Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bishop Williamson Apologizes to Pope for Furor [no pun intended] But Not for Holocaust Comments

Richard Williamson, who by Vatican standards, is not really a bishop, has sent a letter posted on his blog to the Cardinal [a real one] who serves as the mediator between the Vatican and Society of Pius X, the faction which rejects Vatican II.

He apologizes for the furor but not for his views.

Here is the full text of the letter:

To His Eminence Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos

Your Eminence

Amidst this tremendous media storm stirred up by imprudent remarks of mine on Swedish television, I beg of you to accept, only as is properly respectful, my sincere regrets for having caused to yourself and to the Holy Father so much unnecessary distress and problems.

For me, all that matters is the Truth Incarnate, and the interests of His one true Church, through which alone we can save our souls and give eternal glory, in our little way, to Almighty God. So I have only one comment, from the prophet Jonas, I, 12:

"Take me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you."

Please also accept, and convey to the Holy Father, my sincere personal thanks for the document signed last Wednesday and made public on Saturday. Most humbly I will offer a Mass for both of you.

Sincerely yours in Christ

+Richard Williamson

Note no retraction. No acknowledgment that he got the history wrong. No apology for his overt antisemitism.

The Vatican response was the following: "The Vatican has asked nothing of Monsignor Williamson, who is not an 'ordinary bishop' of the Catholic Church."

Thursday, January 29, 2009


[The following provides links to various articles and sources which explicitly expose the lies and obfuscations of Holocaust denier Bishop Williamson. We hope they are helpful to you. My profound thanks to Dan Leshem and Maureen McLaughlin for helping prepare this material.]

1. Williamson says: “I believe there were no gas chambers."

This claim is one of several pillars of Holocaust denial. For an overview on the design, number, and operation of the gas chambers and some pictures. Click here or here.

In addition you can go to the following sites on which address some of the common claims made by deniers about the gas chambers:

  1. Auschwitz Gas Chambers were really air raid shelters

  2. Gas Chambers could not have been used for gassing

  3. Gas Chamber in Auschwitz I is a fake for tourists

  4. Scientific tests prove the Gas Chambers never existed

  5. There were holes in the roofs of the gas chambers"

2. Williamson says: “. . . between two and three hundred thousand Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but not one of them by gassing in a gas chamber.”

For charts breaking down the numbers of Jews killed by country and location see the Holocaust Chronicle and the Jewish Virtual Library sites. There are other sources but they are generally quite complex.

3. Williamson says: “You may have heard of the Leuchter Report? Well, Fred Leuchter was an expert in gas chambers. He designed three gas chambers for three states, three of the fifty United States, for the execution of criminals. So he knew what’s involved. And he studied what the supposed gas chambers in Germany at some point in the 1980’s, what remains of the supposed gas chambers. The crematoria at Birkenau-Auschwitz, for instance. And his expert conclusion as that it’s impossible for these ever to have served for the gassing of large numbers of people.”

An extensive rebuttal of Leuchter’s “qualifications” can be found here.

4. Williamson says: “. . . it’s very dangerous to go in to pull out the corpses. Because of whiff of gas that’s trapped in the clothing escapes from the clothing will kill the person. . .

When the Sonderkommandos had to unload the cottage gas chambers they did use gas masks since there was no ventilation system. This discussion can be found in the RJvP Report, Chapter VI; Attestations here. Note that the Sonderkommandos talk about using gas masks.

There is extensive literature on how the victims had to undress BEFORE they went into the gas chambers. During the trial Irving v. Lipstadt, expert witness Robert Jan van Pelt gave the court multiple descriptions of the undressing process. [If you click on this link it will take you to the entire chapter. Scroll down and you will find the descriptions.]

Here is one observation from Hoss, the commandant at Auschwitz, on the arrival, selection and killing of the deportees.

. . . All the luggage remained on the ramp and, after those unfit for work had also been sent off, it was brought to the store of personal effects, to be sorted out. Those unfit for work were classified according to sex--men, women, and children--and marched off to the nearest available extermination installation. Those unable to walk and women with small children were transported there on trucks. When they arrived, all of them had to strip naked in rooms which gave the impression of being delousing installations. The permanent labour unit of prisoners who worked in these installations--and who were also housed there and did not come into contact with other inmates of the camp--helped with the undressing and coaxed the hesitant to hurry up, ss that the others would not have to wait so long.

