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Holocaust Denial: Background & Overview

One of the most notable anti-Semitic propaganda movements to develop over the past two decades has been the organized effort to deny or minimize the established history of Nazi genocide against the Jews. In the United States, the movement has been known in recent years primarily through the publication of editorial-style advertisements in college campus newspapers. The first of these ads claimed to call for "open debate on the Holocaust"; it purported to question not the fact of Nazi anti-Semitism, but merely whether this hatred resulted in an organized killing program. A more recent ad has questioned the authenticity of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. These ads have been published in several dozen student newspapers on campuses across the country.

Similar propaganda has established a beachhead on the computer Internet. In addition to creating their own home pages, Holocaust deniers have sometimes "crashed" the sites of legitimate Holocaust and Jewish discussion groups in a blatant effort at anti, Jewish provocation and self-promotion. Additionally, Holocaust deniers have advertised their Web sites by purchasing innocuous-sounding, inconspicuous classified ads in college and community newspapers.

These paid advertisements and Internet activities have been a national phenomenon since 1991. Though there is no evidence that they have persuaded large numbers of students to doubt the settled record of events which comprise the Holocaust, their appearance has generated acrimony and has frequently caused friction between Jewish and non-Jewish students.

This is precisely the intent of the Holocaust deniers: by attacking the facts of the Holocaust, and by framing this attack as merely an unorthodox point of view, their propaganda insinuates subtle but hateful anti-Semitic beliefs of Jews as exploiters of non-Jewish guilt and Jews as controllers of academia or the media. These beliefs, in fact, bear comparison to the preachings which brought Hitler to power in prewar Germany.

This pamphlet has been designed to provide a brief summary of the propaganda campaign known as Holocaust "revisionism," or Holocaust denial. What follows is (1) a "Q&A" description of the movement, its history, and its leading activists, as well as a review of legal and scholarly responses to this propaganda; (2) a summary of the movement's most common allegations, with brief factual responses, and (3) a selection of quotes by the leading propagandists, demonstrating their anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi agendas.

It is highly unlikely that this report will dissuade the Holocaust deniers from their mendacious and hateful campaign. But this information should provide students and educators with the facts to make informed decisions and vigorous responses to these bigoted lies.

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The Denial Movement: Important Notes

1. What is Holocaust denial?

2. Who started the movement?

3. Where is Holocaust denial active today?

4. What is CODOH?

5. Are there others promoting Holocaust denial on the Internet?

6. Are there laws regulating Holocaust denial?

7. What do American legal precedents indicate about propaganda?

8. What have academic authorities said about Holocaust denial?

Holocaust Denial Themes

1. The Holocaust Did Not Occur Because There Is No Single "Master Plan" for Jewish Annihilation

2. There Were No Gas Chambers Used for Mass Murder at Auschwitz and Other Camps

3. Holocaust Scholars Rely on the Testimony of Survivors Because There Is No Objective Documentation Proving the Nazi Genocide

4. There Was No Net Loss of Jewish Lives Between 1941 and 1945

5. The Nuremberg Trials Were a "Farce of Justice" Staged for the Benefit of the Jews

Sources: Holocaust Denial, (NY: ADL, 1997). Copyright Anti-Defamation League (ADL). All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

1For more information about the National Alliance, see William L. Pierce: Novelist of Hate, ADL Research Report, 1995.
2Israel Gutman (Editor in Chief), Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Volume 2, New York, 1990, p. 788.
3Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (Student Edition), New York, 1985, p. 263.
4See Lucy Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945, New York, 1975, pp. 150,166.
5Gutman, Volume 2, p. 489.
6Ibid., p. 489.
7Gutman, Volume 2, p. 490.
8Holocaust, Jerusalem: Keter Books, 1974, p. 104.
9Gutman, Volume 2, p. 657.
10Ibid., p. 492.
11Ronnie Duggar, The Texas Observer, Austin, 1992, p. 48.
12Gutman, Volume 2, pp. 641-642.
13Ibid., Volume 2, p. 657.
14Duggar, p. 48.
15Holocaust, pp. 105-106.
16Gutman, Volume 2, p. 453
17Martin Gilbert, The Holocaust, New York, 1985, p. 219.
18Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, Volume 3, New York, 1985, pp. 873-876.
19Gutman, Volume 2, pp. 541-544.
20Gutman, Volume 2, p. 542; Volume 4, pp. 1483, 1486.
21Gutman, Volume 1, pp. 113, 116.
22Holocaust, p. 86.
23Ibid., p. 87.
24Reitlinger, who conducted his research before Hilberg and other scholars, arrives at a more conservative figure of approximately 4.5 murder victims; he nonetheless estimates that one-third of the internees at concentration camps died as a result of starvation, overwork, disease, and other consequences of their captivity. Although his murder count is somewhat lower than that of later scholars, his overall death count remains consistent with subsequent research.
25Dawidowicz, p. 437.
26Hilberg, Vol. 3, p. 1223.
27Dawidowicz, p. 402.
28Peter Hayes, Associate Professor of German History at Northwestern University, states, "after years of studying this matter, I know of no authority who puts the number of Jews killed [emphasis in original] by the Nazis at less than 5.1 or more than 5.9 million men, women and children."
29Dawidowicz, p. 403.
30Hilberg, Vol. 3, p. 1060.
31Hilberg, Vol. 3, p. 1061.
32Hilberg, Vol. 3, p. 1066.
33Hilberg, Vol. 3, p. 1070.
34Hilberg, Vol. 3, p. 1075.
35Hilberg, Vol. 3, p. 1076
36Hilberg, Vol. 3, p. 1077-1078.
37Hilberg, Vol. 3, p. 1079.