June 30, 2000 / 20 Sivan 5760
Graduations With A Shoah Theme
By Stewart Ain, Staff Writer
Lipstadt at YU, Eizenstat at JTS address the past to those who'll define the future.
'My mother was killed in Auschwitz. If David Irving had won, my mother would have been a victim a second time! So too would everybody else who perished there."
"Congratulations on achieving not only the ruling in your favor, but also the justice for survivors."
Those were just two of the letters Deborah Lipstadt was to tell Yeshiva University graduates this week that she received following her successful defense of a libel suit by Holocaust revisionist David Irving. The letters, she said, "touched me so deeply" and illustrated the "reaction my experience has evoked in so many people worldwide."
And he suggested the creation of an educational network that would transmit to future generations the "intellectual richness of the Eastern European culture destroyed by the Holocaust."
In her address, Lipstadt, a professor at Emory University, said "not fighting [the Irving suit] was never an option." She said a friend said her stance reminded her of the non-Jewish rescuers during the Holocaust who acted instinctively.
"The alternative -- turning their backs on those who desperately needed help -- was simply not an option," said Lipstadt, who was sued after she labeled Irving a Holocaust denier in her book, "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory." "It was not an option despite the risk it posed for them and their families. Of course, any risks I assumed were naught compared to theirs. However, in both cases the alternative -- letting the scoundrels do their evil deeds -- was simply unpalatable."
Irving would have won by default had she not contested his suit, Lipstadt said. That would have given him the right to say that a "British court had found that he was not a Holocaust denier and that his lies and distortions about the Holocaust were true."
Lipstadt said she gained strength during the trial from the knowledge that she had support from the community-at-large.
"They too felt that they could not abide a man who spews hatred and prejudice, who dances on the graves of Holocaust victims, who makes vile jokes about survivors, who scorns people of color, who is repulsed by homosexuals, and who believes women a lesser form of being," she said.
Lipstadt quoted also from the following letters:
"I read with great pleasure of your success in winning your lawsuit for libel by David Irving. Those 'revisionist historians' aggravate me to no end, particularly since I was an 18-year-old GI in Germany at the end of WW II and had the rare privilege of seeing Buchenwald concentration camp in the spring of 1945. I just wanted to let you know of another pair of eyes who saw the aftermath of it first hand."
"Fair-haired and light-eyed, Christian, goy and stranger I may be, but I cannot understand how that dreadful creature persuaded some of our children that their parents and grandparents are either liars or fools. There are still plenty of us who will remember until we die -- including those who, unlike me, were there."
Lipstadt asked the graduates also not to compromise their principles just because it may be the easy way out, and to "stand up for what is right, even when it demands much to do so."
Photos of Lipstadt and Buchenwald victims added from David Irving website archives
June 30, 2000 / 20 Sivan 5760
Website fact: The stamina of the defence team in the Lipstadt libel action was aided by a six million dollar slushfund provided by Steven Spielberg, Edgar J Bronfman, and the American Jewish Committee, which enabled them to pay 21 lawyers and "experts". A million pound lollipop was figuratively brandished from the defence lawyers' table throughout the trial, and all those who behaved got a lick at it; their experts like the "scholars" Prof. Evans, Prof. Longerich and others were paid up to £125,000 each (on top of the academic salaries they continued to draw) to testify as they did. Nobody was paying for Mr Irving. His defence witnesses testified without payment, from conviction. [Help!]