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How Holocaust Denial Has Changed


The Holocaust historian whose real-life experience inspired the new movie Denial discusses how today’s world fosters conspiracy theorists

If you want evidence that Holocaust denial remains an active problem, says historian Deborah E. Lipstadt, just check out the YouTube comments on the trailers for the new movie Denial or the Amazon reviews of her book History on Trial, on which it’s based.

“Of course the thumbs down and the comments on [the trailer] were pure anti-Semitism,” Lipstadt tells TIME.

The movie and book, which was recently re-released with the same title as the film, tell the true story of what happened following the publication of Lipstadt’s 1993 book Denying the Holocaust. David Irving, one of the people called out in her book, sued her in the U.K. for libel. She and her legal team—due to the burden of proof in the British law system—ended up having to essentially prove in court that the Holocaust happened, in order to show that the statements in her book were true and thus not defamatory, and that Irving’s interpretations were skewed. (They did so successfully.) Lipstadt says that when she first looked into the history of Holocaust denial, she expected it to be a brief tangent to the rest of her academic career. Decades later, it has become the work for which she’s best known.

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