Scrapbookpages Blog

September 21, 2012

$5 million dollars was awarded to a Holocaust survivor in a “Holocaust denial” lawsuit in 1986

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:13 am

Last night, I was watching the Dr. Drew TV show when I was stunned to hear Lisa Bloom say that one of the many accomplishments of her mother, Gloria Allred, was that she had won a case in which $5 million was awarded to a Holocaust survivor in his lawsuit against Holocaust deniers.  I knew that she could only be referring to the case brought by Mel Mermelstein against the IHR many years ago.

I knew that the Mermelstein lawsuit took place way back in 1985, but I had never bothered to read the details.  So I took some time to look it up.  I found the Jewish Virtual Library website, which has an extensive article about the case.

This quote is from the article on the Jewish Virtual Library website:

The one case directly involving the substance of Holocaust-denial propaganda in an American court was a 1985 lawsuit brought against the IHR by Mel Mermelstein, a Holocaust survivor living in Long Beach, California. In the early ’80s, Mermelstein had responded to a cynical IHR publicity campaign which offered $50,000 to anyone who could prove that Jews had been gassed at Auschwitz by submitting evidence that members of his own family had been murdered at that concentration camp. When the IHR failed to comply with its promised terms, Mermelstein filed his suit. In July 1985, the lawsuit was settled in Mermelstein’s favor. The settlement, approved by judge Robert Wenke of the Los Angeles Superior Court, called for the IHR to pay Mermelstein the $50,000 “reward,” as well as an additional $40,000 for pain and suffering. Moreover, at a pre-trial hearing, the Court took judicial notice of the fact that gas chambers had been used to murder Jews at Auschwitz.

Several months later, Mermelstein won another victory against the Holocaust-denial movement. In January 1986, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded Mermelstein $4.75 million in punitive damages and $500,000 in compensatory damages in a suit he had filed in 1981 against Ditlieb Felderer, a Swedish Holocaust denier whose publication, Jewish Information Bulletin (it is in fact none of these), had mocked the killing of Jews at Auschwitz and had attacked Mermelstein personally. Later that year, the IHR and Willis Carto sued Mermelstein, claiming he libeled them during a radio interview given in New York. In 1988, they voluntarily dropped the charges.

Did you catch that?  An American judge, in an American court, took judicial notice that gas chambers had been used to murder Jews at Auschwitz.  The term “judicial notice” means that a judge rules that a statement made in court is “common knowledge” and is so well known that it does not have to be proved in court.  In this instance, the judge ruled that the gas chambers at Auschwitz are such a well known fact, that anyone who mentions the gas chambers in a court of law in America does not have to prove his statement.

This “judicial notice” by an American judge has laid the groundwork for the prosecution of Holocaust deniers in America in the future.

How long before America joins many other countries that have a law against Holocaust denial?

I may have to change the photos of the gas chambers on my website. I should put some blue stains on the walls of the reconstructed gas chamber at Auschwitz to show that Zyklon-B was used to gas the prisoners.