Book Reviews

01 junho, 2008

190) A negacao do Holocausto: uma "abjecao" historica

Infelizmente ainda são muitos aqueles que pretendem negar as evidências do extermínio de judeus (e outras categorias) na imensa máquina de aniquilação nazista. Este livro pode contribuir com a tarefa de "exterminar" (metaforicamente) os "holocaust deniers".

Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It?
(S. Mark Taper Foundation Imprint in Jewish Studies)
by Michael Shermer (Author), Alex Grobman (Author)
University of California Press, 330 pages; 1 edition: May 3, 2002
ISBN-10: 0520234693; ISBN-13: 978-0520234697

Denying History is a courageous and accessible study of "a looking-glass world where black is white, up is down, and the normal rules of reason no longer apply." Authors Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman have immersed themselves in the conferences, literature, and Web culture of Holocaust deniers; they have engaged the pseudo-historians in debate; and they have visited the concentration camps in Europe to investigate the truth of what happened there. Denying History presents Shermer and Grobman's findings. The book refutes, in detail, the Holocaust deniers' claims, and it demonstrates conclusively that the Holocaust did happen.It also explores the fundamental historical issue in all debates over the truth of the Holocaust: the question of "how we know that any past event happened." Thus, Denying History is a doubly useful book; it sets the record straight on one of history's most terrible events, and it instructs readers in the scientific, logical, and historiographical principles that can help us make wise judgments about history on our own. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly
Holocaust denial - back in the news since the British courts shot down David Irving's libel suit against Deborah Lipstadt (for her groundbreaking book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory) in April - gets an inventively thorough treatment in this important book. Keeping their focus on larger questions about historical rigor and public memory, Shermer (a professor of the history of science at Occidental College and publisher of Skeptic magazine) and Grobman (Rekindling the Flame) look closely at the methods employed by deniers and those used by legitimate historians. "Holocaust denial," they argue, "is not just a Jewish issue. It is an attack on all history and the way we transmit the past to the future." Drawing on a wide array of evidence - interviews they conducted with famous deniers (including Irving himself) and text from their Web sites and literature - the authors explore the difference between legitimate historical revisionism and pseudohistorical denial. They note that historians interested in revising accepted knowledge depend on a wide variety of sources to draw a picture of an event or period - if some of that evidence is contradictory, then respectful scholarly debate ensues; if new evidence surfaces, then the historical record gets revised. Deniers, on the contrary, use the barest of evidence - one contradiction, for example - to discount entire arguments; meanwhile, they bolster their own arguments with out-of-context phrases and mistranslations. Using the deniers' own words to tear down their arguments, Shermer and Grobman provide a clear method for determining the reality of past events and supply a powerful weapon for anyone who cares about learning from the credible historical record. 42 b&w photos. (June)

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Vejam três comentários no site da Amazon.com:

1) By Robert Helmerichs (Minneapolis, MN USA)

Denying History succeeds on two levels. First, it is a thorough demolition of the arguments of Holocaust deniers, presenting the overwhelming evidence for the systematic and deliberate murder of about 6,000,000 Jews by the Nazis during World War II. On this level, it is a very painful book at times, but clear and utterly convincing.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, it is an exploration of historical method intended to show how not only Holocaust deniers, but fringe groups of all kinds, distort and pervert history to make their points. The book is a virtual guide to BS detection, displaying the techniques used by pseudo-historians and how the conclusions drawn by these techniques evaporate in the light of a careful, objective evaluation of the evidence.

In a sense, it is too bad that the Holocaust, a very emotional topic (and this book can be quite angry at times), is the test case; less of a hot-button issue might have made for a calmer (and at times less disturbing) book. But the Holocaust deniers need to be denied, and Shermer and Grobman do a masterful job of it, without losing sight of the larger historiographical issues involved. Denying History is intense, readable, valuable, and for anybody who has ever been upset by bizarre historical claims, essential.

2) By Barron Laycock "Labradorman" (Temple, New Hampshire United States)

It is both puzzling and painful to recognize that there are still serious(?) people abroad in the world who loudly deny the veracity of the historical record concerning the Holocaust. As if to extend the unconscionable cruelty of the world yet longer for the millions of victims of this century's most heinous and tragic phenomenon, some actually continue to claim that either the Holocaust never happened, or that its dimensions and scope were much more limited and constrained that so-called Jewish revisionist historians would like the public to believe. This book puts the lie to all this nonsense, giving those who would deny the truth and accuracy of the history of the Holocaust an exceptionally thorough trip to the intellectual back shed to give them the whipping of their cranial careers.

