The following article appeared in Australia’s national daily newspaper,
“The Australian”, dated 25 July 1994. It was written by Frank Devine, a
former editor of the newspaper.
[Reprinted with permission]
HOLOCAUST TRUTH STRUGGLES AGAINST THE GAG OF DENIAL
Deborah Lipstadt persuades me that denial of the Nazi Holocaust is “a clear
and future danger”. Four per cent of Australians believe it did not occur
– more than 300,000 adults and a strong base from which to launch a
Lipstadt, in Australia on a speaking tour, is author of “Denying the
Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory” (published by
Macmillan). Until fairly recently she was “an ardent advocate” of ignoring
nuts and villains whom she once thought nobody would believe.
The book is an account, not of any aspect of the Holocaust, but of the
history of denial. Lipstadt’s methodical dissection of falsehoods includes
a number that were unequivocally disproven at the time of utterance, but
continue to be cited by practitioners of denial.
It was these examples of deception that jolted me out of my own inclination
to ignore nuts and villians, and made me feel guilty about recent inaction.
Last year, in the process of arguing for the admission to Australia of
David Irving, the revisionist British writer on the Holocaust, I made
reference to “The Diary of Anne Frank”, which I had forced myself to read
after a lifetime of squibbing it.
Irving wrote a letter to the editor, which was published, beginning: “This
is not the place to refute all the untruths levelled at me by Frank Devine
but I’ll just swat the one about the Anne Frank diary, a sad document that
testifies as must to the business sense of her father as to the intrinsic
evilness of the Nazis.”
I had given Irving an opening by carelessly attributing to him a share of
the actions of the publisher of his book “Hitler and His Generals”, in
which he described the diary as a forgery. On the complaint of Anne’s
father, Otto Frank, the publisher excised the passage from later editions,
apologised and made a financial contribution, not to Herr Frank, but to the
Anne Frank Foundation in Amsterdam.
Irving conceded in his letter that he had called the diary a forgery but
said he had never retracted or apologised.
What, though, of the arguments Irving then offered as justification for his
accusation of forgery – not to mention his snide remark about Otto Frank’s
Subsequent to the publication of Irving’s letter, a friend obtained for me
in New York (sidestepping our dimwitted requirement that American books
first be screened by British publishers) a copy of Doubleday’s translation
of “The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition”, prepared and originally
published in Dutch by the Netherlands State Institute for War
Documentation, with the assistance of the Ministry of Education.
This gigantic work, voluminously researched, proves beyond doubt that the
diary is the work of a little girl named Anne Frank who spent two years
hiding from the Nazis in an attic of an Amsterdam warehouse, and who died
in a concentration camp.
It is improbable that Irving was unaware of the existence of “The Critical
Edition” when he wrote to “The Australian”, which makes the – what shall I
say? – disingenuousness of his action all the more odious.
Using the “The Critical Edition” as my reference, here is what I should
have written months ago:
Irving declared in his letter: “In one lawsuit in Lubeck he (Otto
Frank) even tabled a graphological affidavit swearing that the diary’s
handwriting was all by the same person.”
The truth: During the prosecution in Lubeck in 1959 of two men who had
asserted the diary to be a forgery, expert witnesses testified that all the
handwriting in the diary manuscript was Anne Frank’s. They phrased their
report in such a way that (if you really wanted to) you could try to
discredit them by claiming they had said Anne also wrote a letter, a
postcard and a birthday greeting which she received from friends and pasted
into the diary.
The Lubeck case was settled when the defendants withdrew their forgery
accusations and publicly expressed regret for them.
Proceeding from his misleading reference to the Lubeck case, Irving
wrote: “Alas, in 1981, the West German police laboratory at Wiesbaden was
called in at one court’s direction to test the diaries … Frank refused to
allow the diaries out of Switzerland, so the judge ordered the Wiesbaden
experts thither … They determined, as reported in Der Spiegel at the
time, that parts of the diary were written in ballpoint ink – a pen
invented some years after Anne’s cruel death…”
The truth: In 1981, the diary manuscript was not in Switzerland, having
been delivered in November 1980 to the Netherlands State Institute for War
Documentation, under the terms of Otto Frank’s will.
the “parts of the diary” confirmed by the Dutch as being written in
ballpoint ink were two slips of paper, each written in a different hand and
neither in Anne’s, inserted as bookmarks into folders into which its Swiss
custodians placed the manuscript long after the war.
The Wiesbaden police report was four pages long, compared with more than
250 for the report made by the State Forensic Science Laboratory in
Amsterdam, which the editors of “The Critical Edition” briefed.
The Wiesbaden experts confirmed that the paper and glue in the manuscript
predated the period in which Anne Frank wrote the diary, but mentioned –
without stating their number or location – some ballpoint “corrections”.
They may have been referring to page-numbering done by the handwriting
experts in the Lubeck case, although this was subsequently found by the
Dutch not to be in ballpoint.
Most importantly, the Wiesbaden police were not briefed to conduct any
handwriting tests and did not do so, despite the implication Irving creates
with his craftily juxtaposed reference to the Lubeck “graphological
affidavit”. Handwriting analysis was one of the Dutch forensic lab’s chief
Irving wrote: “(Otto Frank) did not sue me … He sued several
others, winning large sums of money.”
The truth: Otto Frank was a reluctant litigant, persuaded on only a
handful of occasions to act against challengers of the diary’s
authenticity. The sole action involving “large sums of money” was one
undertaken with the producer and writers of a successful Broadway play
based on Anne’s diary. This was to free royalties that had been frozen
pending resolution of a plagiarism claim.
Anne Frank’s diary has sold 20 million copies. Otto Frank, who lost his
wife and both daughters in the concentration camps, made the first typed
copy of the diary to send to his mother. A giant oak has, indeed, grown
from a small planting and, thankfully, David Irving’s feeble scrabblings
will not uproot it.
Subject: David Irving’s Deceit & Anne Frank’s Diary
Summary: David Irving’s scholastic dishonesty, amply chronicled
elsewhere in our archives, is once again conclusively
outlined in this Australian newspaper article.
Organization: The Nizkor Project (CANADA)