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Holocaust distortion and antisemitism


  • To discuss ways in which Holocaust distortion reinforces antisemitism
  • To reflect upon the impact of antisemitism on societies

Number of participants: 5–30
Duration: 90 minutes

Description of the activity:

  1. The trainer informs the participants that in this session they will address the link between antisemitism and Holocaust distortion and shares the following: Although some forms of Holocaust distortion stem from ignorance, distortion always reinforces antisemitism and related biases. Holocaust distortion recirculates age-old antisemitic lies, myths and tropes (such as, for example, that Jews are devious and untrustworthy people who manipulate the world through conspiracies). By promoting such stereotypes and prejudices it incites to hatred and opens the door to outright Holocaust denial or other forms of pernicious, dangerous, and violent antisemitism. 
  2. The trainer invites the participants to watch an excerpt from Yehuda Bauer’s lecture on Holocaust Distortion and prepare to answer the following questions which should be shared with the participants before they watch the video on a board or in the form of a handout:
    • Name an aspect from Bauer’s speech that made an impression on you (something you strongly believe in, something you never thought about, something you do not understand, etc.).
    • Name at least one antisemitic trope that the speaker is referencing (Min: 19.20–22.06).
  3. The participants are asked to share their reflections on the video, by answering the two questions addressed.
  4. The trainer draws participants’ attention to the part of the video where Yehuda Bauer explained that antisemitism was a major factor of the outbreak of Second World War, a war that led to the death of tens of millions of people, both Jewish and non-Jewish, concluding that antisemitism is a danger to society in general. In order to reflect upon these aspects, the participants are asked to work in four groups. Each group receives one of the cartoons from the annex and is invited to discuss the following:
    • How does this cartoon contribute to the promotion of antisemitism?
    • What are the antisemitic tropes on which it builds?
    • How does this cartoon undermine human dignity?
    • Starting from Bauer’s assertion that antisemitism is a danger to society in general, discuss the impact of antisemitism on our present-day societies, on Jewish and non-Jewish people.
  5. One or more members of each group are invited to share with the rest of the participants the main aspects of their discussion. After each presentation, the other participants have a chance to contribute with additional insights or to ask questions.
  6. After all the groups present, the trainer conducts a debriefing discussion based on the following aspects:
    • In what ways does Holocaust distortion contribute to the spread of antisemitism?
    • Yehuda Bauer says that “distortion creates a useful past. What is a useful past? A past that is useful for the nationalists. For the ones who want to continue, in actual fact, antisemitic policies.” Who are, in your opinion, the people/groups that fit into this description and what is guiding their actions?
    • Some people are aware of the stereotypes they are using/promoting, while others are not:
      • If they are not aware, how do you think they could be made aware?
      • If they are aware, why do you think they keep using them? What could be done to change their beliefs/intentions?
  7. The trainer concludes the session by explaining to the participants that the cartoons used as examples of Holocaust distortion were projected only for educational purposes. If the participants plan to discuss with other people about Holocaust distortion, they should be careful about using these kinds of images as they have the power to create or reinforce stereotypes in the viewers, even if they are used with good intentions. In this sense, they should be used only in a thoroughly supported educational process, not as an isolated activity without historical contexts.


lesson plan

Training Outline


Annex – Holocaust distortion cartoons for group work

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