“One is astonished in the study of history at the recurrence of the idea that evil must be forgotten, distorted, skimmed over. The difficulty, of course, with this philosophy is that history loses its value as an incentive and example; it paints perfect men and noble nations, but it does not tell the truth.”
-W.E.B Du Bois, Black Reconstruction, 1935
As early as age thirteen, we start learning about the Holocaust in classrooms and in textbooks. We learn that in the 1940s, the German Nazi party (led by Adolph Hitler) intentionally performed a mass genocide in order to try to breed a perfect population of human beings. Jews were the first peoples to be put into ghettos and eventually sent by train to concentration camps like Auschwitz and Buchenwald. At these places, each person was separated from their families and given a number. In essence, these people were no longer people at all; they were machines. An estimation of six million deaths resulting from the Holocaust has been recorded and is mourned by descendants of these people every day. There are, however, some individuals who claim that this horrific event never took place.
It is very difficult to deny the deaths of millions of Jews and other
“imperfect” peoples, and it takes a great deal of work and effort to logically put forth such an assertion. These Holocaust deniers argue that the Holocaust is just a fable to show people what can happen when a person or group of people tries to play God. This outrageous claim could result from several factors, and can only begin to be understood after intense research and analysis of influences and motives of Holocaust deniers. In almost every case of a denial of the Holocaust, there is a personal political agenda backing it.
Before it can be understood why the claims of these people are so outrageous, the two sides to the issue of the occurrence of the Holocaust must be explained. The majority of people believe that it did occur and use pictures, memoirs, letters, and other primary sources from the time to prove its existence. On the other hand, there is the smaller community of people who claim that there was no Holocaust. These are radical groups and self-described “revisionists. Those denying the event say that concentration camps were built after World War II was over as propaganda, and that the death toll numbers were simply made up. In their opinion, “[Jews] were merely repatriated to Poland and Russia and, after the war, to America” (Tukuno 1) This Holocaust refuting community also claims that the primary sources proving the existence of the Holocaust are also fabricated pieces of history used to make people think certain events happened when they really did not. As Hajime Tokuno describes it, “Deniers have subjugated science, in this case historical science, to a political agenda, creating a pseudoscience called Holocaust Denial” (Tokuno 2).
The problem with both of these claims, and history in general, is that unless someone is...