Holocaust Denial - Examination of Claims

Examination of Claims

The key claims which cause Holocaust denial to differ from established fact are:

  • The Nazis had no official policy or intention of exterminating Jews.
  • Nazis did not use gas chambers to mass murder Jews.
  • The figure of 5 to 6 million Jewish deaths is a gross exaggeration, and the actual number is an order of magnitude lower.

Other claims include the following:

  • Stories of the Holocaust were a myth initially created by the Allies of World War II to demonize Germans. Jews spread this myth as part of a grander plot intended to enable the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and now to garner continuing support for the state of Israel.
  • Documentary evidence of the Holocaust, from photographs to the Diary of Anne Frank, is fabricated.
  • Survivor testimonies are filled with errors and inconsistencies, and are thus unreliable.
  • Interrogators obtained Nazi prisoners' confessions of war crimes through the use of torture.
  • The Nazi treatment of Jews was no different from what the Allies did to their enemies in World War II.

Holocaust denial is widely viewed as failing to adhere to rules for the treatment of evidence, principles that mainstream historians (as well as scholars in other fields) regard as basic to rational inquiry.

The Holocaust was well documented by the bureaucracy of the Nazi government itself. It was further witnessed by the Allied forces who entered Germany and its associated Axis states towards the end of World War II.

According to researchers Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman, there is a "convergence of evidence" that proves that the Holocaust happened. This evidence includes:

  1. Written documents—hundreds of thousands of letters, memos, blueprints, orders, bills, speeches, articles, memoirs, and confessions.
  2. Eyewitness testimony—accounts from survivors, Jewish Sonderkommandos (who helped load bodies from the gas chambers into the crematoria in exchange for a chance of survival), SS guards, commandants, local townspeople, and even high-ranking Nazis who spoke openly about the mass murder of the Jews.
  3. Photographs—including official military and press photographs, civilian photographs, secret photographs taken by survivors, aerial photographs, German and Allied film footage, and unofficial photographs taken by the German military.
  4. The camps themselves—concentration camps, work camps, and extermination camps that still exist in varying degrees of originality and reconstruction.
  5. Inferential evidence—population demographics, reconstructed from the pre–World War II era; if six million Jews were not killed, what happened to them?

Much of the controversy surrounding the claims of Holocaust deniers centers on the methods used to present arguments that the Holocaust allegedly never happened as commonly accepted. Numerous accounts have been given by Holocaust deniers (including evidence presented in court cases) of claimed facts and evidence; however, independent research has shown these claims to be based upon flawed research, biased statements, or even deliberately falsified evidence. Opponents of Holocaust denial have documented numerous instances in which such evidence was altered or manufactured (see Nizkor Project and David Irving). According to Pierre Vidal-Naquet, "in our society of image and spectacle, extermination on paper leads to extermination in reality."

Read more about this topic:  Holocaust Denial

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