Historical negationism or denialism is an illegitimate distortion of the historical record. It is often imprecisely or intentionally incorrectly referred to as historical revisionism, but that term also denotes a legitimate academic pursuit of re-interpretation of the historical record and questioning the accepted views.
In attempting to revise the past, illegitimate historical revisionism may use techniques inadmissible in proper historical discourse, such as presenting known forged documents as genuine; inventing ingenious but implausible reasons for distrusting genuine documents; attributing conclusions to books and sources that report the opposite; manipulating statistical series to support the given point of view; and deliberately mis-translating texts (in languages other than the revisionist's).
Some countries, such as Germany, have criminalised the negationist revision of certain historical events, while others take a more cautious position for various reasons, such as protection of free speech; still others mandate negationist views.
Notable examples of negationism include Holocaust denial, Armenian Genocide denial, Japanese war crime denial and the denial of Soviet crimes such as the Holodomor, invasion of Poland, the Katyn massacre, and the forced deporations of Poles, Romanians/Moldovans, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Tatars etc.
In literature, the consequences of historical negationism have been imaginatively depicted in some works of fiction, such as Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell. In modern times, negationism may spread via new media, such as the Internet.
The term "negationism" (négationnisme) was first coined by the French historian Henry Rousso in his 1987 book The Vichy Syndrome which looked at the French popular memory of Vichy France and the French Resistance. Rousso argued that it was necessary to distinguish between legitimate historical revisionism in Holocaust studies and politically-motivated denial of the Holocaust, which he termed negationism.
Usually, the purpose of historical negation is to achieve a national, political aim, by transferring war-guilt, demonizing an enemy, providing an illusion of victory, or preserving a friendship. Sometimes the purpose of a revised history is to sell more books or to attract attention with a newspaper headline. The historian James M. McPherson said that negationists would want revisionist history understood as, "a consciously-falsified or distorted interpretation of the past to serve partisan or ideological purposes in the present".
The principal functions of negationist history are the abilities to control ideological influence and to control political influence. In "History Men Battle over Britain's Future", Michael d’Ancona said that historical negationists "seem to have been given a collective task in [a] nation's cultural development, the full significance of which is emerging only now: To redefine [national] status in a changing world". History is a social resource that contributes to shaping national identity, culture, and the public memory. Through the study of history, people are imbued with a particular cultural identity; therefore, by negatively revising history, the negationist can craft a specific, ideological identity. Because historians are credited as people who single-mindedly pursue truth, by way of fact, negationist historians capitalize on the historian's professional credibility, and present their pseudohistory as true scholarship. By adding a measure of credibility to the work of revised history, the ideas of the negationist historian are more readily accepted in the public mind. As such, professional historians recognize the revisionist practice of historical negationism as the work of "truth-seekers" finding different truths in the historical record to fit their political, social, and ideological contexts.
History provides insight into past political policies and consequences, and thus assists people in extrapolating political implications for contemporary society. Historical negationism is applied to cultivate a specific political myth – sometimes with official consent from the government – whereby self-taught, amateur, and dissident academic historians either manipulate or misrepresent historical accounts to achieve political ends. In the USSR (1917–91), the ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Soviet historiography treated reality and the party line as the same intellectual entity; Soviet historical negationism advanced a specific, political and ideological agenda about Russia and its place in world history.
Historical negationism applies the techniques of research, quotation, and presentation for deception of the reader and denial of the historical record. In support of the "revised history" perspective, the negationist historian uses false documents as genuine sources, presents specious reasons to distrust genuine documents, exploits published opinions, by quoting out of historical context, manipulates statistics, and mistranslates texts in other languages. The revision techniques of historical negationism operate in the intellectual space of public debate for the advancement of a given interpretation of history and the cultural-perspective of the "revised history". As a document, the revised history is used to negate the validity of the factual, documentary record, and so reframe explanations and perceptions of the discussed historical event, in order to deceive the reader, the listener, and the viewer; therefore, historical negationism functions as a technique of propaganda. Rather than submit their works for peer review, negationist historians rewrite history and use logical fallacies to construct arguments that will obtain the desired results, a "revised history" that supports an agenda – political, ideological, religious, etc. In the practice of historiography, the British historian Richard J. Evans describes the technical differences, between professional historians and negationist historians:
Reputable and professional historians do not suppress parts of quotations from documents that go against their own case, but take them into account, and, if necessary, amend their own case, accordingly. They do not present, as genuine, documents which they know to be forged, just because these forgeries happen to back up what they are saying. They do not invent ingenious, but implausible, and utterly unsupported reasons for distrusting genuine documents, because these documents run counter to their arguments; again, they amend their arguments, if this is the case, or, indeed, abandon them altogether. They do not consciously attribute their own conclusions to books and other sources, which, in fact, on closer inspection, actually say the opposite. They do not eagerly seek out the highest possible figures in a series of statistics, independently of their reliability, or otherwise, simply because they want, for whatever reason, to maximize the figure in question, but rather, they assess all the available figures, as impartially as possible, in order to arrive at a number that will withstand the critical scrutiny of others. They do not knowingly mistranslate sources in foreign languages in order to make them more serviceable to themselves. They do not willfully invent words, phrases, quotations, incidents and events, for which there is no historical evidence, in order to make their arguments more plausible.
