No date in the calendar is more suitable to take on Holocaust Deniers than this day set aside to remember the attempt to obliterate Jews. Holocaust Remembrance Day is a time to recall that the greatest sin against Jews since the Holocaust is the advent of Deniers. They are an unyielding presence worldwide. How it must confound survivors that such refuse are given celebrity status among growing audiences.
France is foremost amongst vociferous Deniers. At the top of the pack is Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, the French-born offspring of a Cameroonian father and a local mother. At packed halls to cheering followers, he jests and mocks Jews and the Holocaust without let-up. Pouring sacks full of salt in unhealed wounds he makes fun of his twin targets to yelps of delight from his followers. He pulls no punches in raw broadsides against the six million dead.
M’bala M’bala’s invective spares none, whether a Holocaust survivor or a Jew born long after the end of World War II. Decades after the world learned of atrocities against Jews in the concentration camps, Dieudonne poked fun at Ilan Halimi, a Parisian Jew tortured then slaughtered by kidnappers only because he was Jewish. If they exhumed Halimi, the raging Denier said, they would find “my DNA in his asshole.” The audience laughed uproariously.
No matter how venomous or outrageously beyond the pale, the Deniers have a staying power fueled by age-old anti-Semitism. No amount of argument stills their hatred.
I gave a nationally televised speech at the National Archives in Washington, DC after my book was published titled, Our Crime Was Being Jewish. Before, during, and after my hour-long talk, neo-Nazis filled the screen with 2,790 vitriolic comments. One of them even emailed to denounce me for not mentioning “the Holocaust” of Palestinians, a canard that ignored the fact that the “final solution” was an attempt to annihilate every Jew. Breaking with a policy of refusing to engage these die-hard numskulls, we argued back and forth by email until I deleted all in disgust.
Supreme allied commander, General Dwight Eisenhower, made a special visit to Ohrdruf, the first concentration camp liberated by US forces, to see monumental evidence of atrocities. Then he wrote: “I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to propaganda.”
Deniers cannot answer the countless number of Jews branded for life with numbers tattooed on their forearms. Deniers cannot dispute the testimony of the Auschwitz commandant, Rudolf Hoess, who told the International War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg, before he was hanged, that an estimated 3,000,000 inmates were exterminated under his rule. That is contemporaneous evidence of barbarity on an unimaginable scale.
To deny the Holocaust is to deny accounts by survivors, filmed testimony on-site, archival records by the millions, and even the bewilderment and fury of those who saw it on liberation.
Dieudonne M’bala M’bala is a Johnny-come-lately in this epic of horrors. Who would you rather believe, those who lived through it, enemy documentation, and eyewitnesses when the gates were flung open, or a biracial Denier who would have been gassed and incinerated because of his color, had he not been fortunate to be born in 1966?
Anthony S. Pitch, author of Our Crime Was Being Jewish, is a former journalist in America, England, Israel, and Africa.