For every “fact” there will be some contradictory “fact” promoted as the truth. There will be always be those contradicting generally accepted history. In some ways, this is only natural, though it does give these ideas increased validity. “Holocaust revisionism” persists in some ways as this natural contradicting, but it represents something more than contrarian historians. Holocaust revisionism is, for many, synonymous with Holocaust denial or opposition to Israel’s existence. Regardless of what it represents or promotes, there exists a great chance that Holocaust revisionism may explode into wider belief and recognition. The consequences of this would likely entail even greater anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel.
Certain groups are already rather susceptible to accepting Holocaust revision. Radical Islamists, with their hatred of Israel and the West, have often been the purveyors of Holocaust denial. Fascist, nationalist, and anti-Semitic groups are also susceptible. With the existence of the Occupy Movement, combined with its rampant anti-Semitism, is perhaps the most susceptible for bringing Holocaust revision to a larger audience.
But radical groups no longer are the main purveyors of Holocaust revisionism. Al Jazeera has purchased the television channel Current TV. TheBlaze recently uncovered a man that might be broadcast on the new Current TV: Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Qaradawi is a Holocaust denier, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a fan of Hitler. Perhaps Qaradawi, if broadcasted, will camouflage his message. Regardless, Holocaust revisionism is something we conservatives must become acquainted with.
Holocaust revisionism is a strange term. While there is nothing wrong with critical thinking and skepticism—in fact, these are good qualities—this brand of revisionism takes it to strange places. In the United States, historical revisionism often means either Progressives re-writing and twisting history or others doubting the widely held historical beliefs. And these revisions, as everything, should be carefully examined and analyzed. But Holocaust revisionism is different than these sorts of historical “revision.” Holocaust revisionism is nearly synonymous with denial. Logically, although there must be some people through error or blindness claiming the revisionist moniker, the origins of revisionism lie in denial and conspiracy theories.
Holocaust revisionism began soon after World War II ended. The prominent revisionist thinkers’ (including Harry Elmer Barnes, Paul Rassinier, and Arthur Butz) revisionism appears to have stemmed from a dislike of the war or focus on Allied atrocities. We will also see this same pattern stemming from opposing the state of Israel. Harry Elmer Barnes consistently defended Germany, arguing they were the victim of a plotting British diplomat. Arthur Butz authored a book titled The Hoax of the Twentieth Century. Butz argued that the Nazis did not systematically slaughter Jews and the Holocaust was a product of a Zionist conspiracy. In both Barnes and Butz’s cases, we see their own views turning them away from reality.
One of the most important works of Holocaust revision is Richard Verall’s Did Six Million Really Die? The book’s thesis is the same as many other revisionists—the Holocaust was not as massive as widely-held, the Allies blew the Holocaust out of proportion to turn examination away from their own atrocities, and this exaggerated Holocaust justified the “oppressive” Israeli state. The work is important because it gained international attention. The Canadian Supreme Court tried the work’s publisher, Ernst Zündel.
Moving from books, the documentary Holocaust Revisionism for Beginners is also, in my opinion, significant. As a documentary, it shows potential for duping many into Holocaust revisionism, due to its style and presentation. David McCalden, the host, reveals nearly half-way through the documentary its true aim “…unless the Holocaust is debunked, I think that the world is heading for a World War III, which may well be the very last word war that this planet will experience…. My rationale for saying that is that the state of Israel seems to depend partly, or for a majority, of its existence on reparations from the West German government … the United States taxpayers are paying four-and-a-half billion dollars to … Israel … and that money goes to the state of Israel to build up their arms industry and to build up their military, so they will continue oppressing the Palestinian people and engaging in belligerent acts throughout the Middle East—which may very well spark off World War III.” McCalden goes on to blame the supposedly blown out of proportion Holocaust to bring Israel into existence. According to McCalden, if the Holocaust is “debunked,” then the state of Israel will be “de-legitimized” and the coming nuclear war will be averted.
It should be noted that McCalden and Richard Verall were part of the British National Front (a neo-fascist, nationalist, and racist British political party). Also of note, McCalden was vital in founding the Institute for Historical Review, an organization alleged to have neo-Nazis and Islamic extremist ties.
There is also something important that requires discussion. Many Holocaust revisionists turn attention away from Nazi atrocities and focus on Allied atrocities. An atrocity is an atrocity. The massacre at Nemmersdorf needs to be discussed. The bombing of Dresden commands debate. We should not forget when some Allied nations expelled roughly twelve million German (whether by citizenship or ethnicity) civilians from their homes outside Germany and Austria (with at least half a million dying). World War II was a tradgedy, with the Allies perpetrating deplorable acts. This should not turn attention away from the Holocaust or the German expulsion. Again, wrongdoings do not depend on nationality or allegiance.
There is nothing wrong with critically questioning, but by applying that same philosophy to Holocaust revisionism shows it to be incorrect. Holocaust revisonism’s objectives are not to be critical, but covertly advancing political goals and anti-Semitism. With Al Jazeera’s foray into American television, we conservatives need to be prepared for a possible new wave of anti-Semitism and Holocaust “revisionism.” I doubt that Al Jazeera’s commentators will be calling for exterminating Jews and idolizing Hitler, but they will find a way to get their message through. The Islamists will likely hide their Holocaust denial behind revisionism.
Anti-Semitism will never be eradicated, but it is imperative to remember the Holocaust. Holocaust revisionism not only increases the likelihood of widespread anti-Semitism but makes another Holocaust even more likely. One may dislike Israel, one may even agree with McCalden that they are “oppressive,” but that is no reason to alter history.
Christian Lopac | Wabash College | @CLopac