Deniers of the Holocaust, the systematic murder of around 6 million Jews in World War II, either deny that such a genocide took place or minimize its extent. These groups (and individuals) often cloak themselves in the sober language of serious scholarship, call themselves “historical revisionists” instead of deniers, and accuse their critics of trying to squelch open-minded inquiries into historical truth.
The deniers’ claims run a gamut. Some say that most Jews were the victims of disease and other privations, or died in much the same way that other casualties of a huge and horrific war did. Some say that the gas chambers did not exist, or were only used to delouse prisoners, or could not possibly have killed as many victims as mainstream historians have asserted, and many suggest that the gas chambers were built after the war as a way extracting reparations from the Germans. The main purpose of Holocaust denial has been to rehabilitate the German Nazis’ image as part of a bid to make the ideology of national socialism more acceptable.
David Irving, a British writer who is the world’s best-known denier, sued an American scholar for calling him a denier but suffered a devastating defeat in 2000, when a British judge concluded that Irving had selectively edited the facts in his books as part of his pro-Nazi, pro-Hitler and anti-Jewish ideology.