Tag Archives: Deborah Lipstadt

James Von Brunn, Resources about Holocaust Denial and White Supremacy.

Here is a picture of alleged shooter James Von Brunn and a list of resources about the Holocaust and white supremacy.

Here is a picture of alleged shooter James Von Brunn and a list of resources about the Holocaust and white supremacy.

By now, I’m sure you have heard about the shocking murder of a security guard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, allegedly by 88-year-old white supremacist and Holocaust denier James Von Brunn.

It’s a hard time for white supremacists these days.  

Events like Barack Obama’s election to the presidency, his appointment of a diverse Cabinet, and his recent nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to be the nation’s third woman and first Latina U.S. Supreme Court justice embody all of what the haters oppose.

A sense of losing a battle often triggers desperate acts.

Von Brunn’s attack apparently was triggered by Obama’s recent visit to the Buchenwald concentration camp, which he called the “ultimate rebuke” to deniers. 

Here are some resources that can help give context to some of the issues raised by Von Brunn’s alleged shooting: 

To begin, Von Brunn was a failed artist, according to news reports.  Peter Cohen’s Architecture of Doom is an astonishing film that shows that many of the top Nazis, including Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, were, too. 

I wrote last weekabout Deborah Lipstadt’s book and blog, as well as  a web site, all of which are intended to counter Holocaust denial.

The Intelligence Report, a publication of the Southern Povery Law Center and where my friend Casey Sanchez works, covers hate groups in America.  The Center more generally is one of the nation’s leading authorities on the issue.

Dear friend and full professor Stephen Kantrowitz’s Ben Tillman and the Reconstruction of White Supremacy is a nimbly written and thoughtfully argued description of the re-emergence of white supremacy after the Civil War and into the 20th century as told through the life of South Carolina politician “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman.  

Kantrowitz and other historians who cover this ground are walking in the very wide road carved by groundbreaking historian and Arkansas native C. Vann Woodward, whose classic work The Strange Career of Jim Crow paved the way for other works like Kantrowitz’s to follow. 

For those people interested in the context that gave rise to the Holocaust Museum where the shooting occurred, I recommend Peter Novick’s The Holocaust in American Life.  Novick argues that the events of the Holocaust have gained importance in America more because of the organization of the Jewish community than because of any change in the genocide’s tragic nature.

James Young is one of the leading authorities of Holocaust memorials; his book, At Memory’s Edge: After Images of the Holocast in Contemporary Art and Architecture should be required reading for those intrigued by that topic.  

People seeking an overview of the Holocaust could do a lot worse than reading journalist William Shirer’s tome, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, or historian Sir Martin Gilbert’s  The Holocaust:  A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War.  

Of course, Facing History and Ourselves, where Dunreith works and where I am a consultant, does terrific work around prejudice reduction with students all over the world.  While the organization has expanded from its original look at the Holocaust as its primary ‘case study,’ it still has a tremendous collection of print and video resources on the topic.  

Elements of Time, a collection of survivor testimony, is one of my favorites, while readers of Elie Wiesel’s Night should check out The Challenge of Memory, a video that accompanies the book and has complementary testimony for numerous points in the book.

Facing History’s resource book, Holocaust and Human Behavior, also has plenty of useful information, even as it’s more of a menu than a straight historical narrative.

Unfortunately, education and memory has not yet been a completely successful antidote to haters like Von Brunn and others of his ilk.  Still, actions like his only underscore the importance of continuing to inform people about past atrocities and continue to strive for a world in which events that seemingly were impossible, like the election of a black president, eventually become ordinary.

Obama’s visit to Buchenwald, Deborah Lipstadt’s exposure of Holocaust denial

 

Emory University Deborah Lipstadt after her victory over Holocaust denier David Irving in a British court.  Lipstadt's book about Holocaust denial is important reading on the subject.

Emory University Deborah Lipstadt after her victory over Holocaust denier David Irving in a British court. Lipstadt's book about Holocaust denial is important reading on the subject.

 

 

I carry the history of the Holocaust in my name. 

My Hebrew name is Yosef,  I am named for Joseph Lowenstein, or “Papa Joseph,” my paternal great-grandfather and the patriarch of that side of the family.

In 2004, I visited John and Maike Guntermann in the Essen-Steele area where our family had lived for generations.  

John’s father owned a print shop and had been Papa Joseph’s patient for many years.  In addition to showing me a notebook full of correspondence between our families for more than 60 years, starting with a death notice his father had created for my great-grandmother, John’s wife Maike read a letter her father-in-law had written that described Papa Joseph’s desperate efforts to leave Germany after the war had begun.

Shunned by many of the people who he had cared for for decades, Papa Joseph carried around an English dictionary as part of his efforts to learn the language to help him adjust to life in America, should he get out.

He never did.

Instead, he was deported first to Theresienstadt, and, from there, to the Auschwitz death camp. There, he and more than 1 million other people, were murdered by the Nazi regime and the workers who carried out the killing. 

President Obama’s recent visit to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where dear friend and personal hero Leon Bass witnessed liberation in April 1945, had personal resonance.  

In between his stops in Cairo, Egypt and Normandy, France, Obama called the camp the “ultimate rebuke” to those who would deny the Holocaust.

Unfortunately, there are many who would do so.

Professor Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University has written a powerful book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, created a blog and been featured on a web site that seeks to expose and counter Holocaust denial.  

In the book, Lipstadt breaks down the range of tactics that deniers use.  While some are open and avowed anti-Semites, others take more sophisticated and thereby disturbing tactics.  This second group starts from the seemingly reasonable premise that war is a terrible experience for all people before starting to nibble around the edges of the numbers, the gas chambers, survivors’ memory, the role of disease, the absence of written commands from Hitler ordering the genocide, and so on.  

The cumulative effect is to say that the death of about 6 million Jews and 5 million non-Jews did not occur.

Venerable historian Richard Hovannisian has written about how the similar tactics employed by deniers of the Armenian genocide-an event that to this day is still denied by the Turkish government-and the Holocaust. 

In her work, Lipstadt writes about other major deniers like Ernst Zundel, Robert Faurisson, and Arthur Butz, an engineering professor at Northwestern University.

Within this part of the book, she has an interesting section about Noam Chomsky, who had a back-and-forth position about Faurisson’s right to speak at certain forums and air his views that is captured in part in the documentary film, Manufacturing Consent.   A current denier site, Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, cloaks itself in the mantle of what in America is called the First Amendment.  

 She also explains the shift in tactics by the deniers, who have created “revisionist” pseudo-scholarly journals in which they peddle their hate.  

Lipstadt has always refused to appear on the same stage as Holocaust deniers because she says to do so would confer legitimacy to their lies and imply that there is an argument when, in fact, there is none.

She has paid a price for her scholarship.

In 1996, she was sued by David Irving, one of the major deniers, for libel in a British court.  Three courts found for Lipstadt, but the struggle continues, both because of the vast reservoir of information on the Internet-a Google search of her name and the book’s title instantly produced a denier’s “review” of the book that called it “vile”-and because of powerful leaders like Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who repeatedly has denied the Holocaust.  

Obama called out Ahmadinejad by name at Buchenwald, making it clear that he stands on the side of truth.  

Still, the struggle continues, especially as survivors continue to age and die, leaving us to pass on the reality about what happened to the next generation. 

1. Have you seen any denial web sites?  What tactics do they use?

2. How do you best counter a lie about history?

3. Why are so many people silent when Ahmadinejad issues these odious statements?