Usage of 'holocaust' for the WW2 experience of Jews

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Re: Usage of 'holocaust' for the WW2 experience of Jews

Post by been-there »

“Those who get to superimpose a meaning on events control the future.
Since so much of our cognitive capacity is achieved via language, control of language is power.
The determination of what words mean — who can use what forms and to what effects — is power
To define is to create a large part of our reality.”

~~ Paraphrasing of Robin Lakoff from ‘The Language War’ (2000), p.42.

[Use of 'holocaust' referring to something other than the Jewish WW2 experience]

[The word] holocaust during 1945 to 1962, was [mainly but] not only a referent to the feared nuclear catastrophe and the [allegation of] Nazi mass murders. As in the 1930s and during World War II, the word was an occasional appellation for a diverse range of massacres and disasters, though increasingly the word was applied only to massive destruction.

The JSTORE data base (texts on line of over one hundred scholarly journals) yields ten 1950 holocausts. Four are references to World War II or a future world war, two are references to the climatic death scene in Hamlet, one is a reference to the American Civil War, and the remaining three are references to obscure events.

For 1959 the same data base yields eleven holocausts. Three are references to nuclear disaster, two refer to World War I, two to the American Civil War, one to events in twelfth century Flanders, and two employ the words "Hitler's holocaust/the Hitler holocaust" and are referents to the Jewish catastrophe.

Five examples of 1945-1963 employment of holocaust and one 1957 definition: a photograph in Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1948 Crusade in Europe is captioned "BOMBER'S HOLOCAUST."

A historian in the 1953 Journal of Negro History described a North Carolina 1898 race riot as "a holocaust of death and destruction in which scores of Negroes were beaten and killed."

A 1955 translation of Augustine's Confessions referred to "the wooden horse ... and the holocaust of Troy."

In 1956 Sylvia Plath wrote in her journal "Arrived in Paris early Saturday evening exhausted from sleepless holocaust night with Ted [Hughes] in London ... wild destructive London night ."

And in 1961, Bernard Lewis wrote of "... the terrible holocaust of 1916 (sic) when a million and [a] half Armenians perished."

And in 1963 "Dr. [Martin] King warned President Kennedy that "the worst racial holocaust the nation has ever seen" might break out in Alabama ..."

Finally, per the Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage of [highlight=]1957[/highlight]:
"Holocaust is often used as a synonym for disaster... Disaster (which means, literally, a bad configuration of stars)... designates any unfortunate event, especially a sudden and great misfortune... A holocaust may be accidental..."
In May 1960, Eichmann was captured, and in the fall of 1961 put on trial in Jerusalem. The trial was covered in newspapers and on TV and, as intended, significantly increased awareness of the Nazi genocide of Jews.
As mentioned earlier, The Readers Guide to Periodical Literature has eight entries [of 'holocaust'] under "World War 1939 - 1945: Jews" in its volume covering the two-year period ending February 1961.
The next volume, ending February 1963, has twenty-nine entries [of 'holocaust'], eleven with "Eichmann" in their titles.

1965 to circa 1979, American employment of "h/Holocaust" to denote the [alleged] Nazi Judeocide
American employment of "H/holocaust" from the mid 1960s until today has been primarily driven by an extraordinary increase in interest and writing on the [alleged] Nazi orchestrated Judeocide and a decline in concern and writing on nuclear war.
From the mid-1960s, books on the Jewish catastrophe began to find a ready market in the United States. Six books on the subject and with "Holocaust" in their titles were published before 1970.
In September 1968, the Library of Congress created a new category, "Holocaust, Jewish (1939 - 1945)," for material that earlier would have been categorised under such headings as "World War, 1939-1945--Jews."

But an unmodified "holocaust" was not yet likely to evoke "Jewish catastrophe" outside of Jewish circles. A search of 1969 JSTOR journals yields twenty-one "holocausts," seven nuclear, four references to one of the World Wars or an aspect of those wars, three references to the Vietnam War, and two are references to the Jewish catastrophe. (The remainder are references to the American Civil War, to the French Revolution or are pre 1910 "holocausts" within citations of works by Zola, Hawthorne, and Stephen Crane.)

In the 1970s the [alleged] Judeocide started to become of real interest within the academy. The first PhD. thesis with the word "Holocaust" in its title was completed in 1972; sixteen more PhD. theses with the word "Holocaust" in their titles appeared before 1980. (By way of contrast, in the 1950s a graduate student exploring the possibilities of working on the Nazi period was advised by a distinguished Jewish American historian to find another topic: "No one is interested in Hitler.")
By the mid 1970s, within scholarly circles, the most frequently encountered referent of H/holocaust was the Jewish catastrophe, and increasingly the word, employed in this sense, was capitalised. A word search of JSTORE's 1977 journal texts yields sixty-four H/holocausts. Thirty-one refer to the Jewish catastrophe; of the thirty-one, twenty-two are an unmodified — except by context — Holocaust, five an unmodified — except by context — holocaust, and the remainder a Nazi, German, or Jewish H/holocaust. Of the thirty-three non-Nazi holocausts, nine are references to nuclear destruction.

In the spring of 1978 over one hundred million Americans viewed some part of NBC's mini-series titled The Holocaust — the screening was a major cultural event. As an immediate consequence, the capitalized and unmodified "Holocaust" became the recognised referent to Hitler's [alleged] Judeocide in an American society newly sensitised to that tragedy.
In JSTORE journals, January - June 1979, "H/holocaust" is employed thirty-seven times. Twenty-eight of the references are to the Jewish catastrophe, and twenty-seven of the twenty-eight are an unmodified "the Holocaust".
In the early 1980s the New York Times annual indexes abandoned "Nazi holocaust" and "Nazi Holocaust" in favour of "the Holocaust".

A search using ProQuest's of The New York Times found:
thirty articles that contained both words "Jews" and "h/Holocaust" written beween 1899 and 1945,
forty more between 1945 and May 1961,
another eighty between May 1961 and March 1969,
three hundred more between March 1969 and April 1978,
twenty between 1970 and 1976,
thirty between 1976 and 1979,
thirty more between 1979 and 1982,
and sixty between 1982 and 1987
and one thousand five hundred or so written between April 1978 and October 1990.
(The same search employing 'holocaust' and "atomic" and/or "nuclear" found five hundred New York Times employments before May 1964 — as against less than a hundred "holocaust" and "Jews.")

"The Holocaust" denoting the mass murder of Jews and (sometimes) "others" post 1979
A few weeks after the screening of The Holocaust, partly as a gesture to the American Jewish community unhappy with the intended sale of American fighter planes to Saudi Arabia, President Carter announced the American government's intention to create a memorial "to the six million who were killed in the Holocaust."

Following protests by Polish-Americans and Ukrainian-Americans, who demanded that the millions of their own killed by the Nazis be recognized in any American taxpayer supported memorial, and perhaps reflecting his own ecumenical humanism, Carter in his 1979 Executive Order creating the United States Holocaust Memorial Council adopted a version of Simon Wiesenthal's formulation and defined "the Holocaust" as the "... extermination of six million Jews and some five million other peoples..."
[Wiesenthal, in the late 1970s a well known hunter of Nazi criminals, had, since the late 1940s, spoken and written of "eleven million civilian dead, amongst them six million Jews."

The "five million" number corresponds to no historical reality. The number was picked out of the air by Wiesenthal probably because it is less, but not much less, than six million.

This important Presidential definition of "the Holocaust" was unwelcome to some who feared that the [claimed] extreme virulence of the Nazis' [alleged] Jewish annihilation campaign and the resulting catastrophic biological destruction of the Jewish people in Europe could easily be obscured if "the Holocaust" was used to refer to both non-Jewish and Jewish death of the Hitler years.
An eminent Israeli Holocaust scholar's 1980 reaction :
Yehuda Bauer wrote:"The Wiesenthal-Carter definition appears to reflect a certain paradoxical 'envy' on the part of non-Jewish groups directed at the Jewish experience of the Holocaust. [ :lol: :lol: :lol: ]
This itself would appear to be an unconscious reflection of anti-Semitic attitudes... :roll:
Jews were [allegedly] murdered without much effective action on the part of the free world... Today they stand in danger of having their specific martyrdom as Jews obliterated by their friends."
.. .. .. .. .. ..

