Fleming, Gerald 1921–2006
Fleming, Gerald 1921–2006
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born May 11, 1921, in Baden Baden (one source says Mannheim), Germany; died February 25, 2006. Linguist, historian, educator, and author. Fleming was a former linguistics professor who dedicated much of his life to debunking claims by revisionist historians that denied Adolf Hitler's engineering of the Holocaust. Born Gerhard Flehinger to a German Jewish family, Fleming knew well the hatred of the Nazi's for the Jews. His father was sent to a concentration camp before being released as a result of American pressure on Germany, and the family lived through the terrible Kristallnacht of 1938. Fleming's parents decided to send their children to England for school, soon following them to that country. With the onset of World War II, Fleming was regarded as a possible enemy of the state, so he was exiled to Canada for the duration. There he worked as a forester under forced labor conditions. Returning to Europe after the war, he would earn language degrees from the Sorbonne in 1951 and the Institut Francais in London in 1953. Fleming then taught French and German before joining the faculty at William Penn School in London, where he headed the modern languages department from 1958 to 1965. During the late 1960s, he was a research officer at the University of Surrey for the Department of Education and Science in England; he would remain at Surrey to become a lecturer in 1969 and a senior lecturer in applied linguistics, beginning in 1973. Fleming employed his skills as a linguist to good purpose. Objecting to a revisionist movement at the time, led by historian David Irving, that held that the Holocaust was merely a side effect of the war and that Hitler had not been the engineer behind the slaughter of millions of Jews and other minorities, Fleming was able to show that Hitler's minions had written communiqués in such a way as to try to dissociate the Nazi leader from his involvement. Fleming would later strengthen his arguments in the 1990s, gaining access to Soviet documentation about the Third Reich when the Soviet government began relaxing its restrictions on Western researchers. Fleming's publications on the subject of the Holocaust were limited to journals; his books were concerned with language instruction and include Guided Composition for Students of English (1961) and the cowritten French Visual Grammar (1968).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Times (London, England), April 5, 2006, p. 58.