Copyright 2000 Gannett Company, Inc.
USA TODAY http://www.usatoday.com/
February 28, 2000, Monday, FIRST EDITION
Israel will hand over Nazi memoirs War criminal Eichmann’s notes at issue
JERUSALEM — Israel, acting on a request from lawyers in a British libel
case involving claims that the Holocaust never happened, agreed Sunday to
hand over contents of unpublished memoirs by convicted Nazi war criminal
Adolf Eichmann during his trial in 1962.
Lawyers for Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt, a scholar in modern Jewish
and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, sought the journals of thoughts,
jottings and philosophical essays.
Right-wing British historian David Irving is suing Lipstadt and Penguin
Books. Irving contends that a book by Lipstadt, published in 1995, caused
irreparable harm to his reputation by calling him “a dangerous spokesman for
The book examines claims that the Nazi campaign to exterminate Jews never
Irving denies that millions of Jews were systematically slain by the Nazis.
He claims that Hitler didn’t know about the genocide until the final stages
of World War II.
Richard Rampton, defense counsel for Lipstadt, asked Israeli Attorney
General Elyakim Rubinstein last week to send a copy of the notes to London
for use in the trial, as proof that the Holocaust did in fact occur.
The journals have been locked away in state archives since Eichmann was
convicted of crimes against humanity and executed in Israel in 1962.
Eichmann was snatched by an Israeli spy squad from his hideout in Argentina
Scholars who have read the notes say they contain attempts by Eichmann to
justify his role in the Nazi extermination policy in which as many as 6
million Jews and 4 million others were murdered, many in designated death
In the notes, Eichmann repeats the blunt admission he made at his trial that
the mass murder of Europe’s Jews took place under the Nazis. However, he
denied playing a major role.
In fact, historians say, Eichmann was the key Nazi official in charge of
organizing the forced emigration of Jews from Germany, Austria and the Czech
protectorate before the exterminations began.
Eichmann was put in charge of the mass transportation of Jews from western,
central and southeastern Europe to the extermination camps after the mass
murders began in 1941.
The Israeli authorities have refrained from publishing the notes because of
questions about copyright. Eichmann’s sons have demanded that the notes be
returned to the family.
Yehuda Bauer of the Hebrew University, Israel’s leading Holocaust scholar,
was one of the experts called in to advise Rubinstein.
“The copyright issue has not yet been settled, but if there is a demand from
the court in London, it has to be considered,” he said. “Apart from the fact
that he fully admits the murder of the Jews in all its details, which might
be useful, there’s nothing new in it. There is no historical significance to
the notes, but they may be of significance in a trial at which somebody
tries to show that there was no Holocaust. This is one of the major actors
talking quite freely about the destruction of the Jews.”
The Israeli Justice Department said Prime Minister Ehud Barak “agrees with
the decision, which is in line with his policy of fighting Holocaust denial.”
SALT LAKE CITY TRIBUNE 02.28.00
http://www.sltrib.com:80/2000/feb/02282000/nation_w/30006.htm (Page doesn`t exist)
Israel to Release Eichmann Memoir
JERUSALEM — Israel’s attorney general Sunday night authorized the release
of the prison memoir of Adolf Eichmann, architect of the Nazis’ “Final
Solution” for the extermination of European Jewry, and he agreed to rush a
copy to American scholar Deborah Lipstadt in her London trial in which her
accuser is Holocaust denier David Irving.
The memoirs have been locked away in Israeli state archives since Eichmann
was hanged in 1962, the only time the Jewish state has imposed the death
penalty. According to the few researchers who have had access to the
document, written between Eichmann’s conviction by a district court and his
appeal to the Supreme Court, Eichmann offers a detailed description of the
systematic attempt to exterminate European Jews. He minimizes his role in
the operation, describing himself as a minor cog in the Nazi killing machine.
Forgotten during the past four decades, the document resurfaced last summer
when one of Eichmann’s sons demanded the memoir. Atty. Gen. Elyakim
Rubinstein, son of Holocaust survivors, decided instead that the handwritten
notes would be transcribed and opened to the public.
