27 January 2019

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

1. The latest episode of the History Extra Podcast Legacies of the Holocaust has Mary Fulbrook and Richard J Evans exploring the aftermath of the Nazi genocide. How do subsequent generations, descendants of victims, perpetrators and bystanders, deal with the legacy?

2. That podcast was posted at the same time as media were reporting on Library and Archives Canada's acquisition for $6K of the book  Statistik, Presse und Organisationen des Judentums in den Vereinigten Staaten und Kanada (Statistics, Press, and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada), a detailed census of Jewish populations and organizations in North American cities. There are copies of the book elsewhere — search the title on WorldCat — but this LAC copy contains a bookplate indicating it was once part of Adolf Hitler's collection.

Despite the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies approving LAC's purchase to avoid it falling into the hands of groups like neo-Nazis I'm doubtful about the purchase. How does it align with LAC's mandate? One might justify it under "to be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada as a free and democratic society." But that doesn't justify acquiring the particular volume.

 According to a CBC News item LAC curators struggled with the moral implications of purchasing the book because of the prevalence of Holocaust denial and xenophobia. While the purchase has gained LAC some publicity Jew-haters and neo-Nazis will rejoice that a volume from Hitler's collection now enjoys a place in Canada's national library.

Bad decision.

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