They were also told to take note where they put away their clothes, so that they would be able to find them again immediately after taking their bath. All this was done on purpose, in order to dispel any fears which might arise. After they had taken off their clothes, they were taken into a nearby room--the gas chamber itself. It had been prepared to look like a washroom--that is to say, showers and pipes were installed throughout, water drainage channels, etc. The moment the entire transport had entered the chamber, the door was closed, and simultaneously the gas was forced in from above through a special aperture. . . .

5. Williamson says: “Once you’ve gassed people, you’ve got to evacuate the gas to be able to get into the chamber to us it. To evacuate the gas, you need a high chimney. If it’s a low chimney, the gas goes onto the pavement and kills anybody walking by.”

The gas chambers did not have chimneys of the smokestack-type to vent the Zyklon-B.

They had ventilation systems.

The only “chimneys” in the gas chambers were the small ones of the roof to pour in the Zyklon-B. They may qualify technically as “chimneys” but they are, or course, not “high.” You may see their design here. This short article reconstructs the introduction columns from testimony and even shows a design. Visual and short.

There is a discussion of the ventilation system in the trial's Van Pelt Report. See especially the section found at here.

Furthermore, as chemist Harry W. Mazal of the Holocaust History Project reports, Williamson's claims that a tall chimney is required else the gas from the gas chambers would fall to the pavement and kill various and sundry reveals "a remarkable ignorance of basic chemistry." Since Hydrogen Cyanide (Zyklon B) is a GAS, its vapor pressure tells us that once released into the atmosphere it would dissipate instantly. This same happens with the majority of all gases!

True there are war "gases" that are heavier than air and will tend to float down to earth (fog is one example where water vapor descends to earth under certain conditions), but these are not typical, standard gases (as is hydrogen cyanide, oxygen and carbon dioxide) but rather more like suspensions. However, Hydrogen Cyanide is an extremely volatile gas, more so than oxygen or nitrogen or carbon dioxide, none of which "drift town to earth." 

6. Williamson says: “You need a high chimney, right? . . . If there was a high chimney, then the shadow at most times of the day, the shadow would have fallen on the ground. And the Allied aerial photographers that flew over the camps would have picked up the shadow of this chimney. There were never such shadows. There was no such chimney.”

The“tall” chimneys for the crematoria and the “low” chimneys for Zyklon-B introduction both show shadows on aerial photographs (photo #4).

This article is the classic one on the aerial photography. It is presented in full with photographs including close-ups of the crematoria, showing shadows. This is the definitive answer to this assertion.

7. Williamson says: “Which, according to Fred Leuchter’s testimony, they can’t have been chambers.”

See our article on Leuchter: “Scientific Tests Prove the Gas Chambers Never Existed

8. Williamson says:“He looks at the doors, and he says that the door has to be absolutely airtight because again, the gas escapes and kills the people outside. The doors of the gas chambers that are shown to tourists at Auschwitz are not airtight, absolutely not.”

See our Myth/Fact sheet discussing the evidence for air-tight doors: “Auschwitz Gas Chambers were really air raid shelters.”

Pertinent part of our FAQ:

  • On January 1, 1943, three gas-tight doors were ordered for Crema 2.

  • On February 13, 1943 an order was issued for twelve "gas-tight doors of 30/40 cm." These "doors" are more like shutters in size (about 12 x 16 inches). These shutters can be seen at Auschwitz today. They are 30 x 40 centimeters in size and equipped with a butterfly nut that can be screwed tight from the outside. The plan for Crema/Gas Chamber 4 specifies shutters 30 by 40 centimeters in size. Crema 4 was a brick building builtentirely above ground. Of what use would it be as an air-raid shelter?

  • On February 26, 1943, ten gas detectors were ordered by telegram from Topf & Sons. (Gas detectors would be needed to determine when it was safe to enter the gas chamber rooms and remove the bodies.)

  • On March 31, 1943, one gas-tight door was ordered for Crema 3 was ordered.

Williamson’s statement about the gas chambers that are shown to “tourists” is answered in our Myth/Fact Sheet: “Gas Chambers in Auschwitz I is a fake for tourists.

Bishop Williamson has Company: Another "Traditionalist" Priest Denies the Holocaust

In an interview in the Italian newspaper, La Tribuna di Treviso, another traditionalist priest, i.e. one who rejects the decisions of Vatican II, has come out as a Holocaust denier...sort of.

[For a translated transcript of the priest's interview click here and scroll down.]

Repeating standard denial fare, Rev. Floriano Abrahamowicz said that there were gas chambers but they were only used to disinfect inmates.

