Holocaust Denial

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This article is about the history, development, and methods of Holocaust denial. For criticism of Holocaust denial, see Criticism of Holocaust denial.




Holocaust denial is the claim that the genocide of Jews during World War II—usually referred to as the Holocaust[1]—did not occur in the manner or to the extent described by current scholarship.

Key elements of this claim are the rejection of any of the following: that the Nazi government had a policy of deliberately targeting Jews and people of Jewish ancestry for extermination as a people; that between five and seven million Jews[1] were systematically killed by the Nazis and their allies; and that genocide was carried out at extermination camps using tools of mass murder, such as gas chambers.[2][3]

Holocaust deniers do not accept the term "denial" as an appropriate description of their point of view, and use the term Holocaust revisionism instead.[4] Scholars, however, prefer the term "denial" to differentiate Holocaust deniers from historical revisionists, who use established historical methodologies.[5]

Holocaust denial claims imply, or openly state, that the Holocaust is a hoax arising out of a deliberate Jewish conspiracy to advance the interest of Jews at the expense of other peoples.[6] For this reason, Holocaust denial is generally considered to be an antisemitic[7] conspiracy theory.[8] The methodologies of Holocaust deniers are criticized as based on a predetermined conclusion that ignores extensive historical evidence to the contrary.[9]

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Terminology: Holocaust denial or Holocaust revisionism?

The terms "Holocaust denier" and "Holocaust denial" are often objected to by the people to whom they are applied. These people typically prefer "revisionist" and "revisionism".[4] Scholars believe that term to be misleading, however.[5] While historical revisionism is the re-examination of accepted history, with an eye towards updating it with newly discovered, more accurate, or less-biased information, deniers seek evidence to support a preconceived theory, omitting substantial facts.[10]

Historical revisionism is an academic approach that holds that a given slice of history, as it has been traditionally told, may not be entirely accurate, and should hence be revised accordingly. Historical revisionism in this sense is a well-accepted and mainstream part of history studies, and it is applied to the study of the Holocaust as new facts emerge and change our understanding of it. A very different process unfolds when someone proceeds from the premise that a major element of human history is simply inaccurate, and ignores or routinely minimizes evidence that conflicts with that premise. History done in this way is not revisionism, but denial.[11]

Because the term "revisionist" has become associated with Holocaust deniers, Holocaust historians today generally avoid using it to describe themselves, though they continue to study and revise opinions on aspects of the Holocaust. In the words of historian Donald Niewyk of Southern Methodist University:

"With the main features of the Holocaust clearly visible to all but the willfully blind, historians have turned their attention to aspects of the story for which the evidence is incomplete or ambiguous. These are not minor matters by any means, but turn on such issues as Hitler's role in the event, Jewish responses to persecution, and reactions by onlookers both inside and outside Nazi-controlled Europe."[12]

Holocaust denial is sometimes referred to as "negationism", from the French term Le négationnisme, introduced by Henry Rousso.[13] Negationists attempt to rewrite history by minimizing, denying or simply ignoring essential facts. According to Jacques Derrida:

"Generally speaking, 'revisionism' in history is the attempt to critique established dogmas, a critique that can in no way be included in with the type of negationism that attempts to deny the reality of acknowledged facts."[14]

According to Koenraad Elst:

"Negationism means the denial of historical crimes against humanity. It is not a reinterpretation of known facts, but the denial of known facts. The term negationism has gained currency as the name of a movement to deny a specific crime against humanity, the Nazi genocide on the Jews in 1941-45, also known as the holocaust (Greek: fire sacrifice) or the Shoah (Hebrew: disaster). Negationism is mostly identified with the effort at re-writing history in such a way that the fact of the Holocaust is omitted."[15]

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Examination of claims

Main article: Criticism of Holocaust denial

The three key claims of Holocaust deniers are:[2][3]

Other claims include the following:

Holocaust denial is widely viewed as failing to adhere to rules for the treatment of evidence, principles that mainstream historians (as well as scholars in other fields) regard as basic to rational inquiry.[18] The prevailing—indeed, the virtually unanimous—consensus of mainstream scholars is that the evidence given by survivors, eyewitnesses, and contemporary historical accounts is overwhelming; that this evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the Holocaust occurred; and that it occurred as these sources say it occurred.