Deception includes falsifying information, obscuring the truth, and lying in order to manipulate public opinion about the historical event discussed in the revised history. The negationist historian applies the techniques of deception to achieve either a political or an ideological goal, or both. The field of history distinguishes among history books based upon credible, verifiable sources, and were peer-reviewed before publication; and deceptive history books, based upon incredible sources, and which were not submitted for peer review. The distinction among types of history-book rests upon the research techniques used in writing a history. Verifiability, accuracy, and openness to criticism are central tenets of historical scholarship. When these techniques are sidestepped, the presented historical information might be deliberately deceptive, a "revised history".
Denial is defensively protecting information from being shared with other historians, and claiming that facts are untrue – especially denial of the war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in the course of the World War II (1939–45) and the Holocaust (1933–45). The negationist historian protects the historical-revisionism project by shifting the blame, censorship, distraction, and media manipulation; occasionally, denial by protection includes risk management for the physical security of revisionist sources.
Comparing certain historical atrocities to other crimes is the practice of relativization, interpretation by moral judgements, in order to alter public perception of the first historical atrocity. Although such comparisons can often occur in negationist history, their pronouncement is not usually part of revisionist intentions upon the historical facts, but an opinion of moral judgement.
Repositories of literature have been targeted throughout history (e.g., the Library of Alexandria), burning of the liturgical and historical books of the St. Thomas Christians by the archbishop of Goa Aleixo de Menezes, including recently, such as the Burning of Jaffna library and the destruction of Iraqi libraries by ISIS during the fall of Mosul.
The Burning of books and burying of scholars (traditional Chinese: 焚書坑儒; simplified Chinese: 焚书坑儒; pinyin: fénshū kēngrú; literally: "burning of books and burying (alive) of (Confucian) scholars"), or "Fires of Qin", refers to the burning of writings and slaughter of scholars during the Qin Dynasty of Ancient China, between the period of 213 and 210 BC. "Books" at this point refers to writings on bamboo strips, which were then bound together. This contributed to the loss to history of many philosophical theories of proper government (known as "the Hundred Schools of Thought"). The official philosophy of government ("legalism") survived.
In the mid–1930s, the Nazi book burnings were part of a campaign of anti-intellectualism conducted throughout Germany and Austria by the Deutsche Studentenschaft (German Student Association) of the Third Reich (1933–45). The burning of books was a public ceremony in which the works of authors whose politics were classical liberal, anarchist, Socialist, pacifist, and Communist were fuel for bonfires. Given the official antisemitism of the Reich, the works of Jewish writers were specifically identified for burning; thus did Nazi Germany rid themselves of writers deemed subversive of the National Socialist ideology.
In Poland, the Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen ("Special Prosecution Book-Poland") was the book of political proscription for the killing of socially important Poles who might lead resistance against the Nazi Occupation of Poland (1939–45). Compiled before the war began in 1939, the book contained lists that identified more than 61,000 members of the Polish elites – political and social activists, the intelligentsia, scholars, actors, former military officers – as enemies of the state dangerous to the Third Reich.
In Germany-occupied France, anti-fascist exiles made a "Library of Burned Books" of every book that Adolf Hitler had ordered destroyed in France. It listed copies of titles that had been burned. The book burnings in France were an idea that the French fascists, of the collaborating Vichy government (1940–44), borrowed from the Nazis, to cleanse French culture of Jewish intellectualism and the foreign politics of pacifism, decadent literature, and degenerate art, as the Nazis had cleansed German culture. In the event, after the Final Solution had concluded, for the post-war world, the Nazis had planned to establish a museum of Judaism that would have featured selected books of Jewish culture, preserved in memoriam of the extinct Jews of Europe.
The historical negationism of American Civil War revisionists and Neo-Confederates claims that the Confederate States (1861–65) were the defenders rather than the instigators of the war, and that the Confederacy's motivation for secession from the United States was the maintenance of the southern states' rights and limited government, rather than the preservation and expansion of the chattel slavery of African Americans.
