British scholar: Irving has no right to call himself a historian http://www.jpost.com:80/Editions/2000/02/13/News/News.2597.html By Douglas Davis LONDON (February 13) - A leading British modern history professor last week declared that Holocaust revisionist David Irving had no right to call himself a historian, while a military historian, whom Irving himself had called as a witness, described his views as "perverse." Irving, who denies that Jews were systematically exterminated at Auschwitz, is suing American professor Deborah Lipstadt and her British publisher, Penguin Books, for libel in her 1994 book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. Irving claims that Lipstadt has destroyed his reputation and career by labelling him a Holocaust denier and asserting that he had deliberately distorted historical data to support his own ideological bias. Richard Evans, professor of modern history at Cambridge University, told the court that Irving did not deserve to be called a historian. Testifying for Lipstadt, Evans said he was not prepared for the "sheer depth of duplicity" he found in Irving's treatment of Holocaust-related historical sources. Irving retorted that Evans's "sweeping and rather brutal" attack on his career was based on personal animosity. "I think you dislike what I write and stand for and what you perceive my views to be," he told Evans, who had produced a 740-page critique of Irving's historical method. Evans insisted he had no feelings of personal animosity towards Irving and had sought to be as objective as possible when examining his work. He had little prior knowledge of Irving's work, he said. He knew of Irving as, in many areas, a sound historian, but he was "shocked" at what he found. The proceedings had reinforced his view in the report that Irving had fallen so far short of accepted standards of scholarship that "he doesn't deserve to be called a historian at all." But Irving declared that he was always "scrupulously fair... the total opposite of being unscrupulous and manipulative and deceptive, as you say in your report." Evans agreed that Irving had a very wide knowledge of the source material for the Third Reich and that he had discovered many new documents: "The problem for me," he said, "is what you do with them when you interpret them and write them up." Irving's writings and speeches, said Evans, contained statements that he regarded as "antisemitic" - to the extent that he blamed the Jews for the Holocaust. Irving's belief that he was the target of "a worldwide Jewish conspiracy," he said, was "a fantastic belief which has no grounds in fact." In his report, Evans said Irving had relied on his audience lacking the time or the expertise to study the sources he used to discover the "distortions and manipulations." While acknowledging that individuals should be allowed to challenge the "general consensus" of history, he insisted that there was a duty to conform to academic standards in the evaluation of evidence. Irving also had a bruising encounter with Prof. Christopher Browning, of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, who appeared as a witness for Lipstadt. Asked by Irving to comment on a Nazi plan to settle Jews on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, Browning, author of four books and more than 35 academic papers on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, said it was a "bizarre fantasy." He added that the result of such a population transfer would have been disastrous, as "a large percentage of the people would have perished." "I think," countered Irving, "that the Jews are a very sturdy people." Earlier, military historian Sir John Keegan, compelled by subpoena to testify for Irving, said Irving's claim that Hitler did not know about the fate of the Jews until late 1943 "was so extraordinary it would defy reason." Keegan, who was knighted for his contribution to military history, agreed that he had in the past recommended students of World War II to read Irving's book Hitler's War, but he told the court he had also advised them to read Chester Wilmot's Struggle for Europe. "Together, they gave Hitler's side and the Allies' side," he said. His recommendation to students did not mean he endorsed the opinions in Irving's book: "I continue to think it is perverse in the proposal that Hitler couldn't have known until October 1943 what was going on with the Jewish population in Europe and many other minority groups as well." Asked by Irving whether he was apprehensive about giving evidence "on my behalf," Keegan replied: "I am not giving evidence on your behalf, but under subpoena." == TOLEDO, OHIO 'BLADE' Editorial: Jousting with the Holocaust http://www.toledoblade.com:80/editorial/edit/0b13ed2.htm February 13, 2000 In recent years the Holocaust has embedded itself more deeply into the world's consciousness. The message of the shadows that it casts is that it must never be allowed to happen again. And yet, atop the mountain of factual material that confirms Nazi Germany's inhumanity to man still stand a few individuals, blinded by their own partisanship, who deny that the Holocaust ever took place. In London this winter, one of the less disreputable of the disbelievers is having his own version of truth tested. British historian David Irving is in court, suing Penguin Books and professor Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University for libel for falsely accusing him of denying the Holocaust. The conventional and almost universally accepted view was that Germany systematically plotted the destruction of Jews, especially a decision reached at a conference in July, 1942. Mr. Irving says the mass extermination was not official policy and that Hitler knew nothing about it until October, 1943. Forget the huge extermination camps; forget the mass destruction of Jews across Europe; Mr. Irving doesn't accept it or the use of gas chambers at Auschwitz (they were a post-war tourist invention, he said). Hitler was a weak leader under whom all kinds of bad things happened - without his intervention. Mr. Irving's view is far off the track, of course. Literally hundreds of historians blame the power-mad Hitler as the man who orchestrated the Holocaust. The Nazi leader allowed no dissent from his attempts at world supremacy and his attempts to annihilate all races and groups whom he viewed as anathema. And Hitler's henchmen were grim and methodical in carrying out their duties, despite Mr. Irving's claims that it was a "totally ramshackle operation.'' And yet, Mr. Irving is about the best of those who challenge conventional World War II history. A biography he wrote of Josef Goebbels has drawn praise from a few respectable historians. Where Mr. Irving finds his audience is among the small cadre of right-ring scholars and neo-Nazi followers. Because Hitler was adept at covering up some of his plans, it creates a loophole through which men like Mr. Irving can crawl. Win or lose, Mr. Irving has found a forum for himself in a London courthouse. If he does lose - it's difficult to imagine a judge taking him seriously - he will win a few more adherents for his cause. It can only be hoped that, as the mountains of documents and truth pile up, his distorted view of World War II history will look like a molehill by comparison.
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