So…about that 8th grade class in Rialto (Calif.) Unified School District that instructed students to “write an argumentative essay, utilizing cited textual evidence, in which you explain whether or not you believe the Holocaust was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain…”
Students were given access to a number of “credible sources,” including Holocaust denial web site biblebelievers.org.au, The web site reads, in part, “Though six million Jews supposedly died in the gas chambers, not one body has ever been autopsied and found to have died of gas poisoning. We have been shown piles of bodies from World War II, but most of these persons died of typhus or starvation or Allied bombings and a great many of those were murdered Germans, not Jews. Roughly the equivalent of ten football fields should be packed full of gassed bodies to present as evidence, yet not one body has ever been discovered.”
Read the Holocaust-denying essay answers for yourself.
Here’s one from The Los Angeles News Group’s collection of 45 essays (formatted as PDFs):
And here’s a version with the text typed in for better readability from The Sun.
At the time the assignment became public knowledge, the school district claimed that no students questioned or denied the holocaust. However, what someone claims is not always fact. The Sun, however, dug a little deeper and found numerous examples of students coming to that conclusion.
From the Sun:
“I believe the event was fake, according to source 2 the event was exhaggerated,” one student wrote. (Students’ and teachers’ original spelling and grammar are retained throughout this story.) “I felt that was strong enogh evidence to persuade me the event was a hoax.”
In some cases, students earned high marks and praise for arguing the Holocaust never occurred, with teachers praising their well-reasoned arguments:
“you did well using the evidence to support your claim,” the above student’s teacher wrote on his assignment.
The student received a grade of 23 points out of 30, with points marked off for not addressing counterclaims, capitalization and punctuation errors.
“Students got high praise and grades for writing that the Holocaust was a hoax. I’m sick about that, I’m sick about that,” said Rabbi Suzanne Singer of Temple Beth El. “It’s worse than I thought it was.”
The complete archive of the students’ essays was provided to the Los Angeles News Group as 45 PDF files–and the information is chilling. Over 50 essays denied or doubted the Holocaust happened. Many students who recognized that it happened, said there were good reasons to doubt the legitimacy of the claim.
Students were not given internet access for the assignment, which would have allowed them easy refutations of conspiracy claims, but instead were given printouts from About.com, History.com, and the aforementioned BibleBelievers.org.au. The simple-minded claims in the denial handouts were not addressed by the other literature, leading some students to believe that Anne Frank’s diary was a hoax, and that Jewish people were not gassed in concentration camps.
“According to Fred A. Leuchter (leading specialist on the design and fabrication of execution equipment) there is no significant cyanide traces in any of the alleged gas chambers,” one student wrote. “So any open minded person can easily be persuaded to believe that the gassings were a Hoax.”
Another student wrote, “if gassing would have occurred everyone (nearby) would have died, because the floors had cracks in the floor and holes in the wall.”
“I believe it’s a hoax because the government ran test and found nothing,” another essay reads in part, “ball point pens weren’t used when Anne Frank was alive, and it was impossible to kill so many people in that time period.”
Ball point pens were, in fact, used in Germany during the Holocaust, as this student would have known had the assignment not been completed in class without the aid of the internet for research.
The assignment was concocted at the district level, and administrators refuse to identify the staffers responsible.