Holocaust historian sheds light on Eichmann

Robert Kondo


“Don’t ask the victim, ask the perpetrator,” Deborah Lipstadt said regarding the victims of the Jewish Holocaust.  Guests, faculty and students alike sat in awe last night as renowned author and Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt gave a powerful lecture on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a post World War II German Nazi and war criminal accused of organizing a genocide that killed millions.

As a part of the Feinberg Lecture Series, Lipstadt was chosen to speak to the Whittier College community for her expertise on the Jewish Holocaust, and her constant effort to bring awareness to the topic of those who deny the very existence of the Holocaust. “Deniers have a way of making themselves sound logical to the uninformed,” Lipstadt said in an interview that same afternoon. “They aren’t stupid, rather they lie and deceive to portray a false history.”

During the middle of her lecture, Lipstadt spoke in brief about her own struggle with being sued for libel by the world’s leading Holocaust denier: David Irving.  Her trial was held in the United Kingdom where she had to prove herself innocent of libel.  Though Lipstadt won with a tremendous victory, her story isn’t meant to put her on a pedestal.  “I didn’t really change, but how the topic was heard changed,” Lipstadt said in regards to her experience during the trial.

Her lecture later noted that though denying the Holocaust produces a false history, a greater emphasis must be put on the witnesses that testified against Eichmann in his 1961 trial.  Lipstadt provided the personal stories of the very same people who saw the destruction and pain caused by Eichmann, almost bringing the audience to tears. “Her ability to move me with her stories almost brought me to tears, twice,” Professor of Political Science Fred Bergerson said.

He also admired Lipstadt’s way of presenting herself through intellectual thoughts and opinions, rather than a heated critique on a very controversial topic.

Also, the work that she presented has generated much consideration as a possible lecture for incoming first-years. “She did an excellent job of tying in valuable lessons that students may want to hear,” President Sharon D. Herzberger said.

Herzberger continued to compliment Lipstadt’s ability to sort a vast amount of information and relate all of it to how history and truth is perceived.

On a personal note, Lipstadt wants future generations to be informed and enlightened by these stories and topics. “I want people to be more informed on these topics so that their importance and meanings will be carried on,” Lipstadt said.  She hopes that the students of Whittier College will seek more information on the Holocaust Denial on Trial website, hdot.org, that she directs.

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