The 600-page transcription was recently completed, according to Justice
Ministry spokesman Ido Baum. Baum said a request for the manuscript arrived
from lawyers for Lipstadt, a Holocaust specialist at Emory University
standing trial on libel charges presented by maverick British historian
David Irving. In a 1993 book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on
Truth and Memory, Lipstadt called Irving a “Hitler partisan” for his
assertions that the Nazis did not carry out genocide against Jews in World
War II, that Hitler knew of no mass killings of Jews and that Hitler was no
more guilty of war crimes than was Winston Churchill or Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Holocaust experts in Israel say the document could be crucial to Lipstadt’s
defense, as it refutes Irving’s charges that hundreds of thousands of Jews
— far fewer than the commonly accepted figure of 6 million — were killed
in haphazard incidents on the Eastern front of the war, often at the hands
of local residents rather than in concentration camps. The rest of the
Jewish population may have fled to what would become Israel, Irving has
said, accusing Jews of turning the myth of a meticulously planned and
executed genocide into “big business.”
“Eichmann says he didn’t do it, but he admits what was done,” said Yehuda
Bauer, director of the Institute for Holocaust Research at Jerusalem’s Yad
Vashem Holocaust museum and one of the few scholars who has perused the
memoir. “I imagine that the defense in London will use it to show that one
of the main actors in the Holocaust tragedy confirmed the main details and
even says that Hitler gave the orders.”
With the burden of proof under British law on defendant Lipstadt,
commentators have noted that the Holocaust itself is on trial, making the
current case an extraordinarily important one in the annals of Holocaust
denial. Should Lipstadt lose, many Israelis fear the verdict will be used by
neo-Nazis in Europe and the United States.
Israel agrees release of Eichmann ‘s memoirs
Ohad Gozani in Tel Aviv 02/28/2000
The Daily Telegraph Copyright (C) 2000
THE prison memoirs of Adolf Eichmann, the executed Nazi war criminal, are
expected to be released soon by Israel, partly in response to a request from
lawyers fighting a libel action in London brought by David Irving, the
The 1,300-page handwritten document has been in a government vault for 38
years. It presents Eichmann ‘s view of his role in Hitler’s plan to
exterminate millions of Jews in Europe.
The Justice Ministry said last night that the decision to release the
memoirs to Richard Rampton, lawyer for Deborah Lipstadt , the American
historian accused of libel by Mr Irving, followed discussions led by Elyakim
Rubinstein, Israel’s attorney general.
“It was agreed by all the participants that it is appropriate to hand over a
copy of the document as soon as possible,” the ministry statement said. It
indicated that the memoirs would be made available to the public.
Israeli officials said Eichmann ‘s two sons, who last year demanded a copy
of the document, would be covered by the decision.
Eichmann was kidnapped by Israeli Mossad agents in Argentina in 1960. He was
tried and sentenced to death for war crimes. He was hanged and his ashes
scattered in the Mediterranean.
Ministry sources said most of the memoirs had been copied on to a computer.
It is understood that Israel blocked their release for fear that they would
be used by neo-Nazi deniers of the Holocaust.
NAZI PAPERS FREED UP FOR CIVIL CASE 02/28/2000 (Reuters)
The Ottawa Sun Final (c) Copyright 2000 The Ottawa Sun.
Israel said yesterday it would hand over unpublished memoirs of executed
Nazi Adolf Eichmann for use as evidence in a British libel suit seen by many
Jews as putting the Holocaust itself on trial.
Controversial British historian David Irving brought the suit against U.S.
author Deborah Lipstadt , who in a 1995 book called him “a dangerous
spokesman for Holocaust denial.”
Lawyers for Lipstadt and her publisher Penguin Books want Eichmann ‘s
memoirs used as evidence against Irving’s charges that he was slandered and
his reputation damaged by her book.
Eichmann drew up plans during World War II that made the annihilation of
millions of Jews feasible.
STUDY OF DENIAL
In the book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory,
Lipstadt studies the claims of those who argue the Nazi campaign to
exterminate Jews never took place.
Israel’s Justice Ministry said the defence team had asked for the memoirs
and a decision was taken at a meeting yesterday between Attorney General
Elyakim Rubinstein and legal experts.
“All the participants agreed on the importance, as part of Israel’s
historical duty, of allowing the public to examine the memoirs,” a Justice
Ministry spokesman said.
“They also decided unanimously that it would be right to hand over as soon
as possible a copy of the manuscript to a representative of Prof. Lipstadt
so she can defend herself in a lawsuit brought by a Holocaust denier,” he said.
Israel has kept the memoirs under lock and key for decades. It recently said
it favoured publishing the papers, which Eichmann wrote by hand from a
prison cell before he was hanged in 1962.
