright-faced 9-year-old, who is wearing a scruffy brown jacket with yellow star attached, comes over to where we are standing to collect a warm coat. Lipstadt stops her to chat, asking if she has got the day off school to be in the film. And then this professor, who is called Deborah has to prove it did happen.
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Denying the Holocaust
A timely analysis of the antisemitism and prejudice that fuels Holocaust deniers, written by the inspirational author behind the major motion picture Denial , starring Rachel Weisz. The denial of the Holocaust has no more credibility than the assertion that the earth is flat. Yet there are those who insist that the death of six million Jews in Nazi concentration camps is nothing but a hoax perpetrated by a powerful Zionist conspiracy. For years, those who made such claims were dismissed as harmless cranks operating on the lunatic fringe. Lipstadt shows how Holocaust denial thrives in the current atmosphere of value relativism, and argues that this chilling attack on the factual record not only threatens Jews but undermines the very tenets of objective scholarship that support our faith in historical knowledge. Deborah E. In this groundbreaking analysis, she profiles the deniers and explains their viewpoints and exposes the rabid anti-Semitism at the heart of Holocaust denial and the very serious threat it poses.