Kim Murphy’s article “Danger in Denying the Holocaust” could be dismissed as amateurish at best were it not the Jan. 7 Column One story of the Los Angeles Times. Because of where it appeared, some of the issues it raised must be addressed. She doesn’t present the stakes in the Irving vs. Lipstadt libel case and she falls into the traps set by the deniers, hook, line and sinker.
Murphy confuses legitimate historical discourse with Holocaust denial.
She writes: “Some revisions in Holocaust history have been generally accepted. Stories that Jewish remains were manufactured into soap and lampshades have been dismissed as myth.”
Professor Yehuda Bauer and I, among others, did not find evidence that remains of the dead were manufactured into soap. And when we could not, we published our findings. Each bar of soap given to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was tested to see if it contained human remains. Since it didn’t, we said so. We are the servants of the truth.
She writes: “Death at Auschwitz, once estimated, based on testimony of Nazi commanders, at up to 3 million have now been scaled back to about 1.1 million.”
The question of the numbers killed at Auschwitz has been revised downward by responsible historians. In “Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp” (1994), Franticzek Piper, chief historian of Auschwitz, presented these new findings based on years of archival research that in the post-Communist era he was free to publish. Based on his findings the number killed at Auschwitz is between 1.1 million — 1.3 million people, 90 percent of them Jews.
By Michael Berenbaum
Opinion | The Jewish Journal | Los Angeles | January 14, 2000