The Holocaust was well-documented by the extremely bureaucratic German government itself.[19][20] It was further witnessed by the Allied forces who entered Germany and its associated Axis states towards the end of World War II.

Among the evidence produced are motion pictures and still photographs that show the existence of prisoner camps, as well as the testimony of those freed when the camps were entered. The Holocaust was a massive undertaking that lasted for years and was implemented across several countries, with its own command-and-control infrastructure, a bureaucracy that left a large trail of documentation. Although Nazi officials made attempts to destroy evidence of the Holocaust when it became evident that their defeat was imminent, substantial documentation remained. After the Nazi defeat, many documents were recovered, including numerous reports written by the Nazis about the number of Jews killed, records of train shipments of Jews to the camps, orders for tons of cyanide and other poisons, and large numbers of photographs and films of the camps and their victims. Many thousands of not yet decomposed bodies were found in mass graves near facilities that were indisputably concentration camps. Thousands of interviews with survivors, perpetrators, and bystanders added to the massive level of documentation that attended the Holocaust. A diary written by German anti-Nazi Friedrich Kellner not only attests that some atrocities, such as the murder of Jews at gunpoint, were indeed committed by German soldiers, but also illustrates that some German anti-Nazis were aware of such acts.

According to researchers Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman, there is a "convergence of evidence" that proves that the Holocaust happened. This evidence includes:[21]

1.      Written documents—hundreds of thousands of letters, memos, blueprints, orders, bills, speeches, articles, memoirs, and confessions.

2.      Eyewitness testimony—accounts from survivors, Jewish Sonderkommandos (who were forced to help load bodies from the gas chambers into the crematoria in exchange for the promise of survival), SS guards, commandants, local townspeople, and even high-ranking Nazis who spoke openly about the mass murder of the Jews

3.      Photographs—including official military and press photographs, civilian photographs, secret photographs taken by survivors, aerial photographs, German and Allied film footage, unofficial photographs taken by the German military.

4.      The camps themselves—concentration camps, work camps, and extermination camps that still exist in varying degrees of originality and reconstruction

Inferential evidence—population demographics, reconstructed from the pre-World War II era; if six million Jews were not killed, what happened to them all?

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History and development

Early examples

See also: Sonderaktion 1005

The first Holocaust deniers were the Nazis themselves. Historians have documented evidence that Heinrich Himmler instructed his camp commandants to destroy records, crematoria, and other signs of mass extermination, as Germany's defeat became imminent and the Nazi leaders realized they would most likely be captured and brought to trial. After World War II, many of the former leaders of the SS left Germany and began using their propaganda skills to defend their actions (or, their critics contended, to rewrite history). Denial materials began to appear shortly after the war.[22]

Harry Elmer Barnes

Harry Elmer Barnes, an American, was at one time a mainstream historian with liberal credentials; he assumed a Holocaust-denial stance in the later years of his life. Between World War I and World War II, Barnes became well known as an anti-war writer and a leader in the historical revisionism movement. Following World War II, he became convinced that allegations made against Germany and Japan, including the Holocaust, were wartime propaganda used to justify U.S. involvement in WWII.

Following the example of Barnes, a few other early libertarian writers also concerned with anti-war historical revisionism began to take a Holocaust-denial stance, including James J. Martin. Most libertarians, however—even those who otherwise hold Barnes' writings in high regard—reject his Holocaust denial.[23] Barnes' name has since been appropriated by some modern Holocaust deniers in an attempt to lend credibility to their cause, most notably Willis Carto.