With this volume, historians Michael Shermier and Alex Grobman have presented a virtual tidal wave of substantiating evidence of the nature of the complex social movement that the Holocaust deniers comprise. The authors trudge through a depressing tour of every aspect of this social movement, and go deeper into every aspect of the deniers and their social network in an effort to both better understand what motivates them as well as how to finally and authoritatively refute their claims. In so doing, they not only illustrate how shallow, self-serving, disingenuous, and disreputable these claims and positions are, but also provide much more substantial proof of the existence of the Holocaust.

In some ways this tour into the deep underbelly of continuing hate, bigotry, and ignorance is a descent into a Dante-like inferno, one the reader tends to recoil from because of its `in-your-face' portrayal of such rampant and continuing racial hate and conflict. In other ways it seems more like an impromptu visit to the comical land of the Keystone cops, or the gang who couldn't shoot straight. Anyone falling for this grab-bag crack-pot mixture of conspiracy theories, racial suspicions, and social paranoia isn't likely to be sitting next to anyone in a graduate course in history, anyway. Still, one must remember that Hitler graduated from the ranks of the likes of these cretins.

This is a profoundly disturbing but altogether necessary book. To suggest that after fifty years serious people could still question the historical record regarding the savage and murderous events collectively referred to as the Holocaust is but one more painful indicator of how far the world must go to reach any kind of intellectual maturity or cosmopolitan compassion. One of the most interesting sidelights of the book is the fact that the authors have devised an ingenious framework that both contemporary and future historians and social scientists can employ to verify and virtually any historical event. I highly recommend it for anyone who has ever had someone say (as I have heard a number of times), "The Holocaust never happened."

3) By Jonathan Kay (Toronto, Ontario Canada)

You will not find a more straightforward Holocaust book than Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It. The authors' basic argument is this: The extermination of six million Jews during the Second World War is a historical fact. Those who deny it are wrong.

It's hardly a provocative thesis. But ask yourself this: Would you be able to refute a Holocaust denier? The fact of the Holocaust is like the spherical Earth: Every reasonable person accepts it, but few can prove it. That is why Skeptic magazine publisher Michael Shermer teamed up with historian Alex Grobman to write Denying History. They believe thinking people have a duty to fight Holocaust denial head on; and they want them to come to the battle armed with historical facts.

When the eyes of the public are upon them -- such as during the 1985 trial of Canadian Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel, or the famous 1994 Donahue episode that pitted two Holocaust deniers against Shermer and an Auschwitz survivor -- deniers often get the best of staged confrontations. The most prominent deniers know a lot about the Holocaust, especially arcane subjects like the chemistry of Zyklon-B gas and the architecture of gas chambers. Many of the sound bites they spit out are quite true. It is a fact, for instance, that the Nazis never manufactured soap from Jewish bodies on a mass scale -- contrary to urban legend. Deniers are also correct when they claim that there is no known Holocaust order bearing Hitler's signature. David Irving, the on-again off-again denier who recently lost a defamation suit in Britain, has never had to make good on his $1,000 challenge to any historian who could produce such a document.

But, as Denying History makes clear, there is still a mountain of evidence proving the nature and scale of the Holocaust. The Nazis' use of gas chambers has been established by, among countless other sources, the 1946 Nuremberg confession of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss, as well as the 250-page autobiographical manuscript he wrote while awaiting execution. The estimate of six million killed is supported by a spate of historical studies, and also by Nazi physician Wilhelm Hoettel, who testified at Nuremberg that: "In the various concentration camps approximately four million Jews had been killed, while about two million were killed in other ways." None of this evidence convinces the true denier, of course. He is, by necessity, a conspiracy theorist. To him, every confession was coerced, every photograph faked. As the authors of Denying History demonstrate in psychological profiles of today's most prominent deniers, they see the "holohoax" as a plot by Jews (or, "the traditional enemies of truth" as they are commonly referred to in denier circles) to discredit the Nazi regime and the German people. "There are certain aspects of the Third Reich that are very admirable [such as its eugenics and euthanasia programs] and I want to call people's attention to these," Zündel told Shermer and Grobman in an interview. What the Holocaust has done, he argues, is to "bar so many thinkers from re-looking at the options that National Socialism German-style offers."

It is tempting to mock these confused men (there is a great essay to be written on why there does not exist a single preeminent female denier). But Denying History betrays no contempt for its subjects. The authors believe everyone has a right to be heard; and they treat Holocaust deniers with clinical detachment. This attitude reflects the authors'position of intellectual strength. Hatred for Holocaust deniers is compounded by the helpless fear that the pseudo-historians' specious lies may spread. When one is armed with concrete knowledge, however, that fear is lessened and hatred gives way to pity.

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