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Witness statement of Deborah Lipstadt


I, DEBORAH E. LIPSTADT, of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, 30322, USA, WILL SAY AS FOLLOWS:

Current Position

1. Family Background: I am a single woman born in New York City in 1947. My father came to the United States from Germany in the late 1 920s and my mother emigrated with her family from Canada in the 1920s. Her parents had come to Canada from Poland during the first decade of the twentieth century. They originally settled in New York City but having decided that they could not properly raise their children there, moved to Toronto, Canada. My mother's father ran a small Jewish bookstore. Eventually they left Canada and moved to the United States for economic reasons. My mother, an honors student in Latin, had to prematurely end her education because of the Depression and the difficult economic circumstances in which her family found itself. Eventually she moved to New York City where she ran a Jewish youth organization in New York City. My mother, after staying home to raise three children, became a specialist in antique and rare Jewish ritual art. She was invited to many different cities in the United States to lecture on the topic.

2. My father, who was descended from a prominent family of rabbis and teachers in Germany and Central Europe, left Germany in the late i 920s because he could not find work there. When he first came to the United States he worked as a traveling salesman in order to support himself. Subsequently he started his own business in New York City which he ran until he died at the age of 66 in 1972. During the era of the Third Reich, my father attempted to bring his five sisters from Germany to the United States. Despite his efforts he could not do so. However, they survived in other countries and he succeeded in bringing four of them to the United States in the post-war period.

3. Though my parents placed a great premium on education, neither was able to finish college because of financial reasons. Consequently, ensuring that their children received the best education possible was exceptionally important to them. They also wanted their children to be knowledgeable and literate Jews. All three of their children attended private Jewish schools for their primary and high school education. All of us continued for post-graduate education after receiving our Baccalaureate degrees. My sister received her Ph.D. in Architectural History from the Sorbonne in Paris and my brother received his M.A. in Business Administration from Columbia University in New York City. Books filled our house and we were greatly encouraged to expand our intellectual horizons.

4. The home in which I was raised was a traditional Jewish home. My parents were active volunteers in the community and, in that capacity, they worked for their synagogue, the schools their children attended, and various welfare and charity organizations both secular and religious. They were cited on a number of different occasions for their work on behalf of charitable institutions.

5. Educational Background: I attended the City College of New York for my B.A. In my third year of college, I traveled to Jerusalem for a year of study at the Hebrew University, I was there during the 1967 war and worked as a volunteer in an orphan home. I decided to remain there for another year so that I could continue my work in Contemporary Jewish Studies. During this period I took a number of courses on the history of the Third Reich and on the Holocaust. Upon my return to the United States, I continued for a MA. and Ph.D. in Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, I concentrated on modern Jewish history. It was at this point that I began to intensively study the history of the Holocaust. While I was in graduate school I helped pay for my education by directing a Jewish youth organization administered by the Reform [Liberal] movement in the United States.

6. Work Experience: Prior to completing my Ph.D. I was hired by the University of Washington as an Assistant Professor in the History Department with a joint appointment to the Program in Comparative Religion. I was the first professor at that university to specialize in Jewish Studies and was responsible for laying the foundation for the university's Jewish Studies program. I began teaching courses on the history of the Holocaust during my second year at the University of Washington (1976) and have been teaching such courses ever since. I subsequently left the University of Washington for a position at UCLA [University of California at Los Angles]. From there I moved to Occidental College, a small private college, in Los Angeles. At UCLA I taught courses in modem Jewish history including a number of seminars on the Holocaust. At Occidental virtually all my courses related in one way or another to the Holocaust.

7. My Current Professional Position: Background on Emory University: From Occidental I moved to Emory University in January 1993. Emory, founded in 1836, is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) a group of the sixty-two most productive and accomplished research universities in the United States. It is an international teaching and research university with a most selective admission policy. It has 11,300 students and 2,500 faculty members. In addition to Emory College, the University encompasses nine schools and divisions, including a graduate school of arts and sciences, professional schools of medicine, theology, law, nursing, public health, and business. There is a distinct difference between Emory's Department of Religion and its Candler School of Theology. The latter is a professional school which ordains Ministers in the Methodist Church and teaches religious education. The Department of Religion, of which I am a member, is responsible for the scientific and critical study of the history of religions.

