“Holocaust Denial on Trial”: An Analysis of Deborah Lipstadt’s Approach

BIDWELL, Melody R. (2018). “Holocaust Denial on Trial”: An Analysis of Deborah Lipstadt’s Approach. Masters, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00167


Analysing the methods of countering Holocaust denial in a comparative manner proves a most helpful platform to assess historical methodology and practice. This research seeks to evaluate the differing agendas and perspectives between historical and legal approaches to refuting Holocaust denial from the David Irving v. Penguin Books Ltd. and Deborah Lipstadt libel trial. This research finds that the Irving v. Penguin defence team effectively used the court as a framework to test Irving’s historical methods of evidence manipulation against the historical record. It is argued that this legal framework and the process of arbitration in law increases the accountability of historical writing, as exemplified in the four historian’s expert reports presented for the defence. Based on these reports, the Irving v. Penguin case has further practical application for wider historical research practices, as the historian’s ability to produce verifiable and justifiable conclusions are defended. This research contributes to the knowledge of methods and approaches of countering Holocaust denial and provides a basis to assess the unique and, at times, inter-dependent relationship between history and law, in its use of historical material evidence. The three approaches to Holocaust denial investigated in this research are: Deborah Lipstadt’s methods and assumptions, the methods of the defence barristers of Irving v. Penguin and the methods of the four professional historians as expert witnesses appearing in court. The trial’s focus on Irving’s methods, centralised Irving’s political agenda and delegitimising his reputation as an historian. Thus, the Irving v. Penguin trial is analysed as a case which clarifies the parameters of acceptable historical scholarship. Research into methods of countering the denial opens-up windows of analysis into the ways that historians can respond to wider phenomenon like negationism. This research provides helpful lines of enquiry to understand the wider issues of truth, verification and falsification of historical evidence.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Thesis advisor - Petersson, Niels [0000-0003-4725-1985]
Additional Information: Director of Studies: Niels Petersson
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00167
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2019 14:39
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2023 15:16
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/24464

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