In recent years, there has been a marked rise in Holocaust denial and distortion, both online and off. The Global Task Force Against Holocaust Distortion, as initiated by the German Presidency of the IHRA, is countering this with the development of recommendations to help policymakers address this worrying trend.
Tracking Holocaust distortion
A problem can only be dealt with if it is accurately defined, researched and tracked. This is one of the reasons why working definitions are so useful: as a tool, a working definition can allow people from different backgrounds to work together to tackle a common problem. Experts are exploring how the IHRA Working Definition of Holocaust Denial and Distortion can serve as a basis for categorizing and identifying these various manifestations.
For policymakers to be able to act and implement strategies that can counter both Holocaust denial and distortion, they need to be aware of the scope of these problems — in this sense, data and statistics function as an awareness-raising tool.
Sharing good practices
As part of the Task Force's activities, experts are discussing how national and international agencies responsible for monitoring hate speech and related issues might better address Holocaust distortion, and what would help NGOs, research institutions and communities in their efforts to provide information about cases and incidents.
Part of the recommendations, which will be presented at the Leipzig Plenary, plan to provide guidance for how to advance research and data collection on Holocaust distortion and how to build networks and share information. As part of this project, the IHRA held a small-group meeting in May with experts representing Holocaust-related museums, research institutions, NGOs, governmental bodies and international bodies to share their good practices. This will lead to drafting workshops, which will follow in September.
The guidelines will also look at the different methodologies for identifying and recognizing Holocaust denial and distortion, as well as the challenges of standardizing data to allow for accurate comparison.
Photo: Holocaust-era documentation, courtesy of Yad Vashem archives.