Regarding Neo-Confederate revisionism of the U.S. Civil War, the historian Brooks D. Simpson said that:
This is an active attempt to reshape historical memory, an effort by white Southerners to find historical justifications for present-day actions. The neo–Confederate movement's ideologues have grasped that if they control how people remember the past, they'll control how people approach the present and the future. Ultimately, this is a very conscious war for memory and heritage. It's a quest for legitimacy, the eternal quest for justification.
In the early 20th century, Mildred Rutherford, the historian general of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), led the attack against American history textbooks that did not present the Lost Cause of the Confederacy (ca. 1900) version of the history of the U.S. Civil War. To that pedagogical end, Rutherford assembled a "massive collection" of documents that included "essay contests on the glory of the Ku Klux Klan and personal tributes to faithful slaves". About the historical negationism of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the historian David Blight said:
All UDC members and leaders were not as virulently racist as Rutherford, but all, in the name of a reconciled nation, participated in an enterprise that deeply influenced the white supremacist vision of Civil War memory.
The post-war minimisation of the war crimes of Japanese imperialism is an example of "illegitimate" historical revisionism; some contemporary Japanese revisionists, such as Yūko Iwanami (granddaughter of General Hideki Tojo), propose that Japan's invasion of China, and World War II, itself, were justified reactions to racist Western imperialism of the time. On 2 March 2007, Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe denied that the military had forced women into sexual slavery during the war, saying, "The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion". Before he spoke, some Liberal Democratic Party legislators also sought to revise Yōhei Kōno's apology to former comfort women in 1993; likewise, there was the controversial negation of the six-week Nanking Massacre in 1937–1938.
Editor-in-chief of the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun Tsuneo Watanabe criticized the Yasukuni Shrine as a bastion of revisionism: "The Yasukuni Shrine runs a museum where they show items in order to encourage and worship militarism. It's wrong for the prime minister to visit such a place". Other critics note that men, who would contemporarily be perceived as "Korean" and "Chinese", are enshrined for the military actions they effected as Japanese Imperial subjects.
The Hibakusha ("explosion-affected people") of Hiroshima and Nagasaki seek compensation from their government and criticize it for failing to "accept responsibility for having instigated and then prolonged an aggressive war long after Japan's defeat was apparent, resulting in a heavy toll in Japanese, Asian and American lives". Historians Hill and Koshiro have stated that attempts to minimize the importance of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is revisionist history. EB Sledge expressed concern that such revisionism, in his words "mellowing", would allow us to forget the harsh facts of the history that led to the bombings.
There have been a number of scholars and political activists who have publicly disagreed with mainstream views of Serbian war crimes in the Yugoslav wars of 1991–1999. Among the points of contention are whether the victims of massacres such as the Račak massacre and Srebrenica massacre were unarmed civilians or armed resistance fighters, whether death and rape tolls were inflated, and whether prison camps such as Sremska Mitrovica camp were sites of mass war crimes.
These scholars are labeled "revisionists" by their opponents. For example, Diana Johnstone's controversial book, Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, Nato, and Western Delusions, questions whether genocidal killings occurred in Srebrenica. The book was rejected by publishers in Sweden prompting an open letter in 2003 defending Johnstone's book (and her right to publish) which was signed by, among others, Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Tariq Ali and John Pilger: "We regard Diana Johnstone's Fools' Crusade as an outstanding work, dissenting from the mainstream view but doing so by an appeal to fact and reason, in a great tradition." On the other hand, Richard Caplan of Reading and Oxford University reviewed the work in International Affairs, where he described the work as "a revisionist and highly contentious account of western policy and the dissolution of Yugoslavia". The historian Marko Attila Hoare called it "an extremely poor book, one that is little more than a polemic in defence of the Serb-nationalist record during the wars of the 1990s – and an ill-informed one at that".
The Report about Case Srebrenica by Darko Trifunovic, commissioned by the government of the Republika Srpska, was described by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as "one of the worst examples of revisionism in relation to the mass executions of Bosnian Muslims committed in Srebrenica in July 1995". Outrage and condemnation by a wide variety of Balkan and international figures eventually forced the Republika Srpska to disown the report.
Turkish laws such as Article 301, that state "a person who publicly insults Turkishness, or the Republic or [the] Turkish Grand National Assembly of Turkey, shall be punishable by imprisonment", were used to criminally charge the writer Orhan Pamuk with disrespecting Turkey, for saying that "Thirty thousand Kurds, and a million Armenians, were killed in these lands, and nobody, but me, dares to talk about it". The controversy occurred as Turkey was first vying for membership in the European Union (EU) where the suppression of dissenters is looked down upon. Article 301 originally was part of penal-law reforms meant to modernise Turkey to EU standards, as part of negotiating Turkey's membership to the EU. In 2006, the charges were dropped due to pressure from the European Union and United States on the Turkish government.
