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Rewriting the Holocaust Online: A Discourse Analysis of Holocaust Denial Web Sites


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Title: Rewriting the Holocaust Online: A Discourse Analysis of Holocaust Denial Web Sites

Rewriting the Holocaust Online A Discourse
Analysis of Holocaust Denial Web Sites
  • By
  • Mark Aaron Polger
  • Liaison Librarian
  • University of Waterloo

  • Description of M.A. thesis topic
  • Holocaust Denial within a Theoretical Perspective
  • Methodology Discourse Analysis
  • Discursive Strategies used on Holocaust Denial
  • web pages
  • Some sample texts
  • Holocaust denial and librarianship
  • Conclusion and questions/comments

Thesis topic
  • Thesis questions

1. How do Holocaust deniers attempt to attain
legitimacy and credibility in an online
2. What are their strategies in the online world?
3. How do they manipulate language?
4. Why do they deny the Nazi Holocaust in
Steps involved in my research
  • Developed definitions of Hate and Holocaust
  • Traced the history of Holocaust denial
  • Situated Holocaust denial within a theoretical
  • Selected an appropriate methodology
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Selected a sample of Holocaust denial web sites
  • analysis
  • Classified web sites into three typologies
  • Analysed content and design from web site.

What is Holocaust denial?
  • The Anti-Defamation League
  • Holocaust denial, which its propagandists
  • misrepresent as "historical revisionism," has
  • one of the most important vehicles for
  • anti-Semitism. It is the invention by a
    collection of
  • long-time anti-Semites and apologists for Hitler.

What is Holocaust Denial?
General Claim
Holocaust denial is the claim that the
extermination of approximately six million Jews
in the Nazi genocide did not occur 1 1
Eaglestone, Robert, Postmodernism and Holocaust
Denial p.8
What is Holocaust Denial?
Specific Claims found on these web sites
  • There were no gas chambers at Auschwitz
  • Only 100,000 Jews died due to typhus and
  • Hitler neither knew of an extermination
  • Jews fabricated this myth to get global
  • and financial support for the state of Israel
  • Jews were the guilty participants, who
    provoked WW2
  • 2.
  • 2 Lipstadt, Deborah, Denying The Holocaust The
    Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, Penguin
    Press, England, 1993, 278 p., p 124, 125

Holocaust denial within a theoretical framework
  • Critical Race Theory as my theoretical framework

Critical Race Theorists argue that
  • Jews are constructed as a separate race,
    being neither
  • black nor white.
  • Jews are constructed as off-white, a
    diseased race,
  • and an alien race
  • Jews are constructed as foreign, sub-human, and

Holocaust denial within a theoretical framework
  • Holocaust deniers argue that
  • Jews are constructed as the Other in Holocaust
    denial discourse.
  • Holocaust deniers identify themselves as
  • freedom fighters, and political prisoners.
  • Jews are viewed as the enemy, the
    oppressors, and the antagonists.

Jews as the racial Other
Karen Brodkin
  • Jews were viewed as a separate race until they
    acquired money and became integrated into the
    white race. After World War II, Jews became
    white through federal government polices that
    permitted them to be members of the white
    suburban middle class.
  • Brodkin, Karen, How Jews Became White Folks and
    What That Says About Race in America, Rutgers
    University Press, 2000, p. 21

Jews as the racial Other
  • Eric Goldstein

American Jews employed the concept of race in
defining their Jewishness during the last three
decades of the nineteenth century. By "race"
nineteenth-century Jews meant something
different from "ethnicity" in its present usage.
Their conception of Jewish distinctiveness was
one rooted not only in cultural particularity but
in biology, shared ancestry, and blood. 1
1 Goldstein, Eric. Different Blood Flows in
Our Veins" Race and Jewish Self-Definition in
Late Nineteenth Century America American Jewish
History v85 p29-55 Mr '97  
Jews as the racial Other
  • Karl Kautsky

There are mental and physical qualities of the
Jew that distinguishes himself from non-Jews. He
indicates that Jews are physically different due
to the shape of the nose, their feet, and he
makes further claims to suggest that because of
the Jews high intelligence, it sets them apart
From non-Jews.1 1 Kautsky, Karl. Are
The Jews a Race? International Publishers Co.,
Inc., New York. 1926.p.125
Jews as the racial Other
  • Maurice Fishberg

The Jews in the Caucasus are mostly
brachycephalic, while those in Northern Africa
and Arabia are predominantly dolichocephalic and
those in Europe are predominantly of medium
  • It is evident in Fishbergs analysis that the
    Jews in various
  • parts of the world comprise the racial types of
    white, black,
  • and yellow.
  • Fishbergs research indicates that there is great
  • difficulty to prove that there exists a separate
    Jewish race.

