Flyers appearing to express support for infamous Holocaust denier David Irving have been found under the windscreens of cars at the Sidgwick Site.
Dr Edward Anderson, a research fellow at the Centre of South Asian Studies in Cambridge, tweeted a photo of the flyer with the caption: “Someone has gone around the Sidgwick Site @Cambridge_Uni putting holocaust denial flyers under every windshield. Worrying. #Antisemitism”.
The flyer, entitled “Who’s telling us our story?“, makes reference to the new Hollywood film Denial, about the landmark legal case involving the author David Irving. Irving sued historian and American Professor Deborah Lipstadt for libel between 1996 and 2000 after she accused him of being a Holocaust denier. The court found that Irving was a Holocaust denier, anti-Semite, and racist, and that he had deliberately manipulated his account of Hitler’s role in the Holocaust to present him in a favourable light.
In seeming support of Irving, the flyer claims that “key elements of the official version [of the Holocaust] are demonstrably false and want revision.”
The flyer goes on to quote Michael Hoffman, an American conspiracy theorist and Holocaust denier. The quote reads: “I think that it’s interesting to note that history is often tried by Hollywood. They … create these puppet figures, these simulacrums, these straw men of David Irving in the movie, and then attack that and present that as the reality.
“And I think it’s an indicator of their insecurity and weakness, that they have to do this second hand through Tinsel Town rather than directly through a debate with bona-fide revisionist historians.”
It is unclear when the flyers were distributed. Dr Anderson told Varsity that he found the flyer “on Thursday afternoon, at probably around 5 p.m.”, and noticed that “all” of the other staff cars still parked on the Sidgwick Site had the same flyers “stuck under their wipers.” He added: “I imagine I must have found it shortly after they had been placed there, as nearly all of them were still there.”
The flyers were also found in other parts of the city.Claire Debenham, a Twitter user who found a flyer on her windshield near Parker’s Piece, told Varsity: “I found it under the windscreen wiper of my car at around 7 pm yesterday evening. The car was in a resident’s parking bay on Parkside, just up from the police station. I’d last used it on Tuesday morning so the flier could have been placed at any time after then. It was dark, so I didn’t notice if there were any on other cars.”
According to Dr Anderson, the University took steps to remove the flyers: “I was contacted by someone at the University immediately following my tweet and estate management immediately went around the Sidgwick Site to check if there were any flyers still around.”
A spokesperson for the University told Varsity: “We have had several reports of offensive and antisemitic materials being left on the Sidgwick Site. Facilities staff were alerted immediately and the flyers were quickly removed. Staff are conducting regular sweeps of University sites, but any additional flyers should be reported to a member of staff immediately.”
“The University of Cambridge does not tolerate discrimination in any form. We are an inclusive community that welcomes staff, students, alumni, collaborators and visitors from a wide variety of backgrounds, including people of all faiths and none.”
Very similar flyers were found on the Glasgow University campus last April, on this occasion quoting controversial academic Norman Finkelstein.
Denial was released in the UK on Holocaust Memorial day, which takes place on 27th January each year to remember the millions murdered during the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, including those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
Professor Sir Richard Evans, renowned historian and President of Cambridge’s Wolfson College, played a crucial role in Irving’s momentous trial as an expert witness. He proved to be pivotal in providing evidence to help Lipstadt win the case after setting about compiling Irving’s work, alongside his two PhD students, to demonstrate the misrepresentations that Irving had made by using forged documents as sources.
With the current political climate of ‘fake news’ and post-truth narratives, the timing of the film’s release is pertinent. In an interview with Cambridge News, Professor Evans said: “It’s very important to stand up for truth, and for careful critical analysis of the evidence.”
Irving served 13 months in prison in Austria on counts of Holocaust denial in 2006. His reputation as a historian was discredited after the notoriously unsuccessful libel trial.
This article has been updated to include comment from the University
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