On 7 February 2006, five journalists were tried for insulting the judicial institutions of the State, and for aiming to prejudice a court case (per Article 288 of the Turkish penal code). The reporters were on trial for criticising the court-ordered closing of a conference in Istanbul regarding the Armenian genocide during the time of the Ottoman Empire. The conference continued elsewhere, transferring locations from a state to a private university. The trial continued until 11 April 2006, when four of the reporters were acquitted. The case against the fifth journalist, Murat Belge, proceeded until 8 June 2006, when he was also acquitted. The purpose of the conference was to critically analyze the official Turkish view of the Armenian Genocide in 1915; a taboo subject in Turkey. The trial proved to be a test case between Turkey and the European Union; the EU insisted that Turkey allow increased freedom of expression rights, as a condition to membership.
During the existence of the Russian SFSR (1917–1991) and the Soviet Union (1922–1991), the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) attempted to ideologically and politically control the writing of both academic and popular history. These attempts were most successful in 1934–52 period. According to Mehnert, the Soviets attempt to control academic historiography (the writing of history by academic historians) to promote ideological and ethno-racial imperialism by Russians. During the 1928–56 period, modern and contemporary history was generally composed according to the wishes of the CPSU, not the requirements of accepted historiographic method.
During and after the rule of Nikita Khrushchev (1956–64), Soviet historiographic practice is more complicated. Although not entirely corrupted, Soviet historiography was characterized by complex competition between Stalinist and anti-Stalinist Marxist historians. To avoid the professional hazard of politicized history, some historians chose pre-modern, medieval history or classical history, where ideological demands were relatively relaxed and conversation with other historians in the field could be fostered; nevertheless, despite the potential danger of proscribed ideology corrupting historians' work, not all of Soviet historiography was corrupt.
Control over party history and the legal status of individual ex-party members played a large role in dictating the ideological diversity and thus the faction in power within the CPSU. The history of the Communist Party was revised to delete references to leaders purged from the party, especially during the rule of Joseph Stalin (1922–53).[note 1]
In the Historiography of the Cold War, a controversy over negationist historical revisionism exists, where numerous revisionist scholars in the West have been accused of whitewashing the crimes of Stalinism, overlooking the Katyn massacre in Poland and disregarding the validity of the Venona messages with regards to Soviet espionage in the United States.
Many scholars, among them Victor Schnirelmann, Willem Floor, Robert Hewsen, George Bournoutian and others state that in Soviet and post-Soviet Azerbaijan since the 1960s there is a practice of revising primary sources on the South Caucasus in which any mention about Armenians is deleted. For instance in the revised texts the word "Armenian" is either simply removed or is replaced by the word "Albanian"; there are many other examples of such falsifications, all of which have the purpose of creating an impression that historically Armenians were not present in this territory.
Willem M. Floor and Hasan Javadi in the English edition of "The Heavenly Rose-Garden: A History of Shirvan & Daghestan" by Bakikhanov specifically point out to the instances of distortions and falsifications made by Buniatov in his Russian translation of this book. According to Bournoutian and Hewsen these distortions are widespread in these works; they thus advise the readers in general to avoid the books produced in Azerbaijan in Soviet and post-Soviet times if these books do not contain the facsimile copy of original sources. Shnirelman thinks that this practice is being realized in Azerbaijan according to state order.
In their turn Azerbaijani historians claim that the historians of other countries falsify the true history of Azerbaijan. As an example of falsifications Azerbaijani historians consider historical references about the presence of Armenians on the territory of Karabakh  (Azerbaijanis claim that Armenians appeared there only in 1828) or the fact that in these books there is no mention of "the powerful states of Azerbaijan with 5000 years of statehood history".  After the Director of the Hermitage Museum Mikhail Piotrovsky expressed his protest about the destruction of Armenian khachkars in Julfa he was accused by Azeris of supporting the "total falsification of the history and culture of Azerbaijan".
In Azerbaijan the Armenian genocide is officially denied and is considered a hoax. According to state ideology of Azerbaijan a genocide of Azerbaijanis, carried out by Armenians and Russians, took place starting from 1813.
Since the start of the Korean War (1950–53), the government of North Korea has consistently denied that the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK) launched the attack with which began the war for the Communist unification of Korea. The historiography of the DPRK maintains that the war was provoked by South Korea, at the instigation of the United States:
On June 17, Juche 39  the then U.S. President [Harry S.] Truman sent [John Foster] Dulles as his special envoy to South Korea to examine the anti-North war scenario and give an order to start the attack. On June 18, Dulles inspected the 38th parallel and the war preparations of the ‘ROK Army’ units. That day he told Syngman Rhee to start the attack on North Korea with the counter-propaganda that North Korea first ‘invaded’ the south.