The beginnings of the modern denial movement


The KKK: Nazi salute and Holocaust denial

In 1961, American historian David Hoggan wrote Der Erzwungene Krieg (The Forced War), though primarily concerned with the origins of World War II, also down-played or justified the effects of Nazi antisemitic measures in the pre-1939 period. Subsequently, Hoggan wrote one of the first books denying the Holocaust in 1969 entitled The Myth of the Six Million, which was published by the Noontide Press, a small Los Angeles publisher specializing in antisemitic literature.[24] Hoggan became one of the early stars of the Holocaust denial movement, because he had a number of university professorships.

In 1964, French historian Paul Rassinier published The Drama of the European Jews in 1964. Rassinier was himself a concentration camp survivor (imprisoned in Buchenwald for his having helped French Jews escape the Nazis), and modern-day deniers continue to cite his works as scholarly research that questions the accepted facts of the Holocaust. Critics argued that Rassinier did not cite evidence for his claims and ignored information that contradicted his assertions; he nevertheless remains influential in Holocaust denial circles for being one of the first deniers to propose that a vast Zionist/Allied/Soviet conspiracy faked the Holocaust, a theme that would be picked up in later years by other authors.[25]

The publication of Arthur Butz's The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The case against the presumed extermination of European Jewry in 1976; and David Irving's Hitler's War in 1977 brought other similarly inclined individuals into the fold.[26] In December 1978 and January 1979, Robert Faurisson, a French professor of literature at the University of Lyon, wrote two letters to Le Monde claiming that the gas chambers used by the Nazis to exterminate the Jews did not exist. A colleague of Faurisson, Jean-Claude Pressac, who initially shared Faurisson's views, later became convinced of the Holocaust's evidence while investigating documents at Auschwitz in 1979. He published his conclusions along with much of the underlying evidence in his 1989 book, Auschwitz: Technique and operation of the gas chambers.[27]

Institute for Historical Review

In 1978 the Institute for Historical Review (IHR) was founded by Willis Carto as an organization dedicated to publicly challenging the commonly accepted history of the Holocaust.[28] The IHR sought from the beginning to attempt to establish itself within the broad tradition of historical revisionism, by soliciting token supporters who were not from a neo-Nazi background such as James J. Martin and Samuel Edward Konkin III, and by promoting the writings of French socialist Paul Rassinier and American anti-war historian Harry Elmer Barnes to attempt to show that Holocaust denial had a broader base of support besides just neo-Nazis. The IHR brought most of Barnes' writings, which had been out of print since his death, back into print. While IHR included articles on other topics and sold books by mainstream historians in its catalog, the majority of material published and distributed by IHR was devoted to questioning the facts surrounding the Holocaust.[29] The IHR became one of the most important organizations devoted to Holocaust denial. In recent years the IHR underwent an internal power struggle which ousted Willis Carto. Under the subsequent leadership of Mark Weber, the IHR has taken on an even more explicit neo-Nazi orientation than it had under Carto. Carto went on to found the Barnes Review magazine after his ouster from IHR, a magazine which is also devoted to Holocaust denial.

In an "About the IHR" statement on their website, the IHR states that "The Institute does not 'deny the Holocaust'."[30] The IHR journal, however, states:

"There is no dispute over the fact that large numbers of Jews were deported to concentration camps and ghettos, or that many Jews died or were killed during World War II. Revisionist scholars have presented evidence, which "exterminationists" have not been able to refute, showing that there was no German program to exterminate Europe's Jews, and that the estimate of six million Jewish wartime dead is an irresponsible exaggeration. The Holocaust — the alleged extermination of some six million Jews (most of them by gassing) — is a hoax and should be recognized as such by Christians and all informed, honest and truthful men everywhere."[31]

Commentators and historians have noted the misleading nature of statements by the IHR that they are not Holocaust deniers. Paul Rauber, a senior editor for the Sierra Club Magazine, writes that:

