Holocaust denial

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Holocaust denial is a belief that the Nazi Holocaust did not occur, or occurred to a lesser extent than believed by the preponderance of scholars. Holocaust deniers assert that the Nazis did not attempt to exterminate the Jews (as well as political opponents, Gypsies, Catholics and other Christian church members opposed to his policies, mentally retarded individuals, homosexuals, etc.) during World War II.

The holocaust denial view point has no support amongst any significant number of scholars. This denial is partly a result of a growing number of existentialist thinkers who refer to history as simply a myth as well as the result of the efforts of history revisionists and anti-Zionists.

As denial of the holocaust is nonfactual, another common strategy of history revisionism is to use relativism by comparing it to other genocides, the death toll of Germans in WWII, persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany, or the number of abortions.

One of its main purposes is to discredit the establishment of the nation of Israel in 1948. Questioning the historicity of the Holocaust is considered gravely offensive to Jews [1], and anti-Semitic in nature. Denying the Holocaust is illegal in a number of European countries. In 2007, a German court sentenced notorious historical revisionist and denier Ernst Zündel to five years in prison for "incitement of racial hatred." [2]


Contents

Tenets of Holocaust Denial

"Holocaust denial" is a simplistic term for a movement with several different schools of thought. Some radical conspiracy theorists and neo-Nazi groups dispute whether the Holocaust occurred, but the the superabundance of evidence undermines their argument. Most holocaust deniers do not deny that the event happened at all, but they question the methods, historiography and truth behind the holocaust. That viewpoint has manifested itself into the following arguments used by most contemporary holocaust deniers


Nazi policy and lack of written orders

Some holocaust deniers admit that many Jews died during the war, but dispute that there was any official Nazi policy towards extermination of the Jews. To support this argument, the point out that there exists no unequivocal written order from Adolf Hitler that orders the mass murder of Jews. This argument maintains that the Jewish deaths during the war were no more than collateral damage and/or the civilian deaths that are unavoidable, especially in a war of that size.


Rebuttal

Despite the lack of a written order, Hitler's intentions were well-known.In a 1939 speech in the Reichstag, Hitler voiced a goal of "annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe."[3] Aside from that, an abundance of eyewitness testimony, diaries and orders from other Nazi officials make it clear that there was a planned extermination campaign in place.[4][5] It is higly unlikely that a project of this size would occur without the knowledge or consent of the notoriously autocratic Hitler.

As well, there is abundant evidence that Nazi officials ordered widespread destruction of such written orders towards the end of the war. As it appeared increasingly likely that Germany would lose the war, Himmler ordered such documentation destroyed, so as to avoid incriminating the regime. There also exists a signed order dated April, 1945, in which Himmler orders that no prisoner "fall into the hands of the enemies alive," since their testimony would condemn the Nazi leaders[6]

While awaiting trial in 1960, Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann said that Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Main Security Office had told him in August 1941 that "the Führer has ordered the physical extermination of the Jews."[7]


"The Six Million Lie"

Many deniers question the death toll of the Holocaust, arguing that the numbers are highly inflated. Many contemporary Holocaust deniers put the Jewish death toll between 300,000 and 1.1 million, [8] which is at odds with most widely accepted statistics, which put the Jewish death toll at approximately six million.[9]


Rebuttal

Simple demographic evidence effectively rebuts this argument. Deniers claim that many Jews simply emigrated elsewhere, but there are no corresponding population increases in other countries that would support this argument. While it is possible that hundreds, or even thousands of people could "fall through the cracks," that still leaves several million Jews unaccounted for.[10]


Use of gas chambers

This axis of Holocaust denial consists of several different arguments:


  • The "Gas chambers" were not gas chambers at all. They were used as morgues or air raid shelters. In support of this, many deniers point to the infamous Leuchter Report, a pseudoscientific and widely discredited forensic report which found no evidence of use of hydrocyanic gas in the chambers at Auschwitz.[11]
  • The gas chambers and crematoria found at many Nazi prisoner camps were not used to kill Jews. They were used strictly for delousing clothes, mattresses and other materials to prevent the spread of lice and typhus.[12]
  • The chambers were not adequate for gassing. They were improperly sealed, lacked exhaust systems and had no opening for which to introduce gas.


