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Holocaust Memorial film screening tackles anti-Semitic denials of repression

Sim Shah
Associate Features Editor

“Never again,” is a phrase attached to the genocide that occurred under Hitler’s command during WWII. However, there are people who claim the Holocaust never happened at all.

Tuesday evening in McComsey 260, a Holocaust Memorial event took place. Speakers including Dr. Khiterer, Asscociate Professor of History, and Dr. Gallagher, psychology department, gave introductory presentations preceding a film titled “Denial.”

Gallagher presented psychological and medical terminology and spoke about key figures in those fields. He focused on Sigmund Frued, a neurologist who died just before the Holocaust began. 

Gallagher said that leading up to the Holocaust, the Nazis burned Frued’s books because they were intimidated by them. They preferred to deny that what they feared ever existed. 

Gallagher talked about the defense mechanisms of “repression” and “rationalization.” He related those terms back to Frued and how he denied that the Holocaust was going to happen up until he finally fled Vienna, leaving his family behind. 

“We should all be on guard to recognize denial in ourselves and others,” said Gallagher.

Khiterer’s presentation also addressed denial. She spoke about how as awareness of the history of the holocaust is declining, antisemitic views are going public again. 

“Denial is the last stage of the Holocaust, because it erases the people killed,” said Khiterer.

Khiterer included examples of modern antisemitism in her presentation. One example was a 2018 photograph of people in Ukraine wearing t-shirts with “Beat YIDS” spelled out on the front of them. “YIDS” is a derogatory slang term for Jewish people. 

Antisemitism is not secluded to Ukraine. Khiterer said that during her first year at Millersville University a Holocaust denier sent a letter to the university’s president, in which they denounced the Holocaust. The denier also claimed that if it did happen the Jews deserved it. 

“‘Never again’ was a slogan for a long time after the Holocaust,” said Khiterer. However, it was questioned whether people feel the impact of that vow as deeply as when the wounds from WWII were still fresh. 

Despite the evidence of the Holocaust which remained even after the Nazis attempted to destroy it, some people argue that young people do not take it as seriously as they should.

Khiterer talked about Harry D. Wall’s article, “Ignorance About the Holocaust is Growing.” Included in the article are the results of a survey showing that only 66 percent of millennials in the study could explain what the Auschwitz concentration and death camp was. 

Khiterer talked about an English author named David Irving, who tried to justify Hitler by writing that Hitler was unaware of the Holocaust. He was called a racist and anti-Semite in a book by Deborah Lipstadt, American Historian. Irving lost a lawsuit he filed against Lipstadt for defamation.

The film, “Denial” is based on the case between Irving and Lipstadt. About 35 students gathered in McComsey 260 to hear Dr. Khiterer and Dr. Gallagher present and to view the film.