The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

David Irving
Nasty Old Nizkor

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From: (IVANPV)
Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Re: Irving as a Historian
Date: 25 Oct 1996 22:08:14 -0400
Message-ID: <54rrqe$>

As David Irving points out in "Hitler's War: An Introduction to the New Edition" (which I found on the Web at Raven's site), reviewers began to vehemently criticize him when "Hitler's War" was released. In this book, Irving denied that Hitler was responsible for the mass extermination of Jews, although he had not yet denied the existence of a deliberate, comprehensive extermination policy. Therefore, I think an honest assessment of the non-stigmatized Irving must deal only with reviews of his books published prior to 1977. (Mr. R. Graves, in a couple of posts I have seen, doesn't recognize this point.)

A good illustration of the beginning of Irving's ostracism is the review of "Hitler's War" by historian John Lukacs in the "National Review" (Aug. 19, 1977, p. 946) Lukacs begins the review by admitting that Irving "has written useful, well researched, and, on the whole, fair books on the bombing of Dresden, on German atomic bomb research, on the 'Luftwaffe,' and on the disaster that befell one particular Allied convoy sailing for Russia in 1942." Lukacs then goes on to completely lambaste "Hitler's War."

Perhaps because denying Hitler's responsibility was not as complete a violation of the orthodox Holocaust position as denying a comprehensive program of mass extermination, Irving's reputation was not savaged as much in the late 1970s as it would be later as he moved to the more extreme taboo--breaking position. For example, Milton Mayer, author of "They Thought They Were Free: the Germans, 1933-1945," writes about "Hitler's War" in "The Progressive" (June 1978, pp. 40-41): "Irving depreciates his own work, and he diverts both the professional and the lay reader from its immense merits by adverting again and again to what is historically an insignificant contention: that there is no 'hard' evidence that Hitler actually know of the extermination of the Jews until almost the end of the war." In essence, although Mayer thoroughly rejected Irving's "Hitler's ignorance" thesis, he still conceded the work's "immense merits."

Individuals like Mr. Graves appear ignorant of reviews that acknowledge Irving's achievements as a historian. And perhaps they are not completely at fault. Such information does not seem to be included at the Nizkor site, which purports to be fair and objective. Perhaps, it is an oversight. But at present, it appears that Nizkor is selectively compiling information to discredit Irving, instead of presenting a balanced assessment of his work.

Mr. Graves wrote in his post of October 21: "The only people calling him [Irving] a historian are either anonymous or Nazi sympathizers . . ." Such a smear is reminiscent of Joe McCarthy's blanket charges of Communism. Nazism is as much a devil term today as Communism was in the 1950s. And such charges destroy reputations and careers as much today as the Communist charge did in the 1950s What evidence does Graves have that John Lukacs, Milton Meyer, or the reviewers I cited in my previous post (Oct. 20)--Warren Miller, Drew Middleton, D.S. Greenberg, J.W. Weigel--are "Nazi sympathizers?" In their reviews they certainly imply that Irving is a historian. Recently, Gordon Craig and Christopher Hitchens praised some aspects of Irving's historical work. Are they "Nazi sympathizers?" What is meant by the term "Nazi sympathizer?" Does it mean that these people want to establish a racist, war-oriented. totalitarian state? Or is simply depicting Irving as a historian enough to make one, ipso facto, a "Nazi sympathizer" in Mr. Graves eyes?

Nizkor and the defenders of Holocaust orthodoxy in this newsgroup claim to support the free discussion of ideas, unlike the openly suppressive Simon Wisenthal Center. However, branding people with the smear term "Nazi sympathizers" for simply maintaining that Irving is a historian has the same suppressive effect. In his heyday, Joe McCarthy did not directly censor ideas, develop a blacklist, or fire people from jobs. But his charges and the repressive atmosphere fostered by him had that effect. Similarly, charges of "Nazi sympathizers" have the same effect today.

David Irving alleges that many historians privately praise his work-- at least certain aspects of it-- but are too fearful to do so in public. Mr. Graves' smear provides evidence for this allegation. Is it therefore the aim of the defenders of Holocaust orthodoxy like Mr. Graves to intimidate by smears individuals who stray even a scintilla from that orthodoxy (such as by refusing to utterly condemn revisionists) or do they really seek to defeat revisionism by the merits of their arguments? If their goal is the latter they should use different methods.

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