A conference is taking place in Iran to debate the Holocaust. Some historians who claim the mass execution of Jews by Nazi Germany never happened are being joined by others who say it was exaggerated. Also present are several ultra-orthodox Jews who oppose the state of Israel.
Organisers say the conference aims to allow free speech and an open forum for those who cannot express themselves in some European countries where Holocaust denial is a crime.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki said that if the interpretation of the Holocaust is questioned then so too is what he calls the “Zionist regime” in Israel.
Meanwhile in Berlin, historians are gathered for a parallel conference to talk about the results of their own research into the Holocaust. David Menashri, Director of Iranian studies at Tel Aviv University believes the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is using the Tehran conference as a smokescreen to detract attention from Iran’s nuclear ambition.
“By showing Europe he’s against the Jews and Israel, Ahmedinejad will be allowed to carry on what he’s doing” said Menashri.
Several of the speakers in Tehran have been convicted in Europe for Holocaust denial and insulting the memory of the dead. Some say that although Jews were deported by the Nazis, they were not exterminated in gas chambers.