Antisemitism Resurgent: Manifestations of Antisemitism in the 21st Century

Holocaust Denial

Between 1943 and 1944, an average of 6,000 Jews were gassed to death per day at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The Nazis previously used diesel engines to produce carbon monoxide in mobile killing centers at other camps, but discovered at Auschwitz that Zyklon B was a more efficient method for mass murder.* On October 14, 2019, Jordan’s Al-Finiq TV broadcast a conference held in the country called “The Holocaust – the Biggest Lie in Modern History.” Over the course of the conference, Jordanian researcher Mahmoud Awad concluded that the Nazis had used Zyklon B to disinfect clothing, not to murder Jews. The goal of the Final Solution, Awad argued, was only to drive the Jews out of Germany because they were detrimental to both German and Western culture.*

Holocaust denial and revisionism have become central components of antisemitic conspiracies regarding Jewish power and influence. In December 2006, then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad convened the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust. The conference drew almost 70 attendees from 30 countries, including notables such as former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who praised Ahmadinejad for providing a forum in which to question the official record of the Holocaust.* Ahmadinejad himself had previously referred to the Holocaust as a myth “above God, religion and the prophets.”* According to a September 2018 CNN poll, half of Europeans believe commemorating the Holocaust helps fight antisemitism but one-third believe Jews use the Holocaust to advance their own goals.* In September 2022, Goyim Defense League founder Jon Minadeo Jr. was arrested in Poland after protesting in front of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp with antisemitic signs. He later posted photos on his Gab account, boasting of the need to “continue exposing the Jewish anti white propaganda! That for decades has conditioned our people to be slaves for the Jews.”*

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) 2016 definition of antisemitism specifically classifies Holocaust denial and revisionism as an example of contemporary antisemitism:

Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).*

In January 2022, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning denial and distortion of the Holocaust. The resolution—put forward by Israel, cosponsored by Germany, and supported by the United States and dozens of other countries—declares the Holocaust “will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice.”* The resolution expressed concern about “the growing prevalence of Holocaust denial or distortion through the use of information and communications technologies,” and called on all U.N. members to develop educational programs on the Holocaust and “reject without any reservation any denial or distortion of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, or any activities to this end.”*

The veracity of the Holocaust is a matter of historical record. Museums and archives have preserved eyewitness accounts, photographs, and physical evidence of its horrors. Nonetheless, revisionists have created an industry around Holocaust denial and revisionism. It can be broken down into two primary intersecting ideas: The record of the Holocaust is false or has been exaggerated and Jews abuse the memory of the Holocaust to garner sympathy and maintain influence. At the core of each is the accusation that Jews have distorted history, drawing again from the idea of a powerful Jewish conspiracy that manipulates global attitudes, historical records, and international affairs.

Holocaust Myth One: Jews Falsify or Exaggerate the Holocaust

The details and scope of the Holocaust continue to come under attack by litigious revisionist historians using dubious scholarship and abusing academic freedoms. British revisionist David Irving, who has argued in books and papers that Jews were not gassed at the Auschwitz extermination camp, is one of many who contend that Jews have misrepresented and exaggerated the Holocaust. His website is a collection of Holocaust denial and antisemitic conspiracies, defenses of Nazism, and accusations of Jewish manipulation, lies, and thievery.* In her 1994 book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, noted Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt labeled Irving a Holocaust denier and a bigot who manipulated historical records to fit his agenda. Irving launched a libel suit against Lipstadt in 1996. In 2000, a judge ruled that Irving had failed to prove that Lipstadt had damaged his reputation. The judge further ruled that Irving was “an active Holocaust denier; that he was antisemitic and racist and that he associated with right-wing extremists who promoted neo-Nazism.”* Irving was later jailed for 13 months in Austria, where Holocaust denial is a crime.* He has since organized tours of Nazi sites in Germany, including the bunker where Hitler committed suicide.*

A separate publishing industry has cropped up around Holocaust revisionism after World War II. Pseudo-historians typically attempt to cast doubt on the Holocaust while claiming that they are “just asking questions.” Groups like the U.S.-based Institute for Historical Review (IHR), known for publishing material promoting Holocaust denial, claim they do not deny history but seek to provide more in-depth investigations to ascertain the truth. The IHR claims to have no position on the Holocaust and denies accusations of historical revisionism, arguing instead that they “encourage more objective investigation.”* IHR research has referred to the Holocaust as a “sacred cow” that is nothing more than a metaphor for Jewish history,* and decried global Holocaust remembrances as “an expression of Jewish-Zionist power … designed to further Jewish-Zionist interests.”*

International courts have ruled against Holocaust revisionism since the 1980s. Nonetheless, pseudo-scholars have continued to use the court system in attempts to shield their views under the guise of free speech and academic freedom. In 1981, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Thomas T. Johnson ruled that the Holocaust was “a fact and not subject to dispute.”* Canadian courts twice convicted German-born scholar Ernst Zündel in 1985 and 1988 under a Canadian law that prohibits spreading false news likely to harm the public interest.* Zündel produced books, audio tapes, and other media denying the Holocaust and promoting neo-Nazi propaganda while living in Canada. During Zündel’s 1985 trial, Alan Shefman, the Canadian national director of the League for Human Rights of B’nai B’rith, called Holocaust denial “the future of antisemitism.”* Both of Zündel’s convictions were overturned—the first on a technicality and the second after the Canadian Supreme Court ruled the original law unreasonably restricted free speech. Following his 2003 arrest in the United States for overstaying his visa, Zündel was deported to Germany, where he was convicted for inciting hatred and violating the memory of the dead. Zündel died in 2017.*

