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The most salient feature of the reaction to my Standpoint article was the heavy artillery deployed to discredit it. The attackers had a difficult task because, as the Toepfer Foundation was obliged to admit to the university in June 2010, "the facts as presented by Dr Pinto-Duschinsky should and will not be disputed."

There were two parallel sets of responses. The one consisted of misleading statements and private threats, the other of critical publications and rebuttals.

At the level of misleading statements, the Toepfer Foundation posted a statement on its website that "it is [...] to be regretted that the respective editors have withdrawn a publication of his academic article previously announced with the DeGruyter publishers." The article in question was a slightly shortened German language version of the Standpoint piece together with detailed sources and notes. The implication was that the article had been unworthy of publication and that the editors of the projected volume, Dr Michael Fahlbusch and Dr Ingo Haar, had rejected it. In fact, they had merely moved to another German publishing house, Ferdinand Schoeningh. The Toepfer Foundation has continued to include the above statement on its website at the time of Standpoint going to print even though the Fahlbusch/Haar book appeared in September 2010 with my contribution included.

The foundation's stated regrets about the alleged non-publication of the German- language version need to be seen against the background of its private approach to Ferdinand Schoeningh Verlag in June 2010 with warnings about the Standpoint article, the purpose of which may be seen as an effort to dissuade the publishing house from including it in the Fahlbusch/Haar volume.

A few weeks later, the same publisher reported that he had received verbal threats from an academic associated with the foundation: he would take legal action if it published a translated version of my article and the firm would be ruined. Whether the scholar was acting on his own initiative is unclear. When his protests proved unproductive, a second academic wrote to one of the editors of the volume, Dr Ingo Haar, objecting to the inclusion of my offending piece. The senior German historian who wrote to Haar had a leading position in a German research group financed by a major funding body, the DFG, from which Haar was in receipt of a grant. The historian raised "the question — which concerns me personally — whether you want to include in the volume a contribution of Pinto-Duschinsky". In part, his concern was technical. My Standpoint article did not fall within the remit of the research group and had not been delivered at a conference for which funding had been assigned. The historian in charge of the DFG funding protested too about the content of what I had written in Standpoint.

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GW
September 1st, 2011
6:09 PM
Nothing has changed. Germany just went quiet for a while. http://germanywatch.blogspot.com/2011/08/dodgy-ngos-and-arab-spring.html

Frank Adam
August 21st, 2011
11:08 AM
I was a teenager in the 50's and remember all this for real as well as the Americans in Reader's Digest etc trying to persuade us the Germans had been hard done to by the Russians when there were still bomb sites across my patch of London. Also becaus eof the Cold War and to act up to the Arabs the Eisenhower Admin refused to move its embassy to Jerusalem nor did it lean on the Arabs to fulfil their UN Charter obligations to recognise Israel and lay off harrassment. We are still paying the price for that short term blinkered policy in tha the Arabs think that for the oil and UN votes they can get away with political guttersnipe behaviour.

Roy Weston
August 19th, 2011
5:08 PM
It was once suggested that 16 million Germans could have been charged with involvement in the Holocaust. Of course, it was never suggested how 16 million people could be put on trial, but that was never the point. The point was that if a large enough figure could be established, that would guarantee that justice could never be done, then it could always be claimed that justice never was done and could be used as a reminder every time interest in the Holocaust was in decline. This article seems to be just a variation of that theme.

max
August 15th, 2011
4:08 PM
Michael Pinto-Duschinsky is to be congratulated on his perseverance, although starting-off with a summary of the case might have been useful. Entrenched financial interest and the passage of time are two powerful forces of inertia to overcome, and there are, surely, numerous Toepfers out there in Europe, Asia and Africa. There have been too many instances of mass murder, and there are lessons to be learned for humanity's sake. But it gets progressively harder to learn them. There are two parts to making it happen. 1. is extracting the evidence. 2. is making it count. 1. is of limited value without 2., and I wonder whether there might be a way of leveraging the effect of work such as Michael's. For instance, adapting the Fairtrade playbook, one might consider creating a seal of approval for organisations which have had the courage to discuss their roles openly and a seal of disapproval for those which have not and publicising them both. The act of burdening a corporate brand with a seal of disapproval widens the circle of those who perceive the corporation as having a case to answer, and it creates a focus for discussing the issues which, in these times of corporate social responsibility, can be difficult to ignore. Anyway, this Walm Lane kid welcomes the Teignmouth Road kid's work.

Ian Mordant
August 8th, 2011
8:08 PM
No I don't agree with Ken Wilsher. Sure we brits are highly imperfect in our own record. of course we do not only have differences with the Germans; we have many similarities too. nevertheless the attempt to get at the truth in all its complexity and perplexity should always be pursued, especially in matters of mass murder. Should we, because say our involvement with slavery, also take no interest in the escape of mass murderers from Rwanda? I think not. I want them pursued, to the ends of the earth and back again. And increase our taxes by a penny in the pound if thats what it takes to pursue them. Ian Mordant

Ken Wilsher
July 6th, 2011
8:07 PM
Well it was rather hard to beat the Germans. In that war, Britain, where I was a child, killed hundreds of thousands of Germans - mostly civilians - in the attempt. When the war finished I think the British just wanted to forget the whole nasty, morally dubious mess. It was not a time for moral posturing. 60 years after, hard though it may be - move on - please!

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