Over the course of 2020, the dangers of Holocaust distortion have been more starkly outlined than ever. Whether at protests against coronavirus measures or in antisemitic campaigns on social media, this troubling phenomenon is on the rise all over the world. Holocaust distortion is a direct attack on the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and a threat to the fundamental values of democratic societies.
Based on input provided by dozens of IHRA experts and experts outside of the IHRA, a set of recommendations has now been identified for how policy and decision-makers can recognize, prevent and counter Holocaust distortion. As part of the Global Task Force on Holocaust Distortion, initiated by the German Presidency of the IHRA earlier this year, this resource is intended to increase awareness of Holocaust distortion among policy and decision-makers. Above all, however, it is intended as a practical resource, developed for non-experts, as a first step in understanding the forms Holocaust distortion can take and how to address them.
Countering Holocaust distortion requires action on many levels and the engagement of many different actors. The recommendations therefore focus on building professional capacities, fostering exchange, and developing tools, guidelines, sustained funding, and – when possible – international cooperation. The measures in the recommendations represent a framework that can be adapted to the unique contexts of various organizations and countries.
The recommendations cover four main areas:
Monitoring and identifying Holocaust distortion
Holocaust distortion is not always adequately monitored as a specific phenomenon. To understand its scope and impact, we need better ways of identifying and tracking it. The IHRA’s working definition of Holocaust Denial and Distortion is a useful starting point, but cooperation with governmental, intergovernmental, and civil society stakeholders guidelines are needed for groups that monitor hate speech and hate crime so that they can deal adequately with distortion.
Raising awareness of Holocaust distortion will require a concerted, sustained, approach among a variety of different audience groups. This section contains key questions and topics that should be considered when developing training programs for these groups, as well as questions about local context that should be taken into account. This section also includes suggestions for goals that training programs should aim to achieve.
Strengthening memorials and museums
Museums, authentic sites, archives and other sites dealing with local or national history are important for countering Holocaust distortion, as they often face unique challenges in this area. The recommendations provide guidance on how policymakers can support these sites, from helping to secure sustainable funding to providing professional development for museum employees and guides.
Recognizing Holocaust distortion online
Policymakers should support the development of tools that help identify and respond to this manifestation of antisemitism online, and which strengthen initiatives that hold companies accountable for what appears on their platform. This section of the recommendations discusses a variety of strategies for responding to the unique challenges of online distortion, as well as ways that institutions can work together to identify best practices and amplify the reach of accurate information about the Holocaust.
The Global Task Force on Holocaust Distortion will be launching the full Recommendations on Recognizing and Countering Holocaust Distortion on 19 January.