8. Emory is also home to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Archives and Library. President Carter is a member of the faculty. Emory College has consistently been ranked as one of the top twenty universities in the United States. (In 1997-98, it was ranked as number nine by the U.S. News and World Report Survey of American Colleges and Universities.) It has the fifth largest endowment of any university in the United States. Last year it had well over 10,000 applications for approximately 1,000 places in its entering class. Generally students who are accepted to Emory are in the top 10% of their high school classes, if not higher. Among its faculty members are Wole Soyinka, Nobel Prize laureate in literature. Currently, Bishop Desmond Tutu is teaching at the university. Last year the Dalai Lama was in residence here and delivered the commencement address.

9. Teaching/Administrative Activities at Emory: I was hired by the Department of Religion to teach courses on the history of the modern Jewish experience with particular emphasis on the Holocaust. The Department of Religion has fifteen faculty members who teach an array of courses on the history, literature, anthropology, and theology of a wide array of religious traditions. Their fields of expertise include specific religious traditions such as Christianity. Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism. They also teach comparative categories such as sacred texts, religion and ethnography, religion and violence, and gender and religion.

10. Shortly after my arrival at Emory, the University submitted a proposal to the Dorot Foundation, a major foundation which has endowed a number of positions at various universities throughout the United States. The proposal suggested a number of different ways the foundation might support Emory. The Foundation selected the most "costly " of these proposals and elected to endow a chair. They made a gift to the university of 1.25 million dollars. The President of the Foundation, the late Joy Ungerleider Mayerson. informed the university that it chose the option of the chair because I would be the occupant In recognition of my areas of expertise, the Foundation named the chair the Dorot Chair in Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies.

11. At Emory I have served as chair of the Graduate Program in Jewish Studies since its inception. This program, which offers a Masters is designed to allow students to expand their knowledge of Jewish culture, society, and history, prior to entering the job market or continuing for their Ph.D. This program is four years old. It was recently evaluated by a external evaluating committee which was invited to the university by the Dean of Emory College. That committee was chaired by the former Provost of Brown University, an Ivy League university with the most selective admission's policy in the United States. He described the Jewish Studies graduate program as a "stunning success." As Chair of this program I am responsible for devising the budget and the recruiting program, monitoring student progress, and working with the central administration of the university to promote its growth and development.

12. I am currently coordinating the establishment by Emory University of an Institute for Jewish Studies. Such an Institute will encompass the various programs in Jewish Studies which are currently spread out across the campus. It will allow students to major in Jewish Studies and receive their Baccalaureate in the field. This effort demands coordinating the five or six departments which would be involved in the effort. It is an arduous and administratively complex effort which has stretched out over two years.

13. A significant portion of my teaching activities involve working with graduate students. I advise students in various graduate departments who are studying different aspects of the Holocaust. Among the graduate students with whom I work are Lissa Skitol, a Ph.D. student in Philosophy, who will write her dissertation on the use of philosophic tools to understand the Holocaust; Jonathan Lewis, a graduate student in the History Department, who is concentrating on America's response to the Holocaust, 1933-1945; and Maureen MacLaughlin, also of the History Department, who is working on the history of the Holocaust in Italy.

14. Teaching Awards: Since I arrived at Emory, I have received a number of teaching awards. In 1996, I was voted by the students as the professor with the highest ability to captivate students and make subject material interesting. In 1997, I received Emory's highest teaching award, the Emory Williams Teaching Award. This award is based on a vote by alumni who are asked to cite the teacher who has had the greatest impact on them. In 1998, my courses were cited by the students as among the most worthwhile on campus.

15. Administrative Responsibilities: At the university I serve on the Presidential Advisory Committee, a group of ten faculty members [one from each division or school at the university] who are personally selected by the president. It is our responsibility to advise the President of the University on all matters relating to faculty promotions and hiring. We are also used by the President as an unofficial cabinet to advise him on significant issues facing the university.

16. In addition, I was elected by my colleagues in Emory College to the Faculty Council, one of the most significant entities in Emory College. The Faculty Council's responsibility is to review the files of all faculty members who are being considered for any form of promotion. We recommend to the Dean of the College whether these promotions should be granted or rejected. If we reject a promotion of a faculty member who is being considered for tenure then that faculty member must resign from the University.

