More than seven decades after the end of the Holocaust, the full extent of what occurred still remains unexamined. A thriving international field of research exists, and dedicated scholars work to bring facts to light. Yet legal obstacles, the closure of archives and the poor physical condition of some materials pose fundamental challenges to their efforts.

Each IHRA member country is committed to ensuring that all documents bearing on the Holocaust are available to researchers, and the IHRA also works to extend this same level of access to those conducting research in non-member countries. Led by the Steering Committee on Archival Access, the IHRA brings together archival-holding institutions, scholars in the field of Holocaust studies and policymakers in order bring hidden evidence into the light.

IHRA member countries have also played an important role in ensuring that outright denial of the Holocaust – the notion that that the genocide of Europe’s Jews never happened – finds no place in mainstream discourse. Nonetheless, other forms of Holocaust distortion persist. Examples of this distortion include minimizing the impact of the Holocaust and blurring responsibility for it.

The IHRA recognizes this ideology for what it is: an expression of antisemitism. This is why the IHRA formed its Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial, an expert unit which monitors instances of Holocaust distortion and supports governments in their efforts to eliminate any manifestations of it.

Issues such as countering Holocaust distortion and safeguarding the historical record are complex and nuanced, so the IHRA commits to focusing on these topics over a period of several years. We solicit input from a range of disciplines and geographical regions and ensure that our recommendations are backed by research, informed by best practice and communicated effectively.

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. 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.

Further reading:

Working Definition of Holocaust Distortion and Denial

Report and Recommendations on Archival Access

Archives in the Mémorial de la Shoah, Paris. Mémorial de la Shoah/photo Vincent Pfrunner