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Holocaust Denial

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Holocaust Denial

"One is astonished in the study of history at the recurrence of the idea that evil must be forgotten, distorted, skimmed over. The difficulty, of course, with this philosophy is that history loses its value as an incentive and example; it paints perfect men and noble nations, but it does not tell the truth."

-W.E.B Du Bois, Black Reconstruction, 1935

As early as age thirteen, we start learning about the Holocaust in classrooms and in textbooks. We learn that in the 1940s, the German Nazi party (led by Adolph Hitler) intentionally performed a mass genocide in order to try to breed a perfect population of human beings. Jews were the first peoples to be put into ghettos and eventually sent by train to concentration camps like Auschwitz and Buchenwald. At these places, each person was separated from their families and given a number. In essence, these people were no longer people at all; they were machines. An estimation of six million deaths resulting from the Holocaust has been recorded and is mourned by descendants of these people every day. There are, however, some individuals who claim that this horrific event

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never took place.

It is very difficult to deny the deaths of millions of Jews and other

"imperfect" peoples, and it takes a great deal of work and effort to logically put forth such an assertion. These Holocaust deniers argue that the Holocaust is just a fable to show people what can happen when a person or group of people tries to play God. This outrageous claim could result from several factors, and can only begin to be understood after intense research and analysis of influences and motives of Holocaust deniers. In almost every case of a denial of the Holocaust, there is a personal political agenda backing it.

Before it can be understood why the claims of these people are so outrageous, the two sides to the issue of the occurrence of the Holocaust must be explained. The majority of people believe that it did occur and use pictures, memoirs, letters, and other primary sources from the time to prove its existence. On the other hand, there is the smaller community of people who claim that there was no Holocaust. These are radical groups and self-described "revisionists. Those denying the event say that concentration camps were built after World War II was over as propaganda, and that the death toll numbers were simply made up. In their opinion, "[Jews] were merely repatriated to Poland and Russia and, after

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the war, to America" (Tukuno 1) This Holocaust refuting community also claims that the primary sources proving the existence of the Holocaust are also fabricated pieces of history used to make people think certain events happened when they really did not. As Hajime Tokuno describes it, "Deniers have subjugated science, in this case historical science, to a political agenda, creating a pseudoscience called Holocaust Denial" (Tokuno 2).

The problem with both of these claims, and history in general, is that unless someone is actually at an event experiencing something, he or she has no way of knowing exactly what went on at a given time and date. If a person needs to rely on sources other than themselves to learn the past, a primary source needs to be the first place looked. Speaking with a Holocaust survivor, seeing a picture from Nazi Germany at this time, or reading the diaries like that of a girl hiding from the Gestapo allows for the closest possible link from today to the days of the past. These items are the ones that will tell the story closest to the truth, and are the ones that need to be trusted. Holocaust deniers will tend to believe what they hope to be true, or what is beneficial for their case, even if it does not historically match up.

In order to fully comprehend exactly what is being disputed by

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these Holocaust deniers, it is necessary to first have all the facts of what the general population accepts as truth. In basic terms, six million Jews

were intentionally annihilated between 1933 and 1945 in European countries occupied by Nazi Germany. First, Jews (and later handicapped and disabled peoples) were organized into ghetto communities. Living conditions were not good, but they were far better than what was to come. The Jews were then shipped to concentration camps where they were stripped of all humanity and put to work like slaves. In 1945, The United States got involved and sent troops over to Europe, where concentration camp victims were liberated. From memoirs, architectural ruins, and surviving witness accounts, it is also known thatgas chambers were used to murders the majority of the Jews at the camps.

Andrew E. Mathis provides the following definition of Holocaust Denial:

Holocaust deniers question all three major points of definition of the Nazi Holocaust. First, they contend that, while mass murders of Jews did occur, there was no official Nazi policy to murder Jews. Second, they contend that there were no homicidal gas chambers, where mainstream historians believe over 1 million Jews were murdered. And third, Holocaust deniers contend that the death toll of European Jews during World War II was well below 6 million (Mathis 1).

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Grobman and Shermer explain holocaust deinal as "Some [histories] are certain, some less certain, and some simply impossible. Debunking is a strong word, but it seems an appropriate reaction to such an extraordinary claim as denial of the Holocaust" (Grobman and Shermer 99). By definition, debunking is "To expose or ridicule the falseness, sham, or exaggerated claims of" (www.dictionary.com), and that is exactly what needs to be done to these thin ideologies of Holocaust denial. So much proof exists that the Holocaust not only took place, but also made a great impact on the war and essentially the world. People almost have no choice but to believe that this event took place. A person has to consciously try to think that the mass genocide never happened. If when going to bed it was cloudy and then in the morning there were puddles on the sidewalk, the rain would not be denied simply because it was not seen.

The first Holocaust questioners in the United States came onto the scene in the early 1950s, shortly after World War II, and remained in the States. Even to present day, there are still groups and organizations specifically dedicated to proving the Holocaust was just a big hoax. "Holocaust denial found a receptive

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