Holocaust denial is the act of denying the genocide of Jews in the Holocaust during World War II ever happened.The evidence of the holocaust is of course compelling and horrific.Holocaust deniers prefer to call themselves ‘revisionists and their key claims are that German Nazi government had no Final Solution policy, Nazi authorities did not use extermination camps and gas chambers to mass murder Jews, and the actual number of Jews killed was significantly lower than the historically accepted figure of 5 to 6 million. These theories can be torn down quite easily and I would think that the sensible reaction would be to not give these people any credence. Those who want to believe in a fictitious version of history should be dismissed as non-thinkers with no credibility.

But the systematic killing of people because of their race, creed or religion,was so utterly abominable that the Holocaust is seen as a ‘special case’ to the extent that Holocaust denial is illegal in a number of European countries. Several of these countries (Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Romania) were among the perpetrators of the Holocaust, and many of these also ban other elements associated with Nazism, such as Nazi symbols.Prominent opponents of the laws are Christopher Hitchens and Noam Chomsky.This is not because of any anti-semitism on their part but because they believe in freedom of speech and that legislation at combating Holocaust denial will make martyrs out of those imprisoned for their violation.

One such person who spent a year in an Austrian jail is the historian David Irving.He still lectures, often in secret about the Holocaust, or at least his version of it; In the early 1990s, Irving was a frequent visitor to Germany, where he spoke at neo-Nazi rallies.The main themes of Irving’s German speeches were that the Allies and Axis states were equally culpable for war crimes, that the decision of Neville Chamberlain to declare war on Germany in 1939, and that of Winston Churchill to continue the war in 1940, had been great mistakes that set Britain on a path of decline, and the Holocaust was just a “propaganda exercise” Even this week, David Irving was saying similar statements during a secretive lecture tour, at a hotel in Peterborough. Since his conviction in Austria, the historian has denied denying the Holocaust, admitting that millions of Jews did die in gas chambers, but this was probably a sop. In Peterborough he says: “If you read the memoirs of Churchill or Eisenhower or de Gaulle, they don’t mention it at all. It never happened as far as they were concerned.” In around 1970, he adds, the Jews were “advised by a PR firm to give it one name, stick to that name, and stick to those figures and gradually you’ll make billions out of this. That’s what happened.”

It is pretty nauseating stuff but so much of our history seems revisionist, do we ever know the full truth? We are simply taught one person’s version of events. What is taught in schools tends to be favourable to the country the schools are in. It is really not inconceivable that in fifty years time the history books claim that Tony Blair was a hero for leading us to war in Iraq, rescuing the indigenous population from the grip of a terrible dictator. History is like terrorism,where one mans freedom fighter is another mans terrorist,it’s all in the perspective.

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