"The question [of whether the IHR denies the Holocaust] appears to turn on IHR's Humpty-Dumpty word game with the word Holocaust. According to Mark Weber, associate editor of the IHR's Journal of Historical Review [now Director of the IHR], "If by the 'Holocaust' you mean the political persecution of Jews, some scattered killings, if you mean a cruel thing that happened, no one denies that. But if one says that the 'Holocaust' means the systematic extermination of six to eight millions Jews in concentration camps, that's what we think there's not evidence for." That is, IHR doesn't deny that the Holocaust happened; they just deny that the word 'Holocaust' means what people customarily use it for."[32]

According to British historian of Germany Richard J. Evans:

"Like many individual Holocaust deniers, the Institute as a body denied that it was involved in Holocaust denial. It called this a 'smear' which was 'completely at variance with the facts' because 'revisionist scholars' such as Faurisson, Butz 'and bestselling British historian David Irving acknowledge that hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed and otherwise perished during the Second World War as a direct and indirect result of the harsh anti-Jewish policies of Germany and its allies'. But the concession that a relatively small number of Jews were killed was routinely used by Holocaust deniers to distract attention from the far more important fact of their refusal to admit that the figure ran into the millions, and that a large proportion of these victims were systematically murdered by gassing as well as by shooting."[33]

Bradley Smith and the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust

In 1987, Bradley R. Smith founded a group called the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH).[34] He is the former media director of the Institute for Historical Review.[35] In the United States, CODOH has repeatedly tried to place newspaper ads questioning whether the Holocaust happened, especially in college campus newspapers.[36] Some newspapers have accepted the ads, while others have rejected them.[37] Bradley Smith has more recently sought other avenues to promote Holocaust denial with little success. In June 2007, the film "El Gran Tabu" ("The Great Taboo") by Bradley R. Smith was presented at the festival "Corto Creativo 07" in Mexico.[38]

James Keegstra

For more details on this topic, see R. v. Keegstra.

In 1984, James Keegstra, a Canadian high-school teacher, was charged with denying the Holocaust and making antisemitic claims in his classroom as part of the course material. Keegstra and his lawyer, Doug Christie, argued that the section of the Criminal Code of Canada (now section 319{2}), is an infringement of the Charter of Rights (section 9{b}). The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, where it was decided that the law he was convicted under did infringe on his freedom of expression, but it was a justified infringement. Keegstra was convicted, and fired from his job.[39]

The Zündel trials


Did Six Million Really Die? by Richard Harwood (also known as Richard Verrall). The Supreme Court of Canada found in 1992 that the book "misrepresented the work of historians, misquoted witnesses, fabricated evidence, and cited non-existent authorities."

Former Canadian resident Ernst Zündel operated a small-press publishing house called Samisdat Publishing, which published and distributed Holocaust-denial material such as Did Six Million Really Die? by Richard Harwood (a.k.a. Richard Verrall - a British neo-Nazi leader). In 1985, he was tried and convicted under a "false news" law and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment by an Ontario court for "disseminating and publishing material denying the Holocaust."[40] Zündel gained considerable notoriety after this conviction, and a number of free-speech activists stepped forward to defend his right to publish his opinion. His conviction was overturned in 1992 when the Supreme Court of Canada declared the "false news" law unconstitutional.[40]

Zündel has a website, web-mastered by his wife Ingrid, which publicizes his viewpoints.[41] In January 2002, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal delivered a ruling in a complaint involving his website, in which it was found to be contravening the Canadian Human Rights Act. The court ordered Zündel to cease communicating hate messages. In February 2003, the American INS arrested him in Tennessee, USA, on an immigration violations matter, and few days later, Zündel was sent back to Canada, where he tried to gain refugee status. Zündel remained in prison until March 1, 2005, when he was deported to Germany and prosecuted for disseminating hate propaganda. On February 15, 2007, Zündel was convicted on 14 counts of incitement under Germany's Volksverhetzung law, which bans the incitement of hatred against a minority of the population, and given the maximum sentence of five years in prison.[42]

