The Holocaust, the French and the Jews; Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory

In This Review

The Holocaust, the French and the Jews

By Susan Zuccotti
Basic Books, 1993
383 pp. $30.00

Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory

By Deborah E. Lipstadt
The Free Press, 1993
278 pp. $22.95

The author of an excellent work on the Italians and the Holocaust has delved into a more familiar-and still more tragic-story; she documents French anti-Semitic acts that preceded the German occupiers' demands and then discusses French complicity, most importantly Vichy complicity, in the German program of extermination. She also emphasizes the benevolence of an untold number of French men and women who in diverse ways helped to save most French Jews; the Jews of foreign birth and often their French-born children suffered more cruelly.

Given the absolute factuality of Zucotti's work-and of countless other accounts-efforts to deny the Holocaust may seem like a hopeless venture in falsification. But as Lipstadt makes clear, the deniers are a determined, fanatical lot, mostly of extreme right-wing persuasion, who seem to be gaining strength and influence. They have the indirect help of historians who do not deny the Holocaust but seek to "relativize" it, to depict Nazi acts as defensive. Lipstadt, a student of the Holocaust, examined the most appalling material, but in the context of American "deniers" (she rightly does not accord them the name revisionists) discusses how far the principle of free speech should protect the determined groups that often portray the Holocaust as a Jewish-Israeli invention designed to bilk the gullible world.

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