And we all took it in, without question. Six million Jews died in gas chambers, were made into soap, burned in ovens. Four million Jews died in Auschwitz. Nazis made lampshades out of Jewish skin. Gas chambers in Germany. And thus was the core of my childhood education of the Holocaust. I never questioned what I’d been taught. I had no reason to. Leaving any idea of academia behind in 1980 when high school was over, I went along with my merry little life and to be honest, I didn’t think much about the Holocaust again.
That changed for me in the late 1990’s when I learned, via the internet and my own research afterwards, that the number of dead at Auschwitz had been revised downward from four million to one million, but the overall six million Jewish dead still stood as gospel. Or maybe five million as of now. It was six million no questions asked when I was a kid.
Anyway, over time I also learned that the soap stories had been deprecated, Jews hadn’t been made into lampshades after all and there hadn’t really been any gas chambers on German soil. Having to unlearn this new information was coupled with learning that people were being charged with and going to jail for having the wrong opinion about history when it came to the Holocaust by publicly stating that there was no evidence for mass exterminations of Jews by gas chamber.