The Truth Behind Holocaust Denial And How To Fight It


Tyler Johnson, Editor-in-Chief

Slider image by Tyler Johnson.

There has been yet another case of Holocaust denial in the U.S. following a rising trend worldwide. On Dec. 1, 2019, National Louis University located in Chicago fired a faculty member after a marketing assignment that included a question on double negatives that asked: “Does it seem possible or does it seem impossible to you that the Nazi extermination of the Jews never happened?” Holocaust denial is not new, but what is it and what causes it?

Holocaust denial is the attempt to disavow the Nazi genocide of European Jews either through denial or revision, and it is an established form of anti-Semitism. The “Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity” defines Holocaust denial as “a new form of anti-Semitism, but one that hinges on age-old motifs.” These motifs include the idea that Jews are evil, manipulative, and are conspiring to take over the world. Common forms of Holocaust denial include: Gas chambers were not used to exterminate Jews, the figure of 6 million Jews being killed is an exaggeration, and that the Holocaust is a myth created by Jews so that a Jewish homeland could be created in the state of Palestine.

Holocaust deniers believe that the Holocaust did not occur, and instead that it is a myth made up to ensure “a Jewish homeland could be created in the state of Palestine.” Photo by Tyler Johnson (section of the Warsaw Ghetto Wall).

Anti-Semitism is by no means new. It has existed for over 1,000 years, and Holocaust denial is just a new way for people to express their hatred of Jews. However, people who deny the Holocaust fall under a category of their own. Beside the fact that denying the Holocaust is abhorrent, denying the extermination fans the flames that caused it to happen in the first place: Anti-Semites hating Jews for being different from them. They use Jews as a scapegoat for their life troubles, shouting their ideology at the masses with tiki torches in hand, and proudly waving their arms in Nazi salutes.

It cannot be overstated that Holocaust deniers or anti-Semites are just indignant, disenfranchised people from society who are angry because of their socioeconomic status, but they also include politicans and other prominent figures who have the public ear. People like Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Patrick Buchanan, who served as White House Communications Director under President Reagan, and David Duke, a former Louisiana State Representative as well as the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) all, in one form or another, deny the Holocaust.

According to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Global 100 Index, two out of every three people surveyed have never heard of the Holocaust or do not believe the historical accounts to be accurate. Also, according to the same survey, less than half of those surveyed under the age of 35 have ever heard of the Holocaust.

“It is an intentional manipulation by intelligent people over ignorant people with an open mind,” says Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy’s (HBHA) Head of School, Adam Tilove. “There’s a whole world of ignorant people willing to give up their responsibility for thinking…This is the threat of Holocaust denial.”

As Jews, as human beings, we simply cannot accept these statistics or the fact that there are people throughout the world denying the murder of 6 million of our Jewish brethren. 

Typically, in times of strife, Americans can turn to the president for moral guidance. But clearly, President Donald Trump and his administration have shown where they stand on the issue. On Jan. 27, 2017, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the statement issued by the White House did not contain any mention of Jews or anti-Semitism whatsoever, even though former Presidents Barack Obama’s and George W. Bush’s statements had mentions of Jews and anti-Semitism. Rather, former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks said in a statement to CNN that “despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered.” 

That same year, on Aug. 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Va. a white supremacist and neo-Nazi Unite the Right rally took place, and a white supremacist plowed his car thorough a crowd of counterprotesters, killing 34-year-old Heather Heyer. In his statement to reporters that same day, President Trump said: “I think there is blame on both sides,” meaning there was both blame on the white supremacist protestors and the group of counterprotestors there to stand against them.

It is obvious that we cannot look to our current leadership for advisement, so we must take it upon ourselves to be a force for good to fight Holocaust denial, and with it, Holocaust denial as anti-Semitism. 

At HBHA, Holocaust education is embedded into our school’s curriculum, and junior and senior students on the biennial Jewish Heritage trip travel to Germany and Poland to visit sites there; just learning about the Holocaust is not enough. We have to not only be willing to learn about the Holocaust, but educate others about the Holocaust as well. 

“Part of what we have to do here as a Jewish day school is to be guardians of the facts,” Tilove continues. “There’s going to be people who just don’t know, and if [we] aren’t there to fill in the blanks, somebody else will.”

In order to attempt to combat this wave of anti-Semitism, education of both students and the community plays a crucial role. Photo by Tyler Johnson.

Dennis Krolevich, a sophomore at HBHA echoes Tilove’s sentiment “11 million deaths are not worth glossing over, therefore I think we should value the quality of life and understand how devastating an uprising of fascist powers affected Europe, America, and Eastern Asia…I believe that this connects the Holocaust to the power of fascist leadership and how authoritarianism started WWII.”

Holocaust denial must be made a priority for us to fight and prevent. We must band together against it, because if we don’t, we are both allowing and sentencing the world to another event like the Holocaust to happen once again. 


*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of HBHA’s student publication. The editorial student staff of the “Rampagewired” places the highest value on student-run journalism and responsible, free expression.*