“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
Countering Holocaust denial and distortion is central to the IHRA’s activities
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 brings together likeminded governmental and non-governmental bodies to identify, share, and promote good practices on countering Holocaust distortion.
What is 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, minimise, or misrepresent the known historical record of the Holocaust. The IHRA has identified ten forms:
- Intentional efforts to excuse or minimise the impact of the Holocaust or its principal elements, including collaborators and allies of Nazi Germany.
- Gross minimisation 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.
- Trivialising or honouring the historical legacies of persons or organisations 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.
The Global Task Force Against Holocaust Distortion blends international cooperation with expertise
No one individual, organization, or government can counter Holocaust distortion alone. This international problem must be addressed through international cooperation.
The IHRA’s Global Task Force Against Holocaust Distortion is working with its international experts across disciplines to develop practical tools and build a broad and strong coalition against distortion. Take a stand and join the IHRA’s efforts.