Then taking a slightly different tack he acknowledged that six million Jews were killed during WWII. Why did he do that? So that he could then compare the Holocaust to "other genocides" which do not receive the same amount of public recognition.

He included in these other genocides, the Allied bombing of German cities.

This, by the way, is also a standard ploy by deniers. They rely on "immoral equivalencies" and argue that, while the Germans may have done wrong, the Allies, who bombed German cities, committed equal wrongs.

And, not surprisingly, he included Israel's actions in Gaza in these genocides.

"And the Israelis can't tell me that the genocide that they suffered from the Nazis is less serious than that of Gaza because they have killed several thousand people while the Nazis killed 6 million," he said.

Finally -- and also not surprisingly -- he denied that he or Lefebvre were antisemitic, and pointed out that his father's family was Jewish.

Then, unable to contain himself, he described the Jewish people as "God killers" and called on them to "embrace our Lord Jesus Christ."

[This, of course, runs counter to Vatican II, which rejected the notion that all Jews then or now were responsible for the death of Jesus.]

This not Abrahamowicz first brush with controversy. In 2006 he said on television that that a a German SS officer who, in 1944, killed 335 Italian civilians in retaliation for the death of 33 German soldiers should not have been convicted of war crimes or considered an “executioner” but rather a soldier who acted “with regret and a heavy heart.”

In 2008, after Cardinal from Milan supported the opening of new mosques in Italy, Abrahamowicz, speaking on Italian radio, described Tettamanzi was an example of “infiltrators” attempting to “subvert the church from within.”

It cannot be making the Vatican happy that Abrahamowicz made these statements the day after the Pope's statements at his Wednesday audience.

As with Williamson, he is a follower of Bishop Marcel Lefebvre.

He may equivocate about his Holocaust denial but about his antisemitism there is no doubt.

Williamson and this guy deserve each other.

Pope Benidict Reacts to Uproar about Williamson's Reinstatement [de-excommuncation]

In his weekly audience Pope Benedict mentioned the uproar about Holocaust denying Bishop Williamson. This came a day after the Society of Pius X apologized for the embarrassment it had caused the Pope.

The NY Times reports that in 1989 a Vichy war criminal, Paul Touvier, was found hiding in a monastery run by the founder of the group, Archbishop Lefebvre, and arrested. He was subsequently sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity.

Two things bother me about the Papal reaction. One, it is, not surprisingly, couched in an outreach to Jews. While this is understandable and makes perfect sense, it obfuscates the heart of the issue which is that Williamson is speaking complete lies and nonsense and is making claims that are totally anti-historical.

Simply put, this is not just an insult to Jews. It is an insult to truth and memory. It is an insult to intellect [something Pope Benedict values greatly]. It is an insult to rational thought.

The second thing -- and this is something which certain Catholic clerics with whom I am friendly have pointed out to me -- in his frequent condemnations of antisemitism, Pope Benedict always speaks of it as growing out of a pagan force. He completely fails to link it to Christian theology and history.

For example, at World Youth Day when he spoke at a synagogue in Cologne. He said the following [I have highlighted the seminal phrase]:
And in the 20th century, in the darkest period of German and European history, an insane racist ideology, born of neo-paganism, gave rise to the attempt, planned and systematically carried out by the regime, to exterminate European Jewry. The result has passed into history as the Shoah.
At best it is a form of historical obfuscation. At its worst it too is a form of denial.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

National Public Radio: Bishop Williamson's Reinstatement Causes Rift Among Catholics

[9:07 a.m. audio link added]

Morning Edition, one of the most broadly listened to US news shows, ran a story by Sylvia Poggioli on how the reinstatement is causing a rift among Catholics.

Many are disturbed, not just by Williamson's Holocaust denial, but by the fact that the Society of Pius X, the group that has been reinstated, also rejects Vatican II, which, among other things, rejected the notion that Jews -- including those alive today -- were responsible for killing Jesus.

In Nostra Aetate, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, then Pope Paul VI, declared:
"What happened in His [Jesus'] passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today."
This is an idea which the Society of Pius X rejects.

[The audio of Poggioli's story will be available on line after 9 a.m. EST.]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bishop Williamson has been Muzzled

The Society of St. Pius X has forbidden Bishop Williamson from speaking on any historical and political matters.

They must have been read the riot act by the Vatican.

Now how long is it going to be before all his postings disappear from the web?

