I don't get holocaust deniers

I know what you’re thinking - what’s to get? They’re just anti-Semitic twatdonkeys. True, but sometimes it’s worth analysing crap to see what’s wrong with the body as a whole.

How they came to the conclusion is bizarre enough in itself, but what I really don’t get is this - if someone were a Jew-hating douchenozzle, wouldn’t they be *happy *that millions of them were murdered? Why would they try and convince themselves and others that it didn’t happen? What’s their motive, in other words?

Have they got themselves into some sort of anti-Semitic feedback loop, where they wish it happened but because Jews is evulz they lied about it, making them hate them more? Is it a labyrinthine conspiracy that exists inside their own heads impenetrable to the outside observer? Are they just plain nuts (maybe true, but a rather lazy explanation)?

Didn’t really know what forum to put this in, mods please move if MPSIMS is unsuitable.

It’s the way humans seem to be instinctively wired*. Commit genocide, then ignore what happened, don’t talk about it, erase it from history and in few generations or two the victims and the crimes against them are forgotten. That’s the normal genocide pattern; the Holocaust is usual mainly in people not being allowed to get away with sweeping it under the rug.

  • And yes, genocide does seem to be a human instinct; chimps do it too, on a small scale. Target a rival troop, then hunt down every last male, all the young, and the older females; keep the young fertile females as breeders. Same sort of thing Moses recommended in the Bible as I recall.

I’ve met one real life holocaust denier, and from what I gleaned he would have indeed been happy if The Holocaust had occurred, but he didn’t think it had. He believed it was all lies in order to destroy Germany, Hitler, and the white race, and in order to get support for Israel.

The reason holocaust deniers believe/claim to believe this stuff is twofold.

  1. Hatred of Jews/Israel. If they can make people believe that the holocaust was faked by the evil greedy Jews, then… Hitler was right to exterminate them! (Yes, I know this makes no sense, but we’re talking about Hitler fanboys, here.)

  2. Love of Hitler/Nazis/swastikas/assorted right wing paraphenalia. If the holocaust was a hoax, then HITLER WAS RIGHT! Which is, yes, the same argument as above, but with an emphasis on dress-ups.

A big part of the attraction of this stuff (to some people) is the “Hitler was right!” element. These are people that love the whole dressing-up-in-scary-uniforms right-wing authoritarian drama pageant thing. They love to imagine themselves in a scary uniform with people saluting them and Jews and queers and commies running scared from their marching jackboots.

(As an aside, the people with those fantasies are exactly the sort of people - brown-shirted thugs - that Hitler turned on and destroyed when they’d outlived their usefulness. These are not people that are capable of understanding that particular irony.)

They do revel in the memory. But at the same time, the Holocaust is such a stark and terrible reminder of what can happen when anti-Semitism is ascendant, one generally pays a price for espousing it publicly. If your goal is to bring back the good ol’ days, it’s good strategy to pretend they never really happened*, with the bonus that you can fan flames of resentment and conspiracy theorizing by claiming that the evil Jews invented the Holocaust to benefit themselves.

We had a thread on this subject some time back, and I remember it being questioned whether Holocaust denial was always a manifestation of vicious anti-Semitism. I’m still waiting to see any example of a well-known, committed Holocaust denier** who does not have a history of anti-Semitism.

*Deniers of the horrors of slavery operate on much the same principle.

**not someone who questions details of a particular event, but an individual who claims the entire extermination campaign was grossly exaggerated or never happened.

Well, if their brains were operating on a logical and rational basis, they probably would not be anti-Semitic/Neo-Nazis/etc. in the first place. :slight_smile:

I’ve noticed that often the most blatantly racist people are those who are low on the totem pole of society (ok, losers, frankly). Just as I believe that many of them focus on racial/ethnic hatred to try to make themselves feel more important, I can see how it might make them feel more important to be able to claim “special knowledge” about something like the Holocaust that the “so called experts” don’t know.

It is pretty remarkable how powerful denial and self-delusion can be.
Since I work in healthcare, the most striking examples of denial I’m aware of are things like the AIDS denial movement ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDS_denialism#Death_of_HIV-positive_denialists ). Some people just cannot accept reality no matter how blatant the evidence is.

One factor for some of them is the joy of “proving” everybody else wrong. They have an anti-authority streak, have been proven wrong over and over, and latch onto something as a thing everyone believes but is wrong. From that point on, facts and such have no affect on them.

Picking HD in particular appeals to these types when they have a co-factor such as antisemitism or pro-Nazi beliefs. (As opposed to picking moon landing hoax, Elvis is alive, etc.) But it doesn’t always have to be associated with those.

There’s a really interesting chapter in Michael Shermer’s Why People Believe Strange Things (a great book overall) that discusses at some length various reasons for holocaust denial, as well as an analysis of some of the main points of the holocaust denial movement and an account of one of Shermer’s media debates with a holocaust denier.

What really bugs me about Holocaust deniers is that they are saying that anyone who claims to be an eyewitness, not just a victim, is lying. So the soldiers of various nationalities that liberated the camps were all lying?

It taps in with the same thing of all conspiracy theorists – JFK conspiracy theorists, birthers, truthers, Shakespeare authorship, etc. The appeal is not just antisemitism; that’s too simplistic. It’s really many things:

  1. The idea that you’re smarter than anyone else.
  2. A dislike for and mistrust of authority.
  3. An emotional investment in the conspiracy theory, so much so that facts are tossed aside.
  4. The worldview that there a vast forces at work conspiring on some dark agenda.
  5. Membership in a social group of like-minded people.
  6. The concept of being the clever hero who outsmarts the bad guys of the conspiracy.

