Holocaust denial is an antisemitic and anti-Romani conspiracy theory that asserts that the Holocaust is either a myth, an exaggeration, or a fabrication.
Historians widely agree that genocide denial is an integral part — and the final step — of genocide. Denial occurs both during and after the genocide. Examples include secret planning, propaganda, and destruction of evidence.
Before the Holocaust was even over, German authorities already had plans to destroy or conceal the evidence of the genocide. As soon as it became obvious that the Nazis would lose the war, Heinrich Himmler instructed all concentration and death camp commandants to destroy the crematoria, records, and other signs of mass extermination. Bodies were burned and some death camps, such as Treblinka, were essentially fully destroyed.
Other countries that had collaborated with the Nazis, such as France, also participated in burying evidence.
Holocaust denial takes many forms. Sometimes it’s outright denial that the Holocaust happened. Usually, however, it’s a distortion of established facts about the Holocaust. This is also known as Holocaust revisionism or soft Holocaust denial.
SOFT HOLOCAUST DENIAL
Soft Holocaust denial is an insidious form of Holocaust denial. Instead of outright denying the existence of the Holocaust, soft Holocaust denial minimizes it.
Some examples of soft denial include de-centering Jews and Roma from the narrative of the Holocaust; deflecting Holocaust discussions by invoking Zionism, Israel, or the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (in the vein of stating “what about Palestine?” when a Jewish person is discussing the Holocaust); creating false equivalencies (for example, calling Jews or Israelis “the new Nazis”); victim-blaming; or shifting blame away from perpetrators (for example, many countries, such as Poland, Lithuania, and Austria, have refused to take accountability for their role in the Holocaust).
An extremely insidious and prevalent form of Holocaust denial, revisionism, and soft Holocaust denial is known as Holocaust inversion.
Holocaust inversion is the act of depicting Jews and/or Israelis as Nazis, crypto-Nazis, or “worse than Nazis.”
Holocaust inversion is a rhetorical tool used to portray Jews as morally equivalent — or worse — than Nazis. It’s often employed in discussions about Israel-Palestine and is frequently used by anti-Zionists. Holocaust inversion is a form of Holocaust revisionism, and, as such, is inherently a form of Holocaust denial.
As explained previously, Holocaust denial takes many forms. Its most common iteration comes through the distortion of established facts about the Holocaust. Holocaust inversion is revisionist because (1) Jews inherently cannot be Nazis or morally equivalent to Nazis, because Nazis considered all Jews, regardless of their political views, to be the inferior race; (2) Holocaust inversion inherently minimizes the Holocaust (more on this in a later slide); (3) the vast majority of Holocaust survivors have been supportive of Jewish self-determination (i.e. Zionism), and equating Holocaust survivors with their oppressors is repugnant and antisemitic; (4) the Nazis were ardently anti-Zionist; (5) the Nazis persecuted all Jews, regardless of their political views; and (6) the Arab leadership in Palestine actively collaborated with the Nazi regime during the Holocaust, which fundamentally shaped the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict as it exists today.
For a more complete post on Palestinian-Nazi collaboration in Mandatory Palestine, please see my post NAZISM IN THE 1947-1949 ARAB ISRAELI WAR.
In 1933, just two months after Hitler came to power, the leader of the Arab Higher Committee, Haj Amin al-Husseini, called the German consulate in Jerusalem, offering his congratulations. In November of 1933, the Nazis themselves revealed that they had established a direct contact with the Arab leadership in Palestine, with the hopes of “adapting the Nazi program” to the Holy Land.
In 1935, the Husseinis established the Palestinian Arab Party, modeled after the Nazi Party in Germany.
During the Great Arab Revolt (1936-1939), which culminated in various anti-Jewish massacres, the British quickly suspected Nazi involvement, noticing that the Arab rioters carried smuggled Nazi weaponry. The British also suspected the Germans of planning the 1938 pogrom in Tiberias, which resulted in the massacre of 19 Jews, including 11 children.
Right in the midst of World War II, the Nazis continued to arm the Arabs in Palestine. In addition to al-Husseini, other prominent Palestinian leaders working directly for the Nazis included Akram Zuaiter, Jamal Hussein, Fawzi al-Qawuqji, Mu’in al-Madi, Amin Tamimi, Abd al-Qader al-Husseini. In October of 1944, two of Husseini’s men aided the Nazis in a failed intelligence-gathering mission in Mandatory Palestine.
In 1957, a top secret document came to light, which revealed that Germany and Italy recognized the right of the Arabs to “solve the Jewish question” in Palestine and other Arab nations. Following the vote on the 1947 Partition Plan, the Arab Higher Committee warned the British not to intervene in their violence against the Jews. The Arab Higher Committee published a leaflet stating: “The Arabs have taken the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem.”
It’s important to understand that Holocaust inversion actually predates the establishment of the State of Israel, the 1947-1949 Palestine Civil War and Israeli War of Independence, and the Nakba.
Holocaust inversion has its roots in the British Foreign Office during the period of the British Mandate of Palestine. In March of 1945 — about two months before the Nazis even surrendered — the High Commissioner of Palestine, Lord Gort, told the Colonial Secretary in London that “the establishment of any Jewish State in Palestine…will almost inevitably mean the rebirth of National Socialism [i.e. Nazism] in some guise.”
Sir John Bagot Glubb, who later became the British Commander of the Jordanian Arab Legion during the 1948 war, wrote in a 1946 memorandum to the British government that the “new Jews” (i.e. Jewish refugees) had copied Nazi techniques and adopted Hitler’s master race theory. Unsurprisingly, Glubb was a virulent antisemite who considered Jews “unlikeable, aggressive, stiff-necked, vengeful, and imbued with the idea of [being] a superior race.”
