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UK press coverage

May 1997

Apr 97 May 97 Jun 97





LETTERS - Definitions of a concentration camp.

How predictable of Ed Vulliamy to use an arts review in the New Statesman ("The art of war", 25 April) as another pretext to indulge his sad obsession with accusing Living Marxism of "revisionism".

When Vulliamy suggests that we are rewriting history, what he seems to mean is that we disagree with his version of events. Does he now claim a monopoly on Bosnia's history? The notion that journalists' accounts should be taken as historical record is highly dubious.

Vulliamy himself has given different eye-witness accounts of what he saw at Trnopolje camp in Bosnia on 5 August 1992. First he said it was not a concentration camp, then he recalled that it was after all. His first report from Trnopolje failed to mention any barbed-wire fence; he later remembered that the camp compound was "surrounded by barbed-wire fencing"; and now (after Thomas Deichmann's revelations in LM magazine) he remembers that it was not. Which are we to take as the unchallengeable truth?

The readers of an intelligent paper like the NS can surely see that it is not "Holocaust denial" for us to insist that there is a difference between a camp such as Trnopolje, however grim, and a real concentration camp like Belsen or Auschwitz. Those who imply that the two can be compared really do run the risk of rewriting history, by trivialising the genocide against the Jews.

As the veteran Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal said when the Bosnian Serb-run camps made world news, "To call the camps 'concentration camps' is a minimisation of Nazi concentration camps, because not even the gulag camps could be compared with the Nazi camps."

Deichmann's investigations raise serious questions about the ITN reports that convinced the world there were Nazi-style concentration camps in Bosnia. Throughout his campaign to discredit LM, Vulliamy has not once addressed the evidence that Deichmann has amassed, instead confining himself to cheap insults and boring old Red scares. But we have the evidence, and we stand by our story.

The final irony is that a journalist such as Vulliamy, supposedly a radical crusader against the abuse of power, should act as cheerleader for ITN's libel action against LM - a blatant attempt by a mega-corporation to gag the press and buy immunity from criticism through the courts.


Editor, "Living Marxism", London WC1

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