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

[Continued]

Irving's Misuse of Informants

In his first essay Ja"ckel shows that Irving confidently draws on the testimony of Hitler's long-term personal servants as witnesses to Hitler's ignorance of the murder of the Jews.

Martin Broszat, has commented<50> on that testimony in detail:

It is ... simply incorrect when Irving, on page 327 of his book (Hitler's War) claims that 'all surviving adjutants, secretaries and official stenographers had uniformly declared' that in Hitler's headquarters no word was ever spoken about the extermination of the Jews....

The real value of such 'crown-witnesses' in support of Irving's thesis was shown by an English reporter, Gitta Sereny. In The Sunday Times Weekly of July 10, 1977 she told of her search for the employees Irving had questioned. She managed to locate and interview five of them. All of them declared--as was to be expected--that in their presence Hitler had not spoken of the extermination of the Jews, but that they could not imagine that he did not know about it.

According to Broszat,<51> Irving's truncated use of such informants seems to go beyond naivete. Thus Irving based his claim about the servant-informants on the record of the Munich State Court<52> in its 1964 case against Obergruppenfuehrer (SS Colonel) Karl Wolff, Himmler's liaison at Hitler's headquarters. Accused of co-responsibility in arrangements for the extermination of the Jews, Wolff asserted his ignorance of the policy of extermination. Broszat continues:

It is utterly fantastic that Irving (on p. 327) claims not only Hitler's secretaries and stenographers, but that Wolff, with whom Himmler had visited Auschwitz,... had known, even in the summer of 1942, nothing of the extermination of the Jews.

The court 'refused to believe this, since it runs counter to the truth.' Irving accepts Wolff's version as if it were a proven fact and nowhere does he mentions the contrary view of the court, though he knows it.

Irving Avoids Ugly Facts and Invents Nicer Ones

Broszat also shows<53> that Irving presents facts about Hitler in a light that makes them look less formidably evil:

Irving pays scant attention to, or belittles, postwar confessions of those who had been privy to secret information about the extermination of the Jews. Thus certain statements by Walter Blume and Otto Ohlendorf, former leaders of special killing squads [Einsatzgruppen], agree that oral directives to commando leaders in 1941 concerning the extermination of the Jews, stemmed specifically from Hitler. lrving mentions it but distorts it in the telling.

Then Broszat's footnote:

Ohlendorf, in 1941/42 chief of Einsatzgruppe D, declared on January 3, 1946 before the Nuremberg Tribunal: 'In late summer 1941 Himmler was in Nikolaev. He ordered the leaders and troops of the Einsatzkommando [killing-commando] to fall in, and there and then he repeated the established 'liquidation- order ... [saying] that it was given on his responsibility together with the Führer's [Hitler's].' Irving cites this last sentence on page 326 [of Hitler's War], but does it in this way: 'that he [Himmler] alone, in association with Hitler, was responsible.' That word 'alone' is pure Irving invention. Then he proceeds to minimize things further: 'Himmler's formulation was perhaps purposefully vague.'

Irving's Linguistic Cover-ups

Nazi propaganda and administration developed a high degree of Iying by coded language. Thus 'resettlement' became a cover for expropriation and shipping to ghettos and death camps; 'Arbeit macht frei' (work makes you free) was the motto over the gates of slave and death camps; 'Kristallnacht' was the ingenious euphemism for the nation-wide pogrom, with its burning of synagogues, with its smashing of people and shops.

The German noun Kristall means both plate glass and fancy tableware, thus an allusion to 'Kristallnacht' is not only to broken glass or windows, but to a night of chandeliers and wine glasses. 'Final Solution of the Jewish Question' was the Nazi euphemism for 'extermination.'

Like the Nazi machine in his books, Irving has developed his own linguistic obfuscation technique. Chapter 19 of his Goring has a particularly intriguing title: 'Sunshine Girl and Crystal Night.' For the uninitiated it would not be far-fetched to assume that this refers to a fairy tale: princess and star-lit night.

But 'Crystal Night' stands for the 1938 pogrom, and the 'sunshine girl' is Edda, the Gorings' little daughter whom the doting parents called 'Sunshine.' By combining her charmed nickname with the already gilded term for pogrom, our clever biographer has further obfuscated what it was all about: -- the beginning of the end of the Jewish people of Europe.


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