Twenty-first technology can work wonders on things such as increasing instantaneous communication and even colorizing old photos and black and white movies, but has also had another impact: it makes holocaust denial much easier.
Noga Gur Arieh, in an op-ed on Ynetnews.com, lays the case out perfectly — but one other factor needs to be added. Here’s a chunk of it:
Are you sure the Holocaust really occurred? How do you know it is not one big fraud planned by the US and its allies? That the pictures that you see of piles of dead bodies are not just the bodies of Jews who fled to Europe from communist Russia and died from typhus disease? That the use of Zyklon B was not an attempt made by the Germans to stop the spread of this terrible disease? That when high-ranked Nazis admitted to committing terrible crimes against minorities and seeking to kill all Jews after they got arrested, weren’t forced to do so by the victors of the war?
What would you say to a Holocaust survivor’s testimony that confirms that information? Where she explains that the reason the Nazis cut their hair was lice epidemic, and that they were lucky to sleep in cramped bunk beds that the Nazis managed to arrange for them, because the alternative was sleeping outside in the cold.
And, no, this paragraph is not made up:
All of the above is part of a documentary named “Adolf Hitler – The Greatest Story Never Told.” This three-hour long film is merely a small part of a growing list of conspiracy-based films claiming the Holocaust never existed. But “claiming” is not all they do. With the use of all types and kinds of documented “evidence,” accompanied by an American narration, they build a logical alternative explanation to the horrors of the Holocaust.
They are also being sold on mainstream websites, such as Amazon, which provides them with another approval of authenticity of sort.
The technology of the 21st century allows haters to deny the occurrence of the Holocaust with a simple editing program and some viral push in social networks. By doing so, and adding some dramatic music in the background, creators of those films fool thousands of unaware people every day. Lies that are easy for us to detect can seem as reliable facts to the many people who are not surrounded by the memory of the Holocaust.
Up until recently, those Holocaust deniers, seeking to spread hate, had very little impact when facing Holocaust survivors and European citizens from back then. Unfortunately, with time, the number of witnesses is decreasing rapidly, and thus the lies can seem more reliable when carefully disguised.
And so, Noga Gur Arieh notes, its those people who believe it’s important to TEACH facts and DEFEND FACTS as facts to do so.
In a sense, this whole phenomenon of denying a fact is now old hat in the 21st century. Politics increasingly seems to operate in a way where people who have one belief repeat as a mantra “facts” that are not facts but anti-facts. They say them over and over, claim a source of an actual facts is lying and those who are in the choir accept it and repeat the anti-fact some more. If you consider a source of a fact a liar — forget whether a fact can be proven as such, because people in this mind-set most assuredly do — you can chip away at a fact being a fact. Who cares about documentation? It’s dismissed as being fabricated.
In the case of the holocaust, there are many people such as yours truly who lost whole branches of their families as their relative who were men, women, and children were murdered by the Nazis in Germany, Russia and elsewhere.
My grandfather Abraham Ravinsky before he died in 1973 would open an old, yellowing scrapbook and point to whole pages of photos showing the Ravinskys of all ages murdered by the Nazis.
Because of my curiosity, I recent watched on Netflix the BBC’s six episode series,Auschwitz: The Nazis and ‘The Final Solution. It’s a documentary with re-enactments but shows exactly what it looked like to the women, children, old and sick put in a line and then marched directly from the trains into the gas chambers. Most chilling: interviews with old Nazis who made it clear they had and HAVE no regrets about the Jewish men, women, children and infants, that they killed — and it was clear that if Nazism lived and they were asked to do it, some of them might murder them again.
How can ANYONE forget these people and what happened to them?
Or try to say it never happened.
We see in politics in many countries how effective it is for partisans to simply deny a set of facts to stay in group think. We see how people will now only go to websites, listen to radio, or watch TV stations that only contain opinions that match theirs before they visit the websites, turn on the radio show or turn on the cble channel. There’s also now a revived interest in Hitler.
Echo chambers are a dangerous thing, and the Internet allows quintessential “narrowcasting,” where people of one opinion can have their beliefs reaffirmed.
The problem: if history can be dismissed as fake and facts be painted as being questionable, the it’s easier for horrific history to be repeated.
And if it’s easy for something to occur again, chances are some day — perhaps in a different form — it will.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.