Holocaust revisionism

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Holocaust revisionism is the denial of the historical facts of the Holocaust, the Nazi genocide at the Jews.

Many Neo-Nazi groups, and people associated with them, have sought to deny the Holocaust ever occurred, or to sanitize it; these groups are called Holocaust revisionists or Holocaust deniers. They teach that claims that six million Jews died are actually part of a Zionist conspiracy. In the Western world, many of these groups are active in the United States, Russia and Germany. One of the most well known of these revisionists is David Irving. In the middle-east, the Palestinian Authority and the Syrian government publish Holocaust revisionist works. Nonetheless, these views are rejected by all serious historians of the period.

In Germany, it is illegal to make claims that amount to Holocaust revisionism.

In (year?), David Irving filed suit against American author Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher Penguin Books, claiming that Lipstadt had libeled him in her book Denying the Holocaust. The statements made by Lipstadt included the accusation that Irving deliberately twisted and misrepresented evidence to conform to his ideological viewpoint. Under British law, which seeks primarily to protect the reputation of an individual, Lipstadt and her publisher bore the full burden of demonstrating not only that they had not shown "reckless disregard" for the truth (as would be the case in America,) but that the statements made were unarguably true.

Lipstadt and Penguin hired British lawyer Anthony Julius and Cambridge historian Richard J. Evans to present her case. Evans spent two years examining Irving's work, and soon discovered clear evidence of Irving's misrepresentations, including the fact that Irving had knowingly used forged documents as a source. The presiding judge, Charles Gray, was eventually so persuaded by the evidence presented by Evans, that he wrote a long, and decisive verdict in favor of Lipstadt, calling Irving a "right-wing pro-Nazi polemicist", and confirming the accusations of Lipstadt and Evans.

Some journalists called the verdict a blow to free speech, although it was Irving who had sought and failed to prevent publication of Lipstadt's work.

Many people who don't deny that Holocaust occured, support revisionists' right to publish their opinions and oppose restrictions of free speech like this in Germany.

Further reading:

  • Daniel J. Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, New York: Knopf, 1996
  • Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, Plume (The Penguin Group), 1994.

See also: