Dachau Survivor's Reputation Wanders Turbulent Terrain of the Internet
Solly Ganor survived the death camp at Dachau. But at 79, he doesn't know if he will survive what an odd Holocaust Web site, run by a Jewish refugee in Massachusetts, has done to his reputation.
Ganor, who lives in Israel, wrote a well-received memoir in 1995 -- "Light One Candle: A Survivor's Tale." He began lecturing about his experience in schools in the United States, Israel, Europe and Japan.
But for the last couple of years, if you run a Google search on "Solly Ganor," one of the top results is a page from ISurvived.org operated by Kalman K. Brattman in the Boston suburb of Malden. "Solly Ganor Case of Credibility and Deceit," it reads, "questioning his claims and representation of the Holocaust and his alleged autobiographical book."
At Ganor's appearances, students began asking whether he was, as a Google search suggested, a fraud.
"I feel like the character in Kafka's `The Trial,"' Ganor says -- hounded and helpless.
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Adam Holland - 7/26/2006
The same crank website has entered the policy debate about a stamp to honor Hiram Bingham.
Adam Holland - 7/26/2006
This article presents a very interesting, poignant and ultimately infuriating example of how the internet sometimes facilitates the falsification of history. Whether by the deliberate design of the pseudo-historian, or as the result of his delusions, an innocent man, a hero in fact, is slandered and his life story distorted. The internet pseudo-historian can easily distort the terms of policy debates as well. It reminds me a bit of Stalin's vanishing commisars, as in David King's book (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/080505295X?v=glance). But in this case, it isn't a dictatorship making history disappear, just a crackpot with a website.
My fear is that this is merely the tip of an iceberg. Over the past decade, the internet has grown exponentially in amount of content and impact of that content. How have the academy and the press fared in that time? Not well, I fear. The balance is shifting away from peer-reviewed studies, from responsibly edited publications, to a wilderness where information is overgrown with misinformation.
This is especially troublesome because this nation is being led by people with little respect for any "reality" which they see as in conflict with their "faith". If Karl Rove can declare that adult stem cells are more promising for medical researchers than are embryonic stem cells, and if the EPA can make references to global warming vanish, and if Donald Rumsfeld can say that the war is going well, then maybe the internet pseudo-historian is more in tune with the spirit of the age than we would like to think. And maybe it says something very troubling about what the future holds.