Understanding Genocide Denial

"Denial of genocide strives to reshape history in order to demonize the victims and rehabilitate the perpetrators. Denial of genocide is the final stage of genocide; it is what Elie Wiesel has called "a double killing". Denial murders the dignity of the survivors and seeks to destroy the remembrance of the crime." —Deborah Lipstadt

Denial, according to Dr. Gregory Stanton, is the tenth stage of genocide in his ' 10 Stages of Genocide.' It takes place before, during, and after the killing stage, and as long as the genocide is denied publicly by the perpetrators, justice and humanity cannot be regained by the targeted population.

12 Ways to Deny Genocide :

Dr. Israel Charny outlines the tactics of denial in “Templates for Gross Denial of a Known Genocide: A Manual,” in The Encyclopedia of Genocide, volume 1, page 168.

  1. Question and minimize the statistics. 
  2. Attack the motivations of the truth tellers.
  3. Claim that the deaths were inadvertent.
  4. Emphasize the strangeness of the victims
  5. Rationalize the deaths as the result of tribal conflict.
  6. Blame “out of control” forces for committing the killings.
  7. Avoid antagonizing the genocide perpetrators, who might walk out of “the peace process.”
  8. Justify denial in favor of current economic interests.
  9. Claim that the victims are receiving good treatment.
  10. Claim that what is going on doesn't fit the definition of genocide.
  11. Blame the victims.
  12. Say that peace and reconciliation are more important than blaming people for genocide.

Example of Armenian Genocide Denial:

In April 2006, PBS released a documentary titled "The Armenian Genocide" directed by Andrew Goldberg. In response, the then Turkish Ambassador to the United States, Nabi Sensoy, released a statement describing the documentary as "a blatantly oneĀ­-sided perspective of a tragic and unresolved period of world history."

Download his full statement.

In response, the International Association of Genocide Scholars published an open letter to then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, assuring him,

"It is not just Armenians who are affirming the Armenian Genocide but it is the overwhelming opinion of scholars who study genocide: hundreds of independent scholars, who have no affiliations with governments, and whose work spans many countries and nationalities and the course of decades."

They go on to explain,

"We note that there may be differing interpretations of how and why the Armenian Genocide happened, but to deny its factual and moral reality as genocide is not to engage in scholarship but in propaganda and efforts to absolve the perpetrator, blame the victims, and erase the ethical meaning of this history."

Read the full letter from the IAGS.


Holocaust Museum Houston
Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004-6804
Tel: 713-942-8000, Email: info@hmh.org
Powered by Nodus Solutions

The program is supported in part by the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission.