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Nazi Daughter, Conducting Campaign to Never Forget Holocaust; Interview with The Return Foundation Founder, Hilde Schramm; Devoting Life to Contest Evil in All its Forms; Deborah Lipstadt's New Book, "Antisemitism: Here and Now"; Interview with Historian Deborah Lipstadt; Fighting Antisemitism and Hatred; Taking Action on Issues Related to Climate Change. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 1, 2019 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
As anti-Semitism rears its ugly head, I travel to Berlin to hear the incredible life story of Hilde Schramm. Her father was the infamous Nazi,
Albert Speer, but she has devoted her life to raise enough Jewish rights.
Plus, our Walter Isaacson speaks with Historian, Deborah Lipstadt. She won seminal court battle against Holocaust denier, David Irving, and she puts
the resurgence of hate crimes into perspective.
Plus, leaving it to the children, 16-year-old climate change activist who's captured the world's attention. I speak with Sweden's, Greta Thunberg.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
74 years after World War II ended, 5 percent of British adults do not believe the Holocaust took place and 8 percent of them believe its scale is
exaggerated, those are the shocking results of a new poll released this week to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
7 decades after liberation, the few survivors left gathered at the Auschwitz concentration camp to mark the solemn occasion. But also, there
were far-right Polish nationalists, protesting the notion that any poles collaborated with the Nazis.
It's clear, far too many people refuse to absorb the lessons of history and many simply are not versed in that history. So, it's all the more
remarkable to meet one woman who's devoted her life to never forgetting. She's 82-year-old Hilde Schramm, perhaps the most unlikely person to be
conducting this campaign, because her father was Albert Speer, chief architect to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime's minister of armaments and
war. He was tried and convicted at Nuremberg.
Schramm was a kid then, and she has spent the rest of her life helping Germany atone for its sins, even selling her father's ill-gotten art to
finance that work. She's just been honored with a German Jewish History Award and shows that will sign of tiring, as I found out when I travel to
meet her in Berlin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Hilde Schramm, welcome to the program.
You have an incredible life story. I mean, it's almost hard to believe how you have been raised and what you do right now.
So, let's start with right now. You recently just received a major prize here in Germany for all the work you've done against anti-Semitism and to
promote Jewish women and culture and reconciliation. How does that feel to you? What is the purpose of your work?
HILDE SCHRAMM, FOUNDER, THE RETURN FOUNDATION: Well, the purpose to not forget, to know about the past, to raise consciousness about topics that
blackholes or white spots, as you call it, and there still are some, to pick them up and enlarge knowledge. And at the same time, to work for a
democratic society in our country and for human rights as far as you can all over.
AMANPOUR: What was it like growing up as the daughter of Albert Speer?
SCHRAMM: Yes. When I was a child, I didn't understand what was going on. I take it to what I saw as natural, so to speak. And we were rather
protected. So, I did not have those horrible adventures and feelings many people had by the war and later, the bombing. So, in a way I was
protected. Which looking back, it's not bad.
And later, when my father was imprisoned, my father Albert Speer, he has been punished for the crimes he did in the -- as minister, a part of the --
in his government.
AMANPOUR: He was the minister of armaments for Hitler.
AMANPOUR: And he was obviously Hitler's favorite architect.
SCHRAMM: Yes, that's it. And he was sentenced to 20 years to jail.
AMANPOUR: Hilde, you are 82 years old, I think. Do you remember your mother's influence after your father was arrested? You were 10 years old
when the Nuremberg trials began and you were aware of what was happening. What was your mother's influence on your life?
SCHRAMM: Well, the main influence was that she let me free, she let me find my own ways, she did not force me or my brothers and sisters
emotionally and neither were words but neither by emotions to take any kind of an (INAUDIBLE) in our thinking.
AMANPOUR: That means the National Socialist Party.
SCHRAMM: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: The Nazis.
SCHRAMM: The Nazis.
AMANPOUR: She didn't influence you to do that?
SCHRAMM: No, no. And she did not find excuses from my father and ask us to take the excuses, she did not, she did not talk much about it but she
really let us free, which many parents, in that time, it's not comparable but the similar in a way did. Yes. They put pressure on their kids.
AMANPOUR: To do what?
SCHRAMM: To accept what had been done because their father or grandfather was involved in it. But she did not.
AMANPOUR: So, that was a great gift of your mother's?
SCHRAMM: Yes, yes. I think it was a great gift, yes.
AMANPOUR: Did she know what your father was doing?
SCHRAMM: Certainly. I mean, I think she was included very little by him. I think they had a kind of marriage, she was concerning for the kids and he
was for politics. But I have no idea how or what they communicated. I have really no idea. I wonder myself.
AMANPOUR: You were 10 years old when Nuremberg -- when the Nuremberg trials started.
AMANPOUR: They were a watershed moment in European history.