The Justice Ministry spokesman said the public would soon be able to see the
manuscripts at the state archives. photo of ADOLF EICHMANN Final Solution
Attorney general: Israel morally obligated to release Eichmann memoirs
By DINA KRAFT 02/27/2000 Associated Press Newswires
Copyright 2000. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
JERUSALEM (AP) – Israel’s moral obligation to help defeat a lawsuit
challenging the scope of the Holocaust outweighed strong misgivings about
publishing the jailhouse memoirs of Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann , Israel’s
attorney general said Monday.
The 1,300-page document is already en route to the defense attorney of
American professor Deborah Lipstadt who accused British historian David
Irving of denying the Nazi genocide. The manuscript will also be made public
in Israel soon.
Israeli had initially planned to give the Eichmann memoirs, locked up for
three decades in the state archives, to a German research institute for
publication, a process that was expected to take months, if not years.
Even that decision was made only reluctantly, after one of Eichmann ‘s sons,
Dieter, threatened legal action to claim the book as family property. Until
now, only a few scholars have seen the memoirs.
Some Israeli officials have expressed concern that the document could fall
into the wrong hands and that self-serving passages could be used by
Only a few scholars have seen it. Holocaust historians have long demanded
immediate, unfettered access – which they will now be granted.
Irving is suing Lipstadt for libel in Britain for writing in a 1994 book
that he denied the Holocaust and distorted the truth of what happened in
World War II.
Irving says he does not deny that Jews were killed by the Nazis, but
challenges the number and manner of Jewish concentration camp deaths.
Lipstadt , a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, and her codefendant,
Penguin Books, deny libel.
Israel hopes the memoirs will provide more proof of the systematic killing
of Jews by the Nazis, as well as the scope of the genocide. In the trial,
Irving disputed historically accepted witness accounts that hundreds of
thousands were gassed to death at the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied
“We think as part of Israel’s obligation and commitment as a Jewish state,
all of us being survivors in fact of the Holocaust, we felt that we should
enable the public to have axcess to what was written,” Israeli Attorney
General Elyakim Rubinstein told reporters Monday.
According to Rubinstein, Eichmann wrote that the killing of the Jews was the
worst crime in the history of mankind. The Nazi leader also provided details
on the workings of the death camps, as well as insight into decision-making
in the Third Reich, Rubinstein said.
Scholars who have seen the memoir say that it repeats arguments Eichmann
made at his trial, insisting that he was only a midlevel official following
Journalist Tom Segev who has written widely on the Holocaust and its effects
on Israeli society, said the decision to release the Eichmann memoirs should
have been made long ago. “The principle needs to be that no material on the
Holocaust remains locked in the archives,” he said.
Eichmann wrote the diary while in jail from 1961 to 1962, after Israeli
agents captured him in Argentina and brought him to trial in Israel.
Eichmann was executed by hanging in 1962.
Israel agrees to release Eichmann journal for Holocaust trial
Agence France-Presse (Copyright 2000)
JERUSALEN, Feb 27 (AFP) – Israel on Sunday agreed to release copies of
journals by Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann to lawyers in a London
defamation case involving controversial British historian David Irving.
“It is important, as part of Israel’s duty to history, to put these memoirs
at the disposal of the public,” the justice ministry said, adding that the
decision by the attorney general’s committee had been unanimous.
“It would be desirable for a copy to be sent to Professor Lipstadst’s lawyer
as soon as possible for her defence against the denier of the Holocaust,” it
said in a statement.
The ministry added that the journals would be made available to the public
at the state archives in the “coming days.”
Lawyers for researcher Deborah Lipstadst, whose book “Denying the Holocaust”
is at the centre of the trial, were seeking copies of documents Eichmann
wrote while awaiting the verdict in his trial for crimes against humanity
and his 1962 execution.
Irving, banned from several countries because of his views on the Holocaust,
is suing Lipstadst and the book’s publishers Penguin for branding him a
“dangerous spokesman in the service of the Holocaust deniers.”
Eichmann was one of the principal architects of the final solution, the
genocide of Jews by the Nazis during World War II, in charge of organizing
and coordinating the deportation of millions of Jews to the death camps of
He was captured by agents of the Israeli secret service Mossad in 1960 in
Argentina and brought to trial in Israel.
DAILY OKLAHOMAN 02/25/00
Holocaust denial: ‘Revisionism’ takes sinister meaning
TWO worrisome events are currently unfolding in Europe with much publicity
and emotion, giving new meaning to the old term “revisionism.”
