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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/dawidowicz/dawidowicz-on-irving

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism,soc.history
Subject: Holocaust Almanac: Dawidowicz on Irving
Summary: David Irving disproves his own thesis with "scholarly" 
         slight of hand and total disregard for veracity
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Nizkor Project, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Irving,Himmler,Hitler

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/dawidowicz/dawidowicz-on-irving
Last-modified: 1993/12/18

The following is from "The Holocaust and the Historians," by Lucy
Dawidowicz.  The book was published by Harvard University Press.  The
material is taken from pp 34-38.

                       "This Wicked Man Hitler"

   "Despite the recent outpouring of popular and scholarly books on
   Hitler, no work has yet been produced that satisfactorily explains
   Hitler's obsessive ideas about the Jews, the readiness of the German
   people to accept these ideas, and Hitler's ability to harness an
   enormous apparatus of men, institutions, and facilities just in order
   to murder the Jews.  Hitler has proved to be an elusive and
   unrewarding subject for conventional biography because the
   explanations for the baffling mystique he exercised, for the power he
   came to wield, and for his unspeakable accomplishments are not to be
   found in the facts of a banal life, but in the ideas and feelings
   that created the symbiosis between him and the German people.  Their
   matuality and inter-dependence thrived, as Hitler first expressed and
   later gratified the Germans' most arrogant and abominable ambitions.
   He relieved their deepest fears and anxieties and, near the end,
   disburdened them both of guilt and responsibility for the wickedness
   they had given him warrant to commit.  J.P.  Stern, an English
   literary scholar and a refugee from Germany, perceived that the
   biographical approach was likely to trivialize rather than to
   illuminate this particular man: 'If sociological interpretations lose
   sight of the man behind the trends, it is the common failing of
   biographies that they abstract a man from his world - a procedure
   that is particularly misleading in the case of one whose every public
   word and every public act expressed for almost the whole of his
   career the fears and aspirations of his contemporaries.'

   That conclusion is borne out in the popular biographies by Robert
   Payne and John Toland, neither of which adds much to our knowledge or
   understanding of Hitler.  Payne, a prolific professional writer,
   produced a briskly told account of Hitler's life which is altogether
   devoid of ideas.  He tells little about Hitler and the Jews: barely
   ten pages out of over 600 are devoted to the Final Solution, with a
   handful of other references to anti-Semitism, though not even a
   mention of the Nuremberg Laws.

   Toland's book is more accomplished, yet despire massive research and
   countless interviews with countless persons, he has not succeeded in
   telling (in over a thousand pages) anything important that we had not
   known before.  Asking few questions of historical significance of
   either his documents or his living subjects, Toland approached this
   book on Hitler, he admits, without a thesis.  The 'most meaningful'
   conclusion he reached was 'that Hitler was far more complex and
   contradictory' than he had imagined.

   But the nadir in Hitlerology is reached by David Irving's "Hitler's
   War."<34> An amateur historian, whose reputation as a German
   apologist and as a writer without regard for accuracy or truth won
   him a measure of notoriety, <35> Irving produced a 926-page work
   intended to show that Hitler was kind to his animals and to his
   secretaries, that he was 'probably the weakest _leader_ Germany has
   known in this century,' and that he did not murder the Jews or even
   wish to do so, but that the murder was committed behind his back,
   without his knowledge or consent.  The killing of the Jews, Irving
   believes, 'was partly of an ad hoc nature, what the Germans call a
   Verlegenheitslo"sung - the way out of an awkward delemma, chosen by
   the middle-level authorities in the eastern territories overrun by
   the Nazis - and partly a cynical extrapolation by the central SS
   authorities of Hitler's anti-Semitic decrees.'

   Irving claims to have new evidence and fresh interpretations of known
   documents, but in fact, all of his evidence is familiar.  He develops
   his arguments mostly by suppressing or ignoring the impressive body
   of existing evidence and partly by applying a guileful literalness to
   cases of Hitler's aesopian language.

   Irving's thesis, which denies Hitler's responsibility for the murder
   of the Jews, is too preposterous to require refutation and argument,
   but one example will suffice to show his "scholarly" method.  As
   seemingly irrefutable proof for his case, Mr.  Irving offered an
   entry in Himmler's handwritten telephone log.  On November 30, 1941,
   at 1:30 P.M., Himmler, then in Hitler's military headquarters bunker
   'Wolf's Lair,' telephoned SS Obergruppenfu"hrer Heydrich, then in
   Prague.  The gist of the telephone message was entered in four short
   lines in the log, though Mr.  Irving cited only the last two lines:

   Judentransport aus Berlin
   keine Liquidierung

   That is: 'Transport of Jews from Berlin. No liquidation.'

   From this Mr.  Irving concluded that Hitler had somehow learned what
   Himmler was up to and had ordered him to stop.  An obedient Nazi,
   Himmler had called Heydrich in Prague to transmit Hitler's order.
   But in view of everything we know about the destruction of the Jews,
   Irving's construction of events makes no sense.  If Himmler continued
   to kill the Jews long after November 30, 1941, why did he order the
   liquidation of this one transport stopped?  If he deceived Hitler
   before and after about the murder of the Jews, why should he be
   honest about it this once?  Besides, what became of that transport of
   Jews from Berlin?  Were they returned home?  Irving's conclusion
   fails to provide a satisfactory explanation of those two lines in
   view of what actually happened, though it serves to support his
   perversely fanciful interpretation of Hitler's character.

   To understand those two lines it is necessary to read also the first
   two lines of the telephone conversation.  Here is the full German

   Verhaftung Dr. Jekelius [name not fully decipherable]
   Angebl [ich] Sohn Molotovs.
   Judentransport aus Berline.
   keine Liquidierung.<37>

   That is: Arrest Dr. Jekelius.  Presumably Molotov's son.  Transport
   of Jews from Berlin. No liquidation.

   The last two lines now make sense.  Himmler called Heydrich to
   instruct him that a certain Dr.  Jekelius, presumed to be the Soviet
   Foreign Minister's son, was to be taken in custody by the security
   police.  Jekelius could be located in the transport of Jews from
   Berlin arriving in Prague  and, unlike the
   rest of the transport, was not to be liquidated.  (Perhaps the
   Germans intended to exchange Jekelius for one of their officers
   captured by the Russians.)

   Irving, wittingly or unwittingly, has in fact disproved his own
   theory.  For if Hitler was indeed responsible for Himmler's call
   (there is no evidence that he was), then Irving has shown that Hitler
   did in fact know all about the murder of the Jews.  And indeed, how
   else could it have been?  The murder of the Jews was Hitler's most
   consistent policy, in whose execution he persisted relentlessly, and
   obsessiveness with the Jews may even ahve cost him his war for the
   'Thousand Year Reich.'"

End notes:
<34> David Irving, Hitler's War (New York: Viking, 1977). Irving's work has
been described as 'revisionist,' but the label is improperly applied. Irving
is merely an apologist for Hitler and desrves no consideration as a
historian, revisionist or otherwise.

<35> His first book, The Destruction of Dresden (London: W. Kimber, 1963),
caused a sensation by its accusation that the Anglo-American raids on
Dresden in February 1945 constituted a major war atrocity. Irving's book,
which exaggerated threefold the number of deaths that actually occurred and
made unfounded charges about Allied actions, has since been refuted. Two of
this later books, Accident: The Death of General Sikorski (London: W.
Kimber, 1967), and The Destruction of Convoy PQ 17 (New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1969), prompted legal action. Irving lost both cases and had to
pay damages and costs of about #45,000 in the libel suit on Convoy PQ 17.

<37> Irving, Hitler's War, p. 332; Himmler's handwritten notes appear on p.
505 and are here reproduced from the National Archives Microfilm Publication
T84, Roll 26. I wish to acknowledge the help of Dr. Fred Grubel, director of
the Leo Baeck Institute, in deciphering the script and its meaning. Nearly
every reviewer who considered Irving's "evidence" tried to explain this
document. No one thought to look up the item in its entirely. Moartin Brosat
comes up with a very convoluted by unconvincing explanation. "Hiter und die
Genresis der 'Endlo"sung,'" Vierteljahrshefte fu"r Zeitgeschichte,a25
(October 1977), 739-775.

[Archive note: the document referred to above <37> is not included here -
see original source. knm.]

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