Throughout the mid-18th century the Jewish population in Europe faced political, economic, and social issues from the new discriminating government leader, Adolf Hitler. His socialistic ideologies changed the daily life of the Jews and minorities for over half a century. Nearby nations heard about the encampment and torturing of the Jews and either believed the news outlets or didn’t, causing controversies about the events leading up to and during the Holocaust (WW2).
One of the most serious controversies that sprouted in World War II from Holocaust deniers, was the idea that Jews wanted to achieve world domination and that the Holocaust was just a ploy to achieve this . The idea that a minority population wanted to take over, was very shocking which led to many citizens in and outside of Europe not believing the events of the Holocaust. Adolf Hitler’s strong socialistic viewpoints challenged what many other world leaders believed and implemented onto there respected countries, which led to rumors and many controversies spreading via news outlets, word of mouth, and major headlines .
The majority of the historical disagreements developed in the 1940’s were brought to public attention through firsthand accounts and films made by Holocaust professors and researchers. Deborah Lipstadt, an American Holocaust Historian, wrote a famous novel, History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier, which explained why people do not believe in the Holocaust as well as why people trust the events that Holocaust survivors retold. The claim that the Holocaust did happen has been supported by the inaccurate controversies believed by deniers. This has been substantiated by the minute inconsistencies in the architecture of the gas chambers, translation errors in coded messages, the fact that the Nazi leaders and news outlets mischaracterized the Holocaust, and various antisemitic canards that were defamatory towards Judaism as a religion as well as Jews as an ethic group. The substantial amount of evidence presented shows that the Holocaust did occur from 1941 to 1945 and history should not be revised otherwise .
On September 15, 1935 Adolf Hitler and the German government, Reichstag, made antisemitic and racist laws after a special meeting at the annual Nuremberg Rally. After the rally, Hitler’s regime started to expand across Europe and Jewish persecution became more often, stricter, and more deadly. Then, in 1935, the Germans and their army persecuted, and murdered millions of other people seen as biologically inferior. The Germans occupied the Rhineland and most of western Germany by 1936 and knocked door to door collecting Jewish citizens and deporting them to Nazi made concentration camps in Germany, Poland, Austria, and other Nazi dominated European countries .
1938 was a year filed with discriminatory laws against the Jews, as well as, new happenings in the war, and with Germany. On March 12, Austria was forced into being an ally of Germany . This was a huge step for Nazi Germany and was a huge disappointment for the Jewish population. Jews were being collected by the Nazi’s every day, making the Jewish population and minorities living without freedoms. Because of this ally for Germany, the war would prove longer, and this enabled more death and destruction of the Jewish population. Then, by mid-1938 all Jews were forced into registering as a Jewish citizen with the government and if they were caught lying, they would be persecuted immediately. Later, France told the Jewish population that they could not offer Jewish refuge. This was an obvious down fall for the Jews because they now had no place to hide or run to.
On October 15, 1938, Nazis marked all Jewish passports with the letter J, making it virtually impossible for them to flee the country . The minorities in Europe always had to have their passports on them so, they could be identified as Jewish by the Nazi’s patrolling in the streets. The final straw was taken by destroying Jewish businesses at the end of 1938. All minority owned shops and businesses were destroyed; at this point there were no more Jewish shops in Germany. In conclusion the year of 1938, was a pivotal year for Jews living in Germany as all their rights were taken away as well as their freedom to practice Judaism safely in the country .
Although Adolf Hitler was focused on capturing and torturing the Jewish German population, on March 15, 1939 Hitler invaded Poland and Czechoslovakia finding more Jews to murder. This was huge for the worsening of the Holocaust and the second World War in general. All the captives in these countries were taken into concentration and labor camps such as: Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Krakow . At this point in time, the surrounding countries such as: Norway, Denmark, and France, all surrendered to the powerful Nazi regime allowing Hitler to take control and eliminate the minorities from their populations.
The most pivotal year of the Holocaust was in 1941. The Nazi’s invaded France, Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg. Then, France made an armistice with Hitler on June 22, 1940. Adolf Hitler agreed to sign this armistice so his army could focus their time and vitality on entering Britain while leaving France in charge of their land and government. Hitler’s plan in 1941 was called The Final Solution; he killed all remaining Jews in Europe (Kelly).
