Antisemitism has existed for centuries and taken different forms. This is a very dangerous phenomenon as it often resulted in cruel pogroms and even legal persecutions. The ideas of antisemitism are spread in most countries and accepted and cultivated by millions of people. This contagious concept is even supported by multiple officials and, in some cases, by entire governments. One of the modern and most dangerous forms of antisemitism is the Holocaust denial theory. Many people genuinely believe that the generally accepted narrative that describes this horrifying man-made disaster is wrongful and exaggerated. They refer to various sources, which, however, are highly questionable. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze this issue and discuss reasons that lead to such misleading notions. The main purpose of this paper is to emphasize the necessity of the profound research on the causes of and the connection between antisemitism and Holocaust denial.
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Antisemitism is a complex phenomenon that exists throughout the world. Hostile attitudes and behaviors towards the Jewish people are present in multiple communities (“Anti-Semitism”). Antisemitism sometimes takes the form of religious propaganda that promotes faulty ideas of the inferiority of Jews. Another form of this phenomenon is political strategies that are aimed at isolating or oppressing them. Such an ideology generates various prejudices and stereotypes about the Jewish people.
Antisemitism has a long history, but no one can say when and where it began. As far as is known, Jews were marginalized in the Roman Empire. They were criticized and punished because they tried to retain their cultural and religious uniqueness. Jews accepted neither values nor lifestyles of societies in which they lived. Another well-known fact is that the Christian religion enhanced hatred towards Jews. They were perceived as people who crucified Jesus, though Romans were those who carried out the execution. Such misleading ideas led to the massive persecution against Jews in the middle ages. Jewish ghettos were established in many countries. Jews were even blamed for epidemic diseases as people believed that they poisoned drinking water reservoirs. Many of them had to convert to Christianity under threat of death or torture.
Afterwards, in the eighteenth century, when the Christian Church began to lose its influence, non-religious criticism of Jews took place. Aggression towards them was based on the idea that Judaism hindered progress as it were an orthodox religion. A new wave of antisemitism resulted in violent pogroms in which many Jews were injured or killed. Subsequently, such international outrage against the Jewish people regenerated into a new ideology that promoted the supremacy of non-Jewish white people. Supporters of this new form of antisemitism claimed that Jews were not a religious community but a biological race. This faulty concept reached its culmination in Nazi Germany when billions of Jews were put in extermination camps. This genocide was called Holocaust – systematic murders organized by the German government (“Introduction to Holocaust”).
The Nazis believed that they were a superior race, and Jews threatened their community. This was an appalling tragedy that greatly shocked the entire world. However, there is another popular concept that denies the existence of Holocaust. The followers of such an ideology strive to diminish public sympathy for the Jewish people and legitimacy of the State of Israel. They try to bring attention to certain aspects that fit their narrative. One of the most powerful instruments for the promotion of Holocaust denial is the Internet as it ensures anonymity and rapid circulation of information. Some of the major denial points are that the mass annihilation of Jews was not sponsored by the German government and did not even occur.
Therefore, some people believe that Holocaust denial is based on historical facts and more careful interpretation of the existing evidence. Many of them do not acknowledge that the main reason for such ideas is traditional antisemitism. Taking into consideration the above mentioned facts, the following research question was formulated to guide this project: Is antisemitism the only reason for Holocaust denial?
The discussion on this subject is highly controversial. Most people cannot even accept the idea that there might be any other interpretations of the facts that the multiple credible sources present. However, Holocaust deniers claim that the Nazis wanted to deport all Jews from Germany, and they did not have an intention to annihilate this religious community (“Holocaust Denial and Distortion”). Holocaust deniers are also convinced that extermination camps were not sponsored by the German government, and gas chambers did not even exist. In addition, they believe that the actual number of Jews that were murdered is considerably lower than it is widely acknowledged. However, specialists differentiate Holocaust deniers from historical revisionists as the latter apply scientific methods to challenge the existing narrative (Lobba 237). Meanwhile, the supporters of Holocaust denial neglect various historical pieces of evidence that do not fit their concept.
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Reflection and Purpose
I have been interested in this subject for many years. I have read various materials on antisemitism and Holocaust. Also, there are still many disputes regarding the matter. I have several Jewish friends who are very concerned about the history of antisemitism and its proper interpretation. However, I believe that every real-world issue is multisided, and thus all possible aspects should be carefully analyzed before making any conclusions. There are multiple sources that promote the generally accepted concept. Therefore, it is very necessary to pay particular attention to other opinions in order to either refute some wrongful ideas or support the rightful ones. However, the main reason for studying this subject is to demonstrate that the theory of Holocaust deniers is not based on real facts but is only driven by personal attitudes and emotions.
My Perspective and Opinion on the Issue
Based on my experience, I am convinced that Holocaust denial has no scientific ground. However, there is intense antisemitic propaganda that is aimed at disseminating such dangerous ideas. It was caused by an anti-German propaganda campaign that was established prior to and during the Second World War. Some of the first steps to promote Holocaust denial ideas were taken in the 1960’s. Several articles that described the conspiracy between Great Britain and Poland were published by German news agencies. However, the claims presented in these texts were questionable. Not only were they not supported by sufficient evidence but also contradicted the existed scientific works. Nonetheless, these publications are still perceived by Holocaust deniers as credible sources on which they base their theories. Therefore, I believe that such individuals deliberately neglect multiple works that oppose their views because they have some prejudices, which they cannot give up.
However, there are other more serious specialists who deny Holocaust. For example, the Institute for Historical Review is one of the leading research institutes that support such ideas (“Institute for Historical Review”). Also, some other educational institutes publish works that promote Holocaust denial. However, there are only a few professionals who apply scientific methods in such studies, and most of their colleagues argue their conclusions that are still based on biased perceptions.
The target audience of my project is mostly young people who are interested in the subject but cannot study large scientific works due to the complexity of the language and logical sequences used in such texts. I believe that this topic should be covered in a more accessible manner to attract a wider audience to the problem of antisemitism and Holocaust denial in particular. Young people mostly obtain information from media and social networks. However, these sources are often used as an instrument for political propaganda. In addition, young adults are easily influenced due to the lack of experience. Therefore, it is very important to elicit interest in the matter especially in this segment of the population. Also, I want to raise the question of a biased nature of implications made by most scholars who promote the ideas of the Holocaust denial theory. For this reason, another target audience of my project is professional researchers who work in this area but do not pay adequate attention to the negative effect of impartiality on the outcomes of their studies.
In conclusion, antisemitism is one of the most problematic issues that cause multiple international and local conflicts. The long history of this phenomenon reveals that it might be presented in various forms. The example of Holocaust denial clearly demonstrates the scale of the problem. Although scientific evidence to support the ideas of the Holocaust denial concept is not sufficient enough, heated arguments still occur throughout the world. Therefore, it is necessary to initiate in-depth research on the matter to cover its historical, political, religious, and socioeconomic aspects.
“Anti-Semitism.” ADL, Web.
“Holocaust Denial and Distortion.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Web.
“Institute for Historical Review.” SPLC, Web.
“Introduction to Holocaust.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Web.
Lobba, Paolo. “Holocaust Denial Before the European Court of Human Rights: Evolution of an Exceptional Regime.” European Journal of International Law, vol. 26, no. 1, 2015, pp. 237-253.