Ken McVay and alt.revisionism

Ken McVay, a Canadian resident, was disturbed by the efforts of organizations like the Simon Wiesenthal Center to suppress the speech of the Holocaust deniers. On the Usenet newsgroup alt.revisionism he began a campaign of "truth, fact, and evidence," working with other participants on the newsgroup to uncover factual information about the Holocaust and counter the arguments of the deniers by proving them to be based upon misleading evidence, false statements, and outright lies. He founded the Nizkor Project to expose the activities of the Holocaust deniers, who responded to McVay with personal attacks and slander, and death threats.[43]


Book cover: Denying The Holocaust.

David Irving and the Lipstadt libel case

Main article: David Irving

In 1998, the British author David Irving filed suit against American author Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher Penguin Books, claiming that Lipstadt had libeled him in her book Denying the Holocaust. The statements made by Lipstadt included the accusation that Irving deliberately misrepresented evidence to conform to his ideological viewpoint. Lipstadt and Penguin hired British lawyer Anthony Julius and Cambridge historian Richard J. Evans to present her case. Evans spent two years examining Irving's work, and presented evidence of Irving's misrepresentations, including evidence that Irving had knowingly used forged documents as source material. The judge in the case, Mr Justice Gray, was ultimately persuaded by the evidence presented by Evans and others, and delivered a long and decisive verdict in favor of Lipstadt that referred to Irving as a "Holocaust denier" and "right-wing pro-Nazi polemicist," and confirmed the accusations of Lipstadt and Evans.[44]

In 2006, Irving pleaded guilty to the charge of denying the Holocaust in Austria, where Holocaust denial is a crime and where an arrest warrant was issued based on speeches he made in 1989. Irving knew that the warrant had been issued and that he was banned from Austria, but chose to go to Austria anyway. After he was arrested, Irving claimed in his plea that he changed his opinions on the Holocaust, "I said that then based on my knowledge at the time, but by 1991 when I came across the Eichmann papers, I wasn't saying that anymore and I wouldn't say that now. The Nazis did murder millions of Jews."[45] Upon hearing of Irving's sentence, Lipstadt said, "I am not happy when censorship wins, and I don't believe in winning battles via censorship… The way of fighting Holocaust deniers is with history and with truth."[45]

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Recent developments and trends

In France, Holocaust denial has become more prominent in the 1990s as négationnisme, though the movement has existed in ultra-left French politics since at least the 1960s, led by figures such as Pierre Guillaume (who was involved in the bookshop La Vieille Taupe during the 1960s). Recently, elements of the extreme far right in France have begun to build on each others' negationist arguments, which often span beyond the Holocaust to cover a range of antisemitic views, incorporating attempts to tie the Holocaust to the Biblical massacre of the Canaanites, critiques of Zionism, and other material fanning what has been called a "conspiratorial Judeo-phobia" designed to legitimize and "banalize" antisemitism.[46]

In Belgium in 2001, Roeland Raes, the ideologue and vice-president of one of the country's largest political parties, the Vlaams Belang (formerly named Vlaams Blok, Flemish Bloc), gave an interview on Dutch TV where he cast doubt over the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. In the same interview he questioned the scale of the Nazis' use of gas chambers and the authenticity of Anne Frank's diary. In response to the media assault following the interview, Raes was forced to resign his position but vowed to remain active within the party.[47] Three years later, the Vlaams Blok was convicted of racism and chose to disband. Immediately afterwards, it legally reformed under the new name Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) with the same leaders and the same membership.[48]