AMANPOUR: And they were there to hold the worst crimes on the humanity accountable. But your father was one of the very rare, if not, the only
Nazi to apologize at Nuremberg and he said that he didn't know what was going on. They called him the "Nazi Who Said Sorry," they even dubbed him
"The Decent Nazi."
Do you remember the trial? Did you ever go to it?
AMANPOUR: No, you were 10.
SCHRAMM: No. We couldn't. I mean, I wouldn't and they wouldn't take me as a child. No, that would be too heavy for me. But my mother was
listening on the radio and sometimes we came in but she would listen all the time and we got a lot of parts of it. But since then, I think I
started to know what was happening and wanted to learn more what my father did.
And concerning my father, he was a very friendly person to us later. And when we were young, I also found he was sensitive and he had a sense of
humor and he was kind to us, yes. And so, it is even more difficult for me to understand how he could join this government.
And it is to my opinion he acted as a Nazi, perhaps he didn't always think like that but it doesn't matter, he acted or his ministry it was even
connected for the building of labor camps. And for me, it's very difficult. (INAUDIBLE) was a difficult all the time to understand the two
sides because I have to see those two sides that exist, yes, of friendliness and of cruelty and of destroying parts of Europe, big parts
destroying, big parts of Europe and by the war and --
AMANPOUR: And people?
SCHRAMM: And people, yes, murdering people all over. Yes.
AMANPOUR: When you were listening on the radio, and I know you didn't listen to it all, is that when your view of your father changed?
SCHRAMM: I didn't listen that listen that -- listen. Then I was nine or 10 when it started. I was still nine. So, I just knew that something
horrible did -- have happened and my father was part of it.
AMANPOUR: Because he always said that he didn't know about the Holocaust and it turns out that a letter that was discovered in 2007 and some 12
years ago, he did know about it, he confided and confessed in a letter to the widow of a Belgian resistance.
SCHRAMM: I know the letter. I know the letter. What can I say? I don't -- I think he should have known, I think he did know but I also think he
didn't want to know. And as we know nowadays, there are mechanisms and people that really deny inside what they see and so on.
So -- but I don't believe that he did not know. To my opinion, he must have known what happened but I'm sure he did not want to know and not to
look into it, but it's completely unlikely that he really did not know.
AMANPOUR: You corresponded with your father throughout the years that he was in Spandau Prison.
AMANPOUR: What were the nature of your letters? What were you trying to find out, if anything? Did you get any understanding, any satisfaction?
SCHRAMM: Yes. We corresponded about many things, about my studies, about what he was reading and he was reading very much and in prison, at that
AMANPOUR: Did you express your horror at what he had been involved in? Your anger, your horror, however you felt? How did you feel? What did you
tell him about what he had been involved in?
SCHRAMM: Listen, yes, there are situations but I don't want to talk about it. Yes. When we really got together.
AMANPOUR: Do you feel that he answered you satisfactorily?
SCHRAMM: Yes, in a way, yes. Yes. He was trying to get to have a close relation to me and he was glad I would ask questions, you know. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Was he sorry?
AMANPOUR: Was he really sorry?
SCHRAMM: Yes. I believe him.
AMANPOUR: And then, fast forward, all these years, in the 90s, your mother died and you inherited, among other things, three major works of art.
SCHRAMM: So, that time I decided I didn't want to have the pictures. They were actually not of high value, except one, but that was spread between my
AMANPOUR: Why didn't you want?
SCHRAMM: Well, I was not sure whether what had been the origin, who were the former owners, it might have been Jewish people. And even if those
pictures, as it turned out, seem to not have Jewish owners before, I am sure my father didn't care at all. He bought it at auctions as --
officially, but he didn't care at all about the history and the provenience of the things he bought, yes, furniture and pictures. And --
AMANPOUR: Because there was a lot of looting, wasn't there?
AMANPOUR: Nazis' looted a lot of Jewish art, Jewish property.
SCHRAMM: Yes. It was sometimes looted directly. But mostly, it was sold and the money went to the state. It was -- in a way, it's simply lies
(ph), yes, but it wasn't in any respect. And also, I always had the feeling that the money he earned with this injustice system -- with the
unjust system, then he bought art, it's all connected. So, I didn't want to have it because I've heard about take privileges myself.
AMANPOUR: So, then, you decided to sell these and create a foundation. Is that right?
SCHRAMM: Yes. With the bias of friends.
AMANPOUR: So, tell me how that came about.
SCHRAMM: Well, I asked some friends or female friends who were well- educated and whose advise I would treasure. And they came to my house, another room and we sat and discussed what could we do with the money and
wanted to do something useful. And so, it came the idea to set up a foundation.
AMANPOUR: So, tell me, in your words, the purpose of the foundation? What made you, in your heart, want to create this foundation and do this work?
SCHRAMM: Yes. There were always two intentions and we thought to interlink them as much as we could. One intention was by the work
(INAUDIBLE), to raise awareness that lots of things have to be given back actually, yes.
