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Baltimore Jewish Times
August 4, 2000

Internet Neo-Nazis Avoiding Strummer Case

James D. Besser
Washington Correspondent

Washington, D.C. Since late June, the story of Deli Strummer -- the Towson resident removed from the Baltimore Jewish Council's recommended speakers list of Holocaust survivors because of discrepancies and inaccuracies in her testimonies -- has produced newspaper and wire-service headlines around the world.

But contrary to the expectations of some Holocaust historians and Jewish communal activists, the case has had little impact in the netherworld of Holocaust deniers, revisionists and their cohorts in the various racist, white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups. One indication: the case has made barely a dent in the hyperactive world of online haters.

A detailed examination of dozens of major revisionist and anti-Semitic sites produced only a handful of references to the story -- and most of them were simply electronic reprints of articles in this publication and the major wire services.

An Associated Press story on the subject was reproduced without comment by the White Nationalist News Agency. An Internet newsletter called The Final Conflict NewsMail, describing itself as 'a non-profit magazine dedicated to defending European civilization from Marxism and Capitalism,' presented the same story, with sarcastic interjections by the editor, who referred to Ms. Strummer as a 'Holohoaxer.'

Another site supposedly devoted to "German history" featured reprints from the Revisionist Week In Review that included commentary about the Strummer case. "We gleefully report that the Holocaust Promoters have now begun to censor their own, spurred by fear of being exposed as liars by Holocaust Revisionists," according to the publication.

There was more Strummer talk on Usenet, the immense collection of free-wheeling discussion forums that have become magnets for haters and conspiracy theorists. On alt.revisionism, a kind of worldwide bulletin board for Holocaust deniers, the case provoked the usual venomous exchanges between deniers and a few Jews eager to fight them. The gist of several: so many Holocaust stories are frauds that now even the Jews are forced to recognize them.

One -- a forum whose name suggests it is a kind of Hitler fan club -- included clippings from every recent story about the controversy. Other messages appeared in forums with racist names that can't be printed in this newspaper, along with rebuttals from a handful of users who combat online revisionists.

In one, Ms. Strummer's name came up in an ugly debate about gas chambers. One writer repeated the assertion popular in denier circles that Nazi gas chambers are a Jewish-driven myth; another challenged that assertion, talking about the overwhelming "historical support" for their reality. "Historical support? That would be the stories of people such as Deli Strummer, right?" the denier replied.

Another responded to a posted Strummer story with a classic argument of the deniers. "This story reminds me of the Jewish gal who 'survived' after being in six 'concentration camps.' Doesn't sound very efficient does it ... or doesn't it? The dirty little secret here is that most Jews who lost their relatives in 'the camps' lost their relatives to typhus."

FoxmanAbraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, (right) said controversies like the Strummer case provide "fodder" for the deniers, but that the impact of any single case is limited because of the overwhelming preponderance of solid, verifiable survivor testimonies.

"The fact is the deniers don't need real cases of people who exaggerate or make up stories," he said. "They are irrational, and rational proof is irrelevant to them."

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said hard-core deniers are interested in "the big, classic lies," not in relatively minor errors in a survivor's stories.

"They're interested in things like the claim that there were no gas chambers," he said. "They're aiming for what they see as the big picture. So anybody in Baltimore making errors of detail is seen more along the lines of, 'So what do you expect from the Jews?' It's just not going to have a big impact."

Related items on this website:

  Deli Strummer Addresses Her Critics' Allegations And Doubts About Her Holocaust Record: Deli Survived, But Will Her Story?
  Belated downfall of another Holocaust liar: "Popular [Baltimore] Holocaust Survivor Doubted"
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