Accusations of a Zionist conspiracy

Since the 1960s, the Soviet Union promoted the allegation of secret ties between the Nazis and the Zionist leadership, under the doctrine of Zionology. The thesis of 1982 doctoral dissertation of Mahmoud Abbas, a co-founder of Fatah and one of the leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who earned his Ph.D. in history at the Moscow State Institute of Oriental Studies with Yevgeny Primakov being his thesis advisor, was "The Secret Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement".[49][50] In his 1983 book The Other Face: The Secret Connection Between the Nazis and the Zionist Movement, based on the dissertation, Abbas wrote:

“It seems that the interest of the Zionist movement, however, is to inflate this figure [of Holocaust deaths] so that their gains will be greater. This led them to emphasize this figure [six million] in order to gain the solidarity of international public opinion with Zionism. Many scholars have debated the figure of six million and reached stunning conclusions—fixing the number of Jewish victims at only a few hundred thousand."[51][52][53]

In his March 2006 interview with Haaretz Abbas stated:

“I wrote in detail about the Holocaust and said I did not want to discuss numbers. I quoted an argument between historians in which various numbers of casualties were mentioned. One wrote there were 12 million victims and another wrote there were 800,000. I have no desire to argue with the figures. The Holocaust was a terrible, unforgivable crime against the Jewish nation, a crime against humanity that cannot be accepted by humankind. The Holocaust was a terrible thing and nobody can claim I denied it."[54]

Holocaust denial in Arab nations

Denials of the Holocaust have been regularly promoted by various Arab leaders and in various media throughout the Middle East.[55] Newspapers funded by the Saudi Arabian government routinely deny the existence of the Holocaust, or downplay its significance. Individuals from the Syrian government, as well as the Palestinian political group Hamas have recently published Holocaust denial statements.[56]

In August 2002, the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-up, an Arab League think-tank whose Chairman, Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahayan, served as Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, promoted a Holocaust denial symposium in Abu Dhabi.[57] Hamas leaders have also promoted Holocaust denial; Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi held that the Holocaust never occurred, that Zionists were behind the action of Nazis, and that Zionists funded Nazism [58]. A press release by Hamas in April 2000 decried "the so-called Holocaust, which is an alleged and invented story with no basis."[59]

Holocaust denial has also been resisted by prominent intellectual figures in the Arab world; in 2001, an outcry led by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, Lebanese writer Elias Khoury and others brought about the cancellation of a conference the Holocaust denial organization Institute for Historical Review had planned to hold in Beirut.[60]

In 2005 the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, denounced what he called "the myth of the Holocaust" in defending Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust.[61]

Iranian President Ahmadinejad

Main article: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Israel

Holocaust denial is relatively new to the Middle East, as Kenneth Jacobson, assistant national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in an interview with Haaretz: "Adopting the theories of Holocaust denial of Western scholars is a relatively new phenomenon in the Muslim world. The accepted attitude had been to say that whereas it was true the Holocaust had taken place, the Palestinians should not have to pay the price. A look at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statements shows that he has mixed the two approaches."[62]

In a December 2005 speech, Ahmadinejad said that the Holocaust was fabricated and had been promoted to protect Israel. He said,

“They have fabricated a legend under the name Massacre of the Jews, and they hold it higher than God himself, religion itself and the prophets themselves...If somebody in their country questions God, nobody says anything, but if somebody denies the myth of the massacre of Jews, the Zionist loudspeakers and the governments in the pay of Zionism will start to scream.”[63]

The remarks immediately provoked a blaze of international controversy as well as swift condemnation from government officials in Israel, Europe, and the United States. All six political parties in the German parliament signed a joint resolution condemning this Holocaust denial.[64]

Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal described Ahmadinejad's comments as "courageous" and stated that "...Muslim people will defend Iran because it voices what they have in their hearts, in particular the Palestinian people."[65] In the United States, the Muslim Public Affairs Council condemned Ahmadinejad's remarks.[66]

