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 H. David Kirk

"Translator's Postscript: To Tell the Truth ...

During the Aschaffenburg Hitler Congress
held on 1 and 2 July 1978, the writer David Irving
asked Professor Eberhard Jäckel,
'When, in your view, did Hitler become an antisemite?

--Gerald Fleming,
Hitler and the Final Solution <48>

Does it matter whether it was in 1920 that Hitler became an antisemite or in the days of his youth in Vienna? For those who remember the travesties of Hitler's regime, and even more for those murdered by it, the beginnings hardly matter. Today, what matters is the evident continuation and expansion of the lies that became the Nazi justification for mass murder. Fourteen years have passed since Eberhard Jäckel's essays appeared in a German symposium on the TV series Holocaust.

It is disconcerting to realize that their focus has become even more necessary for understanding the movement that calls itself 'historical revisionism.' By exposing facets of Irving's 'historical method,' his twisting of facts, his misrepresentations, Jäckel undermines a central theme dear to the so-called 'revisionists,' namely that Hitler is not to blame for the physical destruction of the Jewish people of Europe. From that assertion it is only a short jump to the claim that the Holocaust is a fraud, and another to the assertion that it is a fraud manufactured by Jews to defraud Germany.

In preparing this translation, several of Irving's books besides Hitler's War, and commentaries on it, helped to shed light on Irving's 'historical method.' It is now possible to amplify, and in one instance to clarify, Professor Jäckel's dissection of Irving's Hitler-cleansing thesis.

Irving's Non Sequitur Reasonings and Omissions

As previously noted, the German historian, Martin Broszat, also wrote<49> about Irving's 'Führer-cleansing' thesis found in Hitler's War. Here is one of many passages demonstrating the technique of 'Führer-cleanup':

Some two-thirds of the 800 pages deal with Hitler's direction of the war, and with military events and problems.... His Hitler-book shows clearly the suggestive power of attraction that the struggles of the German armies under the command of Hitler has for this author. What is being told here 'between the lines' is the gripping story of the better leader and commander-in-chief, and the better army, who, after enormous war exertions, finally succumb to the power and the material surfeit of the less good opponents....

What the author writes is a war novel. An example is the following from his description of the Poland campaign: 'Hitler's positive enjoyment of the battle scenes was undeniable. He visited the front whenever he could, heedless of the risk to himself and his escort....'

A frequently varied theme to which Irving gives strong verbal emphasis is the [Führer's] bravery and steadiness in crises. Thus he introduces the description of the threat of catastrophe during the Russian war winter of 1941-42 with these sentences (p. 355):

'In the dark months of that winter Hitler showed his iron determination and hypnotic powers of leadership. We shall see how these qualities and the German soldier's legendary capacity for enduring hardships spared the eastern army from cruel defeat that winter.' ...

The 'strategy' of de-demonizing Hitler, running through the book, is based on the fact that here ideological and political considerations are being pushed into the background in favor of the more important, and supposedly value-free, account of military events. That is especially noticeable in the story of Hitler's secret euthanasia-order ['mercy- killings' by gas of the mentally ill] after the beginning of war, an order which is frequently (falsely) linked to and justified by military necessity.

There follows this explanatory footnote:

Irving introduces the section dealing with that event (page 20) with the following observation: 'The ostensible occasion for this formal decision was related to war needs. About a quarter of a million hospital beds were required for Germany's mental institutions ... They occupied bed space and the attention of skilled medical personnel which Hitler now urgently needed for the treatment of the casualties in his coming campaigns.'

Broszat adds: 'In none of the relevant documents can that explanation for the euthanasia-actions be found.' In other words, Irving does not hesitate to interpret what he thinks is needed for, or to omit what runs counter to, a cleansing of Hitler's demon image.

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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