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


That it nevertheless happened is laid to a Verlegen-heitsloesung,[25] i.e., a solution created out of embarrassment. Thus Hitler unquestionably would have ordered the removal of the European Jews into the conquered territories in the East. But mid-ranking authorities (SS, party bosses, state commissars) unable to cope with continuously arriving trainloads of deportees needing accommodations, are said to have simply liquidated them, partly to rob them and partly out of "cynical extrapolation" from Hitler's antisemitic laws and regulations.

This thesis is more subtle and cunning than a revisionism that denies everything, and for that reason it may find ready believers. According to this thesis Hitler remains charged with many crimes, but not nearly as many as legend says he committed. Irving's thesis purports that Hitler, with such power as he wielded, tried, as well or rather as poorly as he could manage, to resist the mass murder of the Jews.

The argument follows three lines: first, that there is no written order, second, that Hitler never mentioned it even to those in his inner circle ( Irving says he interviewed all of them: adjutants, house servants, and secretaries and that none of them had heard Hitler speak of it); third, and above all else, there is Hitler's counter-order of November 30, 1941. It is Irving's piece de resistance. He refers to it not less than six times and the only illustration in his book shows it in facsimile.

Hitler's Counter-order

This interesting item is a page from Himmler's[26] handwritten notebook. At the top it says:

"Telephone conversations 30.XI.1941. Wolgschanze" (Wolf's Lair).
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.[emphasis Nizkor's] (We now know what caused the exception, and that the missed "liquidation" was soon made up for).[27]

Other examples of Irving's skills at interpretation are not much better. Whoever concerns himself with the so-called "Final Solution" has to start with the premise that it was shrouded in official secrecy. The pertinent files are marked "Secret Affairs of State" and even within these files the killing operations are cloaked in codified expressions like "resettlement."

It is thus a sign of ignorance or bias and most likely of both when, in such matters, the words of subordinates and are given credit. Besides, five of Irving's informants have since declared they had merely mentioned that Hitler had not in their presence referred to the death camps, but that they did not believe that Hitler was unaware of the Jews' fate.[28]

Evidently Irving does not even know how to pose precise questions. In any case he seems never to have thought out how to investigate a decision-making process that from the start had been cloaked in absolute secrecy. He looks around and collects whatever fits his preconceptions.

The Argument of the "Missing Order"

We now turn to Irving's ultimate argument: the missing written order.

That fact in itself would not, of course, prove anything. The process of history doesn't proceed along such orderly lines as if it were a financial transaction, providing receipts and vouchers. Many things in the world are never officially recorded. It is a fact worth thinking about: perhaps researchers have passed over it much too lightly.

No one disagrees that Hitler was an antisemite. But many misunderstand the peculiar, unchangeable pattern of his antisemitism. It is already to be found in 1927, in the second volume of Mein Kampf:

No people can free itself from that fist [the Jews']other than by the sword.

[...] Such an event is bound to be a bloody encounter.

And even more clearly a few pages later:

If at the beginning of and during the [First World] War twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew destroyers of the German people had been held under poison gas the way hundreds of thousands of the very best German workingmen from all social classes and occupations had to suffer it, then the sacrifice of the millions at the front would not have been in vain. On the contrary: twelve thousand scoundrels liquidated at the right time, might perhaps have saved the lives of a million decent, for the future valuable, Germans.

Hitler was the first to formulate as concepts these words: "removal," "bloody," "liquidation" and, with memories of WWI, "poison gas." Admittedly, the thought of murder was not alien to him, and considering the fact that later on he actually carried out step by step the foreign policy program designed in Mein Kampf, why should one assume him incapable or unwilling to do the same with his anti-Jewish program?


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