Further North Korean pronouncements included the claim that the U.S. needed the peninsula of Korea as "a bridgehead, for invading the Asian continent, and as a strategic base, from which to fight against national-liberation movements and socialism, and, ultimately, to attain world supremacy." Likewise, the DPRK denied the war crimes committed by the North Korean army in the course of the war; nonetheless, in the 1951-52 period, the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) privately admitted to the "excesses" of their earlier campaign against North Korean citizens who had collaborated with the enemy – either actually or allegedly – during the US–South Korean occupation of North Korea. Later, the WPK blamed every war-time atrocity upon the U.S. military, e.g. the Sinchon Massacre (17 October – 7 December 1950) occurred during the retreat of the DPRK government from Hwanghae Province, in the south-west of North Korea.
The campaign against "collaborators" was attributed to political and ideological manipulations by the U.S. About which the high-rank leader Pak Chang-ok said that the American enemy had "started to use a new method, namely, it donned a leftist garb, which considerably influenced the inexperienced cadres of the Party and government organs." In Soviet Aims in Korea and the Origins of the Korean War, 1945–1950: New Evidence from Russian Archives (1993), by Kathryn Weathersby, confirmed that the Korean War was launched by order of Kim Il-sung (1912–1994); and also refuted the DPRK's allegations of biological warfare in the Korean War. The Korean Central News Agency dismissed the historical record of Soviet documents as "sheer forgery".
Holocaust deniers usually reject the term Holocaust denier as an inaccurate description of their historical point of view, instead, preferring, the term Holocaust revisionist; nonetheless, scholars prefer "Holocaust denier" to differentiate deniers from legitimate historical revisionists, whose goal is to accurately analyze historical evidence with established methods.[note 2] Historian Alan Berger reports that Holocaust deniers argue in support of a preconceived theory – that the Holocaust either did not occur or was mostly a hoax – by ignoring extensive historical evidence to the contrary.
When the author David Irving[note 3] lost his English libel case against Deborah Lipstadt, and her publisher, Penguin Books, and thus was publicly discredited and identified as a Holocaust denier, the trial judge, Justice Charles Gray, concluded that:
Irving has, for his own ideological reasons, persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence; that, for the same reasons, he has portrayed Hitler in an unwarrantedly favorable light, principally in relation to his attitude towards, and responsibility for, the treatment of the Jews; that he is an active Holocaust denier; that he is anti-semitic and racist, and that he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism.
On 20 February 2006, Irving was found guilty, and sentenced to three years imprisonment for Holocaust denial, under Austria's 1947 law banning Nazi revivalism and criminalising the "public denial, belittling or justification of National Socialist crimes". Besides Austria, eleven other countries – including Belgium, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, and Switzerland – have criminalised Holocaust denial as punishable with imprisonment.[note 4]
The Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989 were a series of pro-democracy demonstrations that were put down violently on June 4, 1989, by the Chinese government via the People's Liberation Army, resulting in estimated casualty of over 10,000 deaths and 40,000 injured, obtained via later declassified documents., whereas the government claimed official estimates of 0 - 200 civilian deaths. Western media referred to this crackdown as the "Tiananmen Square Massacre", and in Chinese media it was called the "June Fourth Incident".
However, the Chinese Communist Party decided to downplay and later deny the occurrence of the protests and massacre, therefore, soon afterwards, news media and internet coverage of the events were suppressed and the search terms in Chinese for "June Fourth protests", "June Fourth incident", "Tiananmen Square protests", "Tiananmen Square Massacre", and similar terms were manipulated through censorship such that no results come up or if any, only results that have been cleaned up and relate to Tiananmen Square or June Fourth in general would be shown. On Baidu, China's largest internet search engine for the Chinese language and on Baidu Baike, Baidu's version of Wikipedia, for the entry "June 4", which lists all significant events on this date in history throughout the world, for the year 1989, there's completely no mention of this incident.
Throughout the post war era, though Tito denounced nationalist sentiments in historiography, those trends continued with Croat and Serbian academics at times accusing each other of misrepresenting each other's histories, especially in relation to the Croat-Nazi alliance. Communist historiography was challenged in the 1980s and a rehabilitation of Serbian nationalism by Serbian historians began. Historians and other members of the intelligentsia belonging to the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) and the Writers Association played a significant role in the explanation of the new historical narrative. The process of writing a "new Serbian history" paralleled alongside the emerging ethno-nationalist mobilisation of Serbs with the objective of reorganising the Yugoslav federation. Using ideas and concepts from Holocaust historiography, Serbian historians alongside church leaders applied it to World War Two Yugoslavia and equated the Serbs with Jews and Croats with Nazi Germans.
