Copyright 2000 The Christchurch Press Company Limited
The Press (Christchurch, New Zealand), May 20, 2000
“Making History,” by Sean Scanlon
As Canterbury University begins a high-powered inquiry into how it
came to award a masters degree for a thesis which questions key
assumptions about the Jewish holocaust, SEAN SCANLON unravels the
curious tale of the man at the centre of the row.
This is the story of an enigma: a one-time Christchurch menswear
salesman who now holds a doctorate in history; a man married in a New
Brighton Presbyterian church who went on to embrace Judaism to the
extent of changing his first name from Stuart to the Biblical Joel.
He formed an action group to fight anti-Semitism, only to leave it soon
afterwards to write a masters thesis questioning key historical
assumptions about the Holocaust and the fate of the Jewish people during
World War 2.
It is the story of historian Joel Hayward, a man who makes a living from
the past but now finds himself unable to escape his own.
Dr Joel Hayward, senior lecturer in defence and strategic studies at
Massey University, was born Stuart Andrew Hayward on May 27, 1964, in
Christchurch, to his father John, a compositor, and mother Lorraine. In
1986 he married Kathleen Michie, also of Christchurch, at St Kentigerns
Presbyterian Church in New Brighton.
Three years later Stuart Hayward changed his first name to Joel, a
decision, he says, which expressed his “choice to go through life with a
first name that has deep spiritual significance for me”.
“I have never made a big deal of Jewishness in my family. It’s merely a
personal matter of pride that I have some Jewish heritage. I have
enjoyed my time in Israel, remain committed to Zionistic ideals, and
still enjoy reading Hebrew scriptures.”
In 1991, after completing his Bachelor of Arts degree at Canterbury
University, Joel Hayward started a masters thesis entitled The Fate of
Jews in German Hands.
>From then until the thesis was completed in 1993, Dr Hayward researched
and wrote about the Holocaust. His thinking, it would appear, changed
dramatically over this time.
In late 1991 Dr Hayward wrote an article in the Australian Jewish
magazine Without Prejudice. In it he supported accepted orthodox
historical opinion on the Holocaust. Importantly, he criticised the
Leuchter Report, written by Fred Leuchter and based on a series of
tests Leuchter carried out at various former concentration camps in
Leuchter concluded “the alleged gas chambers at the inspected sites
could not have then been, or now, be utilised or seriously considered to
function as gas chambers”.
However, Leuchter held no formal engineering, forensic, or chemistry
qualifications. He had a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston University
and owned a business in the United States specialising in making
hardware for executing prison inmates.
By the time Joel Hayward’s thesis was completed he had reversed his
unfavourable opinion of the Leuchter Report and changed his stance on
the Holocaust itself.
In the 360-page thesis Dr Hayward questions whether there was ever an
official Nazi policy to exterminate Jews, whether Nazi gas chambers may
in fact have fallen into the category of “atrocity propaganda”, and
whether far fewer than six million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis.
These issues are among the central tenets of Holocaust revisionism.
As a result the thesis attracted the attention of the world’s leading
Holocaust “revisionist” historian, David Irving.
Irving, branded an anti-Semite by a judge in a British libel case last
month, dedicated part of his web page to Dr Hayward, describing him as
“one of the most original historians in the southern hemisphere”, and
hailing his thesis as a “landmark in the turning of the tide in the
favour of historical revisionism”.
Here in New Zealand, however, a five-year embargo placed on the thesis
with the support of Hayward’s supervisor, Dr Vincent Orange, meant it
did not reach the public domain until late last year.
No explanation for the embargo has been given.
Last December, Dr Hayward asked the university to pull the thesis from
The university refused, but allowed him to write an addendum in which he
casts doubt on several of his key conclusions and the strength of his
Of the pivotal Leuchter Report, Dr Hayward writes: “The report contains
serious errors of fact and judgment, several of them significant enough
to rob the report of its evidential value.”
He concludes: “My thesis represents an honest attempt on my part to make
sense of events I wanted to understand better.
“Yet I now regret working on such a complex topic without sufficient
knowledge and preparation, and hope this brief addendum will prevent my
work causing distress to the Jewish community here in New Zealand and
elsewhere, or being misused by individuals or groups with malevolent
Dr Hayward now says of his thesis: “I simply see the evidence very
differently now to the way I did then as an inexperienced student
straight out of a BA.”
Dr Hayward’s volte face has prompted the New Zealand Jewish Council to
call on the university to withdraw his First Class Honours Masters
degree. But it also raises several uncomfortable issues for the
University of Canterbury.
The University this week set up an independent three-person working
party to investigate the controversy. The high- powered group is chaired
by former High Court judge Sir Ian Barker, joined by Emeritus Professor
Anne Trotter and Professor Stuart Macintyre, of Melbourne. It has wide
powers to probe the nature of the thesis topic, the supervision
received, the examination procedures, and the embargoing of the thesis.
The inquiry might also need to explore claims that university
authorities were alerted to the potential problem eight years ago —
before the work was even submitted for examination.
