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.
Recognizing the need for greater international exchange and action on the issue of Holocaust denial and distortion, the German Presidency of the IHRA made combatting these phenomena a priority. With the establishment of a Global Task Force Against Holocaust Distortion in 2020 and 2021, special attention is being paid to Holocaust distortion, which is more difficult to identify than Holocaust denial. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas first announced the creation of this Task Force in January 2020. This network will aim to bring together likeminded governmental and non-governmental bodies to identify, share, and promote good practices on countering Holocaust distortion.
Download Recognizing and Countering Holocaust Distortion: Recommendations for Policy and Decision Makers, published in January 2021 together with UNESCO.
Reflecting the IHRA’s priorities
Safeguarding the record and countering distortion is the IHRA’s priority theme for the next years. With the IHRA’s 2020 Ministerial Declaration, Member Countries accepted their responsibility to “continue working together to counter Holocaust denial and distortion, antisemitism, and all forms of racism and discrimination” and committed to work closely with experts, civil society and international partners to further these goals.
“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
The IHRA’s working definitions of antisemitism (2016) and Holocaust denial and distortion (2013) – drafted by IHRA experts and approved by IHRA Member Countries – provide an essential mutual starting point for addressing these issues at the national level. However, further resources and practical guidance are needed to provide useful tools for use by governments and civil societies.
At the top of the IHRA German Presidency’s priority list is identifying ways to act against dangerous lies, misrepresentation of facts and trivialization of the Holocaust in public, at memorial sites and online.
“Not only is distortion of the Holocaust just as amoral as Holocaust denial, it also prevents societies and individuals from getting to grips with the past. Denial and trivialization of the Holocaust always reflect an antisemitic mindset and prepare the ground for other forms of inhumane ideologies. To take effective action against the rising trend of Holocaust distortion, as well as growing antisemitism, political actors must coordinate their efforts on an international level.”
– German Presidency of the IHRA
The priority of the German Presidency of the IHRA is to contribute to the implementation of these goals by promoting the adoption of the Working Definition of Holocaust Denial and Distortion, by initiating exchange and coalitions among likeminded institutions and by developing adequate recommendations for action by Member Countries.