Rabbi warns that he who shouts loudest is believed

FREE SPEECH: Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

THE history of the Holocaust must continue to be written to counter those who deny it happened.

That was the view of Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, guest speaker at the British Friends of the Hebrew University Glasgow Group event, held in Eastwood House on Sunday.

Asked how he felt about balancing the need for free speech and allowing Holocaust denier David Irving to tell lies, Rabbi Wittenberg said: "I know Deborah Lipstadt, who was unsuccessfully sued by Irving for libel.

"She feels very strongly that the right of free speech should be honoured and I agree with that.

"However, this post-Brexit, post-truth society is very troubling to me. We are living in an era where he who shouts loudest is believed.

"That's why it is extremely important that talks like this are given and books are written, because history can be changed."

Rabbi Wittenberg spoke about his latest book My Dear Ones - One Family and the Final Solution.

Rabbi Wittenberg said: "My father had three sisters and he and his surviving sisters passed away within a year of each other.

"I was in Israel clearing out things after the death of one of my aunts, when I found an old trunk.

"It contained a bundle of letters from 1937 to 1941 and I immediately realised that this was correspondence between members of my family before and during the war.

"A few weeks later, my father died. I started sorting through the letters and was told by my friend, Holocaust historian David Cesarani, that I had to write the story of the letters. Gradually I was able to increase the number I had.

"One of my thoughts was why hadn't I asked my father more questions before it was too late.

"In these letters were names I had heard him mention, but never put them together. The book is a tribute to my father and the rest of the family's memory.

"In those days, people were trapped in a country trying to get to other countries where no one wanted them - something that is very relevant today.

"Doing more for lone children has struck a chord in many Jewish hearts.

"What I've tried to do in the book is tell the story of a rabbinic family with six siblings, whose fates were different in the Holocaust."

Opening the event, Glasgow Group co-chairman Ann Furst said: "I don't think we have ever had so many people before.

"We are grateful to the Alma and Leslie Wolfson Charitable Trust, whose generous support means that all monies raised today will go to providing scholarships to help students of all denominations.

"I would like to announce that a major donation has been made to the university's law faculty by Delia and Adam Berkley, trustees of the Fred Berkley Charitable Trust.

"The Fred S Berkley Memorial Scholarship will provide a minimum of 18 scholarships over the coming years to needy students."

Thanking the guest speaker, committee member David Goldberg said: "You have that wonderful gift of leaving people transfixed by what you are saying.

"It was a master class in how to give a presentation."

The event was attended by 100 people, including members of the Association of Jewish Refugees.

The speaker was introduced by committee member Eddie Mandel.

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