While Hitler was collecting more and more Jews from Europe, Germany declared war on the United States of America on December 11, 1941. The Nazi’s went door to door collecting all Jews they found and labeled them with a yellow star on their clothing to identify them as Jews. In the meantime, The Reichstag and government then released a statement that stated that The United States broke their neutrality statement in World War II since the government expressed the idea of bombing any German Vessels found over air and sea. This led to The United States joining the war against the German Nazi party. Later, graphic depictions of the extermination and labor camps in Germany and Poland were released over the radio and newspaper which frightened the American citizens. The Americans put on a rally in New York, New York to ensure that the U.S. government would take action to stop the extermination of the Jewish population. Overall, The United States’ action in the Holocaust helped end discrimination and helped put the Nazi regime to an end (Obo).
To no surprise, The United States, in 1943, found Nazi ran extermination camps and liquidated them with help from the allied powers. Once the U.S. found the Krakow concentration camp, images were released which showed the horrific scenes and bodies left behind (Berenbaum). This enacted The United Kingdom and The United States’ meeting at the Bermuda Conference, where the countries discussed the plan for winning the war against Adolf Hitler and the Germans. It took both countries nearly one year to acquire soldiers and equipment preparing to fight off the Nazis. On June 6, 1944, the allies landed on the beach at Normandy on the coast of France, where the countries raided the concentration camps and gave back the freedom to thousands of Jews in Europe (Obo). This was a very long and hard process that took many months to complete. A few months later, the Russians liberated the largest concentration camp, Auschwitz, in January 1945, which was one of the last concentration camps in Poland. At this point in the war against the Jews, all concentration and death camps had been found and taken over by either the Soviets or the United States’ army troops and government (Kelly).
Although many citizens believe the events of the Holocaust, some people doubt various aspects of the Holocaust and World War II. The four main controversies which initiate people to doubt the Holocaust are the inconsistencies in the architecture of the gas chambers, translation errors in coded messages, the fact that the Nazi leaders and news outlets mischaracterized the Holocaust, and various antisemitic canards that were defamatory towards Judaism as a religion as well as Jews as an ethic group.
The design and architecture of the gas chambers in Auschwitz Birkenau is the main argument Holocaust deniers use to back up the Holocaust Denial movement. Deniers claim that the gas chambers were not meant for human extermination (“Concentration”). The chambers were meant for the cremation of cadavers and a bomb shelter when air raids occurred. These gas chambers were underground and held up by four hollow wire mesh pillars. As seen through aerial photos, like the one below, these pillars had openings through the roof like chimneys (Peter). Through these chimneys Nazi and German officials would drop cyanide powder in the chamber to exterminate the Jewish population (Cox). Holocaust deniers believe that the pillars didn’t have openings that allowed for cyanide to be dropped in secretly. Deniers claim that cyanide was found in these chambers because they were used to kill the lice off cadavers which was not done in secrecy through holes in the pillars. Deniers call this claim “no holes no Holocaust” (Denial).
It is easy to assume that this claim made by the deniers is false since firsthand accounts from members of the Sonderkommando, Jewish slaves who had to escort fellow Jews to the gas chambers, saw members of the Reichstag inserting cyanide and trapping innocent Jews into the death traps (Peter). A former Auschwitz inmate wrote that ‘The gas canisters were always delivered in a German Red Cross vehicle with two SS men. They then dropped the gas through openings – and half an hour later our work began. We dragged the bodies of those innocent women and children to the lift, which took them to the ovens,’ (Peter). This quotation from an inmate proves the point that Nazi leaders used openings in pillars to insert cyanide and other chemicals to exterminate the Jews without them being suspicious in the rooms. The claim that “no holes, no Holocaust,” proves that the Holocaust was a hoax is proven incorrect through the evaluation of handwritten notes from inmates (Peter).
Antisemitic canards, unfound rumors or false allegations that are defamatory towards Judaism as a religion or Jews as an ethnic group, in the middle ages introduced the idea of Jewish domination worldwide. Internationally, it was supposed that the Jewish population was responsible for the death of Jesus, causing epidemics like the Bubonic Plague, and the plotting to control the world by promoting capitalism in finance in the 19th century. Going into the 20th century, many country leaders and civilians assumed that Jews were trying to influence news outlets as a way to justify the creation of the State of Israel. Holocaust denial sprouted from these antisemitic canards as they were the central worldview of Adolf Hitler. Civilians who base their beliefs on the antisemitic mendacities from the middle ages, consider the Holocaust as “a hoax
designed to advance the interests of Jews,” (Antisemitic canards). This is the main reason people today do not believe the Holocaust happened (Antisemitic canards).
