Holocaust Memorial Day – and why we have to keep denying the deniers

Here in the UK, it is Holocaust Memorial Day as we remember the six million Jews and other persecuted groups who died in the Nazi concentration camps and killing fields in Europe during the Second World War. Today also sees the release of the new film “Denial” about the 1996 court case in London when Holocaust denier David Irving unsuccessfully sued for libel the American historian Deborah Lipstadt.

I remember the 1996 case and, like many, hoped that Irving’s defeat would lay to rest much of the Holocaust denial industry. But the Internet, and especially social media, has given a whole new lease of life to those – often young people – who are not prepared to accept the reality of the Holocaust and look for spurious facts to support their prejudiced view of history. So we still need – and probably always will – Holocaust Memorial Day.

The Holocaust was an event in human history without direct precedent and almost impossible to comprehend – but we have to remember, think about the victims and the lessons, and try to build a better world.

One way of trying to understand the Holocaust is to visit a concentration camp and I have been to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland and Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic. Another way is to visit a relevant museum and I have been to several including Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. Still another way is to heard the testimony of survivors and I have been privileged to hear several such talks.

One more way of thinking about the Holocaust is to read a book. An account which I found particularly powerful is “The Nazi Holocaust: Its History And Meaning” by Ronnie Landau. On today of all days, I would urge you to take a few minutes to read my review of the work here.


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