Četniks along with the Ustaša were vilified by Tito era historiography within Yugoslavia. In the 1980s, Serbian historians initiated the process of reexamining the narrative of how World War Two was told in Yugoslavia which was accompanied by the rehabilitation of Četnik leader Draža Mihailović. Monographs relating to Mihailović and the Četnik movement were produced by some younger historians who were ideologically close to it toward the end of the 1990s. Being preoccupied with the era, Serbian historians have looked to vindicate Četnik history by portraying Četniks as righteous freedom fighters battling the Nazis while removing from history books the ambiguous alliances with the Italians and Germans. Whereas the crimes committed by Četniks against Croats and Muslims in Serbian historiography are overall "cloaked in silence". During the Milošević era, Serbian history was falsified to obscure the role Serbian collaborators Milan Nedić and Dimitrije Ljotić played in cleansing Serbia's Jewish community, killing them in the country or deporting them to Eastern European concentration camps.
In the 1990s following a massive western media coverage of the Yugoslav civil war, there was a rise of the publications considering the matter on historical revisionism of former Yugoslavia. One of the most prominent authors on the field of historical revisionism in the 1990s considering the newly emerged republics is Noel Malcolm and his works Bosnia: A Short History (1994) and Kosovo: A Short History (1998), that have seen a robust debate among historians following their release; following the release of the latter, the merits of the book were the subject of an extended debate in Foreign Affairs. Critics said that the book was "marred by his sympathies for its ethnic Albanian separatists, anti-Serbian bias, and illusions about the Balkans". In late 1999, Thomas Emmert of the history faculty of Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota reviewed the book in Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans Online and while praising aspects of the book also asserted that it was "shaped by the author's overriding determination to challenge Serbian myths", that Malcolm was "partisan", and also complained that the book made a "transparent attempt to prove that the main Serbian myths are false". In 2006, a study by Frederick Anscombe looked at issues surrounding scholarship on Kosovo such as Noel Malcolm's work Kosovo: A Short History. Anscombe noted that Malcolm offered a "a detailed critique of the competing versions of Kosovo's history" and that his work marked a "remarkable reversal" of previous acceptance by Western historians of the "Serbian account" regarding the migration of the Serbs (1690) from Kosovo. Malcolm has been criticized for being "anti-Serbian" and selective like the Serbs with the sources, while other more restrained critics note that "his arguments are unconvincing". Anscombe noted that Malcolm, like Serbian and Yugoslav historians who have ignored his conclusions sideline and are unwilling to consider indigenous evidence such as that from the Ottoman archive when composing national history.
The history textbook controversy centers upon the secondary school history textbook Atarashii Rekishi Kyōkasho ("New History Textbook") said to minimise the nature of Japanese militarism in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95), in annexing Korea in 1910, in the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–45), and in the Pacific Theater of World War II (1941–45). The conservative Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform commissioned the Atarashii Rekishi Kyōkasho textbook with the purpose of traditional national and international view of that Japanese historical period. The Ministry of Education vets all history textbooks, and those that do not mention Japanese war crimes and atrocities are not vetted; however, the Atarashii Rekishi Kyōkasho de-emphasises aggressive Japanese Imperial wartime behaviour and the matter of Chinese and Korean comfort women. It has even been denied that the Nanking massacre (a series of violences and rapes carried on by the Japanese army against Chinese civilians during the Second Sino-Japanese War) ever took place (see Nanking massacre denial). In 2007, the Ministry of Education attempted to revise textbooks regarding the Battle of Okinawa, lessening the involvement of the Japanese military in Okinawan civilian mass suicides.
Allegations of historical revisionism have been made regarding Pakistani textbooks in that they are laced with Indophobic and Islamist bias. Pakistan's use of officially published textbooks has been criticized for using schools to more subtly foster religious extremism, whitewashing Muslim conquests on the Indian subcontinent and promoting "expansive pan-Islamic imaginings" that "detect the beginnings of Pakistan in the birth of Islam on the Arabian peninsula". Since 2001, the Pakistani government has stated that curriculum reforms have been underway by the Ministry of Education.
12 October 2015, South Korea's government has announced controversial plans to control the history textbooks used in secondary schools despite oppositional concerns of people and academics that the decision is made to glorify the history of those who served the Imperial Japanese government (Chinilpa). Section and the authoritarian dictatorships in South Korea during 1960s–1980s.The Ministry of Education announced that it would put the secondary-school history textbook under state control; "This was an inevitable choice in order to straighten out historical errors and end the social dispute caused by ideological bias in the textbooks," Hwang Woo-yea, education minister said on 12 October 2015. According to the government's plan, the current history textbooks of South Korea will be replaced by a single textbook written by a panel of government-appointed historians and the new series of publications would be issued under the title The Correct Textbook of History and are to be issued to the public and private primary and secondary schools in 2017 onwards.