One is the rise to prominence in Austria of a neo-Nazi, Joerg Haidar. Haidar
and his right-wing Freedom Party just recently joined the Austrian
government after a successful election campaign based on an anti-immigrant,
Concomitantly in England, a major publishing house, Penguin Books, and a
prominent, respected American Holocaust scholar, Deborah Lipstadt, were sued
for libel and defamation of character by Holocaust denier David Irving.
Irving is a notorious revisionist “historian” whose main thesis is that the
Holocaust never happened.
One may dismiss these two events as idiosyncratic aberrations, fit for the
tabloids rather than for serious public scrutiny. Not so. While such
revisionist thinking in regard to historical events is often a deliberate
attempt to advance an agenda of hatred, it is also a product of ignorance
about events of the past and their significance.
Joerg Haidar, the “Austrian David Duke,” is now a legitimate part of the
Austrian government not only because of his shrewd campaign to eliminate
corruption and promise job security to Austrians while denigrating
immigrants and Jews, but also because of Austrian ignorance of the past, a
limping economy and the ever present human tendency to blame woes on others.
Holocaust denial began as soon as World War II ended, initially as a crude
and unorganized nuisance in the defeated Nazi Germany. Now it is a more
sophisticated, louder phenomenon all over the world. The more dangerous
Holocaust denier, however, is not an uneducated Aryan Nation skinhead but an
individual like David Irving, the plaintiff in the Penguin Books libel suit.
Irving is a British military “historian” who has published 22 books and is a
seemingly intelligent and well-informed man. Some may undoubtedly find it
difficult to dispute his “well researched” diatribes.
Why should we Americans be alarmed by such ridiculous claims? Why not just
ignore the attempts to deny an overwhelmingly documented event such as the
Holocaust? Doesn’t responding to such ludicrous claims lend them undeserved
legitimacy? It is because if we do not, 20 or 50 years from now somebody
will come along denying that the Oklahoma City bombing ever happened or that
slavery existed in America. Attempts have already been made to blame the
Oklahoma City bombing on the federal government rather than domestic terrorism.
One should strongly respond to this strain of historical revisionism by
condemnation, remembrance, commemoration and education. We should be
uncompromising with regard to revisionism – it should be publicly condemned
rather than ignored. Austria, the birthplace of Hitler, should be sanctioned
until common sense prevails there again. We should teach our young the
historical facts repeatedly, taking them to exhibitions like “Daniel’s
Story” (on display at the Omniplex) and regularly commemorate atrocities
such as the Holocaust and the Oklahoma City bombing.
In a 1993 speech at the dedication of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in
Washington, Elie Wiesel, noted Nobel laureate and himself a Holocaust
survivor, said, “… To forget would mean to kill victims a second time. We
could not prevent their first death; we must not allow them to be killed
Roodman is executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma
The opinions of the writer are not necessarily those of The Oklahoman.
JEWISH TELEGRAPHIC AGENCY
http://jta.virtualjerusalem.com/index.exe?0002284 (Page doesn`t exist)
In effort to thwart Holocaust denier, Israel to release Eichmann’s memoirs
By Naomi Segal
JERUSALEM, Feb. 28 (JTA) =97 Israel has decided to release the memoirs Nazi
war criminal Adolf Eichmann wrote prior to his execution in Israel in 1962.
The decision followed consultations in the Justice Ministry on whether to
make the document available for American scholar Deborah Lipstadt in the
ongoing London defamation suit brought against her by Holocaust revisionist
Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein said Monday the decision reflected
Israel’s “historic sense of responsibility” to do “everything possible to
fight Holocaust denial.”
Prior to Monday’s decision, the Justice Ministry had been discussing how to
release the memoirs, which have been in the state archives for nearly four
decades and have been viewed by only a handful of researchers.
Rubinstein said the request to use them in the Holocaust-denial suit
expedited the process.
“This trial speeded up the decision to make it available,” Rubinstein said.
Along with publishing the 1,200-page memoirs, Israel will provide a copy of
the manuscript for Lipstadt’s lawyer.
Irving is suing Lipstadt, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, and
her publisher, Penguin Books, charging they libeled him in Lipstadt’s 1994
book “Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.”
Irving, who denies that Jews were systematically exterminated at Auschwitz,
is claiming that Lipstadt ruined his career by labeling him a Holocaust
denier and accusing him of distorting historical data to suit his
Irving has claimed that Hitler did not know until the final stages of World
War II about the Nazis’ “Final Solution” to exterminate European Jewry.
