Website launched to challenge Holocaust denial

Prisoners at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp: damning evidence to rebuff attacks on the Holocaust

Prisoners at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp: damning evidence to rebuff attacks on the Holocaust

A groundbreaking Second World War website launched to counter Holocaust denial will be launched next week.

The site is the brainchild of the historian and documentary filmmaker Laurence Rees, former creative director of BBC Television History.

Mr Rees has also written seven history books about different aspects of the war, including one to accompany his acclaimed television series Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution.

Since that book and programme appeared, Mr Rees says he had been "plagued by Holocaust deniers".

Three years ago he left the BBC to write another book and received a letter from a 17-year-old girl from Kansas, working on her high school project, who thought the Holocaust happened because Hitler caught a disease from a Jewish prostitute.

Mr Rees said: "This letter showed the paucity of reliable educational information about the war on the web.

"I thought I would take a couple of months off before I started the book to put together a couple of videos and put them on the web to say 'this is the truth'.

But it became clear to me quite quickly that the web is the most fantastic vehicle for bringing words and pictures together and I got very excited about it."

Mr Rees and his wife used their own money - he has confirmed only that the project has cost more than £100,000 - to set up the site. He has interviewed a score of the world's top historians, including Professor Sir Ian Kershaw, the world's leading authority on the rise of Hitler, Antony Beevor, Andrew Roberts, Robert Service and David Cesarani. He has also hired researchers to bring first-person testimony to the site.

Among the main features will be timelines for four theatres of war; the Western Front, the Eastern Front, the Pacific Front and the Holocaust.

"This has never been done before," said Mr Rees.

"It shows that while the Holocaust was a significant event on its own, it was also linked to many other events happening elsewhere."

The Holocaust Educational Trust has also had input, helping to develop educational aspects of the site with advice on how teachers can use the vast amount of material available.

"All the 35 films on the site will be 10 minutes long or less," said Mr Rees. "What struck me was that this was the perfect vehicle for all the material I have done.

"The reason this has not existed until now is that big organisations thought there was no revenue in it. We are asking people to subscribe instead."

The website, WW2History.com, launches next Tuesday.

    Last updated: 3:18pm, April 29 2010