黛博拉.利普斯塔特: 否認猶太大屠殺的謊言背後

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I come to you today to speak of liars , lawsuits and laughter .
The first time I heard about Holocaust denial , I laughed .
Holocaust denial ?
The Holocaust which has the dubious distinction of being the best-documented genocide in the world ?
Who could believe it did n't happen ?

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Think about it .
For deniers to be right , who would have to be wrong ?
Well , first of all , the victims -- the survivors who have told us their harrowing stories .
Who else would have to be wrong ?
The bystanders .
The people who lived in the myriads of towns and villages and cities on the Eastern front , who watched their neighbors be rounded up -- men , women , children , young , old -- and be marched to the outskirts of the town to be shot and left dead in ditches .
Or the Poles , who lived in towns and villages around the death camps , who watched day after day as the trains went in filled with people and came out empty .

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But above all , who would have to be wrong ?
The perpetrators .
The people who say , `` We did it .
I did it . '' Now , maybe they add a caveat .
They say , `` I did n't have a choice ; I was forced to do it . '' But nonetheless , they say , `` I did it . '' Think about it .
In not one war crimes trial since the end of World War II has a perpetrator of any nationality ever said , `` It did n't happen . '' Again , they may have said , `` I was forced , '' but never that it did n't happen .
Having thought that through , I decided denial was not going to be on my agenda ; I had bigger things to worry about , to write about , to research , and I moved on .

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Fast-forward a little over a decade , and two senior scholars -- two of the most prominent historians of the Holocaust -- approached me and said , `` Deborah , let 's have coffee .
We have a research idea that we think is perfect for you . '' Intrigued and flattered that they came to me with an idea and thought me worthy of it , I asked , `` What is it ? '' And they said , `` Holocaust denial . '' And for the second time , I laughed .
Holocaust denial ?
The Flat Earth folks ?
The Elvis-is-alive people ?
I should study them ?
And these two guys said , `` Yeah , we 're intrigued .
What are they about ?
What 's their objective ?
How do they manage to get people to believe what they say ? ''

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So thinking , if they thought it was worthwhile , I would take a momentary diversion -- maybe a year , maybe two , three , maybe even four -- in academic terms , that 's momentary .

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( Laughter )

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We work very slowly .

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( Laughter )

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And I would look at them .
So I did .
I did my research , and I came up with a number of things , two of which I 'd like to share with you today .

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One : deniers are wolves in sheep 's clothing .
They are the same : Nazis , neo-Nazis -- you can decide whether you want to put a `` neo '' there or not .
But when I looked at them , I did n't see any SS-like uniforms , swastika-like symbols on the wall , Sieg Heil salutes -- none of that .
What I found instead were people parading as respectable academics .

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What did they have ?
They had an institute .
An `` Institute for Historical Review . '' They had a journal -- a slick journal -- a `` Journal of Historical Review . '' One filled with papers -- footnote-laden papers .
And they had a new name .
Not neo-Nazis , not anti-Semites -- revisionists .
They said , `` We are revisionists .
We are out to do one thing : to revise mistakes in history . '' But all you had to do was go one inch below the surface , and what did you find there ?
The same adulation of Hitler , praise of the Third Reich , anti-Semitism , racism , prejudice .
This is what intrigued me .
It was anti-Semitism , racism , prejudice , parading as rational discourse .

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The other thing I found -- many of us have been taught to think there are facts and there are opinions -- after studying deniers , I think differently .
There are facts , there are opinions , and there are lies .
And what deniers want to do is take their lies , dress them up as opinions -- maybe edgy opinions , maybe sort of out-of-the-box opinions -- but then if they 're opinions , they should be part of the conversation .
And then they encroach on the facts .

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I published my work -- the book was published , `` Denying the Holocaust : The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory , '' it came out in many different countries , including here in Penguin UK , and I was done with those folks and ready to move on .
Then came the letter from Penguin UK .
And for the third time , I laughed ...
mistakenly .
I opened the letter , and it informed me that David Irving was bringing a libel suit against me in the United Kingdom for calling him a Holocaust denier .

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David Irving suing me ?
Who was David Irving ?
David Irving was a writer of historical works , most of them about World War II , and virtually all of those works took the position that the Nazis were really not so bad , and the Allies were really not so good .
And the Jews , whatever happened to them , they sort of deserved it .
He knew the documents , he knew the facts , but he somehow twisted them to get this opinion .
He had n't always been a Holocaust denier , but in the late '80s , he embraced it with great vigor .