SCHRAMM: Property, not only property but other privileges, so to speak, if somebody stepped in a job, a Jewish person was expelled, of course, it was
an advantage for the family. And children raising up in a good condition, better contrition and so on.
There are so many ways the German people profited, yes. It's not only by property, clothes, everything. People would buy it very cheaply and it was
actually, so to speak, from their neighbors, yes.
AMANPOUR: It was stolen?
SCHRAMM: Yes, it was stolen. The people were deported already or sent to another town and had to leave everything to a ghetto. So, we wanted to
raise consciousness about it. And I must say, at that time, when we took up this topic, it was neither a topic in research nor in political
discussion, it was very late, actually, it was '95, 1995, and you may imagine how much, we ourselves, we are stuck by the fact that nobody cared
about it, yes, nobody cared about it.
So, we took up this topic to raise conscious and that and also, bring it close to their own families, have them look what has happened in their
family, it's not like in those that now the sentence but were the generation (INAUDIBLE), parents' generations, how did they behave, what
advantages they took.
AMANPOUR: And all these years, it's now more than 20 years since you've started your foundation.
SCHRAMM: Almost 25. Almost -- this year 25.
AMANPOUR: Congratulations. Do you feel that you have succeeded? Do you feel like you have forced this discussion, this necessary discussion and, I
SCHRAMM: I mean, yes. I think we did contribute to a discussion, also in many families. We know that people came or wrote to us and -- or told us
that they had conflicts in their families and different views and so on and so on, so there was some opening to those questions by our foundation.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you though, I mean, you must be aware of this rising tide of nationalism around the world right now, including in your own
country, the rise of extreme far-right groups like Alternative for Deutschland who are anti-foreigner, who have very ugly tendencies. You
must be aware that anti-Semitism is rising even in the United States. Apparently, you know, the Jewish population is a tiny minority in the
United States but make up half the victims of hate crimes.
In the U.K., we've just learned that 1 in 20 people believe the Holocaust didn't happen and 1 in 12 thinks that it was exaggerated if it did happen.
What goes through your mind when you confront these statistics all these years later?
SCHRAMM: There's not one way to act against it, there are many ways. But I think the best way is to act to, to act. Like, perhaps and not modest
now when I say but like we act with our foundation. If we promote Jewish women in arts and humanities here in Germany nowadays or try to raise money
to support them to work and to speak out and to do research on their family history and keep alive also the memory but also present work of living of
Jews identity, female identity, humanistic point of views in the Jewish community and all of that, we show that we appreciate very much that they
came back to Germany and we hope more will come back to Germany and we very much hope they will have a possibility to work and live here in a good way.
So, that's much better than talking about anti-Semitism, to me. Of course, we have to speak out loud whenever you see it and other state, I think the
German state is doing rather well actually to not -- no tolerance, even Mrs. Mack (ph), no tolerance against anti-Semitism.
SCHRAMM: Zero-tolerance. And there is still -- there is a consensus to this question from all -- in all parties except the one you were
SCHRAMM: The alternative. Yes. And this is not so in all countries. If you look to some other East European countries, especially, the government
itself and their leaders themselves allow anti-Semitism or sometimes even act or speak anti-Semitism.
AMANPOUR: You mean, Hungary?
SCHRAMM: I mean, Hungary, yes. So, there's, at present -- in our country, the government and I still think the majority of citizens are very clear
about anti-Semitism, and this gives me the hope that they would succeed in putting it down again.
AMANPOUR: You must be very, very encouraged because you're a lifelong Green Party member.
AMANPOUR: You believe in that philosophy and that -- those politics. And in the recent elections in Bavaria, I think it was, Southern Germany, the
AfD did not do as well as it was predicted. And in fact, the Greens did much, much better.
AMANPOUR: That must give you some hope.
SCHRAMM: Yes, certainly. Also, I don't agree to the position which you did not take, that every -- nothing is getting worse and worse. Because if
you look at the numbers of people that went to sides of memorizing former concentration camps or other sites that connected with and has passed, they
SCHRAMM: -- increased.
AMANPOUR: So, there are more and more people going --
AMANPOUR: -- to these --
SCHRAMM: Yes, they have increased --
AMANPOUR: -- concentration camps.
SCHRAMM: -- last year, they have increased the year before, they still increase. So, you cannot say there is no interest and you cannot say there
is not many, many people in our country that care about the past.
AMANPOUR: A lot of people will want to know what motivates you to do your work and to do -- to have these very, you know, important beliefs about
tolerance and remembering history and all the things we've just talked about. People will ask, do you feel a sense of guilt? Is that what
SCHRAMM: It is a sense of collective guilt in our country, which I think it is not the personal guilt but it is a deep feeling of the population and
more person, some people more, some people less became horribly guilty. And, of course, it's part -- it should be part of our identity, of our
understanding, of our country that this could happen two generations ago, which is not much, to an extent, never -- it's still unbelievable.
