Holocaust Deniers: Lying through the Barbed Wire

I was recently out having a drink with some friends and while talking I mentioned that as a historian I’ve done some research into the Holocaust, to which someone whom I had just met asked bluntly “why?” I’m a historian I replied. “Are you Jewish?” No, I didn’t think that was a requirement to study the Holocaust. This person then went on to inform me of his doubts about the Holocaust and spun a tale of Jewish Zionists conspiracies to extort money from Germany. “I’m not a racist or anti Semitic” this person assured me…

I visited Auschwitz/Birkenau last year. Walking around the dilapidated remains of Auschwitz was an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life. But it also had another profound effect on me. It galvanized my resolve against Holocaust Denial.

Holocaust Denial comes in many forms and the first people who denied the Holocaust were the Nazis themselves. During the length of the Holocaust (the term as I’m using it refers to the systematic expulsion and eventually extermination that began in 1933 when the Nazis come to power) there was a concerted effort to never refer to the action being taken directly. Code words were always used. “The Jewish Question”, “Resettlement”, “Special Treatment”, and “The Final Solution” along with a host of other euphemisms.

Heinrich Himmler, the Nazi official responsible or organizing most of the Holocaust, made it very clear that no Nazi soldier or official was ever to speak publically about the “Final Solution” and all evidence of its occurrence was to be destroyed.

Almost immediately after the war Nazi propaganda began circulating that the Holocaust was a myth perpetuated by a Soviet, Jewish, Allied coalition with goals for slandering Germany and extorting wealth from the country.

It was in France that one of the first Denier movements truly began. Paul Rassinier, a former prisoner at the Buchenwald concentration camp published several works over the next four decades essentially denying that any mass extermination took place.

Rassinier provided little or no evidence for his claims. He utterly dismissed any evidence that went contrary to his beliefs and stated that testimony of survivors was an “emotional” exaggeration. He ignored key speeches made by Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, including this critical speech by Himmler given to the leaders of SS in 1943:

“I also want to talk with you, quite frankly, on a very grave matter. Among yourselves it should be mentioned quite frankly, and yet we will never speak of it publicly….I mean the clearing out of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish race.”
(Quoted in Jackson Speilvogel, Hitler and Nazi Germany, 3rd ed., 1996:282).

Over the years the primary principles of Holocaust Denial haven’t changed much. They essentially involve these points in various degrees, often adding that any evidence (books, films, documents, pictures) are hoaxes. Deniers believe that if they can discredit one fact about the Holocaust, it discredits all the evidence.

1. Emigration and not extermination was the Nazi plan for dealing with the Jewish population of Germany

The initial goal of the Nazi persecution of Jewish people which started immediately when Hitler came to power was to encourage the Jews to leave. However this quickly changed by 1941 when the Nazi state no longer allowed Jews to leave. There was also a short lived “Madagascar plan” in which Jews would be shipped to Madagascar, however the plan lacked any serious organization and most Historians are dubious about how realistically the Nazi Government considered it.

2. No Jews were gassed in any German camps and probably not at Auschwitz either. The crematoria were designed to cremate those who died from other causes — natural illness, etc.

This is simply a lie. Massive amounts of evidence exist for the use of gas chambers and systematic murder using gas. Including the recently discovered blue prints to Auschwitz.

3. The majority of Jews who were killed by the Nazis were people whom the Nazis had every right to “execute” as subversives, spies, and criminals. Or that Jews were killing German citizens.

A ridiculous statement; how could Ann Frank be considered a spy or criminal? Not to mention all the children and disable people the Nazis killed. Polish civilians were also highly targeted, were they all spies?

4. If the Holocaust claims have any truth, Israel would have opened its archives to historians. They continue perpetuating the Holocaust “hoax” by utilizing the charge of “anti-Semitism” against anyone who questions it.

Holocaust denial has been long considered a form of anti-Semitism. The claims of massive conspiracies by Israel are racist claims and have been treated as such.

5. All evidence to support the Holocaust “hoax” of 6 million dead rests upon misquotes of Nazis and Nazi documents. Further, the number of 6 million is either completely wrong that no Jews were killed or that the number is far less, potentially only a couple hundred thousand.

The information on how many Jews were killed during the Holocaust has been debated and researched for many years. Accurate information is available from across Europe on what the Jewish population was before the extermination began. Based on population numbers after the final solution we can infer the number dead. These figures are collaborated with other sources including train schedules, pass ports, Nazi documents, documents from occupied countries, and physical evidence such as stolen goods.

6. Jewish historians and other scholars have great discrepancies in their calculations of the number of victims. Suggesting this as evidence that the claims are unverified.

No one knows exactly how many died. Therefore it’s reasonably that the numbers fluctuate. However, as more evidence has come to light, the current numbers are almost universally accepted as accurate.

The truth of the Holocaust is demonstrated by massive quantities of evidence, including documentation by the Nazi state, confessions by captured Nazi officials, including Rudolf Hoess Commandant of Auschwitz (among others), film footage, documentation by the British, American, and Soviet forces, documentation by the occupied or allied states of Nazi Germany.

There are also mountains of testimony from survivors, eye witnesses, physical evidence such as the still standing camps, remnants of poison gas, and discovered bodies. And as Skeptic Magazine Editor in Chief Michael Shermer points out; Inferential evidence: population demographics, where are the 6 million Jews who supposedly survived the Holocaust?

With regards to the anti Semitism and denying the Holocaust; nearly every human rights organization and anti-defamation or anti-racism group has declared Holocaust Denial anti-Semitic.

The arguments that Holocaust Deniers continually make depend and ultimately revolve around notions of massive conspiracies by Zionists, Israeli, and other secret Jewish forces trying to dominate the world.

It has been well established just what anti-Semitism is. The views expressed by Holocaust Deniers clearly fall into that definition.

Ethan Clow

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  • Ethan Clow

    Ethan Clow, born and raised in the Vancouver area, is best known in the skeptical community as Ethan the Freethinking Historian, co-host of Radio Freethinker, a skeptical podcast and radio show on CiTR in Vancouver. And as the former Executive Director of the Centre for Inquiry Vancouver. Ethan graduated with a B.A. in History from UBC in the fall of 2009 and has an active role with skeptical movements in Vancouver and British Columbia. He was an executive member of the UBC Freethinkers, a campus club that promotes skepticism and critical thinking. He still maintains a close relationship with the UBC Freethinkers and helps plan events and organizes skeptical activism as best he can. Currently he works for the Centre for Inquiry as the Executive Director of CFI Vancouver.