Holocaust Denial and Antisemitism Ideas
Antisemitism has existed for centuries and taken different forms. This is a very dangerous phenomenon as it often resulted in cruel pogroms and even legal persecutions. The ideas of antisemitism are spread in most countries and accepted and cultivated by millions of people. This contagious concept is even supported by multiple officials and, in some cases, by entire governments. One of the modern and most dangerous forms of antisemitism is the Holocaust denial theory. Many people genuinely believe that the generally accepted narrative that describes this horrifying man-made disaster is wrongful and exaggerated. They refer to various sources, which, however, are highly questionable. However, in my opinion, Holocaust denial is not based on evidence but only on Antisemitism. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze this issue and discuss the reasons that lead to such misleading notions. The following research question has been formulated to guide this project: Is the Holocaust denial theory based on adequate and sufficient evidence? Therefore, the main goals of this paper are to demonstrate the direct connection between antisemitism and Holocaust denial and prove the groundlessness of this faulty theory.
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Holocaust deniers do not have a common narrative and operate different arguments. For example, some of them believe that the Holocaust itself is a hoax because there are no documents that guide the genocide (“Institute for Historical Review”). Also, they emphasize that there are no documents signed by Hitler that order the Holocaust. Therefore, they base their theories on these facts. The abundant evidence presented at Nuremberg, these deniers ignore and consider fabrications. However, there were thousands of different types of documents that organized the genocide processes. The deniers often argue that these pieces of evidence were intentionally misinterpreted. Moreover, they insist that people who testified about the horrors of the Holocaust distorted the truth because either they were subjected to it or they could not be objective.
Some of the Holocaust deniers argue that the number of victims was exaggerated, and most Jews were not killed but died from natural causes (“Institute for Historical Review”). However, those who were executed were officially found guilty of serious crimes. These deniers insist that there is no direct evidence that proves the official number of Holocaust victims. They use this fact to support their position that the whole narrative about the genocide was fabricated. Another argument of Holocaust deniers is that gas chambers were not built and used to kill Jews (“Institute for Historical Review”). They claim that the killing centers did not exist. They develop their theory, basing mostly on some of the weaknesses or uncertainties of the official narrative. Also, they often prefer not too relevant historical sources but to other Holocaust deniers’ works.
However, the main argument of Holocaust deniers is that the myth of the Holocaust was necessary for the Allies to justify the occupation of Nazi Germany and the consequent persecutions. Also, they claim that the distorted history of the genocide was one of the main reasons for the establishment of the State of Israel (“Institute for Historical Review”). Therefore, all the Holocaust deniers believe that there is a conspiracy that has been created by the major powers after the Second World War to promote their interests.
The two strongest arguments of Holocaust deniers is that it is difficult to determine the exact number of deaths and the absence of the documents that ordered mass murders of Jews signed by Hitler. The first argument deserves very close consideration. No historians argue that the exact number of victims of the genocide can be calculated. Indeed, the Nazis did not document such data. To estimate human losses, specialists use various sources, for example, census reports, German archives, and official investigations conducted after the war.
Therefore, these data often change as scholars find new documents that shed light on those events. According to postwar demographic population studies and wartime reports created by people who promoted Nazi policies the number of Jews who were killed in the Holocaust is approximately 6 million (“Introduction to Holocaust”). Also, there are some other ways to estimate such numbers. The following are statistics of Jewish loss by location: Auschwitz approximately 1 million, Treblinka approximately 925,000, Belzec 434,508, Sobibor more than 167,000, Chelmno from 156,000 to 172,000, shooting operations in central and southern occupied Poland more than 200,000, shooting operations in Western Poland more than 20,000, other concentration camps more than 150,000, shooting operations and gas wagons in the occupied Soviet Union more than 1.3 million, deaths in ghettos more than 800,000, and deaths in other locations more than 500,000 (“Introduction to Holocaust”). Although there are no wartime documents that present these data, several reasons for it are obvious. First, statistics that had been compiled during the first period of the war were destroyed during the last year as German officials had realized that they would lose the war. Therefore, they tried to eliminate all possible evidence of their crimes. Second, most data collected by Germans did not include the first years of the war.
Another significant problem related to the lack of evidence is that at the time, there were not effective demographic instruments to differentiate between racially targeted individuals, people who were involved in partisan groups, and victims of secondary damage caused by military activities. However, almost all operations performed by German armies were based on racial superiority (Shaw 184). Such ideology was the main component of most steps undertaken by the Nazis.
