A disputed essay assignment that asked students in a California school district to argue "whether or not you believe the Holocaust was an actual event in history" incorporated a source that dismissed gassings in concentration camps as a "profitable hoax."
The San Bernardino Sun first reported that the Rialto Unified School District instructed eighth-graders to "write an argumentative essay, utilizing cited textual evidence, in which you explain whether or not you believe the Holocaust was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain."
But initial reports on the disputed essay largely overlooked one of the three sources provided to students, extensive text lifted directly from a Holocaust Denial and conspiracy website,biblebelivers.com.au, titled "Is the Holocaust a Hoax?"
"Though six million Jews supposedly died in the gas chambers, not one body has ever been autopsied and found to have died of gas poisoning," the webpage reads. "We have been shown piles of bodies from World War II, but most of these persons died of typhus or starvation or Allied bombings and a great many of those were murdered Germans, not Jews. Roughly the equivalent of ten football fields should be packed full of gassed bodies to present as evidence, yet not one body has ever been discovered."
"It is not denied concentration camps existed," it later adds. "Tragically, many died of typhus or starvation, as often happens in such situations. There is, however, no evidence that any gassings occurred for the reasons of genocide."
A spokeswoman for the Rialto Unified School District defended the assignment last week as an exercise in "developing critical thinking skills." The spokeswoman then told KTLA on Monday that an academic team was revising the assignment.
TPM has reached out to the school district for comment on the source.