So, you still always have the question, how could it happen? Yes.
AMANPOUR: You once --
SCHRAMM: Of course, you have shame and the descendants have this shame, some at least, perhaps not my granddaughter anymore. But me, that it did
happen and that it did happen in my family. But I wouldn't say this is the only feeling. The other feeling is, it has to be in the right after the
war, we have the chance to build up a new society and the chance was given to us all the way matched by the Americans.
I got a scholarship to go to the United States when I was 16 and it was a wonderful experience. And so, we had the chance and we took it, some of us
took it, yes, many of us took it. And so, it was a very productive life also, yes. And of course, you have to be -- sometimes you are the small
minorities, sometimes the bigger minority, never have been in the majority. I don't care about it. But anyway, you could move society together with
many others in a direction which I think is much better than what we have ahead in Germany.
AMANPOUR: I mean, just to expand on that, in about, well, several years ago, you said, "Instead of using guilt, there's a better word to describe
my feelings and that word is shame. I'm forced to live with the fact that only a small part of my life gets the most attention, the part that has to
do with my father. I feel a strong need to create my own biography."
SCHRAMM: That's it, certainly.
AMANPOUR: Do you feel you have?
SCHRAMM: Yes, I feel I have. And, of course, like getting this award, I know exactly the interest in my person has always connected with interest
in my father and the big gap between us. So, sometimes I say, "No, I will not respond to that anymore, yes, I have my own biography." I'm the
daughter no, yes, yes, but he is my father but I have my own life, yes.
But then I see that it is part of my life to answer to those questions, at least, sometimes, not always.
AMANPOUR: That's very good way to end. Hilde Schramm, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What an incredible life. And as you heard in that conversation, it's all too easy to forget even the most monstrous history, whether it's
chance of Jews will not replace us in Charlottesville or political campaigns in Hungary that include crude anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
It is clear that what old is new again.
Historian Deborah Lipstadt, like Schramm, has devoted her life to contesting evil in all its forms. Born to Jewish immigrants, daughter of a
German father, she is perhaps most famous for defeating Holocaust denier, David Irving's libel suit in the British High Court. She's a professor at
Emory University in Georgia and her new book is "Antisemitism: Here and Now."
She tells our Walter Isaacson what we can all do to fight this scourge of hate.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Deborah, welcome to the show.
DEBORAH LIPSTADT, AUTHOR, "ANTISEMITISM: HERE AND NOW": Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.
ISAACSON: Your book is shaped as a series of letters to two fictional people. Why did you choose that method?
LIPSTADT: Well, I was struggling with how to write it, and how to write in a way that would engage people and how to write it in a way that would
raise concerns without sounding shrill. And I struggled, and then a friend of mine said, "Why don't you try letters," and the minute she said that, it
And the letters, the two people I'm writing to, a young Jewish student, whip smart student who's about to graduate from Emory, and a colleague in
the law school, non-Jewish. They became stand-ins for people I've had conversations with.
They may be fictional but everything I say to them and everything they asked of me are conversations and questions and e-mails that I've had over
the past years, what is this, how do we define anti-Semitism, how do -- is it is just something, you know, West Potter Stewart said, Justice Potter
Stewart from the American Supreme Court said about pornography, I know it when I see it. I can't define it but can we define that? I think we can
define it. And so far, it's gotten very, very -- that format has engaged people a lot.
ISAACSON: This new wave of anti-Semitism, is it a wave that you think will recede soon? Are you worried that it will keep swelling?
LIPSTADT: You know, I'm a historian. We deal in the past. We shoo predictions. We don't like to predict because usually if you predict,
you're going to be wrong. When I wrote the book, the introduction of the book, I say that this was a very hard to write and I didn't know why it was
hard. After all, I've been skulking around in the sewers of anti-Semitism and hatred ever since I started working on the Holocaust, and that's been
close to 40 years.
But then I realized that when I write about that I'm writing about what was and now, I'm writing about what is. Then I go on to say in the
introduction of the book that though it was hard to write it was even harder to finish. I had to -- my editor had to drag it out of my hands
because every day there was something new, a woman in Paris being thrown out of the window of her apartment because she was Jewish, an event in
Hungary (INAUDIBLE) Poland something in the United States.
And then, I go want to saying, the book was finished in September, the beginning of September, that one thing I'm willing to predict is by the
time this book appears something will have happened to make it outdated.
ISAACSON: That was Pittsburg.
LIPSTADT: Pittsburg. So, I can't predict. But what I see right now with what I call the perfect storm of anti-Semitism doesn't leave me comforted.
I'm not a, you know, Chicken Little, dear me, the sky is falling, but I'm worried. I'm worried. And I hope people take action.
