Criticism of Holocaust denial

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Criticism of Holocaust denial is directed against people who claim that the genocide of Jews during World War II in the Holocaust[1] did not occur in the manner or to the extent described by reputable scholarship. Key elements of such claims are the rejection of any of the following:

  • That the Nazi government had a policy of deliberately targeting people of Jewish ancestry for extermination as a people;
  • That between five and seven million Jews[1] were systematically killed by the Nazis and their allies;
  • That genocide was carried out at extermination camps using tools of mass murder, such as gas chambers.

[2][3] The methodologies of Holocaust deniers are based on a predetermined conclusion that ignores extensive historical evidence to the contrary.[4]

Criticism of methods used by Holocaust deniers

A number of parties have challenged Holocaust denial claims as being based upon flawed research, biased statements, and deliberately falsified evidence.[5][6] Courts of law have also rejected Holocaust denial claims (see Fred A. Leuchter and David Irving) and passed several laws against holocaust denial in 14 European countries. The Nizkor Project, a group opposed to Holocaust denial claims, analyzes these claims for instances where the evidence used by Holocaust deniers has been altered or manufactured.[7][8][9]

Hitler's involvement


Critics of Holocaust denial assert that there is much material which shows that it is unreasonable to claim that the absence of a written order means there was no policy of genocide. These include sources which reveal Hitler's desire to eradicate Jewry, and that the order to do this when he attained power did indeed originate from him.[10]

In a letter dated 1919 Hitler mentions that part of the ultimate aim of a strong national government must "unshakably be the removal of the Jews".[11][12]

In 1922 Hitler told Major Josef Hell (a journalist at the time):

Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews. As soon as I have the power to do so, I will have gallows built in rows—at the Marienplatz in Munich, for example—as many as traffic allows. Then the Jews will be hanged indiscriminately, and they will remain hanging until they stink; they will hang there as long as the principles of hygiene permit. As soon as they have been untied, the next batch will be strung up, and so on down the line, until the last Jew in Munich has been exterminated. Other cities will follow suit, precisely in this fashion, until all Germany has been completely cleansed of Jews.[13]

On 21 January 1939 Hitler spoke with František Chvalkovský and said:

We are going to destroy the Jews. They are not going to get away with what they did on 9 November 1918. The day of reckoning has come.[14]

On 30 January at the Sports Palace in Berlin, Hitler told the crowd:

And we say that the war will not end as the Jews imagine it will, namely with the uprooting of the Aryans, but the result of this war will be the complete annihilation of the Jews.[15]

In Mein Kampf, Hitler argued that a war against Jews would have saved Germany from losing World War I:[16]

If at the beginning of the war and during the war twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the people had been held under poison gas, as happened to hundreds of thousands of our very best German workers in the field, the sacrifice of millions at the front would not have been in vain.[17]

In the following widely cited speech made on January 30, 1939, Hitler says to the Reichstag:

Today I want to be a prophet once more: if international Jewish financiers inside and outside Europe again succeed in plunging the nations into a world war, the result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth and with it the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe![18][19][20]

Hitler's choice of language in German in the final phrase of this passage is "die Vernichtung der jüdischen Rasse in Europa" - unambiguously meaning "the extermination [or annihilation] of the Jewish race in Europe."

Order and responsibility

In a draft of an internal memorandum, dated September 18, 1941, Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler wrote that "[i]n principal the Fuehrer's time is no longer to be burdened with these matters;" the memorandum goes on to outline Himmler's vision, including "The delivery of anti-social elements from the execution of their sentences to the Reich Fuehrer of SS to be worked to death. Persons under protective arrest, Jews, Gypsies, Russians and Ukrainians, Poles with more than 3-year sentences, Czechs and Germans with more than 5-year sentences [...] First of all, the worst anti-social elements amongst those just mentioned are to be handed over; I shall inform the Fuhrer of this trough [sic] Reichsleiter Bormann."[21]

Nevertheless, and in contrast to the T4 euthanasia program, no document written or signed by Hitler ordering the Holocaust has ever been found. Deniers have claimed that this lack of order shows genocide was not Nazi policy.

When David Irving unsuccessfully sued Deborah Lipstadt for libel, he considered that a document signed by Hitler ordering the 'Final Solution' would be the only convincing proof of Hitler's responsibility, yet was content to accuse Winston Churchill responsible for ordering the assassination of General Sikorski, despite having no documentary evidence to support this claim. Mr Justice Gray concluded that this was a double standard.[22]

Historians have documented evidence that as Germany's defeat became imminent and the Nazi leaders realized they would most likely be captured and brought to trial, great effort was made to destroy all evidence of mass extermination. Heinrich Himmler instructed his camp commandants to destroy records, crematoria, and other signs of mass extermination.[23] As one of many examples, the bodies of the 25,000 mostly Latvian Jews whom Friedrich Jeckeln and the soldiers under his command had shot at Rumbula (near Riga) in late 1941 were dug up and burned in 1943.[24] Similar operations were undertaken at Belzec, Treblinka and other death camps.[23] In the infamous Posen speeches of October 1943 such as the one on October 4, Himmler explicitly referred to the extermination of the Jews of Europe and further stated that the genocide must be permanently kept secret:

I also want to refer here very frankly to a very difficult matter. We can now very openly talk about this among ourselves, and yet we will never discuss this publicly. Just as we did not hesitate on June 30, 1934, to perform our duty as ordered and put comrades who had failed up against the wall and execute them, we also never spoke about it, nor will we ever speak about it. Let us thank God that we had within us enough self-evident fortitude never to discuss it among us, and we never talked about it. Every one of us was horrified, and yet every one clearly understood that we would do it next time, when the order is given and when it becomes necessary.

