A Global Campaign
Holocaust Denial and Holocaust Distortion: An Introduction
Holocaust denial and distortion are harming our democracies. Understanding what Holocaust denial and distortion are, how they differ, and where they overlap is crucial to countering these dangerous trends and to protecting democracy.
A Brief History of Holocaust Denial and Distortion
Holocaust denial and Holocaust distortion are not new. Knowing the history of Holocaust denial and distortion—from the Nazi era to today—can help us better recognise when these tactics are being employed. This can help prevent us from believing and spreading such disinformation, which harms democracies and threatens open, pluralistic societies.
Debunking Inappropriate Holocaust Comparisons: The COVID-19 Yellow Star
Often fuelled by rumours, disinformation, and conspiracy myths, opposition to measures against the coronavirus has grown, moving from the fringes of society and closer and closer to the mainstream. These movements have impacted more than just public health.
Over 75 years after the end of the Second World War, Holocaust memory is under threat.
Amplify Our Message
Holocaust distortion benefits from a general lack of awareness. Help spread the message about this urgent problem and encourage others to #ProtectTheFacts.
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What is Distortion
At its simplest level, Holocaust distortion is rhetoric, written work, or other media that excuse, minimise, or misrepresent the known historical record of the Holocaust.
Intentional efforts to excuse or minimise the impact of the Holocaust or its principal elements, including collaborators and allies of Nazi Germany.
Gross minimisation of the number of victims of the Holocaust in contradiction to reliable sources.
Attempts to blame the Jews for causing their own genocide.
Statements that cast the Holocaust as a positive historical event suggesting that it did not go far enough in accomplishing its goal of “the Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”
Attempts to blur the responsibility for Nazi Germany’s establishment of concentration and death camps by blaming other nations or ethnic groups.
Accusing Jews of “using” the Holocaust for some manner of gain.
Use of the term “Holocaust” to reference events or concepts that are not related in any meaningful way to the genocide of European and North African Jewry by Nazi Germany and its accomplices between 1941 and 1945.
State-sponsored manipulation of Holocaust history in order to sow political discord within or outside a nation’s borders.
Trivialising or honouring the historical legacies of persons or organisations that were complicit in the crimes of the Holocaust.
The use of imagery and language associated with the Holocaust for political, ideological, or commercial purposes unrelated to this history in online and offline forums.
Distortion is Dangerous
Holocaust distortion makes us lose sight of our fundamental democratic values. It harms efforts to foster pluralistic, open societies.
When left unchallenged, Holocaust distortion allows antisemitism to inch towards the mainstream. History has taught us what can happen when antisemitism is normalised.
The Holocaust was the attempt by Nazi Germany and its collaborators to murder the Jews of Europe. During the six years of World War II, systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored and government-organised persecution and oppression resulted in the deaths of six million European Jews from across the continent. Learn more.
Despite this, Holocaust denial and distortion are on the rise.
Holocaust distortion can be found in all corners of society, from the media to politics and across the ideological spectrum. Countering it requires all of us to act.
Holocaust distortion doesn’t stop at national borders, nor is it found only in one language. International cooperation is essential to countering it.
Protect the Facts is an international initiative of the European Commission, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), the United Nations, and UNESCO, who have joined forces to raise awareness of Holocaust distortion – both how to recognise it and how to counter it.
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“Memory has its own language, its own texture, its own secret melody, its own archaeology, and its own limitations; it too can be wounded, stolen, and shamed; but it is up to us to rescue it and save it from becoming cheap, banal, and sterile. To remember means to lend an ethical dimension to all endeavors and aspirations.”
Elie Wiesel, 2003