Stéphanie Courouble-Share, historian, research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP, New York), lecturer at Yad Vashem, and also consults for international organizations on Holocaust denial. She published Fake ideas Never die: Holocaust Denial, History of an International Network in 2021 and next month Holocaust Denial: History, Concepts and International Issues.
Can you tell us about your latest book?
Stephanie Courouble Share: Fake Ideas was a work based on my doctoral thesis (note: under the supervision of Professeur Pierre Vidal-Naquet), which I adapted to make it more accessible to the general public. It was an in-depth study on the broad subject of the history of international Holocaust denial and its emergence in public spaces in different countries. In this book, I detailed Holocaust denial controversies in several countries, the political, associative and judicial reactions, as well as the infiltration of Holocaust denial in the intellectual milieu, as among personalities such as Noam Chomsky or Ernst Nolte.
Holocaust denial: History, concepts and international issues is a practical guide for those who are unfamiliar with Holocaust denial and wish to understand its history and its issues. The Eyrolles collection has a well-defined structure in 3 parts that I have adapted to Holocaust denial, including a first part on yesterday’s Holocaust denial in the past, a second on new Holocaust denial configurations and a third on solutions to combat Holocaust denial. My goal was to show how to respond to Holocaust denial and to help anyone confronted with this subject, whether for teachers in a classroom or for Internet users on the Web. Each chapter of the book is accompanied by a preparatory sheet written by Gilles Karmasyn, founder and director of the site phdn.org, which refutes Holocaust denial rhetoric. These sheets add inestimable value to the book.
While Elon Musk’s Twitter is hit with holocaust denial hate speech lawsuit in Germany, you were the first to denounce the sale of Holocausr denial books on Amazon. What was the site’s reaction?
Stephanie Courouble Share: It is true that many Holocaust deniers’ books have been removed from Amazon France following a letter I sent to the platform to alert them to their presence. Amazon France reacted quickly.
Unfortunately, there are still plenty of anti-Semitic and Holocaust denier books available on Amazon and other platforms. It is crucial to also sensitize the companies that provide databases of books to the sites, because Holocaust-deniers, anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi publishers can infiltrate them. It is important to understand that behind supposedly scientific Holocaust denial works hide activists who seek to whitewash Nazism from its crimes.
January 27th is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this occasion, Douglas Emhoff, first Jewish spouse of an American vice president, will visit Auschwitz cocentration camp. What do you expect from these commemorations?
Stephanie Courouble Share: January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the discovery by Soviet troops of the Auschwitz-Birkenau killing camp. It was officially proclaimed International Day dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust by the General Assembly of the United Nations in November 2005. This day has become a day of memory of the genocide. Although we must always remember the victims of the Holocaust, the transmission of memory aims not only to pay tribute to the victims, but also to raise awareness of the warning signs of a new genocide, because the experience of the past must serve the present. As I already wrote in an article in 2015.
The 13th national assizes against Holocaust denial are devoted, this year, to the relativization of mass crimes in time (and on the pretext) of (the) war, on February 8, 2023, at the National Assembly, in the Colbert room, while the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, reuses Hitler’s “euphemism” of “final solution” (to the Russian question) of the West. What are you expecting from this event?
Stephanie Courouble Share: The National Assizes against Holocaust denial is a key moment of debate between experts in France on the different forms of denial, in particular that of the genocide of the Tutsis and that of the Armenians. They aim to raise awareness of the dangers of Holocaust denial in our society, especially at a time when anti-Semitism is resurfacing and in times of war in Europe.
Could you explain what post-revisionism is?
Stephanie Courouble Share: “Post-revisionism” is a more radical current comparing to the “revisionism” of the time. We can cite post-revisionist authors such as Vincent Reynouard, recently arrested in Scotland after years of exile in England to escape justice in his country. They claim to be Holocaust deniers, but they do not hide their anti-Semitism, hence the term post-revisionism. However, the term “revisionist” is not appropriate to describe Holocaust deniers. The latter have proclaimed themselves “revisionists” to legitimize their movement, and speak of an “exterminationist school” to describe the historians who affirm the existence of a genocide of the Jews, and of a “revisionist school” to describe themselves. According to them, there would be the official and orthodox school of some against the critical and dissident school that they form. The term “revisionist” refers to legitimate currents in history, and it is for this reason that holocaust deniers seek to use it. The term “revisionist” can also qualify historians, because every historian revises historical events as soon as he has access to new archives. Holocaust deniers then wish to appropriate this term to give themselves the appearance of being historians when they are not.
Did the internationalization of French Holocaust denial begin in 1980 when a text by Noam Chomsky was used by Robert Faurisson for the preface of his book Mémoire en Défense?
Stephanie Courouble Share: It is indeed important to note that Robert Faurisson is not a revisionist, but a Holocaust denier. The internationalization of Holocaust denial in France began before the arrival of Noam Chomsky, a famous American and Jewish linguist, but it is certain that his support brought additional visibility and legitimacy to this movement. This troubled period and the scandal that followed, both in the United States and in France, are described in detail in my first book.
The academic brings legitimacy to Holocaust denial, while the ultra-left becomes an essential element and will remain so. Nevertheless, we have to wait for Noam Chomsky’s “opinion” on Faurisson’s book to observe a collective awareness of the involvement of the ultra-left in the phenomenon. (Stéphanie Courouble-Share, Conspiracy Watch, February 2013)
Did the tribute to the victims of Doctor August Hirt who had 86 Jews gassed at the Natzweiler-Struthof camp, and which was the heart of Robert Faurisson’s book Memory in Defense, seem satisfactory to you?
Stephanie Courouble Share: In 2017, a film entitled “Le nom des 86” broadcast on Arte and directed by Hans-Joachim Lang, Raphaël Toledano and Emmanuel Heyd, retraced the identification of the martyrs of August Hirt. Thanks to this, the names of the victims were revealed, allowing to know their story and their tragic end. Likewise, for more than 10 years, Yad Vashem has added the names of more than 200,000 Jews murdered in the Holocaust who had not been previously identified.
2021 Oscar winning short film, Colette appears in Medal of honor‘s bonuses, YouTubers Mamytwink film the Struthof with a drone and Call of Duty flirts with Holocaust denial. Was the former director of CERD, Frédérique Neau-Dufour right to refuse Ubisoft to shoot sequences in the Natzweiler camp?
Stephanie Courouble Share: It is undeniable that Frédérique Neau-Dufour was right to refuse to shoot sequences in a concentration camp. However, in the age of virtual reality, it is inevitable that camps, history and testimonies will be viewed through VR glasses. It is therefore crucial to make this experience educational, which is a major challenge.