Not a Second Time: Understanding Holocaust & Genocide Denial

This is a guest post by Jodi Elowitz, Outreach Coordinator at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS), University of Minnesota.

In conjunction with our 2011 lecture series “Alternative Narratives or Denial,” CHGS is facilitating a reading discussion group focused on seminal works on the topic of Holocaust and genocide denial.

“Denial of the Holocaust is woven into the very fabric of mass murder,” said Bruno Chaouat, director of the Center.

“Heinrich Himmler, in his infamous speech to his henchmen at Poznan on October 4, 1943, extolled their extermination of the Jews in these terms: ‘This is a page of glory in our history never mentioned and never to be mentioned.’ Secrecy and obfuscation were necessary components of the process, and latter-day denial may be seen as symbolically repeating the crime. The French historian Pierre Vidal-Naquet has thus aptly called Holocaust deniers the assassins of memory.”

The group will be reading and discussing excerpts from Denying the Holocaust: the Growing Assault on Truth and Memory by Deborah Lipstadt (Tuesday, January 11), From Empathy and Denial: Arab Responses to the Holocaust by Meir Litvak and Esther Webman (Tuesday, February 15) and Remembrance and Denial: The Case of the Armenian Genocide edited by Richard G. Hovannisian, as well as articles from the Armenian Reporter (Tuesday, March 22).

These works, which deal with the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide, are essential to understanding the history, psychology and ideology of denial. Furthermore, they illustrate how denial has been established as part of the genocidal process conducted by the perpetrators.

CHGS feels it is the moral obligation of all of us to make sure that the memory of the dead is not suppressed by the denial of the Holocaust and the genocides of the 20th century.

The first excerpts are Chapters 3, 7 and 10 from Denying the Holocaust and are posted on the CHGS Reading Discussion Blog. Entire copies of the book are available at Wilson Library, most metro-area libraries, and bookstores.

There are also additional links for further resources and special links for secondary educators included on the CHGS Reading Discussion Blog.

The first discussion group will meet on Tuesday, January 11 at 12:00 p.m. in room 710 Social Sciences Building on the University of Minnesota’s West Bank. Reservations are required and can be made via email at [email protected] (please put RDG in the subject line and include your name, phone and email address in the body of the message) or via phone at 612-624-0256.

If are unable to attend in person, you can follow the discussion on the CHGS website or on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

(Photo: CHGS, U of M)