Why Do People Deny the Holocaust?

Laura Mackenzie

2 mins

10 Jun 2018

Holocaust deniers are those who believe or claim that the Holocaust either did not occur full stop or that it did not occur to the extent that is commonly believed and supported by overwhelming historical evidence.

A favourite topic in certain conspiracy theorist circles, Holocaust denial has also been propagated on the world stage, most famously by the former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But whether the denial is occurring in an online forum conversation or in the speech of a world leader, the reasons given for why anyone would make up the Holocaust or exaggerate events is usually the same — that Jews did so for their own political or economic gain.

What do deniers base their claim on?

Hear from Laurence Rees, author of The Holocaust: A New History, on the History Hit podcast.

While it is difficult to dispute that Holocaust denial is based on anything other than anti-Semitism, deniers often point to common misconceptions about the Holocaust or areas where evidence is genuinely lacking to bolster their claims.

Read more: Where Did the Holocaust Take Place?

They make use, for example, of the fact that research on the extermination camps has historically been difficult because the Nazis themselves went to great lengths to conceal their existence, or that early news reports wrongly used images of Nazi prisoners of war alongside descriptions of the extermination camps.

But deniers also ignore the fact that the Holocaust is one of the best documented genocides in history and has been roundly and thoroughly discredited by academics.

Conspiracy theories about Jews

Hitler himself referred to a “Jewish campaign of lies”. Here, the Nazi leader is seen in footage featured in the film Operation Valkyrie: The Plot to Kill Hitler on HistoryHit.TV.

Meanwhile, the idea that Jews made up or exaggerated the Holocaust for their own ends is just one in a long list of “theories” that portray Jews as liars capable of misleading or controlling the entire global population.

Accusing Jews of lying was nothing new at the end of World War Two. Indeed, Hitler himself made several references to Jews lying in his manifesto, Mein Kampf, at one point suggesting that the general population was an easy victim for a “Jewish campaign of lies”.

Holocaust denial is a criminal offence in 16 countries but continues to persist today and has even been given new life in recent years by the rise of the so-called “alt-right” media.