Red herrings in Holocaust denial
- This is an appendix to the Holocaust denial article.
A red herring is essentially an argument without relevance. Holocaust deniers or revisionists frequently use these kinds of arguments to divert attention from evidence for the Holocaust. These are so diverse that they are difficult to sort out.
 Holocaust compared to other atrocities
The Holocaust is neither the largest mass murder in history, nor even of the twentieth century, nor the only crime against humanity during World War II. But this fact is not, in any way, relevant to the reality of the Holocaust.
 Dresden, Hiroshima and other atrocities by Western Allies
- Allied war crimes would make the Holocaust less extraordinary.
- However, the millions of Holocaust victims are still an order of magnitude greater than the number of civilians killed by the Western allies (while the Soviets were more destructive, see below). The total number of German civilian casualties is very uncertain, and ranges from 1 to 2.5 million (excluding Austria and other annexed territories); up to 3.5% of the total population. Most of these came after the D-Day in June 1944, when the outcome of the war was apparent, and several Nazi commanders wanted to surrender. Yet Hitler fought on, applying a self-destructive strategy. Therefore, many German deaths could be attributed to Hitler.
- The fire-bombing of Dresden killed many civilians, and might be compared to Nazi atrocities.
- However, as Dresden was bombed by the Western Allies but became part of East Germany, the communist regime exaggerated the death toll to numbers around 250,000, a claim still used by Holocaust deniers. However, current scholarship (including an investigation by the City of Dresden) estimates 20,000-40,000 deaths. Still a human tragedy, it has no relevance to the Holocaust.
- It implies that the Allied atrocities were denied or censored after the Second World War, and that somehow this would make Holocaust denial more legitimate.
- However, the Allies never denied or censored the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the firebombing of Dresden in the first place. These are well known in the Western world, and frequently cited as case studies.
- Holocaust deniers may point out that Allied politicians, officials, commanders or combatants were never tried or sentenced for their war crimes, as German leaders were in the Nuremberg trials (or Japanese leaders in the Tokyo trials) thereby implying that the Nuremberg trials were unfair.
- However, most of the 24 defendants of the main Nuremberg trial were tried for four different crimes (conspiracy for crime against peace, crime against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity). The 12 defendants who were sentenced to death had all been found guilty of crimes against humanity. None was tried or sentenced only for war crimes, as Western Allied commanders would have been if they had faced a similar trial.
 Japanese-American detention camps
The Allies imprisoned many civilians in their home territories - most notably 110,000 Japanese living in the United States. Though shameful, this is a completely different case from the Holocaust, because:
- Japanese American prisoners did not suffer from mass starvation, epidemics or slave labor. Even Holocaust deniers admit that this was the case for European Jews, as well as Chinese and other Allied prisoners in Japanese-occupied territories. Also, Japanese Americans were not executed.
 Atrocities by the Soviet Union
Just as Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union invaded neutral countries, used forced labor, and deported and murdered myriads of civilians, before, during and after the war. The death toll of just one of these Soviet campaigns, the Holodomor, was much higher than that of the Holocaust. Neither Stalin nor any other Soviet leaders who ordered crimes against peace or against humanity were ever brought to justice. "Stalin murdered more people than Hitler" is a common red herring, which doubly serves their purpose as the USSR under Stalin was one of the Allied nations - but again, how does this disprove the Holocaust?
The Holocaust might be compared to the Soviet Gulag system of prison camps. With a total of 14 million prisoners and 1.6 million deaths (exact numbers uncertain), Gulag was indeed an atrocity, but at a death rate at 10-15%, it was not an extermination campaign. For comparison, death rates among some Jewish national populations, and in some Polish camps, were more than 90%.
Many Nazi sympathizers and Neo Nazis make exaggerated claims about the acts of revenge committed by the Red Army while in eastern Germany as a way of trying to claim that the Allies were just as bad. While there were many murders committed by the soldiers of the Red Army in eastern Germany, there was no extermination policy or encouragement by the officers; such actions were carried out by individual soldiers. The worst atrocities were only committed in the eastern most regions, where the Red Army first made contact. The number of murders committed was only in the tens of thousands, far less than nearly all atrocities of the war. Deniers often also point to the mass rapes committed by the Red Army, frequently giving descriptions that give the impression that all women were raped without actually mentioning numbers. The actual number is only around 1.5 million. In every case, Holocaust deniers fail to mention any contributing factors for the actions by the Red Army, which is considered profoundly ahistorical for any discussions of atrocities. One day American soldiers showed up and shot several Germans sounds like a much more pro Nazi version of the Dachau Massacare.
 Israeli atrocities
Another red herring used by Holocaust deniers and Holocaust relativists, is the policies and violent acts by the modern state of Israel, especially against Palestinians. Indeed these should be subject to debate, but Israel's acts since its establishment in 1948 does not make the Holocaust (which, obviously, ended numerous years earlier) more legitimate or less true.
Israel's armed forces have killed some tens of thousands of people - including combatants and civilians in all wars and confrontations involving Israel from 1948 to present day. Although still large, this number is dwarfed by the Holocaust's death toll. It is even an order of magnitude fewer than the 300,000 Holocaust victims claimed by hard-line Holocaust deniers such as the IHR.
The IHR also compares the Nuremberg Laws to present-day laws of Israel. First - most of these claims are lies. Holocaust deniers tend to point out the lack of interfaith marriage in Israel. Normally, only religious institutions can issue marriage in Israel, and civil marriage is very limited. This could be an issue for debate, but it does not get close to the Nuremberg laws, where Jews had no civil rights at all.
 Segregation laws in the southern United States
The IHR says that the Nuremberg Laws made in 1935 were not worse than the "Jim Crow laws" or other segregation laws that were enforced in some southern states of the USA at the same time. First, this has no relevance; the American segregation of the first half of the 20th century is well-known and universally condemned. Second, the Nazis were much worse. Jews were bereaved of their citizenship, and those who violated the Nuremberg laws were in practice sentenced to death.
 Does the Holocaust get too much attention?
Based on the aftermath of these and other atrocities (Armenian genocide, Rwandan genocide etc) Holocaust deniers might claim that the Holocaust gets more attention than it deserves, with media coverage, school curricula, etc. Commemoration of other atrocities is not forbidden. If Holocaust deniers are to be taken seriously, they are welcome to bring attention to all these other atrocities, too. And decide how to handle people who deny them.
The argument also seems to ignore that the number of victims is not the most horrifying part of the holocaust - it is rather the cold-blooded, organized manner of execution which was never surpassed in the history of genocide.
 Nuremberg trials
As mentioned above, Holocaust deniers might claim that the Nuremberg Trials, including subsequent trials going on into 1948, were unfair. These claims do not disprove the Holocaust. The purpose of a trial is to evaluate the defendants' guilt in a crime - not to decide whether the crime has happened.
A main complaint is that the judges were recruited from Allied countries, enemies of Nazi Germany - and that the defendants could not expect a fair trial from their erstwhile enemies and should be tried by peers from their own countries. This request is absurd - if a defendant could refuse a judge belonging to an enemy country, no one who committed espionage or terrorism against a government could ever be brought to justice. There is another good reason why the judges were not German - the German Reich had ceased to exist in May, 1945, and could therefore not provide any certified judges. West and East Germany were not founded until 1949.
The Nuremberg trials were followed up by several trials in West German courts. The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials took place from 1963 to 1965. Judges and defending lawyers were German. Some defendants were imprisoned for life, some were sent to time-limited sentences, and others were acquitted. The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials were largely open to the public.
 Media, government and academic bias against Holocaust denial
Holocaust deniers might claim that national governments all over the world and (Jewish) mass media use the Holocaust as propaganda, and oppress "revisionist" views. First, this is irrelevant to the reality of the Holocaust.
Second, the Holocaust deniers also have their endorsements. Several governments in the Middle East have supported Holocaust denial (as of 2010, current situation is uncertain), and Iran even held an international conference dedicated to Holocaust denial. Holocaust deniers have managed to spread their word in many countries through books, radio and the Internet.
Holocaust deniers believe they can get away with word play.
 The term "The Holocaust" didn't become popular until the 1970s
How does this call the facts of the Nazis' deliberate murder of 11 million people, including 6 million Jews, into question? What happened happened, no matter what the most popular term for it has been over the years.
The fact that our presently favoured terminology for a historical event is newer than the event itself doesn't in any way call into question the historicity of the event — "World War I" was not known by that name until over 20 years later, but no one doubts it really happened. Historical events often do not receive their current names until many years, sometimes even centuries or millennia, after they occur.