The above is taken from here.
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Re: Usage of 'holocaust' for the WW2 experience of Jews

Post by Turnagain »

Increasingly in the 1970s, "holocaust," used in the sense of the Jewish disaster, was capitalized, and by the early 1980s, mainly as a result of the popularity and impact of NBC's 1978 mini-series, The Holocaust, but also due to the decline of interest in nuclear war, the predominant and readily recognized referent of "h/Holocaust" in American English had become the Nazi persecution and slaughter of Jews.

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Re: Usage of 'holocaust' for the WW2 experience of Jews

Post by Nessie »

It is interesting that neither Turnagain nor been-there appear to understand that they are talking past each other.
Consistency and standards in evidencing viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2721#p87772
My actual argument viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2834

Scott - On a side note, this forum is turning into a joke with the vicious attacks--and completely unnecessary vitriol--that everybody is making upon each other.

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Re: Usage of 'holocaust' for the WW2 experience of Jews

Post by torus9 »

been-there wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 10:12 am
When did the term 'the holocaust' first get applied to the experience of European Jewry that occurred prior to and during WW2?

The answer is that it was used suprisingly early.
The New York Times used the term often.
It even has archived articles using that word for the WW2 experience of Jews as early as from 1936:
"Bold practical measures to save those unfortunate millions from total annihilation are now called for ... Great Britain has it within her power to throw open the gates of Palestine and let in the victimised and persecuted Jews escaping from the European holocaust."
~ NY Times, May 31st, 1936

Julian Meltzer used the word in an article that appeared in the paper on May 23rd, 1943:
“the hundreds and thousands of European Jews still surviving the Nazi holocaust.
~ NY Times, May 23rd, 1943 ... w-for.html

Here is an early usage of the term employing the definitive article, viz. 'the holocaust'.
As yet the H letter hasn't been capitalised. It is from 1942.
And isn't from the New York Times:
“This issue of the JEWISH FRONTIER attempts to give some picture of what is happening to the Jews of Europe ... In our calculations of the holocaust that has overtaken the Jews... [w]e speak... of the victims not of war, but of massacre... The annals of mankind hold no similar record of organised murder.”
~ Jewish Frontier, November 1942, p.3.

In Britain on the 5th December 1942, a journal called the News Chronicle published an editorial that had an uppercase title, “HOLOCAUST”.
It appeared in the second column of the second page.
Hitler has familiarised the world with brutality and terror... But nothing... is comparable to his treatment of the Jews...
...more than half of Poland's three and a half million Jews have already been done to death... Reprisals are out of the question.
~~ 5th December 1942

Here is an early usage of the term from 1960. It was by Francois Mauriac in his introduction to the 1960 publication of Wiesel's plagiarised work ‘Night’:
For him [Eli Wiesel] ... God is dead ... the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob ... has vanished forevermore ... in the smoke of a human holocaust exacted by Race, the most voracious of all idols."

Elie Wiesel claimed to be the one who popularised the usage of "the holocaust" for the Jewish WW2 experience:
“May I confess to you that I am afraid I am the one who introduced the word into this framework, and I am not proud of it. I cannot use it anymore”.
" is well to remember how recent is the beginning of professional study of the holocaust and how short a period of time the enterprise has had to establish itself. Up to the time of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, in 1961, there was relatively little discussion of the massacre of European Jewry."
Marrus,The Holocaust in History, Intro.

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Re: Usage of 'holocaust' for the WW2 experience of Jews

Post by been-there »

been-there wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 7:47 am
In May 1960, Eichmann was captured, and in the fall of 1961 put on trial in Jerusalem. The trial was covered in newspapers and on TV and, as intended, significantly increased awareness of the [alleged] Nazi genocide of Jews.
torus9 wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 2:35 pm
Marrua wrote:" is well to remember how recent is the beginning of professional study of the holocaust and how short a period of time the enterprise has had to establish itself. Up to the time of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, in 1961, there was relatively little discussion of the massacre of European Jewry."
~~ Marrus,The Holocaust in History, Intro.
It would seem the Eichmann show-trial in 1961 was the beginning of the campaign to indoctrinate the world with tales of 'THE Holocaust'.
That developed further in the 1970's with such things as PHd's being awarded to students writing theses on the Jewish WW2 experience using that term and a TV soap-weepy-dramatisation.

That NBC fictionalised, over-dramatised portrayal of the emerging mythology as a TV-serial entitled 'The Holocaust' in 1978 in particular seems to have cemented two things in the public consciousness:
1. usage of the 'H' term for the Jewish WW2 experience,
and that words connection to:
2. the physically impossible mythology of “mass-gassing of millions” plus disappearance of all trace of remains.
"When people who are honestly mistaken learn the truth,
they either cease being mistaken
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Re: Usage of 'holocaust' for the WW2 experience of Jews

Post by been-there »

Further distortion of the term 'holocaust' to refer to the experience of European Jewry during WW2 has occurred since it became ubiquitous in the 1960's.
I am referring to the distortion of its use in the perjorative used to discredit and smear anyone who questions ANY aspect of the 'H' term and/or the narrative of events it supposedly describes.

I'm referring to the term 'holocaust denier'.

That would be an interesting topic to investigate. Who was the first person to be smeared with this perjorative?

And when did it become changed to 'holocaust revisionist'? Who started that? Presumably it was Ernst Zündel.

How wierd and nonsensical the usage has become is demonstrated by the fact that Prof. Norman Finkelstein has been described as BOTH. And this despite both his parents being in and surviving concentration camps for being Jewish.
And this despite all three of them (Norman AND both his parents) believing the mass-gassing core belief of the 'holocaust' credo.
It's psychotic, I'm tellin' ya.

Norman received this ultimate Jewish hate-epithet reserved for people they hate and fear the most, because of his book exposing what he called 'the Jewish racket' and 'shakedown' which has been using the H-narrative for shameless, immoral profiteering. A book which he entitled 'The Holocaust Industry'.

For that some Jews called him a 'holocaust denier'. Finkelstein didn't like it but did nothing.

The Washington Post in 2002 curiously called him a 'holocaust revisionist'. Finkelstein didn't like that AND threatened them with the legal action.

So get that!!!? For Norman being called a 'revisionist' appears to be worse than being called a 'denier'??? :shock: :?
Washington Post retracts “Holocaust revisionism” claim against Norman Finkelstein

17th December 2002

Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher revealed either simple ignorance of a well-established school of thought or journalistic laziness when he attached the label of ‘Holocaust revisionist’ to respected author Norman Finkelstein.
If Fisher had taken five minutes to read the six-page introduction to Finkelstein’s well known book, The Holocaust Industry, he would have learned that Finkelstein’s entire family, except his parents, was murdered at the hands of the Nazis, a fact that a Holocaust revisionist would hardly want revealed.

But Fisher evidently didn’t read the book’s intro nor did he seek comment from Finkelstein before writing in a Dec. 3 column that Finkelstein is a “writer celebrated by neo-Nazi groups for his Holocaust revisionism and comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany.”

If he had done some homework, Fisher and the Washington Post could have avoided the embarrassment associated with running a retraction five days later. At the bottom of his Dec. 8 column, Fisher conceded that he “did not intend to suggest that” Finkelstein is a writer championed for Holocaust revisionism.

To his credit, the assertive Finkelstein won the retraction after a lot of back-and-forth between both Fisher and Washington Post lawyers.

In a Dec. 4 letter to Fisher as part of the exchange, Finkelstein wrote: “I stated that the claim that I am a Holocaust revisionist means that I doubt whether my late parents endured the Nazi death camps and that their respective families were gassed to death. You stated that this isn’t what you meant by Holocaust revisionism but rather that I was revising the conventional understanding of the Nazi holocaust.”

A Post attorney, Eric Lieberman, failed to grasp the distinction between reporting how an Ernst Zundel might react to Finkelstein’s writings and actually writing a column for a major U.S. newspaper calling Finkelstein’s writings Holocaust revisionism.

“We appreciate that you may disagree with the characterizations of your work by these and other groups, and would be glad to ask our Editorial page to consider publishing a letter to the editor explaining your objection to Mr. Fisher’s statement,” Lieberman wrote to Finkelstein.

