The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

David Irving
The Rosenberg 'Goebbels' Review

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In the Shadow of Goebbels, by Tina Rosenberg
(The New York Times Book Review, June 2, 1996; pp.26-27):

"...But under its polished surface the book is in fact a sophisticated blood libel. A look at just one sentence is enough to show why. In a description of the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses in 1933, Mr. Irving writes, 'The upshot of the Jewish campaign overseas was that Goebbels secured from Hitler - or so he claimed - approval to threaten a short, sharp counterboycott of the Jews.' A 'counterboycott' provoked by a 'Jewish campaign overseas' - in other words, the Jews had it coming. These are not Goebbels words, they are Mr. Irving's, and the book is strung with such gems. Consistant with his theory that the gas chambers did not exist, Mr. Irving calls Auschwitz 'the most brutal of all Himmler's slave-labor camps and the one with the highest mortality rate.' By my count, the word 'holocaust' appears once in the book; it refers to the British bombing of Hamburg.

"More subtly, the boycott sentence illustrates a larger problem. In a recent speech to the Institute for Historical Review - the center of the United States Holocaust denial movement and the American distributor of many of Mr. Irving's books - Mr. Irving said of the 1933 boycott: 'Goebbels organized the boycott, though if you read his diary you can get the impression that Hitler authorized it, sanctioned it and possibly suggested it.' Readers of Mr. Irving's Web site can find this statement, but nowhere is it in the book, whose only reference linking Hitler to the boycott is the sentence quoted above. Mr Irving has played down Hitler's involvement.

"He was born to exonerate Hitler. That's his mission in life,' says Michael H. Kater, the Distinguished Research Professor of History at York Univeristy in Toronto and an expert on the Third Reich. Mr. Irving has offered L1,000 to anyobe who can produce a wartime document showing that Hitler knew about the extermination of the Jews before October 1943. He expounds the thesis that Hitler was ignorant of the Holocaust in his 1977 book 'Hitler's War' (in which the bad guys were Himmler and Heydrich), and he has extended it in other books. Gitta Sereny, the Author of "Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth," writes in the British newspaper The Observer that Goebbels's diaries indicate he learned of the extermination camps only when Hitler told him - months after they had begun operation. But such passages do not appear in Irving's book. 'He's the premier practitioner of selective evidence,' says Warren F. Kimball, a professor of diplomatic hostory at Rutgers University.

"'Every major history' of the deeds of the Nazis 'is built on a mass of material, largely the Nuremburg documents,' says Francis L. Lowenheim, a professor of history at Rice University and one of the few people besides Mr. Irving to have have read both the Irving book on Goebbels and the diaries themselves. 'We can see exactly what Hitler and the Nazis planned to do. Mr. Irving has not simply broken with this material; he either ignores it or dismisses it as forgeries.' By treating the Nazi leaders' actions as if they were reactions to outside events and not part of a planned extermination program, Mr. Lowenheim says, Mr. Irving diminishes the horribleness of the Holocaust.

"Even the most cursory research turns up evidence of Mr. Irving's duplicity. On the first page of the book he writes that he gave the German Federal Archives in Coblenz a complete copy of the Goebbels diaries; archive officials say this is fiction. Over and over he crows that he was the first to use the complete diaries, and he claimed to be their discoverer when he sold portions to the Sunday Times of London in 1992. Yet as he has been forced to acknowledge in the book, the microfiched diaries were first found by Elke Fröhlich, a researcher at the Munich-based Institute for Contemporary History and the world's pre-eminent Goebbels expert. The institute has so far published 15 volumes of the diaries and will complete the series soon, Ms. Fröhlich reports. And for what Mr. Irving has that others don't, Ms. Fröhlich and other historians say it amounts to only 10 or 13 glass microfiche plates. 'We all know what his character is,' she says. 'He tells lie after lie and then it is left to others to show that he is lying.'

"...David not just wrong, he appears to be engaging in deliberate distortion. Worse, he is a sneak; the uncautioned reader will absorb a version of history exhonerating Hitler and minimizing the evil of the Holocaust without knowing it...."

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