The Holocaust was a horrible
chain of events that many living people experienced, but some people claim
it never existed. These people call themselves “revisionists,”
but are commonly labeled “Holocaust deniers.”
In many advanced countries,
including Australia, Austria, New Zealand, Germany, and the U.K., it is illegal
to deny the Holocaust existed due to anti-discrimination laws. Some revisionists
have even been sentenced for this; however, other countries believe such laws
violate free speech.
Revisionists come from many
different backgrounds (some are even Jewish), but most deniers are
anti-semitic, at least in private. Contrary to popular belief, many revisionist
leaders are well-educated. Revisionists are more numerous in North America,
where, unlike Europe, their parents and grandparents did not experience the
The first Holocaust revisionist
was Paul Rassinier of France. Before that, however, Alexander Ratcliff, of
Scotland, questioned the number of victims of the Holocaust in his 1945 article
in Vanguard, a London newspaper. One of the most famous modern revisionists
is David Irving, a British denier who sued Deborah Lipstadt, an American Holocaust
historian, for libel. Lipstadt won the case, which has been considered a victory
for the “truth” about the Holocaust.
Holocaust deniers claim
that the Holocaust was concocted by Zionists, or Jews who wanted a country
in their ancient homeland of Israel. The Zionists supposedly believed that
if other countries would feel guilty for the “genocide” of Jews,
their wishes for a homeland would be more likely to succeed.
Holocaust revisionists claim three things:
1. There were no gas chambers where Jews were murdered; instead, typhus and other diseases killed the inmates at prison camps.
2. The figure of six million people killed is too high a number. It is more like three million.
3. No governmental order was ever given for the extermination of Jews and deaths were an accidental by-product of the labor camps. The code words “special treatment” meant they wished to keep Jews alive, not kill them.
The reason revisionists
claim there were no gas chambers is because of a science experiment. Diesel
exhaust was let into a room where its effects on lice were observed. Humans
in the chambers typically died in thirty minutes, but in the experiment the
lice were alive for much longer. Some people believed this experiment to be
a proof that gas chambers could not have killed inmates, and therefore did
not exist. However, diesel exhaust alone did not kill people housed in the
gas chambers. A combination of low oxygen, diesel exhaust, high carbon dioxide,
medium carbon monoxide levels, crowding, and nitrogen all contributed to death.
Also, the killing time data contained unusual numbers and did not represent
the norm for the majority of time in the concentration camp.
Up until 1992, the official
figures for the number dead in Auschwitz totaled four million people. However,
that number was changed to 1.1 million. Revisionists argue that the total
dead should also be lowered by three million since one figure was lowered.
Suprisingly very few sources list the number of dead as four million, and
in the final count of deaths a figure of one million killed in Auschwitz was
used. This number came from mathematical subtraction, and from an estimate
by an SS guard stationed at Auschwitz. Thus, the figure of six million remains.
Many documents by Nazi officials
use the code word “special treatment” to mean the liquidation
of Jews. Other statements by SS prove that those words do indeed mean homicide.
These statements include:
1. During the Nuremburg trials, Eichmann, a Nazi commander, admits, “Special treatment was killing, everyone knew that.”
2. Kaltenbrummer, an SS commandant orders that “special treatment is to be limited to a minimum” to save lives.
3. At the Reich Security Office, the term “special treatment” is defined as “execution.”
4. Heinrich Himmler, the leader of proceedings of the Holocaust directed that special treatment be carried out by hanging.
5. An SS-Hauptsturmführer requests more gas vans so that Jews may be “treated in a special way.”
So, from inferences and outright statements, it has been concluded that “special treatment” meant extermination and was commonly ordered. Revisionists often point out instances where “special treatment” did not mean death, but there are very few of those instances.
There are proofs that each
Revisionist argument is untrue, yet many Revisionists ignore opposing arguments.
The tactic used here provides no alternative theory, only pokes hole in the
commonly accepted explanation. But there will continue to be deniers, and
to protect against the type of persecution faced during the Holocaust, we
must allow their free speech.
This site disproves specific arguments Holocaust deniers have. Good for someone who understands deniers and wants to learn more about their views on particular events, such as soap made from human remains.
This site provides a numbered list of basic Revisionist arguments and includes quotes of experts on both sides. Best for viewers who know nothing about Holocaust denial.
Sherman, Michael and Alex Grobman. Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It?. University of California Press. Berkeley. 2000.
Image taken by team. Original work found at Holocaust Center of Greater Pittsburgh.