During the Justice Ministry deliberations regarding the release of the
memoirs, it was pointed out that Eichmann wrote several times that Hitler
was aware of the plan.
While Eichmann maintains in the journal that he was only a mid-level
official carrying out orders, he does not deny the Holocaust occurred.
ISRAEL: FOCUS-Israel to lift veil on Eichmann diaries.
02/28/2000 Reuters English News Service (C) Reuters Limited 2000.
By Megan Goldin
JERUSALEM, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Executed Nazi “technician of death” Adolf
Eichmann called the Holocaust a terrible crime against humanity in prison
memoirs Israel kept secret for nearly 40 years, but which it plans to reveal
A transcript of the memoirs, which have been kept under lock and key since
Eichmann was hanged in 1962, will be released to the public by the State
Archives on computer disks in the original German. Even the spelling
mistakes will be left intact.
Eichmann wrote the 600-odd pages of neatly bound manuscript in Gothic-style
lettering from a prison cell as he awaited hanging for war crimes in the
only execution in Israel’s history.
Eichmann organised the trains which took millions of Nazi victims to their
deaths in concentration camp gas chambers.
The memoirs are to be released on Tuesday at 9 am (0700 gmt), when the
long-secret material is expected to be e-mailed to journalists. Officials
denied reports they would put the diaries on an internet site.
State Archivist Evyatar Friesel hinted at the content of the diaries on Monday:
“He wrote those memoirs as a very efficient bureaucrat…He described it
(the Holocaust) as one of the worst crimes against humanity and the worst
crime perpetuated against the Jewish people.”
Friesel, 69, was one of a number of officials who had pushed for release of
The disclosure of the diaries was approved by Israel’s Attorney-General
Eliyakim Rubinstein on Sunday after intensive deliberations with legal
experts and historians.
EVIDENCE IN UK LIBEL TRIAL
Eichmann ‘s account of the wartime Nazi genocide of six million Jews is
already on its way to a British legal team fighting a libel suit waged by a
controversial historian in a case that many Jews fear puts the Holocaust
itself on trial.
David Irving is suing author Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books for a 1995
book on Holocaust deniers which described Irving as “a dangerous spokesman
for Holocaust denial”.
Irving said he was slandered by the reference. In a recent interview, Irving
told Reuters the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp was a sort of
“Disneyland”, built by Polish communists after World War Two to attract
Lipstadt ‘s legal team sent an urgent message to Israel’s Justice Ministry,
asking for permission to present the Eichmann memoirs as evidence in the
London court hearing the case.
Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer, one of a handful of scholars allowed to
study the memoirs, says Eichmann tried to play down his role in the
Holocaust in the hope he would be granted a stay of execution.
Bauer said Eichmann continued the line of defence he pled from the
bullet-proof glass box where he sat during his 1961 Jerusalem trial. “His
whole argument that he was a small cog in the machine was disproved in the
trial,” Bauer said.
“His whole style in the trial is one big lie from beginning to end as far as
justification is concerned. But he admits it was a terrible crime.”
Eichmann was kidnapped from his Argentine hideaway by Israeli Mossad agents
and brought to trial in Jerusalem in 1960.
Bauer said Eichmann told a neo-Nazi Dutch journalist who interviewed the
fugitive Eichmann several years before his capture, that he was sorry he
didn’t kill more Jews.
Copyright 2000 The Jerusalem Report
The Jerusalem Report, February 28, 2000, p. 28
“THE HOLOCAUST ON TRIAL,” by Eric Silver
On the one hand, legions of world leaders flock to a conference
in Sweden dedicated to ensuring that the crimes of the
Holocaust never recur. On the other, Austria brings Joerg
Haider’s far-right Freedom Party into government. At a time when
the Holocaust is again taking center stage in Europe, a libel
action currently being heard in a London courtroom takes on
potentially dramatic proportions. For the verdict in the battle
of minds at the Royal Courts of Justice could prove a landmark in
shaping public perception of what the Nazis did to the Jews.
THE DIALOGUE IS RESTRAINED, technical and detailed. Two men in
business suits are talking design standards, building
codes, blue-prints and computer imaging. They focus on a service
elevator, its dimensions, its carrying capacity, the
horsepower of its motor, the maximum speed it could rise fully
laden from the lower to the upper floor of a two-story building.
The older, bigger man demands answers. He has a thesis to prove.
