The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

David Irving's Hitler
A Faulty History Dissected
Two Essays by Eberhard Jäckel
Translation & Comments by H. David Kirk

© Copyright 1993, H. David Kirk

Translator's Introduction:
The Nazi Stake in Faulty History

"I would say that Nazi propaganda is much too
transparent to work, were it not for the fast that
it often does work. I don't know why, unless it
is because people are deceived by its obvious
bluntness ... "

Bella Fromm
Berlin, August 9, 1933

This little book is about Nazi propaganda, six decades after Bella Fromm wrote the above in her Berlin diary. In 1933 Nazi propaganda was blunt and screamed its anti-Jewish themes without regard for historical niceties. When in 1945 Germany's war machine was for the second time in 27 years beaten to a standstill, it was not possible once again to use the early Nazi line that the defeat had come about because "the Jews and the socialists had stabbed Germany in the back." After all, socialists had been politically eliminated in 1933 and during the war Jewish populations had been systematically murdered. After the second defeat a more elegant explanation was needed. The neo-Nazi movement found it in the re-writing of history. One theme lies bluntly: "there was no Holocaust"; another, less blatant, says: "c'est la guerre, that's how it is in war."

How to answer Holocaust deniers when younger people know little or nothing of that horrible history and can easily be misled by those who re-write it? It is a big question and cannot be tackled by one little book. But one little book can make a contribution to truth. David Irving's Hitler builds around two essays by the German historian Eberhard Jäckel. The essays appeared in 1979 in Germany in a collection of articles[4] commenting on the TV series "Holocaust." In Germany the television showings had led to nationwide outcries and hand wringing, producing numerous commentaries. Professor Jäckel's essays dealt with Holocaust issues tangentially, in the context of Holocaust denial. He focused on a clever re-writer of history, the Englishman David Irving, in particular his book Hitler's War.

Encountering Jäckel's essays in 1991, I realized they were not only still timely but, if anything, becoming more so. He had put his finger on Irving's Achilles heel, the soft spots in Hitler's War, errors that have been made into the neo- Nazi lie about Hitler. Writing in English, David Irving makes an impact on English-speaking readers. That is why Jäckel's essays had to be made available in English. But Jäckel's German readers had mostly been exposed to the TV "Holocaust" series and to the uproar that had resulted from it. They were thus an unusually sensitized readership. A North American translation, fourteen years later, would have to provide more background. To do that is the task of this Introduction.


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