Although many civilians and countries as a whole are anti-Jewish, it is absurd to disbelieve an entire war just because of bias towards a group of people. The Black Plague, Bubonic Plague, was introduced to mass populations by infected rats and mammals, not the Jewish population (Black Death). Epidemiologist have discovered that the most reasonable idea of where the Black Plague started was in Mongolia in the late 1340’s. Jews were not introduced to the Mongolian trade routes until the late 1800’s. This once again proves that the Jewish population couldn’t have started this epidemic. Antisemitic canards like these are easily spread and misinterpreted causing doubts on later historical events, like the Holocaust, making society believe the rumors rather than the truth (Black Death).
Another reason many people do not believe in the Holocaust is based off translation errors in the messages sent between German officers. When German officials sent messages to one another about the war they used German and other coded messages (Cox). When these codes got solved, some of the words could be translated into multiple words. For example, “ausrottung” was a word de-coded in a speech made by Heinrich Himmler, a Nazi party leader. Ausrottung can either mean deport or extermination. Holocaust deniers choose to interpret the message to say that the Jewish population were being deported to labor camps, while Holocaust believers think that the message says that Jews were being exterminated in death camps (Denial). More of these misinterpretations were found in both of Himmler’s speeches, the Posen Speeches. These speeches showed proof that the Nazi Party engaged in a systematic extermination of the Jewish population in the 20th century. These speeches were the first time Nazi officials stated that they were killing Jewish and minority populations. Overall, when different interpretations of the same text are found, different points of views are resulted (Concentration).
Another example of translation errors is when the Allied Forces disseminated false information, that they killed civilians, disfigured women, and bayoneted babies, to public media sources and to the general population (Concentration). When they used “enstellt” in German it translates to “blemish” in English. This error in translation caused the English-speaking population to assume that the Jews were not being hurt and tortured. When this was spread throughout the news it was easy for local community members to not believe that horrible actions happened to minorities since it is hard to believe that citizens did such harsh and demeaning actions on Jews when the officials say that Jews were just a “blemish” to society. The idea that such a civilized nation, Germany, would use all their resources to kill millions of civilians shocked many people from other nations, making it hard to believe. Therefore, some people do not believe in the Holocaust and other harsh acts that the Germans enacted on Jews in the 20th century (Cox).
Many civilians use denying the Holocaust as a coping mechanism while others used it to enhance their political ideologies. Paul Rassinier who wrote the novel, The Lie of Ulysses, was an inmate in the Buchenwald concentration camp (Concentration). Since Rassinier was not treated as a minority or tortured, he denies that the Holocaust happened, and many others follow his beliefs since he was in a camp and saw what happened firsthand (Denial). The mischaracterizations of the Holocaust by media sources and even Nazi officials caused the denial of the Holocaust by groups in America and in parts of Europe. Some of these mischaracterizations were that the Germans were not the only ones behind the Holocaust and should not be the only ones being reprimanded. The media outlets portrayed all the concentration camps in Germany as being operated all the same and they all had the same inmates and daily procedures and activities. They also painted the camps as being not having harsh regulations on the Jews, making the Holocaust hard to believe without eye witnessing the concentration camps (Cox). Therefore, when a survivor came out and said what he saw, it was convincing for the general population in America and Europe to believe the Holocaust (Denial).
The denial of the Holocaust is attributed to the inconsistencies in the architecture of the gas chambers, the errors made from translating coded messages in German, the fact that the Reichstag, Nazi leaders, and news outlets mischaracterized the Holocaust, and the various antisemitic canards spread in the late 18th century. These four inconsistences combined created doubts and confusion in American’s and European’s in the mid-20th century (Denial).
Denying the Holocaust is still prevalent today. There is still evidence being found from remains of old concentration camps in Poland and Germany that are strengthening the claim that the Holocaust did transpire in the 1940’s. Deborah Lipstadt’s novel, Denial, helps strengthen the claim when she won a trial against a British Holocaust denier, David Irving, who argued that not enough evidence has been found. Contradicting this, researchers and historians have found an abundance of information and artifacts to ensure that the worldwide view of the Holocaust is portrayed as “the destruction or slaughter on a mass scale, especially caused by fire or nuclear war” (Holocaust). The inadequate controversies presented by deniers that various inconsistencies found in the architecture of the gas chambers, translation errors in coded messages, the fact that the Nazi leaders and news outlets mischaracterized the Holocaust, and various antisemitic canards that were defamatory towards Judaism as a religion as well as Jews as an ethic group, all strengthen the idea that the Holocaust did happen from 1941-1945 in Europe and history should not be revised to state that it did not transpire.