Remembering the Holocaust

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Remembering the Holocaust

  • 27th of January is marked by the United Nations each year as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day
  • It provides an opportunity to recount the atrocities of the Holocaust that resulted in the death of an estimated 6 million Jews.
  • January 27 marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Soviet troops in 1945.
  • The commemoration calls for a solemn reflection on the real dangers of extreme forms of hatred.


  • The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazi regime and its allies and collaborators.
  • The Nazis came to power in Germany in January 1933.
  • They believed that the Germans belonged to a race that was ""superior"" to all others.
  • They claimed that the Jews belonged to a race that was ""inferior"" and a threat to the so-called German racial community.
  • The Holocaust was a watershed moment in history as it illuminates the many manifestations of hate and its impact.

Reasons causing the Holocaust

  • German race superiority: The Nazis claimed the superiority of their race because they considered themselves to be the original descendants of the Aryans.
  • Blaming Jews: The Nazis blamed the Jews for their deplorable economic conditions and the loss in World War 1. This further fanned the hatred in them against the Jews.
  • Hitler’s charisma: Hitler’s charisma was one prime reason as he had the ability to convince the Nazis to prosecute and kill the Jews. Only a powerful leader could do so and Hitler was one of them.
  • Jews as the “other”: The Nazis considered themselves to be the original inhabitants of Germany and thought of Jews as migrants. Jews were unacceptable like the “Rohingya Muslims” in Myanmar.
  • Anti-Semitism: Jews had become powerful money lenders in the post 1st World war era. This fanned jealousy among Nazis which resulted in hostility and jealousy among them which is known as “anti-Semitism”

Consequences of Holocaust:

  • More than 6 million Jews lost their lives in this massacre.
  • “Mass exodus” of Jews took in search of safe lands. Finally, most Jews found shelter in Israel which was considered as the natural home for Jews.
  • The principle of ‘War crimes’ and ‘Crimes against Humanity’ was established at the Nuremberg trials after the war.

Holocaust distortion and denial

  • As the Holocaust recedes over time, the power of anti-Semitism, racial and religious intolerance, discrimination, and hate speech poses new challenges to the world's civilized values ​​and risks repeating past crimes.
  • Holocaust ignorance, distortion, and denial are increasing at an alarming rate.
  • The AntiDefamation League Global 100, an indicator of anti-Semiticism, has found that anti-Semitic sentiment is anxiously widespread. More than a quarter of the people surveyed, an estimated 1.09 billion people, have anti-Semitic attitudes around the world.
  • Across Asia, only 23% of respondents have heard of the Holocaust and believe in historical explanations.
  • According to North American and European data, young people are less aware of the Holocaust's historical account, with less than half of respondents under the age of 35 hearing about the Holocaust.
  • These statistics are important given the youthful demographics of India.
  • Young people have proven to be particularly vulnerable to the techniques used by extremists to spread the ideology of hatred and racial discrimination, giving them the knowledge, skills, and agencies to reject hatred.

Contemporary relevance

  • Engaging the youth with the painful history of the Holocaust can be used as a tool that can help in fighting hatred and prompt discussion of the societal contexts that enable exclusionary policies to divide communities.
  • With an ever more globalized young generation, capitalizing on the power of education, communication and connectivity are important as they are effective tools to galvanize people into action.
  • India’s growing global influence and efforts towards digitization provide further impetus to expand youth networks so that young people across the world can connect, share experiences, and negate extremist mindsets, ultimately strengthening efforts to disavow violence and discrimination.
  • However, this needs to be carefully monitored as the lack of critical skills to filter out or navigate misinformation or disinformation on social media can leave the youth vulnerable to hate speech online.

Hate speech

  • In general, it refers to words whose intent is to create hatred towards a particular group, that group may be a community, religion, or race. This speech may or may not have meaning, but is likely to result in violence.
  • In the 267th Report of the Law Commission of India, hate speech is stated as an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief and the like.
  • Malicious words have the power to spark a wildfire, for it is words that started the Holocaust.
  • Therefore, to prevent Indian youth from disseminating various forms of hate speech, both online and offline, we must educate them about the Holocaust and antisemitism today to deepen reflection about contemporary issues that affect societies around the world, such as the power of extremist ideologies, propaganda, the abuse of official power, and group-targeted hate and violence.

Indian Constitution and hate speech

  • Freedom of Speech and Expression: is protected as a fundamental right in the Constitution of India under Article 19(1) (a) which states that all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression.
  • Article 19(2): a reasonable restriction has been put forth by the Indian constitution where the word reasonable should strike a balance between the use and misuse of this freedom.

Causes of hate speech in India

  • Sense of superiority: It is one of the main reasons that give voice to hate speech when there enters a feeling of superiority of oneself over other than at that point the person starts dominating the other person or groups or communities.
  • Stubborn behavior towards a particular ideology: When a person or group or community starts showing their stubborn behavior. Do not listen to the other person, opinion, thoughts, or perception then at that particular time it leads to the spread of hate speech in India because people are losing their patience and trying to rule over the other person that causes hatred.
  • Negative stereotypes: The people who are negative stereotypes lead us to think of another individual as inferior and less worthy which creates a sense of hate speech and the reason why negative stereotypes occur is because of the systems of oppression – discriminatory structures, etc.

Legal Position of Hate Speech in India:

  • Under Indian Penal Code:
  • Sections 153A and 153B of the IPC: Punishes acts that cause enmity and hatred between two groups.
  • Section 295A of the IPC: Deals with punishing acts that deliberately or with malicious intention outrage the religious feelings of a class of persons.
  • Sections 505(1) and 505(2): Make the publication and circulation of content that may cause ill-will or hatred between different groups an offense.
  • Under Representation of People’s Act:
  • Section 8 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 (RPA): Prevents a person convicted of the illegal use of the freedom of speech from contesting an election.
  • Sections 123(3A) and 125 of the RPA: Bars the promotion of animosity on the grounds of race, religion, community, caste, or language in reference to elections and include it under corrupt electoral practices.

Way Forward

  • Need for regulation: The problem of hate speech has been approached outside of the current legal system.
  • Involvement of the victims and speakers: Direct and constructive involvement of the victims and speakers, whether online or offline, can provide positive results.
  • Alternative forms of settlement: resorting to alternative forms of settlement would provide both parties with a forum for dialogue and eventual resolution outside of the formal rigours of the legal system.
  • The distinguishing feature of these is that the advantage of these methods is that they do not restrict an individual's freedom of speech and expression.