Holocaust Denial

by Grace Robinette

Globally, one of the major historical events most students learn about is the Holocaust.  From the time students were young to well into college educations, the Holocaust has been widely discussed, analyzed, and taught. For decades now, the atrocities that resulted from the Holocaust have been central in understanding racism, bigotry, and prejudice as well as global relations. So, how is it that despite overwhelming evidence, there are still people who deny the Holocaust ever happened? Enter, Holocaust deniers and the extraordinary belief that the Holocaust is a conspiracy.

Broadly, Holocaust denial is when people ignore and try to argue the facts of the Holocaust. In the same category is Holocaust distortion, which is disputing the impact and magnitude of the Holocaust. The belief stemmed from antisemitism, and has been a way to discredit Jews, as well as reduce sympathy from them. Denial and distortion of the Holocaust are also meant to instill doubt about Jews as a way to further push a Nazi agenda. This movement began its rise in 1980 when the Journal of Historical Review as well as the Institute for Historical Review emerged. Since then, it has been publishing articles that combat claims of accuracy regarding the Holocaust. To call this belief extraordinary is an understatement, simply considering the amount of evidence, testimonies, policies and practices and knowledge that came out of this horrendous event. There is overwhelming support for taking action against those who deny the Holocaust and it has actually even been criminalized in many developed countries.

To first understand the extraordinary beliefs surrounding Holocaust denial, one must first examine the facts. Holocaust deniers base much of denial on three key details: sheer numbers of Jews executed, lack of physical evidence outlining direct orders to murder Jews and the debated existence of gas chambers. Holocaust denier’s ague the validity of the numbers associated with the Holocaust, saying that the facts and figures have fluctuated over time, from 4 million to 6 million. In addition, they argue that there were only 2.4 million Jews under German occupation, which does not account for the remaining 3.6 million. While there is no one document that details each death, experts estimate the amount of Jews executed is around 6 million. These estimates are based on several records including the census reports, eyewitness reports and recovered archives.

Additionally, Holocaust deniers claim there was never any direct statements made about executing Jews. Again, there is a sliver of truth in this statement, because there was never and outright proclamation about the extermination of Jews. In addition, there is no certainty as to when Nazi’s set forth the annihilation plan. Despite there not being a forthright statement, policies were put in place over a span of years to isolate Jews and create a society that was impossible for Jews to participate in German society, culture and economy. As a result, there was an abundance of hate and antisemitism. This discrimination transitioned straight into more overt and drastic forms, such as murder via death camps, shootings and starvation. It was framed that Nazi authorities had the go-ahead from Hitler to eliminate any threats, perceived or physical, to the German rule, which translated directly as Jewish people. There was been direct documentation but towards the end of the war, German officials destroyed as much evidence as possible to cover their tracks. What remained, however, was eyewitness reports as well as surviving documents proving the orders to eliminate Jews.

The last piece of the Holocaust denier’s argument is that gas chambers are not possible and were made up as an attempt to exaggerate the Holocaust. This belief stems from Ernst Zundel, a German man residing in Canada who dedicated his life to denying the Holocaust and disseminating neo-Nazi literature, who insisted that the gas chambers in Auschwitz be examined to determine their validity. In 1988, he recruited Fred Leuchter to complete the task with his only credentials being that he was a self-proclaimed expert in the field of execution methods. If him being a self-proclaimed expert wasn’t red flag enough, surely the fact that it was execution methods he claimed to be an expert in should have been.  However, he returned with his findings reflecting that the gas chambers were false based on the engineering of them. From there, a slew of people denied the use or existence of gas chambers. Yet, upon further investigation, it turned out that Leuchters methods were unreliable and had no validity, thus further falsifying Holocaust deniers pillars of beliefs.Unlike other extraordinary beliefs, such as horoscopes or palm reading, the choice to believe in the claims of Holocaust deniers is not based in misinformation, but rather outright bigotry. Don’t get it twisted, those who believe in the denial of the Holocaust are delusional, but not in a way that cognitive contributions can fully account for. Not only is the evidence against their beliefs overwhelming, it clearly follows an agenda that is hateful and evil. There is a trail leading back to the root of each belief, which at first may have been understandable early on, but at this point it’s inexcusable.

