The Holocaust, the systematic murder of approximately six million Jews, and several million others, is one of history’s most painstakingly examined and well-documented genocides.
Nevertheless, in the decades since World War II, a small group of antisemites have repeatedly attempted to cast doubt on the facts of the Holocaust as they pertain to its Jewish victims. They claim that Jews fabricated evidence of their own genocide in order to gain sympathy, extract reparations from Germany and facilitate the alleged illegal acquisition of Palestinian land for the creation of Israel.
This phenomenon, known as Holocaust denial, is founded on stereotypes of Jewish greed, malevolence, and scheming, and on the belief that Jews are somehow able to force massive institutions — governments, Hollywood, the media, academia — to promote an epic lie. Many Holocaust deniers, especially in the early years of the movement, were overt white supremacists and Nazi sympathizers. Now Holocaust denial appears to have become more widespread.
Although the antisemitic nature of Holocaust denial seems obvious, Facebook has consistently refused to categorize Holocaust denial as a violation of its terms of service, or “Community Standards,” which prohibit the use of its platform as a vehicle to demonize others or engage in hate speech. In July 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Vox Recode interview that while he finds Holocaust denial “deeply offensive,” Facebook views the refusal to acknowledge the attempted annihilation of European Jewry as a simple factual error. “I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong,” Zuckerberg said. “I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong….”
As a result of Facebook’s refusal to categorize Holocaust denial as a form of antisemitic hate speech, this rhetoric appears across the platform, including in both public and private groups specifically devoted to the topic. And while some of these groups state that they are forums for “objective discussion” of the Holocaust and that blatant denial is not permitted, an ADL review clearly found explicit denial, as well as the hate-filled and conspiratorial antisemitism common to this philosophy. The groups examined in this analysis include:
- “Holocaust Revisionism” (henceforth: HR) -- Private Group, 1.9k members, created December 2013
- “Real World War 2 history” (henceforth: RWW2H) -- Private Group, 700 members, created February 2018
- “Did the holocaust really happen??” (henceforth: DTHRH) -- Public Group, 700 members, created May 2016
- “Holocaust debate” (henceforth: HD) -- Private Group, Hidden, Created February 2018
- “Historical Examination of the Holocaust” (henceforth: HEOTH) -- Private Group, Hidden, Created March 2011
- “CODOH” (henceforth: CODOH) -- Technically a “page” (not a group), 1,400 members, Created May 2012
Holocaust Denial as an Antisemitic Conspiracy Theory:
Though some apologists for Holocaust deniers claim they are merely presenting an alternative view of history, posts shared in these Facebook groups underscore the fact that Holocaust denial is an antisemitic conspiracy theory founded on the belief that a cabal of Jews has engaged in a plot to deceive, defraud, and control the world. Jews or “Zionists” are frequently blamed for orchestrating the “hoax” in order to pave the way for the creation of the state of Israel, undermine white European confidence or extract reparations money. They were driven to concoct the Holocaust “hoax” by their greed, lust for power, and hatred and disdain for non-Jews, and especially Europeans and Palestinians. The contempt and hatred that many Holocaust deniers feel towards Jews is viscerally apparent in many of the posts, often featuring offensive memes. Even Anne Frank, whose diary has inspired millions, is designated a fraud.