Holocaust Denier Bishop Williamson in his own Words: He Not JUST a Denier

Edited 2:11 EST

Take a look at Bishop Williamson's website which, if I were a betting person, will soon disappear. [Cyber mavens might want to take a "picture" of it while it is still up.]

If you go to it to this particular link you will learn that this venerable prince of the church also :
1. Well over a century ago Judeo-Masonry is known to have been envisaging three World Wars to achieve its unified global domination.

2. By lies, Judeo-Masonry brought about the first two World Wars.

3. By lies, Judeo-Masonry is preparing for the Third World War.

4. The supposed treachery of Arabs last year against the Twin Towers in New York already igniting American public opinion to go to war against Afghanistan and now Iraq.

5. We now in 2002 know with certainty that our governments and media told us far from the complete truth in 1941 as to who was truly responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor, so we will eventually know that those truly responsible for the attack on the Twin Towers were certainly not those primarily held up as being responsible by our governments and media.

In short Jews together with Freemasons planned WWI and WWII. They are planning for WWIII. And 9/11 was not committed by Arab terrorists [or are we supposed to call them militants?].

But that's not all he has to say.

1. Women should not wear trousers: ever.

2. Women should not go to university: ever.

3. Modernism caused the Rwanda genocide.

4. Sound of Music is an evil film because it celebrates true love and
depicts Nazis as villains.

And this is the man the Vatican has said can now offer mass and give communition. Something is very wrong here.

[NOTE: a number of comments on this post point out that I might not have it right here. I apologize for that and acknowledge that maybe he can't offer mass or give communion. But that does not lessen the fact that a man -- and for that matter the group he is part of -- with some very weird ideas and hateful attitudes has been welcomed back into the church... unexcommunicated shall we say.... That is bad enough]

Kudos to Jim Burroway for scoping out these gems. [There are more if you have the time and energy to slog through Williamson's missives. But do it quickly. Someone at the Vatican will tell him to pull them down ASAP]. And thanks to my cyber-fiend friend Sara for pointing me in this direction.

Iranians Criticize West's Persecution of Holocaust Deniers

MEMRI reports that Iran's official news agency has criticized the west for persecuting Holocaust deniers.

And this from a country that hanged 22 people in one week!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Holocaust Denier Bishop Williamson in his own Worlds

If you want to see the recently reinstated Holocaust denier Bishop Williamson in his own words, click here.

He repeats lies, distortions, and information that is complete bunk.

He sounds smooth but he speaks complete bunk.

I challenge the Vatican to watch this and say that this is a private matter.


Pope Benidict Reinstates Holocaust Denier: Not Just a Jewish Thing

Pope Benedict has reinstated as a Bishop a Holocaust and 9/11 denier. To put it succintly: this is far more than tacit support for an antisemite. It makes the Vatican look utterly stupid.

Up until now Benedict, as a German who served in the German forces during the war, has been exceptionally senstitive about all things related to antisemitism. He certainly was not here.

David Irving boasts on his website that Williamson attended his last garden party. They deserve each other. Imagine their chit chat.

"History on Trial" Named One of Five Best Books on Legal Trials by Alan Dershowitz in Wall Street Journal

Alan Dershowitz, asked by the Wall Street Journal [January 17th], to list his pick of of five best books on momentous legal cases has included History on Trial, in his pick .

This is what he had to say about History on Trial.
History on Trial

By Deborah E. Lipstadt

Ecco, 2005

"History on Trial" is Deborah E. Lipstadt's compelling first-person account of her experience as the defendant in a libel suit brought in 1996 by British author David Irving, who was unhappy that she had described him in print as a Holocaust denier. As I wrote in an afterword for the book, the trial was a rare instance in which "truth, justice and freedom of speech [were] all simultaneously served." What was at stake in the case transcended Lipstadt's reputation and fortune. Her antagonist sought to put the Holocaust itself on trial. This worried survivors, concerned that their history was being subjected to a judicial test, with standards of evidence and proof that did not always produce truth. Moreover, under British law, truth was not necessarily a defense to defamation. Through the determination of Lipstadt and the brilliant legal work of her lawyer, Anthony Julius, especially his devastating cross-examination of Irving, the court ruled that she had written the truth -- Irving is indeed a Holocaust denier -- and that he had not been defamed. The verdict also helped to expand the right of truthful free speech in Britain.

