Society & Culture

Holocaust scholar, ‘The Eichmann Trial’ author to speak at UGA

Athens, Ga. – Deborah Lipstadt, an internationally recognized Holocaust scholar, will discuss the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann during a lecture March 1 at 5 p.m. in room 171 of the University of Georgia’s Miller Learning Center.

The talk, titled “The Holocaust in the Courtroom: Perspectives on the Eichmann Trial,” is free and open to the public.

“We are thrilled to have Professor Lipstadt on campus,” said Marjanne Goozé, associate professor of German in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “She is an internationally renowned scholar of Holocaust studies whose books have addressed the reception and denial of the Holocaust. Her gripping story of her own trial against the Holocaust denier David Irving, History on Trial, proves the importance of continuing to teach and discuss the Holocaust in our own time.”

Lipstadt, who is the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, has authored several books on the Holocaust. The Eichmann Trial (Schocken, 2011), published in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the trial of one of the major figures responsible for the deportation of European Jews to concentration camps, was called by Publisher’s Weekly, “a penetrating and authoritative dissection.” The New York Times book review described Lipstadt as having “done a great service by… recovering the event as a gripping legal drama, as well as a hinge moment in Israel’s history and in the world’s delayed awakening to the magnitude of the Holocaust.”

Her book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (Free Press/Macmillan, 1993) was the first full-length study of those who attempt to deny the Holocaust. The book was the subject of simultaneous front page reviews in The New York Times and The Washington Post. In History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2006), she tells the story her libel trial in London against David Irving, who sued her for calling him a Holocaust denier and right-wing extremist. The book won the 2006 National Jewish Book Award, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and has been optioned for a movie by Participant Pictures and BBC Films and is in active development.

Goozé invited Lipstadt in conjunction with her new interdisciplinary class, “The Holocaust from the Victims’ Perspectives,” in which students are reading diaries and memoirs by Holocaust survivors, examining fictionalizations-from semi-autobiographical novels to films such as Defiance-and doing group projects that analyze oral testimonies. Class readings include Lipstadt’s History on Trial, which allows students to explore how issues of documentation of war crimes and memory persist.

Lipstadt’s lecture is sponsored by Franklin College departments of Germanic and Slavic studies, history and religion as well as the Willson Center for Humanities and the Arts.

At Emory, Lipstadt created the Institute for Jewish Studies and was its first director from 1998-2008. She directs the website known as HDOT (Holocaust Denial on Trial, which, in addition to cataloging legal and evidentiary materials from David Irving v. Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt, contains answers to frequent claims made by deniers.

Lipstadt was a historical consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and helped design the section of the museum dedicated to the American response to the Holocaust. She was appointed by former President Clinton to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council and has been called upon by members of Congress to consult on political responses to Holocaust denial.

From 1996 through 1999, she served as a member of the U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad. In this capacity she, together with a small group of leaders and scholars, advised Secretary of State Madeline Albright on matters of religious persecution abroad. In 2005, she was asked by former President George W. Bush to be part of a small delegation that represented the White House at the 60th anniversary commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Lipstadt has also written Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust (Free Press/MacMillan, 1986, 1993). The book, an examination of how the American press covered the news of the persecution of European Jewry between the years 1933 and 1945, addresses the question “what did the American public know and when did they know it?”

She received her bachelor’s degree from City College of New York and her master’s degree and doctorate from Brandeis University. Lipstadt has appeared on Good Morning America, NPR’s Fresh Air, the BBC, the Charlie Rose Show and is a frequent contributor to and is widely quoted in a variety of newspapers and journals, including the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Washington Post and The New York Times.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs awarded her its highest honor, the Albert D. Chernin Award, given to “an American Jew whose work best exemplifies the social justice imperatives of Judaism, Jewish history and the protection of the Bill of Rights, particularly the First Amendment.” Previous winners included Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Professor Alan Dershowitz.