The following is just a small sample of posts our team found on Facebook while researching this topic:
- “The entire ‘Holocaust’ was clearly a hoax contrived in order to further the illuminati zionist [sic] agenda and demonize Hitler for standing against them. Not a single Jew was killed in a gas chamber, nor was there ever a genocidal agenda.” -HR, originally posted January 26, 2019
- The “Holohoax” is a “Zionist conspiracy to deceive the world.” -HR, originally posted April 14, 2020
- “The Zionist Jews needed horror stories to give them an excuse to steal Palestinian land so they could establish Israel. It also gave them a propaganda weapon to beat the Gentile into submission.” -HR, originally posted February 18, 2020
- “[Holocaust] stories are part of a criminal enterprise, and are being used for ulterior purposes such as special rights for Jews [and]... the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people, falsification of history, propaganda for mass immigration, denationalization and globalization, and the deliberate brainwashing of school children in European and other western countries.” -HR, originally posted January 27, 2020
- “the [Holocaust is the] biggest hoax ever played on mankind. Yes. It’s sickening. It’s an enormous industry funnelling [sic] money in the rabbis pockets, who, in turn, lobby the world and lobby their installed puppet politicians...It’s all about the Benjamin’s [sic] now.” -DTHRH, originally posted April 4, 2020
- “Gotta hand it to those fucking rats, they know how to run a scam” -RWW2H, originally posted May 31, 2020
- An article entitled “The Irrelevance of Holocaust History,” posted on the CODOH page read in part, “even if the entire Holohoax nonsense is as true as last morning’s sunrise, the Institution of the Holocaust remains a profane subterfuge with the goal, and much of the effect, of chaining the hearts and minds of the world’s billions to an unchallengeable belief that all Jewry are forever sainted – martyrs who only appear to walk among us, but in fact tread an ethereal hypersphere some inches, or feet above the earth on whose filthy surface the rest of us wallow and thrash in our benightedness. This, of course, goes for their plunderers like Sheldon Adelson and Bernard Madoff and for their rapacious gangs like the Mossad, the ADL and the entire apparatus of the ever-expanding theocracy called Israel." - CODOH, originally posted November 6, 2018
- A meme including a caricature of a scheming, hook-nosed Jew, and a Star of David modified to include conspiratorial symbols, proclaims “International Zionism has deceived us our whole lives! The Holocaust is a lie!” -DTHRH, originally posted March 23, 2020
- Other memes in these groups promote the belief that the Holocaust is part of a Jewish plot to extort money and manipulate the world.
This manipulated image changed the infamous sign above the entrance to Auschwitz -HR, originally posted March 2, 2020
HR, originally posted January 28, 2020
Photo Caption: ”...by the way, Holocaust NEVER happened...”
HEOTH, originally posted September 1, 2013
Photo Comment: ”Jews never have enough money, they are like dragons they horde and roots on their gold, I bet that Jew even sleeps on a pillow stuffed with 100 dollar bills”
Cover Photo, HEOTH, originally posted January 2, 2012
HEOTH, originally posted December 4, 2011
Expressions of hatred for Jews are common in Holocaust denial groups on Facebook, even when the Holocaust is not being discussed. Jews are attacked as evil, inhuman and diabolical, and the Jewish religion is vilified and degraded. Some posters try to mask their antisemitism from casual inspection or from automatic detection by using coded language and symbols, such as the “echo symbol,” or by deliberately misspelling the word “Jew.”
- “jews [sic] bring [persecution] on themselves with their disgusting evil nature.” -HR, originally posted February 20, 2020
- “This (((tribe))) is not human.” DTHRH, originally posted March 26, 2020
- “The Zionists said they would make them pay in every way possible as hard as possible. Financial was never enough for their insatiable appetite, they wanted their [Germans’] souls too” - DTHRH, originally posted April 4, 2020
- “All I can think of is maybe they are not human” followed by “Jews are the source of all evil in this world” - RWW2H, originally posted June 17, 2020
- “Jews only do what is beneficial to them. Its [sic] proven in the lies they have told for 1000s of years...” - CODOH, originally posted January 4, 2020
- “The Jew, the poisoner of all nations. International Jewish financial crime scheme that is choking the life out of the planet. The Jew has no interest in community or church but loves Gold, Hedge Funds and Conspicuous Consumption.” - CODOH, originally posted December 1, 2018
- A post on CODOH invoked the antisemitic claim that Jews control the American media in connection with the case of Leo Frank, an American Jew who was lynched in 1915 after having been falsely accused of murdering a non-Jewish girl: “American Jewry had, over the two years preceding it, made the [Leo Frank] case a cause célèbre, not least in the media, which, even at that early time, were controlled by Jewish interests not only of ownership, such as Adolph Ochs’s New York Times, but through the massive and pervasive influence of large-scale advertisers such as merchandiser Alfred Lasker, whose tentacles reached into the hearts of virtually every newspaper large and small in the United States.” CODOH, originally posted October 9, 2019
- Some posts implicate Jews in a variety of other conspiracy theories, including the current pandemic and the murder of George Floyd. “This covid fuckery was planned and it fueled this George Floyd protest thuggery in the streets. It is bought and paid for by wealthy Jews who want this country to be Communist. They financed the street revolution but they also train our police with Mossad IDF combat tactics. Any smart evil entity will always have both sides of anything just like they have infiltrated our congress and both parties.” - RWW2H, originally posted June 7, 2020.