I think, you know. we maybe can't stop the shooters who -- like the Pittsburgh or the people who shoot up synagogues or whatever it might be in
other places, but we can make it clear that we won't abide this kind of thing. You know, you're at a family celebration, a family dinner and every
-- and someone says, Look, Uncle X, Y, Z is a racist or an anti-Semite, but don't say anything because we want to keep it friendly," but but you have
to say something.
You have to say something not because you're going to change to Uncle X, Y, Z's opinions but to telegraph to the other people, especially, but not only
the young people table, that we don't accept this, that this is not how we speak, this is -- and we don't allow this kind of talk, not within our
confines where we can control it. I think that is really crucial, and that's what I'm hoping this book will give people the ammunition to do.
ISAACSON: What's new about any-Semitism today?
LIPSTADT: Well, what's new today is the situation. Today, we see on the right, the political right, we see on the political left and we see it
amongst Islamists, in Europe and in other places as well. So it's sort of a perfect storm in a way that we haven't seen it before.
ISAACSON: And what's old about it? I mean what's -- how is it the same?
LIPSTADT: The charges -- the thing that antisemitism, it's what we call the oldest hatred because it goes back thousands of years. The charges
remain the same.
If you want to identify antisemitism, you sort of look for some sort of relationship to money. It always has to do with money. Jews love money.
Jews want money or whatever it might be. Power and the serious use of that power. So that power to use to enhance themselves, to aggrandize
themselves at the expense of others.
Irrespective of whether you're looking at the Nazis or the Communists or late 19 Century anti-Semite or going way back to church, the church, et
cetera, you find those three things running through.
ISAACSON: And well, you're a historian, why do those persist?
LIPSTADT: Why do they persist? That's a hard question. They start -- the root is in the story of the death of Jesus in the New Testament. That
Jesus, according to the story, the way it's told in the New Testament, wanted to chase the money changers out of the temple.
And that the Jews -- even though he was a Jew. Everybody in the story is Jewish but it becomes "the Jews" got the Romans, the most powerful entity
in the world to crucify him because he was harming them and they didn't care what goodness he could have brought to the world.
And those themes have remained constant. Jews are an anomaly. They should have disappeared a long time ago, not because of pursue but they should
have just integrated and assimilated. We're a small number. You know 12 million people. You ask somebody on the street how many Jews there are,
they'll tell you 60, 7 million or whatever it is. It's 12 million, maybe 13 million Jews.
So the fact that we've been around is an anomalous kind of thing and it's - - and we don't we don't disappear. And that's sometimes problematic for some people.
ISAACSON: Let's start by talking about it on the right because you said it's the right, the left -r
ISAACSON: -- and the Islamist. On the right, we see it across Europe now.
LIPSTADT: That's right.
ISAACSON: All over Europe, it's rising, especially with the Nationalists like in Hungary and other places.
LIPSTADT: Hungary, Poland.
LIPSTADT: France. Of course, Marine Le Pen --
ISAACSON: Le Pen.
LIPSTADT: -- was defeated but her party still exists. And you saw the yellow jackets, the yellow vests. You saw out were -- outright expressions
of antisemitism. So I don't know if they're on the right or the left or what they are.
But certainly, Orban, Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary, the Polish government. Orban ran a campaign, the last electoral campaign, that was
rooted in antisemitism with his attacks on George Soros.
Now, you can agree with George Soros, disagree with his financial policies, his political inclinations but the campaign that Orban ran on Soros was
clearly anti-Semitic. And it telegraphs to every Hungarian this is George Soros, the Jew.
The Poles in their Holocaust Law which really calls for a rewriting of history. It says you can't say any Poles collaborated with the Nazis.
Well, that's just not true.
Look, there were many Polish rescuers. There's no question about it. In Yad Vashem, the greatest number of rescuers from any one country is Poland.
Of course, that's where the greatest number of Jews were.
But there were many who collaborated. We know that from the memoirs. We know that from German documents, much less from Jewish -- from documents by
Jews and memoirs by Jews. So the Poles have said that's not allowed. We see them --
ISAACSON: It's not allowed --
LIPSTADT: You're not allowed to say that.
ISAACSON: -- (CROSSTALK) the Poles --
LIPSTADT: You're not allowed to say -- you're not allowed to --
ISAACSON: -- for collaborate.
LIPSTADT: Right. For collaborating. And originally, the law made it a criminal offense and then they changed it to a civil offense.
ISAACSON: Were you upset that Bibi Netanyahu went along with the Poles?
LIPSTADT: Absolutely. I think it was a big mistake. I think -- look, Bibi Netanyahu made -- Benjamin Netanyahu may be doing certain things for
Riyal Politik, forging closer ties with Hungary, with Orban. Orban was in Israel this -- in the summer. I think it was July -- June or July of 2018.
And Netanyahu welcomed him as a great partner in the fight against the antisemitism.