The other four are The Leo Frank Case by Leonard Dinnerstein [Columbia University, 1968], Summer for the Gods by Edward J. Larson [Basic Books, 1997] on the Scopes trial, The Rosenberg File by Ronald Radosh and Joyce Milton [Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1983], and Until Proven Innocent by Stuart Taylor Jr. and KC Johnson [Thomas Dunne, 2007] on the Duke Lacrosse team.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Leading Holocaust Denier Gives Up: We Won... Well Not Exactly

One of the leading Holocaust deniers claims he has given up the fight to persuade people there was no Holocaust.

Nobody would bite.

So this is good news, right?

Well not exactly. He is now going to focus his energies on fighting Jewish-Zionist power.

This, of course, proves what I and others have been saying for years. Holocaust denial is naught but a form of antisemitism. Weber could not spread antisemitism with Holocaust denial so he is going to try other methods.

Methinks he will have more success with his new track. Sadly so.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gaza and the Proportionality Cunundrum: Reflections by Andre Glucksman

The French philosopher, Andre Glucksmann, has penned some thoughts about the issue of proportionality in relation to Gaza.

Many people will certainly disagree with it. I don't.

City Journal Home.
André Glucksmann
On “Disproportion”
In Gaza, as everywhere, the word is irrelevant.
9 January 2009

When conflicts erupt, public opinion tends to divide between absolutists who have decided once and for all who is right and who is wrong, and more cautious people who judge a particular act as appropriate or not according to circumstances, prepared, if necessary, to withhold judgment pending further information. The confrontation in Gaza, as bloody and awful as it is, nevertheless contains a gleam of hope. For the first time in the conflict in the Middle East, the fanatical absolutists seem to be in the minority. The discussion among Israelis (Is this the right time for war? How far should we go? How long?) proceeds as expected in a democracy. What is surprising is that the Palestinians and their supporters are taking part in a similar public debate, to the point that, even after Israel’s launching of punitive operations, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, found the courage to attribute initial responsibility for the suffering of Gaza’s civilians to Hamas, which had broken its truce with Israel.

Unfortunately, the reaction of global public opinion—the media, diplomats, and moral and political authorities—seems to lag behind the thinking of those who are directly concerned. We cannot avoid the word that is on everyone’s lips and bolsters another kind of absolutism—the word that magisterially condemns Israeli acts as “disproportionate.” Captions on pictures of Gaza under attack express a universal and immediate consensus: Israel acts disproportionately. News reports and commentaries add other terms as opportunities present themselves: “massacre,” “total war.” At least the word “genocide” has been avoided so far. Will the memory of the so-called “Jenin genocide,” so often evoked before being discredited as a fiction, continue to restrain the worst of these verbal excesses? In any case, the absolute and a priori condemnation of the Jewish outrage defines the dominant line of thought in most parts of the world.

“Disproportionate,” of course, refers to what is out of proportion—either because no proportion has ever existed, or because an existing proportion has been broken or violated. It is the second meaning that is intended by those who castigate the Israelis for their reprisals, which are judged to be excessive, incongruous, and inappropriate, a violation of limits and norms. The implication is that there is a normal state of the Israel-Hamas conflict, some equilibrium that the Israeli military’s aggressiveness has disturbed—as if the conflict were not, like every serious conflict, disproportionate from the outset.

What is this correct proportion that Israel is supposed to respect in order to deserve the favor of world opinion? Should the Israeli army refrain from employing its technical supremacy and limit itself to the weapons that Hamas uses—that is to say, crude rockets and stones? Should it feel free to adopt the strategy of suicide bombers and the deliberate targeting of civilians? Or, better still, would it be appropriate for Israel to wait patiently until Hamas, with the help of Iran and Syria, is able to “balance” Israel’s firepower? Or might it be necessary to level the playing field regarding not only means but also aims? Hamas, unlike the Palestinian Authority, refuses to recognize the Jewish state’s right to exist and dreams of the annihilation of its citizens; should Israel match this radicalism?

Every conflict, whether dormant or boiling, is by its nature “disproportionate.” If the adversaries agreed on the use of means and on each other’s claims, they would not be adversaries. Conflict necessarily implies disagreement, and thus the effort of each camp to exploit its advantages as well as the other’s weaknesses. The Israeli army is doing just that when it “profits” from its technical superiority. And Hamas does no differently when it uses Gaza’s population as a human shield, unhindered by the moral scruples or diplomatic imperatives that constrain its adversary.

To work for peace in the Middle East, we must escape the temptations of absolutism, which entice not only fanatical hard-liners but also angelic souls who imagine that some sacred “proportion” would bring a providential balance to murderous conflicts. In the Middle East, the conflict concerns not only the enforcement of rules of the game, but their establishment. One has every right to discuss freely the appropriateness of a given military or diplomatic initiative, but not to imagine that the problem is soluble in advance by the ostensible right-thinking of world opinion. To wish to survive is not disproportionate.

