The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/jackel/postscript-kirk-4


Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Holocaust Almanac: David Irving's Hitler: Postscript
Summary: H. David Kirk's commentary on Irving's work and the Jaeckel
         Essays
Reply-To: kmcvay@nizkor.org
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Nizkor Project, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Kirk,Irving,Jaeckel

Archive/File: pub/people/i/irving.david/jackel/postscript-kirk-4
Last-Modified: 1996/02/27

                     Irving's House of Cards 

   Facts seldom if ever speak for themselves; they must be interpreted.
   If errors of fact or interpretation appear in the work of meticulous
   and conscientious scholars, the errors are rectified when seen and
   understood.  In bad scholarship, faulty interpretations arising from
   sloppiness, slavish adherence to ideological bias, or artfully
   altered facts, are less readily acknowledged.  Such errors, becoming
   cumulative, can have deleterious consequences.  It is so in David
   Irving's case, especially in the context of his Hitler's War.  In
   neo-Nazi propaganda these errors become 'new historical facts.' For
   the merely naive such 'new facts' may become 'eye openers.' For
   convinced antisemites, the 'new facts' serve as powerful
   reinforcements for their prejudices.

   Even critical and informed readers of Irving's books are not
   necessarily immune to the lure of his racy and colorful style.
   Writing style may, however unintentionally, cloak the route by which
   conclusions and explanations are arrived at.  Could such obfuscation
   have misled a first-rate scholar like Eberhard Jaeckel?  It seems to
   have happened in his analysis of Irving's attempted Hitler-cleanup
   (see Essay 1: Hitler's Counter-order).  The issue must be raised, not
   only for the sake of the integrity of Jaeckel's scholarly work, but
   because the answer will illuminate the essential difference between a
   genuine historian like Jaeckel and the spurious variety.

   Sometime after Jaeckel's work had appeared, another historian,<57>
   Lucy Dawidowicz, followed up Himmler's telephone notes of November
   1941.  Finding certain additional information there, she concluded
   that Hitler had never given any order to spare the convoy heading for
   Riga, that there had been no counter-order at all, not even a
   temporary one.  If Dawidowicz was right, it could only mean that
   Jaeckel had momentarily been taken in by Irving's 'interesting item,'
   the two lines from Himmler's notebook.

   But was it proper for the translator to identify a possible error in
   Jaeckel's main essay?  Aside from all other considerations, as the
   error went to the heart of Jaeckel's own argument against Irving, it
   clearly had to be dealt with.  That is why the passage from that
   first essay is now repeated as it appears there, with part of the
   sentence containing the apparent error emphasized (in _italics_):

      This interesting item is a page from Himmler's hand-written
      notebook.  At the top it says: 'Telephone conversations
      30.X[.1941. _Wolfschanze_.' Himmler phoned five people, one of
      these (at 1.30 pm) was Heydrich 'from the bunker.' About this
      conversation Himmler entered this note: 'Jewish transport from
      Berlin, not to be liquidated.' Note Irving's interpretation: 'At
      1.30 pm, from Hitler's bunker, Himmler had to pass on to Heydrich
      the explicit order that Jews were not to be liquidated.' 

      It takes no special training and only a minimum of good sense and
      logic to see the flaws in this totally inadequate bit of
      source-interpretation.  _From the order not to liquidate a certain
      transport of Jewish people_ Irving concocts a universal order that
      Jews are henceforth not to be 'liquidated.' Actually, exactly the
      opposite is true.  If Hitler had not ordered the general
      destruction of the Jews, it would have made no sense for him to
      have forbidden it in a single case.  That he did forbid it in this
      case would seem to be proof of the fact that a general order had
      been given and that in this case an exception was to be made.  (We
      now know what caused the exception, and that the missed
      'liquidation' was soon made up for.) 

   As mentioned in the notes to the essays, this translator wrote to
   Professor Jaeckel to clarify the meaning of the sentence in
   parentheses.  Jaeckel's reply read: 'On November 25, 1941, German
   Jews, deported from Berlin, Munich, and Frankfurt, were shot at
   Kovno.  On November 27 the seventh transport of Jews left Berlin.
   The phone conversation of November 30 concerned that transport.  But
   the call had come too late: these people were shot on arrival at Riga
   on November 30.' 

   It is true that these people were shot, but probably not, as Jaeckel
   reasoned, because Hitler's counter-order had come too late.
   Subsequent independent interpretations by Lucy Dawidowicz, drawing on
   additional lines in Himmler's telephone notes, suggest that no
   counter-order of Hitler's was involved.  Nor was there any intention
   of saving the Jewish people being transported to their deaths at
   Riga.  

   Dawidowicz had thus found new information on the very document which
   Irving had originally supplied and which he considered his trump
   card.  Here is the passage<58> with her interpretation of that new
   information: 

      On November 30, 1941, at 1:30 P.M., Himmler, then in Hitler's
      military headquarters bunker, 'Wolf's Lair,' telephoned SS
      Obergruppenfuehrer 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 this one?  

   Up to this point Dawidowicz argues substantially along Jaeckel's
   line.  But then she asks: 

      ...  what became of that transport of Jews from Berlin?
      Were they returned home?  

   She seems not to know what Jaeckel had found out, namely that the
   people of that convoy were shot that same day on arrival in Riga.
   However, Dawidowicz seems to have discovered something new about the
   Himmler telephone notation, and her interpretation of it makes much
   sense.  She first returns to Irving's attempt at cleaning-up Hitler: 

      Irving's conclusion fails to provide a satisfactory explanation of
      those two lines in view of what actually happened....  

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

      Verhaftung Dr. Jekelius [name not fully decipherable] 
      Angebl[ich] Sohn Molotovs.
      Judentransport aus Berlin.  
      keine Liquierung.<59> 

      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 ...
      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.) 

   Had Jaeckel, perhaps assuming quite understandably that the first two
   lines were unrelated to the third and fourth, simply followed Irving
   in dealing only with the latter?  Or had he, like Dawidowicz,
   unsuccessfully tried to decipher Himmler's Gothic writing, but
   unlike Dawidowicz who then sought out a handwriting expert, had he
   given up?  Though he evidently agreed with Irving's conclusion that
   Hitler had forbidden the killing of the Jews on this particular
   transport, Jaeckel strenuously objected to Irving's conclusion that
   Hitler wanted the mass murder of the Jews stopped altogether.  Note
   again Jaeckel's objection: 'If Hitler had not ordered the general
   destruction of the Jews, it would have made no sense for him to have
   forbidden it in a single case.  That he did forbid it in this case
   would seem to be proof of the fact that a general order had been
   given and that in this case an exception was to be made.' If
   Dawidowicz was right in her assumption that the four lines on
   Himmler's phone pad were interconnected, then Jaeckel, working with
   only the last two lines, without the information contained in the
   first two, could readily reach an erroneous conclusion about the
   meaning of the notation.  

   Nevertheless, Dawidowicz and Jaeckel agree that Hitler could not and
   would not have ordered a stop to the mass murder.  Both historians,
   aware of Hitler's more than two-decade-long antisemitic agitation,
   carried on at home and abroad by an immense propaganda machine, knew
   that Hitler himself was the unrivalled architect of the Holocaust.
   Genuine historians, though each committed to truth, may nevertheless
   differ in their interpretation of particular events.  But unlike the
   spurious variety, they would not tamper with facts or deny ugly
   truths about the past.  

   Genuine historians are readily identifiable: they try to resist the
   sway of ideology as well as the urge to justify or excuse the past.

   Together, Professors Jaeckel and Dawidowicz have made Irving's thesis
   of Hitler's guiltlessness in the murder of Europe's Jews tumble like
   a house of cards.  

            It Doesn't Take Professors To See Through Irving

   When people who were witnesses to the Nazi era speak out, they must
   be listened to.  Here are two letters to the editor of a local paper.


Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.