I am now referring to the evacuation of the Jews, to the extermination of the Jewish people.[25][26]

Historian Peter Longerich states that Hitler "...avoided giving a clear written order to exterminate Jewish civilians."[10] Wide protest was evoked when Hitler's authorisation of the T4 program became public knowledge in Germany, and he was forced to put a halt to it as a result (nonetheless it still continued discreetly).[27] This made Hitler realise that such undertakings must be done secretly in order to avoid criticism. Critics also point out that if Hitler did sign such an order in the first place, it would have been one of the first documents to be destroyed."[10]

Felix Kersten wrote in his memoirs that after a discussion with Himmler, the SS-Reichsführer revealed that the extermination of the Jews was Hitler's express order and had indeed been delegated to him by the Führer.[28]

According to Nazis

Many statements from the Nazis in 1941 addressed the imminent extermination of the Jews.[29]

In a draft of an internal memorandum, dated October 25, 1941, Heinrich Himmler wrote:

Joseph Goebbels had frequent discussions with Hitler about the fate of the Jews, a subject which they discussed almost every time they met, and frequently wrote about it in his personal diary.[31] In his personal diary he writes:

In November 1941, Goebbels published an article "The Jews are to blame" which returned back to Hitler's prophecy of 1939 and stated that world Jewry was suffering a "gradual process of extermination".[29]

In March 13, 1945, Goebbels wrote in his diary that the "rest of the world" should follow Germany's example in "destroying the jews", he writes also about how the jews in Germany at that point had been almost totally destroyed.[33] This diary contains numerous other references to the mass extermination of Jews, including how "tens of thousands of them are liquidated" in eastern occupied territory,[34] and that "the greater the number of Jews liquidated, the more consolidated will the situation in Europe be after this war."[35] When speaking about this document under oath, David Irving is quoted as saying "There is no explicit the liquidation of Jews" and critics of Holocaust denial consequently state that it is dishonest to say such a thing when it is entirely contradicted by the diary of one of Hitler's closest associates.[36][37] David Cole has previously stated that those who consider themselves revisionists have yet to provide an adequate explanation of this document.[38]

When questioned by interrogators if orders for the extermination of Jews were delegated in writing by Himmler, Adolf Eichmann states:

I never saw a written order, Herr Hauptmann. All I know is that Heydrich said to me: "The Führer has ordered the physical extermination of the Jews." He said that as clearly and surely as I'm repeating it now.[39]

Critics state that Eichmann gives a virtually identical account of this in his memoirs, and state that it is also asserted that Eichmann never even asked for a written order, on the basis that "Hitler's wish as expressed through Himmler and Heydrich was good enough for him".[10] Eichmann's memoirs were recorded by Willem Sassen before he was captured, and Eichmann's lawyer tried to prevent them from being presented as evidence to avoid any detriment against his case.[40]

In a speech, David Irving states that Heydrich told Eichmann, "The Führer has given the order for the physical destruction of the Jews".[37] Irving admits that this contradicts his view that "Hitler wasn't involved", but explains it by suggesting that a completely different meaning can be construed, i.e. "the extirpation of Judaism" as opposed to the physical destruction of Jews if one changes "just one or two words".[37] Critics of this view state that historians should not change words if their documents contradict their claims,[37] and consequently point out five instances where Eichmann unambiguously states "physical extermination" during his interrogation.[37][41]

At a conference in 1941 discussing the Jewish Question, Alfred Rosenberg said:

Some six million Jews still live in the East, and this question can only be solved by a biological extermination of the whole of Jewry in Europe. The Jewish Question will only be solved for Germany when the last Jew has left German territory, and for Europe when not a single Jew stands on the European continent as far as the Urals... And to this end it is necessary to force them beyond the Urals or otherwise bring about their eradication.[29]


Report to Hitler detailing the executions of prisoners.

Congruent with the evidence that shows Hitler was responsible for the order to kill Jews, there is also evidence that shows he was made aware of the process. In December 1942 Hitler received a document from Himmler entitled, "Report to the Führer on Combating Partisans", stating that 363,211 Jews had been killed by Einsatzgruppen in August–November 1942.[42] This document was marked "Shown to the Führer".[10]

As noted by Peter Longerich, Gestapo Chief Heinrich Müller sent a telegram on August 2, 1941, ordering that "especially interesting illustrative" material should be sent to Berlin because, "the Führer should be presented with continuous reports on the work of Einsatzgruppen in the East from here".[43] Because of this, critics of Holocaust denial reject the suggestion that Hitler lost interest in anti-semitism after attaining power in 1933, finding it "hard to believe that a man who had lost his anti-semitism was so interested in situational reports on the killings of Jewish men, women and children while engaged in a war."[44]

Himmler's speeches and "Ausrottung"

Critics of Holocaust denial state that the claim by deniers of no Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews is completely discredited by Himmler in a speech made on October 4, 1943 to a gathering of SS officers in Poznań, where he said:

Original Translated

Ich meine jetzt die "Judenevakuierung", die Ausrottung des jüdischen Volkes. Es gehört zu den Dingen, die man leicht ausspricht. – ‚Das jüdische Volk wird ausgerottet’, sagt ein jeder Parteigenosse‚ 'ganz klar, steht in unserem Programm, Ausschaltung der Juden, Ausrottung, machen wir.'[45]

I am currently talking about the "evacuation" of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish people. It is one of those things that is easily said. 'The Jewish people are being exterminated,' every Party member says, 'perfectly clear, it's written in our program, elimination of the Jews, extermination, and we do that.'

In addition to the Posen speeches, studies have shown that the mass of ordinary Germans at the time knew about the existence of the death and concentration camps:[46]

“Hitler exterminated the Jews of Europe. But he did not do so alone. The task was so enormous, complex, time-consuming, and mentally and economically demanding that it took the best efforts of millions of Germans… All spheres of life in Germany actively participated: Businessmen, policemen, bankers, doctors, lawyers, soldiers, railroad and factory workers, chemists, pharmacists, foremen, production managers, economists, manufacturers, jewelers, diplomats, civil servants, propagandists, film makers and film stars, professors, teachers, politicians, mayors, party members, construction experts, art dealers, architects, landlords, janitors, truck drivers, clerks, industrialists, scientists, generals, and even shopkeepers—all were essential cogs in the machinery that accomplished the final solution.”[47] - Konnilyn G. Feig

Use of gas chambers

Argument: Nazis did not use gas chambers to mass murder Jews. Small chambers did exist for delousing and Zyklon-B was used in this process.
Detail of a photograph taken at Auschwitz between February 9 and 11, 1943, showing the gas chamber at Crematorium Complex II, then under construction. Some of the apertures through which Zyklon B was inserted into the gas chamber are visible.
File:Auschwitz - Crematorium II gas chamber cross-section.jpg
Nazi blueprints of the Crematorium II gas chamber. A cross section view of the width of the room shows the ventilation channels that straddle the building along its longitudinal axis, marked Belüftung (aeration) and Entlüftungskanal (de-aeration channel).

There have been claims by Holocaust deniers that the gas chambers which mainstream historians believe were for the massacre of civilians never existed, but rather that the structures identified as gas chambers actually served other purposes. These other purposes include cadaver storage, delousing, and disinfection. A similar argument is sometimes used that claims gas was not used to murder Jews and other victims,[48][49] and that many gas chambers were also built after the war just for show. A document advancing this theory is the Leuchter report by Fred A. Leuchter, a paper stating that only traces of cyanide were found when he examined samples taken from one of the Auschwitz gas chambers in 1988. This is often cited as evidence that gas was not used in the chambers, as no trace amounts remain. Despite the difficulty of finding traces of this material 50 years later, in February, 1990, Professor Jan Markiewicz, Director of the Institute of Forensic Research in Kraków, redid the analysis.[50] Markiewicz and his team used microdiffusion techniques to test for cyanide in samples from the suspected gas chambers, from delousing chambers, and from control areas elsewhere within Auschwitz. The control samples tested negative, while cyanide residue was found in high concentrations in the delousing chambers, and lower concentrations in the homicidal gas chambers. This is consistent with the amounts required to kill lice and humans.[51]

The search for cyanide in the bricks of buildings said to be gas chambers was important, because the pesticide Zyklon B would generate such a residue. This was the gas most often cited as the instrument of death for prisoners in the gas chambers, supported by both testimony and evidence collected of Nazi policy.[52][53]

Another claim made by Holocaust deniers is that there were no specially-constructed vents in the gas chambers through which Zyklon B could be released.[54] The BBC offers a response showing that this requires disregard of much documentation:

Deniers have said for years that physical evidence is lacking because they have seen no holes in the roof of the Birkenau gas chamber where the Zyklon was poured in. (In some of the gas chambers the Zyklon B was poured in through the roof, while in others it was thrown in through the windows.) The roof was dynamited at war's end, and today lies broken in pieces, but three of the four original holes were positively identified in a recent paper. Their location in the concrete matches with eyewitness testimony, aerial photos from 1944, and a ground photo from 1943. The physical evidence shows unmistakably that the Zyklon holes were cast into the concrete when the building was constructed.[55]

File:Ruin of the gas chamber of Crematorium II.jpg
The ruins of the Crematorium II gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Leuchter's comment that the camp was "untouched" has been dismissed as nonsense by the Holocaust scholar Robert Jan van Pelt, who explains that the absence of most of the would-be rubble from the crematoria is because the local Polish population returning to the area after the war rebuilt farmhouses to the west with bricks salvaged from rubble in the camp area including from the Birkenau crematoria.[56]