The younger, slimmer man replies patiently, confident of his
professional expertise. There is a hint of exasperation, but he
is careful to keep it in check. The two men don’t like each other,
but they maintain a veneer of courtesy.
It is important for both of them to do so – because the brightly-
lit room with its spare, functional, teak tables and chairs, its wall
stacks of files, is not an engineer’s office, but Court No. 73 in
London’s Royal Courts of Justice, a gray, sprawling, neo-Gothic
structure where The Strand sidles into Fleet Street.
The big man is David Irving, a maverick, self-taught British
historian, who is suing Deborah Lipstadt, professor of modern
Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University in Atlanta, for
branding him a Holocaust denier in her 1994 book, “Denying
the Holocaust: the Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.” Lipstadt
described Irving as a “Hitler partisan,” who has
manipulated history by denying that the Holocaust occurred.
Irving, who claims his reputation has been destroyed, is seeking
damages that would be awarded by the judge if his libel action is
The younger man is Robert van Pelt, a Dutch architect and
cultural historian, now teaching at Waterloo University in Canada,
who wrote a massive, comprehensive study of Auschwitz and advised
the Polish authorities on the reconstruction of that most
notorious of Nazi death camps. He is appearing as an expert
witness for the defense. What they are discussing is a
crematorium, and how many corpses the elevator could deliver per
hour from the mortuary below, bearing in mind that it was
open-sided and they might fall off and clog the mechanism if
there were too many at one go.
Irving, a 61-year-old author of books on Adolf Hitler and Joseph
Goebbels, is trying to establish that 450,000 Hungarian Jews
could not have been killed and burned in three weeks in the
summer of 1944: the logistics of genocide. It is central to his
that millions of Jews were not gassed in Auschwitz and other
camps under the Third Reich. Less delicately, in a 1991 speech in
Calgary, Canada, Irving asserted: “More women died in the back
seat of Edward Kennedy’s car at Chappaquiddick than ever
died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz.”
Irving has never repudiated that statement, which was quoted by
defense counsel Richard Rampton on the opening day of the
High Court hearing. On the contrary, he reiterates it with glee
during an hour-long, late-January interview with “The Jerusalem
Report” in his Mayfair apartment. If Irving is not denying the
Holocaust, he is unrepentantly downsizing it.
“I don’t dispute that the Nazis machine-gunned over one million
Jews in big killing actions on the Eastern Front,” he explains in
the interview, “but I don’t buy the other end of the legend – the
notion that they had purpose-built factories of death in which
millions more were killed, up to a total of six million.”
WHAT IS ON TRIAL IN COURT No. 73, it seems, is the Holocaust
itself. How many died? Was their slaughter part of a
systematic Final Solution of the Jewish Problem? Did Hitler order
their annihilation? Irving claims that no researcher has yet
turned up a single piece of written evidence that he did. Rival
historians do not dispute that contention, but they reject
suggestion to the judge that Hitler is therefore “innocent until
In our interview (page 30), Irving says: “No one has come forward
with evidence that would even halfway satisfy a British court
as to his culpability. He could be convicted under the present
race hatred acts and get an 18-month jail sentence, suspended.
That’s all you’d get on the evidence at present.”
Jewish leaders in Britain, the United States and Israel are
reluctant to speculate in public on what victory for Irving would
The case, they note, is still sub judice. They don’t want to let
Irving accuse them of ganging up on him or of fostering trial by
media. “While the trial is on,” says Greville Janner, the Labor
peer and normally loquacious chairman of Britain’s Holocaust
Educational Trust, “it would be better for me to shut up.”
Yet they are clearly worried – not because of any lack of
evidence of what happened in the Holocaust, but because of the
narrow nature of this case, and its focus on Lipstadt’s choice of
language and Irving’s writings and reputation. Were he to
prevail, the fear is that he and people like him would try to
brandish the verdict as “proof,” confirmed by a British court of
that the Holocaust did not unfold as it did.
Defeat for Lipstadt would be extremely damaging to the cause of
Holocaust education, Jewish leaders privately acknowledge,
though not, they insist, fatal. In the West, at least, they say,
Holocaust awareness has passed a point of no return. In Britain,
instance, Tony Blair’s government has just established a national
Holocaust memorial day, and the Imperial War Museum is
creating a Holocaust wing (See sidebar, page 32). In Washington,
thousands visit the National Holocaust Museum daily.
