Identifying and Countering Holocaust Distortion: Lessons for and from Southeast Asia

How can we resist Holocaust deniers?

In many European countries, Holocaust denial is forbidden by law; many have also established broader legislation against racial and ethnic hatred. While outright Holocaust denial can be condemned easily, distortion and trivialisation are more challenging phenomena, and their subtle forms should be recognised first. They are phenomena that are frequently expressed in ways that cannot be punished by the law or similar measures. This is particularly relevant for Central and Eastern Europe, where societies are struggling to come to terms with their own pasts and find new expressions of national collective memory. The arguments of Holocaust revisionism ‘help’ them to deal with feelings of guilt for the diversity of their roles in the Holocaust. A danger exists that the original Holocaust denial laws, which protect historical facts from being misused, are being rewritten by governments to preserve national narratives on the Holocaust.[1]

Holocaust distortion can be fought through critical debates (such as the ones surrounding Jan T. Gross’s books) through developing critical thinking, and through supporting Holocaust research and researchers in the lands where it happened to investigate previously neglected issues. Education and awareness-raising campaigns similar to those led by the NEVER AGAIN Association are also of great importance.   Learn more about global efforts to combat Holocaust denial and distortion on IHRA’s  websites: https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/task-force-against-holocaust-denial-and-distortion

[1] https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/news-archive/holocaust-denial-laws-effective-tool-or-trojan-horse, retrieved on 17.01.2022.