Regular readers of this space will recall an article I penned a few months ago (Pipestone Flyer July 19 edition) about former federal Green Party candidate, Albertan and wacko Monika Schaefer, who also came to notoriety for her ardent Holocaust denial.
That is, denying or minimizing the Nazi persecution and genocide of Jewish and other people before and during the Second World War.
Two weeks ago Schaefer was found guilty of inciting hatred against Jews after she appeared in YouTube videos stating the Holocaust was, “the most persistent lie in all of history.”
She got 10 months in jail for spreading lies that encourage hatred against Jews. Can spreading lies like Holocaust denial have other consequences?
No doubt most readers saw the aftermath of Robert Bowers’s homicidal rampage at a Jewish synagogue Oct.27. He murdered 11 people and American media reports noted Bowers was known to be virulently anti-Semitic.
I don’t understand how people can deny the Holocaust. It is historical fact. In my opinion one of the most reliable sources for documentation of the Holocaust was General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander in chief of Allied forces at the end of the Second World War.
He was in command when U.S. forces liberated Nazi death camps in 1945. Eisenhower visited the camps himself, an eyewitness to the horrors within.
“I visited every nook and cranny of the camp because I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify at first hand about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or assumption that ‘the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda’…as soon as I returned to Patton’s headquarters that evening I sent communications to both Washington and London, urging the two governments to send instantly to Germany a random group of newspaper editors and representative groups from the national legislatures. I felt that the evidence should be immediately placed before the American and the British public in a fashion that would leave no room for cynical doubt.” (Crusade in Europe, pp. 409–10,) Photos and films of the aftermath of the Holocaust from this time are commonly available, for example in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Liberation Photography page.
Another damning piece of evidence is often called “the argument from silence.” Voter records and tax rolls in the 1930s reveal millions of European Jewish citizens who pretty much vanished off the face of the earth. Where did they go, if not into gas chambers?
Of course, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism go hand in hand.
Why people hate Jews I can’t explain; most people I know have never met a Jew and could scarcely explain what harm Jews have ever done to them. Modern anti-Semitism owes much to activities of certain European royalty, who commissioned a hoax called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, said to be a recording of a secret Jewish meeting with the goal of world domination. The protocols were proven in the 1920s to be a fraud, plagiarized virtually word for word from an 1864 book by Maurice Joly called Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu.
Why does Holocaust denial survive and even prosper in a modern, educated world? Well, there’s embarrassment. Well-known Holocaust denier Harry Elmer Barnes inferred as much, writing there was too much sympathy for Jews and a “lack of any serious opposition or concerted challenge to the atrocity stories and other modes of defamation of German national character and conduct.” I will note, though, that it’s a fact the first people who gave their lives trying to stop the Nazis were other Germans.
Holocaust denial persists because bigots who want to hurt Jewish people know this is the easiest way to do it.
Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.