Book challenged at Kohrs Library
in Deer Lodge
By Pat Hansen for <http://www.mtstandard.com>The Montana Standard - 03/31/2009
DEER LODGE — A personal memoir has been challenged and a request made to have the book removed from the William K. Kohrs Library in Deer Lodge.
The book, challenged by Greg Gerdes of Deer Lodge, is "For Those I Loved," by Martin Gray. The book is a New York Times best-seller first published by Little, Brown & Co. in 1972 and read by more than 30 million people worldwide, according to Barnes & Noble Web site.
In it, Gray, a Polish Jew, tells of how he survived the German invasion, recalls his life in the Warsaw ghetto and Treblinka concentration camp, where his mother and brothers died, his life in the Soviet Army, and the building of a new life in the United States.
In accordance with Kohrs Library policy regarding complaints and censorship, librarian Nancy Silliman read the challenged book and informed Gerdes that she had decided to retain the book in question. Gerdes then appealed her decision to the library board.
Board chairman David Gregory said the board held a hearing to gather information. At that time, Gerdes allegedly claimed the author witnessing the Treblinka concentration camp holocaust is untrue and the book is anti-German hate propaganda.
During the hearing Gerdes presented a statement and showed the board $5,000 in cash saying he would donate it to the library if any one can prove there were graves at Treblinka.
A business card Gerdes gave the board indicates he is president of the National Association of Forensic Historians dedicated to "exposing historical fraud via the scientific method." No phone number was included on the card, but the association's Web site stated, "No matter what anyone thinks about the holocaust per se, one thing is eminently clear — the Treblinka holocaust didn't happen." It goes on to say there is no proof of mass graves, no indication that bodies were burned and that Treblinka was a transit camp where the gas chambers were, in reality, delousing facilities.
Peggy Kerr, president of the Friends of the Library, spoke against banning or censorship at the information- gathering meeting.
John Thompson, a Deer Lodge resident, described the library as a place of choices for the community, saying American people have a right to choose what they want to read.
Gregory said the board is not judging the book nor its contents, but will decide the issue based on three criteria: the library's collection management policy, the basic premise of intellectual freedom, and the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and of the press.
The board will decide the issue at a public meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 16, in the Kohrs Library.
Correspondent Pat Hansen may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.