By Scott Strasser, February 16 2017 —
On Feb. 13, roughly a dozen posters questioning the number of Jewish Holocaust victims were found at the University of Calgary.
Several students and staff removed the posters and turned them over to U of C campus security, who confirmed they were posted without the university’s permission. According to campus security, some of the posters were placed on office doors.
The posters included excerpts from a Jan. 31 article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency — a Jewish news service similar to Reuters — titled “‘Remember the 11 million’? Why an inflated victims tally irks Holocaust historians.”
Parts of the original article argued that the oft-cited statistic that five million non-Jews were killed in the Holocaust is not based on credible scholarly evidence. JTA Washington D.C. bureau chief Ron Kampeas, who wrote the article, argued that “it is a number that was intended to increase sympathy for Jewish suffering but which now is more often used to obscure it.”
The rest of Kampeas’ article criticized the United States government for not mentioning Jewish victims of the Holocaust in its Holocaust Remembrance Day statement on Jan. 27.
However, the posters found at the U of C read: “If the ‘five million’ didn’t die, did the ‘six million’ really die?” The posters suggested that since some Holocaust historians disagree on the number of non-Jews killed, the generally-accepted statistic that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust should also be questioned.
The names David Cole, Ernst Zundel, Robert Faurisson, Mark Weber and Arthur Butz appear at the bottom of the poster, along with the website name codoh.com — the website for the Committee of Open Debate on the Holocaust.
U of C political science professor Maureen Hiebert — whose research specializes in genocide — said codoh.com is a website used by Holocaust deniers and that some of the people listed at the bottom of the posters are well-known Holocaust deniers, such as Zundel, who has faced jail time for “inciting racial hatred.”
“Codoh.com is a website for Holocaust deniers, although it says the site is dedicated to those who wish to debate what they dismiss as ‘Holocaust orthodoxy’,” Hiebert said. “What this means in reality is that they challenge the fact that the Holocaust happened and that it happened the way it happened, including challenging the intent to exterminate Europe’s Jews as well as the number of Jewish victims.”
The U of C said no interviewees would be available to discuss the matter, but issued the following statement:
“The University of Calgary community ― students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus ― are guided by our Code of Conduct. Along with a commitment to free inquiry, open debate and diversity of opinion, the university is committed to sustaining a safe, healthy, inclusive and respectful academy that supports excellence in teaching and research.”
Hiebert believes the posters showcased more than just open scholarly dispute.
“The poster, in my view, is not simply reporting an academic dispute among historians. It is Holocaust revisionism at the very least and more likely Holocaust denial. Holocaust denial is a form of anti-Semitism, plain and simple,” Hiebert said.
Hillel Calgary is a group for Jewish students in the city. Hillel Calgary director Jordan Waldman said he saw the posters and also felt they constituted anti-Semitism.
“These posters were posters of Holocaust denials,” Waldman said. “They take an academic debate around the five million that died and frame it around the legitimacy of the Holocaust itself.”
Waldman said his organization has a positive relationship with the U of C.
“We have a very good working relationship with the U of C administration. They strive to make an inclusive campus for Jews and non-Jews,” he said. “Whether they handled this appropriately or not, I can’t speak to their process. I can tell you that we believe these posters are Holocaust denial posters.”