Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Denial of the Shoah

It pains me. It really does pain me when people out there deny that the Shoah existed. That's one of the reasons why the situation with Iran scares me. You have an Iranian president who denies the existence of the Shoah and then goes on to say that Israel should be wiped out. It's a scary situation and thought. Do these people not realize the horrors of what the Jews and other minorities went through during the 1930s and 1940s?

Anne Applebaum writes that we must take this conference seriously. Take a look at some of these excerpts from the article:
On Monday, the Iranian foreign ministry held an international conference. There's nothing unusual in that. Foreign ministries hold conferences, mostly dull ones, all the time. But this one was different. For one thing, the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust dealt with history, not current politics. Instead of the usual suspects—deputy ministers and the like—the invitees seem to have included David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader; Georges Thiel, a Frenchman who has called the Holocaust "an enormous lie"; and Fredrick Töben, a German-born Australian whose specialty is the denial of Nazi gas chambers. The guest list was selective: No one with any academic eminence, or indeed any scholarly credentials, was invited. One Palestinian scholar, Khaled Ksab Mahamid, was asked to come but was then barred because he holds an Israeli passport—and also perhaps because he, unlike other guests, believes that the Holocaust really did happen.
Like Anne, I, too, have to give credit to Germany for organizing a counterconference. After all, the events of the Shoah were initiated there.
In response, the United States, Europe, and Israel expressed official outrage. The German government, to its credit, organized a counterconference. Still, many have kept their distance, refusing to be shocked or even especially interested. After all, the Holocaust ended more than six decades ago. Since then, the victims of the Holocaust have written hundreds of books, and the scholarship on the Holocaust has run into billions of words. There are films, photographs, documents, indeed whole archives dedicated to the history of the Nazi regime: We all know what happened. Surely Iran's denial cannot be serious.
I've read through some of those books in the past and then again during this fall in my Holocaust Literature class. The Shoah is not just about numbers because every single person, whether they survived or perished, has a unique story whether you know it or not. I encourage you to read them, if and when you have a chance, because their stories are important. My cousin wrote a book called Zegota and has written several more.

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