Finkelstein was not happy with the response. “I couldn’t care less what anybody else writes about me,” Finkelstein wrote to Lieberman. “The point at issue is simple: Fisher makes explicit claims about what I’ve either said or written. He states that the praise of neo-Nazis springs from ‘his’ — meaning my — ‘Holocaust revisionism.’ I want Fisher’s evidence that even a phrase of mine can be in any way construed as ‘Holocaust revisionism.’ Otherwise this is a grotesque libel, and I will seek legal redress unless a retraction of equal prominence is published.”

The Post eventually grasped Finkelstein’s point. Three days after the offending column was published, a different Post attorney sent this letter to Finkelstein:
Dec. 6, 2002
Dear Mr. Finkelstein:

I apologize for injecting yet another Washington Post person into the discussions about Marc Fisher’s column, but my colleague, Eric Lieberman, is out of the office today, and we didn’t want to wait for his return before responding further. We have no objection to clarifying the point that seems to be at issue in these discussions and would propose to publish the following language:

“In Tuesday’s column about academic freedom, I mentioned writer Norman Finkelstein, who lectured recently at Georgetown University. Although neo-Nazi groups have cited his work in support of their theories, Finkelstein has never denied the existence of the Holocaust, and I did not intend to suggest that.”

I would be glad to take steps to get that into the paper as soon as possible.


Mary Ann Werner
Vice President & Counsel
The Washington Post
Finkelstein had challenged one of the most influential newspapers in the United States and walked away victorious. “I consider the matter with the Washington Post closed,” Finkelstein said on Dec. 8.
As with most smears, though, the initial attack often inflicts irreparable harm. Most readers of Fisher’s original column probably never noticed the retraction. Finkelstein will forever be a Holocaust revisionist in some Post readers’ minds because of Fisher’s choice of words on Dec. 3.

The phrase “Holocaust revisionism” entered the vocabulary of discourse about 25 years ago as a pejorative describing a school of thought that espouses the beliefs that Hitler and his lieutenants did not draw up plans for the systematic killing of Europe’s Jewish population and that the internment camps set up by the Nazis in Germany and its occupied lands during the Second World War did not contain gas chambers used for the mass killing of Europe’s Jews.

That Fisher would equate Finkelstein’s analysis of the “exploitation of Jewish suffering” during the Nazi Holocaust with the “Holocaust-is-a-hoax” school of thought reveals either a lack of understanding of the issues or an indication that he has bought into the notion that any sort of criticism of Israel or the conduct of Jewish groups is anti-Semitic.

Of course, though, the real Holocaust revisionists and their fellow travelers have been targeted by governments seeking to censor them, imprison them or deport them for stating their opinions about the intention of the Nazis. These cases have attracted the attention of many around world who support the concept of freedom of expression, even for speech that they may abhor.

Perhaps the most famous case is France’s Robert Faurisson who was brought to trial by a Paris court for “falsification of history” because he had written that the Nazis, use of gas chambers at Auschwitz was a myth. Noam Chomsky and hundreds of others signed a petition urging Faurisson’s civil rights be respected. Faurisson wrote a book on the case published in 1980 entitled Memoir in Defense Against Those Who Accuse Me of Falsifying History. Faurisson used a letter written by Chomsky expressing elementary principles on freedom of speech as a foreword for his book.

In its Dec. 7 issue, the Post published two letters to the editor criticizing Fisher’s Dec. 3 column, one of which was from Georgetown University Professor Hisham Sharabi, another target of Fisher’s criticism. In his letter, Sharabi said his comments that were quoted in Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper and then cited by Fisher “were intended to underscore the urgency within the Arab world to respond to issues that hinder progress in the region. … It is unfortunate that these points were not highlighted, as they were the crux of my presentation. Instead, proponents of Israel once again distract us from core issues and legitimate criticisms of Israel by crying anti-Semitism.”

As he did with Finkelstein, Fisher painted Sharabi, a Palestinian-American and long-time professor at Georgetown University, as an extremist without offering the professor an opportunity to defend himself. “Jewish students and faculty are outraged by the comments of Hisham Sharabi,” Fisher wrote.

Perhaps they were merely outraged because Sharabi holds an unfavorable opinion of Israeli government policies?

~~ Mark Hand
"When people who are honestly mistaken learn the truth,
they either cease being mistaken
or they cease being honest"
-- Anonymous

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