Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Charles Gray

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The assertion that the ga... >>

What is meant by the term "Holocaust denier"

8.1 The threshold question is whether Irving has denied the Holocaust and, if so, in what terms and how comprehensively? Irving has at no time sought to controvert the following facts:
  • (a)that the Nazis established concentration (as opposed to extermination) camps throughout their territories;
  • (b)that from about June 1941 when the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union many thousands of Jews and others in the East were shot and killed by Nazi soldiers;
  • (c)that from the end of 1941 onwards thousands of Jews were killed by gassing in the Reinhard death camps.
Irving did, however, challenge the proposition that there was a systematic programme, ordained at a high level, to exterminate European Jewry. He denied that there was mass killing of hundreds of thousands of Jews in gas chambers at Auschwitz.
8.2 That being in broad terms Irving's stance, it is necessary, in order to decide whether he is justifiably described by Lipstadt as a "Holocaust denier" to define precisely what is by that term. There has been some debate   between the parties as to its meaning. In ordinary usage the word "holocaust" connotes complete destruction, especially of a large number of persons and usually by fire. Irving claimed that the term can be applied to the events of World War II as a whole. But I did not understand him to dispute that it is generally understood to have a narrower significance and that it is perceived to be specifically linked to the fate of Jews during the Third Reich (and not just during the war years).
8.3 Evans argued that the term is generally understood to denote "the attempt by Nazi Germany, led by Hitler, to exterminate the Jewish population in Europe, which attempt succeeded to the extent of murdering between 5 and 6 million Jews in a variety of ways, including mass gassings in camps built for the purpose". It follows that a "Holocaust denier" is someone who, for one reason or another or for a combination of reasons, repudiates the notion that the above definition of the Holocaust is apt to describe what was sought to be done to the European Jews by the Nazis during World War 2. Evans testified that a characteristic of Holocaust denial is that it involves a politically motivated falsification of history.
8.4 In the opinion of Evans, the views expressed by Holocaust deniers include the following:
  • (i)that Jews were not killed in gas chambers or at least not on any significant scale;
  • (ii)that the Nazis had no policy and made no systematic attempt to exterminate European Jewry and that such deaths as did occur were the consequence of individual excesses unauthorised at senior level;
  • (iii)that the number of Jews murdered did not run into millions and that the true death toll was far lower;
  • (iv)that the Holocaust is largely or entirely a myth invented during the war by Allied propagandists and sustained after the war by Jews in order to obtain financial support for the newly-created state of Israel.
8.5 According to Evans, whilst the expression of those views is typical, Holocaust deniers do not necessarily subscribe to all of them and the views of some deniers may be more extreme than others. Irving made the point that it would be absurd to label a person a Holocaust denier merely because he or she questions the number of Jews killed under the Nazi regime.
The assertion that the ga... >>

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accessed 11 March 2013