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Thursday, 22 August 1985
Page: 233


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(10.13) —The Senate is indebted to Senator Peter Baume for moving this motion tonight. It is a matter for regret that timetable constraints made his presentation shorter than we all would have wished. Let me quite simply and quickly, on behalf of the Government, endorse what Senator Baume has said and add just a few words of my own. Of all the suffering inflicted on the world by Hitler's Nazis the Holocaust was unquestionably the most monstrous crime of all. The millions who perished in the Holocaust-there were not only Jews but also, as Senator Baume has said, Poles, gypsies, Russians and people who were then regarded as social outcasts such as the mentally handicapped-were victims of the calculated nurturings of crude prejudices into a racist ideology of unsurpassed depravity.

Attempts to suggest that the Holocaust did not occur or has been exaggerated have never had any credibility, with discrediting occurring as early as and perhaps nowhere more completely than in transcripts of evidence of the Nuremburg and related trials in the 1940s at which the leading war criminals there brought to trial had full advantage of counsel and cross-examination. The evidence of those transcripts gives an incontrovertible picture of the full range, magnitude and enormity of the Holocaust. For example the evidence of Hoess, the Commandant of Auschwitz on May 1 1940 to 1 December 1943, estimated that in that camp alone and in that time 2,500,000 persons were exterminated and a further 500,000 died from disease and starvation.

I have no doubt that some of those associated with the so-called revisionist school of history who have challenged or doubted the Holocaust-or at least that part of the Holocaust account which refers to a deliberate program of extermination in the concentration camps-at least initially, had been motivated by genuine concerns about getting the historical record right and assessing the weight and force of the historiographical evidence which, by and large, has not produced quite the amount of documentary evidence that one might have hoped would be available to match the oral evidence of the post-war survivors and accused.

A few years ago I was encouraged by some of those whom I believed at the time to be motivated by a spirit of genuine intellectual inquiry to look at some of these so-called revisionist writings and, in particular, the work of that Chicago academic-if he might be so described-A. R. Butz, whose book The Hoax of the Twentieth Century has become and remains something of a bible of revisionists. One ought not to be influenced by a single paragraph when reading a work of this kind which purports to be a work of serious history and serious documentation, but I am afraid that my reading of this volume and my sympathy for the revisionist school of history stopped on page 37 when I came to the following paragraph, a reaction by the author to the Diary of Anne Frank. Anne Frank died, of course, in Belsen in March 1945. As to the Diary of Anne Frank Butz, the most widely quoted revisionist, stated:

The question of the authenticity of the diary is not considered important enough to examine here; I will only remark that I have looked it over and don't believe it. For example, already on page 2 one is reading an essay on why a 13 year old girl would start a diary, and then page 3 delivers a short history of the Frank family and then quickly reviews the specific anti-Jewish measures that followed the German occupation in 1940. The rest of the book is in the same historical spirit.

Anyone who has read that diary and, in particular, anyone here who has visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and been overcome, as I guess anyone would be, by the sheer impact that that physical experience has on any mortal who has any sensitivity at all could not possibly take seriously that kind of rubbish and that kind of account. I have no doubt that what occurred in Germany in the latter part of the 1930s and during the Second World War will rank forever as the most monstrous crime in human history. It is crucially important, as Senator Baume has said-of course this is the substance and theme of his motion-that subsequent generations never be allowed to forget or underestimate the magnitude of that crime. Santayana's dictum has become a cliche by now but cliches do assume that status because of their eternal truth. True it is that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. On behalf of the Government I support Senator Baume's motion.