Another piece of evidence Holocaust deniers frequently question is what happened to the ash after the bodies were cremated. The amount of ash produced in the cremation of a person is about a shoebox full, if done in a proper crematorium. However, eyewitness testimonies documented by Hilberg's The Destruction of the European Jews describe the burning process used in Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzec to have carried out in multiple open-air grills where stacks of bodies were burned on top of metal bars. These grills were operated by burning piles of wood underneath. It has been questioned by Holocaust deniers[57] if it would have been possible to burn hundreds of thousands of corpses using the method as documented by Hilberg, especially when the low efficiency of such burning process, the high amounts of wood required and the often windy weather conditions of the camps are taken into account.[citation needed]

Cremation in the open at the Reinhard death camps (Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec) was discussed at Nuremberg on the 7th April 1946 by Georg Konrad Morgen, SS judge and lawyer who investigated crimes committed in Nazi concentration camps. He stated: "The whole thing was like an assembly line. At the last stop they reached a big room, and were told that this was the bath. When the last one was in, the doors were shut and the gas was let into the room. As soon as death taken place in (sic), the ventilators were started. When the air was breathable, the doors were opened, and the Jewish workers removed the bodies. By means of a special process which Wirth had invented, they were burned in the open air without the use of fuel."[58]

There is well-documented evidence that other ash was used as fertilizer in nearby fields.[59][60] Photographs of Treblinka taken by the camp commandant show what looks to be ash piles being distributed by steam shovels.[61]

Another argument used by Holocaust deniers is that testimony on the gas chambers is unreliable. The Institute for Historical Review is one of the organizations which make this assertion. In the words of the IHR:

"Hoss [Hoess] said in his confession that his men would smoke cigarettes as they pulled the dead Jews out of the gas chambers ten minutes after gassing. Isn't Zyklon-B explosive? Highly so. The Hoss confession is obviously false."[62]

The Nizkor Project and other sources have pointed out that the minimal concentration of Zyklon-B to be explosive is 56,000 parts per million, while the amount used to kill a human is 300 parts per million, as is evidenced in "The Merck Index" and the "CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics". In fact, the Nazis' own documentation stated "Danger of explosion: 75 grams of HCN in 1 cubic meter of air. Normal application approx. 8–10 grams per cubic meter, therefore not explosive." [63]

The Institute for Historical Review publicly offered a reward of $50,000 for verifiable "proof that gas chambers for the purpose of killing human beings existed at or in Auschwitz." Mel Mermelstein, a survivor of Auschwitz, submitted his own testimony as proof but it was ignored. He then sued IHR in the United States and the case was subsequently settled for $50,000, plus $40,000 in damages for personal suffering. The court declared the statement that "Jews were gassed to death at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland during the summer of 1944" was a fact.[10][64][65][66]

Death toll

Argument: The figure of six million Jewish deaths is an irresponsible exaggeration, and many Jews who actually emigrated to the Soviet Union, Britain, Israel and the United States are included in the number.

Six million

The figure of "six million" (which refers only to Jewish victims, and is larger when counting the other ethnic, religious, and minority groups targeted for extinction) is often minimized by such claims to a figure of only one million deaths, or only three hundred thousand deaths. This argument is often met with criticism as the vast majority of scholars, institutions, and even Nazi officials[67] have estimated that no less than five to six million Jews perished during the Holocaust,[68][69][70][71] while some claim the number could possibly be even higher.[72][73][74] With as many as 4.3 million Jewish victims' names collected by Yad Vashem alone,[75] numerous documents and archives discovered after the war gave meticulous accounts of the exterminations that took place at the death camps (such as Auschwitz and Treblinka).[76] The Nizkor project conducted a thorough research about this claim as well, and found the number of Jewish death to be at least 5.65 million.[77]

Deniers claim that these documents are based on Soviet propaganda, primarily from Ilya Ehrenburg's Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, and are therefore unreliable. Complicating the matter is that various instances have been reported where the death tolls of particular death camps were claimed to be overstated. These claims vary in verifiability and objectivity. A much-quoted instance of disputing the toll is the "Breitbard Document" (actually a paper by Aaron Breitbart),[78] which describes a commemorative plaque at Auschwitz to the victims that died there, which read, Four million people suffered and died here at the hands of the Nazi murderers between the years 1940 and 1945. In 1990, a new plaque replaced the old one. It now says, May this place where the Nazis assassinated 1,500,000 men, women and children, a majority of them Jews from diverse European countries, be forever for mankind a cry of despair and of warning. The lower numbers are due to the fact that the Soviets "purposely overstated the number of non-Jewish casualties at Auschwitz-Birkenau," according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Holocaust deniers insist that the number of Jews killed therefore be lowered by at least 2.5 million. However, the plaque had never been used as an accurate historical source by mainstream historians.[79][80][81] As early as the 1950s, Raul Hillberg estimated 1.1 million Jewish deaths in Auschwitz.[82]

