Railway leading to Auschwitz Birkenau (Auschwitz II), Oswiecim, Poland
The train tracks leading to the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz is a haunting sight for many. Image by AP PHOTO

Trial of German Holocaust denier, 95, fuels conspiracy claims

James McManagan July 5, 2024

The Holocaust was a hoax.


False. The systematic killing of Jews during World War II was a well-documented genocide.

AAP FACTCHECK – The trial of an elderly German Holocaust denier has sparked claims on social media the genocide of Jews during World War II was a “hoax”.

This is false. The Holocaust was a well-documented and forensically established genocide with eyewitness testimonies, physical evidence and Nazi documentation.

Evidence of the six million murdered Jewish victims is outlined by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum through Nazi documents, resistance group recordings, and demographic studies.

On June 26, 95-year-old Ursula Haverbeck was sentenced to 16 months in prison for two statements she made in 2015 that denied the Auschwitz concentration camp was used to kill Jewish people. 

Holocaust denial is a crime under German law

Facebook posts featuring images of Haverbeck have claimed the Holocaust is a “lie”, warned “Don’t question the Hollow Hoax” and described her as a “dangerous little lady for speaking the truth“.

Crossed out Facebook post about Ursula Haverbeck and Holocaust denial.
 Social media users have been using Ursula Haverbeck’s court case as an excuse to spread lies. 

More than 1000 eyewitness accounts detailing Nazi persecutions and acts of genocide against Jews during World War II are available online from the Weiner Holocaust Library, and these include survivors of Auschwitz.

Auschwitz was the largest Nazi-operated death camp. The US Holocaust museum estimates more than 1.1 million people were murdered there, one million of whom were Jewish. 

Physical evidence of the killings is also exhibited at the Auschwitz Museum, including used gas canisters, camp records and human hair.

Darren O’Brien, an honorary senior research fellow in history at the University of Queensland, says that figures like Haverbeck have been used by neo-Nazi groups and sympathisers to “foster legitimacy for [their] extremist ideology”.

He says claims denying the mass killing of Jews in World War II contradict overwhelming evidence detailing the systematic executions by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party. 

Jews led by German SS soldiers, destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto
 Photographic evidence of the Nazis’ treatment of Jews abounds. 

“[See] the literally hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, [including] survivor, bystander and perpetrator testimonies housed in national and court archive repositories across Europe and the United States,” Dr O’Brien told AAP FactCheck.

He points out that Holocaust deniers from the 1970s and ’80s, such as David Irving, have been thoroughly debunked in literature and law.

The US Holocaust museum explains that denying and distorting the mass murder of Jews was a Nazi strategy that began when the genocide was being carried out in German-occupied Europe. 

The museum says Nazis considered the killing “top secret”, and facilitated denial through minimal documentation, coded language and destruction of evidence.

A photo of Haverback’s first day on trial was shared in a June 7 post on X (formerly Twitter) with text repeating her false claim that the Holocaust is “the biggest and most persistent lie in history” without questioning its veracity.

The X post also claims she was in her 20s during the war, even though she was 16 when the conflict ended in 1945.

accused Holocaust denier Ursula Haverbeck in court for her appeal
 Ninety-five-year-old Ursula Haverbeck was again found guilty of Holocaust denial in June.  

Screenshots of the X post with her false claim have been shared in many Facebook posts sympathising with Haverbeck.

The Nazi regime also targeted other groups of victims deemed inferior, including Romani, black, disabled and gay people. 

Following the defeat of the Nazis and the end of WWII, the UN recognised genocide as a crime under international law in 1948.

The Verdict

The claim that the Holocaust was a hoax is false. 

The Holocaust was a well-documented and forensically established genocide with many eyewitness testimonies, physical evidence and Nazi documentation. 

False – The claim is inaccurate.

AAP FactCheck is an accredited member of the International Fact-Checking Network. To keep up with our latest fact checks, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

All information, text and images included on the AAP Websites is for personal use only and may not be re-written, copied, re-sold or re-distributed, framed, linked, shared onto social media or otherwise used whether for compensation of any kind or not, unless you have the prior written permission of AAP. For more information, please refer to our standard terms and conditions.