German and Austrian presidents have apologized to the Jews for
their nations’ sins. The Swedish government has just presided
over an international forum on Holocaust education (See sidebar,
But at the same time, the far right is on the rise in parts of
western Europe, including Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark and
Norway. Even countries like Sweden are only now starting to come
to terms with their roles in the Holocaust. And Austria –
those presidential apologies notwithstanding – seems never to
have confronted its past and has now brought the far-right, in
shape of Joerg Haider’s Freedom Party, into its government. In
the Arab world, meanwhile, a recent scathing attack on Israel in
the Syrian state daily Tishrin, in which the Holocaust was
branded a Zionist “myth” and Israel was charged with committing
crimes far worse than the Nazis, underlines the potential prop-
aganda value for Israel’s critics of a verdict in Irving’s favor.
“If Irving won the case, it would give a license to all those who
are Holocaust deniers,” warns David Cesarani, professor of
Jewish history at Southampton University and director xof
London’s Wiener Library, one of the first and most respected of
Holocaust archives. “It would give aid and comfort to people like
Le Pen in France and Haider in Austria who want to minimize
the scale of Nazi atrocities and to rehabilitate Hitler.”
“In the Arab world,” says Yehuda Bauer, the chief historian at
the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, “an Irving
victory would be received with great acclamation and great
satisfaction as a defeat for the Jews. So much anti-Semitic
already appears in the press of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. These
are very important countries. We even have peace agreements
with some of them. It’s quite frightening.”
THE TRIAL OPENED ON JANUARY 11 and is expected to continue for
two or three months. Irving chose to sue Lipstadt
and her British publisher, Penguin Books, in an English court
because the burden of proof in a libel action here is on the
defendants. They have to demonstrate that what they disseminated
was true and fair comment. In the U.S., the plaintiff has the
more difficult task of showing that the author of the offending
material lied or was reckless.
The case is being heard by Charles Gray, one of Britain’s most
experienced libel lawyers before his elevation to the high court
bench. By agreement between the two sides, he is sitting without
a jury. The parties felt the issues would be too complex for a
lay panel to handle.
Irving is representing himself – three law students, who helped
him prepare his case on a voluntary basis, have dropped out
after being admitted to the Bar – and he confides that he is
starting to feel the strain. After each day in court, he works
a.m. preparing the next day’s material, then sleeps barely four
In court, Irving wears a dark blue, pinstriped suit. He is a
bulky figure: well over six feet tall, with a craggy head, fleshy
boat-sized feet in black lace-up shoes. At home, in the red-brick
, late-Victorian apartment block on Duke Street, between
Oxford Street and Grosvenor Square, he greets me in casual blue
pants, open-necked blue sports shirt and soft, white leather
sneakers. He makes us both filter coffee in the kitchen before we
go into his study. He welcomes an approach by a Jewish
reporter for an Israeli magazine. It shows he does talk to Jews.
In both settings, Irving is truculent, dogmatic and defiant. He
is an iconoclast, consciously challenging the consensus on the
crime of the 20th century. His aim is to shock, to set the record
straight as he sees it. “I don’t mind being disliked,” he says.
don’t think it’s my job to be liked.”
Even his bitterest critics acknowledge his encyclopedic grasp of
the minutiae of the Third Reich. He has done his homework.
Last summer, the “New York Times” quoted a leading British
military historian, John Kegan, as saying Irving “knows more than
anyone alive about the German side of the Second World War.”
No one has ever accused Irving of wearing his learning lightly.
What historians increasingly question, however, is the use he
makes of his material, the conclusions he draws, above all his
disdain for the testimony of Holocaust survivors and other
witnesses that might undermine his thesis.
“Irving consistently uses oral evidence from the circle around
Hitler,” David Cesarani complains, “Hitler’s adjutant, Hitler’s
batman, Hitler’s cleaners. But he refuses to give weight to
survivors of the camps and those who were involved in their
liberation. A historian who takes a balanced view of history
looks at all the sources, and juxtaposes one source against
to get as near as possible to the truth. You don’t get nearer by
excluding a whole set of evidence.”
In court, Irving dismisses the haunted memories of Primo Levi,
the Italian author, scientist and Auschwitz survivor, who
committed suicide in 1987. Levi, he argues, “wrote for payment
for profit-driven publishers.” Ergo, he is not to be trusted.
