Why is denying the Jewish Holocaust such a bad thing

Six million Jews did die and that is a major crime against humanity. But sadly in the 20th century alot of atrocities have happened. All were evil, and all perpetrators should be held accountable by any means necessary. The Khmer Rogue killed 2 million. Stalin’s purges and prison camps killed over 20 million. I don’t know how many the Chinese intentioanlly killed under Mao but it was easily 20 million plus, the rest died of things like starvation. Hell, the holocaust didn’t just kill 6 million Jews, it killed 11 million people of which 6 million were Jews. Over half of those who died in the holocaust were Polish, if someone were to deny that Hitler wanted to wipe the Poles off the face of the earth I doubt there would be any major outcry. If anything the Poles had it worse than anybody in WW2 if you ask me. The Poles were conquered by the Nazis and Soviets, lost six million to the holocaust and as a result were conquered by the USSR for the next 50 years.

During the Rwandan genocide most world leaders wouldn’t even use the word ‘genocide’ because it meant they’d be legally bound to do something about it.

Is it just that the Jewish holocaust comes across as so pointless and evil because it was based solely on race, as opposed to the other holocausts in the 20th century which were based more on politics that this particular holocaust is considered more important than the other holocausts of the 20th century? If so, why isn’t the Rwandan genocide or the Armenian genocide as important since those were ethnic? Why not Stalin’s genocide against the Kulaks or the Khmer Rogue’s holocaust which were class based holocausts? Is it because that holocaust involved the US’s political enemy (the Nazis) and as a result we paid more attention to it for propaganda purposes? If so, why don’t we pay as much attention to the class based communist holocausts in the USSR, Cambodia or China?

Basically, what seperates the Jewish holocaust from all the other holocausts? Why do people only mention 6 million Jews instead of 11 million people or 6 million Poles (you could use any of these terms to describe the Nazi holocaust)? Why the massive outcry over this holocaust when people weren’t even willing to use the term holocaust to describe the situation in Rwanda?

I don’t know about the rest of this, but this is a valid point. I rarely hear people mentioning the other 5 million people. Why is this, I wonder? Are they unimportant?

First off, I don’t think the whole world feels that way. While living in Korea, there was a coffeeshop in my town named “Gestapo,” and nobody there had a problem with it (there was no overt connection; just the name). Only when I compared the Holocaust with Japanese WWII atrocities did it start to register.

The Holocaust-is-different meme, I think is a European/western one, and is the result of a guilty conscience over centuries of oppression of Jews that culminated in the Holocaust.

Also here in the US, there are just way more Jews than there are Armenians, Cambodians, etc., so they can make their voices heard.

It is, I suggest, the incredibly specific ethnicity/culture which was targetted coupled with the industrial mechanisation of the death camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka which accounted for around 2 of those millions which makes the crime uniquely abhorrent.

Killing millions in an occupied territory to consolidate military power as in Nazi Poland is arguably merely one horrific step from the killing of millions of troops on both sides in WW2. Killing millions to consolidate tyrannical political power, like Stalin’s purges or the Killing Fields, needs only one psychopath of whom everyone is afraid. Millions being killed by other millions in a brutally genocidal civil war, as in Rwanda, is also arguably “normal” civil war gone horribly, horrifically wrong.

Perhaps the Final Solution might indeed be less historically notable these days if a nearly equal number of more ethnically or culturally diverse people had simply died of starvation or slave labour. But an industrially mechanised strategy (read the chillingly technical memos of the furnace suppliers Topf & Sons at nizkor) specifically against an ethnicity/culture so specific as Jews, who posed no particular political threat whatsoever? That, in my book, makes one of these things not like the others. Others might indeed consider my distinction arbitrary.

Well, it’s a bad thing because it’s a big, bald lie, and a lie told for a political purpose. If the denial of another major genocide was widespread, it would be comdemned as well, I would hope. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think holocaust denial is only a crime in Germany and Austria.

To get back to the question initially framed in the OP (which subsequently morphed into “What makes the Holocaust so important”):

Any sort of denial of documented genocide is evil and revolting. It tells the victims that they are liars, attempts to let murderers off the hook, and sets the stage for repeat tragedies. It is vile that in this day and age, Turkish deniers still haven’t come to terms with the Armenian genocide. They need to be held accountable. It should be a condition for Turkey’s acceptance into the EU.
As for the second question - I do not believe that any ethnic group should face blame for being organized and active in spreading awareness of bigotry and its consequences. That does not keep any other group’s problems and history from being addressed.

