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From: Hilary Ostrov 
Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Putting Irving in his rightful place
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Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 21:20:39 GMT
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There's an interesting interview with Ian Kershaw, regarding his
biography of Hitler, in today's NY Times.

Mention is made of the work of both Bullock and Fest, but Irving rates
not even a footnote!  Those who followed the trial transcripts will
recall that Irving had made much ado of (inter alia) *his* use of the
Goebbels diary plates in the Soviet archives and his connections with
members of Hitler's retinue.  During the course of this interview,
however - without even mentioning his name - Kershaw appears to put
Irving in his rightful place:


"No Hitler, no Holocaust," Mr. Kershaw said.


Excerpts of Goebbels's wartime diaries had been published as early as
1948, but it was only in 1990, with the collapse of Communism, that a
complete set of glass photographic plates of the diary pages was found
in long-closed Soviet archives. Mr. Kershaw drew heavily on them, and
he said his biography was the first to fully exploit them.

They showed as never before, he said, how Hitler pulled the strings on
the genocide of the Jews while obscuring his own hand, to the point of
leaving even some in his inner circle to wonder how much the Führer


Mr. Kershaw said he dismissed the idea of interviewing surviving
members of the Nazi regime, including one of Hitler's secretaries,
Traudl Junge, who was still alive. "I didn't want to be involved with
those people with their trite memories," he said.


"After 10 Years With Hitler, a Biographer Declares His Liberation"
Ralph Blumenthal, NY Times, March 19, 2001

Meanwhile ... from the other side of the pond:

Telling the truth about lies is dangerous in Britain. [...]


In the 1990s, Irving convinced many who ought to know better that he
was a good historian being persecuted for exercising his freedom to
speak and write freely. The heirs of Voltaire must have been
disappointed when Irving showed that if you disagreed with what he
said, he would litigate your right to say so to the death. He sued
Penguin for publishing Denying the Holocaust by Deborah Lipstadt, an
American academic. 


Mr Justice Gray delivered his verdict on 11 April last year. He
concluded that Irving shared the political beliefs of the 'militant
neo-Nazis', whose meetings he had graced. 'The content of his speeches
and interviews often displays a distinctly pro-Nazi and anti-Jewish
bias.' He wasn't an honest historian, struggling with the inevitable
difficulties understanding the past brings, but a deliberate falsifier
of the record, 'motivated by a desire to present events in a manner
consistent with his own ideological beliefs even if that involved
distortion and manipulation of historical evidence'. 

Well that's a relief, I thought at the time. Even in England you can
criticise those who say there were no gassings at Auschwitz as nutters
or fascists or both. 


[Anthony Julius, one of the defence team] won because the professor of
modern history at Cambridge had demolished Irving's scholarship.
Richard J. Evans went through Irving's sources and produced an
exhaustive 740-page analysis which detailed how Irving had twisted
evidence in the Nazi interest. Irving had censored himself as well as
the past by cutting references to death camps from his early work when
it was reprinted. 

Evans has written a book on the affair - Lying About Hitler: History,
Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial. You are free to buy it in
America and read the professor's account of the case and reflections
on historical interpretation. I've no doubt it is a serious study.
Evans is the author of In Defence of History, a patient critique of
the wild subjectivity of postmodernist theory. You were meant to be
free to read Lying About Hitler in Britain. But last week, Evans's
publishers, Heinemann, a branch of the Random House conglomerate,
ordered that the book should be pulped. 

Gray's verdict, which came after years of collecting evidence and
months of cross-examination in an enormously expensive trial, might as
well never have happened. Heinemann said they did not dare publish
because Irving was appealing against Gray's ruling. In fact, Irving
has been refused permission to appeal, and it is that decision he is
contesting. In the very unlikely event of Irving winning and the Court
of Appeal agreeing to consider Gray's condemnation, the crushing
evidence against him should deny him victory. 

Granta Books certainly think so and snapped up Lying About Hitler .
Granta didn't 'see any terrible legal nightmares' and was 'very
enthusiastic and keen to publish'. We shall still be able to make up
our own minds about Evans's writing. If the story stopped there, the
moral of the censorship of Evans would merely be that robust authors
should think hard before signing a contract with Random House. In
January, nine months after Irving was demolished in the High Court,
Weidenfeld & Nicolson published The Hitler of History by John Lukacs.
Americans had been able to read it for three years, but Irving warned
he would sue if it appeared in Britain. Publication would have been a
triumph for free speech over a bully if criticisms of Irving had not
been bowdlerised. In the American version, Lukacs says 'many of
Irving's references and quotations are not verifiable'. In the British
edition enforced gentility has made that 'some of Irving's references
and quotations are inaccurate'. 


I should declare an interest and add that despite everything Irving is
still threatening to sue The Observer. Even if he weren't, the ability
of such a man to stifle debate would be chilling. It is not too
fanciful to say that Irving is a symptom of a sickness which enfeebles
the culture.


"Without prejudice A ploy named 'sue' "  Nick Cohen,  The Observer,
March 18, 2001,4273,4154091,00.html

Hilary Ostrov
The Nizkor Project

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