Iran's Holocaust-denial conference: a community of hate

The Iranian effort to mount a Holocaust denial campaign is linked with the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Call it a community of hate. Sixty-seven delegates from 30 countries gathered in Tehran last week for a Holocaust-denial conference hosted by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

I know a little about the Holocaust, having visited the lakeside mansion in Berlin where the Wannsee Conference in 1942 drew up the master plan with Adolph Eichmann for the extinction of the Jews of Europe. In the Wannsee mansion are housed documents that make mass murder seem like a public-works project requiring so many trains and so many ovens.

And I spent some time in Auschwitz in 1959 making a documentary for CBS. I reported, "This was the greatest death factory ever devised." And I showed the gas chambers where murder was efficiently processed at an astounding rate. I showed the stagnant ponds, where if you ran your hands over the bottom, you picked up human ashes and fragments of bone.

So you will understand if I'm not entirely disinterested when I read that people such as former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke joins French, Canadian, Swiss, Austrian, and other Holocaust skeptics. Many peddled the idea that the mass murder was simply a myth.

The two-day conference was part of Iran's anti-Israel campaign. But maybe the conference served one useful purpose in that it forced world leaders to renew their humanist credentials. European Union Commissioner Franco Frattini said, "anti-Semitism has no place in Europe." The incoming secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, told Iran it was "unacceptable" to deny the Holocaust. British Prime Minister Tony Blair called the conference "shocking beyond belief." And the White House called it "an affront to the entire civilized world."

The Iranian effort to mount a Holocaust denial campaign is linked with the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Mr. Ahmadinejad calls for the extinction of Israel in the same speeches in which he denies the Holocaust. It seems inconceivable that anyone today would go through the charade of wanting to research this historic wrong. But, we live in the age of the inconceivable.

Daniel Schorr is a senior news analyst at National Public Radio.

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