 The claim that the Jews were not literally "exterminated"
Fortunately, the Germans lost the war before they killed all the Jews in Europe. Some Holocaust deniers use this fact in the reasoning "the Jews were not exterminated, therefore it was not a real genocide". This is of course overlooks the legal definition of genocide, which does not require the successful implementation of a plan. It also ignores the fact that very few (if any) recorded genocides have ever succeeded in killing all members of the targeted group. To apply so strict criteria is to essentially argue that no genocide has ever happened — which would make the concept useless.
 A claimed agenda
Holocaust deniers might claim that the Holocaust was set up as a global Jewish plan to gain money, land and financial and political support from the Western nations.
 Martin Glynn's "Holocaust" article from 1919
Martin H. Glynn, former Governor of New York State, wrote an article in October 1919, to encourage American Jews to send humanitarian aid to starving European Jews in the wake of World War I and the Spanish flu.
By coincidence, Mr. Glynn counted six million European Jews, and used the word holocaust to describe the threatening famine.
Holocaust deniers might use this single article to prove that the idea of staging the murder of six million Jews, calling it the Holocaust origins from at least 1919. However:
- Besides the phrases six million and holocaust, the article has nothing in common with the Holocaust which we know from World War II - although deniers might falsely claim it to mention murder, Germany or the war.
- Deniers claim that the article originated as a speech. This statement is not backed by evidence.
- Deniers still have to explain exactly what this article proves. Was the claimed plan to stage a genocide already worked out in 1919? Was the "staged" holocaust just an a posteriori carbon copy of Mr. Glynn's article?
 Jewish "war" against Germany
Revisionists might claim that the global Jewish community "declared war" on Germany in 1933. Their main support to this argument is a headline in the London Daily Express on March 24, 1933, saying "Judea Declares War on Germany". This was a sensationalistic headline for an article that described a proposed Jewish boycott of German goods in response to Adolf Hitler's election. That is not a war. A war is, by definition, an armed, mutual conflict. How many army divisions did the Jews put up against Germany?
 Claimed profit from the Holocaust
Holocaust deniers might claim that the Holocaust was made up to "blackmail" Western governments and German corporations for economic aid and reparations.
This is not only irrelevant to the reality of the Holocaust. It can also be proved wrong:
First, Israel does not receive extraordinary economic aid from other countries. The United States have handed more money to other countries (notably Egypt - one of Israel's enemies) than Israel.
Second, no reparations have ever been paid by anyone to anyone for people killed in the Holocaust. Reparations have been paid to survivors. Exaggerating the death toll would not give any Jew more money.
Deniers also have to explain what side the United States government takes. They are claimed to be part of the conspiracy, and still among the losers who give money to Israel.
Deniers might also complain about survivors' profiteering on books and lectures, which in some cases are sponsored by public schools or other government institutions. This is irrelevant as well, and their earnings are unnoticeable on a government financial scale. One should also remember that many Nazis, including war criminals such as Dönitz and Speer, also earnt royalties from books after the war. (Although, this last statement is in itself a 'red herring', as it is irrelevant to the point of survivors profiting from books and lectures)
 General conspiracy theory/pseudo-history components
 False confessions in witchcraft trials etc
However, the Holocaust is backed by several testimonies and plenty of technical evidence. Also, not a single one of the thousands of guards and officers has withdrawn their confessions, or provided a dissenting testimony.
 "Victors write history"
Holocaust deniers frequently repeat the cliché that victors write history. On a literal plane, this is completely false. Karl Dönitz, Albert Speer, and several other high-ranked Nazis, wrote and published their memoirs. Re-telling the events of the war is a strong tradition in Germany. The only relevant Nazi work that has been out of print ever since the war is Hitler's Mein Kampf. The book is not banned anywhere, though. It is a copyright issue, since the German state of Bavaria holds the copyright until 2015, and refuses reproduction of the book.
 "It is not in my history book"
The history of the world is an enormous topic. World War II was extremely eventful, and a world history textbook, an encyclopedia or any other general reference book must omit many important facts. Some of these books might only tell that Jews were deported to concentration camps, without mentioning the gas chambers or the death toll. Some do not use the term "Holocaust".
However, a book is nothing more than the words of its author. So, if a textbook omits the Holocaust, we should go ask the author, who is probably a graduate historian, and ask them why they did not mention the Holocaust. The most probably answer would be "lack of space". If any of them answers "I don't believe it happened", the deniers would have gained a powerful ally. Apparently this has never been the case.
An analogy: Some history books might describe the space race, but not the details of each moon landing. Does that prove that they did not happen?