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The reason I laughed also was this was a man who not only was a Holocaust denier , but seemed quite proud of it .
Here was a man -- and I quote -- who said , `` I 'm going to sink the battleship Auschwitz . '' Here was a man who pointed to the number tattooed on a survivor 's arm and said , `` How much money have you made from having that number tattooed on your arm ? '' Here was a man who said , `` More people died in Senator Kennedy 's car at Chappaquiddick than died in gas chambers at Auschwitz . '' That 's an American reference , but you can look it up .
This was not a man who seemed at all ashamed or reticent about being a Holocaust denier .

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Now , lots of my academic colleagues counseled me -- `` Eh , Deborah , just ignore it . '' When I explained you ca n't just ignore a libel suit , they said , `` Who 's going to believe him anyway ? '' But here was the problem : British law put the onus , put the burden of proof on me to prove the truth of what I said , in contrast to as it would have been in the United States and in many other countries : on him to prove the falsehood .

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What did that mean ?
That meant if I did n't fight , he would win by default .
And if he won by default , he could then legitimately say , `` My David Irving version of the Holocaust is a legitimate version .
Deborah Lipstadt was found to have libeled me when she called me a Holocaust denier .
Ipso facto , I , David Irving , am not a Holocaust denier . '' And what is that version ?
There was no plan to murder the Jews , there were no gas chambers , there were no mass shootings , Hitler had nothing to do with any suffering that went on , and the Jews have made this all up to get money from Germany and to get a state , and they 've done it with the aid and abettance of the Allies -- they 've planted the documents and planted the evidence .

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I could n't let that stand and ever face a survivor or a child of survivors .
I could n't let that stand and consider myself a responsible historian .
So we fought .
And for those of you who have n't seen `` Denial , '' spoiler alert : we won .

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( Laughter )

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( Applause )

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The judge found David Irving to be a liar , a racist , an anti-Semite .
His view of history was tendentious , he lied , he distorted -- and most importantly , he did it deliberately .
We showed a pattern , in over 25 different major instances .
Not small things -- many of us in this audience write books , are writing books ; we always make mistakes , that 's why we 're glad to have second editions : correct the mistakes .

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( Laughter )

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But these always moved in the same direction : blame the Jews , exonerate the Nazis .

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But how did we win ?
What we did is follow his footnotes back to his sources .
And what did we find ?
Not in most cases , and not in the preponderance of cases , but in every single instance where he made some reference to the Holocaust , that his supposed evidence was distorted , half-truth , date-changed , sequence-changed , someone put at a meeting who was n't there .
In other words , he did n't have the evidence .
His evidence did n't prove it .
We did n't prove what happened .
We proved that what he said happened -- and by extension , all deniers , because he either quotes them or they get their arguments from him -- is not true .
What they claim -- they do n't have the evidence to prove it .

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So why is my story more than just the story of a quirky , long , six-year , difficult lawsuit , an American professor being dragged into a courtroom by a man that the court declared in its judgment was a neo-Nazi polemicist ?
What message does it have ?
I think in the context of the question of truth , it has a very significant message .
Because today , as we well know , truth and facts are under assault .
Social media , for all the gifts it has given us , has also allowed the difference between facts -- established facts -- and lies to be flattened .

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Third of all : extremism .
You may not see Ku Klux Klan robes , you may not see burning crosses , you may not even hear outright white supremacist language .
It may go by names : `` alt-right , '' `` National Front '' -- pick your names .
But underneath , it 's that same extremism that I found in Holocaust denial parading as rational discourse .

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We live in an age where truth is on the defensive .
I 'm reminded of a New Yorker cartoon .
A quiz show recently appeared in `` The New Yorker '' where the host of the quiz show is saying to one of the contestants , `` Yes , ma'am , you had the right answer .
But your opponent yelled more loudly than you did , so he gets the point . ''

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What can we do ?
First of all , we can not be beguiled by rational appearances .
We 've got to look underneath , and we will find there the extremism .
Second of all , we must understand that truth is not relative .
Number three , we must go on the offensive , not the defensive .
When someone makes an outrageous claim , even though they may hold one of the highest offices in the land , if not the world -- we must say to them , `` Where 's the proof ?
Where 's the evidence ? '' We must hold their feet to the fire .
We must not treat it as if their lies are the same as the facts .

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And as I said earlier , truth is not relative .
Many of us have grown up in the world of the academy and enlightened liberal thought , where we 're taught everything is open to debate .
But that 's not the case .
There are certain things that are true .
There are indisputable facts -- objective truths .
Galileo taught it to us centuries ago .
Even after being forced to recant by the Vatican that the Earth moved around the Sun , he came out , and what is he reported to have said ?
`` And yet , it still moves . ''

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The Earth is not flat .
The climate is changing .
Elvis is not alive .

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( Laughter )

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( Applause )

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And most importantly , truth and fact are under assault .
The job ahead of us , the task ahead of us , the challenge ahead of us is great .
The time to fight is short .
We must act now .
Later will be too late .

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Thank you very much .

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( Applause )