Survivors Read Mean Tweets From Depraved Holocaust Deniers

It can’t have been easy for Holocaust survivor Herbert Rubinstein to read aloud the words that a Holocaust denier posted online. “We have all been cheated, lied to, and exploited,” the post says. “The Holocaust did NOT happen the way it is written in our history books.” In no uncertain terms, Rubinstein sets the record straight. “That is a lie,” he says.

Ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 6, several survivors are taking part in a powerful campaign seeking to address the ongoing spread of Holocaust denialism online by reading posts dismissing the real atrocities that they lived through. The #CancelHate campaign, organized by the Claims Conference, features a series of videos of survivors speaking the words of Holocaust denial and distortion that still proliferate on social media platforms—and debunking those smears with the testimony of their own lived experiences.

One of the survivors taking part is Hedi Argent. Born into a Jewish family in Vienna in 1929, she was expelled from school the day after the Anschluss, Adolf Hitler’s annexation of Austria into a union with Nazi Germany. Soon she and her family would also be forced out of their home. Eventually, 17 of her family members would be murdered in the Holocaust.

“The Holocaust was a lie,” she reads, quoting a denial post in her campaign video. “Stop spreading misinformation please.” “Now that is Holocaust denial,” Argent says in response. “The Holocaust is not a lie,” she says in response. Despite the antisemitic persecution she faced, Argent says she considers herself among the “lucky ones.” “The 17 members of my family who were murdered were not lucky,” she said.

Holocaust denial remains a depressingly persistent issue—one recent poll estimated that 3 percent of Americans across all age groups over 18 agreed with the statement: “The Holocaust is a myth.” Another 2022 study led by UNESCO looking at Holocaust-related posts from five different online platforms found that denial and distortion was a “significant cause of concern across all platforms.”

“There were no gas chambers,” Abraham Foxman, a child survivor of the Holocaust and former director of the Anti-Defamation League, reads from one online post. “Every single thing we know about World War II is a lie.” The author of the post goes on to say they share “the same goals as Hitler: Exile the Jews and keep their degeneracy and corruption and lies out of society.”

“This is Holocaust denial,” says Foxman, who lost 13 relatives in the Holocaust. “Whether inspired by ignorance or hate, it doesn’t matter, because words matter. Words of hate matter.” They matter, he explains, because the “gas chambers at Auschwitz did not begin with bricks, they began with words—with ugly, evil words about the Jews.”

“The world is a volatile place right now,” said Gideon Taylor, the president of the Claims Conference. “Social media offers individuals a place to hide while they spread words of hate. This campaign shows that these are not victimless posts—these mean and vile words deny the first-hand testimony of each and every Holocaust survivor, their suffering and the suffering and often loss of their families.”

Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider adds that survivors are now being confronted by a “tremendous wave” of denial and distortion.

“Holocaust survivors from around the world are participating in this campaign to show that hate will not win,” Schneider says. “Those who read these depraved posts are putting aside their own discomfort and trauma to ensure that current and future generations understand that unchecked hatred has no place in society.”

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