The Holocaust History Project (HHP) site is intended to be a resource for people who want to learn about the Holocaust. On a page dedicated to the team at the Project, they introduce the group as "an organization of concerned individuals working together to educate and inform about the Holocaust." They include many of the products of their own research projects on their web page as well as many other resources (" Bibliography"). Through multiple essays they explore a broad variety of Holocaust related topics - everything from the situation in Auschwitz; to analyses of the psychology, the politics, and the social forces in Germany that contributed to the actualization of the Holocaust; The Fuhrer Myth; to a simple presentation of the Nazis' actions and intentions- in their own words: a collection of direct quotations from their written documents and correspondence.
Scrolling down through the tables of contents on the home page, what other kinds of materials and resources does the HHP provide? Do they convey a clear picture of their definition of the Holocaust? How do they propose to convey their perspective of what the Holocaust was; how it happened; whom it effected; how it impacts upon our world today? Is their site what they intended it to be, "a free archive of documents, photographs, recordings, and essays regarding the Holocaust, including direct refutation of Holocaust-denial"?
"Tell Me Everything" is included with several other "Short Essays" introducing some of the main topics of Holocaust research. In this piece, the HHP proposes to provide a clear and concise glimpse of the history of the Holocaust, as commonly accepted; intending it to be a jumping off point for further independent research by individuals who visit the site. Key ideas on the page are linked to other essays of the HH project that expand upon the topic in much greater detail. The more detailed explanations attempt to broaden our understanding of and substantiate the history as sketched out in the essay. Are these expansions of information questionable in their accuracy because they link to other essays written by people in the same organization? Does the Project site provide you with the means to independently verify the information they are presenting? Do they provide more verification of their information and its sources than "My friend Bob said so . . . "? The fact that they enumerate from which sources they obtained specific kinds of information makes it easier for individuals to "check up" on their use of references and their analyses of their information. Does this help to legitimize them as historians? Why or why not?
In "The Response of the United States" the HHP introduces the debate surrounding the inaction of the United States and Great Britain in stopping the atrocities of the Holocaust, even though there is evidence to show that the leaders of both countries had some idea of what was happening. The HHP presents resources for exploring both positions in the debate: the culpability of the U.S. and Great Britain for their inaction; and the defense of their decisions not to act. How does the fact that the Project has given you the resources to learn about both sides of the debate, effect your perceptions of the HHP organization? Does it help to substantiate their claim to be encouraging people to become educated about the Holocaust by creating an educational tool and a resource for those who want to learn more about it?
"The Trial at Nuremberg" essay gives a general account of the proceedings of the trial, with to transcriptions and written records of the actual trial. How do these link-ups function in the presentation? Do they testify to the accuracy of the information the HHP presents in their summary account of the trial proceedings? Read the HHP's statement about "The Primary Sources." How does their attitude about exploring and using primary sources reflect on everything else you have read on their web page so far? Overall, what kinds of reasons or information has the HHP provided to you that give credence to their statements; that give you a reason to trust their historical accuracy? Do any of the Holocaust revisionists web pages give you similar cause to credit their information and their intentions?
Some closing thoughts: truth can be a confusing thing. Two people see the same situation and have two different stories as to what happened. So how can we really know what the truth is? Eyewitness testimony cannot be dismissed as easily as the revisionists claim. After all just because someone has never visited Paris does not mean that they don't believe its there. People recounting things that have happened to them is what history is. Surely there are exaggerations and lies told, but it is the job of historians to weed through those and get to the real information. Just because some details do not corroborate with others does not mean that we can dismiss the entire occurance of the Holocaust.
Truth needs to be substantiated by evidence. Trial documents, taped speeches, memoirs, memos, train scheduals, documentation of cremation, photographs etc. are all valid forms of evidence. Not all of the evidence gathered for the Nuremburg trials could have been forged or manipulated as believed by the revisionists. To be sure there were massive propaganda spread throughout the world during this time, the Jewish Soap myth is a good example. There was not a widespread effort to turn Jewish people into soap as was once believed. The Revisionists feed upon this saying that things were obviously over-exaggerated and therfore so was the holocaust.
Valid historians supplement their views on history with primary documents, inviting you to investigate their sources while invalid historians base their arguments on opinions and information taken out of context.
What does it mean to look for truth in history? Can history ever be the absolute truth? Do we need to find the absolute truth to accept a version of history? Can we settle for the version that seems to best reflect the facts and the evidence of the situation, as we have them? Or must we maintain a perpetual quest to futher substantiate the story of history; must we always refuse to accept any version, any story as settled, always hunting for more information, more evidence, more proof? The paradoxical answer may be "yes" to both of these questions. For every-day, practical purposes, we need a history; a version of history that is generally accepted as correct because it is based upon the facts we know and the available evidence we have, whatever the situations or events may have been. But at the same time, we must never quiet that small, questioning voice in the back of our heads that wonders, what if? What if some of the evidence were shown to be incorrect or falsified? What if some new proof of another version of history were suddenly discovered? What if, for whatever reason, we don't know all of the facts?
Absolute truth can exist only in conjunction with omnicience; the knowing of all things. Therefore, history as absolute truth is an unattainable goal; nevertheless, the search for true history, to know and understand our world with certainty, drives us to become critical, questioning thinkers. It encourages us to be careful researchers and active participants in determining how we remember the world of our past and how we will remember our present.