Other British officials that engaged in Holocaust inversion included Lord Altrincham, who stated that Zionist youth groups were “a copy of the Hitler Youth,” and Sir Harold MacMichael and Sir Edward Grigg, both of whom equated Zionism with Nazism even while Jews were being slaughtered by the millions in Europe.
Following the end of the war, renowned British historian Arnold Joseph Toynbee disseminated Holocaust inversion to a wide audience, claiming in “A Study of History” that the Zionists in Palestine were “disciples of the Nazis” but were much worse than “their Nazi teachers.”
The Soviet Union had begun distorting the history and the facts of the Holocaust before the war was even won. The Soviet propaganda machine never acknowledged the specifically antisemitic and anti-Romani nature of the Holocaust, and instead, depicted all Soviets (as well as communists) as the main victims of the Nazis. This is important to note because, by stripping Jews of the history of our oppression, the Soviets could then easily characterize Jews as Nazis.
The Soviets had a vested interest in framing Zionism as equivalent to Nazism. If Zionists were indeed “Nazis,” then the Soviet Union couldn’t be condemned for persecuting “Zionists” (Jews) under its “anti-Zionist” (antisemitic) propaganda campaign and purge.
In the 1970s alone, hundreds of books and articles equating Zionism to Nazism were published in the Soviet Union and were later translated into Arabic, as well as numerous other languages. In 1985, the Anti-Zionist Committee of the Soviet Public published a propagandist brochure known as the “Criminal Alliance of Zionism and Nazism,” which claimed that there was irrefutable proof that the Zionists not only had collaborated with the Nazis, but were also responsible for the genocide of Jews, Slavs, and others in Europe. When Israel captured and tried Adolf Eichmann in the 1960s, the Soviets painted the Israel-West Germany relationship as “evidence” that the Zionists had colluded with the Nazis. Soviet anti-Zionist propaganda in the Arab world was so pervasive that it even influenced the dissertation of current Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, titled “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship between Nazism and Zionism.” According to Abbas, Israel captured Eichmann “to prevent the ‘sacred secrets’ of this [Zionist-Nazi] collaboration from becoming public.”
Since the earliest instances of Holocaust inversion, antisemites have made the implication that Jews did not “learn our lesson” from the Holocaust. This, of course, is a repugnant assertion. The Holocaust was an industrial genocide on a never-before-seen mass scale that eradicated over 60 percent of Europe’s Jewry in the span of less than six years. In some countries, such as Poland and Lithuania, over 90 percent of the Jewish population was exterminated. It was not a “lesson” for us to learn. To this day, numbers-wise, the total Jewish population of the world has not recovered. Culturally, communally, and psychologically, we have not recovered either. To frame the Holocaust as a moral lesson for Jews is antisemitic, and the implication that we learned the “wrong lesson” is even worse, as this gives an opening to the repugnant line of thinking that perhaps it would’ve been better if the Jews had not survived at all. In fact, this is a common sentiment among many (though of course not all) anti-Zionists worldwide — the idea that Hitler should’ve finished his job to prevent future Palestinian suffering.
In his monumental “A Study of History,” Arnold Toynbee claimed that Jewish Zionists in Palestine were much worse than their “Nazi teachers” because they had “knowingly chosen to imitate them.” He further wrote, “The lesson they learned was not to eschew but to imitate the evil deeds committed by the Nazis against them.”
Another motivation for Holocaust inversion is for others to deflect from their crimes against Jews, as was the case with the Soviet Union. Additionally, Holocaust inversion strips Jews and Roma from the uniqueness of what was done to us, turning the Holocaust into just another horrific event in a string of horrific events that have happened in the history of the world.
Objectively, there is simply no comparison between the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict or Zionism to the Holocaust or Nazism, and any attempt to frame them as such is simply intellectually dishonest. The comparison also inherently minimizes the scale and effects of the Holocaust.
Nazism was a fascist, antisemitic, racist, and eugenecist ideology — as described by the Nazis themselves — that resulted in the extermination of six million Jews and about one million Roma. Zionism — as defined by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Jews — is the Jewish movement for self-determination in the ancestral Jewish land, the Land of Israel (Israel-Palestine today).
In 1897, in response to virulent, deadly antisemitism, Jewish representatives from across the world agreed at the First Zionist Congress: “Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Eretz Israel [the Land of Israel] secured under public law.” Beyond the concept of Jewish self-determination in Israel, you’d be hard pressed to find anything else at all that Zionists agree with.
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is also not comparable to the Holocaust. This is not to minimize the suffering of Palestinians, but, in terms of scale, the two are simply not the same. The Nazis exterminated six million Jews in an industrial genocide in the span of less than six years. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is an inter-ethnic conflict over territory that has claimed the lives of (by the highest estimates) ~55,000 Palestinians (at the hands of Israel) and ~25,000 Israelis over the span of 75 years. For perspective, the US war on Afghanistan (2001-2021) claimed the lives of ~200,000 people, the Syrian Civil War (2011-present) has claimed the lives of ~600,000 people, and the Chinese occupation of Tibet (1951-present) has killed 1.2 million Tibetans. Additionally, ~750,000 Palestinians and ~850,000 Jews were displaced in the Israeli-Arab Conflict. About 14 million Syrians have been displaced as a result of the Syrian Civil War (2011-present). And yet: only Israel, the one Jewish state in the world, with just 0.1% of the world’s population, is consistently compared to Nazi Germany. Why? Because it’s the comparison that would hurt Jews the most. The antisemitism here is blatant.
Again: there is no comparison. This doesn’t mean that Israel has not engaged in atrocities or that Palestinians are not suffering; it simply means that the comparison is inaccurate, revisionist, inflammatory, harmful, hurtful, and does absolutely nothing to secure a just and lasting peace for the civilians suffering on the ground.
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