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June 16, 2016 3:32 pm

Renowned Historian Deborah Lipstadt Notes Release of Hollywood Movie About Her Legal Battle Against Holocaust Denial Comes at Fragile Moment for Jews (INTERVIEW)

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Holocaust expert and author Dr. Deborah Lipstadt. Photo: Facebook.

Holocaust expert and author Dr. Deborah Lipstadt. Photo: Facebook.

Preeminent American historian Dr. Deborah Lipstadt — whose historic legal battle against Holocaust denial is depicted in an upcoming Hollywood movie — told The Algemeiner on Thursday that she “never dreamed” the film would be released during such a fragile moment for Jews.

“This movie has been in the works for a relatively long time,” she said, “My book was optioned about eight years ago, so I’m as surprised by the timing as anyone else, which speaks to the fact that we are all surprised by the tide of virulent antisemitism today.”

Lipstadt — author of Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory — made headlines in the 1990s, when she and her publisher were sued for libel in the UK by British Holocaust denier David Irving, whom she named in the book. Since the burden of proof in English courts rests on the defendant in such cases, Lipstadt and her legal team needed to prove that the Holocaust did, in fact, take place.

At the conclusion of the three-month-long trial — from January 11-April 11, 2000 — the judge ruled in favor of Lipstadt, and found that Irving, “for his own ideological reasons, persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence” to portray Hitler “in an unwarrantedly favorable light.” The judge said of Irving that he is an “active Holocaust denier; that he is antisemitic and racist, and that he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism.”

Lipstadt’s ordeal is portrayed in the film “Denial”based on her book, History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier. Her role will be played by Academy Award-winner Rachel Weisz.

“While the movie can only accomplish so much, it will educate and show the world the absolute ludicrous, delusional and absurd quality of Holocaust denial,” Lipstadt told The Algemeiner“You can have a lot of opinions on the Holocaust. You have people arguing the main motivation was antisemitism, that Hitler was the linchpin, that it was the people around him or both, or that the Holocaust was the result of something uniquely German. You can have a lot of opinions, but in the end, you cannot have your own facts. Historians of the Holocaust are especially careful about getting their facts right, and no one can say it is all a lie or there is no evidence.”

Denial-poster-620x931The film, Lipstadt said, also “quite directly” addresses another major point — that “Holocaust denial is at its heart a form of antisemitism.”

“Denying the Holocaust is not a form of cognitive dissonance. The Holocaust has the dubious distinction of being the best-documented genocide in the world. It’s not that deniers are missing a certain piece of evidence or information; they don’t want to make the Holocaust true, because it paints the Nazis in a bad light and creates sympathy for the Jews, whom they want to depict as nefarious people,” she said. “This is ironic, because on the one hand, they say the Holocaust never happened, yet on the other, they say that the Jews were so awful and such enemies of the Third Reich that they deserved to be killed.”

Currently, she said, deniers are by and large racist white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

The “hardcore Holocaust denial” Lipstadt said she faced during her trial differs from what she referred to as “today’s softcore Holocaust denial.”  The latter, she said, is characterized not necessarily by a distortion of the facts, but by “a rewriting of the history and the drawing of false comparisons.”

“For example, a person can disagree with Israel’s policies and leadership. But for people to say that the Israeli army is engaging in genocidal actions as bad as Hitler? That’s incomparable. In England, you have Ken Livingstone, who is not denying the Holocaust, but is rewriting history by attempting to link Zionism with Nazism. Again, no comparison.”

Watching her real-life battle come to the big screen through Weisz’s portrayal left Lipstadt with “the utmost respect” for the veteran actress.

“I think she’s a professional’s professional,” she told The Algemeiner. “I watched her work and saw how she did her research, querying me on certain things. She really wanted to get this right.”

Lipstadt also recounted “one of the most powerful moments” off-screen:

“We were at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp [in Poland], and Rachel had just finished filming a scene. She asked me to walk her through the camp. It was pretty overwhelming. Both of her parents had fled the Nazis; their lives were disrupted because of the Holocaust. What I saw in her made me feel that this movie was not merely a professional assignment for her; it had a lot of personal meaning, too. At one point, after she filmed a certain scene, she turned to me and said, ‘That wasn’t acting.’”

“Denial” opens in limited release on September 30.

Watch the first trailer below.

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  • Liz Wagner

    Looking forward to seeing this. Wm. J. Levy, I completely agree with you. Today, the world has its way with Israel because, too often, Israel fails to hit back against the liars and deniers. In fact, one could argue that the global campaign being carried out against Israel, today, is an extension of Holocaust denial. Or, perhaps, a substitute. Deborah Lipstadt and others weakened Holocaust denial, making it less profitable so, today, we have the re-writing and denial of Zionist, Arab, Muslim and Israeli history. So far, it’s been quite profitable for the Jew haters. Another celebrated author of Holocaust history and denial, Prof. Laurel Leff, gave us “Buried By The Times,” the story of how The NYT buried one of the biggest stories of the 20th century by limiting coverage mostly to small articles relegated to the inside pages of “The World’s Newspaper of Record.” Today, it’s Israel being buried by The Times, under an avalanche of coverage bloated with lies, distortions, glaring omissions and “affirmative action” journalism that portrays Israel, the Jew among the nations, as evil incarnate while Israel’s bellicose enemies are portrayed innocent victims. Congratulations to Rachel Weisz, too, and everyone involved in bringing “Denial” out.

