This is not something I should be writing about. This is not something that should be considered a hoax. The Holocaust occurred from 1941 to 1945 under the command of Adolf Hitler. It was a genocide where approximately six million Jewish individuals were persecuted and murdered by the Nazi Regime. Additional targets were Gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals, communists and the mentally and physically disabled. As a result, the total number of people murdered during these four years was close to 11 million. The 11 million lives ruthlessly taken made this the largest genocide of the 20th century. These are facts.
I am not of the Jewish descent and have been raised Roman Catholic my entire life, but that does not matter. I know that the Holocaust occurred and, though I do not have a personal family connection to it, it haunts me. Most of the knowledge I have acquired about the Holocaust has been self-taught. In the fourth grade, I read Anne Frank’s Diary and from there expanded my interest to learn more about this tragedy. I did not have a formal, in-depth education about the Holocaust until my junior year of high school where I was enrolled in a yearlong class on the subject. It was amazing to witness how much and how little one could learn about the Holocaust during an entire year dedicated to the event. I have also visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.. That entire museum sent chills up my spine but nothing left a greater impact on me than standing in one of the cattle cars that use to transport Jewish persons to the various concentration and death camps. So with all the research, artifacts, first-account stories, etc., in this museum as well as countless other museums dedicated to the Holocaust, how could someone confidently and morally declare that the Holocaust never happened?
Those that do not believe that the Holocaust occurred have been categorized as “Holocaust deniers.” According to such deniers, the Nazi’s did not murder six million Jews but rather any Jews that died under the Nazi rule died due to the war. Additionally, they claim that the homicidal gas chambers are a myth. The most haunting statement from these deniers is: “Hitler was the best friends the Jews had in Germany and he actively worked to protect them.” This one statement is more than enough for most survivors and their family members to want go further in convincing the deniers how much harm they are causing by stating that the Holocaust never occurred. The deniers also firmly claim that the Jewish created the Holocaust in order to gain a worldwide political and financial advantage.
A great amount of focus from deniers is devoted to the death camps, most typically focusing on Auschwitz. There are mountains of evidence and personal accounts of what occurred at Auschwitz, and yet the deniers have still managed to formulate a claim as to how this camp is just another lie. For example, the deniers argue that in 1943 when Auschwitz demanded more ventilation blowers for their crematoria it was because of a typhus outbreak and not because they wanted the smoke stacks to run longer and more efficiently. Deniers believe the camp authorities became very nervous and stressed that their crematoria would not be able to keep up with the amount of deaths due to typhus, not because of the fact that it was actually a death camp, a claim that is made preposterous in the face of facts that surround the death of inmates. Additionally, the deniers argue that the gas chambers were not so, but in fact were air-raid shelters. This argument is made weak by the fact that these “air-raid shelters” were too small to house inmates and they were too far from the camp to reach them in time of an unforeseen air attack.
And finally, the deniers have an argument against Anne Frank. Anne Frank has arguably become the “face” of the Holocaust, having the most-read account of events in the tragedy. She moved with her family in June of 1942 into the secret annex above the Opekta offices. Anne kept a diary for a short time before and the length of her time in the annex, which documented her fear due to Nazi persecution. Unfortunately, Anne died from typhus in March of 1945 after being transported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, but was able to live on as her father, Otto Frank, returned to the annex and recovered his daughter’s diary. Otto published the diary and titled it “The Diary of a Young Girl.” The published work chronicles Anne’s life from when she received the diary for her 13th birthday on June 12th, 1942 up until she was taken to Bergen-Belsen around August 1st, 1944. Deniers have argued that there are multiple versions to Anne’s diary and that there is supposed evidence that Anne decided to rewrite some of her personal experiences so the diary could be used as family heirloom. The most absurd claim is that since Anne used a green ballpoint pen then she could not have written in her diary during World War Two for green ballpoint pens were not accessible during the war years. It is amazing to see the lengths that these deniers have gone too to make their “concrete” claims.
The unfortunate climax of the deniers’ work occurred in Rialto, California where approximately 2,000 eighth graders in the Rialto School district were given the assignment to discuss whether the Holocaust was an actual historical event or a political scheme. The San Bernandino Sun investigated into it and found 50 student essays that stated that the Holocaust was indeed a falsified event. Why educators felt this was an ethical assignment is concerning to say the least as the role of educators is to teach children the truth.
Holocaust deniers will never stop voicing their claims, and it is therefore the duty of all others to keep the history of the Holocaust alive for all future generations to be informed of the great atrocity that occurred.
“Anne Frank Museum Amsterdam – the Official Anne Frank House Website.” Anne Frank House. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2014.
BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 29 July 2014.
Schaeffer, Caroline. “Assignment Asking Students Whether The Holocaust Was Real Results In Disturbing Answers And Grades.” Independent Journal Review. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2014.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, n.d. Web. 27 July 2014.
Image Credit: “Holocaust Memorial.” Flickr: Creative Commons. Flickr, n.d. Web. 6 Aug. 2014. <https://flic.kr/p/5nWqJo>.