MR IRVING: May it please the court. The Defendants in this action, the publisher Penguin Books Limited and the American scholar Deborah Lipstadt, have sought to cast this trial as being about the reputation of the Holocaust. It is not.
The world's press have also reported it in this way. Again, it is not.
This trial is about my reputation as a human being, as an historian of integrity, and - thanks to the remarks made by MR Rampton - as a father. The Defendants are saying, and have so convinced many people, that I am not entitled to continue to earn a living in the way that I have earned it for nearly 40 years. A judgment in my favour is no more than that judgment that disputed points which I have made about some aspect of the narrative are not so absurd, given the evidence, as to disqualify me from the ranks of historians. Under the laws of defamation as they exist in this country, it could not be anything else, and nor must the defence team, no matter how powerful, how moneyed, or eloquent, or numerous, be allowed by their tactics to skew it in any other way.
I may add that the points I have made do not necessarily lessen the horror or the burden of guilt. I have always accepted that Adolf Hitler, as Head of State and government in Germany, was responsible for the Holocaust. I said, in the Introduction to my flagship biography, Hitler's War (this is a reference to the 1991 edition):
If this biography were simply a history of the rise and fall of Hitler's Reich, it would be legitimate to conclude: "Hitler killed the Jews". But my years of investigations suggested that many others were responsible, that the chain of responsibility was not as clear cut as that. Nothing that I have heard in this Court since January 11th has persuaded me that I was wrong on this account.
These latter points lead to another consideration. Your Lordship will have heard of the - largely successful - effort to drive me out of business as an historian. This Court has seen the timidity, in my submission, with which historians have already been fraught once Holocaust is questioned, not denied, questioned. One notable historian, whose name has been mentioned this morning, ordered by summons by myself to attend, showed himself reluctant even to confirm what he had written in my favour, repeatedly, over the last 20 years.
A judgment rendered against me will make this paralysis in the writing of history definitive; from then on, no one will dare to discuss who exactly was involved in each stage of the Holocaust -- rather like in Germany now, you cannot do it any more -- or how extensive it was. From then on, discussion will revolve around "safe" subjects, like sacred texts in the Middle Ages, or Marx in the old Soviet Union, or the Koran in some fundamentalist state today. Every historian will know that his critique needs to stop sharply at the boundaries defined by certain authorities. He will have a choice; accept the official version, holus-bolus; or stop being an historian.
A judgment in my favour does not mean that the Holocaust never happened; it means only that in England today discussion is still permitted. My opponents would still be able to say, just as now, would still be able, just as now, to produce other documents if they can; to expound alternative interpretations. They would be as free as ever to declare that they think that I am wrong and all the other things that have been said about me today. They would be impeded in one way only: they would not be able to say in a loud and authoritative voice that I am not an historian, and that my books must be banned. As a result of my work (and of this case) the Holocaust, in fact, has been researched more, not less. Those who (rightly) believe that these crimes should never be forgotten (and I stress the word "rightly"), these crimes should never be forgotten, should ask whether their case is better served by a compulsory - and dead - text imposed by law and intimidation, or by a live and on-going discussion.
Our Common Law has at its kernel an "adversarial" procedure whereby, it is believed, truth is best elicited by each side putting their case as strongly as possible. We have heard some pretty strong things said today. I agree with English Common Law.
I read in The Independent, a newspaper in this country, in a lengthy and deeply libellous article published only last week about me, these words: "But if he wins, it will open the door for revisionists to rewrite any event in history without the requirement to consider evidence that does not suit them and without fear that they will be publicly denounced for their distortion".
My Lord, in bygone days, I venture to submit, such an article, published while an action was literally sub judice, would have been a clear contempt. Your Lordship will have noticed that I wearied, after a few days, of drawing attention to the coverage of this trial in the media. Allow me, however, to introduce one cautionary statistic: not including the fuss about the Eichmann manuscript, the British press have published no fewer than 167 reports during the seven days that I was on the witness stand, that is 24 per day; but just 58 reports during the 20 days when the boot was on the other foot and I was cross-examining MR Rampton's fine witnesses, that is roughly three per day. That is a disparity of about eight to one. I make no complaint about that. If your Lordship has noticed any of these items, you will perhaps have observed that the reporting in both cases is almost exclusively devoted to the defence statements, or their questions to me, and not to the product of the examination. That is the way things are in a free society. The Court, however, operates by different standards, and it will not allow public sentiment, I hope, to guide its verdict.
I believe it was Churchill who once said, "There is such thing as public opinion, there is only published opinion". Given such a baleful glare from the press gallery, my Lord, I am glad that her Majesty has such a resolute officer presiding over this case. The outcome is in your Lordship's hands and yours alone, and I am glad, I am confident that nothing that the press has written, or may yet write, will deflect your Lordship from arriving at a just conclusion.
The Defendants have sold around the world a book, "Denying the Holocaust". May I say here that I see Penguin Books among the Defendants to my sorrow, as they have published my own works in the past. They continuing even today, however, and I stress this fact, to sell this book for profit, in the knowledge that it contains very defamatory allegations and that those allegations are held to be untrue. It is a reckless, even foolhardy, gesture which I submit, my Lord, goes to the question of aggravated damages when the time comes.
Neither of these Defendants evidently bothered even to have the manuscript professionally read for libel. I say "evidently" because we do not know: they have not deigned to enter the witness box themselves, no executive of Penguin Books, not the author who has, I must say, sat in this room for the two months that the trial has continued, neither of them has deigned to enter the witness box to answer even that most straightforward and elementary of questions, was there a libel reading of this book? Nor have they answered this question when it was put to them in writing. Such a report, a libel report, is, in my submission, not privileged, and I would have been well prepared to argue the point; had they claimed that privilege, I would have asked, "On what grounds? " If a report was written, it should and no doubt would have been disclosed, and it was not disclosed. So we are entitled to assume that they did not bother to have the book read. It does not exist, the report.
Whatever other limited excuses - whether of sheer ignorance, or of innocent dissemination - that the publisher might have (quite wrongfully) deployed for publishing this malicious and deeply flawed work were destroyed from the moment when they received my writ in September 1996, and were thus informed, if they did not know in fact already, of the nature and scope of the libels it contains. And, as said, they have continued to sell it, hoping no doubt to cash in on, to profit from, the notoriety gained by these libel proceedings, which is a textbook case of Rookes v. Barnard if there ever was one, since the book they are selling still contains even the several libels which they have made no attempt here to justify. They have to justify their allegations - - I am referring, of course, my Lord, to the ----
MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes.
MR IRVING: --- matters they have pleaded section 5 on originally. They have made no attempt to justify their allegations or their defence fails -- I am sorry. They have to justify their allegations, or their defence fails; and as your Lordship is aware, where the defamations are particularly grave, a higher burden of proof falls upon them than the mere balance of probabilities that is normally acceptable. In both Defendants, moreover, there is clear evidence of malice, both in those few documents which the author of this work has disclosed -- I stress the word "few"; pitifully few documents have been placed in my hands -- and in the fact that the same firm of publishers had previously distributed a work, a book, in which I was variously caricatured as Adolf Hitler and
wearing swastika eyeglasses.
The very worst of the libels are so blatant that neither Defendant has insulted the intelligence of this Court by offering any justification to them. They hope
instead to divert the court's attention by reference to distant and notorious matters of history and by calling me a racist. In consequence, for 30 days or more of this Court's time, we have had to rake over the embers of what may be one of the greatest crimes known to Mankind: a harrowing, time-wasting, needless effort, which has yielded even now few answers to great questions and mysteries which even the world's finest academics have so far not managed to unravel.
I come now to one of the first of these unanswered and unjustified libels which will come as a surprise to many people in this courtroom because there is no reference to it in MR Rampton's summary. On page 14 of the book, the Defendants published one of the gravest libels that can be imagined for a respectable English citizen who lives a very public life, namely that I consort with the extremist anti-Semitic Russian group Pamyat, with violent anti-Israeli murderers, with extremist terrorists, and with Louis Farrakhan, a Black
Power agitator who is known to be acting in the pay of a foreign power, namely the Libyan dictator. This is not just the simple allegation of associating with "extremists", the kind of people who use fountain pens to deliver their extremism, about which they have made so much. The words on page 14 are as follows - and I make no apology, my Lord, for reminding the Court of them, the Second Defendant wrote:
"The confluence between anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and Holocaust denial forces was exemplified by a world anti-Zionist conference scheduled for Sweden in November 1992. Though cancelled at the last minute by the Swedish government, scheduled speakers included black Muslim leader, Louis Farrakhan, Faurrison, Irving", that is me, "and Leuchter. Also scheduled to participate were representatives of a variety of anti-Semetic and anti-Israel organisations, including the Russian group Pamyat, the Iranian-backed Hizbollah and the
fundamentalist Islamic organization Hamas".
Now, that whole statement was a reckless lie. It appears from their discovery to have been based on a press release issued by the Jewish Telegraph Agency in New York which neither that agency or the Defendants made any attempt to verify. The Court will have noticed in one of my bundles the letter which I sent to every Scandinavian Embassy at the time, anxiously denying this allegation. I have pleaded, as your Lordship is aware, that the innuendo was that I was "thereby agreeing to appear in public in support of and alongside violent and extremist speakers, including representatives of the violent and extremist anti-Semitic Russian group Pamyat ... the Hizbollah ... the Hamas ... Farrakhan ... who is known as a Jew-baiting black agitator ... and he is known as an admirer of Hitler and who is in the pay of Colonel Gaddafi".
And "that the true or legal innuendo of the word 'Hizbollah' is that used to refer to and describe a known international terrorist organization ... in the Lebanon, also known as Hizbollah whose guerrillas kill Israel citizens and soldiers ... provoking retaliation, and which organization has been determined by President Clinton ... as being among the enemies of peace and, whose officials and armed activists are now being hunted down by the ... Israeli army".
As for the Hamas, much the same, I set out in paragraph 12 of my statement of claim that "the true or legal innuendo of the words 'Hammas' is that of an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organization similar in nature to the Hizbollah".
I submitted to your Lordship at the beginning of this trial a representative selection of news reports from reputable, reliable outlets, including the BBC, on the murderous nature of the organizations involved, concerned.
In my pleadings I also argued that by these allegations I had "been brought into hatred, ridicule, contempt, risk of personal injury and/or assassination". I know, my Lord, the law of defamation has no concern for people's personal safety, but it certainly has concern for their reputation; and the allegation that I was consorting with the violent extremist body who goes around with machine guns and bombs and bullets is substantially more serious, in my view, than the allegation that I consort with people who use their fountain pens to disseminate crack pot ideas.
In my pleadings -- the nature of the libel, and the damage that it caused, hardly needed arguing in detail here. Put in into domestic context, if the Defendants, if the Defendants, had equally untruthfully stated, for example, in a Channel 4 television documentary (and there is a reason why I say that) that I had consorted with Ulster loyalist death squads who were part of a conspiracy to murder Roman Catholic nationalists, itself a grave accusation which would also put me at risk of assassination, and if the Defendants made no attempt to justify that libel, then I respectfully submit that your Lordship would have no hesitation giving judgment in my favour. I submit there is no difference fundamentally between these examples.
Now, I was going to say that the Defendants have relied on section 5 of the Defamation Act, but I understand from what MR Rampton said yesterday that they are not relying on that section 5 at all, my Lord.
MR JUSTICE GRAY: No, I do not think that is quite right. I think what he said was that they say they do not need section 5, that is their primary position, but that if they do need it, then, indeed, they rely on it. So do not assume that it has disappeared out of the picture because it has not.
MR IRVING: In that case, I will leave it as I originally wrote. I am aware that your Lordship is also capable, of course, of putting something in section 5 if you consider it to come under section 5.
MR JUSTICE GRAY: I probably would be, but that I believe to MR Rampton's position.
MR IRVING: This is not the place to make a submission, but my position is that there is no common sting between those allegations. They are totally different kinds of extremism.
MR JUSTICE GRAY: Elaborate on that later.
MR IRVING: In other words, they accuse a respectable Englishman of consorting with terrorists and murderers, and then plead the relative insignificance of the accusation when it turns out to be a reckless lie. And there are other incendiary lies which they have stuffed into that particular sand-bucket, section 5 of the Defamation Act, in the hope that they will sputter out: the Defendants repeated the story in that book - first published in Izvestia - that I placed a portrait of Adolf Hitler over my desk. For that lie -- I have had hundreds of journalists visiting me over the 30 years and never once has that picture occurred to any of them for there is no such picture. For that lie too they have offered no justification. I read incidentally recently in Literary Review that Lloyd George had signed photographs of both Hitler and Mussolini on display, and that was a British Prime Minister. The only signed paragraph in my apartment, as many journalists have observed, is one of Sir Winston Churchill.
So I submit that your Lordship should not accept the Defendants' contention, if they wish to stand by it, that these allegations should be disregarded on the basis of section 5. Even if they could sufficiently justify their claim that I deliberately bent history in favour of Hitler, and I do not believe they can, I submit that they have not, it would still "materially injure the plaintiff's reputation", which is the word of the Act, section 5, to say that I had a portrait of Hitler above my desk. The claims which they do seek to justify suggest that I am culpably careless and (perhaps unconsciously) sympathetic to Hitler; bad enough, bad enough, but having a portrait of that man -- I am sorry, having a portrait of that man above my desk implies a full-hearted 100 per cent conscious commitment to that man, which is very different.
I have provided your Lordship on an earlier occasion in one bundle a number of passages quoted from AJP Taylor's works, a very famous English historian and writer. Taylor himself accepted that they inevitably improved Hitler's image -- the words that Taylor had written -- maybe he did not originate the actual mass murders himself, wrote Taylor; maybe he did slip into war with Britain rather than planning it; maybe the Anschluss with Austria was more a stroke of good fortune, which he grasped, rather than long planned as a take-over; maybe the Nazis did not burn down the Reichstag building in 1933. These views of Taylor have been criticised as being wrong, even as being too sympathetic to Hitler. But everybody would accept that to suggest that Taylor had a portrait of Hitler "over his desk" would suggest something far worse. So it should be for me too.
Again, for the purpose of section 5, the allegation that I bend history in favour of Hitler because I am said to admire him, and that I consort with other people holding such views, is a very different kettle of fish from stating, as the Defendants do, that I consort with people who are widely regarded as violent and murderous terrorists.
I continue now from the bottom of the page:
My Lord, the Court will be aware from the very outset I argued that this hearing should not, effectively, leave the four walls of my study, where I wrote my books; and that what actually happened 50 or 60 years ago was of less moment to the issues as pleaded. The matter at issue, as pleaded by the Defendants, is not what happened, but what I knew of it, and what I made of it, at the time I put pen to paper. We had some argument on that matter, my Lord. To take crude example: neglecting to use the Eichmann memoirs, releases to us only a few days ago, had they contained startling revelations - which they did not - could not have been held against me because they were not available to me in the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s. But your Lordship took a different view and I respectfully submit that it was wrong.
MR JUSTICE GRAY: May I interrupt you again? I do not think that is right. I think everybody agrees that the Eichmann memoirs, because they have surfaced so late, really have no bearing on this trial at all.
MR IRVING: I gave that as a particularly crude example of why what mattered was what happened in the walls of my study as I wrote, what was on my desk, so to speak, and not what actually happened.
MR JUSTICE GRAY: I see.
MR IRVING: Your Lordship took a different view, and I respectfully submit that it was wrong. The Defendants have invested a sizeable fortune in reresearching the Holocaust, and possibly for that reason we have all been dragged through that vast and inhuman tragedy yet again, because of the money spent on it now, and again quite needlessly, in my submission. It would have sufficed for their purposes if they could have proved, on the basis of the total disclose of my files which I made to them and their experts, that I had indeed "distorted, misstated, misquoted and falsified", their words. Fearing or finding, however, that they were unable to prove wilful fraud, in effect, in my submission, they have fallen back on the alternative plea in the tort of negligence: that " MR Irving ought to have known". I respectfully submit that this unsettle change of defence should not have been allowed to them, it should not have been available to them, as it was not pleaded at the outset. It has to be specifically pleaded, in my submission, my Lord, at the time.
If my submission on the law is, however, wrong, then your Lordship must ask what effort would have been reasonable on the part of an individual historian, acting without institutional support like that of Yad Vashem, and with the doors of the archives increasingly being slammed against him because of the activities of the bodies to which I shall shortly refer. What it would have been reasonable to expect me to do to find out what happened?
These Defendants have reportedly spent some $6 million, and 20 man-years or more, in researching this case: this blinding and expensive spotlight has been focused on the narrowest of issues, yet it has still generated more noise than illumination. I heard the expert witnesses who were paraded before us use phrases like the "consensus of expert opinion" as their source so often - in fact, I did a check, the word "consensus" occurs 40 times in the daily transcripts of this trial - that I began to wonder what the archives were for. I suggest that these experts were more expert in reporting each other's opinions and those of people who agree with them than in what the archives actually contain and what they do not contain which is equally important.
The phrase "Holocaust denier", which the Second Defendant boasts of having invented, is an Orwellian stigma. It is not a very helpful phrase. It does not diminish or extend thought or knowledge on this tragic subject. Its universal adoption within the space of a few years by media, academia government and even academics seems to indicate something of the international endeavour of which I shall shortly make brief mention. It is, in my submission, a key to the whole case. Perhaps this court should raise its gaze briefly from the red and blue files and bundles that are around the court room of documents for a brief moment, and re-read George Orwell's appendix to "1984", which seems very relevant to this case.
From the witness box, with its revelations of the "consensus of opinion", and "moral certainty", and the mass male voice choir of the "social sciences" that we heard about from Professor Funke, on which the Defendant's German expert, Professor Hajo Funke, relies for his certainty, his certainty, as to what is right-wing extremism, we seem hear more than a vague echo of Orwellian Newspeak -- a language that moulds minds, and destroys reputations and livelihoods.
Orwell was wrong in one point: he thought it would take the forces of the State to impose Newspeak: Professor Lipstadt and her reckless publishers Penguin Books Limited -- I shall justify that adjective -- have sought to impose it through the machinery of the literary and media establishments. Only the Royal Courts of
Justice here in London, independent and proud, can protect the rights of the individual from now on. And those rights include the right, as Lord Justice Sedley recently put it in another Court in this building, of any person to hold to, and to preach, unpopular views, perhaps even views that many might find repellent.
My Lord, I have not hesitated myself to stand here in the witness box and to answer questions. MR Rampton rose to the occasion, and he, or indeed I, may yet regret it. Your Lordship will recall that, when I brought a somewhat reluctant and even curmudgeonly Professor Donald Watt, who is not the Professor I mentioned earlier incidentally, doyen of the diplomatic historians, into the witness box, he used these words:
"I must say, I hope that I am never subjected to the kind of examination that MR Irving's books have been subjected to by the defence witnesses. I have a very strong feeling that there are other senior historical figures, including some to whom I owed a great deal of my own career, whose work would not stand up, or not all of whose work would stand up, to this kind of examination".
I am not throwing myself on the charity of this court, my Lord, but I am asking that the court should be reasonable in the standards that it sets. That effectively is a line that Professor Watt has supported me in. It is fair to say, of course, that I had to subpoena Donald Watt.
MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes, I am aware.
MR IRVING: When I invited him to mention some names, of course, he declined. What he was saying was that whatever mistakes or whatever unconventional interpretations of mine, the Defendants have revealed with their multi-million dollar research, and I am going to admit some mistakes that I have made, not many, this does not invalidate me as an historian, or my historical methods and conclusions.
Your Lordship will find that Professor Watt continued by suggesting that simply by facing the challenge of the views that I had put forward, "and basing them on historical research rather than idealogical conviction," this had resulted in other historians devoting an "enormous burst of research" to the Nazi massacres of the Jews, an area which can now in consequence support journals and conferences. He said, "This, I think, is a direct result of the challenge which MR Irving's work posed and the consistency and the effort which he has put into maintaining it in public". In other words, I forced the others to do their homework finally at last. In other words, Watt stated that, far from being a Holocaust denier, my work has directly increased historical research into, and the understanding of, the Holocaust.
The German Professor Eberhard Jaeckel made the same controversial -- and he is no friend of mine, of course -- point in his essay in the book published by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum a year or two ago, namely that before my book Hitler's War was published in 1977, the first edition, there had been virtually no meaningful research into the tragedy at all. Professor Hans Mommsen, Professor Raul Hilberg, Professor Gordon C Craig, these and many others have more or less supported my claim to be regarded as a serious historian. I of course say things like that with the utmost personal distaste. I do not believe in blowing my own trumpet. The outcome of my research, my books, and my speaking is therefore that people in general are more, and not less, aware of the horrors of the Holocaust, and they are certainly better informed.
