Holocaust Remembrance and Denial: Why the Issue Matters

On Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, a panel discussion was held as part of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme. “Rejecting any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, the General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/60/7) by consensus condemning ‘without reserve’ all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, whenever they occur” (see text here). The fact that these sorts of discussions still continue is vital to Holocaust studies, combatting antisemitism and preserving the memory of the victims, as their memory is under attack from Holocaust deniers.

It would seem impossible for anybody to deny the historical reality and great scope of the Holocaust, but it is a tentacle of modern-day antisemitism that thrashes wildly and is making more waves than ever before. According to ADL Global 100, 6% of Americans believe the Holocaust has been greatly exaggerated while 10% never even heard of it and 1% thinks that it is a myth. Small numbers? Yes. But overlooking that, Columbia University invited a known Holocaust denier and Jew-hater to lecture which speaks volumes about attitudes towards the Holocaust: apparently its historicity and scope is up for debate.

In 1993, Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, wrote Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, exposing the methods of Holocaust deniers and what ambitions drive them. She named names–one of them being David Irving, a historian and writer. He sued her and her publishers claiming defamation. Fortunately Lipstadt won the case and the judge found that Irving had “for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence” in order to portray Hitler “in an unwarrantedly favorable (sic) light” particularly in his treatment of the Jews. It was revealed that Irving had “significantly” misrepresented, misconstrued, omitted, mistranslated, misread and applied double standards to the historical evidence in order to achieve his ideological presentation of history. The court also found that Irving was an “active Holocaust denier; that he is antisemitic and racist, and that he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism. Irving’s associations with these groups, and Columbia University’s willingness to provide a platform for the postulation of this effluvium goes to show that these irrational ideas, as fringe as they are, seep through all strata of culture and academia.

Today there is still an assault on the memory of the Holocaust. So what exactly is the goal of Holocaust deniers? Dr. Lipstadt and her team describe it this way: “The goal of Holocaust deniers in the West is political – they want to rehabilitate Nazism and fascism in general and Adolf Hitler in particular – and to promote antisemitism and, at times, anti-Israel sentiment. Holocaust denial in the Arab and Muslim world seems to be driven primarily by the goal of undermining what is perceived to be a powerful justification for Israel’s existence.”

In the Middle East, 11% of the population believe the Holocaust is a myth; 14% claim they do not know, while 52% claim that it greatly exaggerated. In Eastern Europe, 22% percent say that the Holocaust is exaggerated. The assault on memory continues.

The United Nations War Crimes Commission, which was operational between 1943 and 1948, played a key role in helping prepare the groundwork to bring war criminals to trial after WWII. A copy of the records was given to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in July of this year. During a time when Israel’s legitimacy is attacked ferociously, antisemitism is on the rise, and Holocaust survivors are becoming fewer, it is important to remember and to stand against Holocaust denial, if only to avoid another one.

For details on the Lipstadt/Irving Case see the follwoing: and

You can also read the Judge’s trail judgment :

About the Author
Steven Ilchishin is an editor, researcher, and writer. Currently, he is working for an association that assists first responders in the USA and Canada.
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