1 Kautsky, Karl, Are The Jews a Race? p.95
History of Holocaust Denial
  • 1) Provided an overview of Holocaust denial in
    selected countries from 1945 to the present

United States, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom,
and France.
2) Traced the history of key Holocaust deniers
and organizations
  • Ernst Zundel, James Keegstra (Canada)
  • Michael Hoffman, Arthur Butz, Bradley Smith,
    Willis Carto,
  • Institute for Historical Review, Harry Elmer
    Barnes (USA)
  • Robert Faurrison, Paul Rassinier (France)
  • David Irving, Carlos Whitlock Porter (U.K.)
  • Germar Rudolf (Germany)

Discourse Analysis
  • What is discourse?

Oxford Dictionary of Sociology
The study of language, its structure, functions,
and patterns in use.
It is not merely a string of sentences, one
following the other, but rather it exhibits
properties that reflect its organization,
coherence, rhetorical force, and thematic focus.
"discourse"  A Dictionary of Sociology. Ed.
Gordon Marshall. Oxford University Press, 1998.
Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University
Press.  13 June 2003  lthttp//www.oxfordreference.
Discourse Analysis
  • What is Discourse Analysis?

Deborah Tannen
Discourse analysis is defined as the analysis of
language beyond the sentence. It is chiefly
concerned with the study of grammar, the study
of smaller bits of language, such as sounds
(phonetics and phonology), parts of words
(morphology), meaning (semantics), as well as
the order of words in sentences (syntax).
Tannen, Deborah, Handbook of Discourse Analysis.
Oxford and Cambridge, MA Basil Blackwell, 2001,
872 p., p.10.
Discourse Analysis
  • Oxford Dictionary of the Social Sciences

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics
The attempt by various linguists to extend the
methods of analysis developed for the
description of words and sentences to the study
of larger structures in, or involved in the
production of connected discourse. Term first
used in the 1950s by Zellig Harris.
"discourse analysis"   Dictionary of the Social
Sciences. Craig Calhoun, ed. Oxford University
Press 2002. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford
University Press.   13 June 2003   http//www.oxfo
yt104.000466 discourse analysis"  The Concise
Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics. P. H. Matthews.
Oxford University Press, 1997. Oxford Reference
Online. Oxford University Press.  13 June
2003   lthttp//
Discourse Analysis as a Method
  • Applied content analysis, graphical analysis, and
    discourse analysis to two articles per web site

Analysis involved
Word counting
Decoding words and uncovered hidden messages and
Identifying type of web site
Identifying dramatic role
Identifying rhetorical strategy
Holocaust Denial Discourse Strategies
  • Holocaust denial and politics
  • Holocaust deniers use anti-Zionism as their
    political platform and
  • their rhetorical strategy in an attempt to make
    their claims legitimate
  • Holocaust deniers form alliances and unite
  • Holocaust deniers create friendships with popular
    Jewish scholars and
  • politicians who are anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic,
    and critical of World Jewry
  • and Jewish politics. They also hold conventions
    and conferences in
  • order to disseminate their claims
  • Holocaust deniers as pseudo librarians
  • Holocaust deniers create and maintain
    professionally designed web sites,
  • thoroughly organized, and contain a digital
    library of thousands of
  • electronic documents, electronic journal
    articles, and electronic books.

Holocaust Denial Discourse Strategies
  • Holocaust denial and the U.S. Constitution
  • Holocaust deniers use the First Amendment of the
    U.S. Constitution to
  • support the ideology that free speech is never
    hate speech
  • Holocaust deniers use scholarly inquiry
  • Holocaust deniers to mask their anti-Semitic
    sentiments behind
  • academic credentials and legitimate and notable
  • (ex Most authors have Ph.D or claim to be
    Historians or Scientists)
  • Holocaust deniers and melodrama
  • Holocaust deniers will take on a dramatic role as
    teacher, scholar,
  • political prisoner, victim, sarcastic jokester,
    and investigative journalist
  • They also use terminology such as Hoaxacot or
    Holocot or Shoah
  • business)

Holocaust Denial Discourse Strategies
  • Holocaust Trivialization, a subtle form of

Holocaust deniers will minimize, degrade, and
trivialize the severity of this genocide, thus
demeaning its importance in world history.
  • Holocaust denial and language

Holocaust deniers manipulate language through the
use of code words. (ex. Using the tern
revisionism instead of denial)
Holocaust Denial Discourse Strategies
  • Jews as a Scapegoat

Holocaust deniers continuously blame Jews for all
of the social problems in society. Carlos
Porter blames Jews for AIDS, acceptance of
homosexuals, and for the social acceptance of
  • Inversion