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The second strongest argument by Holocaust deniers is that there has not been found any document ordered by Hitler to organize the genocide. It is also true that there are no such documents. However, the reason for this is the same as the reason for the absence of official German statistics on Jews victims during the war. Such documents were destroyed along with other pieces of evidence of the Nazis’ crimes in the last year of the war. However, various facts reveal the intense hatred of Hitler towards Jews. The defeat of Germany in World War I had an enormous negative impact on thousands of Germans, and it affected Hitler’s perceptions as well. He blamed communists and especially Jews for the defeat. Also, Hitler joined the National Socialist German Worker’s Party and became a very influential political figure (Shaw 184). He attracted much attention as he supported the propaganda against Jews. Hitler often claimed that they hinder the development of the country (Shaw 185). However, most of his anti-Semitic ideas he expressed in his book, Mein Kampf. This work presented many anti-Jewish concepts that also emphasized German superiority (“Holocaust Denial and Distortion”). Hitler urged Germans to remove all inferior populations from the country.
Therefore, the above-mentioned facts prove the intentions of Hitler and his alliances. However, most Holocaust deniers neglect them and prefer operating different data that fit their narrative. Abundant evidence was scrutinized during the Nuremberg process (“Holocaust Denial and Distortion”). Thousands of documents that reveal the scale of the tragedy are available in archives and libraries. Hence, it is necessary to bring particular attention to official statistics rather than claims of so-called historians.
However, there are many other reasons to state that Holocaust deniers do not have any adequate evidence to support their theory. This problem has been investigated by various scholars who refute the main statements of the followers of this faulty concept one by one. Moreover, they present many official documents that help to develop logical judgments.
The first reason to support the thesis is that Holocaust deniers neglect all pertinent data. They do it to make their claims about the invention of the myth of the Holocaust by the Western alliances, Soviet Union, and Jews. This statement shows that the Holocaust denial theory is based on biased and wrong perceptions.
There is also much evidence to support this statement. After the end of the war, the famous Nuremberg trial was conducted not only to judge the political and military Nazi leaders but also to collect as much relevant information related to the crimes committed during the war as possible (Shaw 187). The International Military Tribunal (IMT) was made up of judges from Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States.
Special attention was brought to Jewish persecutions and the Holocaust itself. Although most records made by German officials were destroyed, thousands of documents still were obtained during the occupation of Germany in 1945 (Gold). These documents were the major evidence assessed by the IMT. Most of these records were published during the second half of the twentieth century. They have been thoroughly examined by various historians, scholars, journalists, and other specialists (Rosenfeld 289). By using the data retrieved from these sources, the events and operations that took place during the war have been partially reconstructed. These documents revealed the major policies promoted by Nazi leaders. Also, they describe the principles of cooperation among various agencies that led the Holocaust. All these data ware carefully analyzed during the Nuremberg trial and accepted as strong evidence of the genocide.
Other important statistics are also ignored by Holocaust deniers. In 1933, the Jewish population in Europe was more than nine million (“Introduction to Holocaust”). Germany occupied most of the countries in which Jews lived. However, by 1945 two thirds of this population were killed or die (“Introduction to Holocaust”). The Nazis developed different programs to eliminate other inferior communities such as Gypsies, disabled people, and homosexuals.
Another important fact that is neglected by Holocaust deniers is the program of the National Socialist government, the Final Solution. The main component of this program was the establishment of concentration camps (“Introduction to Holocaust”). Initially, they were created to imprison the opponents of the regime. However subsequently, Nazis began to incarcerate people regarding their origin. This policy was mostly aimed at Jews who were moved into ghettos. During the period between 1941 and 1944, the Final Solution resulted in the creation of killing centers (“Introduction to Holocaust”). These extermination camps were established to murder people in gas chambers. During the last months of the war, the allies liberated an enormous number of inmates from these camps.
The next fact that Holocaust deniers ignore is displaced person camps. Such camps were established by the allies. During the period between 1948 and 1951, approximately 700,000 Jewish people moved to Israel, and this number included 136,000 Jews from displaced person camps (“Introduction to Holocaust”). Many others went to the United States and other countries. Such camps operated until 1957. Therefore, the Holocaust crimes destroyed European Jewish communities, which forced them out of the continent.
The first people who came to these camps were survivors liberated by the allies. It the beginning, the camps was of very poor quality. Some of them were made from concentration camps. Therefore, for many survivors, living conditions did not change. They did not receive enough food. Also, there were not enough medicine, clothes, and other essentials. Survivors often share their living spaces with people who killed Jews during the war. Subsequently, the Jewish refugees were sent to special camps, which gave them more independence and security. Also, U.S. Jewish relief groups were farmed to work in the camps.
Tens of thousands of Jewish returned after the war in Poland. Due to the vast destruction of this region and widespread anti-Semitic attitudes, they had to move to the western territories that were occupied by Americans. In 1947, even more, Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe went to these displaced person camps. However, they understood that it was temporary. Most of them strived to leave Europe. However, despite this trend, the inmates turned these camps into social, cultural, and educational centers. They could organize various events. They also created theaters and published various newspapers. Many inmates were involved in the processes of collecting information from other survivors. Therefore, a new Jewish society was formed in these camps. They also had different political parties. After the establishment of the State of Israel, most of the inmates immigrate there.
All the above-mentioned data is derived from official sources and can be easily verified. However, Holocaust deniers tend to perceive this information as untrue. They tend to underestimate the most reliable figures and prefer working with questionable sources.
The second reason supporting the thesis is patterns and events that preceded the Holocaust. People who argue that the mass murder of Jews was not planned to ignore the fact that various factors triggered this horrifying phenomenon. This statement also reveals the biased perceptions of Holocaust deniers.
The prehistory of Nazism and the establishment of the Nazi regime are still analyzed by different historians. However, they have already revealed many signs that indicated the readiness of the German population to start such a devastating program (McQuiggan 4). The first manifestations of antisemitism in Germany were detected at the end of the nineteenth century. Moreover, some specialists show the connection between the events that occurred during the Holocaust and social and political trends in the Middle Ages (Becker and Pascali 7). However, it is very important to focus on a less distant history. The most pertinent factors are the reasons how Hitler could become the leader of the country. His propaganda campaign was based on the economic crisis that took place at the end of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s (Voigtländer and Voth 7932). The number of unemployed people was tremendous. Another significant factor is that other political parties failed to establish a working majority. Also, many historians highlight the fact that President Hindenburg gave Hitler the power to form a coalition government was the turning point.
However, this decision was supported by thousands of people. Therefore, cultural explanations are the most important factor. Antisemitism values, attitudes, and prejudices were very common in German society at the time (Ter-Matevosyan 107). Although many people opposed such ideas, Hitler still received significant support. His supporters promoted the concepts of the Nazi regime, and eventually, they were accepted by the prevailing majority. Particularly, these ideas were disseminated among Protestant, rural, and northern communities. Although most people did not share extreme Antisemitism perceptions, they supported different measures against Jews. Many Germans accepted Nazi anti-Semitic policies due to the significant economic growth that improved Hitler’s popularity. His strategies helped the country to regain its powerful status that had been lost after the First World War.
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Also, anti-Semitic ideas were common among different communities outside Germany. Especially, they were prevailing in some regions in Poland and Romania where the Jewish population was large. People in such areas did not support the concepts of democratic pluralism. That is why anti-Semitic ideas were widely accepted there. People in Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia were also easily influenced by Nazi propaganda due to the occupation by the Soviet Union. Anti-Semitic moods were triggered by the connection between Jews and communists. Therefore, the willingness to cooperate with Nazis was also based on anti-Soviet attitudes. People in these countries strived to regain independence.
Socio-psychological motives are also pertinent to the matter. One of the main factors was fear (Fuchs 61). It explained people’s actions during the Holocaust. The fear of severe consequences such as physical damage among regular people was especially significant in eastern countries occupied by Germany. Therefore, the fate of Jews was not prioritized by most of them. Another important factor is the plunder. There were multiple recorded cases of such crimes. Jews had money and other assets that can be easily acquired in collaboration with Nazi agents (Giorgos et al. 3). For many regular people, such opportunities were too tempting to resist. Moreover, the property that was obtained from the departed Jews went on public auctions that elicited much interest. Although the information about such auctions was not accessible in the postwar years, it has been revealed recently. Also, Jews often gave their possessions to neighbors when they were subjected to moving into ghettos. Therefore, these goods could be easily sold or exchanged.
Nazi agents used this factor to motivate ordinary citizens to cooperate with them and were often successful. For example, people who participate in shootings could get the houses, furniture, and other belongings of the executed. Also, the revenge based on personal conflicts additionally motivated locals to cooperate with the Nazi authorities. Another important social factor is respect for authority. People related to the military, police, and other security forces were trained to obey the existing rules. Members of civil services were also organized hierarchically. Therefore, such structures were based on the deference to superior power. People’s careers depended on following the established norms. The next significant factor is conformism. Conformist behaviors were prevailing in Nazi Germany. Most people did not need to support anti-Semitic ideology but simply tolerate it. Only a few people dared to oppose this appalling concept. Also, Nazi propaganda contributed to the dissemination of such views.
All the above-discussed issues are well documented, though the deniers of the Holocaust neglect these facts. Although they are very important to understand the reasons that led to the genocide, the followers of this theory prefer to ignore them. Therefore, it also proves that the Holocaust denial concept is based on biased perceptions.
Another argument that supports the thesis is multiple anti-fascism policies in Germany and other developed countries. Politicians and other public figures strongly oppose any manifestations of fascism. They use official data to improve understanding of the Holocaust among regular people.
