Missed The Point - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2018118

Missed The Point

Although there are significant questions examined in “The Soap Myth,” I believe Annette Hinkle’s review of “The Soap Myth” at Southampton Cultural Center misses the primary point [“A Drama Explores Divergent History,” Arts & Living, August 25].

In my opinion, the play is not, as she states, about “what happens when people on the same side of history can’t agree what’s true.” It is instead about the rise of antisemitism in the guise of Holocaust denial, despite evidence to the contrary.

The scholar-historians and the survivor Milton Salzman are on the same page. The scholars acknowledge the survivor’s testimony, since he is one of many eyewitnesses, in addition to testimonies at the Nuremburg Trials. They do not “reject Salzman’s account” — rather, they are not publishing it without physical evidence, because they fear it will be weaponized by Holocaust deniers.

In March 2012, Anita Gates of The New York Times, in a piece headlined “When an Atrocity Lacks Documentation, and Truth Is Hard to Prove,” wrote that play asks “if denying the highly probable truth of an old evil is justified in order to deflect a newer evil: people like Brenda Goodsen.”

A character called Brenda Goodsen, an amalgam of a number of Holocaust deniers, including David Irving, appears in the play to demonstrate the evil of antisemitism in the form of Holocaust denial. This character delivers a speech minimizing the Holocaust and concluding that the Jews brought it on themselves.

Two characters representing historians of the Holocaust argue strongly that although a large number of eyewitnesses, including former British POWs, Nazis and Holocaust survivors, have testified about the soap production, because no actual laboratory or production records survive as physical documents, any publication about the production of soap will be used by Holocaust deniers to discredit the reality of the Holocaust itself and, therefore, that no assertions that any soap production took place should be published.

As stated on “The Soap Myth” website, the play confronts the dangerous rise of antisemitism and exposes the pernicious scourge of Holocaust denial. Ultimately, “The Soap Myth” is a call to action.

Lillian Litvack

East Hampton