As the number of Holocaust survivors continues to decline, and their first-hand testimonies will no longer be heard, the situation is likely to get worse, anti-racist researchers have warned.
Holocaust denial leaflets and posters, as well as antisemitic graffiti including swastikas, have emerged on campuses across the UK in recent years as more far-right activists target students.
The warnings come as data, collected by The Independent, shows that antisemitic incidents were reported at 19 UK universities between 2015 and 2017, with the number nearly tripling in two years.
Joe Mulhall, a researcher at anti-racism organisation Hope Not Hate and a trustee of charity Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “There was a time when Holocaust denial in the UK was an increasingly ageing pursuit. It was elderly men in duffel coats.
“With the internet, we have started to see a younger, newer generation of Holocaust denial emerging, which ties into things like the alt-right, and that is really really concerning.”
After monitoring far-right forums, including neo-Nazi forums, the researchers have seen a growth of younger people denying the Holocaust in a “jokey style” through social media and online forums.
But students are also concerned about antisemitism and far-right extremism on campus – including swastika graffiti and Holocaust denial leaflets – rather than just online.
Last year, a group of men who spread neo-Nazi stickers around Aston University campus and performed a Hitler salute were found guilty of attempting to incite racial hatred.
A Union of Jewish Students spokesperson said they had seen “increasing trivialisation” of the Holocaust, with graffiti on campuses and students using Nazi imagery as jokes at parties.
They added: “It is the job of all of student society to counteract antisemitic language and imagery.”
A Universities UK spokesperson said: “Universities take all forms of hate crime extremely seriously and all students and staff are entitled to a safe and positive experience at university.”
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