As Time Goes on It's Vital We Never Forget One of the Darkest Times in World History; as Preparations Are Made for Holocaust Memorial Day Next Wednesday in Wales Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok, First Professor of Judaism at the University of Wales, Argues That We Need to Continue to Raise Awareness of the Nazis' Atrocities: The Thursday Essay
Byline: Dan Cohn-Sherbok
Since the end of the Second WorldWar, Holocaust deniers have been determined to prove that the tragic events of the Nazi period never actually took place.
One of the earliest proponents of Holocaust denial was the French essayist Maurice Bardeche who argued that some of the evidence regarding the concentration camps was falsified. Another central figure who contributed to this early debate was the French author Paul Rassinier who maintained that survivors claims about the Nazis were not at all reliable and that the alleged genocide of European Jewry was a complete myth.
The gas chambers, he stated, were an invention of the Zionists.
In the late 1950s the German-American writer Austin J App maintained that less than six million Jews died during the Nazi regime. In The Six Million Swindle he laid down a series of axioms which have served as guiding principles of Holocaust denial.
Another AmericanArthur Butz in The Hoax of the Twentieth Century argued that the Jewish people had perpetrated the hoax of the Holocaust to further Zionism ideals.
In Butz's opinion, the Holocaust myth was promoted by a conspiratorial group of Zionists who were intent on gaining sympathy and support for Israel. More recently,Holocaust denial has been promoted by various Arab leaders throughout the Middle East. Mahmoud Abbas, for example, who was a co-founder of Fatah and president of the Palestinian Authority, published The Other Face: The Secret Connection Between the Nazis and the Zionist Movement in which he stated that the Zionist movement inflated the number of Holocaust deaths to gain the solidarity of international public opinion with Zionism.
Newspapers funded by the Saudi Arabian government deny the existence of the Holocaust or downplay its significance. In 2005 the Egyptian Brotherhood leader, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, denounced what he called the myth of the Holocaust in defending Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's views about the destruction of the Jews. In the view of these critics, the Holocaust is amyth perpetrated by Jews for their own ends. Yet, it is Holocaust denial itself which is a hoax.
As the historian Deborah Lipstadt noted: "If Holocaust denial has demonstrated anything, it is the fragility of memory, truth, reason and history. The deniers' campaign has been carefully designed to take advantage of these vulnerabilities... Their anti-Semitism is often so virulent that the logical conclusion of their argument is that though Hitler did not murder the Jews, he should have."
To combat such misinformation, Holocaust Memorial Day is now commemorated throughout the world. Initially the Anniversary for the Victims of Na-tional Socialism was officially recognised in Germany in 1996. Italy and Poland later adopted similarly memorial days, and on June 10, 1999 Andrew Dismore MP approached Prime Minister Tony Blair about creating a memorial day for the Holocaust. Supportive of this request, Blair declared: "I am determined to ensure that the horrendous crimes against humanity committed during the Holocaust are never forgotten."
This was followed by a consultation in October of the same year, and in January 2000 representatives from over 40 governments met in Stockholm to discuss Holocaust remembrance. At the conclusion of this meeting, the delegates signed a declaration which formed the basis of the United Nations Statement of Commitment adopted for Holocaust Memorial Day which embraces sven major principles: 1. …