DENYING HISTORY

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Below are books written on the Holocaust by this year's speakers and presenters. A small number of these books will be available at the conference for purchase.

Bitter Prerequisites
A Faculty for Survival from Nazi Terror
Wm. Laird Kleine-Ahlbrandt

Captured in time by the Third Reich, tormented by memories of the Holocaust, a group of survivors, now members of a university community, detail their compelling story in Bitter Prerequisites.

The twelve, fractured by society and religion, recall their coming of age in the Old World in which they had been denounced as enemiesat the Reich. As children, they faced the taunts and brutality of their classmates. As young adults, they foresaw few job prospects and endured broken engagements. The simple fact was that they were not wanted and faced a sure death.

They fled using any and all means. One of the twelve took a train traversing all of Russia and then boarded a boat bound for the West Coast. Others, forced to stay, relied on borrowed identities, the kindness of non-Jewish family, or sheer luck. Still these twelve individuals do not consider themselves extraordinary people -- neither martyrs nor saints, but simply survivors.

As the twelve faced a new world and new lives, they were forced to redefine community family, and nationality. Some carried their pasts with them. Others discarded it. Some found out what happened to their families and homes. Others could only speculate. Some traveled back to their homelands. Others refused to set foot there again.

Alarming and provocative, these twelve stories illustrate the will to survive in a sea of uncertainty. The twelve faced their bitter prerequisite and overcame the odds to find new homes and new lives and crate successful careers.

How Dark The Heavens
1400 Days in the Grip of Nazi Terror
Sidney Iwens

June 22, 1941 -- the first day of Sidney Iwen's long nightmare. The night before, he had been at a dance, enjoying himself with the other Jewish boys of his small Lithuanian city. Now he stood watching a dogfight between two distant planes. Tomorrow he would be fleeing for his life -- a flight that would last for nearly four terror-filled years.

Lithuania, Latvia, and White Russia, directly in the path of the invading Germans, fell into the murderous clutches of the first SS Einsatzgruppen, the Special Action Groups whose only mission was to kill Jews. In four months, aided by virtulently anti-Semitic Latvians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, and other native peoples, they shot 250,000 Baltic Jews. And that was just for starters. Sidney himself, herded together with other boys and young men in a city prison, reached the very gates of the killing ground, only to be reprieved temporarily -- because the SS had run out of ditches.

Thereafter, his life became a patchwork of hiding, pretending to be a skilled workman (and thus worth the Germans' while to preserve for a time), fleeing to the partisans, returning to the ghetto, and finally being shipped west to Dachau.

Sidney tells his story in diary form, reconstructed from memory of the diary he actually kept during the Holocaust years. He tells of his bitersweet romance in the shadow of betrayal and death, of the horrendous experiences of his friends and fellow survivors, of having every hand against Jews, even fellow enemies of the Nazis, of the occasional acts of generosity -- usually from the most unpredictable source, German soldiers themselves -- of his slow starvation and final rescue (like his first) at the gates of death.

This vivid and dramatic story of a Holocaust survivor is in a class by itself -- a day-by-day recounting of murder, heroism, stoic endurance, good luck, bad luck, love, intrigue, and humanity.

False Papers
Deception and Survival in the Holocaust
Robert Melson

False Papers is the story of a Jewish family who survivied the Holocaust by living in the open. By sheer chutzpah and bravado, Robert Melson's mother acquired the identity papers that would disguise herself, her husban, and her son for the duration of the war. Always operating under the theory that one needed to be seen in order not to be noticed, the Mendelsohns became not just ordinary Polish Catholics, but the Zamojskis, a Polish family of noble lineage.

Armed with their new lives and their new pasts, the Count and Countess Zamojskis and their son, Count Bobi, took shelter in the very shadow of the Nazi machine, hiding day after day in plain sight behind a facade of elegant good mannners and cultivationed self-assurance, even arrogance: "You had to shout [the Gestapo] down or they would kill you." Melson's father took advantage of his flawless German to build a lucrative business career while working for a German businessman of the Schindler type. The Zamojskis acquired beautiful homes in the German quarter of Krakow and in Prague, where they had maids and entertained Nazi officials. Their masquerade enabled them to save not only themselves and their son but also an uncle and three Jewish women, one of whom became part of the family.

False Papers is a candid, sometimes even humorous account of a stylish family who dazzled the Nazis with flamboyant theatrics then gradually, tragically fell apart after the war. Particularly arresting is Melson himself, who was just a child when his family embarked on their grand charade. A resilient boy who had to negotiate bewildering shifts of identity -- now Catholic, now Jewish; now European aristocrat, now penniless refugee who becomes an American college student -- Melson closes each chapter of his parents' recollections with his childhod perceptions of the same events.

Against the totalizing, flattening, unrelenting Nazi behemoth, Melson says "I wished to pit our very bodies, our quirky, sexy, funny, wicked, frail, ordinary selves." By balancing the adults' maneuvering with the perspective of a child, Melson crafts an account of the Holocaust that is at once poignant, entertaining, and troubling.

Denying History
Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It?
Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman

Denying History takes a bold and in-depth look at those who say the Holocaust never happened and explores the motivations behind such claims. While most commentators have dismissed the Holocaust deniers as anti-semitic neo-Nazis who do not deserve a response, social scientist Michael Shermer and historian Alex Grobman have immersed themselves in the minds and culture of these individuals. They have conducted personal interviews with the deniers, visiting their California and Toronto headquarters, reading their literature, monitoring their Web sites, engaging them in debate, and even traveling around Europe to conduct research at the Nazi extermination camps. Uncovering a complex social movement, the authors go much deeper than ever before not only in understanding the motives of the Holocaust deniers, but also in refuting their points one by one. In the process, they show how we can be certain that the Holocaust happened as it did and, for that matter, how we can confirm any historical event.

Shermer and Grobman investigate the free speech issues surrounding Holocaust denial and place them in the larger context of pseudo-history. They privide a fascinating summary of the major personalities and organizations involved in Holocaust denial, revealing their personalities and motives. In their discussion of extremists, neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other fringe groups, the authors explore why people join such groups in the first place, examining the context in which Holocaust denial arises. Thoughtful, erudite, and original, Denying History broadens our ways of thinking about the claims of those who deny the history of the Holocaust and other historical events.





Greater LafayetteHolocaust Remembrance Committee
448 Littleton, West Lafayette, Indiana 47906 mkengel@juno.com