  • A thousand years from now historians will ponder and asked the question “how could the holocaust ever happens ) and there will be still be out there at that time holocoast deniers only because the ever lasting hatred of my people the Jewish people if you look behind the hatred of anti Semitism you will find the truth. Leonard Sherman Chicago

  • Myron Slater

    There are still people that hate the Jews so much, they denied that there ever was a Holocaust! The hatred never goes away!

  • A Zionist

    This comment should be removed. It is offensive. It is antisemitic in intent.

  • Arnold Handelman

    The movie Denial looks like it will become historically significant, alongside others like Schindler’s List and Ararat (about the Armenian genocide). Mankind not only commits genocide, it often later denies it. But there are other ways that mankind is culpable. Sometimes we see it and comment on it but do nothing. Sometimes we see it but avoid feeling guilty by trivializing it. Perhaps the most culpable human behavior is like Obama’s-to actually enable genocide. Iran is the world’s biggest sponsor of terror. Iran repeatedly seriously pledges to wipe Israel off the map. Obama makes the Iran deal to release billions of dollars to Iran without requiring it to stop funding terror, or to stop threatening the existence of Israel. Obama ignores Iran’s threats the way the West ignored Hitler’s threats. What is more enabling of genocide than the way Obama ensured the nuclear capability of Iran to bring about global armagedon and holocaust after 15 years pass. These historically based movies are very important. But they are obviously not enough to stop humans from repeating the sins and omissions of the past.

    • You wrongly accuse Iran of being a monster sponsor of terrorism but fact she mare ally support Shiite brethren world wide
      Your main problem is it’s anti Israel stance
      Compare with Saudi Arabia

    • Markus Elkana Brajtman

      I cannot understand why there is so much hatred of Jews.
      Is it because they are jealous of what the Jews have achieved?
      It seems as though the world needs to have a scapegoat to blame everything on.

      Why are some countries trying to destroy Israel and getting support from the likes of Obama?

      I know that a lot of this hatred of Jews stems from the lie that the Jews killed Jesus by crucifying him.
      Yet, the Jews never crucified anyone. The Romans crucified Jesus.
      The Jews were being persecuted by the Romans because they believed in God, which the Romans only belied in “made up Gods” so how to destroy the Jews, was to accuse the Jews of killing Jesus.
      The Jews in those Roman times, were afraid to do anything, as they too, were crucified by the Romans. So, blame the Jews.

  • robert davis

    The time for Ms Listadt movie is not so bad, pre”sent antisemitism wave will not last for ever, its motvation is pressure on Israel and these pressures are crashing on walls and therefore useless. They are even favourable to Israel probably showing how caving to pressures are counter productive and a new nationalist Policy is the right thing to do for Israel ie expelling all arabs from Western Palestine.

  • robert davis

    Every time we try to comment we are opposed with a “this page does not exist” on your site! Who is responsible of this denial of free expression,

    • A Zionist

      Since you have 2 comments posted, your freedom to speak is not denied.

    • racy

      Robert, you’re absolutely right. I get the same message, “this page does not exist”. It also happens when I get the news from Israel. This is a perfect time for this film. All the colleges and universities are spewing anti Semitism, and those in authority are doing zero about the assault on Jewish students. We must speak out against anti-Semitism as soon as it strikes. Waiting, just emboldens the perpetrators.

  • Guest

    Jews should go live in Isreal. They belong there and the world is better off.

    • Linda Golden

      Really? Well I glad that you believe Jews belong there…that’s certainly refreshing, but Jews can and should live wherever they want just like everyone else. As to Jews being better off in Israel…probably since they lead the world in medical and scientific technology, just to name two outstanding fields

  • This trailer is amazingly done – I am looking forward to September 30!

  • jake

    Add: it works even paradoxically against the trtuh: more you are debating about if it is or it is not the truth, you are bringing doubts about all the stuff you are debating about.
    There was a WW II and 400 concentration and extermination Camps, From France only 76.000 people who never returned …and only In POlan,d 2.800.000 who never took their housing and properties and place in the sun, back…Period!

    • A Zionist

      I have no idea what your second paragraph means. Are doubting Holocaust research?

  • jake

    All that is a issue of Psychiatry and not Historian nor Judiciary questions…The Fact that most of a population (any) is made of potentially 80% of psychotic and Borderline Structured minds is still not recognized and even less known (See: Jean Bergeret’s-“Normal and Pathological Personalities -Dunod-Lyon 1974-reprinted-France & Medical Encyclopedia.)
    Discussion debate and Trials are a fully moronic and useless costly maneuvering for nuts!
    Do anyone debate about any schizophrenic-paraphrénic Discourse?????
    The Willing Ignorance of elementary psychiatry and psychoanalysis appears amazingly pathological in our societies…
    Writings and Movies remain alas totally useless for those who are normal educated not paranoiac people as they have a minimum Commonsense. The others are anyway out of any commen sense and CANNOT understand these writings and Movies !