There is an obvious social context here. As previously mentioned, the beliefs are based on a neo-Nazi agenda and came out of a time where discrediting Jews was essential to their political plan. Since then, Holocaust denial has been carried through the generations by those who have an interest in creating tension with Jews and would benefit from Jews losing their agency. Whether it be people who hate Jews for illegitimate reasons or people who seek to attack the foundation of the nation state of Israel, Holocaust deniers are bad news all around.What can be said about those who are Holocaust deniers is that they certainly fall victim to the confirmation bias. They seek out information and expertise that further asserts their claims as true. They may only trust sources that further enforce their agendas, however, they are in a very small minority of people who can deny a major historical event. In  the end Holocaust deniers beliefs, while may be perpetuated by misinformation or bias, is inherently derogatory and detrimental to Jews globally.

38 thoughts on “Holocaust Denial

  1. I liked the part in the blog where you discuss how these believers have a different agenda then just “believing the truth” because this extraordinary belief is fixed around a groups antisemitism agenda. Also, how people still supported the belief after the gas chambers were tested for there validity.

    • Hi Lauren,
      This is a great point. To me, there is so much evidence that it clearly existed, and if you are going to simply deny it then you are pushing some sort of an agenda rather than just believing the truth. It seems impossible that someone wouldnt believe it despite all of the evidence.

  2. I found this post very interesting and enjoyed reading it. I find Holocaust denial completely appalling and it is hard for me to believe that people actually strongly deny its existence. There are obvious social reasons for this, as you mentioned. I think this is a perfect example of an extraordinary belief that one would think would never occur. It is sad to me that despite vast evidence, people still deny this atrocity happened.

    • Jaclyn-
      Definitely. I would argue that people don’t deny the Holocaust because of compelling evidence or rather their firm belief it didn’t occur, rather their antisemitic beliefs. While I could say I am objective and unbiased, I feel so passionately about equality and fighting bigotry that it is hard for me to see it from any other side. The atrocities and discrimination faced by Jews is sickening, only to be further probed by negative rhetoric. It really is sad.

    • Hey Jaclyn,
      What do you think is the main social reason for holocaust denial? This is one of the beliefs that I am unable to fathom as well.

  3. Grace, I liked your comment about how Holocaust denial is when people ignore and try and argue the facts. That seems to be a running theme for a lot of things going on in this world. It is amazing to me how many people think that something did not happen or exists just by simply ignoring it. I thought you did a great job putting together all of your examples and explaining them well!

  4. I actually did my blog post on Holocaust denial as well and found this topic to be just as surprising and disturbing as it sounds. What shocks me is the platforms that well-known Holocaust deniers are given. There are countless amounts of journals, media, news networks, etc. that give Holocaust deniers spaces to speak and disseminate their misinformation. Internet forums and social media are huge outlets for these people and the more they can convene with other deniers and share their false information, the farther their message goes. That being said, your post is great and very informative!

    • Julia-
      It seems that we cannot escape the fact that anyone can have a platform these days. I feel like we see this with all kinds of radical groups and thoughts. Social media makes it easy to find a community and camaraderie, which is sometimes good but can also be detrimental, as it reinforces hate. I can’t help but feel like such online communities can easily prey on the weak minded and those seeking any kind of companionship.

      • I definitely agree that social media is a great source of finding an online community of people who share similar ideals. This can both be good and bad. For example, people who have a love of knitting can find groups of other people on social media who also love knitting, so they have a sense of belonging. Alternatively, there are hate groups flooded on social media who convene and reinforce each other’s ideas. It seems though that some social media sites have ways of reporting and deleting accounts that post hateful or offensive content, but other sites do allow hate speech to flourish, which is concerning.

    • Hey Julia,
      I completely agree. This is an extraordinary belief that goes against what we typically learn. What I mean by this is that usually we have little or no evidence, yet still believe it. In this case, we have a lot of evidence, and people dont believe it. Why do you think this case is extraordinary despite all of the evidence?

      • I truly think that anti-semitism plays a huge part in Holocaust denial. A lot of Holocaust deniers are anti-semitic and some are self-proclaimed neo-Nazis, so their ideals are stemmed in hatred for Jewish people. This includes invalidating their history and their experiences by claiming the facts of Holocaust are extremely inflated or cherrypicking information to reaffirm their hatred.

