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Nearly seventy-five years have passed since the end of World War II, and that is enough time for several generations to change. No matter how carefully and in detail historians, writers, and veterans who survived the war preserve the facts of the unjustifiable horror and tragedy of the six-year conflict, the memory is slowly waning. Many young people today are unaware of the events that their great-grandparents experienced. Nevertheless, what is most horrifying is not the disappearance of a bloody episode from human history, but a conscious denial of actual events. Some historians and archivists claim that there was no Holocaust as a phenomenon. From their positions, there are arguments in favor of that spreading rumors about the destruction of the Jewish people is dictated by conspiracy theories or lack of real data. This essay is aimed at discussing the phenomenon of the Holocaust, including from the position of opponents of the existence of this fact.
It is worth noting that almost immediately after World War II and the Nuremberg Trials, which condemned the Holocaust and other crimes of Nazism, publicists, doubting the criminal actions of Hitler’s army, began to appear. It is interesting to note that such anti-Semitic supporters have met with every generation: among the most significant figures are Arthur Butz, Florian Abrahamowicz, Katsuya Takasu, Robert Faurisson, and David Irving. Their views on the problem have not only become widely known to the world community but have also been publicly condemned.
It should be noted in advance that this section includes an official historical picture of this phenomenon. The Holocaust in the narrow sense represents the persecution and mass extermination of Jews who inhabited the German lands, the territories of Hitler’s allies, and the areas occupied during the war (“What was the Holocaust”). It was a long process of deliberate annihilation and suppression of European Jews.
The conflict resulting in the persecution of Jews in Germany began with acts of terror, a social and economic boycott, legal discrimination, and the expulsion of Jews of foreign origin who had settled in the country. Inspired by the fascist views of Adolf Hitler, the Reich policy was systematically pursued by the party apparatus, state, and public institutions in Germany with the active support of anti-Semitic authorities. The Holocaust was laid with a policy of racism as the central core of fascist and then neo-fascist ideology (Landau, p. 7). The consequences of the catastrophe, which took the lives of more than six million Jews, are critical to the present and future not only of this ethnic group but also of humanity as a whole.
The author of this essay’s opinion on this issue is unequivocal: there can be no justification for the Holocaust. It is inhumane, unethical, and cruel to people whose culture and worldview is different from the state. The fact that those in power and money can legally kill millions of people from their point of view and compel their subordinates that this is the norm is frightening. As a rule, history is cyclical, therefore, it is possible that one day, humanity will return to the horrors of ethnic extermination. However, that should not happen, hence it is crucial to remember and pass on memory to the next generations. Moreover, it is critical to stop the desire to distort or downplay the historical details of World War II. Ultimately, it is necessary to come to a situation where six-year events will guide all future people on how not to act.
The key argument of Holocaust opponents is to justify the actions of Hitler’s army. This is due to the desire to remove the guilt from the Nazis, exposing them to a better light than historians say. In other words, the denials were convinced that neither Hitler nor any other Nazi leader sought to eradicate Jews. Their position demonstrated the surprising view that there were no gas chambers and that the majority of the Jewish prisoners had died of epidemics, chronic illnesses, or lack of food. As a rule, the number of deaths cited is several times less than the actual one.
Opponents of the Holocaust expressed a more radical view: it was allegedly invented by Jews to receive compensation from Germany. As it is known, the victorious side is writing history, consequently, the endless trials of fascists could force the former Hitlerites to testify against themselves. When asked why many stories and photographs are circulating in society that claims to the Holocaust, deniers usually refer to the conspiracy theory (“Holocaust Denial”). Certainly, the basic constructions of denials do not stand up to any severe criticism. Moreover, their community itself has given up the most implausible speculation.
Motives of the deniers
The actual motive behind the justification of fascism most likely lies in the desire to reduce the level of own guilt. When World War II ended, many defeated representatives were eager to wash off criminals’ reputation, declaring that all accusations in their favor were lies (“Holocaust Denial”). There were isolated cases when a soldier of Hitler’s army did not understand or did not know, perhaps because of their youth and experience, what their hands commit horrors. The world knows the power of propaganda, which was flowing into the heads of the newly drafted soldiers. Nevertheless, this does not remove the gravity of the crime. Holocaust deniers were often also anti-Semitic supporters, neo-Nazis, and writers who made “sensational” confessions in the hope of easy media popularity and money. This, in turn, is fundamentally unethical, because the fame and name of a single figure are certainly not worth millions of unjustifiably killed people.
Irving v. Lipstadt
One of the most famous Holocaust deniers is the British writer David Irving, who has published many books with an alternative view of World War II. Irving v. Lipstadt is the most high-profile historical court case of the 20th century (Lewis Cline). In the early nineties, Lipstadt published a work on Holocaust denial, in which she called David Irving, an extremely dangerous falsifier. Unlike another no less prominent figures, Irving was more intelligent and more convincing. The court will later show that he was inclined to misrepresent historical facts and details, to paraphrase quotations in a way that would have been advantageous to the writer. It is well known that Irving regularly referred to unskilled specialists, ignored scientific articles, and official archives to make his version more reasonable (Lewis Cline). Moreover, in his hands was a dangerous instrument, his gift of persuasion, with which he could destroy the picture of reality for many readers.
Although Lipstadt’s words did not contain unjustified dislike or reproaches towards the writer, Irving decided to act as a plaintiff on libel charges. It is worth saying that it was a long four-year case, at the end of which Judge Gray issued the guilty verdict against David Irving. The man was subsequently identified as racist, forger, and anti-Semitic. This resulted in Irving losing all the authority he had in historical circles and being forced to pay court fees. In particular, the court sentence ordered Irving to pay £3 million in compensation, for which he sold the house and declared himself bankrupt (Lewis Cline). The defeat in court caused the writer to be banned from entering many countries. Despite these setbacks, David Irving continued to travel on lecture tours, including to the United States, spreading his views on the Holocaust and Jewish conspiracies. This led to an increasing number of supporters of his views, which is not uncommon in modern society. Politicians, artists, and history buffs can use this opinion to justify their inhumane views or to enforce criminal decisions.
Human history has known many armed conflicts and wars that have claimed millions of innocent people’s lives. World War II was brutal and violent in its implementation, as Hitler’s alliance was aimed at exterminating the Jewish people. More than six million Jews died in the course of its anti-Semitic policies, which is a historical fact. Nevertheless, some members of society doubt the existence of the Holocaust and try to justify fascism. One of the most prominent deniers, David Irving, continues to spread his views on the innocence of the Nazis even after the trial. Certainly, archival facts and details do not doubt the racist propaganda and actions of German soldiers. For this reason, there can be no justification for denying the Holocaust, and every such view must be considered in court.