Pre-war accounts of six million Jews facing threat of extermination

Holocaust deniers argue that the multiple pre-World War II claims of precisely six million Jews facing extermination, like former New York Governor Martin Glynn's 1919 article The Crucifixion of Jews Must Stop!, suggests the reported death toll is inaccurate and was invented to fit propaganda.[83]

International Committee of the Red Cross

Holocaust deniers misrepresent and omit information contained in ICRC reports that contradict their claims.[84] Critics argue that Richard Harwood in his "Did Six Million Really Die?" pamphlet could only claim that the ICRC had found no evidence of a policy to exterminate Jews by ignoring key sections of the 1948 report, where the ICRC explicitly states that the systematic extermination of Jews was Nazi policy.[85]

Harwood disputed the notion that homicidal gas chambers were disguised as shower facilities by citing references in the report where ICRC officials inspected bathing facilities. He used their responses to argue that showers functioned as showers and were not part of a killing installation. However this is considered misrepresentation by critics, as the passage Harwood cited is in reference to Allied camps for civilians in Egypt and thus had nothing to do with Nazi concentration camps.[86]

File:ICRC letter - traceable deaths only.jpg
A letter from the Bad Arolsen International Tracing Service regarding only registered deaths at Nazi concentration camps. This and similar correspondence is frequently misrepresented as the absolute death toll of the Holocaust by deniers.

Harwood also claimed that Die Tat, a Swiss tabloid newspaper, published statistics that concluded the number of people who died in Nazi prisons and camps from 1939 to 1945 based on ICRC statistics was "300,000, not all of whom were Jews".[87] The January 19, 1955 edition of Die Tat did indeed give a 300,000 figure, but this was only in reference to "Germans and German Jews" and not nationals of other countries.[88] In the 1978 official bulletin, entitled "False Propaganda", the ICRC denounced Holocaust denial and confirmed that the agency "Never published—or even compiled—statistics of this kind which are being falsely attributed to it" and stated that its mission was "to help war victims, not to count them",[89][90][91] and questioned how they would have even been able to obtain such statistics had they wanted to, given that they were "only able to enter only a few concentration the final days of the war".[89][91] The agency states that the figures used are "the number of deaths recorded by the International Tracing Service on the basis of documents found when the camps were closed",[89][91] and accordingly bear no relation to the total death tolls, since the Nazis destroyed much documentation, and that many deaths occurred in camps where prisoners were generally not registered.[89][91] The ICRC considers this misrepresentation as "propaganda",[89][91] and because these claims regarding the ICRC were used for the defense of Ernst Zündel at his trial in 1985, critics state that despite the agency's attempts to demonstrate the truth, Holocaust deniers have continued to rely on ICRC based disinformation.[88] Archives of the International Tracing Service (located in Bad Arolsen) responding to such misrepresentation can be found here.[92] In 1979, the ICRC stated a second time that they have "never tried to compile statistics on the victims of the war",[93] nor "certified the accuracy of the statistics produced by a third party",[93] and state that the authors of such material have "falsified" both claims that the document originates from the ICRC and refers exclusively to Jews.[93]

As well as in personal correspondence, the ICRC has also addressed this misrepresentation by several other means. In 1975, the ICRC wrote to the Board of Deputies of British Jews in London regarding Harwood's citations, stating:

The figures cited by the author of the booklet are based upon statistics falsely attributed to us, evidently for the purpose of giving them credibility, despite the fact that we never publish information of this kind.[94]

— Françoise Perret, Comité International de la Croix-Rouge, to Jacob Gerwitz, August 22, 1975.

Baseler Nachrichten

Similarly, Harwood wrote that the June 4, 1946 edition of Baseler Nachrichten, another Swiss newspaper, reported that “a maximum of only one and a half million Jews could be numbered as casualties.[95] Harwood fails to mention that a later article in a later edition of the newspaper acknowledges that the previous article was incorrect, and 5,800,000 was an accurate number of victims.[96] Critics cite this as an example of deniers using partial information to distort legitimate sources.[97]

Jewish population

One Holocaust denial argument is the comparison of the population of Jews before and after the Holocaust. They state that the 1940 World Almanac gives the world Jewish population as 15,319,359, while the 1948 World Almanac gives the world Jewish population as 15,713,638. They therefore claim that either the figures are wrong, or the Holocaust, meaning the deaths of millions of Jews, cannot have happened to any extent similar to the claimed 6 million. Ken McVay writes:

Only in 1949 are postwar estimates employed, the figures given are for estimates made in 1948. A year or two lag seems to be common for various other population estimates given by the World Almanac. The difference between the 1938 and 1948 figures is thus 4,481,491. In 1949, however, the World Almanac gives a revised 1939 population of 16,643,120 giving a difference of between 1938 and 1947 of 5,376,520. Where the extra population between 1938 and 1939 came from is not cited, though one might speculate that it was based upon the Nazi estimates made in 1942 for the Wannsee Conference. Despite the apparent exactness of the numbers listed, the World Almanac warns that all numbers listed are estimates.[98]