One of the most damaging accusations which MR Rampton has repeated again this morning, is that I, the plaintiff, driven by my obsession with Hitler, distort, manipulate and falsify history in order to put Hitler in a more favourable light, thereby demonstrating a lack of the detachment, rationality and judgment necessary for an historian.
I submit that, in assessing whether I am an historian who "distorts, manipulates and falsifies" your Lordship should give most weight to my avowedly historical written works. Your Lordship will be thoroughly aware of why I am saying this. I suggested my speeches, very occasional lapses of taste in them, lapses of taste MR Rampton has identified and mentioned repeatedly, I think three altogether, are relevant purely as background material. Of those written historical works, I submit that your Lordship give most weight to my flagship work Hitler's War. I ask that your Lordship read (again, if your Lordship has already done so) the introduction to the 1991 edition. This was published well after the year when the Defendants (wrongly) assert that I "flipped over" to become what they call a Holocaust denier.
I have always differed from my colleagues in my profession in insisting on using original documents, including where possible the authors' drafts of books or memoirs rather than the heavily edited West German editions, later rewritings, or posthumous adaptations. I also make use of many more unpublished original documents than my historian colleagues, in my belief. In the 1960s and 1970s, I must add, of course, that was much more difficult than it is today.
I differ too from others, in making copies -- and I am going to emphasise this quite a lot- of the original documents which I unearth freely available to others as soon as my own works are complete, and in fact often before that time, as the panne, the accident, the mishap which Professor Harold Deutsch's book showed. Your Lordship will remember that Harold Deutsch got there first and used it before me, and I was accused of plageurising his book, because I gave him the materials before I used them. As page 14 of Hitler's War shows, I donate these records regularly to publicly accessible archives and I also make them available on microfilm. There are nearly 200 such microfilms in my records, nearly half a million pages. I also devote time to corresponding with and assisting other historians and researchers. If, therefore -- this is the important point -- some of my interpretations are controversial, I also do all that is possible to let other people judge for themselves. This speaks strongly against the accusation, levelled against me again today by MR Rampton, that I distort, manipulate and falsify history.
On Hitler and the Holocaust I wrote these words, and this is in the 1991 edition, after the time when I supposedly became a denier obsessed with Hitler and with exonerating him.
Page 2: My conclusions ... startled even me. Hitler was a far less omnipotent Fuhrer than had been believed, his methods and tactics were profoundly
Page 4... the more hermetically Hitler locked himself away behind the barbed wire and mine fields of his remote military headquarters, the more his Germany became a Fuhrer Staat without a Fuhrer. Domestic policy was controlled by whoever was most powerful in each sector - by Goring, Lammers, Bormann, Himmler.
Page 17: If this biography were simply a history of the rise and fall of Hitler's Reich, it would be legitimate to conclude "Hitler killed the Jews". He had after all created the atmosphere of hatred with his speeches in the 1930s; he and Himmler had created the SS; his speeches, though never explicit, left the clear impression that "liquidate" what was he meant.
At pages 17 to 18: For a full length war biography, I wrote, I felt that a more analytical approach to the key questions of initiative, complicity and execution would be necessary. Remarkably, I found that Hitler's own role in the "Final Solution", whatever that was, had never been examined.
At page 38: Every document actually linking Hitler with the treatment of the Jews invariably takes the form of an embargo, and I maintain that position, despite everything we have heard for the last two months.
This is the famous "chain of documents", of course, notwithstanding everything we have heard in court, I still adhere to this position.
At page 19 it is plausible to impute to him, to Hitler, that not uncommon characteristic of heads of state, a conscious desire "not to know", what the Americans now call, I believe, plausible deniability. But the proof of this of course is beyond the powers of a historian.
At page 21 I write: ... dictatorships are fundamentally weak ... I concluded, the burden of guilt for the bloody and mindless massacres of the Jews rests on a large number of Germans (and non-Germans), many of them alive today and not just on one "mad dictator", whose order had to be obeyed without question.
The similarity with the thesis propagated by Dr Daniel Goldhagen of the University of Harvard in his worldwide best seller book, "Hitler's Willing Executioners", will surely strike everybody in this court. I am saying the burden falls on a large number of Germans and not just on that one madman's. Note the word "just". I do not say "not on the madman", I say not just on him.
