Content warning: Antisemitism.
Flyers claiming that “the official version” of the Holocaust is “demonstrably false” have appeared at the University of Newcastle Callaghan campus just days after similar material was posted at the University of Sydney.
The flyers, which have been put on the windshields of a large number of staff and student cars, protest the showing of the film Denial in Australia. The film focuses on the case of disgraced historian David Irving, who was involved in litigation against Penguin Books over a book about Holocaust deniers that he claimed was libellous. During the proceedings, the defence had to mount a case that Irving had indeed misrepresented evidence in his writings. The trial received significant international attention, and was considered by some as a ‘test case’ of sorts in preserving or amending the historical record of The Holocaust.
As is commonly the case with Holocaust deniers, Irving’s historical basis for denying the extent of genocide perpetrated by the Nazis was thoroughly debunked both in court, and by historians whose attention to Irving’s body of work was piqued by the trial. Ultimately, Irving lost his case and was ordered to pay all substantive court costs, declaring bankruptcy in 2002.
The flyers also include a quote from American conspiracy theorist Michael A. Hoffman II, whose publications on subjects such denial of both the Holocaust and African enslavement have been criticised as being heavily steeped in anti-black racism and antisemitism.
For his take on the appearance of these flyers, Opus spoke to Professor Roger Markwick, a founding member of the University of Newcastle’s Centre for the History of Violence. “I am not certain that we are seeing a ‘new wave’ of Holocaust denial, but in this case it seems to have resurfaced with the recent release of the Hollywood film Denial,” Professor Markwick said.
“Anti-Semitism lingers beneath the surface of most European societies, including Anglo-Celtic Australia.”
“The resurgence of the far-right in Europe and America has seen the eruption of controversy around Holocaust denial, notably in relation to Marine Le Pen’s Front National and her campaign for the French presidency.”
“But if anything,” Professor Markwick continues, “the resurgence of the far-right has been accompanied by anti-Islamic racism —the ‘anti-Semitism’ of our time.”
At the bottom of the flyer is a web address that promises the reader facts that prove the traditional historical record concerning the Holocaust is incorrect. The website instead offers several rants about a variety of conspiracy subjects, including mind control in psychiatry, and belief in ‘chemtrails’ – the supposed presence of poisons or mind-control substances in the vapour trails of commercial planes.
According to Professor Markwick, “the best riposte to the denunciation of ‘Hollywood Jewry’s’ portrayal of the David Irving trial (as the website referenced on the flyer puts it) is the book Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust and the David Irving Trial, by the distinguished historian Richard J. Evans, who was the principal expert witness for the defence.”
“The University of Newcastle is appalled at the content of the flyers and has reported this matter to NSW Police”, a University spokesperson told Opus.
“The University of Newcastle is committed to providing a safe and respectful work and study environment for our diverse communities. Staff and students are encouraged to dispose of these materials when they are found and to actively support each other to promote the values of Honesty, Trust, Fairness, Accountability, and Respect. ”
“The University of Newcastle is appalled at the content of the flyers and has reported this matter to NSW Police”
“Holocaust denial at its very core is antisemitic,” NUSA Welfare Officer Aesha Awan said, “the flyering that occurred is disgusting and cowardly.”
“This kind of hateful rhetoric has no place on this campus or in this city. We have to stand against these cowards to ensure the safety of our students and to stamp out these hateful and dangerous movements. ”
NUSA President Michael Labone offered a frank comment on the incident: “The Holocaust fucking happened.”
“If you want to disagree, come and show your face. Don’t sneak around the car parks like a cretin.”
If you see anybody posting offensive content such as these flyers, you should remove it if it is safe to do so, and then report the incident to UON Security at 4921 5729 (Callaghan) or 4348 4291 (Ourimbah).
Students who have been negatively impacted by these flyers are encouraged to reach out to the University of Newcastle Counselling Service.
You can view session times for the film Denial at Event Cinemas Newcastle here.