Battle for history Movie depicts professor's trial against Holocaust denier BY KHEYAL ROY-MEIGHOO
courtroom hangs in suspense. The defendant awaits the verdict, knowing it will command the past. As the judge makes his decision, a feeling of relief spreads over the defendant. She has won and her victory does nothing less than decide the fate of history. Deborah Lipstadt, Jewish studies professor at Emory University, leads the movement against Holocaust denial. According to Lipstadt, a Holocaust denier is someone who refuses to acknowledge that the Holocaust ever occurred and claims that Hitler did not order the genocide of the Jewish people. Deniers skew facts and evidence in order to support their claim. Lipstadt explained that deniers try to make “jews look guilty,” as if victims of the Holocaust are fabricating events that took place during World War II. Lipstadt named British historian David Irving as a Holocaust denier in her 1993 book, "Denying the Holocaust: The
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Growing Assault on Truth and Memory." Irving would “humiliate survivors.” Irving did not take this accusation lightly. “At first I felt badly,” Lipstadt said, “[but] On Sept. 5, 1996, he sued Lipstadt for libel, not using testimonies was the right thing or written insult. Lipstadt flew to England to do.” not only to defend herself and her book, but Lipstadt and her lawyers decided to use to end Holocaust denial. irrefutable facts rather than emotion. Before the trial, Lipstadt refused to debate “You have to show the facts, and someIrving. She said debating over whether or times passion gets in the way of facts,” not the Holocaust Lipstadt said. happened was like “What we had to do in the courtThere were “debating with a room was prove he was a liar.” several times doctor whether when Irving germs exist.” Nev— Deborah Lipstadt, professor seemed to be ertheless, Lipstadt winning. For faced Irving to discredit Holocaust denial. example, he declared that the holes on the “What we had to do in the courtroom was roof of a gas chamber used by the Nazis were prove he was a liar,” Lipstadt said. simply drawn in each photograph submitLipstadt’s lawyers did not want the Holoted as evidence. His slogan, “No caust itself to be put on trial. If the defense holes, no Holocaust!” became had put the Holocaust on trial and lost, Hothe trademark of the trial. locaust denial would be legal. It was crucial Lipstadt’s team’s stratthat the lawyers dispel Holocaust denial, egies paid off. Justice rather than provide incentives for it to grow. Charles Gray deliv“I felt I was representing the people who ered the verdict on had died, who were murdered...and those April 11, 2000, and who survived and had no means of fighting Lipstadt won. deniers,” Lipstadt said. According to the During the trial, Lipstadt faced tough "The Guardian," the judge decisions. Lipstadt recalls that about ruled Irving was “an active 20 holocaust survivors approached Holocaust denier; that he her during the trial, urging her to was anti-Semitic and racist use them as witnesses to prove and that he associated with the Holocaust actually hapright-wing extremists who pened. Despite Lipstadt’s promote Neo-Nazism.” desire to share their stories, “Not only did we win, but her defense never called for we devastated the man,” Lipthe testimony of a survivor. stadt said. This was because, acIrving applied for the verdict cording to Lipstadt, to be reviewed in 2001, but was denied. In 2002, Irving declared bankruptcy. Lipstadt continues to advocate against Holocaust denial.
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