I believe SentientMeat is on the right track. It wasn’t so much who was killed, or how many were killed, but how they were killed. The Nazi death camps were special in a way. These were the first death camps that the western world got to see up close and personal if you will. While I am sure many of the other genocides you mentioned also used death camps, it is the first ones you see which will stick in your mind, and the mind of the society in which you live.

Couple that with a large Jewish population that is well organized and able to get their voice heard, and we have the most popular (I know thats not the correct way to say this) genocide.

Because the Jews have managed to make sure people actually remember the Holocaust, instead of conveniently forgetting/ignoring it. How many people remember the British extermination of the Tasmanians, or think about the genocide of the Native Americans while talking about how great America is ?

It’s not that the Holocaust itself is special; it’s that we haven’t been allowed to ignore it.

I’d say it’s because there haven’t been centuries of pogroms directed at Koreans. There haven’t been centuries of blood libel told about Hutus and Tutsis. There wasn’t a campaign by a major world religion to label Croatians “the ones who killed Jesus.” There are no conspiraciy theories that Native Americans secretly control the world’s banks.

In other words, it’s not that the Holocaust was unique, although in many ways it was. Nor is it JUST that you are lying about it by denying it – although frankly, most of the truly just people I know would indeed be upset about denial of other known genocides, like Rwanda.

I think what makes it a special case is that (in denying the Holocaust) you are lying about something evil done to people who have a long history of OTHER evils done to them and a long history of lies and conspiracy theories told about them. They are sensitized – and rightly so, in my Gentile opinion – to having it done again. It probably feels all too familiar to see it happening again.

And let’s be honest with ourselves – what is the motivation of the deniers? Nobody denies the Armenian genocide…except the Turkish government and its apologists. Nobody denies the massacre of the Poles at Katyn, except the Soviet government and its political descendants. Nobody denies the Rwandan genocide, except those who were complicit in it or those who don’t want to be held to account for not taking action (and thus could be viewed as complicit in a sense.) People simply aren’t much motivated about history in the abstract – broadly speaking, it’s only those who have a stake in it who care enough to argue.

When someone denies the Holocaust, an event so well supported by historical fact, one has to wonder what might be that person’s reason for bothering. Is it complicity? Racist agenda? Hate?

So to sum up, there are IMHO two reasons people react so strongly against it.

One, Jews have been lied about enough in the past that they’re sensitized to having their history lied about and distorted;

Two, they know there are no idle speculators among Holocaust deniers.

They know they are seeing the raised rallying flag of their enemy.


In Dublin, there is a restaurant called Mao’s. It doesn’t seem to offend anyone that the man was a mass-murderer. That place still bothers me.

I would echo the sentiment of several posters here. I believe it was the systematic and detailed manner in which the slaughter was carried out that makes the Holocaust so utterly chilling and so important. It wasn’t a killing in a military sense or even as a result of the senseless violence that often accompanies battles/riots. That’s not to say that any of those killings are less horrific but I think the Holocaust is important because it took genocide to an entirely new level so to speak. It removed any sense of emotion or anger from the equation and replaced it with burtal efficiency. In a sense, it was utterly inhuman. We can all understand anger and fear but most of us cannot fathom orchestrating the destruction of an entire ethnic group as if one was making a car or building a bridge.

I would say you are correct but the Title of your OP is poorly conceived and potentially upsetting. Maybe you could ask for a change?

All of the Genocides mentioned are horrible.
I think what Furt said is an excellent answer to your basic question

Expand the US to US, Canada & Europe.
Thankfully the Jewish people are not allowing the Western World to forget the Holocaust. This is good as it will hopefully cut down on future Genocides.
The Armenian Genocide is largely forgotten and the proof that it happen was buried and no outside country documented the systematic murder of the Armenians. There is still wide scale denial that it occurred.
The Holocaust is well documented in Germany and Poland and the USA at very least and I imagine in many other Western Countries.

This should be one of the UN’s top missions and in this regard they have disappointed me. Preventing Genocide should the entire worlds job.


That was my main thought. The Jews have been a part of western civilization for millennia, and they have been mistreated the whole time. Perhaps the Holocaust was just the final straw for western civilization before we realized how destructive that attitude was and it was like the beginning of the end for tolerance of major antisemitism for western civilization. By comparison Rwanda, Siberia and Armenia are just names of countries most people know almost nothing about while the Jews are an integral part of western civilization.