Other sources confirm similar numbers—and earlier than the 1949 World Almanac—for the Jewish population before and after the war. The 1932 American Jewish Yearbook estimate the total number of Jews in the world at 15,192,218, of whom 9,418,248 resided in Europe. However, the 1947 yearbook states: "Estimates of the world Jewish population have been assembled by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (except for the United States and Canada) and are probably the most authentic available at the present time. The figures reveal that the total Jewish population of the world has decreased by one-third from about 16,600,000 in 1939 to about 11,000,000 in 1946 as the result of the annihilation by the Nazis of more than five and a half million European Jews. In Europe only an estimated 3,642,000 remain of the total Jewish pre-war population of approximately 9,740,000." These numbers are also consistent with the findings of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, Appendix III, in 1946.

Nazi documentation

The Höfle Telegram.

The Nazis used figures of between 9 and 11 million for the Jewish population of Europe, as evidenced in the notes of the Wannsee Conference. In fact, the Nazis methodically recorded the ongoing reduction of the Jewish population, as in the Korherr Report, which gave the status of the Final Solution through December, 1942. The Höfle Telegram was sent by SS-Sturmbannführer Hermann Höfle on January 11, 1943 to SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann in Berlin and detailed the number of deaths of Jews in the concentration camps.[99] In the year 1942 alone, the telegram lists 1,274,166 Jews were exterminated[99] in the four camps of Aktion Reinhard. The Korherr Report compiled by an SS statistician, gave a conservative total of 2,454,000 Jews deported to extermination camps or killed by the Einsatzgruppen. The complete status reports of the Einsatzgruppen death squads were found in the archives of the Gestapo when it was searched by the U.S. Army, and the accuracy attested to by the former Einsatzgruppen members who testified during war crime trials and at other times. These reports alone list an additional 1,500,000 or so murders during mass shootings, the vast majority of these victims were Jews. Further, surviving Nazi documentation spells out their plans to murder the Jews of Europe (see the Wannsee Conference), recorded the trains arriving at various death camps, and included photographs and films of many atrocities.[citation needed]


There are voluminous amounts of testimony from thousands of survivors of the Holocaust[citation needed], as well as the testimony of captured Nazi officers at the Nuremberg Trials and other times[citation needed]. Holocaust deniers discount the testimony of officers claiming that these witnesses were tortured[citation needed], or that Rudolf Höss allegedly signed a confession written in a language he did not understand (English) or that the Nuremberg Trial did not follow proper judicial procedures. However, Höss's testimony did not consist of merely a signed confession; while in jail he also wrote two volumes of memoirs[100] and gave extensive testimony outside of the Nuremberg proceedings.[101][102] Further, his testimony agrees with that of other contemporary written accounts by Auschwitz officials, such as Pery Broad,[103] an SS man stationed at Auschwitz while Höss was the commandant and the diary kept by SS physician at Auschwitz Johann Kremer, as well as the testimony of hundreds of camp guards and victims.[104] In addition, former SS personnel have criticised Holocaust denial. SS-Oberscharführer Josef Klehr has said that anyone who maintains that nobody was gassed at Auschwitz must be "crazy or on the wrong".[105] SS-Unterscharführer Oswald Kaduk has stated that he does not consider those who maintain such a thing as normal people.[106] Hearing about Holocaust denial compelled former SS-Rottenführer Oskar Gröning to publicly speak about what he witnessed at Auschwitz, and denounce Holocaust deniers,[107] stating:

I would like you to believe me. I saw the gas chambers. I saw the crematoria. I saw the open fires. I was on the ramp when the selections took place. I would like you to believe that these atrocities happened because I was there.[108]

Sonderkommandos provide another key piece of testimony. There were Jewish prisoners who helped march Jews to the gas chambers, and later dragged the bodies to the crematoria. Since they witnessed the entire process, their testimony is vital in confirming that the gas chambers were used for murderous purposes and the scale to which they were used.[109]

Other key testimony comes from non-Jewish survivors of the camps such as Catholic French Resistance member André Rogerie who was held in seven different camps, and who as a member of the Resistance was not targeted for extermination but for hard labor and survived. After the war Rogerie wrote and testified extensively about his experiences in the camps including Auschwitz-Birkenau[110] where he viewed and produced the oldest contemporary sketch of a camp crematorium.[111]

Denial as antisemitism

Holocaust denial is generally viewed as antisemitic: the Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, for example, defines Holocaust denial as "a new form of anti-Semitism, but one that hinges on age-old motifs",[112] the Anti-Defamation League has stated that "Holocaust denial is a contemporary form of the classic anti-Semitic doctrine of the evil, manipulative and threatening world Jewish conspiracy"[113] and French historian Valérie Igounet has written that "Holocaust denial is a convenient polemical substitute for anti-semitism."[114] In 2005, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (now the Fundamental Rights Agency) published a "working definition" of antisemitism that included "[d]enying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust)".[115]

Harold Covington (the leader of the National Socialist White People's Party) sent a letter on July 24, 1996 via email to a number of neo-Nazi supporters (many of whom were Holocaust deniers). In this message, Covington explained Holocaust denial in a manner that has been used by its opponents and critics as a definitive answer to the question, "Why do people deny the Holocaust?"