On October 3, 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Holocaust denial is not protected speech, rejecting a complaint by Udo Pastörs, a former politician from Germany’s far-right National Democratic Party (NPD). Pastörs’s complaint stemmed from his 2012 conviction for inciting hatred against Jews and Turks during an NPD meeting. Pastörs argued that the conviction trampled on his right to free speech.*

Holocaust revisionists have used academia to distort the level of persecution against Jews during the Holocaust. Israeli researchers in October 2019 revealed that Polish nationals had manipulated Wikipedia for 15 years to present a false history of the Holocaust that portrayed ethnic Poles as victims of the Nazis as much as Jewish Poles. The manipulation took the form of an entry about a Nazi death camp in Warsaw called Konzentrationslager Warschau in which more than 200,000 people were killed. The entry went online in 2004 and remained there until 2019 when researchers discovered it and confirmed that no such camp existed.*

Holocaust Myth Two: Jews Abuse the Holocaust for Sympathy and Influence

The far-right has embraced Holocaust denial and revisionism in its quest to demonstrate Jewish domination. In the summer of 2019, the Daily Stormer Book Club posted flyers on synagogues and churches in New England calling the Holocaust “fake news” and declaring that the people who “lied about soap and lampshades are lying about gas chambers and ovens.”* White nationalist John De Nugent has uploaded multiple videos glorifying Hitler and examining historic cases of antisemitism through the lens of white nationalism.* De Nugent has praised Hitler and warned of a white genocide and the “Jewish war machine” while calling for the creation of a new white republic.*

One common form of revisionism is to reverse the roles of victim and persecutor, painting Germany as victim of a Jewish conspiracy. In one theory, Jews—and specifically the Rothschild family—started World War II because Hitler brought Germany out of the banking debt that was drowning the German people and took Germany off the Rothschild gold standard.* Another theory draws upon a March 1933 Daily Express headline that read, “Judea Declared War on Germany.” The article is about a proposed economic boycott of Germany by international Jewish leaders in response to German persecution of its Jews, but it has been used as a basis for casting Jews as the aggressors against Germany.*

The perpetrator-as-victim mentality has given rise to an interesting twist on Holocaust revisionism in Germany, where Holocaust denial and Nazi symbols are forbidden under law. The phenomenon is called secondary antisemitism, which is based on German resentment of Jews who remind them of their collective guilt for the Holocaust.* In the 1968 book Post-Mortem: The Jews in Germany Today, German-Jewish journalist Hilde Walter described to author Leo Katcher what it was like for her to live in a post-war Germany. Walter was a secular Jew who considered herself a German first and was never a practicing Jew before the war. Hitler, she told Katcher, made her a Jew, and the Jews who remained in Germany after World War II were a “national monument” whose continued presence in Germany was an act of “mercy” without which “Germans would not be able to live with their guilt feelings.”* That guilt had a negative effect on Germans, according to Walter, who then introduced the basis for what would become known as secondary antisemitism:

It seems the Germans will never forgive us Auschwitz. That is their sickness and they desperately want a cure. But they want it to be easy, painless. They refuse to go under the knife by facing up to the past and their part in it.*

Walter alludes to the notion that Jews provide a reminder to Germans of their culpability, which they would rather forget. This consequently breeds German resentment of Jews for simply remaining in Germany.

Today, Germany continues to pay reparations to elderly Holocaust survivors around the world through the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (a.k.a. the Claims Conference). Since its inception in 1952, the Claims Conference has negotiated with Germany and Austria for more than $70 billion in compensation to more than 800,000 Holocaust victims. The Claims Conference continues to negotiate with these governments to provide care for aging victims around the world whose needs grow greater even as their numbers decrease.*

The only country that has thus far refused to accept any culpability for the Holocaust has been Poland, home to Europe’s largest Jewish population before the war. That population numbered more than three million—about 10 percent of the country’s total—before the war and was almost entirely wiped out.* Jews who returned to Poland after the war found themselves victims of violence as they tried to resettle in their former towns. In 1968, the communist government in Poland classified Jews as enemies of the state, blaming them for all the economic and political problems plaguing the communist system. Approximately 20,000 Jews were expelled from Poland between 1968 and 1972.* Jewish property that was stolen by the Nazis fell into the hands of the communist government and was nationalized.* Survivor advocates have called for restitution of approximately $300 billion, the value of property seized under the Nazi and communist regimes.* Polish officials and nationalists argue that restitution would bankrupt Poland.*

Calls for restitution have sparked a major antisemitic backlash in the country among Polish nationalists who accuse Jews of manipulating the Holocaust and minimizing Polish suffering under the Nazi regime. In May 2019, several thousand far-right activists marched in Poland after  President Donald Trump signed into law the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act, which requires the U.S. State Department to report to Congress on the compliance of 47 countries—including Poland—on the restitution of Jewish assets seized during and after World War II. The JUST Act is based on the 2009 Terezin Declaration, a non-binding agreement signed by 47 nations—including Poland and the United States—recognizing the need to provide care for and restitution to Nazi victims. One Polish protester complained to France 24 that “Americans only think about Jewish and not Polish interests.”* Protests against the JUST Act spread across the United States as well, with protesters calling Poland a victim of the so-called Holocaust industry.*

Download Full Report

Read Part I:

Historic professional, societal, and political restrictions on Jews helped give rise to some of the most enduring conspiracies about Jewish influence.

Read about Antisemitism throughout History

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On May 8, 2019, Taliban insurgents detonated an explosive-laden vehicle and then broke into American NGO Counterpart International’s offices in Kabul. At least seven people were killed and 24 were injured.

View Archive