The historian Deborah Lipstadt, an expert on Holocaust denial, is a fellow this year at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and was in the building when yesterday’s shooting began. She had just begun a seminar for museum donors when she heard shots fired. “I was about to say, ‘The dangers of Holocaust denial are…,’ ” she told Tablet. “And that was it.”
At first, she said, she thought the noise might have been a piece of equipment falling down stairs, making a “kerplunk, kerplunk, kerplunk” sound. But then the group heard the sound of returning fire and realized the museum was under attack. “I just stopped,” said Lipstadt, a Tablet contributing editor. Within minutes, museum staff escorted them out of the building and to safety on the National Mall.
Did Lipstadt, best known for winning a much-publicized court battle against Holocaust denier David Irving, ever anticipate coming under physical attack, even indirectly, by Holocaust revisionists? “Oh, no—not at all,” she said. “I’m sure if you go to David Irving he’s going to say it’s a terrible thing. The smarter ones amongst them know it doesn’t make them look good. But in their hearts are they sort of happy they closed this place down for a day? I don’t doubt it.”
Related: Museum Shooting: Witness Account [CNN]