Holocaust deniers claim that Jews are the
oppressors, and self-identify as victims and
political prisoners. Example Holocaust deniers
will argue that Jews are creating another
Holocaust against the Palestinians
Holocaust Denial and Librarianship Should we
collect hate literature?
  • Jeffrey Katz

There is a need for research or academic
libraries to collect as thoroughly as possible
within a subject, if it supports the teaching
and research of a particular department. Within
a public library, librarians should only acquire
and purchase materials that are based on the
needs of the community. If the community does
not want Holocaust denial in their libraries,
then it is in the best interests to keep this
material out of the library. 1 Katz,
Jeffrey, Revisionist History in the Library to
facilitate access or not to facilitate access?
Canadian Library Journal October 1991.319-324
Holocaust Denial and Librarianship Should we
collect hate literature?
  • John Drobnicki

It is vital for teachers and scholars to expose
and refute their lies. It is also crucial for
libraries to have this material accessible to its
Libraries should acquire some revisionist
materials and they should be used by students
and teachers as primary source materials to
illustrate anti-Semitism and bigotry.
Although this material is hate literature, the
Library Bill of Rights claims that libraries
should provide materials and information
presenting all points of view on current and
historical issues. 1 Drobnicki, John,
Holocaust Denial and Libraries Should Libraries
Acquire Revisionist Materials? College
Research Libraries News , Vol. 60 (6), 1999,
pages 463-464
Holocaust Denial and Librarianship Information
Management/Classification of Information
  • Betty Landesman

most Holocaust denial web sites are highly
organized and professional looking.
Holocaust denial web sites contain indexes,
search engines, and databases that contain a
collection of electronic documents resembling a
digital library.
1 Landesman, Betty, Holocaust Denial and the
Internet, in The Reference Librarian, no.
61/62, 1998, pp. 287-299, p. 288
Holocaust Denial and Librarianship Evaluation
of Web Resources
  • Shane Borrowman
  • Academic ethos is the traditional, print based
    ethos that is
  • constructed through linear argumentation. When
    academic ethos is
  • presented on web pages, the web user is convinced
    that the content is
  • legitimate and credible. Techno-ethos is the
    authority that is constructed
  • online in the information management and design
    of their web sites.
  • 1
  • 1 Borrowman, Shane "Critical Surfing Holocaust
    Denial and Credibility on the Web." College
  • v47, i2, Spring 1999, p. 44

Sample graphics
Source The Zundelsite, http//
Sample graphics
Source The Zundelsite, http//
Sample graphics
Worshipping their God
"Find your little homeland
Source Focal Point Publications,
Sample textual passages
  • Theres no business like Shoah business

Lying, or mythologizing, is a common human trait
according to Joseph Campbell. Many others among
the testifiers are not lying. They believe
sincerely in what they proclaim about the gas
chambers, about having seen them, about having
seen the victims, about having seen the smoke
rise from the stacks, etc. They are "honest and
true believers" in the myth because it
is important to them and to the Jewish people
that the myth survive
Greg Raven, The Institute for Historical
Review http//
Sample textual passages
  • The "Holocaust" has become a media religion,
    the last truly believed religion in the otherwise
    agnostic West. It is a civic religion, one of the
    aims of which is to replace the crucifixion of
    Christ at Calvary with the experience of the Jews
    at Auschwitz, as the central ontological event of
    Western history.

-Michael Hoffman, http//
Sample textual passages
our Jewish "democracies" have now become the
exact mirror image of the (largely imaginary)
"Nazi" society which they pretend to hate so
pro-life activists observed that the abortion
rights movement was primarily motivated and led
by people who called themselves Jews and about
half of all abortionists and abortion clinic
owners identified themselves as Jewish, which
was far out of proportion with the Jewish
population, which made up less than five percent
of the United States population.
- Carlos Whitlock Porter, http//
Supplemental Graphics used in article entitled
Human Soap- American Style
Source http//
  • Holocaust denial appears to be more popular as
    the Internet grows.
  • Holocaust deniers use the Internet as their new
    vehicle to spread
  • their claims
  • There are younger deniers appearing all over the
  • Gillian Seidel (1983) Holocaust Denial is a
    symbolic genocide on
  • World Jewry and World history and is a new form
    of the old classic
  • World Jewish conspiracy theory.
  • As time progresses, Holocaust deniers will gain
    more legitimacy
  • as survivors pass on
  • Holocaust deniers fail to look at the continuing
    attack and persecution
  • of Jews that has occurred over the past 2000
    years. They are only
  • looking at the Holocaust in a vacuum as if it
    were the only tragedy
  • forced upon the Jews.

Seidel, Gill, The Holocaust Denial Antisemitism,
Racism, and the New Right. Beyond the Pale
Collective, Leeds, England, 1986, 202 p., p.