The Holocaust Historiography Project

Arthur R. Butz archive

Holocaust Denial or Holocaust Revisionism?

by Arthur R. Butz

Back to home page.

A minor question that sometimes arises is the relative merits of the terms Holocaust denial and Holocaust revisionism to describe the views on the Jewish extermination claim that I and others have expressed. Generally, my side says Holocaust revisionism and our enemies say Holocaust denial. I did not originate either term.

I am willing to accept both terms under appropriate circumstances, but I usually say Holocaust revisionism.

The problem with the term Holocaust denial is that it conveys, to most people, a false idea of what we say. For the typical person the term Holocaust refers to a complex of events. He thinks of Nazi persecution of Jews, concentration camps, crematoria, dead bodies strewn about camps (especially Belsen) at the end of the war and, of course, extermination of millions of Jews in gas chambers located in some camps. Thus he tends to take the meaning of Holocaust denial as denial of all of these things, whereas we deny only the last among them. The effect is to make us seem, to passing observers, detached from reality.

In general I prefer the term Holocaust revisionism because it does not imply a complete rejection of all that is popularly understood by Holocaust, and invites the observer to consider carefully what is being accepted and what is being rejected.

On the other hand I, and Holocaust revisionists generally, emphatically reject the extermination claim and, by implication, any figure of Jewish dead (due to Nazi policies) in the millions. Provided this is what is clearly meant by Holocaust, I have no objection to calling my thesis denial. Such a context of comprehension is sometimes difficult to achieve. An exception is when our enemies speak of us. They understand quite well what we do and do not claim, and they also understand that most in their audiences do not. Thus they use denial as a rhetorical device conveying an implicit false representation.

Created 18 November 1997.
Last modification: 18 November 1997.

Back to home page.