  • Jerome Henen

    I am looking forward to seeing the movie. Despite the definitive outcome of the court case in Lipstadt’s favor and the judge’s powerful obiter dicta and depiction correctly of Irving as a bigot of the worst sort , it has done nothing to limit or staunch the flow of vile antisemitism that has increased in volume over the years, in various disguises including the despicable BDS movement and the BLM movement in the USA. The older forms of attacks on jews are still all too common and universities particularly have become unsafe places for jews or anyone who dares to support Israel. Valid criticism of Israel is now rare, mostly it is a thin veneer for anti semitism or anti zionism.
    To end off I must just say that Israel has become the pariah of the world and represents the ever derided and maligned jew in national format.
    Muslim hatred of jews particularly has fueled the fires of jew hatred, still smoldering from the second world war Europe. The mufti of Jerusalem and hitler were allies and united in the desire to eradicate the jews. Hitler is gone but his ideas live on. His Mein Kampf is wildly popular in the middle east and among muslim countries to this day.
    Beleaguered minuscule Israel faces terror and endless war with the Arabs on its borders and of course Iran has openly stated its desire to eliminate Israel. And of course the world stands by, and does nothing, AGAIN, in fact Obama aids the Iranians and threatens Israel. Land is not the issue , nor is ‘occupation’ jews were being murdered by Arabs long before the state of Israel was formed. The issue is Hamas’ manifesto to have no jewish state at all- that is the only thing these madmen want.
    But fortunately Israel today is strong , and the jews can no longer be led passively to the gas chambers. Shame on those left wing jews mainly in the USA and the UK who refuse to support Israel and her very right to exist. These traitors are the same type of ones who thought they would be immune from persecution by hitler. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

  • Can not wait to see this movie…the Holocaust happened, it was real and if anyone wants to say it didn’t maybe they should visit those that still and survived the brutal camps!

  • Yaakov Holansky

    Dr Lipstadt
    Congratulations upon having your most significant fight in the Courtroom Historian versus Revisionist. Your victory wasOur victory and no one can thank you enough. You are so right about the need for an educational tool. We have now 2-generations whom are weak on the Shoah and how unique in the course of HumanHistory this event was and how it has definedu
    Us as a People Say Never Again I pray for it to be true We are from the same Generation In the late 60s and 70s I had more confidence. Today’s leaders pay lip service to the Holocaust but unlike you and I they live it each day in every fiber of our body & permeating I to our Soul. I grew up in a neighborhood populated by many survivors and went to school with their Children. Never Again. Thank you again for your selfless hard work

    • Yaakov Holansky

      I wanted to say earlier that this is a fitting way to memorialize the challenge you faced against Irving.

    • Markus Elkana Brajtman

      Germany, the country responsible for the Holocaust, has never denied the Holocaust, and has really admitted to their guilt.
      So, those who deny the Holocaust, should ask Germany about the Holocaust.

  • Leah Lax

    I want to aee this movie,

  • diane

    Are you freaken kidding me. These people have to be very stupid or ignorant to deny that the Holocaust never happened, OH yea like world world ll never happened.. Yea right, these are Jew haters for sure.

  • The only reason that anti-Jew, I don’t use that artificial term anti-Semitism made up by a 19th century Austrian Jew hater Wm. Marr, sentiment exists today is because Jews are too weak and afraid to go after their haters.

    Nobody hates the Irish, the Italian, the black, the German, the Polish and all the other peoples in America but the Jew because they know that the Jews will do nothing.

    Try attacking blacks and see what happens. Try attacking Italians and see what happens. That’s right also because they have such large numbers and they get violent.

    Jon Stewart, the comedian said it best and sadly, “Insult the Jew, apologize and they forgive you.” Stop forgiving and start hurting them.
    All of Sheldon Adeslon’s 32 billion dollars means nothing if you can’t defend what you have and the Nazis knew that and the Jew haters know that. Imagine them being afraid of you for a change and that’s what we need.

    600,000 German Jews could have killed Hitler and the Nazis in the 1920’s and they could have done it with just 1% of the German Jews if they could have recognized the real dangers and took action.

    Don’e ever say “Never Again”. I simply say “Why Not”.

    Jews have to be strong and not be the weaklings following the weakest of Jewish “leaders” because they will give everything away and make nice with our enemies.


  • Yaakov

    If someone is renowned or preeminent, then it should not be necessary to say so.

  • Noah T

    Deborah is an amazing mensch. We are so fortunate to have, in our community, a gifted educator who was willing to take on this kind of stress and tsuris to help educate the world on folks like Irving and their ilk. Kol Hakavod on the release of the film. I can’t wait to see it.