In May 1992, the university received a letter from an organisation
called Opposition to Anti-Semitism Inc (OAS). The group, based in
Christchurch, was concerned about the direction Dr Hayward was taking in
his then half-completed thesis.
Ironically, OAS had been formed a year earlier by Dr Hayward with Yossie
EtzHasadeh (previously Philip Woodfield of Christchurch, now in Israel)
and Denis Green.
The organisation’s goal was to monitor anti-Semitic groups in New
Zealand and warn people about Holocaust revisionism. Several members
were converting to Judaism. Joel Hayward resigned from the group before
he started his thesis.
Dr Hayward says he formed OAS because “I considered, and still consider
anti-Semitism to be a vile and repellent thing.”
He says he left OAS because of a personality clash.
“I certainly did not leave because I had become less hostile to
OAS members soon became worried about the path Dr Hayward’s thesis was
taking and arranged to meet him.
Dr Hayward says he went along on January 30, 1992, to what he thought
was an ordinary afternoon tea with friends. As they talked about his
half-completed masters thesis a video camera hidden behind a hollowed
out book recorded the entire conversation.
Dr Hayward says a selective 13-minute transcript was made of the
three-hour conversation by the OAS. “They only included statements that
cast me in the worst possible light.”
The group sent Canterbury University registrar Alan Hayward (no
relation) parts of the transcript with a letter detailing concerns about
Joel Hayward’s views on the Holocaust. Alan Hayward forwarded the letter
to Professor David McIntyre (then head of the university’s history
department and now retired).
Yossie EtzHasadeh says that at this point the OAS concerns went no
“Essentially they (the university) were very unco-operative.”
The transcript includes the following statements by Dr Hayward:
“In my thesis, I argue that Hitler didn’t order the genocide of the
“I’m also saying that there is not one shred of documentary evidence
showing that there was a plan to kill the Jews.”
“I mean up until today, not one piece of paper has been found, not one
German document, French document, any document — apart from Allied
“Not six million. I personally don’t think the Nazis ever got their
hands on six million Jews.”
Dr Hayward did not find out about the video until two months after it
was made. He considers the taping dishonest and unfair and says he
nearly had a breakdown as a result.
He admits to saying some “dumb and silly things”, but says the tape
didn’t pick up nuances when his tone and facial expression showed he
believed the opposite of his words.
“This was supposed to be a casual private conversation, and it was a
full eight years ago,” he says. “In no way do those comments represent
my current views, which have evolved substantially with my growing
understanding of the evidence and of the historian’s craft.”
Dr Hayward also says he has never used his Jewish background in order to
bring credibility to his scholarship. “As a scholar my ethnicity is not
“I am merely trying to step back from a debate I absolutely do not want
to be involved in. I don’t work on the Holocaust. I love teaching,
researching, and writing on military history.”
He has written nothing on the Holocaust since the publication of his
thesis, but has been asked by publishing house Macmillan to write a book
about Hitler’s effectiveness as a military strategist.
While Dr Hayward might wish to put the Holocaust thesis down to academic
imma- turity, the university might find it more difficult to explain how
it came to award a first-class honours degree for a piece of work the
author now largely discredits.
Dov Bing, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Waikato
University, was called upon to review the Hayward thesis for the Jewish
Chronicle in April. Currently on sabbatical in Israel, Professor Bing
says, “I do not think that a thesis which has as its central finding
that there were no gas chambers would find academic acceptance
Professor Bing points out that the thesis is based on evidence widely
discredited by mainstream scholars. “Hayward’s problem has been that he
ignored well-established sources and used sources that have no
credibility at all.”
He says Dr Hayward placed too much weight on the Leuchter Report and on
the research of David Irving.
Professor Bing says Dr Hayward should have been cautioned by his
supervisor Dr Orange. “He should have known that Hayward was merely
following in the footsteps of Irving and Leuchter — all well- known
David Zwartz, president of the New Zealand Jewish Council, agrees: “We
lay full responsibility on the experienced professional historians at
the university whose job was to guide and assess his work.”
Dr Orange has declined to comment until after the university inquiry.
As a matter of course every masters student at Canterbury has a
supervisor who acts under university guidelines. Generally a supervisor
encourages, supports, and advises the student.
When the thesis is finished the supervisor marks it and sends it to an
external examiner for assessment — in Hayward’s case Waikato
University’s Professor John Jensen, who is now retired.
The university’s dean of postgraduate studies, Professor Graeme Wake,
says that while he was not at Canterbury at the time the thesis was
written, he believes Dr Hayward and Dr Orange had a good working
“I must stress, though, that when a student submits a thesis it is their
work and their decision to submit, not the supervisor’s.”
The university does not endorse the findings of any thesis produced
there, he says.
“Our examining procedures are designed to grade the quality of analysis
and writing, the maturity of judgment, and the ability to absorb,
transmute, and present material.”
This doesn’t wash with David Zwartz. “The university’s reputation for
scholarship is in question as long as it stands by a thesis which has
been repudiated even by its own author,” he says.
With Dr Hayward’s admission that he was wrong, the university now faces
the possi- bility of a having to withdraw a degree it awarded — and
embarrassing criticism of its academic standards.