You know, Poles --
ISAACSON: How did that make you feel?
LIPSTADT: Made me feel that whatever Netanyahu may be doing for Riyal Politik, this was a big mistake and more than -- because that's not a
trustworthy partner. A trustworthy partner is not someone who engages in this kind of thing.
And more importantly, [13:35:00] Israel claims to be the official protector of Jews worldwide, that if there's an act of antisemitism, Israel is going
to speak out and criticize it and it often has and it generally does. And this was getting into bed with a very very dangerous entity in that
And when the Poles changed the law from a criminal offense to a civil offense, the law on the Holocaust, teaching about the Holocaust, and
Netanyahu embraced it as if there was some great change. And it was really cosmetic. It was absolutely cosmetic.
The historians at Yad Vashem decimated this decision. They were highly critical of it. It makes me wonder. It makes me wonder.
I mean I know there are -- when you're a head of a country, you can't have a, you know, pure look and you sometimes have to -- politics made strange
bedfellows but this was too much.
ISAACSON: When you see the rise of antisemitism in Europe from the populists, nationalists, sort of far-fringe right, do you think some of
that has been incited by or at least given a blind eye by President Trump?
LIPSTADT: Yes. Yes. Yes. I want to make it very clear. I don't know if Donald Trump is an anti-Semite. I highly doubt it.
He has Jewish children. He has Jewish grandchildren who seem to be very proud of. And he has great connections with many Jews. Of course, some of
my best friends are Jews is the cover for any anti-Semite just like some of my best friends are blacks is a cover for racists.
But what he has done is made it comfortable to engage in rhetoric, violent rhetoric, rhetoric that is hateful. When he talked in Charlottesville,
there are nice people on both sides. I'm sorry nice people, do not march through a town with their hands outstretched in the Nazi salute saying
"Jews will not replace us." Nice people don't march with symbols that are swastika-like.
He has done this over and over again. His rants about a hoard of refugees were being infiltrated which is what prompted the guy in Pittsburgh to do
what he did. All those kind of things raise the level of or lower the level of discourse and raise the tenor of the attacks on one another. He
has not been helpful in this regard.
And the critics of this position will come back and say, "Well, he moved the embassy to Israel -- to Jerusalem. He's been so good to Israel."
That's true. That's true. None of it is untrue but it co-exists with this other part and that --
ISAACSON: And do you think antisemitism naturally co-exists with this sort of nationalism that's been rising all over Europe and the United States?
LIPSTADT: I think it does. I think it does. It has a long history. I'm not against patriotism. I'm a great patriot.
This country has been terrific to my family. My father came here from Germany before the Nazis. But you know family, very -- it was successful,
accomplished academically, children, grandchildren, et cetera. My mother came from Canada also, from a family that was -- had nothing and they've
built up a wonderful life as have so many of my relatives.
But nationalism, nationalism suggests my country right or wrong. My country can do no wrong. My country above all others. Instead of a
coexistence, it's a zero-sum game. And history shows us that Jews get ground up in that kind of thing because they're an easy target.
ISAACSON: What was your reaction to the Women's March issues?
LIPSTADT: The woman -- I was excited by the Women's March. I thought was a great outpouring. Although, I was a little disturbed by the leadership.
I didn't know as much about them as I know now.
And I think these are leaders who -- first of all, up until just recently beginning of 2019, refused to acknowledge that Jewish women were a threat,
could be oppressed by antisemitism, could be in danger because of antisemitism, refused to include them in the group of vulnerable women.
And these were women who kept company with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, who has talked about Hitler is a great man, who has
blamed Jews for interesting -- introducing homosexuality for oppressing blacks, and who most recently called Jews "Termites".
He said, "I'm not anti-Semitic. I'm anti-termites." He said it and then he tweeted it. Now, these leaders have said, "Well, we need to be educated on
I'm sorry, if you need to be educated, especially these women of color and women who claim to know oppression, that it's not good to call someone
termites then I have no conversation with you. Because what do you do when you have termites? Who do you call? You call the exterminator. You know,
Nazis. Jews know what - who you call.
[13:40:00] So I can't have a convert -- I couldn't march with someone whose political positions I agreed with but he used the N-word, who talked about
blacks in a derogatory fashion. African-Americans and or anybody from African origin in a derogatory fashion using what we call the N-word, I
couldn't march with them. How can I march with someone who calls me termites? Or how can I expect -- you know, if you're going to do that, I
can't march behind you.
ISAACSON: You won a big lawsuit, libel suit against David Irving, the person who was a Holocaust denier and wrote that the Holocaust didn't
exist. And yet after you won it, you were not in favor of suppressing him or anybody else from saying what they wanted.