Allow me to rub this point in: What I actually wrote and printed and published in my flagship study Hitler's War was that Hitler was clearly responsible for the Holocaust both by virtue of being head of state and by having done so much by his speeches and organisation to start it off.
Where I differed from many historians was in denying that there was any documentary proof of detailed direction and initiation of the mass murders by Hitler, and I am glad to say two months in that respect has not brought us any closer. The view was considered to be heretical at the time. But this lack of wartime documentary evidence for Hitler's involvement is now widely accepted. Indeed, on the narrower matter of the lack of wartime documentary evidence on the gas chambers, your Lordship was already good enough to grant as follows in an exchange between your Lordship and myself and Professor Evans.
I said: If his Lordship is led to believe by a careless statement of the witnesses that there is a vast body of wartime documents, namely about gas chambers, this would be unfair, would it not, because you, Professor Evans, are not referring to wartime documents, you are referring to postwar documents?
Professor Evans at this point replies: I am referring to all kinds of documents.
I insist, this is me: You are not referring to wartime documents?
Evans says: I am referring to documents including wartime documents, the totality of the written evidence for the Holocaust which you deny.
Irving then says: Are you saying there is a vast quantity of wartime documents?
You see, I am a bit persistent on this matter.
Evans says: What I am saying is that there is a vast quantity of documents and material for all aspects of the Holocaust.
At this point your Lordship was good enough to say: I expect you would accept, Professor Evans, just to move on, the number of overtly incriminating documents, wartime documents, as regarding gas chambers is actually pretty few and far between?
That is how it was left.
To summarise, in Hitler's War I differed from the other historians in suggesting that the actual mass murders were not all or mainly initiated by Hitler. I pointed out that my sources were consistent with another explanation: A conscious desire "not to know" (a kind of Richard Nixon kind of complex) to which I referred, I believe, on three occasions during the hearings here.
I submit that I have not distorted, manipulated and falsified. I have put all the cards on table; I made the documents available to all comers, on microfilm and in the archives, and I have pointed to various possible explanations.
I further submit that, while certainly "selling" my views, I have been much less manipulated that those historians, including some whom you heard in this court, my Lord, whose argument has an important part been simply this -- that I ought not to be heard, because my views are too outlandish or extreme. Disgracefully, these scholars cleared from the sidelines as I have outlawed, arrested harassed, and all but "vernichtet" destroyed as a professional historian; and they have put pressure on British publishers to destroy my works. This is a reference to MacMillan Limited, to which we will come later.
To assist your Lordship in deciding how outlandish and extreme these views of mine are, I allow myself to quote from AJP Taylor's The War Lords, published by Penguin -- the First Defendants in this action -- in London in 1978. Of Adolf Hitler Taylor wrote.
"... it was at this time that he became really a recluse, settling down in an underground bunker, running the war from the front.(at pages 55-57).
Precisely same kind of image I generated from my own sources.
"He was a solitary man, though he sometimes accepted, of course, advice from others, sometimes decisions [my emphasis].[he accepted decisions from others] It is, I think, true, for instance, that the terrible massacre of the Jews".
This is AJP Taylor who "was inspired more by Himmler than by Hitler, though Hitler took it up".(At pages 68-70).
These quotations are from the foreword of AJP Taylor's own flagship work, The Origins of the Second World War, published in 1963:
"Little can be discovered so long as we go on attributing everything that happened to Hitler. He supplied a powerful dynamic element, but it was fuel to an existing machine... [later on he writes] He have counted for nothing without the support and co-operation of the German people. It seems to be believed nowadays that Hitler did everything himself, even driving the trains and filling the gas chambers unaided. This was not so. Hitler was a sounding-board for the German nation. Thousands. Many hundred thousand, Germans carried out his evil orders without qualm or question."
What I wrote, with less felicity of style than Professor Taylor, was a reasonable interpretation of the information available to me at the time. I might add that my words are often accepted, quoted, and echoed by other historians far more eminent than me.(including the government's Official Historians like Professor Frank Hinsley, in his volumes on British intelligence) who specifically footnotes and references my works. Some may regard my interpretations as not the most probable. But they are never perverse. For the Defendants to describe me as one who manipulates, distorts, and falsifies it would be necessary for them to satisfy your Lordship that I wilfully adopted perverse and ridiculous interpretations. But I have not and they have not satisfied your Lordship either, I submit.
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