The move has sparked fierce criticism from academics who argue the system can be used to distort the history and glorify the history of those who served the Imperial Japanese government (Chinilpa) and of the authoritarian dictatorships. Moreover, 466 organisations including Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union formed History Act Network in solidarity and have staged protests: "The government's decision allows the state too much control and power and, therefore, it is against political neutrality that is certainly the fundamental principle of education." Many South Korean historians condemned Kyohaksa for their text glorifying those who served the Imperial Japanese government (Chinilpa) and the authoritarian dictatorship with a far-right political perspective. On the other hand, New Right supporters welcomed the textbook saying that ‘the new textbook finally describes historical truths contrary to the history textbooks published by left-wing publishers,’ and the textbook issue became intensified as a case of ideological conflict.
In fact, there once was a time in Korean history that the history textbook was put under state control. It was during the authoritarian regime under Park Chung-hee (1963-1979), who is a father of Park Geun-hye, former President of South Korea, and was used as a means to keep the Yushin Regime (also known as Yushin Dictatorship). However, there had been continuous criticisms about the system especially from the 1980s when Korea experienced a dramatic democratic development. In 2003, liberalisation of textbook began when the textbooks on Korean modern and contemporary history were published though the Textbook Screening System, which allows textbooks to be published not by a single government body but by many different companies, for the first time.
Education in Turkey is centralised: its policy, administration and content are each determined by the Turkish government. Textbooks taught in schools are either prepared directly by the Ministry of National Education (MEB) or must be approved by its Instruction and Education Board. In practice, this means that the Turkish government is directly responsible for what textbooks are taught in schools across Turkey.
In 2014, Taner Akçam, writing for the Armenian Weekly, discussed 2014-15 Turkish elementary and middle school textbooks that the MEB had made available on the internet. He found that Turkish history textbooks are filled with the message that Armenians are people "who are incited by foreigners, who aim to break apart the state and the country, and who murdered Turks and Muslims." The Armenian Genocide is referred to as the "Armenian matter", and is described as a lie perpetrated in order to further the perceived hidden agenda of Armenians. Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is defined as the "biggest threat to Turkish national security".
Akçam summarized one textbook that claims the Armenians had sided with the Russians during the war. The 1909 Adana massacre, in which as many as 20,000–30,000 Armenians were massacred, is identified as "The Rebellion of Armenians of Adana". According to the book, the Armenian Hnchak and Dashnak organizations instituted rebellions in many parts of Anatolia, and "didn’t hesitate to kill Armenians who would not join them," issuing instructions that "if you want to survive you have to kill your neighbor first." Claims highlighted by Akçam:
[The Armenians murdered] many people living in villages, even children, by attacking Turkish villages, which had become defenseless because all the Turkish men were fighting on the war fronts. ... They stabbed the Ottoman forces in the back. They created obstacles for the operations of the Ottoman units by cutting off their supply routes and destroying bridges and roads. ... They spied for Russia and by rebelling in the cities where they were located, they eased the way for the Russian invasion. ... Since the Armenians who engaged in massacres in collaboration with the Russians created a dangerous situation, this law required the migration of [Armenian people] from the towns they were living in to Syria, a safe Ottoman territory. ... Despite being in the midst of war, the Ottoman state took precautions and measures when it came to the Armenians who were migrating. Their tax payments were postponed, they were permitted to take any personal property they wished, government officials were assigned to ensure that they were protected from attacks during the journey and that their needs were met, police stations were established to ensure that their lives and properties were secure.
Similar revisionist claims found in other textbooks by Akçam included that Armenian "back-stabbing" was the reason the Ottomans lost the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 (similar to the post-War German stab-in-the-back myth), that the Hamidian massacres never happened, that the Armenians were armed by the Russians during late World War I to fight the Ottomans (in reality they had already been nearly annihilated from the area by this point), that Armenians killed 600,000 Turks during said war, that the deportation were to save Armenians from other violent Armenian gangs, and that Armenians who were deported were later able to return to Turkey unscathed and reclaim their properties.
As of 2015, Turkish textbooks still describe the Armenians as "traitors", call the Armenian Genocide a lie and say that the Ottoman Turks "took necessary measures to counter Armenian separatism." Armenians are also characterised as "dishonorable and treacherous," and students are taught that Armenians were forcibly relocated to protect Turkish citizens from attacks.