- Other memes assert that Jews are behind Communism, or, in a 180-degrees turnaround, that Jews are malevolent uber-capitalists who control international finance and the media, and that Jews instigated World War II. The following two memes were created, a prolific poster in one of the Holocaust denial groups, who has written that he draws inspiration from images in the notorious Nazi propaganda publication, Der Sturmer. - RWW2H, originally posted June 5 and 7, 2020
White Supremacy & Nazism:
Holocaust denial on Facebook sometimes includes overt white supremacist elements and veneration of Hitler and the Nazis, as well as links to neo-Nazi ideologues and other extremists.
- “[It’s] bullshit the [sic] Hitler was evil and the Germans were the ‘bad guys’” - RWW2H, originally posted June 15, 2020
- “Sometimes I have fantasies that this great alliance could come together again and free free [sic] Europe from this Jooish [sic] dominated NWO [New World Order]" - RWW2H, originally posted June 16, 2020
- In one thread, a commenter wrote, “One day, the people will wake up and realize that AH [Adolf Hitler] was right.” Others agreed, adding “Hail [sic],” and “1488 brother.” - RWW2H, originally posted May 30, 2020
- Many comments in these groups link out to inflammatory, white supremacist videos, podcasts, and publications.
- A video entitled “The battle between Good and Evil – Whites v. Jews,” including segment on “the very real Jewish agenda to destroy the white race.” - DTHRH, originally posted April 5, 2020
- An article written by neo-Nazi William Pierce, author of The Turner Diaries. -HR, originally posted May 27, 2019
- A video featuring Paul Ramsey, a racist pundit, on the American Renaissance channel was also shared. American Renaissance is a white supremacist journal and companion website that publishes articles on the perceived decline of American society because of integrationist social policies. -HR, originally posted April 23, 2020
- An article entitled “Mark Zuckerberg Openly Admits the Holocaust Never Happened,” featuring a heil Hitler salute and the Facebook logo in the shape of a swastika. Notably, the source of this post is a white supremacist website called Goy Talk that promotes accelerationism and features extremist audiobooks (by Hitler, James Mason, William Pierce, and George Lincoln Rockwell), white supremacist-themed videos and articles with titles such as “President Trump Implores Supporters to ‘READ SIEGE!’” -HR, originally posted May 2, 2020
- A BitChute channel called “Based Documentaries” that includes videos about “white genocide and demographic replacement, the Muslim grooming epidemic, the (((Jewish))) question” etc. -HD, originally posted April 17, 2020
Many of the groups’ moderators have their own history of antisemitic and Holocaust-denying content:
“Holocaust Revisionism” moderator Sandy Mak has a profile picture from March 2019 claiming the “Zionists did 9/11” and frequently posts about “the Zionist agenda.” The other moderator, Tracy Steiner, posted in the group from her personal page “We’re taking down the ZOG machine Jew by Jew by Jew…The white man marches on” and has posts alluding to the New World Order and being a “Truther.”
“Did the holocaust really happen??” moderator Jack Ceulers’ profile picture is a car with a license plate that reads “Reich 55.”
“Real World War 2 history” administrator Keith Teal has a profile picture from 2018 that contains the Nazi sonnenrad logo and liked the group “Synogogue [sic] of Satan.” The personal profile of Stephen King – another administrator for the group – contains numerous antisemitic and Jewish conspiracy posts, including a link to the book On the Jews and Their Lies: His Classic Warning about the Jews and Their Hatred of Jesus.
The administrators for “Historical Examination of the Holocaust” include Bradley Smith, an infamous Holocaust denier and founder of the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust. Smith passed away several years ago, but his Facebook page continues to actively post Holocaust denial and antisemitic conspiracy theories. Another administrator, Robert Schmidt, posts on his personal page antisemitic articles such as, “Jewish Bankers Were the Cause of Both World War 2 and the Armenian Genocide.”
CODOH is a public page by which the Holocaust denial clearinghouse CODOH.com disseminates its content on Facebook. CODOH is an acronym for “Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust.”