Iran Further Isolates Itself with 'Holocaust Denial'

Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr comments on the recent Holocaust denial conference hosted and sponsored by the Iranian government in Tehran.

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DANIEL SCHORR: Call it a community of hate.

ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

NPR's senior news analyst, Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: Sixty-seven delegates from 30 countries gathered in Tehran by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a Holocaust-denial conference. 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 an engineering assignment.

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 a rate of 60,000 a day. 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 like David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan joins French, Canadian, Swiss, Austrian and other Holocaust deniers in peddling 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 Vatican called the Holocaust an immense tragedy and a warning to all people to respect the rights of others. The new secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, told Iran it was unacceptable to deny the Holocaust. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said, The Tehran meeting shows the danger of the situation that Israel is in. British Prime Minister Tony Blair called the conference shocking beyond belief. And here in Washington, the White House called the meeting an affront to the entire civilized world.

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

This is Daniel Schorr.

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