After the Second World War, the country’s government made significant efforts to prevent the development of any fascist or nationalist ideologies. However, the anti-fascist movement occurred in 1932. The symbols used in their rallies are still relevant in Germany. Several organizations were established to deal with the dissemination of fascist ideas (Shaw 186). They were formed by veterans, politics, and religious figures who opposed the Nazi regime. This movement still determines the countries policies regarding fascism (Lewy 1). For example, school programs in Germany include lessons in which students learn about the Holocaust and its causes. Students start learning about the genocide in elementary school. Also, different student exchange programs allowed them to visit Auschwitz. Also, the government banned any fascist organizations or publications. Citizens are well aware of the history of the Holocaust and the Nazi regime. They acknowledge the fact that the entire nation should take full responsibility for the horrors of the Second World War. Such a perception is based on the historical facts that are abundantly presented in different museums, libraries, and archives. However, Holocaust deniers neglect the position of the country that is responsible for the genocide.
Anti-fascism has existed since the occurrence of fascism. This movement opposes any fascist activities. Moreover, anti-fascists disagree with almost all right-wing policies. Such opposition might take different forms: investigative journalism, music, literature, and so forth. However, some Holocaust deniers claim that there is no difference between fascists and anti-fascists. There are some similarities. They make publications, run websites, organize events, and establish propaganda campaigns. Such methods are used to support politicized communities. However, they have different motives. The main ideas, which form the basis of these movements, are the opposite. Anti-fascists aim at cultivating a culture of acceptance and tolerance, whereas right-wing extremists deny the necessity of diversity. Therefore, the anti-fascist movement was not formed by conspiratorial organizations. These people are driven by ideological motives. They developed specific terminology that is used to define fascists. Also, this movement has a structure. Anti-fascist activists support their campaign with various credible academic sources that are provided by different institutions and archives. Many such organizations are sponsored by governments. However, Holocaust deniers do not consider these facts. Therefore, it also proves the rightness of the thesis.
However, there are several objections to the above-discussed arguments that deserve particular attention. First, some people might disagree that Holocaust deniers neglect pertinent data. Followers of this theory usually operate by different facts that can be supported by scholarly sources. For example, they claim that the only evidence of the Nazi’s practice genocide is the testimony of survivors. This information might be contradictory, and none of them witnessed gas chambers. Also, there are no credible statistics regarding demography.
However, all these claims are only partially true. There are many postwar testimonies from not only survivors but also multiple Nazi agents. Trials that took place during postwar years collected hundreds of such records (“Introduction to Holocaust”). Although some of these data are not reliable, most information was supported by investigations. Also, different demographic statistics were presented by various sources. The analysis of these data allows estimating the approximate number of victims of the Holocaust. Such documents were approved by the majority of scholars. Therefore, this claim is groundless.
Second, supporters of the denial theory might argue that Hitler had any intentions to annihilate the Jewish population. His famous work Mein Kampf does not promote such ideas. It is focused on the development of Germany as a nation and has nothing to do with antisemitism. However again, it is only partially true. Many phrases reveal his aggression towards some political figures and structures.
However, a significant part of Hitler’s narrative is dedicated to Jewish customs and traditions. He discussed their distinguishing characteristics, presenting them as inferior (Lewy 32). Also, various public statements revealed his attitude towards this nation as well as the propaganda campaign.
Third, some people might say that anti-fascism policies in Germany cannot prove the Holocaust. Indeed, the policies themselves are not evidence of the genocide. They only show the attitude of Germans towards the genocide.
However, the rationale on which they are based is very relevant. The country’s government support its decisions with abundant historical documents (Lewy 16). Moreover, it uses various credible sources to cultivate an anti-fascist culture in the German population. The evidence presented in national museums and archives suffices professional historians and other specialists working on this subject.
After discussing the issues that are the most pertinent to the subject, I believe there are no questions left. All the above-discussed reasons and refutations are qualified as they are supported by credible sources and might be easily verified. The denial theory’s rationale is not adequate to claim that the Holocaust did not exist. Most statements of this concept can be refuted by using multiple credible sources. Moreover, the deniers’ claims are mostly biased and based on anti-Semitic attitudes. Therefore, the initially stated thesis is proved to be true.
In conclusion, Holocaust deniers attract much attention due to their controversial statements. However, close consideration reveals that they do not have sufficient evidence. Most specialists who professionally work in this area can easily disprove all their theses. However, the problem discussed in this paper is highly relevant nowadays. Holocaust deniers began to use social media to promote their concepts among young generations. It is very dangerous as such ideas are contagious and might eventually lead to severely negative outcomes. Therefore, it is necessary to combat Holocaust denial, applying the latest reliable sources to refute their faulty claims.
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