What is Holocaust denial?
Holocaust denial refers to claims that the mass extermination of the Jews by the Nazis never happened; that the number of Jewish losses has been greatly exaggerated; or that the Holocaust was not systematic nor a result of an official policy; or simply that the Holocaust never took place. The Nazis were the first to try to conceal or destroy evidence of the Holocaust. A Frenchman named Paul Rassinier later stated that only 500,000 to one million Jews died during World War II, mostly due to bad physical conditions and gradually-not systematically at the hands of the Nazis. Other pseudo-scholars and "revisionist historians" have followed suit. With the advent of the Internet, Holocaust deniers have used this medium to spread their messages of hate, Many websites, established by them or by related groups such as white supremacists, offer their skewed version of events.
What evidence is there that the Nazis gassed their victims?
Death camp gas chambers were the primary means of execution used against the Jews during the Holocaust. The Nazis issued a directive implementing large-scale gas chambers in the fall of 1941 but, by then, procedures facilitating mass murder, including the utilization of smaller gas chambers, were already in practice. Before their use in death camps, gas chambers were central to Hitler's "eugenics" program. Between January 1940 and August 1941, 70,273 Germans - most of them physically handicapped or mentally ill - were gassed, 20-30 at a time, in hermetically shut chambers disguised as shower rooms.
Meanwhile, mass shooting of Jews had been extensively practiced on the heels of Germany's Eastern campaign. But these actions by murder squads had become an increasingly unwieldy process by October 1941. Mobile gassing vans, using the exhaust fumes of diesel engines to kill passengers, were used to kill Jews at Chelmno and Treblinka starting in November 1941. At least 320,000 Chelmno prisoners, most of them Jews, were killed by this method; a total of 870,000 Jews were murdered at Treblinka using gas vans and diesel-powered gas chambers.
Gas chambers were installed and operated at Belzec, Lublin, Sobibor, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau from September 3, 1941, when the first experimental gassing took place at Auschwitz, until November 1944. Authorities have estimated that these gas chambers accounted for the deaths of approximately 2 to 3 million Jews.
Why are people who question the "Holocaust" accused of being anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi?
The murder of six million Jews in World War II is the best-documented crime against humanity in history. There is an abundance of documentation - most of it courtesy of the Nazi state - concerning the planning and execution of this atrocity. There is also a large amount of film and photo material of the liberation of the concentration camps, mass graves being uncovered, and there are countless eyewitness accounts, including many from Holocaust survivors. In the face of all this, Holocaust-denial always has political motives. It is frequently used to attract new followers to neo-Nazis.
Researchers and academics have amassed hundreds of examples that show a direct correlation often exists between Holocaust-denial and anti-Semitism or Nazism. For example, the main Holocaust-denial outfit in the United States, the Institute for Historical Review, is headed by Greg Raven, who in 1992 stated publicly that Hitler was "a great man...certainly greater than Churchill and FDR put together...about the best thing that could have happened to Germany."
It is interesting to note that while hundreds of world-renowned historians have researched the Holocaust over the past few decades, none has subscribed to Holocaust-denial theories.
Why is it a crime in most European countries to deny the Holocaust?
Holocaust denial is a crime in European countries, because it is considered an incitmenet to discrimination, violence, racism and xenophobia. A person who says that the Holocaust did not exist, given all the court cases, all the monuments and museums, all the memoirs and films, is alleging a fraud on a massive scale. Holocaust denial, by its very nature, is an allegation of massive fraud. The United Nations Human Rights Committee in 1996 in the case of Robert Faurisson wrote about Holocaust denial that: "It is implied, under the guise of impartial academic research, that the victims of Nazism were guilty of dishonest fabrication." Since Holocaust denial is nothing more than a form of incitement to hatred against Jews, making it a criminal offence makes sense.
Why is Holocaust denial so widespread in Arab and Muslim countries?
The recent rise of Holocaust-denial in the Muslim world could be attributed to increasing state sponsorship, the spread of radical Islam, and the aggravation of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Holocaust denial regularly occurs throughout the Middle East-in speeches and pronouncements by public figures, in TV programs on state-run television stations, in articles and columns by journalists, and in the resolutions of professional organizations. The main tenet of Holocaust denial-that Jews invented the Holocaust story in an attempt to advance their own interests-appears to be an increasingly accepted belief for many people in Arab and Muslim states.
The Arab and Muslim perception of the Holocaust has never been monolithic, and has often been influenced by the turn of events in the Arab-Israeli conflict. In some cases, Holocaust denial is actively sponsored by national governments, such as Iran and Syria. In other Middle Eastern countries, however, denying or minimizing the extent of the killing of Jews during World War II has been adopted by opposition parties and dissident factions that oppose attempts at normalizing relations with Israel or the United States.
How was Holocaust denial "imported" to the Muslim world?
Although Holocaust denial first surfaced in the Arab world in the 1970s, it was not until the 1990s that Holocaust denial became prevalent in popular media throughout the Middle East. Among Holocaust deniers in the West, Roger Garaudy, a former French communist intellectual who converted to Islam, has been influential in spreading Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic literature in the Muslim world. Garaudy was hailed as a hero throughout the Middle East when he faced prosecution by the French government for inciting racial hatred.
One of the most important signs of the growing ties between Western Holocaust deniers and the Arab world came to light in December 2000, when the U.S.-based Institute for Historical Review announced that its fourteenth revisionist conference would take place in Beirut, Lebanon, in early April 2001. Many Arab intellectuals were outraged and openly protested. The conference was eventually banned by the Lebanese government. In the 2006 conference on Holocaust in Tehran, organized by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, key speakers included European and American deniers such as former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, discredited academics, and several white supremacists.
What do Muslims gain in denying the Holocaust?
Nothing, but by denying a human catastrophe Muslims undermine their own self-esteem and moral values. No legitimate cause or agenda can ever be advanced by denying or belittling the immense human suffering caused by the murder of millions of Jews and other minority groups by the Nazi regime and its allies during World War II. Cynical attempts to use Holocaust denial as a political tool in the Middle East conflict will only serve to deepen the level of mistrust and hostility already present in that troubled region.