LIPSTADT: Right. He sued me for libel, for calling him a Holocaust denier. I was offered the chance to settle with him. I wouldn't do it
because I would have had to agree that my books in which I mentioned him briefly, but which I mentioned him would be pulped, and I had to apologize
And say -- you know, and if I said -- I said to my lawyer or to the people who my lawyer didn't want me to do it but the people who thought I should
do it, I said, "What would you like me to settle for, 1 million Jews?" You can't settle -- certain people you can't settle with.
And we won the tremendous victory showing that he was an anti-Semite showing that he was a racist and showing most importantly that he lied
outright when he said, "I have a document which shows X, Y, and Z." It showed neither A, B, and C, one, two, and, three. It was just not at all
ISAACSON: But you have been a supporter of allowing free speech even for people who are anti-Semitic. Why is that?
LIPSTADT: Well, first of all, I believe in the First Amendment. And I think the First Amendment is very important. And if you start having
people picking and choosing what can be said and what can't be said, I don't want to put in the hands of politicians the power of deciding what is
acceptable and what is not acceptable.
And I think that also thinking strategically and not legally or morally that when you forbid something, you turn it into forbidden fruit to make it
more appealing and I want to find out about this. Why are they making it forbidden? Why are they not allowing me to read this or see this?
So I think both from a moral point of view and from a strategic point of view, I'm not against it. Now, that's very different. I don't want to be
-- I don't want these rights to be curtailed. I don't think laws against - - I don't think laws against Holocaust denial work.
Having said that, I understand why Germany might have them, why Austria might have them, why Poland might have them. It's a different story. And,
you know, what do they say, foolish inconsistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. So I'm not going to be -- foolish consistencies. I'm not going to
be unwilling to be inconsistent.
But I -- ultimately, I don't want politicians deciding what can and cannot be said. I think it's a dangerous situation.
ISAACSON: Deborah, thank you so much.
LIPSTADT: Thank you, Walter. My pleasure.
AMANPOUR: Professor Lipstadt continues to do such important work. But now, more frigid than Antarctica, the coldest chill in a generation.
There's hardly a hyperbole too extreme for the weather in America's Midwest this week. More than a quarter of the U.S. population experienced
temperatures below 0 Fahrenheit. That's -18 Celsius, with a low of 27 below 0 Fahrenheit or -32 Celsius.
Scientists are wary of linking any one event to climate change but they do tell us that extreme weather of all sorts is an undeniable result of our
rapidly changing atmosphere and all the fossil fuel that is pumped into it. Indeed, this week, record heat in Australia hit 116 Degrees Fahrenheit or
What will make humanity get its act together? Maybe it's the young. From Australia to Switzerland to Paris, this younger generation has resurrected
the civil disobedience and the protest marches of our parents' generation. And one young Swede has been capturing our hearts and our imagination and
our attention ever since the latest U.N. climate conference late last year. She put her elders on notice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA THUNBERG, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children, maybe they will spend that day with me.
Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn't do anything while there still was time to act.
You say you love your children above all else. And yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That's Greta Thunberg. She's now 16-years-old and she's joining me from Stockholm in Sweden.
Greta Thunberg, [13:45:00] welcome to the program.
THUNBERG: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: You know you've taken the world by storm. How did you start being an activist? What was it and when was it?
THUNBERG: I started this summer in August and I sat in front of the Swedish Parliament and I schooled strike for the climate. And then after
that, I have sat every Friday and so I'm going to continue doing that until Sweden is aligned with Paris agreement.
AMANPOUR: And how much support do you get? Do you get noticed when you are not in school and when you're sitting on the steps of the Swedish
THUNBERG: Yes. I mean they support me and they support my message but maybe not the part of me not being at school but they help me catch up and
so on. So they are supportive.
AMANPOUR: So that's great. So you're not falling behind in your studies. What made you be so passionate about the environment? What was it that
sparks that interest in you?
THUNBERG: My interest about the climate and the environment began when I was maybe 10-years-old. And my teachers in school told me that there's
something called climate change and global warming that's caused by humans and our behavior.
And I thought that sounded very strange because if that was so, if there was something that big that threatened our very existence, then that will
be our first priority. We wouldn't be talking about anything else.
But it wasn't our first priority and I am the kind of person who doesn't like when people say one thing and then do another thing. And that was the
case with climate change. Everyone said that it's the most important issue of all and it's an existential threat and yet they just carry on like
And so I started reading about it and the more I read about it, the more I understood. And once you fully understand the climate crisis, you cannot
un-understand. You're stuck. You have to do something about it.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know what, you have unstuck yourself and you've unstuck a lot of people and made them aware of this crisis in a way that
they perhaps weren't before listening to you. You made a big splash at COP24 in Poland and you made a big splash at Davos. And I want to play
this little clip of you addressing all these world leaders at Davos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THUNBERG: Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope but I don't want your hope. I don't want you to be hopeful. I want
you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day.
And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire because it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Do you write your own speeches, Greta? I mean it's really quite incredible the words you use and the logic you use. You lose -- you use a
logic that you would think adults would use but they don't. And yet you're completely clear from A to B to C.
