Go tell someone who survived Auschwitz that the Holocaust didn't happen. Go tell someone whose entire family was obliterated. See what kind of response you get.

Above and beyond this, there are some more general ideological problems involved with the idea that the Holocaust didn't happen:

They have little to do with disputes about the number of people who were killed. During Stalin's regime, an estimated 30 million people were murdered, but not with the same brutal, bone-chilling efficiency exemplified by the Third Reich. (I am by no means condoning Stalin's actions in saying this, but only trying to make a larger point.)

One problem is that this idea trivializes the horrific nature of genocide--the systematic dehumanization and extermination of a group of people based on one shared characteristic of identity. Pick any characteristic you want.

Remember that Gypsies, homosexuals, Catholics, mental patients, academics, and political dissidents were also slaughtered by the Nazi regime.

Remember also, that genocide has occurred since the Holocaust. I refer you to Sins of the World.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."--George Santayana

There are several reasons for why people have denied the holocaust. Some have done it because they're neo-nazis. Others because they simply can't get it into their head that something like that could possibly happen in the wonderfully enlightened 20th century (these are the same people that don't blanch in horror when they hear of massacres in Uganda; they simply can't comprehend such a thing). Still, others do it because the holocaust is a major event in the world of the mainstream about which it is often trendy to gasp at in a collective horror, and hence, in an attempt to show their cool, rebel tendencies, disbelieve it.

As pointed out, in many countries it is illegal. Israel and Germany spring to mind (in the latter, it is also illegal to spread NAZI beliefs and so forth). I do not condone or support this one whit: the freedom of speech protects even the most repulsive and monstrous words there ever were. Making it illegal to speak such repulsive words--such as, say, speech about holocaust denial--is every bit as horrible and dangerous as making it illegal to speak of homosexuality, Judaism, or what-have-you.

Denying the holocaust tends to be a gross thing indeed, in both idea and actuality. It asks questions about the colors of smoke from ovens, what the ashes of bodies were used for, if corpses were used for the manufacture of soap. (my skin creeps) Deniers have also argued that the entire holocaust was a myth perpetuated for the sake of the state of Israel; that the testimony of witnesses (both the poor souls who were victims and that of the exterminators) is worthless because it is anecdotal; that there were not enough Jews in all of Europe to account for the number of deaths.

Surprisingly, sci.skeptic (at least when I was there) was the sight of periodic, ongoing flamewars between a few holocaust deniers and everyone else.

Many people have treated the holocaust as a sacred manner, and they have acted as though the discussion of some of its aspects is a desecration. That is a poor view (although I can understand it entirely when there are those who would have its memory eradicated altogether). The fact is, all events of the past are questionable, and a good many of them are sure to suffer from inaccuracy in our recordings. Revising some of their finer points should not be treated as sacrilege, but revising is a far cry away from denying.

Some (like tftv256) ask why the holocaust is continuously brought up, and he just suggests that sleeping dogs should be let to lie. There are many answers, more than I could even begin to offer. Mine is this: man does not change, and he is chillingly apt to repeat the past. The holocaust is one of those events that should be brought up and retold through the ages as a reminder of what was and what should not be ever again.

For the refutation of holocaust deniers and information on the holocuast, see the Nizkor Project: http://veritas.nizkor.org/

I feel obligated to post the URL to a site that purports that the holocaust didn't happen, though I cannot find a URL (what holocaust denial I've been exposed to has been on television and usenet, and a quick google search was fruitless) . Please /msg me if you have one.
A position, rather than an opinion as it is often referred to, that the accepted wisdom regarding the events of the holocaust is misguided, oversimplified or plain wrong.

Holocaust deniers range in their assertions anywhere from complete denial to more (pseudo)scientifically minded skepticism. Complete denial is usually put forth by neo-Nazis and other racial supremacists claiming that a systematic annihilation of people by the Nazis during WWII never happened at all, but rather was completely fabricated as a part of a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. At the other end of the spectrum there is the once-respected historian David Irving, who asserts variously that systematic murder did happen, but on a much smaller scale than is believed (thousands rather than millions) and that Hitler never knew of or condoned any of the actions leading up to it.

The established academic community tends to react very badly to claims such as these, and refuse to deal with their assertions in any well-organised manner. This of course lends the likes of Irving credence with the disgruntled and cause-hungry public that comprises much of the racial supremacy groups in the world, turning them into intellectual martyrs and reinforcing the belief in a Jewish conspiracy.

