The UTD Mercury - News
Lipstadt retells legal struggle with 'Holocaust denier' Irving
By Tahir Mahmood
Emory University Professor Deborah Lipstadt recounted her legal battle with historian David Irving to a full audience in the Conference Center auditorium Feb. 6.
The Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies, Lipstadt's legal troubles began when she labeled Irving a "Holocaust denier" in her 1993 book "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory." Irving sued her for libel when the book was published in England, commencing a long five-year legal fight in the courtroom, described in Lipstadt's new book "History on Trial: My Day in Court with Holocaust Denier David Irving."
Lipstadt's lecture was part of the Burton E. Einspruch Holocaust Lecture series, sponsored by the Holocaust Studies Program at UTD.
Lipstadt began the lecture with comic flair by turning off her cell phone on stage.
She then described how her legal battles with Irving ensued after she described Irving's written histories as mostly right-wing and sympathetic to Nazi Germany.
When Irving filed suit in England, Lipstadt refused to settle the suit and apologize.
"How could I apologize to him?" Lipstadt said. "In England, I had to prove that what I wrote was not libel. I wanted a trial that proved Lipstadt was right when she called David Irving a denier."
Lipstadt said she assembled a "Dream Team of historians" to testify on her behalf.
"Things reversed to make him look like he was on the defensive," she said.
Approximately 3,000 pages of evidence were presented to support her case. In one of his diaries, Lipstadt said he wrote God makes people of another race of a different species, and he referred to himself as a "baby Aryan."
The judge found in Lipstadt's favor.
"Let me close by sharing with you the verdict, which was a slam dunk," Lipstadt said. "The judge called Irving fallacious, absurd, undeniably racist and an anti-Semitic racist.
Many faculty and students in the audience responded positively to Lipstadt's lecture.
"She's absolutely fantastic," said Vincent Cirillo, professor of biology at UTD. "I am glad she had the courage to do this. She is a scholar in the Temple Shalom in Dallas, where she conducts religious services like closing of the Sabbath."
Zsuzsanna Ozsvath, director of the Holocaust Studies Program and literary studies professor at UTD, shared in the enthusiastic response at the end of the lecture.
"She is capable of melding together the intellectual side of historical research with deeply emotional understanding," Ozsvath said.
Some students were so interested they said they plan to read her new book.
"Professor Deborah Lipstadt gave an extraordinary lecture and it was very informative," said Melody Sadjadi, a doctoral student in literary studies. "I look forward to reading her new book."