What was achieved from Holocaust lies?

Published: 1998-01-01

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Dear AnswerMan,

A friend has asked me this question: “About the holocaust, what I do not understand is why this group of people had to organize such well orchestrated lies, what did they achieve thro' all that? In the short and long run?”

Any help to answer this would be appreciated.

Many thanks,

Robert P.


AnswerMan Replies:

First AnswerMan! warns that there may be a few misconceptions in the question that your friend has asked.

In brief, as the answer to this question could quickly become book-length, the Holocaust story largely began in newspaper stories in the early 1940's. The earliest accounts were largely wartime propaganda and were used to cast enemies (Nazis / Germans) in as diabolical and evil a light as possible while deriving popular sympathies for the Allied cause. Some of these atrocity tales were reruns from the First World War including tales of "corpse factories" and mass "gassings."

By the close of the war, Soviet sources were using their propaganda machine to not only discredit their Nazi and Fascist enemies but also to cover up their own war crimes. The Soviets even had the nerve to charge that the Nazis were responsible for the mass execution of Polish officers at Katyn Forest — a charge that they brought to the Nuremberg Trials. The Soviets were quick to announce to the world that they found evidence of terrible crimes including mass gassings that resulted in over 2 million dead at the Majdanek camp and over 4 million dead at Auschwitz. No responsible historian believes these figures today.

Not to be outdone, the Americans also sought to discredit the Nazi regime and charged that thousands were killed in the Dachau gas chambers (today even the Dachau museum acknowledges that there were no mass gassings at Dachau). Holocaust propaganda went a long way to establishing the moral correctness of what was only 4 years earlier a very unpopular war. Allied fire bombings and nuclear bombings were seen as justified in the context of an even greater evil perpetrated at Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps.

By 1948, the Holocaust story became an important founding myth of the State of Israel. It was a major argument in the Zionist arsenal. It has since been used to justify the establishment of an 'apartheid' state between Jews and Palestinians as well as the killing of innocent civilians. Although such behavior would seem to be contradictory to the lessons of the Holocaust, in fact it becomes justified for without such actions, it is said that the Jewish people would become victims once again of a massive genocide.

Today, the Holocaust story has evolved into mythical proportions and is used by the United States to justify any and all military interventionism. America's enemies are frequently compared to Hitler in the media. Diplomacy is viewed as appeasement and images of Neville Chamberlin are wheeled out to demonize those who argue for peace.

Although there is no doubt that there were lies, and recent examples abound, early propaganda stories and the desire to psychologically bankrupt a political system took on a life of its own. Today the story is bolstered by museums and memorials around the world. Many people of good will believe the Holocaust story and treat it with reverential respect. It is positioned in nearly religious rather than historical terms. Organizations have been established to condemn and persecute anyone who is skeptical of even the most far-fetched elements of the traditional story. Throughout Europe, many countries have made questioning the Holocaust punishable by fines and imprisonment.

It can be said that the current world order is based on the lessons of the Holocaust story.  International relations since the Second World War would not be the same if a revisionist understanding of the Holocaust were to be generally accepted. Public attitudes have been shaped to support repeated folly and tragedy. The sinister face of the Nazi has been transformed into an "Islamic fascist." Our sons and daughters are still fed nationalistic propaganda and hatred of other nations, and unfortunately they are still marching off to fight foreign wars without end with starry eyes and the best of intentions.

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Author(s): AnswerMan
Title: What was achieved from Holocaust lies?
Published: 1998-01-01
First posted on CODOH: June 29, 1998, 7 p.m.
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