You might find this hard to believe if you have seen this film or have even heard about its focus, but this is a true story.
Set in the 1990’s, this film portrays the widely televised case between infamous Holocaust denier David Irving and historian and professor of Holocaust studies, Deborah Lipstadt. Irving interrupts Lipstadt’s lectures and sues her for libel in the courts of the United Kingdom. This is important to note because in the United States, the burden of proof lays with the plaintiff. But in the U.K, it is vice versa. So, Lipstadt has to prove that when she accused him of being a Holocaust denier, that she wasn’t committing libel, rather that he did in fact deny the Holocaust and in doing so, lied.
This is a gripping story - emotions and tensions run at an all time high. I found myself consistently asking the questions: 1) How could anyone deny the Holocaust? and 2) How could it even get this far?
Lipstadt and her legal team clash on how to go about handling the case. She wants to testify on behalf of herself and also have Holocaust survivors testify as well. But, her team wisely advises against it as Irving has re-traumatized survivors, in the past. They don’t want to put the Holocaust on trial. So much is at risk, for if they lose the case, it would open the door for deniers to negate such a critical, horrific period in human history. Not only that, but it would dishonour the victims and re-traumatize the survivors at the very least. Needless to say, this was a herculean task Lipstadt and her legal team face.
I won’t include any spoilers, for I strongly encourage everyone to watch this film. But I will say that it is very important, especially in today’s world with the rise of the alt-right, neo-Nazis, and other similar hate groups. Although history has many sides and the victors generally write it, one cannot simply rewrite it or deny the existence of certain events, especially ones as awful as the Holocaust. Instead, we bear the responsibility to remember in order to avoid repeating such atrocities.
Check out the film here: