The study, titled “A mega-analysis of memory reports from eight peer-reviewed false memory implantation studies,” published in the journal Memory (Volume 25, 2017), did not deal specifically with the holocaust, but its findings can be applied to all collective “eyewitness” accounts of historical events.
According to the paper’s abstract, the “understanding that suggestive practices can promote false beliefs and false memories for childhood events is important in many settings (e.g., psychotherapeutic, medical, and legal).”
Over 400 participants in “memory implantation” studies had fictitious autobiographical events suggested to them—and it was found that around 50 percent of the participants believed, to some degree, that they had experienced those events, an official press release from Warwick University revealed.
“Participants in these studies came to remember a range of false events, such as taking a childhood hot air balloon ride, playing a prank on a teacher, or creating havoc at a family wedding.”
“30 percent of participants appeared to ‘remember’ the event—they accepted the suggested event, elaborated on how the event occurred, and even described images of what the event was like. Another 23 percent showed signs that they accepted the suggested event to some degree and believed it really happened.”
The official press release went on to say that:
These findings have significance in many areas—raising questions around the authenticity of memories used in forensic investigations, court rooms, and therapy treatments.
Moreover, the collective memories of a large group of people or society could be incorrect—due to misinformation in the news, for example—having a striking effect on people’s perceptions and behavior.
Dr. Wade comments on the importance of this study:
“We know that many factors affect the creation of false beliefs and memories—such as asking a person to repeatedly imagine a fake event or to view photos to “jog” their memory. But we don’t fully understand how all these factors interact. Large-scale studies like our mega-analysis move us a little bit closer.
“The finding that a large portion of people are prone to developing false beliefs is important. We know from other research that distorted beliefs can influence people’s behaviors, intentions and attitudes.”
The study said that independent raters coded transcripts using seven criteria: accepting the suggestion, elaboration beyond the suggestion, imagery, coherence, emotion, memory statements, and not rejecting the suggestion.
The study’s findings were that 30.4 percent of cases were classified as false memories and another 23 percent were classified as having accepted the event to some degree.
When the suggestion included self-relevant information, an imagination procedure, and was not accompanied by a photo depicting the event, the memory formation rate was 46.1 percent.
In other words, nearly half of those tested agreed with completely fictitious “memories” when it was suggested to them that they had been present when a certain event occurred, even when there was absolutely no corroborating evidence (such as a photograph) to prove the memory.
Even worse, 30 percent of participants even elaborated on the fake memory, describing further in depth what the nonexistent event was like.
The study is of great significance to historians everywhere, but takes on added importance for holocaust studies, where so much of the so-called evidence relies purely on “eyewitnesses” and “memoirs.”
Evidence of the false memory effect can be seen in almost all “survivor” accounts, as a June 2013 article in the U.K.’s Daily Mail,titled “Could there be anything more twisted than these Holocaust fantasists? How more and more people are making up memoirs about witnessing Nazi crimes,” by English historian Guy Walters, revealed.
Although Walters is a holocaust believer—and his article focused on the increasingly large number of overtly fake holocaust memoirs being peddled as genuine, Walters went on to point out the influence of false memories in “survivor accounts” this way:
Take the example of the recent Survivor of the Long March: Five Years as a PoW 1940–1945 by Charles Waite.
At one point, Waite recalls how he witnessed a Jewish baby being snatched from its mother by a guard. ‘The baby started crying,’ Waite writes, ‘and he threw it onto the ground and started kicking it like a football along the track.’ The screaming mother was then shot in the back of the head, and the baby left dead on the ground.
Can this story be true? It is possible, but we only have Waite’s word for it, and he died last year.
Unfortunately, we are now entering a situation where nearly every Holocaust memoir features such a scene. It is almost a compulsory fixture—although in truth such events were incredibly rare, for the simple reason that killing babies in front of their parents is not the best way to pacify a train full of prisoners.
Walters also pointed out how the “evil medical doctor” story has now become de rigueur:
Another fixture of Holocaust memoirs is that sinister figure, the SS doctor Josef Mengele. Again, nearly every memoir written by an Auschwitz survivor will recollect Mengele at a ‘selection’, determining who will be sent to the gas chambers. More often than not, he is whistling a Wagnerian aria and wearing a spotless white coat.
In truth, Mengele was just one of many ‘doctors’ employed at the camp, and he was by no means at every selection.
The latest false memory study from Warwick University explains these “memoirs” perfectly: supposed survivors repeating stories which they only ever heard about, and which they now themselves believe to be true, and have even “witnessed.”
Self-proclaimed “Nazi hunter” Simon Wiesenthal blatantly lied about the number of people allegedly killed in the Holocaust, and when confronted, he openly admitted it, Israel’s top Holocaust historian and editor of Yad Vashem’s Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust has announced.
Yehuda Bauer, professor of Holocaust Studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was commenting following a tweet by the Israeli Defense Force Spokesperson’s Unit that “11 million” people were killed in the Holocaust.
According to an article in the Times of Israel titled “‘Remember the 11 million’? Why an inflated victims tally irks Holocaust historians,” (February 1, 2017), the
“oft-cited statistic of 5 million non-Jewish Holocaust deaths has no basis in fact, experts say, and may be contributing to denial efforts.”
The newspaper—published out of Jerusalem—said:
The “5 million” has driven Holocaust historians to distraction ever since Wiesenthal started to peddle it in the 1970s. Wiesenthal told the Washington Post in 1979, “I have sought with Jewish leaders not to talk about 6 million Jewish dead, but rather about 11 million civilians dead, including 6 million Jews.
Yehuda Bauer, an Israeli Holocaust scholar who chairs the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, said he warned his friend Wiesenthal, who died in 2005, about spreading the false notion that the Holocaust claimed 11 million victims—6 million Jews and 5 million non-Jews.
“I said to him, ‘Simon, you are telling a lie,’” Bauer recalled in an interview Tuesday.
“He said, ‘Sometimes you need to do that to get the results for things you think are essential.’”
Bauer and other historians who knew Wiesenthal said the Nazi hunter told them that he chose the 5 million number carefully: He wanted a number large enough to attract the attention of non-Jews who might not otherwise care about Jewish suffering, but not larger than the actual number of Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, 6 million.
This is not the first time that a leading Jewish Holocaust historian has pointed out Wiesenthal’s lies. In an article published in the Jewish Review of Books in 2011, Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University—most infamous for the “David Irving trial”—said that Wiesenthal was often criticized for “falsely taking credit for finding criminals and repeatedly inventing information unsupported by any data.”
As an example, Lipstadt said, while Wiesenthal posed as a “Nazi hunter” from his offices in Vienna, and was lauded in a United States Congressional Resolution as being “instrumental in the capture and conviction of more than 1,000 Nazi war criminals, including Adolf Eichmann,” in fact he had done nothing.
Lipstadt said that Isser Harel, the head of Israel’s Security Services at the time of Eichmann’s capture, had revealed in his book dealing with the operation, called The House on Garibaldi Street, that
“Wiesenthal played no role in the operation.
“In fact, according to Harel, Wiesenthal almost sabotaged the whole effort when he shared information that had been given to him in strictest confidence,” Lipstadt wrote.
The Times of Israel article went on to discuss how Wiesenthal’s completely invented figure of “11 million” became so commonplace:
It caught on: President Jimmy Carter, issuing the executive order that would establish the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, referred to the “11 million victims of the Holocaust.”
The Times of Israel explained further:
It’s a statement that shows up regularly in declarations about the Nazi era. It was implied in a Facebook post by the Israel Defense Forces’ spokesperson’s unit last week marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
And it was asserted in an article shared by the Trump White House in defense of its controversial Holocaust statement the same day omitting references to the 6 million Jewish victims.
It is, however, a number without any scholarly basis.
Indeed, say those close to the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, its progenitor, it is a number that was intended to increase sympathy for Jewish suffering but which now is more often used to obscure it.
The most damning exposé of famed ‘Holocaust Survivor’ Elie Wiesel ever put into print! It shines the light of truth on the mythomaniac who, in the 1970s, transformed the word “holocaust” and made it the brand name of the world’s greatest hoax: the unfounded claim by an extremist segment of World Jewry to the effect that the German government’s wartime policy of territorial transfer of Europe’s Jews out of the Reich was in actuality an “extermination program.”