[Paleopsych] BBC: The fight against Holocaust denial

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The fight against Holocaust denial
Published: 2005/04/14 19:04:14 GMT

[Even the BBC spells minuscule miniscule! Where can I get a book that lays out 
the arguments and counter-arguments on all sides, a book like "Scientists 
Answer Creationists" or "Scientists Answer Vellikowsky" (?sp). There are books 
by these approximate titles.]

    By Raffi Berg
    BBC News

    It is 60 years since the full horror of the Nazi Holocaust began to
    emerge with the liberation of Bergen Belsen concentration camp in

    Belsen was the first death camp entered by the Western allies and
    first-hand accounts of mass graves, piles of corpses and emaciated,
    diseased survivors spread quickly around the world.

    The BBC's Richard Dimbleby described dead and dying people over an
    acre of ground, while US radio correspondent Patrick Gordon Walker
    described the camp as a "hellhole", adding that this was not
    propaganda but the "plain and simple truth".

    But, in the 21st Century, as these events recede into history and the
    number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, there are still people who
    deny these crimes happened - and it is a tendency that some experts
    say is growing.

    "Holocaust revisionism is spreading, and not only among neo-Nazis,"
    Kate Taylor, of the anti-fascist publication Searchlight, told the BBC
    News website.

    "As survivors are increasingly dying out it is much easier to hijack
    history for whatever cause or purpose."

    Czech Republic

    The internet has played a role in this.

    While publications peddling Holocaust denial were previously confined
    to the race-hate paraphernalia of extremist groups, the same material
    is now readily available on the web.

    One of the earliest and most infamous publications denying the
    Holocaust was a 32-page pseudo-academic booklet entitled Did Six
    Million Really Die?, first printed in England in 1974.

    It dismisses concentration camps as "mythology", rejects the Diary of
    Anne Frank as a hoax and claims Jews were not exterminated but rather
    emigrated from Nazi Germany with the help of a benevolent government.

    The booklet was widely banned but has resurfaced in electronic form on
    the internet.

    At 14-years-old children are not mature enough to make the distinction
    between a denialist site and a more legitimate site

    Kay Andrews, of the UK Holocaust Educational Trust, says Holocaust
    denial sites, subtly questioning the facts, can mislead the young
    people her group is trying to teach.

    "With the internet, you've got to be fairly well-educated to see
    through what revisionist websites are trying to do," she says.

    "I think as soon as you look at them closely you can work it out, but
    part of the problem that we find is teachers will send pupils off to
    do internet research and not guide them to specific sites.

    "So as a result kids put the Holocaust into a search engine, which
    comes up with all of this stuff, and at 14-years-old they are not
    mature enough to make that distinction between a denialist site and a
    more legitimate site."

    Denial doomed?

    However, the eminent British historian Sir Martin Gilbert believes the
    tireless gathering of facts about the Holocaust will ultimately
    consign the deniers to history.

    I saw the gas chambers. I saw the crematoria. I saw the open fires.
    Oskar Groening
    SS guard, Auschwitz

    "I don't think Holocaust denial is really a problem because of the
    incredible state of survivor memoirs," he told the BBC News website.

    "The number of deniers and the amount of denial literature is
    miniscule compared with the serious literature, not only the memoirs
    but the history books, the specialist books, and books which cater for
    every age group on the Holocaust.

    "There is a tremendous range of stuff and some of it is written for
    young people and teenagers - in that sense the Holocaust deniers have
    totally lost out."

    Over a period of many years, Jerusalem's Yad Vashem museum has
    documented the lives of more than three million Holocaust victims.

    More recently, Steven Spielberg's Survivors of the Shoah [Holocaust]
    Visual History Foundation (VHF) has recorded more than 50,000
    videotaped interviews with Holocaust survivors and witnesses.

    Turning point

    But VHF president Doug Greenberg is less confident about the future
    than Martin Gilbert.

    On the positive side, he notes that in 2000 a British judge rejected a
    libel case brought by a notorious British revisionist, David Irving,
    against US historian Deborah Lipstadt who had called him one of the
    "most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial".

    "The most important thing that's happened in terms of Holocaust denial
    is the David Irving trial," Mr Greenberg told the BBC News website.

    "Because a British court of law said in effect Holocaust denial is not
    a valid way to look at the past."

    On the other hand, he says, we just cannot tell how far history will
    be forgotten in years to come.

    "In 50 years from now, not only will there be no survivors alive,
    there won't be anybody alive who even knew a survivor, and that is
    where the real danger lies," he said.

    The fear that deniers could gain the upper hand led an SS camp guard,
    Oskar Groening, to break a lifetime of silence earlier this year in a
    BBC documentary, Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution.

    "I saw the gas chambers. I saw the crematoria. I saw the open fires. I
    was on the ramp when the selections [for the gas chambers] took
    place," said Mr Groening, now in his 80s.

    "I would like you to believe these atrocities happened - because I was

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