Dozens of Rialto eighth-graders questioned whether the Holocaust occurred in essays written for an in-class assignment this spring.
Rialto Unified School District administrators, besieged by criticism after the assignment became public in May, claimed at the time that none of the students who completed the assignment questioned or denied the Holocaust, but a survey of the students’ work by this news organization found numerous examples of students expressing doubt or flatly denying that the Holocaust occurred.
“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.”
“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 in Riverside. “It’s worse than I thought it was.”
The complete archive of the essays was provided to the Los Angeles News Group in the form of 45 PDF files, some of which contain hundreds of pages of student assignments. An examination of the essays by newsroom staff found that at least 50 essays denied or doubted the Holocaust occurred. Even many students who agreed the Holocaust occurred said there were good reasons to believe it had not or that elements of the historical record were actually hoaxes.
To write the in-class essay, students were given printouts from About.com, History.com and Holocaust denial site BibleBelievers.org.au.
“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.”
Other students also believed Leuchter’s arguments: “if gassing would have occurred everyone (nearby) would have died, because the floors had cracks in the floor and holes in the wall.”
In fact, the concentration camps in Auschwitz and Majdanek had ventilation systems, according to blueprints of the buildings.
“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.”
In May, a report released by the Anti-Defamation League said that 54 percent of people worldwide have heard of the Holocaust, and 32 percent of them believe it’s a myth or greatly exaggerated.
By Beau Yarbrough, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Staff Writer Grace Wong contributed to this story.
Read the full story at dailynews.com/social-affairs/20140711/exclusive-holocaust-denied-by-students-in-rialto-school-assignment