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Frankfurt Mayor, Anti-Semitism Commissioner Backs Campaign to Combat Holocaust Denial on Facebook

August 10, 2020

Uwe Becker, who serves as the mayor of the German city of Frankfurt and as the Commissioner of the Hessian State Government for Jewish Life and the Fight Against Anti-Semitism, has publicly called on Facebook to combat Holocaust denial on its platform. Becker’s call came in support of a new campaign by the Claims Conference to combat denial of the Shoah on Facebook and other social media platforms.

At the end of July, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also known as the Claims Conference, announced a new online campaign called #NoDenyingIt” to ensure the voices of Holocaust survivors are heard by Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

The Claims Conference campaign says, “Holocaust survivors around the world have a message for Mark Zuckerberg and that is: ‘Holocaust denial posts on Facebook must be removed!’ As one survivor put it, ‘They are calling us liars. We aren’t liars. We are witnesses.'”

The #NoDenyingIt campaign is the first-ever survivor-driven digital campaign. According to the Claims Conference, the campaign, which began on July 29, will share a recorded message from this final generation of Holocaust survivors to Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg each day on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. Holocaust survivors from around the world have recorded thirty-second messages to Mark Zuckerberg, including many notable survivors such as Serge Klarsfeld (famed Nazi hunter), Roman Kent (Auschwitz survivor, head of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors), Eva Schloss (Anne Frank’s stepsister), Charlotte Knobloch (Kristallnacht survivor) and others. The campaign can be followed here.

“Those who deny the Holocaust make this choice consciously.”

The Commissioner of the Hessian State Government for Jewish Life and the Fight against Anti-Semitism, Uwe Becker, announced his support for the social media campaign of the Claims Conference. In a statement about the campaign, Becker said, “It is unacceptable that the denial of this so horrible crime against humanity is dismissed as stupidity or ignorance by those responsible in the social media industry. Anyone who talks like this is himself ignorant. Hatred and agitation against Jewish life must not have a place on social media. This is why I expressly support the Claims Conference’s campaign against Facebook and Co.”

For more than 60 years, the Claims Conference has been committed to providing Jewish Holocaust survivors with a minimum of justice and the best possible care in old age. In 2019 Uwe Becker was appointed as the Commissioner for Jewish Life and the Fight Against Anti-Semitism for the State of Hesse in Germany. Mr. Becker has long been an ardent supporter of the Jewish people and the State of Israel as well as an outspoken critic of the various manifestations of anti-Semitism today, including Holocaust denial and the BDS movement.

“Those who provide a platform for Holocaust deniers promote anti-Semitism.”

Explaining his views on Holocaust denial on Facebook in depth, Mr. Becker continued, “If Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg seriously claims that he does not believe Holocaust deniers are deliberately saying something wrong, then this is dangerously naive at best, but it is irresponsible and completely unacceptable. Anyone who denies the Holocaust is doing so with awareness. Holocaust denial is an expression of hatred of Jews and far too often murderers like the one in Halle or the assassin at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018 have chosen their way out of the virtual world and into the real world to kill people. Whoever offers a platform to Holocaust deniers promotes the spread of anti-Semitic hatred and thus supports the growth of anti-Semitism.”

On Thursday of last week, one of Mr. Becker’s own constituents, Eva Szepesi – a Holocaust survivor who lives in Hesse, made her appeal to Facebook by sharing her family’s tragic story during the Holocaust. Ms. Szepesi lost both of her parents and her younger brother at Auschwitz, where she was deported when she was twelve years od.

After being personally moved by Ms. Szepesi’s appeal to Facebook in her #NoDenyingIt video, Commissioner Becker concluded, “If Facebook and Co. do not finally understand that they have a responsibility to society, then even stricter regulations and laws must close this gap. I expressly support the campaign of the Claims Conference and hope that Zuckerberg and his colleagues will understand this.” In addition to serving as the Mayor of Frankfurt and the Hessian State Government’s Commissioner for Jewish Life and the Fight against Anti-Semitism, Uwe Becker also sits on the advisory board of the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement.

Holocaust denial is a punishable crime in Germany where the Federal Government has said that Facebook must comply with its laws against Holocaust denial and other forms of hate speech. Holocaust denial along with other forms of anti-Semitism continue to rise at an alarming pace on social media platforms and across the internet. Recent deadly anti-Semitic attacks in Halle, Germany along with attacks in Pittsburgh, Poway, Jersey City and Monsey in the United States, have begun with a show of intent on social media by each other the attackers.

Since being founded in 1951, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also known as the Claims Conference, has represented compensation claims by Jewish victims of National Socialism and Holocaust survivors. The organization has its headquarters in New York City and maintains a representation in Frankfurt am Main, among other places.

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