  5. Grace,
    I want to start by saying this is something I have never understand. It kind of goes against what we learn in class, in the sense that we learn about things that people believe with little or no evidence, while the holocaust has massive amounts of evidence, yet people don’t believe it. This is something that has always baffled me beyond belief. Especially because there are survivors out there and museums full of things from it. Who are these people that believe it? I dont understand how so much evidence can be ignored. It is completely contrary to what we are taught.

    • Charlie-
      My thoughts exactly! Like I said before, its extraordinary becasue they believe in spite of overwhelming evidence. I really don’t think its that they don’t believe the evidence, I think it’s a lot deeper. Its not rooted in science, evidence or anything of the such, it is bigotry. It is racism and oppression to deny someones experiences and their feelings. This is very different, I feel, than a lot of the other things we have learned about in class becasue it is far more inhumane to deny the Holocaust than to believe in Aliens.

      • Hey Grace,
        Thanks for the reply. I find it interesting and informative that it is deeper than evidence, and ends up bigotry. It truly is a form of racism and I have never thought of it that way. I agree it is far more inhumane. I cant even imagine how people who survived feel knowing there are disbelievers. Do you think as that generation passes everyone will believe in it who is born?

  6. Of all the extraordinary beliefs ever, this one is the silliest to me by far. When I say silly, I mean it is unbelievable to me that people would try to deny something such as the Holocaust: an extremely horrific, historical, and emotion-inducing event with a staggering amount of evidence to back it up. I see what you mean about this belief stemming from neo-nazis, though. That makes Holocaust deniers make a little bit more sense to me.

    • Thanks for reading! Yeah, nazis are truly evil people. This reminds me of the video we watched in class where those people confronted a man who lost his loved ones and said he was a liar and it was all made up, it’s disrespect on such an high level. How can you look someone in the eyes and deny an event that is th cornerstone of their pain? Unfathomable.

    • Hey Carissa,
      I never could understand who the people were who didnt believe in the holocaust. It makes sense that it is neo-nazis. Do you think that neo nazis will always be around? or is there generation dying off?

  7. I love the part in your blog post about Fred Leuchter because he really helped the extraordinary belief grow and provided some “evidence” for deniers. That is a complete appeal to authority because he claimed to be expert and the deniers did not question his methods. Which unfortunately created a belief that still exists to this day

    • Yes! I think that it is so dangerous to put people with a racist agenda or really any kind of alterior motives In places of power. Unfortunately, that is hard to control because here we have a freedom of speech and press which leads to anyone putting anything out there that they want. Some countries have banned this man and banned anyone from further spreading his work, a page we should take from their books!

    • Hey Dehria,
      Great point! Why do you think that Fred Leuchter had so much credibility? Is there any other examples of this within extraordinary beliefs that you can think of

  8. This belief really irritates me. The soldiers in WWII took pictures specifically for this reason. There is never enough proof you can provide most conspiracy theorists. They say everything is “fake” and or is done by the globalists. I really get agitated reading and hearing about holocaust deniers because it is so silly that this actually exists. Thank you for writing about it I truly enjoyed the read, I didn’t know that the deniers denied the existence of gas chambers that was mind boggling.

    • What blows my mind is how easily you can de-bunk their claims and provide all kinds of proof yet it is still a real belief. I think that anyone can deny anything if they want, but it’s truly people living in an alternative universe with alternative truths.

    • Hey Lucas,
      To me, conspiracy theorist are just as evil as people such as mediums or have these extraordinary beliefs. It makes no sense why you would want to de-bunk something like this. It is causing harm to other people the same way that others cause harm.

    • You make a great point in saying that there is never enough proof for most conspiracy theorists. They have a way of working around your proof or invalidating the sources/information in it. Their skepticism in trusting the government and belief that the government is brainwashing people will usually prevail over any evidence you can bring to them, especially when it comes to Holocaust denial.

  9. I really like this post! It was hard to read because the holocaust is something so terrible that occured and for people to believe that it didn’t, astonishes me. I truly believe the people who have this mentality are just racist and they are hiding behind these bizzare beliefs to actually cover up their bigotry.

    • Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if the people who believe this are alt-right folk and white supremecists. This seems the like the kind of belief that goes hand in hand with other blatantly racist beliefs and thoughts.

      • It would be so interesting to analyze Holocaust deniers and really get a personality assessment and a background of their views because I definitely agree with you, I am sure they are white supremacists and of course racists. Who knows, maybe they could even be criminals or some other crazy demographic that categorizes them into similar types of people.

      • Hey Grace,
        I agree. Do you think that most of the non-believers are white supremacist who are german? I am not trying to be racist by any means, I am just curious which race believes that it didnt happen the most!

        • Charlie,
          While I wouldn’t say that most of the non-believers are white supremacist who are German, I would guess that being a white supremacist and German definitely increases the chances that you don’t believe in the Holocaust.

        • I don’t necessarily think they’re all german, becasue there is variety when it comes to people who are anti-Semitics and racists. Lumping all Germans together based on a past experience would be unfair. Thats like saying all White Americans are racists and hate Black people because of slavery. While it was accepted for quite some time in the U.S., there were people who actively fought it and today, you don’t see every white American hating African Americans, though that racism is still alive in large pockets of the country.

  10. This extraordinary belief always amazes me in the number of people who actually believe it. It is so insensitive to the people who had to go through all those horrific events. There is so much evidence that it did occur especially with the mentioned gas chambers. I know people with extraordinary beliefs such as this one will look past dis-confirming evidence, but to the level that they do with this one is kind of unbelievable.

  11. I just don’t understand the sheer ignorance of people who deny the Holocaust. Where do they think all those people went? Sure, I can understand not wanting to believe that someone would successfully kill millions of people before being stopped, but the evidence is irrefutable. It hasn’t even been that long, I worry that if people deny and forget these events they may repeat again in the future. Every Holocaust denier needs kicked in the jaw.



  12. This is absolutely insane! There is so many substantial evidence that points to the Holocaust occurring, including testimonies from victims! It’s astonishing that they even can get the words “I do not believe the Holocaust happened” out of their mouth. I understand they want to push their agenda, and there are even Neo-Nazi’s today but just admit the bigotry and move on. They can’t just deny a huge event happened simply because they still don’t like Jews. Also, I’m sure not every Jew and their death was accounted for in the Holocaust. Why would the Gestapo is going to keep detailed records of what happened.

  13. I honestly did not know people like this actually existed. It’s appalling to think that there are people out there who can blatantly disregard the testimonies millions of people who have suffered through something so horrible and the incredibly substantial amount of evidence there is on the Holocaust. I completely agree with your point that there are not really any cognitive contributions to such beliefs but sheer bigotry. There is no other explanation to deny something like this that has been so widely studied and discussed and even taught in our school systems.

    • For sure! I think the scariest part about it all is that there are deniers now, despite real life accounts and testimonies of soldiers and victims from the Holocaust, so imagine when we live in a world with no survivors. I feel like at that point people may be able to further deny and and say that all “survivors” were planted and staged, or that they are making it up or something like that.

  14. Holocaust denial is one that really gets to me. I remember the first time I heard about people who denied it. I scoffed thinking it was a joke but nope! These people are for real. I have been to the Holocaust museum and have seen the shoes of the victims. There are doors from the gas chambers with scratches covering the inside from the suffering victims! there is zero reason to me that these people can even entertain the idea that the Holocaust did not happen. There are still survivors alive today! This one is definitely frustrating to me.

    • I also went to the Holocaust museum in DC when I was in 8th grade and it had a profound impact on me. Seeing the shoes and the gas chamber doors was a chilling experience, accompanied with videos and stories it was a lot to take in. It is essential to know our past so we can do better in the future and Holocaust deniers are not acknowledging the past which leaves them open to the possibility of repeating such horrendous events.

      • wow grace! that is so amazing that you were able to experience that. I have never been to a holocaust museum, i dont even think i would be able to handle it! But i agree that holocaust deniers do not want to accept things off the past and it is sad that with all these things- museums, shoes, chamber doors, they still ignore the evidence and hold on to their crazy and racist belief!

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