André Glucksmann is a French philosopher. Translated from the French by Alexis Cornel.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

President Chavez's Abuse of the Holocaust

edited 9:20 a.m.

Please note: this list is still in formation. If you would like to add your signature to those of the other Holocaust scholars and academics listed below, please contact

The David S. Wyman Institute is preparing the following letter.

Hon. Hugo Chavez
c/o Embassy of The Republic of Venezuela
1099 30th Street NW
Washington DC 20007
via email:

To His Excellency, President Hugo Chavez:

As Holocaust and genocide scholars, we are deeply troubled by your statement that Israel is carrying out “a Holocaust” in Gaza, and that Israeli President Shimon Peres should be prosecuted for genocide. (Reuters, Jan. 7, 2009)

The Holocaust was the deliberate, systematic mass murder of six million innocent Jews by Germany and its collaborators. By contrast, Israel is acting in legitimate self-defense against Hamas terrorism; has no interest in harming innocent residents of Gaza; and indeed has done its utmost to avoid civilian casualties, whereas Hamas deliberately targets Israeli civilians. Any comparison between Israel and the Nazis outrageously distorts Israel's actions and trivializes the enormity and nature of the Holocaust.

We note that the U.S. State Department, in its report last year on global antisemitism, included “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” as an example of antisemitism. (Sec. 1:7)

We therefore urge you to retract your comparisons of Israel to the Nazis and refrain from making any such comparisons in the future.


Prof. David S. Wyman
University of Massachusetts-Amherst (emer.)
Author, The Abandonment of the Jews

Prof. Shlomo Aronson
Hebrew University (emer.) / University of Arizona
Author of Hitler, the Allies, and the Jews

Prof. Michael Berenbaum
Director, Ziering Institute on the Holocaust, American Jewish University
Research Director (emer.), United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
President (emer.), Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation

Dr. Paul R. Bartrop
Head, Department of History. Bialik College (Australia)
Author, False Havens: The British Empire and the Holocaust

Prof. Zev Garber
Los Angeles Valley College
Editor, Studies in the Shoah

Dr. Myrna Goldenberg
Ida E. King Distinguished Visiting Scholar of Holocaust Studies, The Richard Stockton State College, NJ
Coauthor, Experience and Expression: Women, the Nazis, and the Holocaust

Dr. Irving Greenberg
Past President, Jewish Life Network
Past Chairman, United States Holocaust Memorial Council

Dr. Alex Grobman
Institute for Contemporary Jewish Life
Author, Genocide: Critical Issues of the Holocaust

Dr. Elvira Groezinger
Institut fuer Jdaistik
Freie Universitaet Berlin, Germany
Author, Die jiddische Kultur im Schatten der Diktaturen

Prof. Susannah Heschel
Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College
Author, Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust

Dr. Steven Leonard Jacobs
The University of Alabama
Author, Christian Religious Responsed to the Shoah

Prof. Kevin Lewis
Dept. of Religious Studies
University of South Carolina
Fulbright Senior Lecturer, Islamic Univ. of Gaza, Fall 1998

Mitchell Lieber
Director and Editor, Educational Web Site
(the Holocaust in Latvia) - Chicago, IL

Prof. Deborah E. Lipstadt
Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies
Emory University
Author, History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving

Rev. Dr. Franklin H. Littell
Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Religion, Temple University
Founder, Annual Scholars’ Conference on the Holocaust

Dr. Marcia Sachs Littell
Professor Holocaust & Genocide Studies - Richard Stockton College of NJ
Executive DIrector, Annual Scholars’ Conference on the Holocaust

Dr. Erich H. Loewy
Professor of Medicine and Founding Chair of Bioethics (emer.)
University of California, Davis
Author, Freedom and Community

Dr. Sharon. R. Lowenstein
Author, Token Refuge

Prof. Andrei S. Markovits
Deutsch Collegiate Professor of Comparative Politics and German Studies
The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Author, The German Predicament

Dr. Rafael Medoff
The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies
Author, Blowing the Whistle on Genocide

Prof. Stephen H. Norwood
University of Oklahoma
Coeditor, Encyclopedia of American Jewish History

Prof. David Novak
J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Professor of Jewish Studies
University of Toronto