THUNBERG: Yes, I write my own speeches but since I know that a lot of my speeches will be listened to by many, many people, I have to have some
people who help like, you know, input. And I also ask scientists sometimes like is this correct and how would you put that in a phrase. And so I get
help from people when I ask for help.
AMANPOUR: So what you do is you take the facts, not just what you believe or what you don't believe, but you take the facts and you try to make
people aware of them. I want to ask you about your own self. And what it is about your brain and the way you see things and the way the wires are
connected in your brain that allows you to put, you know, these pieces together and speak in a such a logical way. I mean you've talked about
being diagnosed on the sort of Asperger syndrome on the spectrum. Is that correct?
THUNBERG: Yes. I have Asperger syndrome and that means that I work a bit different. My brain works a bit different and I see things like black and
white and like I'm very logic and I like logic and so on. And yes, so I see the world a bit different.
AMANPOUR: And so it's helpful for you. I mean this unique way that you think is incredibly helpful for you in trying to put across a very clear
message. Is that right?
THUNBERG: Yes, I think so. Because if I wouldn't have been so strange, then I would have been caught up in the social game that everyone else
seems so fond of.
AMANPOUR: I mean I really love what you're saying. It's really interesting to hear you speaking like that but I wonder what these world
[13:50:00] I mean how do they treat you? Do they patronize you? Do they treat you like an adult? What reaction do you get after going on stage and
telling them off?
THUNBERG: I often get like nervous laughter. They don't know how to react really and that's fun in a way but they -- I mean they respect me. And so
yes, they treat me well.
AMANPOUR: But that's good to hear. What about your parents? How have they reacted and how have they adapted to this incredible activism that
you're now spearheading?
THUNBERG: When I first told them about this school strike idea, they weren't very fond of it. They say, "Are you sure want to do this? Is
there any other way you can do -- you can make your voice heard?" And then I said no, I'm going to do this and I had made up my mind. And they said,
"If you're going to do this, you are going to have to do this all by yourself. We aren't going to help you."
And yes. But I mean they understand why I'm doing it and they can't stop me from doing it so, you know.
AMANPOUR: And has -- have they changed their habits? I think I read that your mother -- I think it's your mom who doesn't fly on planes anymore. Is
that right? Or am I thinking of somebody else?
THUNBERG: Yes, my whole family has stopped flying. And my mother, she was an opera singer and she had to fly to be able to do concerts and to work.
And so she kind of had to change career.
I made her change career because my parents were standing up for like human rights and so on. And then I said whose human rights are you standing up
for while you're living that lifestyle?
AMANPOUR: There are other young people as well who are sort of coming up through the activist ranks. For instance, there's Milo Cress, age nine who
started the anti-straw movement that influenced McDonald's to go straw- free. He did an interview with CNN in 2011. Just listen to this for a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILO CRESS, FOUNDER, BE STRAW FREE: Sometimes I think we forget that every straw we use, every piece of plastic will be here and there, somewhere on
earth. Even when my grandchildren are born, long after that. I think we should live our lives in a sustainable way so that we leave only good
impacts on the earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: How do you feel about listening to him? He's a lot younger than you now. I mean you're 16, you just turned 16. He was nine at that time.
What do you think it is that is making children essentially teach us a lesson and show us the way?
THUNBERG: I think that we children, we understand this in a way that adults don't. But I think that many children sort of understand this and
they understand if they wouldn't get all the information needed, they will -- they would do what was required from them and they would stand up and
make their voices heard. And I think that young people, we need to realize that our future is at risk and we need to take action and hold the older
generations accountable for what they have done to us.
AMANPOUR: And I think you've also talked about what the solution is. People say, "Oh, we must go and do some more fact-finding and try to figure
out the solutions." What's your answer to that?
THUNBERG: We need to understand that we are in a crisis. And then act from that because, in a crisis, you change your behavior, you change your
way of thinking. And we need to see the climate crisis as a crisis which we don't do now, we don't treat it as a crisis.
And so once we do that, we adapt. Humans are very adaptable. And then some people say that "Oh, there is no black and white issue when we" --
that is not true. The climate crisis is black and white because either we start a chain reaction beyond human control or we don't. Either we stop
the emissions or we don't. That is as black or white as it gets. There are no gray areas when it comes to survival.
AMANPOUR: Great, are you going to keep this up or is this going to be your life's work?
THUNBERG: Yes. I think so. Hopefully, I won't be doing this for too long because that means everything's fixed. But I probably will do this for a
AMANPOUR: Very well said. Greta Thunberg, thank you so much indeed for joining me.
THUNBERG: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Some people have even come up with this slogan, "Make the World Greta Again." Yes, it's an anagram of great and she is an incredible
example for everyone who wants to make the world a better place.
But that's it for now. And remember, you can always listen to our podcast. See us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.