Rebuttal

These arguments collapse under the weight of overwhelming evidence. Photographs, written orders and eyewitness testimony from guards and prisoners alike support the position that gas chambers were employed for mass murder. [13][14][15]

Arguments based on the physical structure of the chambers (ventilation, construction and other concerns) spring from the postwar examination of the camps. However, there is ample evidence that Nazis fully or partially destroyed many execution facilities to conceal evidence of their crimes.[16][17]

A letter from Karl Bischoff, the head architect at Auschwitz, to the German Armament Works dated March 31, 1943 orders “three gas tight doors” for Crema 3 following “exactly the size and construction of those already delivered” for Crema 2. Bischoff reminded the manufacturer that the doors had to have a spy-hole of double 8-mm glass “with a rubber seal and metal fitting.” The order was characterized as “very urgent.”

There are also many photographs of actual gas-tight doors that were found all over Auschwitz immediately after the war. One, which had been used in either Crema 4 or 5, had a peep-hole covered with a heavy mesh screen and still had a gas-tight seal still around the edge, just as Bischoff’s letter requested. The blueprints for Crema 2 show ventilation ducts in the walls (labeled ‘Entlüftung’) and the remains of the ducts can still be seen in the ruins. In the archives there is also a request for a “handle for the gastight door” and a request for “twenty-four-gastight anchoring screws for gas tight doors” for Cremas 4 and 5.

The walls and ceilings of the gas chambers were plastered and whitewashed as numerous eyewitnesses have testified. By the time Leuchter arrived at the camp to take his samples, the plaster was gone and the exposed brick had been exposed to 40 years of rain, sun and snow. As HCN leaves only a thin blue chemical residue on surfaces, any “Prussian Blue” residue from the HCN would have collected on the surface of the plaster and would not have left a substantial presence on the bricks and mortar or concrete underneath.

Leuchter collected 31 handful-sized samples of bricks and mortar from the cremas and one control sample from the delousing chamber in Birkenau. By the time he crawled into the ruins of Crema 2, the plaster was long gone and only the bricks and mortar and concrete remained. Cremas 4 and 5 were constructed entirely of brick. They were totally destroyed before the end of the war. Only the concrete foundations remain and bricks have been gathered from around the area and loosely stacked up to show the general outline of the floor plan of the buildings. The bricks that Leuchter sampled did not necessarily come from anywhere near the gas chamber rooms. In the laboratory the individual samples were ground up into powder. Any trace of the HCN residue that might have been there became a miniscule part of the entire sample. A more appropriate method would have tested only the surfaces of the sample. Testing the total amount of the ground up powder was like trying to analyze the color and chemical structure of paint on the inside of a wall by looking for it in the boards and masonry behind the drywall. In the case of Cremas 4 and 5, it would like analyzing the materials from another room entirely.” The fact that Leuchter still found “insignificant traces” of the chemicals in the ruins of the gas chambers after all these years of being exposed to the elements is proof that there WERE gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau.[18]

A properly authorized and meticulously conducted, rigorously scientific study done by Polish authorities in 1994 found that “in spite of the passage of a considerable period of time (over 45 years) in the walls of the facilities which once were in contact with hydrogen cyanide the vestigial amounts of the combinations of this constituent of Zyklon B had been preserved. This is also true of the ruins of the former gas chambers.”

Holocaust Denial in Germany

Holocaust denial is particularly sensitive issue in Germany, the former seat of the Nazi regime. The country first outlawed denial movements in 1985, making it a crime to deny the extermination of the Jews. The law was amended in 1994, imposing a fine and a five-year prison sentence on anyone who publicly endorses, denies or plays down the genocide against the Jews.[19] In 2007, the German government spearheaded a movement to ban Holocaust denial throughout the European Union.[20]


Holocaust Denial in Japan

A base of anti-semitism is observable in the liberal news medias of Japan in which news sources (Shukanshi) including the popular Shukan Bunshun has repeatedly published articles denying the German holocaust of European Jews[21].

Holocaust Denial by "Christians"

The Westboro Baptist Church, a group of homophobic, Christian extremists and self proclaimed "fag-haters" and creators of the website GodHatesFags.com, created a parody of "Hey Jude" by the Beatles titled "Hey Jews".

This song features several anti-semitic remarks, including the line "Fag & dyke rabbis teach rebellion. You lie about the holocaust days". Clearly stating that they believe the Holocaust was a lie created by homosexual rabbis. [22]

Denial movements abroad

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has become an outspoken voice of the denier movement, making many public statements condemning Israel and Jews in general. He has questioned whether the Holocaust actually occurred and hosted a conference designed to cast doubt on the idea of its historicity. [23]

Countries where Holocaust denial is illegal

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • France
  • Germany
  • Israel
  • Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Switzerland

References

See also

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