Prof. Paul Oppenheimer
City College and Graduate Center, the City University of New York
Author of Evil and the Demonic

Prof. Zsuzanna Ozsvath
University of Texas at Dallas
Author, In the Footsteps of Orpheus

Prof. David Patterson
Bornblum Chair in Judaic Studies, The University of Memphis
Author, Encyclopedia of Holocaust Literature

Prof. Robert Jan van Pelt
University Professor, University of Waterloo
Author, The Case for Auschwitz

Dr. Susan L. Pentlin
Professor Emeritus University of Missouri
New Editor, Mary Berg's Diary: Growing up in the Warsaw Ghetto

Prof. Allen Podet
State University of New York College at Buffalo
Author, The Anglo-American Committee on Palestine

Prof. Eunice G. Pollack
University of North Texas
Coeditor, Encyclopedia of American Jewish History

Prof. Harry Reicher
University of Pennsylvania Law School;
Scholar-in-Residence, Touro Law Center
Author, Holocaust Law: Materials and Commentary

Prof. Paul L. Rose
Pennsylvania State University
Editor, Archives of the Holocaust (Vol. XIV)

Prof. Thane Rosenbaum
Director of the Forum on Law, Culture & Society
Fordham University School of Law
Author, The Myth of Moral Justice

Prof. Richard L. Rubenstein
President Emeritus, University of Bridgeport
Author, After Auschwitz

Dr. Mary Todd
Professor of History
Ohio Dominican University

Prof. Kenneth Waltzer
Professor and Director, Jewish Studies
Michigan State University

Prof. James E. Young
Chair, Department of Judaic & Near Eastern Studies, U. of Mass. Amherst
Author, Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust
Member, Academic Council, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Prof. John C. Zimmerman
University of Nevada Las Vegas
Author, Holocaust Denial

(Institutions listed for identification purposes only.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Armenian Genocide: Statement by Scholars

The French intellectual, Bernard-Henri Levi, has a intriguing piece in The New Republic calling for institutions of laws against genocide denial. He refers in the main to Holocaust and the Armenian genocide.

His article is prompted, in part, by the recent online petition of 200 Turkish writers, academics, and intellectuals apologizing for the massacre. According to Internet sources over 800 Turks have since added their name to the petition.

I do not agree with Levi's stance as I have frequently stated. However, his article raises some interesting issues.

At one point he makes reference to Irving v. Penguin UK and Lipstadt.

Take France's Gayssot law, which criminalized the denial of crimes against humanity, and which as yet has been applied only to denial of the Jewish Holocaust. This is a law that reins in the fringe and extremist politicians who engage in lightly cloaked anti-Semitism and who may be tempted to advocate Holocaust denial. This is a law that prevents masquerades like that of historian David Irving's trial in London in 2000.

Irving brought a libel case against Deborah Lipstadt, author of "Denying the Holocaust," who had labeled him a spokesman for Holocaust deniers. Though the judge ruled in notably strong language that Irving was indeed a Holocaust denier, in the absence of laws penalizing this offense, Irving walked free.

In fact, had there been a UK law against Holocaust denial Irving could never have brought his case. Before the trial I might have thought this was a good thing.

But as a result of the case, not only was Irving declared by the court to be a denier, racist, and antisemite but as a result of excellent research by our historical team we exposed the lies, distortions, falsifications, and inventions upon which Irving relied in each and every one of his comments about the Holocaust.

It was costly, time consuming, and, at times, overwhelming. But there is now a official court record attesting to the fact that denial is naught but a pack of lies. But more important that the court record is the work down by the historians. But for the trial it is highly doubtful that anyone would have devoted their time to showing how he lied and invented regarding the Holocaust.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Apples Over the Fence: I've Had My Say and I am Done

I have decided that, barring any new major developments , I will not adding any additional posts about this saga. My previous posts and my opeds [here and here] express all I have to say.

York Publishers sounds like a vanity press. It's possible publication of a book based on a fictionalized movie -- that may itself not be made -- will probably gain no traction.

The lesson of this saga comes to us in the words of John Adams and Emmanuel Ringelblum, both of whom I have quoted previously.

These two men, though separated by continents and centuries, cautioned against the need to embellish the truth in any way. Both were referring to seminal events in history, one glorious and one horrible.