17. Non-University Academic Activities: In addition to my work at the University I am engaged in various activities outside the University, I am often asked to visit other universities to give lectures on topics related to the Holocaust. Among the universities to which I have been invited to lecture in the recent past have been Harvard, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania.

18. There are, however, two non-university academic activities which occupy the lion's share of the time I devote to activities outside the University. They are The United States Holocaust Memorial Council and the United States Department of State Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad.

19. The United States Holocaust Memorial Council: I was an historical consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum [hereafter USHMM] when it was being built. I was asked prepare a film which would delineate various aspects of the American response to the Holocaust. In that capacity, I determined the topics to be covered by the film. In addition, I did the research and wrote the treatment, i.e. the filmic equivalent of script. My direct supervisors for this project were Raye Farr and Martin Smith, who directed and produced segments of the twenty six hour Thames Television production, World at War. The film on the history of the American response to the Holocaust is part of the permanent exhibit at the Holocaust Museum. It has won a series of awards since the opening of the USHMM. It has won the following awards: GOLD HUGO: Intercom '93, Chicago, Highest award given, 1 of 6 awarded in 1993, Category: Educational - Social Sciences/Humanities; MUSE AWARD: American Association of Museums Media & Technology Committee, Recognizing Outstanding Museum Film & Video, Category: History; CINE GOLDEN EAGLE: Cine Film & Video Festival, Category: Documentary; BRONZE PLAQUE: 41st Columbus International Film & Video Festival, Category: Social Issues.

20. In 1994, after completing my professional work for the museum, I received a Presidential appointment to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. The Council, which has sixty members, fifty of whom are appointed by the White House, and ten of whom are members of the Congress, is the Federal body which has been charged by the United States Congress with responsibility for administering the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The USHMM is the American government's Federal museum of the Holocaust. It is located adjacent to the Washington Monument, the United States Treasury, and the Smithsonian Institution. Built to accommodate one million visitors a year, in the six years since it opened it has been visited by two million visitors every year. Approximately 80% of these visitors are not Jewish.

21. The Chairman of the Council appointed me to chair the Education Committee. In that capacity my responsibility is to supervise the work of the Education Department of the USHMM. Education is one of the USHMM's most significant activities. The USHMM is visited by over 400,000 children in organized groups ever year. I work with the staff and assist in the design and coordination of these visitors. In addition, the Education Committee is responsible for the planning and execution of temporary exhibitions at the USHMM and for an array of traveling exhibits. The Education Committee runs a series of conferences for teachers which I help to plan and to which I deliver lectures. As a result of my serving as Chair of the Education committee, I automatically serve on the museum's Executive Committee. This is the twelve- member committee which is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the museum.

22. In addition, I am currently serving on the committee which is conducting a search for a new executive director of the museum. The work that I do at the museum, which is entirely voluntary, occupies a minimum of three working days a month and often far more than that. I am eligible to receive payment from the United States government for my service to the USHMM. I have, however, waived this and do my work on a voluntary basis.

23. United States Department of State Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad: In November 1996, I was appointed by the Secretary of State to the newly formed Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad. In this capacity, together with a small group of leaders and scholars, I advise the Secretary of State on matters of religious persecution abroad and to seek ways in which to advance the universal right to religious freedom. There are twenty members on this committee. They include the leaders of various denominations in the United States and three professors, of which I am one, who specialize in issues of religious pluralism and/or religious persecution. I was appointed because my study of the Holocaust has focused on how the reaction of foreign governments to religious persecution can affect the nature of that persecution. We meet at the State Department approximately every other month and confer by telephone at other times. We have been asked by the Secretary of State to prepare a report for her to submit to the President. The report will analyze the nature of religious persecution worldwide and offers some insight on how the United States government might address some of the problems that arise when issues of religious freedom intersect with foreign policy.

24. In addition, I am an active member of the American Jewish community. I belong to a myriad of organizations and am frequently invited to speak to synagogue and communal groups on various matters of contemporary Jewish interest. I have twice been invited to Australia by the Jewish community there to address them on the history of the Holocaust and on Holocaust denial.


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