Coby Lubliner wrote:Confessions of a `Holocaust Denier' by Coby Lubliner,
a jewish person who is what is called a “Holocaust survivor.”
What I question (and that’s why I have put quotes around “Holocaust survivor”
) is the appropriateness of labeling the experience that I survived (six years of imprisonment in ghettos, labour camps and concentration camps as a child during World War II) — an experience that was, to me, simply a part of the War — as part of something that, for me, did not exist until it was invented in the late 1950s
and never seemed anything but a pretentious literary metaphor for what was supposedly a unique experience of Jewish suffering.
When, as a nine-year-old, I spent a month in Buchenwald, it never occurred to me that those of my fellow-inmates who were Gypsies, Soviet prisoners of war, or Danish policemen arrested for helping the Jews escape, were undergoing experiences that were different from mine. We were all experiencing the War, a many-fronted war, one of whose fronts happened to be the war ... that the German state waged against the Jewish people. Ever since, for over half a century, I have not been able to accept the singling out of this one front, horrible as it may have been, as a unique epoch-making event that requires its own grandiose name, its own capitalised dictionary entry, its own academic discipline called “Holocaust studies.” It is in this sense that I count myself as a Holocaust denier.
Now, when it comes to assessing the totality of the European Jewish experience of World War II — as opposed to an individual experience — a survivor’s opinion should weigh no more nor less than anyone else’s.
One of the precursors of denialism[?], Paul Rassinier, who died in 1967, asked: “Were Jews murdered?
and answered: “Yes, but not as many as one thinks. Were there any gas chambers? Yes, but not as many as one thinks.”
Both of my parents survived, and I had no siblings. I have no tattoo (though I sometimes perversely envied those who had them). I was never beaten or starved. After the War I went on with school at the normal grade level. And when I recently visited the Buchenwald memorial site, the foremost thought in my mind — unrepentant cinephile that I am — was to find the location of the barrack where I saw my first movie; never mind that my first screen image was of a smiling Hitler on horseback, introducing a newsreel. The search for the site of the barrack where I actually lived took second place.
My youthful concerns were internal in part because that is the nature of youth, but in part also because, in my memory at least, the Holocaust
as a subject of worldwide interest did not emerge until the sixties, with the Eichmann trial as beacon. I don’t recall being aware of Elie Wiesel and his cohort until, perhaps, the late 60s.
I first encountered the word “Holocaust
” in the title of a book published in 1965: Holocaust and Rebirth, Bergen-Belsen, 1945-1965(2
). The book is of some personal interest to me, since I spent the last months of the War, after Buchenwald, in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and several years after the War as a resident of the DP camp there; my name and youthful pictures can be found in the book.
In order to find out whether my youthful self-absorption might have clouded my memory, I performed a little computer-aided experiment. I checked the list of titles that the library of the University of California at Berkeley lists under the subject heading of “Holocaust, Jewish (1939-45).”
Of the 344 items, thirteen carry publication dates before 1960 (from 1943 to 1958, to be exact), and another four from 1961 to 1964; in other words, about a book a year. But the lustrum 1965-69 brings 34 entries, with the H-word first appearing in the title of the aforementioned Bergen-Belsen book. And the rhythm is maintained in subsequent decades: 63 entries for 1970-79, 129 for 1980-89, 101 for 1990 to 1998.