On April 24, 2006, Ahmadinejad demanded a free evaluation of the real extent of the Holocaust "in order to find the ultimate truth."[67] In a May 30, 2006 interview with Der Spiegel, Ahmadinejad again questioned the Holocaust several times, insisting there were "two opinions" on it. When asked if the Holocaust was a myth, he responded "I will only accept something as truth if I am actually convinced of it".[68]

On December 11, 2006, the "International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust" opened to widespread condemnation.[69] The conference, called for by and held at the behest of Ahmadinejad,[70] was widely described as a "Holocaust denial conference" or a "meeting of Holocaust deniers",[71] though Iran insisted it was not a Holocaust denial conference.[72] A few months before it opened, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi stated: "The Holocaust is not a sacred issue that one can't touch. I have visited the Nazi camps in Eastern Europe. I think it is exaggerated."[73]

After the conference the Iran staged an International Holocaust Cartoon Competition.

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Reactions to Holocaust denial

Many scholars refuse to engage Holocaust deniers or their arguments at all, feeling that in so doing they would give Holocaust deniers unwarranted legitimacy.[74] A second group of scholars, typified by Deborah Lipstadt, have tried to raise awareness of the methods and motivations of Holocaust denial, while trying not to legitimize the deniers themselves. Lipstadt stated "We need not waste time or effort answering the deniers' contentions. It would be never-ending ... Their commitment is to an ideology and their 'findings' are shaped to support it."[75] A third group, typified by the Nizkor Project, responds by addressing the arguments and claims made by Holocaust denial groups by pointing out the errors of their evidence.[76][77]

A number of public figures and scholars have spoken out against Holocaust denial. Dr. William Shulman, director of the Holocaust Research Center, described the denial "…as if these people [in the Holocaust] were killed twice",[78] a sentiment echoed by literary theorist Jean Baudrillard, who argued that "Forgetting the extermination is part of the extermination itself."[79] In 2006, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said: "Remembering is a necessary rebuke to those who say the Holocaust never happened or has been exaggerated. Holocaust denial is the work of bigots; we must reject their false claims whenever, wherever and by whomever they are made."[80] Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel calls the Holocaust "the most documented tragedy in recorded history. Never before has a tragedy elicited so much witness from the killers, from the victims and even from the bystanders—millions of pieces here in the museum what you have, all other museums, archives in the thousands, in the millions."[81] He made a similar statement on a special edition of the The Oprah Winfrey Show after his final trip to Auschwitz, along with host Oprah Winfrey.

In January 2007, the United Nations General Assembly condemned "without reservation any denial of the Holocaust", though Iran disassociated itself from the resolution.[82]

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Laws against Holocaust denial

Main article: Laws against Holocaust denial

Holocaust denial is explicitly or implicitly illegal in 13 countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Switzerland. Slovakia made Holocaust denial a crime in late 2001 but repealed the legislation in May 2005. Spain decriminalized Holocaust denial in October 2007.[83] Italy rejected a draft Holocaust denial law proposing a prison sentence of up to four years in 2007, the Netherlands rejected a draft law proposing a maximum sentence of one year in 2006 and before this the United Kingdom twice rejected a Holocaust denial law. Denmark and Sweden also have rejected Holocaust denial legislation.[84]

European Union

The European Union's executive Commission proposed a European Union wide anti-racism xenophobia law in 2001, which included the criminalization of Holocaust denial. On July 15, 1996, the Council of the European Union adopted the Joint action/96/443/JHA concerning action to combat racism and xenophobia.[85][86] During the German presidency there was an attempt to extend this ban.[87] Full implementation was blocked by Britain and the Nordic countries because of the need to balance the restrictions of voicing racist opinions against the freedom of expression.[88] As a result a compromise has been reached within the EU and while the EU has not prohibited Holocaust denial outright, a maximum term of three years in jail is optionally available to all member nations for "denying or grossly trivializing crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes."[89][90]

