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U.N. condemns denial of Nazi Holocaust

The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution to combat Holocaust denial and urged all nations and social media companies to fight anti-Semitism.

The former concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland is now preserved as a memorial
The former concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland is now preserved as a memorial (AN/Jason M. Ramos)

UNITED NATIONS (AN) — The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution on Thursday to combat Holocaust denial and urged all 193 member nations and social media companies to help fight anti-Semitism.

The resolution by Israel and Germany, cosponsored by 114 nations and approved by consensus without a vote, notes Holocaust denial "in its various forms" is an expression of antisemitism. Though it is not legally binding, the resolution carries a moral weight as a reflection of global opinion.

"The Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of nearly 6 million Jews, 1.5 million of whom were children, comprising one third of the Jewish people, in addition to the killing of millions of members of other nationalities, minorities and other targeted groups and individuals, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice," it says.

The timing coincided with the 80th anniversary of the Nazi leaders' 1942 Wannsee Conference, along Wannsee Lake in Berlin, where they formalized plans for the so-called “Final Solution of the Jewish Question."

In a joint statement, Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said they were concerned by a dramatic spike in Holocaust denial, distortion and revisionism, along with comparisons between current political disputes and the Holocaust.

"Such comparisons are a perversion of history and an injustice to the men, women and children who were deprived of their rights, persecuted and murdered," they said. "We carry an obligation to remember, to learn and to challenge the growth of Holocaust revisionism, denial and distortion both on and offline."

Fiction and fact

Iran “disassociated” itself from the resolution, which also expresses concern about "the spread of disinformation and misinformation, particularly on social media platforms, which can be designed and implemented so as to mislead, to spread racism, intolerance, xenophobia, negative stereotyping and stigmatization, and to violate and abuse human rights."

Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan, whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors, urged the assembly to adopt the resolution because "we now live in an era in which fiction is becoming fact, and the Holocaust is becoming a distant memory."

He warned of a “pandemic of distortions and lies” spread through the Internet, where "social media giants can no longer remain complacent to the hate spread on their platforms."

The assembly's resolution commends nations that have preserved "Nazi death camps, concentration camps, forced labor camps, killing sites and prisons during the Holocaust, as well as similar places operated by Nazi-allied regimes, their accomplices or auxiliaries," so that the memory of those horrors — and the essential lessons of history — never fade.

It also urges nations to develop education programs "that will inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide" and asks the United Nations to keep up its efforts to counter Holocaust denial and distortion.