Moscow has now become the “world center for Holocaust denial” despite the fact that more than half of the estimated 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis were from the former Soviet Union, according to Ilya Alexandrovich Altman, founder and president of the Russian Holocaust Foundation.
During an address here at the American Jewish World Service, which has donated about $50,000 to Altman’s group since its founding in 1991, Altman said Holocaust denial was fueled by the publication in Russian of the book, “Myths about the Holocaust” by Jurgen Graf of Switzerland. The book has sold about 200,000 copies.
Altman also said that two years ago there was a conference in Moscow to foster Holocaust denial and that a Web site has also been created.“It is possible to buy a newspaper in which each issue there is a story of Holocaust denial,” Altman noted.
Since his organization was founded, it has printed about 25,000 copies of a textbook designed for 16-year-olds explaining the Holocaust. He said the book has been used in three or four schools out of 200,000 in Russia.
Altman, 49, recalled that when he was a student he had “12 lessons about the history of World War II and the major battles, but we did not speak about the Holocaust and who killed Soviet Jews.”
Because of reports about compensation payments to survivors, awareness of the Holocaust has increased, Altman said. At the same time, anti-Semitism is on the rise, fueled in part by the recent letter signed by 19 members of the Russian Parliament calling for a ban on all Jewish organizations as extremist. Jewish leaders in Russia are now planning to sue the 19 for their letter, which was condemned in a vote by the Duma.
Altman said that on Nov. 10 a swastika was found scrawled on his Moscow office. The police were called, but the incident was not reported in the press.