The Evidence Trail
Exposing the flaws of Holocaust denial
I recently attended the Christian Leadership Seminar at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Christian Friends of Yad Vashem (CFYV), which hosts the conference, does a wonderful job educating Christians about the Holocaust.
One session focused on Holocaust Revisionism, the contemporary, anti-Semitic movement that denies what the Nazis did to the Jewish people during World War II. Holocaust revisionists refute that 6 million Jewish people were murdered, claiming the numbers are exaggerated. Their propaganda contends that gas chambers and crematoriums were never used to kill people and that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis never planned to exterminate all of European Jewry.
According to them, the Holocaust is a lie fabricated by the Jewish people themselves. Unfortunately, the Internet provides a convenient forum for these deniers to spew their absurdities, misleading and confusing people around the world.
Therefore, they must be confronted. We serve “a God of truth” (Dt. 32:4) whose “word is truth” (Ps. 119:160). So disseminating truth about the Holocaust is vital.
To determine the truth, CFYV taught us to consider the “convergence of evidence.” To establish a case for guilt or innocence in a court of law, one must collect pieces of evidence from various sources. The same method should be applied to the Holocaust.
The consensus among genuine historians is that 5.1 to 6.4 million Jewish people perished at the hands of the Nazis. The most common figure—6 million—is conservative, within a 10 percent margin of error. Many believe the actual number is much higher.
Experts reached their figures by comparing the Jewish population before the war with demographic information after the war. They collected records from towns and villages where censuses were held and consulted Jewish birth and death certificates.
In fact, in October the CBS News program 60 Minutes aired a segment about French-Catholic priest Patrick Desbois who has been on a 15-year-long quest to uncover undocumented sites where there were wholesale Jewish massacres. So far he has interviewed more than 4,000 eyewitnesses who have led him to more than 1,700 areas in the former Soviet Union where Jewish people were murdered en masse and dumped into communal graves entirely invisible today. He is documenting the data thoroughly.
The Nazis themselves kept meticulous records of deaths in their camps and received reports from their organized killing squads. William Shirer (1904–1993), an American war correspondent and historian who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, stated, “According to two S.S. [Schutzstaffel, or protection squadron] witnesses at Nuremberg the total was put at between five and six millions by one of the great Nazi experts on the subject, Karl Eichmann, chief of the Jewish Office of the Gestapo.”1
The “Nazi expert” was Karl Adolf Eichmann (1906–1962), who kept the trains rolling, deporting helpless Jewish men, women, and children from all over Europe to death camps. During his trial in Jerusalem in 1961, Eichmann never denied his participation in the Holocaust.
Though the Nazis treated their victims worse than animals, each victim was a unique, irreplaceable human being, created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26–27). As Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Judith Miller wrote, “We must remind ourselves that the Holocaust was not six million. It was one, plus one, plus one.”2
Deniers argue that gas chambers and crematoriums were used primarily to exterminate bugs and dispose of the bodies of those who died of natural causes. But Holocaust survivors have testified that the gas chambers and crematoriums were used as “machinery of mass murder.”
Nazis have even testified to this truth. One incriminating admission came from Rudolf Höss, the longest-serving commandant of the infamous Auschwitz death camp in Poland. Höss introduced the cyanide-based pesticide Zyklon B specifically to kill people.
Under interrogation, he was asked what happened to the Jews when they arrived at his camp. He replied, “They were not supposed to be employed in work there, but they were supposed to be exterminated. . . . That order I received in mid year of 1941, I believe it was July, from the Reichsführer SS [Himmler] in person.” When asked how the Jews were to be exterminated, Höss replied, “By gas.”3
Victims typically arrived by rail and were met by the SS-Totenkopfverbände, or “Death’s-Head Units,” and their collaborators. The Nazis told those selected for death they were going to be given showers, clean clothes, food, and work assignments.
After undressing, victims were led into the “shower chamber,” which was made to look like a real shower. Once they were packed inside, the Nazis sealed the doors and dropped Zyklon B pellets into a small air vent above the chamber.
To drown out the screams of the dying, Nazi officers turned on the motor of a truck parked outside the chamber. Once the air in the chamber cleared, they dragged the bodies to the crematoriums,…loaded them onto sliding metal trays, and slid them into the ovens. The ashes then were scraped out and dumped into open pits.
Holocaust deniers also claim Jewish people were not specifically targeted. However, though Hitler’s regime murdered nearly 11 million civilians, at least 6 million of them were Jewish. The Jews were, in fact, singled out and slaughtered simply for the “offense” of being Jewish.
The historical facts concerning the Wannsee Conference verify this truth. On January 20, 1942, a special conference was held at a two-story mansion in Wannsee near Berlin. Fifteen high-ranking Nazi officials gathered to discuss a detailed protocol for how to carry out the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”
Within 90 minutes, they had decided to round up Europe’s Jews from west to east and send them to extermination camps. Ten days later, Hitler declared, “The result of this war will be the complete annihilation of the Jews. . . . the hour will come when the most evil universal enemy of all time will be finished, at least [f]or a thousand years.”4
On February 24, 1943, he stated, “This struggle will not end with the annihilation of Aryan mankind, but with the extermination of the Jewish people in Europe.”5
Patrick Desbois told CBS News correspondent Lara Logan he has no doubt Hitler’s goal was the extermination of European Jewry:
Father Desbois: The general order was to eliminate the last Jew, even the baby, even the old mommy. They [the Nazis] never left anybody.
Lara Logan: So it was a policy of total annihilation.
Father Desbois: Total annihilation. And if Hitler didn’t lose the war, I think today will not be one Jew alive.6
When I think about the Nazi atrocities, I remember Psalm 83: “They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more’” (vv. 3–4).
It is profane to deny the reality of the Holocaust. Holocaust deniers and all anti-Semites should consider God’s involvement in Israel’s history and heed His stern warning concerning Israel’s enemies: “Therefore all those who devour you shall be devoured; and all your adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; those who plunder you shall become plunder, and all who prey upon you I will make a prey” (Jer. 30:16).
Biblically, Jewish people are at the center of God’s work and plan for the ages. Through them the world received the Scriptures (Rom. 9:4–5); and through them came the Savior, Jesus Christ, “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14).
The commemorative political slogan “Never Forget” originated in the late 1940s to remind the world the Holocaust must never happen again—to anybody. People must never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust and the 6 million Jewish people who lost their lives; and in a world where propaganda is a weapon of war, they must make it their business to be able to tell the difference between truth and fiction.
- William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1960), 978.
- Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Wisdom (New York, NY: William Morrow and Company, 1994), 563.
- David A. Rausch, A Legacy of Hatred (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1984), 133.
- “Responses to common Holocaust-denial claims,” Anti-Defamation League <tinyurl.com/qzgt547>.
- “The Hidden Holocaust,” 60 Minutes, October 4, 2015 <cbsnews.com/news/hidden-holocaust-60-minutes>.