Deborah E. Lipstadt

in The Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211869
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology


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Holocaust denial is the term used to describe the effort by a small but prolific group of writers to spread the notion that the Holocaust, the systematic annihilation of the European Jews by Germany's Third Reich, never happened. This article examines these efforts. Holocaust denial pivots around and is defined by the claim that the Jews invented the story of the Holocaust to win sympathy from the world, money from Germany, and land in the Middle East. Deniers contend that the Nazis sought to uproot the Jewish community, not to kill it, that the gas chambers did not exist, that the number of Jews killed by Nazis was substantially smaller than six million, and that those who did die perished because they were partisans, criminals, or spies, not because they were Jews. Historians who have traced deniers' claims back to their supposed proofs have found repeated distortions, inventions, and fabrications, and in a celebrated British legal case involving Lipstadt and David Irving, the British judge ruled that denial is based on a ‘distortion and manipulation of historical evidence’. Unfortunately, Holocaust denial continues to be persistent and pernicious, courtroom proceedings against deniers notwithstanding, as it morphs into current forms that include fueling hostility toward Israel in ongoing Middle East conflicts.

Keywords: Holocaust denial; Germany; Middle East; David Irving; Nazis

Article.  6344 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Judaism and Jewish Studies

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