Why Holocaust deniers are beyond debate
THERE are two reasons why we should not engage in debates with Holocaust deniers.
The first parallels the reason for not debating with those who believe that the position of the planets at the moment of our birth determines our destiny or that the earth is flat. We do not argue with people who reject rationality - just as we do not attempt to teach the laws of quantum physics in kindergartens.
The second reason is the one that leads us to wash in the morning, wear decent clothes and seek to pass on our values and beliefs to our children: we have self-respect. We have no need to validate our sense of self by seeking the approval of those who would destroy us, nor of their fellow travellers.
The likes of David Irving question whether there were gas chambers in the hell that went by the name of Auschwitz.
There is not one historian holding a position at a recognised university who questions the existence of gas chambers. Not in Germany, not in Poland, not in the United Kingdom, not in the United States of America, not in Australia. Not one - for a simple reason. It is called evidence.
Hitler publicly announced in January 1939, and on many earlier occasions, his manic determination to destroy the Jewish people. Historians have the records of the Wannsee conference held in January 1942 at which details of mass extermination were discussed. They have the text of Heinrich Himmler's secret speech of October 1943 at which he justified mass murder. The commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, left a detailed testament of his crimes.
What more evidence is required? The testimonies of Polish bystanders - peasants, town dwellers, members of the underground and Catholic clergy? Detailed records of train movements, photographs, architectural plans, a patent application by the crematorium designers Topf and Sons, the physical remains of Auschwitz-Birkenau - including warehouses of personal belongings?
There is one other category of evidence - survivors. Because Auschwitz-Birkenau - unlike Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor and Chelmno - served, in addition to its extermination role, as a labour camp, and because it was the last of the centres to remain operational, thousands of witnesses survived. They include Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel.
To debate with the likes of David Irving we thus have first to agree that this mass of evidence could possibly be fraudulent, perhaps the work of the Elders of Zion who secretly control the world. We have to assume that during the course of war, when the German armies were marching victorious over Europe and northern Africa, the agents of the Elders were secretly placing fraudulent documents in the archives of the Nazi Government. Or that after the war they were able to force hundreds of the innocent SS to confess to crimes that they had not committed. Or that they were hiding populations numbered in the millions. Or that they recruited and coached tens of thousands of witnesses, Jew and Gentile, to recite scripted tales of acts that never occurred - and to continue reciting them to the present day.
Those willing to make such assumptions should debate the deniers. The leading American expert on Holocaust denial, Professor Deborah Lipstadt, never engages in such debate. She writes that "deniers want to be thought of as the 'other side'. Simply appearing with them on the same stage accords them that status."
Those concerned with ignorance of the Holocaust still in evidence in our society should engage in Holocaust education, without giving legitimacy to the assassins of memory.
Article: http://www.ajn.com.au/driver.asp?page=m ... ts/opinion