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Number of [Holocaust] Survivors


Reply-To: H-NET List for History of the Holocaust <H-HOLOCAUST@H-NET.MSU.EDU>
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From: Norman Finkelstein

July 8, 1999


I do not wish to enter into a protracted debate on the matter of who is a survivor. It seems that most list members -- if not Mr Esrati -- grasped my point. However, I would want to suggest where this latest Nazi holocaust revisionism is heading. Some of you may have read the GRANTA article on Wilkomirski. The most astonishing commentary came from Israel Gutman, a director of Yad Vashem. Allow me to quote the crucial passage:

"[Wilkomirski's story] has to be checked very thoroughly, but -- I don't think it's that important. Wilkomirski has written a story which he has experienced deeply, that's for sure. So that, even if he is not Jewish, the fact that he was so deeply affected by the Holocaust is of huge importance. . .  He is not a fake. He is someone who lives this story very deeply in his soul. The pain is authentic."

Thus: Because Wilkomirski's pain is real, he is an authentic survivor. Never mind that he spent the war not in Auschwitz but in the most affluent quarter of Switzerland. Never mind that he is half-fruitcake, half-mountebank. Let me add that I know for sure that Gutman was in Auschwitz. My late father met him there and they became lifelong friends. And yet Gutman now avers that it makes no difference whether you were in Auschwitz or a Swiss finishing school: it's all the same if "the pain is authentic"! Isn't it time for serious reflection on how morally corrupting this whole Holocaust business has become? For that reason alone, I welcome Novick's book.


Norman Finkelstein


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