I can think of a few factors that might mean the Holocaust is better reported and remembered than other 20th century genocides:

  • People are amazed that such a thing could happen in a 1st world Western nation, whereas they don’t hold standards quite so high in the case of sub-Saharan Africa (Rwanda) or a small country in South-East Asia (Cambodia).
  • It’s better documented. Many of the group being massacred (and indeed, those who killed them) told their story after the war. There are photos, film footage and physical evidence of the genocide.
  • The documentation is more accessible and forms more of a part of our culture. The survivors spoke accessible Western languages like German and Polish, and many moved to English-speaking countries like the US and Australia, and were able to carry the story of what had happened to their people there as well.

You’re talking about two different things; denying the holocaust (which is so pathetic as to be laughable) and talking about other methodical mass murders. Two different conversations.

To answer your OP, I think it is because those who deny are allying themselves philosophically with those who committed the atrocities, and those people are an anathema to Westerm civilization.

Due to the Holocaust, anti-Semitism became the first form of discrimination that went from acceptable to taboo. Before the war, my great-aunt, in New York City of all places, had to lie about her religion to get a job. Discrimination in college admissions and country clubs was open. After the war this sort of thing looked related to Naziism, and, even if the people doing it hadn’t changed their opinions, they had to act as if they had. I think this example probably helped in the eventual reduction of other forms of discrimination, though it took too damn long.

Wesley Clark Your thread title doesn’t match your OP. I think your question is “Why does the holocaust get special emphasis among all the atrocities of the 20th century?” That’s a legitimate question, which I think was best answered by Sentient Meat above. To answer the question in the thread title, the reason holocaust denial is a bad thing is that (a) it’s stupid, the holocaust did happen (b) it’s incredibly cruel and hurtful to those who’s loved ones died in the holocaust, as well as to Jews in general, and disrespectful of those who died and © holocaust denial is almost always part of a general ideology of anti-semitism.

It’s because people who assert “The Holocaust never happened” usually really mean “The Holocaust is an unfinished project.”

Wesely, those millions of Poles who were exterminated were not killed because they were Poles, they were killed because they were Jews.

Denying any genocide, attempting to cover up any atrocity, is “such a bad thing” for many reasons. It debases the memory of those who died and it is done to justify current prejudices… Which still exist btw. The camel’s back be damned, there has been no final straw.

HaShoah was “special” only to the degree that it brought industrial efficiency to nearly succeeding in its task, a task that had been in relatively amatuer hands for well over a thousand years previous. The pograms, The Pale of Settlement, The Inquisition, and all the other massacres of towns, villages, and shtetls, were nothing compared to this.

I do think that the elements of Jewish leadership that have interpreted “Never Again!” to exclusively mean never another attempt of genocide against the Jews and only that, have missed a larger point for humanity. Certainly it is true that any understanding of history would give any Jew good reason to be very insecure about his/her position as a member of any “host” society; things changed quickly for German Jews who had been quite assimilated and successful for generations. But. This evil is within us all, given the right circumstance. The ability to murder millions of dehumanized “others” is part of us and world events show how often that tendency rears its ugly head. HaShoah was not an anomaly perpetrated by a unique evil outside of normal history. Jews just happen to be a perrenial “other” in most parts of the world, rarely fully accepted as part of the “us.” (Think the US is so different? It aint. Bill O’Reilly and his ilk show how thin the veneer of inclusiveness can be.) But anywhere a majority exists with any percieved “other” in its midst it can happen again, even if the scale is not quite as large. Have we really learned how to implement “never again”? How to manage the evil part of ourselves? I don’t see it.

I don’t agree with that though. There are about six million Jews in the US and I think they live lives mostly free of persecution or mistreatment. Even 70 years ago they would’ve been subject to overt and legal prejudices against them here in the US. You can’t compare the treatment of the Jews 100 years ago to today. Today the Jews have their own nation and those who live in western society seem to be mostly free of mistreatment and scapegoating.

And even if there is a hint of antisemitism in the US or Europe it is usually due to a minority group of extremists who are immediately shot down by society at large as bigots and hunted down.

I think that’s your question myself- is it? Unless somehow you’re trying to say that other genocides have been “swept under the rug” so why not the Holocaust?? :confused: Because Holocaust Deniers* aren’t just ignoring the Holocaust (like say, Westerners tend to do with African Genocides) they are **actively ** denying that the genocide happened- that it’s all some “big lie” or conspiracy. That goes beyond simple apathy or uncaring into hardcore racism or stupidity. That’s why it’s bad.
*( Not every tarred with the “Denier” braush is nessesarily a “denier”- there are those who say the “six million” estimate is somewhat inflated who are also sometimes tarred with the same brush)