"The Holocaust Industry" by Norman G. Finkelstein

Book review by Andrew Ross; author interview by Viktor Frvlke


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Salon Staff
September 5, 2000 11:20PM (UTC)

Read the book review Read the interview

Norman Finkelstein demands that the Holocaust be treated as a "rational subject of inquiry," as if the slaughter of millions of Jews and other innocents -- a slaughter conceived and carried out with terrifying efficiency and obvious relish by a purportedly civilized nation -- is itself somehow "rational."

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Finkelstein's point of view is so grossly distorted as to encourage a trip to Psych 101 in an attempt to discern his possible motives: self-hatred? Embarrassment? Shame? Rage? You fill in the blank. I'm stumped.

-- David J. Hogan
(NOTE: I am editor-in-chief of "The Holocaust Chronicle," a not-for-profit book published by Chicago-based Publications International, Ltd.)

As an Orthodox Jew I am horrified by the fact that a man from a Jewish family could actually help lend credence to the claims of Holocaust deniers throughout the world. While I cannot deny the fact that there may be a few individuals who have taken advantage of the "generosity" of the German government, I cannot believe that after going through the hell of the Holocaust, most survivors do not deserve what is rightfully theirs. And contrary to what Finkelstein believes, if Polish peasants are living on what was once Jewish property, they should be thrown off for the very simple fact that it is not theirs.

Instead of "enlightening" the public about various aspects of the Holocaust, Finkelstein has only aided anti-Semites across the globe in their quest for total denial in what was one of the worst tragedies ever to take place in modern history.

-- Stuart Pollak

Both Salon and Finkelstein might be interested to know that he has a predecessor who, among other things, delineated the principles of Holocaust literature and Holocaust studies, advanced a theory of self-perpetuating and self-serving Holocaust handwringing, and pointed out some of the flaws in our mass adoration of Elie Wiesel. Peter Novick published "The Holocaust in American Life" in 1999, to a similar lack of press, but he did manage to include a little research.

-- Laura Maschal

I enjoyed the interview, and will buy the book. I've been to Auschwitz, saw "Schindler's List," read and liked Irving's biography of Goering but do not agree with his denial of the Holocaust, read Hitler's "Willing Executioners" (and believe that the argument that all Germans are culpable is without foundation in the historical record), attended a Wiesel speech on the Holocaust (a speech that added little to my understanding of the subject) and am otherwise a student of World War II and the Holocaust.

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While there is a uniqueness to the Holocaust, and it is important to preserve the memory of that horrible time, I am also deeply troubled by those who are "cashing in" on that memory. I wasn't aware that mainstream Jewish groups had siphoned reparations in the '50s or that Polish peasants would be adversely affected by present day claims. I am reserving judgment until I read the book, and read the inevitable replies.

-- Charles Bird


Salon Staff

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