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Other genocide denials

Main article: Genocide denial

Other acts of genocide have met similar attempts to deny and minimize, most notably the Armenian Genocide and the Pontic Greek Genocide, which is denied by the Turkish Government, but also the Rwanda genocide, Srebrenica Genocide, and the Ukrainian famine. Gregory H. Stanton, formerly of the US State Department and the founder of Genocide Watch, lists denial as the final stage of a genocide development: "Denial is the eighth stage that always follows a genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims."[91]

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Notable Holocaust deniers

"See also" category: Holocaust deniers


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  1. a b Donald L Niewyk, The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, Columbia University Press, 2000, p.45: "The Holocaust is commonly defined as the murder of more than 5,000,000 Jews by the Germans in World War II." Estimates by scholars range from 5.1 million to 7.8 million. See the appropriate section of the Holocaust article.
  2. a b Key elements of Holocaust denial:
  3. a b c d e f "The kinds of assertions made in Holocaust-denial material include the following:
  4. a b Refer to themselves as revisionists:
  5. a b Denial vs. "revisionism":
  6. A hoax designed to advance the interests of Jews:
  7. Antisemitic:
  8. Conspiracy theory:
  12. Niewyk, Donald L. (ed). The Holocaust: Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation, D.C. Heath and Company, 1992.
  13. See Alain Finkielkraut, Mary Byrd Kelly, Richard J. Golsan. The Future of a Negation: Reflections on the Question of Genocide. University of Nebraska Press, 1998.
  14. Fort, Jeff; Derrida, Jacques; Roudinesco, Elisabeth (2004). For what tomorrow--: a dialogue. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press. pp. 204. ISBN 0-8047-4627-3. 
  15. Koenraad Elst. Chapter One - Negationism in General, Negationism in India - Concealing the Record of Islam, The Voice of India, 2002.
  16. A plot designed to garner support of Israel:
  17. Shermer & Grobman, 2002, pp. 103-14.
  18. "(H)istory is the attempt to describe events of the past and move from description to analysis, in accordance with certain agreed rules of evidence, of analysis of language, and of logic." 'Yehuda Bauer, Historian of the Holocaust - Portrait of an Historian" — Online Dimensions, a Journal of Holocaust Studies, Fall, 2004
  19. "... the German bureaucrats' collective actions are relatively well-documented for the historian..." Christopher R. Browning, The Path to Genocide: essays on launching the final solution, Cambridge University Press, 1992, ISBN 0521558786, p. 125.
  20. "According to the historian Raul Hilberg, the United States alone captured forty thousand linear feet of documents on the murder of European Jews... we can say that the Holocaust is a uniquely well-documented historical event." Deák, István. Essays on Hitler's Europe, University of Nebraska Press, 2001, ISBN 0803217161, p. 67
  21. Shermer & Grobman, 2002, p. 33.
  22. Martin Perry, Anti-Semitism, Palgrave: 2002
  23. Phyllis B Gerstenfeld, Diana R Grant, Crimes of Hate. Sage Press, 2003, p 191
  24. Gottfired, Ted: Deniers Of The Holocaust: Who They Are, What They Do, Why They Do It (Twenty-First Century Books, 2001). Page 29
  25. Deborah E. Lipstadt, History on Trial, Harcourt:2005 ISBN 0-06-059376-8
  26. Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory 1994
  27. Pressac, Jean-Claude (1989). Auschwitz: Technique and operation of the gas chambers. New York: The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation. http://www.holocaust-history.org/auschwitz/pressac/technique-and-operation/. Retrieved on 2006-01-31. 
  28. Chip Berlet & Matthew J. Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, New York: Guilford Press, 2000, p. 189.
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  35. Antisemitism and Xenophobia Today: United States of America
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  48. Court rules Vlaams Blok is racist, BBC News, November 9, 2004.
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  52. Abu Mazen and the Holocaust by Tom Gross
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  96. http://www.wymaninstitute.org/articles/2003-03-denier.php
  97. John Tyndall: The "Holocaust" Racket

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