Take away the Holocaust and what do you have left? Without their precious Holocaust, what are the Jews? Just a grubby little bunch of international bandits and assassins and squatters who have perpetrated the most massive, cynical fraud in human history...I recall seeing a television program on revisionism a few years ago which closed with Deborah Lipstadt making some statement to the effect that: the real purpose of Holocaust revisionism is to make National Socialism an acceptable political alternative again. I normally don't agree with anything a Jew says, but I recall exclaiming, 'Bingo! Got it in one! Give that lady a cigar!'[116]

Some have argued that not all Holocaust deniers are necessarily antisemitic. In a defense of professor of literature and Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, and of having an essay of his included in the introduction of one of Faurisson's books, linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky stated "I see no antisemitic implications in denial of the existence of gas chambers, or even denial of the holocaust".[117] Chomsky would later elaborate:

...I was asked whether the fact that a person denies the existence of gas chambers does not prove that he is an anti-Semite. I wrote back what every sane person knows: no, of course it does not. A person might believe that Hitler exterminated 6 million Jews in some other way without being an anti-Semite. Since the point is trivial and disputed by no one, I do not know why we are discussing it. In that context, I made a further point: even denial of the Holocaust would not prove that a person is an anti-Semite. I presume that that point too is not subject to contention. Thus if a person ignorant of modern history were told of the Holocaust and refused to believe that humans are capable of such monstrous acts, we would not conclude that he is an anti-Semite.[118]

According to Walter Reich, psychiatrist and then senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, one-time director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and now professor of international affairs at George Washington University:

The primary motivation for most deniers is anti-Semitism, and for them the Holocaust is an infuriatingly inconvenient fact of history. After all, the Holocaust has generally been recognized as one of the most terrible crimes that ever took place, and surely the very emblem of evil in the modern age. If that crime was a direct result of anti-Semitism taken to its logical end, then anti-Semitism itself, even when expressed in private conversation, is inevitably discredited among most people. What better way to rehabilitate anti-Semitism, make anti-Semitic arguments seem once again respectable in civilized discourse and even make it acceptable for governments to pursue anti-Semitic policies than by convincing the world that the great crime for which anti-Semitism was blamed simply never happened— indeed, that it was nothing more than a frame-up invented by the Jews, and propagated by them through their control of the media? What better way, in short, to make the world safe again for anti-Semitism than by denying the Holocaust?[119]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Donald L Niewyk, The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, Columbia University Press, 2000, p.45: "The Holocaust is commonly defined as the murder of more than 5,000,000 Jews by the Germans in World War II." Estimates by scholars range from 5.1 million to 7.8 million. See appropriate section of the Holocaust article.
  2. Key elements of Holocaust denial:
    • "Before discussing how Holocaust denial constitutes a conspiracy theory, and how the theory is distinctly American, it is important to understand what is meant by the term "Holocaust denial." Holocaust deniers, or "revisionists," as they call themselves, question all three major points of definition of the Nazi Holocaust. First, they contend that, while mass murders of Jews did occur (although they dispute both the intentionality of such murders as well as the supposed deservedness of these killings), there was no official Nazi policy to murder Jews. Second, and perhaps most prominently, they contend that there were no homicidal gas chambers, particularly at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where mainstream historians believe over 1 million Jews were murdered, primarily in gas chambers. And third, Holocaust deniers contend that the death toll of European Jews during World War II was well below 6 million. Deniers float numbers anywhere between 300,000 and 1.5 million, as a general rule." Mathis, Andrew E. Holocaust Denial, a Definition, The Holocaust History Project, July 2, 2004. Retrieved December 18, 2006.
    • "In part III we directly address the three major foundations upon which Holocaust denial rests, including... the claim that gas chambers and crematoria were used not for mass extermination but rather for delousing clothing and disposing of people who died of disease and overwork; ... the claim that the six million figure is an exaggeration by an order of magnitude—that about six hundred thousand, not six million, died at the hands of the Nazis; ... the claim that there was no intention on the part of the Nazis to exterminate European Jewry and that the Holocaust was nothing more than the unfortunate by-product of the vicissitudes of war." Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman. Denying History: : Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It?, University of California Press, 2000, ISBN 0-520-23469-3, p. 3.
    • "Holocaust Denial: Claims that the mass extermination of the Jews by the Nazis never happened; that the number of Jewish losses has been greatly exaggerated; that the Holocaust was not systematic nor a result of an official policy; or simply that the Holocaust never took place." What is Holocaust Denial, Yad Vashem website, 2004. Retrieved December 18, 2006.
    • "Among the untruths routinely promoted are the claims that no gas chambers existed at Auschwitz, that only 600,000 Jews were killed rather than six million, and that Hitler had no murderous intentions toward Jews or other groups persecuted by his government." Holocaust Denial, Anti-Defamation League, 2001. Retrieved June 28, 2007.
  3. "The kinds of assertions made in Holocaust-denial material include the following:
    • Several hundred thousand rather than approximately six million Jews died during the war.
    • Scientific evidence proves that gas chambers could not have been used to kill large numbers of people.
    • The Nazi command had a policy of deporting Jews, not exterminating them.
    • Some deliberate killings of Jews did occur, but were carried out by the peoples of Eastern Europe rather than the Nazis.
    • Jews died in camps of various kinds, but did so as the result of hunger and disease. The Holocaust is a myth created by the Allies for propaganda purposes, and subsequently nurtured by the Jews for their own ends.
    • Errors and inconsistencies in survivors’ testimonies point to their essential unreliability.
    • Alleged documentary evidence of the Holocaust, from photographs of concentration camp victims to Anne Frank’s diary, is fabricated.
    • The confessions of former Nazis to war crimes were extracted through torture." The nature of Holocaust denial: What is Holocaust denial?, JPR report #3, 2000. Retrieved December 18, 2006.
    • "'Revisionism' is obliged to deviate from the standard methodology of historical pursuit because it seeks to mold facts to fit a preconceived result, it denies events that have been objectively and empirically proved to have occurred, and because it works backward from the conclusion to the facts, thus necessitating the distortion and manipulation of those facts where they differ from the preordained conclusion (which they almost always do). In short, "revisionism" denies something that demonstrably happened, through methodological dishonesty." McFee, Gordon. "Why 'Revisionism' Isn't", The Holocaust History Project, May 15, 1999. Retrieved December 22, 2006.
    • Alan L. Berger, "Holocaust Denial: Tempest in a Teapot, or Storm on the Horizon?", in Zev Garber and Richard Libowitz (eds), Peace, in Deed: Essays in Honor of Harry James Cargas, Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998, p. 154.
  4. Richard J. Evans (2002). Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-02153-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Pierre Vidal-Naquet, French "une tentative d'extermination sur le papier qui relaie l'extermination réelle" in Les assassins de la mémoire, Un Eichmann de papier, Postface de Gisèle Sapiro, Nouvelle édition revue et augmentée, La Découverte, Paris, 2005, ISBN 2-7071-4545-9.
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  9. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 "Learning Tools : Myth/Fact Sheets : Hitler never ordered the Holocaust". Emory University. Retrieved 2014-03-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "order" defined multiple times with different content
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  24. Nizkor Project page on Himmler Posen speech Contains both the IMT original transcription of the speech in German, a corrected Nizkor project transcription, original IMT and corrected Nizkor project translation, recording and analysis of actual speech, and link to examples showing treatment of speech by Holocaust deniers.
  25. Office of the United States Chief of Counsel For Prosecution of Axis Criminality, ed. (1946). "Partial Translation Of Document 1919-PS Speech of the Reichsfuehrer&emdash;SS at the Meeting of SS Major-Generals at Posen, October 4th, 1943". International Military Trials - Nurnberg - Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume IV (PDF). 4. Washington D.C.: US Government Printing Office. pp. 563–564. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-11-04. Retrieved 2015-04-02. I also want to talk to you, quite frankly, on a very grave matter. Among ourselves it should be mentioned quite frankly, and yet we will never speak of it publicly. Among ourselves it should be mentioned quite frankly, and yet we will never speak of it publicly. Just as we did not hesitate on June 30th, 1934 to do the duty we were bidden, and stand comrades who had lapsed, up against the wall and shoot them, so we have never spoken about it and will never speak of it. It was that tact which is a matter of course and which I am glad to say, is inherent in us, that made us never discuss it among ourselves, never to speak of it. It appalled everyone, and yet everyone was certain that he would do it the next time if such orders are issued and if it is necessary I mean the clearing out of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish race. … Most of you must know what it means when 100 corpses are lying side by side, or 500 or 1,000…. This is a page of glory in our history which has never been written and is never to be written… line feed character in |quote= at position 291 (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  111. "Holocaust denial is a new form of anti-Semitism, but one that hinges on age-old motifs." Dinah Shelton, Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, Macmillan Reference, 2005, p. 45.
  112. "Introduction: Denial as Anti-Semitism", Holocaust Denial: An Online Guide to Exposing and Combating Anti-Semitic Propaganda, Anti-Defamation League website. Retrieved August 27, 2009.
  113. Igounet, Valérie. "Holocaust denial is part of a strategy", Le Monde diplomatique, May, 1998.
  114. Working Definition of Antisemitism PDF (33.8 KB), European Fundamental Rights Agency, 16 March 2005.
  115. "On Revisionism" by Harold Covington (writing under the pseudonym Winston Smith), NSNet Bulletin #5, July 24, 1996.
  116. Rubinstein, William. Quadrant, October, 1981.
  117. "The Faurisson Affair: Noam Chomsky writes to Lawrence K. Kolodney Circa 1989-1991", Noam Chomsky website. Retrieved August 27, 2009.
  118. Reich, Walter. "Erasing the Holocaust", The New York Times, July 11, 1993.


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