The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

David Irving
Historians Review His Writing

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Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
From: Rich Graves
Date: October 21, 1996

This article is two decades old, written before Irving raised the wrath of "the Jews" by testifying at Zundel's trial. Irving claims he was held in great esteem right up until that point. Indeed, in this article, Showalter says, "Irving is neither a closet revisionist nor a covert anti-Semite." Wherever Showalter is now, I'm sure he's eating those words. But my point here is, even before people considered him a Holocaust denier and an overt anti-Semite, he was judged a very poor historian.

Dennis E. Showalter. "Book Review -- David Irving. Hitler's War."
The American Historical Review, Vol. 82, No. 5 (Dec. 1977), p. 1281.

Dennis Showalter is a professor at Colorado College.

"...Irving's argument can be criticized on two levels. He overlooks, instead of refuting, Lucy Dawidowicz's argument that Hitler's language was Aesopian, concealing the reality of extermination behind the rhetoric of expulsion. He also discounts the evidence that, however twisted the road to Auschwitz may have been, concrete decisions implementing the Final Solution were taken, and these decisions involved Adolf Hitler. Irving emphasizes the difficulty of establishing precise documentatary connections between Hitler's anti-Semitism and the extermination of the Jews until the process was virtually completed. But while the Third Reich has been compared to every form of government from European feudalism to Oriental despotism, another analogy suggests itself -- the Mafia structure as commonly visualized. On certain sensitive issues the Godfather's will is understood and implemented with little need for formal instructions!

"The general thrust of Irving's work also contradicts his interpretation of the Final Solution. Unlike the scholars who stress the limits of Hitler's power, Irving takes pains to show that the war was Hitler's war from start to finish. He overrode all opposition from the Wehrmacht, the party, or the foreign office. He alone knit together the threads of intelligence and strategy, production and allocation. In this context, even given the increasing autonomy of the "SS state," could subordinates have so completely concealed for so long the elaborate apparatus of the death camps from the Fuhrer?

"It would be unfortunate if Hitler's War were to be judged solely on its treatment of the Holocaust; Irving is neither a closet revisionist nor a covert anti-Semite. [sic] The key weakness of the book is professional, not polemic. It tends to push every bit of evidence to the limits of credibility, and the Jewish issue is only one example.... To cite further examples of Irving's approach would only belabor the point. Hitler's War is essentially a nine-hundred-page seminar paper of the kind often produced by intelligent beginning graduate students. It is a work too clever by half, and certainly too clever to be sound history."

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