The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

David Irving
Historians Review His Writing

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Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Real Historians on David Irving: Robert G. L. Waite
Orignially posted by Rich Graves, as Messge-ID:, October 21, 1996

An oldie but goodie from way back in 1979, before Irving became actively involved in Holocaust denial.

Robert G.L. Waite. "Book Review -- David Irving. The War Path: Hitler's Germany, 1933-1939." The American Historical Review, Vol. 84, No. 4 (Oct. 1979), pp. 1082-1083.

Robert Waite is a professor at Williams College.

"David Irving's Books on Hitler serve as vivid illustration of the truism that the predilections of the historian may determine the uses he makes of his evidence.... Convinced that previous writers have maligned and misunderstood the German dictator, he is determined to "de-demonize" Hitler by showing that he was neither a "madman" nor the "Devil incarnate." Actually, we are told, he was an average sort of person: "an ordinary, walking, talking, human weighing some 155 pounds" who would sometimes "wrinkle his forehead and put out his tongue."

"Irving has diligently sought new evidence to support his singular interpretation, and in truth he has found materials not previously known to Hitler scholars: Heinrich Himmler's personal telephone log, some private papers of Ernst von Weizacker, letters of Hitler's youthful admirer and later adjutant, Walther Hewel, and unpublished diaries of SS and Luftwaffe adjutants. The author assures us that the original manuscript of the book contained "1500 pages of source notes." Regrettably, owing to publication costs, he is able to show us only representative samples in endnotes that often invite the reader to go to Munich to consult the "Irving Collection" deposited in the Institut fur Aeitgeschichte. He must be given credit for ferreting out these sources. Less credit is due for the way he uses his own documents and dismisses evidence of proven validity that refutes his contentions....

"Given the author's predilections and his selective use of evidence, a new picture of the German dictator does indeed emerge. Irving's Hitler was a kindly man, "much given to unpublished acts of humanity."... Irving can find only one flaw in the "restorer" of Germany: he was gullible. Time after time this well-meaning man was duped and deceived: by Himmler, by Goebbels, by the Gestapo, by the army, by the SS. It is Irving's thesis that because Hitler was "deeply in thrall of his devious henchmen," major decisions in the Third Reich were not made by the Fuhrer at all.

"In the blood purge of 1934, for example, Hitler was "unwittingly duped by the Army and the SS."... A reader seeking evidence for these remarkable assertions is referred to "Julius Schaub's private papers" to be found in the Sammlung Irving (Schaub was the dull-witted sycophant who served as his Fuhrer's personal adjutant.)

"Similarly, Hitler was not responsible for the pogrom of November 9, 1938, the infamous Reichskristallnacht. That was an "arbitrary act" of Goebbels, which hit Hitler "out of the blue."

[Interestingly, in Irving's later book on Goebbels, Irving asserts that kristallnacht did not come "out of the blue," but was a response to Jewish provocations that should have been obvious to anyone. -rcg]

"...Indeed, Hitler actually gave an order in 1941 that there be "no liquidation" of the Jews. Yet, in spite of that order, his overzeaalous satraps "pulled the wool over Hitler's eyes" and carried out a genocide against his wishes. Since Irving sweeps aside all the solidly established testimony connecting Hitler directly to the Final Solution and rests his case upon a bit of his own evidence and since his use of that evidence nicely illustrates his methodology, it must be cited. It consists of a note that Himmler apparently jotted down after a conversation with Hitler, dated November 30, 1941. It reads in full, "Judentransport aus Berlin, Keine Liquidierung." In discussing this evidence, Irving does not quote the first line referring to a particular shipment of Jews. Instead, he flourishes the two words, "no liquidation," as if he were executing a *coup de maitre*. No less than six times he asserts that those two words substantiate his claim that Hitler gave blanket orders forbidding the genocide. His own evidence does not warrant that conclusion; a mountain of testimony refutes it. Irving's assertion that Hitler personally wished Polish priests and intellectuals no harm, that he merely wanted them "accommodated elsewhere," must be regarded as a very sick joke.

"...The subtitle of the book is not justified. One will find here no discussion of the social, cultural, or institutional history of Germany from 1933 to 1939; little is added to our knowledge -- and nothing to our understanding -- of Hitler's foreign policy.

"It is unlikely that this book will enhance Irving's reputation among serious historians."

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