“We accept our responsibility as governments to continue working together to counter Holocaust denial and distortion, antisemitism, and all forms of racism and discrimination that undermine fundamental democratic principles. We will work closely with experts, civil society and our international partners to further these goals.”
– Article 7 of the 2020 Ministerial Declaration
Leading global efforts to counter Holocaust denial and distortion
Over the last few years there has been a shocking increase in efforts to minimize the impact of the Holocaust and downplay the crimes of the Nazi regime and its collaborators in both public and political discourse. This trend, in which Holocaust distortion is becoming more prominent, erodes our understanding of the historical truth of the Holocaust and allows for antisemitism to inch towards the mainstream. All this poses a grave threat to our democracies and open societies.
In 2020, building on the IHRA’s leadership in the field and honoring the commitments outlined in the 2020 IHRA Ministerial Declaration, the German Presidency of the IHRA launched the Global Task Force Against Holocaust Distortion with an extra-budgetary contribution. This network has brought together like-minded governmental and non-governmental bodies and international experts to develop practical tools and identify, share, and promote good practices on countering Holocaust distortion.
Read the report about the activities of the Global Task Force Against Holocaust Distortion.
At the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism, Remember – ReAct, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and UNESCO pledged to jointly address rising Holocaust denial and distortion as a virulent form of contemporary antisemitism.
Understanding Holocaust distortion
Unlike the more clear-cut cases of Holocaust denial, Holocaust distortion is more difficult to identify, meaning it often goes unchallenged. 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 ten forms of Holocaust distortion:
- Intentional efforts to excuse or minimize the impact of the Holocaust or its principal elements, including collaborators and allies of Nazi Germany.
- Gross minimization of the number of victims of the Holocaust in contradiction to reliable sources.
- Attempts to blame the Jews for causing their own genocide.
- Statements that cast the Holocaust as a positive historical event suggesting that it did not go far enough in accomplishing its goal of “the Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”
- Attempts to blur the responsibility for Nazi Germany’s establishment of concentration and death camps by blaming other nations or ethnic groups.
- Accusing Jews of “using” the Holocaust for some manner of gain.
- Use of the term “Holocaust” to reference events or concepts that are not related in any meaningful way to the genocide of European and North African Jewry by Nazi Germany and its accomplices between 1941 and 1945.
- State-sponsored manipulation of Holocaust history in order to sow political discord within or outside a nation’s borders.
- Trivializing or honoring the historical legacies of persons or organizations that were complicit in the crimes of the Holocaust.
- The use of imagery and language associated with the Holocaust for political, ideological, or commercial purposes unrelated to this history in online and offline forums.
Learn about Holocaust denial and distortion from the experts
This panel discussion, moderated by CNN anchor Hala Gorani, explores the dangers of Holocaust distortion. Hella Pick, Marian Turski, Deborah Lipstadt, and Robert Williams discuss what we can do to counter it.