What is Holocaust Distortion?

23.08.2019

In the period 2018 – 2022, the IHRA’s experts and political representatives are focusing their efforts on countering Holocaust distortion and safeguarding the historical record. Distortion and denial appear across the political and ideological spectrum and often accompany a wide range of motives, up to and including the rehabilitation of antisemitism and the promotion of ideologies that invite genocide and crimes against humanity.

At its simplest level, Holocaust distortion is rhetoric, written work, or other media that excuse, minimize, or misrepresent the known historical record of the Holocaust. The IHRA has identified at least five ways it manifests itself, including attempts to blame Jews for the Holocaust, or blurring of responsibility for the murders of the Holocaust. These are outlined in the Working Definition of Holocaust Distortion and Denial

Today, Holocaust distortion and denial cuts across political, ideological, and cultural divides. Its pervasiveness is informed by a general decline in historical knowledge, and a tendency to politicize and weaponize history to suit all manner of political ends.

The IHRA and all its member states must make sustained efforts to identify and condemn all misuse of Holocaust imagery and tropes by political, ideological, and cultural leaders, irrespective of the medium where such misuse occurs.

We do this by building an engaged network, by sharing practices and by making those practices visible and accessible to decision-makers. In this way we ensure accurate and sensitive remembrance of history with a view to informing the policymaking of today.

Read the full paper on Holocaust Denial and Distortion, including recommendations for future initiatives.

Photo: Archives in the Mémorial de la Shoah, Paris.