Lev Topor

Contemporary Holocaust Denial: Types and Trends


The Holocaust is not over. That is, the Holocaust was over in 1945, the allies won, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and others liberated mainly Jews from Nazi concentration camps. However, nowadays, in the twenty-first century there is still a significant battle between good and evil – the battle over Holocaust memory. It is a battle between those trying to teach truth about the past, so that the future will be brighter, and those trying to deny or distort the memory of the Holocaust, to whitewash themselves or to blame the Jews, again. In a few years the Holocaust will be less evident in our lives as victims, soldiers from the allied forces, prosecutors, and even perpetrators will no longer be alive, and it will become a truly “historical event” – an event we might read about in books but one that will be put away in our consciousness. Future generations will learn and care less about it. They might forget.

What might happen when people from around the world know less about the Holocaust and forget about it, or learn false information? The answer is simple – such an atrocity might happen again, either to Jews or to other groups of people. It is true that the Holocaust was over in 1945 but, the battlefield of memory is still burning. Nowadays, there are those who deny and/or distort the memory of the Holocaust for political reasons and/or antisemitic reasons. While some are just ignorant about the Holocaust, others vigorously promote ideas that the Holocaust did not happen in reality, in the scale it is generally presented, or that it was a Jewish invention, fictional or planned and executed.

Generally, Holocaust deniers are antisemitic and while some try to gain a palatable façade, like the ones behind the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH), others operate Dark Web sites or Telegram channels just to spread antisemitism and blame the Jews for inventing the Holocaust to downgrade Germany’s global presence, to create the state of Israel or to receive reparation payments. Their reach is worrisome as some Telegram channels, for instance, are viewed by hundreds of thousands of people yearly (like the “Holocaust Lies Exposed” channel or “Dissecting the Reich” channel). Overall, the reach can be calculated as millions of views a year (See, generally, data from my recent Phishing for Nazis book).  As people become more engaged in social media and cyberspace in general, this reach is worrisome since many will be radicalized and learn about the topic not from formal institutions that promote tolerance, but from antisemites that promote hate.

Contemporary Holocaust denial is not just fringe neo-Nazi propaganda but somewhat of an influence campaign. Holocaust deniers use disinformation and misinformation methods to influence and question the mainstream Holocaust memory narrative. They use websites, dark web sites, Telegram channels and other more traditional means of communication. Some even write entire books or publish pseudo-scientific journals to deny or distort the Holocaust (i.e., Holocaust Handbooks collection of denial books, Inconvenient History journal, CODOH). Content varies from books, articles, videos, audio recordings, illustrations, emojis and memes. All in the effort to whitewash national or group history and/or to blame the Jews for creating yet another conspiracy.

Thus, how will the Holocaust be remembered once it becomes a truly “historical event”? And how will Jews be treated by people from nations that attempt to whitewash their history? It is plausible to assume that Jews will be blamed for “inventing” another conspiracy against other nations and will be treated badly, again. This is the reason for us to resist those denying the Holocaust and to speak the horrible truth so that future generations will learn from past mistakes – that there once was an evil group that tried to annihilate another group, they failed, but now we must stop evil from rising again.

About the Author
Dr. Lev Topor is the co-author (w/ Prof. Jonathan Fox) of 'Why Do People Discriminate Against Jews?' Published by Oxford University Press in 2021 and the author of 'Phishing for Nazis: Conspiracies, Anonymous Communications and White Supremacy Networks on the Dark Web' Published by Routledge in 2023. Lev publishes scholarly works and reports on the topic of antisemitism, anti-Zionism, racism and cyber. Previously, Dr. Topor was a research fellow in ISGAP, in the Woolf Institute (Cambridge), in the CCLP (Haifa University) and in The International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem (Jerusalem).
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