Why the whole holocaust denial thing is so centred on Jews I can't say. No one seems to get into enough of a lather over the systematic murder of Gypsies, homosexuals or the disabled to try and debunk its existence, a fact that rather serves to reinforce the impression that holocaust denial is a thing of racism rather than academic integrity. (On a side note, it's also a shame, because public opinion is not, in my opinion, well enough informed about the plight of these communities during WWII.)

My belief is that the holocaust deniers will survive the test of time, due to their effective debate techniques of hard-to-detect straw men and largely sentimental polemics, and that at some point in the future the story of WWII will be reviewed by keen young research students as a case of history being written by the winners. Because so much of the evidence was destroyed by the Nazi high command, and because the death camps themselves are being slowly revamped to look almost like pleasure grounds, there's no knowing how, ultimately, history will judge the holocaust.

I come from a family of Holocaust survivors. My mother was raised in Israel. My grandfather lost his wife and daughter in the Warsaw Ghetto, and my Grandmother lost her husband, parents, and sister - she jumped off the train to Auschwitz and was lucky enough to dodge the German bullets until she made her way to the relative safety of a former Polish boyfriend's house in Warsaw. One of the things that amazes me is that the Holocaust is one of the most important historical events which is constantly being "denied." Most people wouldn't deny that the Turks slaughtered Armenians before WWI or that US Cavalry Troops massacred Native Americans. No one denies that the Tutsi in Rwanda killed the Hutu. Why then do people run around denying the Holocaust?

Part of it stems from the very accusations made against Jews in the first place (and this is what makes denying the Holocaust so reprehensible) - the belief that there is a secret Jewish media conspiracy to control the world, and that Jews manipulate Western public opinion in order to get their way. Those types of accusations were being leveled at the Jews during World War II and are even to be found in Mein Kampf. This being one of the main accusations that anti-semites make against Jews, it stands to reason that those dastardly Jews would make up such a horrifying event in order to profit from world opinion, wouldn't it? This is similar to the accusation that the Jews really blew up the World Trade Center in order to get the US firmly on the side of Israel.

There's as much historical evidence of the Holocaust as anything that happened this century - German records, Austrian records, US army films, eyewitness testimony, including that of Germans (look for instance at Claude Lanzmann's excellent documentary "Shoah" where he interviews SS guards as well as survivors) - in fact, there may be slightly more evidence than that of most historical events, because the people at the time knew that they were witnessing something amazing. (If you go into the US Holocaust memorial, the first exhibition is a clip of General Eisenhower saying that he ordered Dachau to be filmed immediately by the US Army Corps of Engineers because otherwise "people would say that things like this just don't happen.") Or just go to any good library and read a transcript of the Nuremberg trials. Why, then, is this even targeted for non-occurence more than others? Because of the same belief system that helped the Holocaust occur in the first place - the belief that the Jews are a shadowy power, able to create what would be a hoax wildly out of proportion of any hoax in the world.

I am normally not a fan of political correctness but let me tell you - tolerating denials of other people's tragedy backed up by a mountain of evidence has a very harmful effect of the people who went through that tragedy. Being Jewish, and wrestling with the Palestinian problem, the constant attacks on Israel in the media, etc. most people wonder whether or not we should be more/less in favor of peace, etc. Some Jews even wonder whether or not we can trust any non-Jews at all. Get close enough to a Jew and he may even tell you that because of the Holocaust, almost every Jew is ready to pack his bags and flee, no matter where he may live. People denying large portions of our history in the name of "free speech" or "not being politically correct" is something personally harmful to every Jew. It would be as poisonous and ugly as going to an African American and saying, "you know, slavery wasn't really a bad institution for blacks" or telling a Native American, "sure you were slaughtered but YOU attacked us". In fact, it is a form of being utterly impolite. It makes us paranoid and irrational at times, and is pretty much a sin. Criticize Israel for whatever event you want, say whatever you want to about Jewish history, but to deny the obvious - that millions of us were massacred in Europe because we were accused of secretly running the world, which we obviously were not doing - is a sin. And I for one, am surprised that any church would specifically invite anyone in order to get up on the pulpit and sin in public. I would tell you that such a person belongs in a Satanist Church, but honestly, I wouldn't want to insult Anton Szandor LaVey.

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