Why holocaust denial instead of any of the others? Maybe antisemitism; maybe an admiration of Hitler;* maybe because that’s the first conspiracy theory they heard of.

*It’s a point in fiction that the more you say bad things about the character, the more sympathetic he is to the audience. People have been saying bad things about Hitler for 80 years, and that leads people to say, “He can’t be that bad.”

Long ago in a chatroom, a chat friend and I got into a flame war with a holocaust denier.
We soon realized that we were feeding a troll, and started making jokes about him/her/it.

One joke in particular shut him down…

How many Holocaust deniers does it take to change a light bulb?
6 million - but they claim the actual number is much much less…

One other reason I have seen in people that take on rediculous, stupid and antisocial points of view/belief is simply attention seeking behavior. They don’t care if the attention is negative or positive, it is the quantity they are after.

IMO there are two types of Holocaust deniers.

Once type admires the group who did the killing, and simply can’t believe it because they understand that wiping out people based on some arbitrarily chosen standards is evil, and the group they admire so much simply can’t be that evil.

The other type understands it was done and is in favor of it being done, but they also understand that being in favor of wiping out people based on some arbitrarily chosen standards is not a popular idea, so they deny it to dupe others into believing it didn’t happen.

The second group had a large role in creating the first group.

I’ve always thought there was an element of doublethink at work in the Holocaust denier mindset.

On the one hand, they agree with Nazism, and genuinely believe that Jews are a crafty and nefarious people who the world would be better off without.

On the other hand, they realize that most people think genocide is bad, and so their desire to vindicate the Nazis in the eyes of history requires them to write off the Holocaust as a hoax created by those crafty Jews.

Does this really explain David Irving though? He is a highly educated person (as were a lot of Nazi’s I guess) but I cannot fathom how he can possibly believe that the Final Solution was a myth.

Very few people deny the holocaust outright, though there are some. Most are denying it the extent of it.

You have those who

[ul]
[li]Deny the holocaust outright[/li][li]Deny the amount of people killed[/li][li]Deny the involvement of Hitler[/li][/ul]

I’ve seen claims that say the actual death toll was as little as 60,000. I’ve seen claims that it was the war and the lack of ability to supply the prisoners that killed them. Or that it was not intentional but a side effect of war.

Others claim that the US use of the atomic weapon killing civilians is just as equally bad as systematic elimination of prisoners in concentration camps, so the former Allies had no reason to carry on about it.

Others say the Holocaust happened but Jews capitalized on the sympathy to create Israel and that people should not profit from said misery.

It’s very unusual to have just outright denial there is usually some other political agenda attached to it.

When you compare what the A-bombs did to Japan to what would have happened had we blockaded, starved, and then invaded Japan to end the war, the A-bombs look a lot better than the alternatives. Especially when you consider that China and the Soviet Union would likely have invaded as well, and done terrible things to Japan much as Japan had done terrible things to both of them. Especially China.

Israel became a modern state in 1948. That’s multiple generations ago now. It has fought multiple wars to maintain independence. I mean, obviously we can just turn the clock right back on that decision, no problem.

Idiots.

He doesn’t. It’s been proved that he forged some documents and deliberately mistranslated others. He’s not mistaken, he’s not a clever man with a stupid opinion; he’s a liar.

From the Judge’s summing up of the Irving v Penguin Books and Lipstadt trial:

He’s doing what he does because he loves Hitler, because he loves the adulation he gets from other Hitler lovers, and because it’s what pays his bills. And because he hates Jews.

Moving to IMHO since it’s more issue-related, rather than personal. From MPSIMS.

An uncle of mine who died just a few years ago was OSS stationed in London under the director John Ford. Before the war, my uncle, born and raised in Hollywood, had worked a lot with cameras and even technical repair of movie cameras of the time. He was involved in developing the first photos of the concentration camps, and he had zero tolerance for deniers.

My sort of assumption about holocaust denial was that the logic went something like this. Groups that are persecuted get sympathy and Jews wanted sympathy as part of some nefarious plot, usually associated with Israel. And, of course, WW2 was a great excuse for creating this genocide because there was a very clear set of “good guys” and “bad guys” and its easy to inflate the numbers of some Jewish deaths at the camps into something a lot higher which, of course, also benefits from the idea that it’s exceedingly difficult to definitely prove that all the millions who died really died, short of the bizarre standards of such conspiracy theorists. And by bizarre standards, I mean that anything that supports their perspective seems to get a fly, but anything that opposes it requires well beyond a reasonable burden of proof, like actually producing millions of corpses with fully peer reviewed forensics and genetic studies that shows every one of them were, in fact, Jewish and actually died at the camps.

The part that gets me is the cognitive dissonance that that position produces as it’self-contradictory. As in, if the Jews really are as deceptive and self-serving as that position implies, then the Nazis were right in killing them, which means they should have killed them, which means they aren’t being deceptive and self-serving in proclaiming persecution, which means the Nazis would be wrong in killing them… I think you see where that’s going. Then again, any sort of position that is held based on strong emotions isn’t really subject to logic, so expecting it to make logical sense would be like being surprised that other conspiracy theorists have circular reasoning as well.

So, yeah, I think it’s just a feed-back loop where, somewhere along the lines it gets introduced that it could make Jews even more evil if they somehow were responsible for a lie of that proportion, and lacking anyone to force them to really think about how stupid that is, confirmation bias takes over, and it eventually works its way into a core belief, the kind where logic and facts only make one fight back harder.