February 29, 2000
school student wants alternative views of Holocaust
By KRIS B. MAMULA
PITTSBURGH (AP) - High school
class president Robbie Joswiak wants
revisionist views of the Holocaust taught in his
Beaver County school district and that, said one
teacher, is proof enough that students are not
receiving enough information about Nazi
In a recent e-mail message to teacher
Stephanie Mazzei, the high school senior
argued that the number of European Jews killed in
Nazi Germany may have been 1.1 million - not the
six million deaths that are usually cited.
Mazzei, who teaches gifted students and lectures
on the Holocaust, said Joswiak's views are proof
that the Riverside Beaver County School District,
with 2,067 students, needs to expand its Nazi-era
"He told me what I was
teaching was, in effect, folklore," said Mazzei,
who has been a teacher in the district for 30
years. "That's what alarmed me."
Mazzei said Joswiak was familiar with her
teachings, but had never attended one of her
seminars, which supplement the district's World War
II studies. Joswiak told Mazzei that he'd read 13
books about the Holocaust, three of which
challenged conventional information about the Nazi
Joswiak cited works by British historian
David Irving as a reason why other views of
the Holocaust should be taught. Irving, 62,
disputes the number and manner of Jewish deaths in
But Nazi-era expert Simon Reich dismissed
"There is essentially no historical data in
support of his claims," Reich, a University of
Pittsburgh public policy professor, said Monday.
"He perverts the notion that history provides you
with a set of objective facts."
Citing Joswiak's e-mail message, Mazzei has
urged the Riverside School Board to expand its
teaching about the Holocaust, which currently does
not reach every student. Joswiak, who has studied
the Nazi era in Germany and Israel, offered to
conduct more seminars, she said.
"The district supports what she is teaching,"
said Superintendent Mark King. "As far as
we're concerned, the matter is closed."
Joswiak's father, Robert H. Joswiak, said
his son would not be available to comment. But he
said he supported his son's efforts.
"Obviously there are forces at work today that
are deliberately excluding this knowledge," Joswiak
said. "What kind of education is this when it's
The elder Joswiak said Irving's beliefs should
be presented with conventional Holocaust teachings.
Mazzei said those beliefs demonstrate the
importance of teaching what happened in Nazi
Germany. "This story needs to be told," said
Mazzei, "exactly what happened and
why." © Copyright 2000