On 23 February 2005, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) conservative majority at the French National Assembly voted a law compelling history textbooks and teachers to "acknowledge and recognize in particular the positive role of the French presence abroad, especially in North Africa". Criticized by historians and teachers, among them Pierre Vidal-Naquet, who refused to recognise the French Parliament's right to influence the way history is written (despite the French Holocaust denial laws, see Loi Gayssot). That law was also challenged by left-wing parties and the former French colonies; critics argued that the law was tantamount to refusing to acknowledge the racism inherent to French colonialism, and that the law proper is a form of historical revisionism.[note 5]
In the Philippines, the biggest examples of Historical negationism are linked to the Marcos family dynasty, usually Imelda Marcos, Bongbong Marcos, and Imee Marcos specifically. They have been accused of denying or trivializing the human rights violations during martial law and the plunder of the Philippines' coffers while Ferdinand Marcos was president.
Some countries have criminalised historical revisionism of historic events such as the Holocaust. The Council of Europe defines it as the "denial, gross minimisation, approval or justification of genocide or crimes against humanity" (article 6, Additional Protocol to the Convention on cybercrime).
Some council-member states proposed an additional protocol to the Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention, addressing materials and "acts of racist or xenophobic nature committed through computer networks"; it was negotiated from late 2001 to early 2002, and, on 7 November 2002, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers adopted the protocol's final text titled Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cyber-crime, Concerning the Criminalisation of Acts of a Racist and Xenophobic Nature Committed through Computer Systems, ("Protocol"). It opened on 28 January 2003, and became current on 1 March 2006; as of 30 November 2011, 20 States have signed and ratified the Protocol, and 15 others have signed, but not yet ratified it (including Canada and South Africa).
The Protocol requires participant States to criminalise the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material, and of racist and xenophobic threats and insults through computer networks, such as the Internet. Article 6, Section 1 of the Protocol specifically covers Holocaust Denial, and other genocides recognised as such by international courts, established since 1945, by relevant international legal instruments. Section 2 of Article 6 allows a Party to the Protocol, at their discretion, only to prosecute the violator if the crime is committed with the intent to incite hatred or discrimination or violence; or to use a reservation, by allowing a Party not to apply Article 6 – either partly or entirely. The Council of Europe's Explanatory Report of the Protocol says that the "European Court of Human Rights has made it clear that the denial or revision of 'clearly established historical facts – such as the Holocaust – ... would be removed from the protection of Article 10 by Article 17' of the European Convention on Human Rights" (see the Lehideux and Isorni judgement of 23 September 1998);
Two of the English-speaking states in Europe, Ireland and the United Kingdom, have not signed the additional protocol, (the third, Malta, signed on 28 January 2003, but has not yet ratified it). On 8 July 2005 Canada became the only non-European state to sign the convention. They were joined by South Africa in April 2008. The United States government does not believe that the final version of the Protocol is consistent with the United States' First Amendment Constitutional rights and has informed the Council of Europe that the United States will not become a Party to the protocol.
There are various domestic laws against negationism and hate speech (which may encompass negationism), in sixteen different countries including
Additionally, the Netherlands considers denying the Holocaust as a hate crime – which is a punishable offense. Wider use of domestic laws include the 1990 French Gayssot Act that prohibits any "racist, anti-Semitic or xenophobic" speech., and the Czech Republic and Ukraine have criminalised the denial and the minimisation of Communist-era crimes.
In the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), by George Orwell, the government of Oceania continually revises historical records to concord with the contemporary political explanations of The Party. When Oceania is at war with Eurasia, the public records (newspapers, cinema, television) indicate that Oceania has been always at war with Eurasia; yet, when Eurasia and Oceania are no longer fighting each other, the historical records are subjected to negationism; thus, the populace are brainwashed to believe that Oceania and Eurasia always have been allies against Eastasia.
The protagonist of the story, Winston Smith, is an editor in the Ministry of Truth, responsible for effecting the continual historical revisionism that will negate the contradictions of the past upon the contemporary world of Oceania. To cope with the psychological stresses of life during wartime, Smith begins a diary, in which he observes that "He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future", and so illustrates the principal, ideological purpose of historical negationism.
Franz Kurowski was an extremely prolific right-wing German writer who dedicated his entire career to the production of Nazi military propaganda, followed by post-war military pulp fiction and revisionist histories of World War II, claiming the humane behaviour and innocence of war crimes of the Wehrmacht, glorifying war as a desirable state, while fabricating eye-witness reports of atrocities allegedly committed by the Allies, especially Bomber Command and the air raids on Cologne and Dresden as planned genocide of the civilian population.
"[R]evisionists" are understood as "negationists" in order to differentiate them from "historical revisionists" since their goal is either to prove that the Holocaust did not exist or to introduce confusion regarding the victims and German executioners regardless of historical and scientific methodology and evidence. For those reasons, the term "revisionism" is often considered confusing since it conceals misleading ideologies that purport to avoid disapproval by presenting "revisions" of the past based on pseudo-scientific methods, while really they are a part of negationism.
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