More holocaust controversy at Canterbury University

Philip Ferguson PLF13 at student.canterbury.ac.nz
Mon Jul 21 15:35:44 MDT 2003


>From today's Christchurch 'Press' and the 'NZ Herald':


Holocaust scholar at centre of 'book burning' scandal
22 July 2003

A "book burning" scandal has erupted at Canterbury University over an 
article on controversial holocaust scholar Joel Hayward.


The decision to recall and destroy copies of the history department's 
journal History Now – and dump editor Ian Campbell – is dividing the 
academic community.

Canterbury lecturer Thomas Fudge, who wrote the offending article, has 
resigned in disgust and plans to leave at the end of the year.

Dr Fudge said he could not remain at a university that suppressed 
academic freedom.

"It made me a hypocrite trying to teach my students to think critically 
and ask the tough questions, all of the academic values that 
universities are about, and here my department was saying effectively 
we're going to 'burn books'."

The article revisits the firestorm that surrounded the 1993 Masters 
thesis of former Canterbury student Joel Hayward, which questioned the 
validity of holocaust history.

The thesis:

* Questioned whether Hitler personally ordered the physical 
extermination of the Jews

* Questioned whether gas chambers were used systematically to murder 
Jews in European concentration camps

* Suggested that while millions of Jews had died at the hands of the 
Nazis, it was impossible to know how many had been killed.

Dr Fudge, who lectures on medieval religious dissent and witchhunting, 
explored what for Hayward became a career-ending controversy.

He revealed in the article that Dr Hayward has been harassed and 
received death threats against his children.

Dr Hayward suffered an emotional breakdown and in June last year left 
his teaching post at Massey University. He now cannot get a job.

Late last year, according to Dr Fudge, a publishing firm canned a book 
on New Zealand airmen that Dr Hayward had co-edited "on account of the 
negative publicity surrounding him".

A subsequent job ended the day it started because employing Dr Hayward 
was considered to be "a very risky proposition", the article claimed.

The Fate of Joel Hayward in New Zealand Hands: from holocaust historian 
to holocaust? played on the title of his thesis, The Fate of Jews in 
German Hands.

The article appeared on May 6. Next morning, Professor Campbell was 
asked to appear before his editorial committee and history department 
head Peter Hempenstall.

Prof Campbell said he was effectively pushed.

"The fact is that board disapproved of my editorial decision and, as a 
result, I couldn't continue as editor."

An embargo was slapped on the journal and some 500 copies recalled. 
Staff were later advised that copies of the offending journal had been 
destroyed on the authority of Professor Hempenstall.

Another May edition of History Now was printed without the Fudge article 
and an editorial discussing truth and martyrdom.

Prof Campbell said the university's reaction to the History Now piece 
raised a central question: "Why does someone think that this story is 
worth suppressing?".

"I think the publicity for everybody involved is going to be costly. 
It's bad for everybody concerned and I didn't want to see this happen."

On May 14, Dr Fudge defended his article and academic freedom at a 
special meeting of history department academics, calling the censorship 
"unconscionable".

Last week, he confirmed to his students that he had resigned.

He told them that suppressing the article contravened the Education Act, 
which upholds the academic freedom of university staff "to question and 
test received wisdom, to put forward new ideas and to state 
controversial or unpopular opinions".

Professor Hempenstall declined to speak, saying the matter had now 
become an employment issue between the university and Dr Fudge.

The university's human relations director Bruce Jamieson said he was now 
investigating Dr Fudge's references to the controversy in lectures.

He confirmed Vice-Chancellor Roy Sharp had investigated the withdrawal 
of the journal and upheld Prof Hempenstall's decision.

Professor Sharp was unavailable for comment last night.

So too was Dr Hayward, who now lives in Palmerston North.

A lot of Canterbury students were "very agitated" by the censorship 
move, Prof Campbell said.

One student said that teachers should be able to research and write 
about any issue – "even if the subject is controversial, even if the 
truth may be offensive to those who do not want to hear it".

Staff outside the history department were also becoming aware of what 
had gone on.

"I would think that people will fall into two categories; some will 
think it's a storm in a teacup and others will say it's a matter of 
principle," Professor Campbell said.

"And there'll probably be a third group who'll say we had no business to 
be commenting on the Hayward issue anyway because it was embarrassing, 
scurrilous and it would have been better left dead."



More information about the Marxism mailing list