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The Holocaust occurred in 1941 and went through 1945. It took place in certain parts of Europe that resulted in the genocide of European Jews. With the popularization and growing sentiments of Anti-Semitic canard, the Nazi Party managed to murder just over six million Jews. The Nazi Party believed that Jewish people were the ones to blame for all the problems that were occurring in the world. Case in point: With the publication of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, it hurt the Jewish population because the book portrayed them as individualistic, divisive, and secretive. This book made the Jewish people look like they were conspiring against everyone else in terms of economic manipulation, attempting to gain full control of the press, and creating division between Christianity. The purpose was to spread the hatred of Jews. This belief was also starting to become entrenched in the United States with the famous industrialist Henry Ford publishing his Anti-Semitic beliefs in his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. Even in biblical terms, the Nazi Party further strengthens their argument by stating that the Jewish people are the ones responsible for the death of Jesus Christ.
Holocaust denial is an Anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that shortly emerged after World War II in an attempt to dismiss the genocide of European Jews by the Nazi Party and those who held similar Anti-Semitic beliefs. Holocaust deniers believe that not only did this genocide not occur but was created in order to advance the Jewish population and their state of Israel. They hold the belief that the Nazi Party and those who share the same views did not sanction any sort of mass murder of the European Jewish population. With the already startling claims of Jewish domination coming over the Atlantic, people like Henry Ford and Harry Elmer Bergs are starting to question the war and become more favorable of the Germans. Bergs was notoriously known for his belief that the Holocaust did not exist and even cited that Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party, was the most rational leader when compared to the other leaders. Even the prominent French author Paul Rassinier did not believe in the Holocaust. With the ever-increasing belief that the Holocaust did not exist, the group of actors that are believed to be conspiring is Anti-Semitic hate groups, for example, Neo-Nazis, White Nationalists, and the Ku Klux Klan. In the case of Neo-Nazis, they want to spread the ideals of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party and share a disgust for Jewish people. They also agree with the movement of fascism, which was the political ideology during World War II.
A study conducted on the perceptions Americans have toward the Holocaust found that as much as one-fifth of Americans could possibly have some sort of disdain towards Jews during the Holocaust and do not really care if there is a remembrance for those that innocently lost their lives. The reason Holocaust denial is on the rise is that people are becoming less aware that this event did occur, because of the growing distance in time from the event, and the growth of Neo-Nazis and other similar hate groups in the United States. Neo-Nazis are widely known for their Anti-Semitic beliefs and are recognized as a hate group. Anti-Semitic groups have risen just a little bit over sixty percent between 2000 and 2008. Darnell also found that the states that had higher Anti-Semitic hate groups were those in the Southern and Western Mountain regions of the United States. He also found that these particular regions account for a small percentage of the Jewish people. In his fourth finding, he measured Holocaust denial on the internet, finding that a significant number of Holocaust denial Facebook groups can be found online.
A study conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany conducted a survey and found that thirty-one percent of Americans do not believe six million Jewish people were killed during the Holocaust. In their findings, they noticed that forty-one percent of millennials believed that less than two million Jewish people were killed. This study also found that seven out of ten Americans believe that in comparison to the earlier times, people now do not seem to care about the Holocaust as they once did. Only eighty percent of those surveyed believe that there should be a continuation of teaching about the Holocaust in schools.
I think that this particular trend exists because, with a dying group of Holocaust survivors, Holocaust denial is steadily increasing due to the lack of education seen in the study conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. People who already believe in other conspiracy theories are more prone to believing other types of conspiracy theories. Dr. Nicholas Terry argues that Holocaust deniers are attracting the likes of those that already believe in conspiracy theories, making them more receptive to believing what holocaust deniers put out online. Considering how fast fake news circulates the internet, it is easy for a person to view something and believe it.
A psychological factor that might make those who have anti-Semitic beliefs more likely to believe in this particular conspiracy is confirmation bias. Confirmation bias refers to the way people take in information that coincides with their already existing ideas (American Psychological Association, n.d.). This bias would be applicable because if the person already holds Anti-Semitic beliefs, they would be more inclined in denying the Holocaust because it fits their ideals. The mere-exposure effect is another psychological factor that can explain why certain individuals are more likely to believe in this particular conspiracy theory. The mere-exposure effect is when a person is consistently exposed to a certain idea and therefore is more likely to favor it (American Psychological Association, n.d.). For example, people in Facebook groups join because it pops up in their feed more often and that exposure prompts them to want to join.
Another psychological factor that might make people more likely to believe in this particular conspiracy is the idea of collective narcissism. Collective narcissism is an exaggerated belief in the positive qualities of a group. What this means is that these individuals are more prone to group intimidation and engaging in prejudice among other out-groups that are seen as threatening.
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