MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

Holocaust and genocide denial after the war

The process of covering up and denying the crime of genocide, which began during the war, continued afterwards and is still going on today.

The apologists of Nazism have taken on this role for ideological, political, and commercial reasons. There is no need to add that the people who deny German crimes state that their only motivation is the desire for historical truth, and that they are defending the honor of the German people—thereby equating the war criminals with the German people.

Those who attempt to attribute patriotic motives to the collaborators with the German war criminals, while negating the crimes committed by these collaborators and portraying them in an honorable light, are acting in a similar way.

In its ideological aspect, the denial of the Holocaust of the Jews is a symptom of the continuing viability of antisemitism in some segments of society. This denial takes various forms: from literature, through the mass media, to films and art. The literature that denies the Holocaust and genocide sometimes takes the form of pseudo-scientific studies furnished with scholarly apparatus in the form of footnotes, extensive bibliographies, and indexes, intended to create an impression of credibility and full objectivity. More frequently, however, these are essays dripping with irony, sarcasm, and mockery. This kind of denial arises out of a certain world-view based on prejudices, xenophobia, and nationalism. People with such attitudes deny the Holocaust and genocide because these facts can serve as sources of spiritual and political empathy with the Jews—even though the deniers themselves know that the Holocaust took place and, what is more, approve of the Holocaust because they regard it as justified by the “guilt” of the Jews.

In its political aspect, Holocaust denial aims at rehabilitating fascism and autocracy as real alternatives to democracy. The apologists for fascism and autocracy (especially in the totalitarian version, where it dominates all aspects of public and private life) are aware that they will never have any chance of gaining public support as long as people associate fascism and autocracy with the Holocaust.

Because they regard the continuing presence of antisemitism as a source of support for their efforts, the deniers often take great pains to ignore all the other cases of genocide that affected non-Jews—such as, for instance, the tens of thousands of Germans murdered in the gas chambers as part of the so-called euthanasia campaign.

Finally, there is a third motivation for Holocaust denial: the commercial one. The producers and distributors of denial books, leaflets, and video and audio material make very good money from their trade. Part of the profit comes from sales, and part comes from donations from sources that may be overt, but are often anonymous.