Regarding the depiction of America's moment of creation, Adams wrote:
Truth, nature, fact should be your sole guide. Let not our posterity be deluded by fictions under the pretence of poetical or graphical license.”
Regarding the horrible destruction being faced by Jews during the Holocaust, Ringelblum wrote:
We wanted the simplest most unadorned account possible of what happened in each shtetl and what happened to each Jew [and in this war each Jew is like a world in itself. Any superfluous word, any literary exaggeration grated and repelled.... It is unnecessary to add an extra sentence.
Or, as one anonymous Jew wrote in the margin of a questionnaire Ringelblum's group distributed in the Warsaw ghetto in order to document conditions:
That's the takeaway from this whole matter.

And now.... Enough.

* I am not, of course, referring to the serious historical work on Buchenwald and its sub-camps being conducted by various historians.

** Kassow, Sam,
Who Will Write Our History?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Apples Over the Fence: A New Publisher for the Book

It's hard to believe but another publisher has stepped forward to publish Herman Rosenblat's book. I guess they will cut out the story of the "apples."

The publisher praises Rosenblat’s motivations, which they say "were very human."

I just saw a statement in which Harris Salomon, who is going ahead with the movie, saying the debate was all about "an apple." I guess Salomon has not read the manuscript. In it -- or at least in the version I read -- Rosenblat says she tossed apples and other food over for a length of seven months.

An apple?

Apples Over the Fence: Words from John Adams

John Trumbell was commissioned by Congress in 1817 to paint a portrait of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was hung in the Rotunda approximately a decade later.

When Trumbell was preparing to paint the picture the former president, John Adams, offered him some advice:

“Truth, nature, fact should be your sole guide. Let not our posterity be deluded by fictions under the pretence of poetical or graphical license.”

One assumes, given that Trumbell painted a scene that never happened – there was not a single session in which all the signers gathered to affix their signatures to the document – that Adams did not like the painting.

I watched HBO’s John Adams, which is based on David McCullough’s award winning book, on the plane flying home. The movie takes some liberties with the incident, showing Adams railing against Trumbell for painting a scene that never happened.

In fact, according to McCullough, we do not know precisely what Adams thought, but given his admonition to Trumbell one can imagine. Upon my return home I checked McCullough’s book and found Adams’ warning to Trumbell.

Too bad Adam’s eloquence was not recalled by all the people associated with the recent Holocaust memoir, particularly movie producer, Harris Salomon.

Salomon, who contacted Prof. Ken Waltzer’s deans to complain about the fact that he was talking to The New Republic and who attacked me, is attributing the cancellation of Rosenblat’s book to “the worst kind of censorship.” On his Atlantic Overseas Pictures website he writes:

[W]hat I have learned from my long involvement with Mr. Rosenblat and this project which I have come to love, is that American publishing still suffers from the worst kind of censorship.
Censorship? This was an example of the publishing industry correcting one of its failures and acknowledging a mistake.

To make matters even worse, he goes on to link those who criticized the story with Holocaust deniers and to criticize them for "judg[ing]" actions of survivors.

The documented fact, acknowledged by his critics, is that Herman is a survivor of concentration camps… It is indeed unfortunate that so many remain poised to jump on any opportunity to question the occurrence of the Holocaust, and to judge the actions of survivors of that horrific time in history."

With apologies to Joseph Welch, I wonder has this man no sense of decency?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Apples Over the Fence [13]: Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto Historian, Said it Best

During this less than pleasant Apples Over the Fence/ Angel at the Fence controversy, I have often said that there is no reason to aggrandize or exaggerate anything about the Holocaust.

Last night I happened to come across a quote which I have cited a number of times on this blog. It comes from Emanuel
Ringelblum, the great Warsaw ghetto historian who created the Oyneg Shabbes archives. [You can read about it and about Sam Kassow's wonderful book on the topic here.]

During the war he wrote regarding the material to be collected in the archive:
We wanted the simplest most unadorned account possible of what happened in each shtetl and what happened to each Jew [and in this war each Jew is like a world in itself.] Any superfluous work any literary exaggeration grated and repelled....It is unnecessary to add an extra sentence.
That is what all those involved in this escapade should have remembered.

Limmud '08: I Never Fail to be Amazed


I am sitting here about to board a plane for home and must reflect for just a moment on Limmud Conference '08. It was, once again, an amazing endeavor. There are too many reasons to repeat here especially as the boarding call for my plane was just made.

Let me say this: As someone who spends a great deal of her creative energies studying, teaching, writing, and blogging about Jews as object, i.e. what has been done and is done to Jews, it is a pleasure and a relief to participate in something which is all about Jew as subject, i.e. what Jews do.

Bravo to all those who made it possible. Words of praise do not suffice.