In our interview he is equally scornful of the testimony of Hans
Munch, an SS doctor who conducted genetic research in
Auschwitz under Dr. Josef Mengele and was spared after the war
because he sheltered his Jewish guinea pigs once he had
finished with them. In Austrian and German television interviews
in 1984 and 1995, Munch described the “crisis” caused by the
sudden arrival in Auschwitz of the 450,000 Hungarian Jews.
Supplies of Zyklon B gas pellets had run out. An SS officer
became the “hero of the day” when he drove a truck to the factory
and forced the workers to load it up, even though he didn’t
have the necessary requisition orders.
Munch, who now lives in retirement in Bavaria, said explicitly of
Mengele’s “selections” of Jews arriving at the camp: “Those
who were not fit to work were sent for gassing.” Challenged with
this, Irving replies: “Munch is a problem for the psychiatrists.
There’s absolutely no paper trail.”
IN COURT AND IN HIS MAYFAIR study, with its whirring data base
and bulging files, Irving betrays neither compassion
for the Jewish victims, nor empathy for a later generation that
wants to ensure that genocide on such a scale cannot be
repeated. The Jews, he insists, deserve no more sympathy than the
millions of other innocent war victims, Hitler’s, Churchill’s or
“This is what I find offensive about the Holocaust,” he tells me,
“the idea that Jews are entitled to some kind of protection.
You’re a member of one trades union, which is the innocent Jews’
trades union. You say you want special treatment. And I’m a
member of a much bigger trades union, the innocent people’s
trades union, the union of all innocent people.” He won’t explain
why you have to choose between one class of victim and another.
He prefers not to use the word “Holocaust.” When I talk of
genocide, he spurns the word as “the latest flavor of the month,
fashionable word they use,” adding darkly: “And I know why they
use it.” As for the Holocaust, he says he’s “not the least bit
interested” in it. “I find it an endlessly boring subject. I know
the Jewish community find it intensely fascinating, and they want
the whole world to take an interest in it. But I don’t. And I
know a very large number of people like me around the world who
are thoroughly fed up with it.”
Although he denies that he is an anti-Semite, Irving does not
hesitate to accuse Jews of cashing in on the Holocaust. In court,
tries to discredit Robert van Pelt’s Auschwitz history by arguing
that his American co-author, Deborah Dwork, is now the
incumbent of a $ 5 million chair in Holocaust studies at Clark
University. “It has become big business… There are all kinds of
profitable sidelines,” Irving insinuates, before Justice Gray
pointedly advises him that this particularly line of questioning
not impress me.”
In his 1991 Calgary speech, Irving delighted his far-right
audience by announcing that he was establishing an “Association
Spurious Survivors of the Holocaust and Other Liars,” ASSHOLS for
short. Nine years later, he celebrates this as a “very
good” line. When I protest that it wasn’t very tasteful, he
retorts: “There are a lot of Jews who are not very tasteful, and
methods which are not very tasteful. Money comes into it. They’re
doing it all over again. They’re creating the perception of the
avari- cious Jew, them and us.”
Irving comes perilously close to blaming the European Jews for
bringing the tragedy on themselves. “If I were a Jew,” he tells
me, “I would want to know not who pulled the trigger, but why.
Why is it only the Jews who were being sought out for this kind
of treatment, not just by the Nazis, but in other countries too?
Again and again, it’s the Jews who are picked on by the
non-Jewish people. They are made the victims of the most brutal
pogroms imaginable. Why is it yet again the Jews?”
When I press him to say whether he thinks the Jews brought the
Holocaust on themselves, he loses his cool. “It may have
sounded like that to your ears,” he snaps back, “because you’re
paranoid about it, because you don’t like the idea that the Jews
may have brought it even in part on themselves.”
Irving talks too of an “international Jewish conspiracy.” Not,
this time, a plot to rule the world, but to silence unpopular
after truth like David Irving. “I have two bundles of documents,”
he says, “establishing that there is a global network of
organizations that are operating for the last 10 years to destroy
my legitimacy as a historian – by letters to ambassadors, by
letters to governments, by letters to publishers.”
As a consequence, Irving says, he is now barred from Germany,
Italy, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. No
mainstream publisher will handle his books. He brought out the
last one, on the origins and impact of the Nuremberg war
crimes trials, himself. He said in court that the hostile
campaign had cost him, his wife and four children GBP 100,000 (
165,000) a year in lost income.
That, he says, is why he has brought a libel action that is
costing the defense and the state millions of pounds – and could
bankrupt him, if he loses and is ordered to pay costs. “I know
what has been done to me and my family by this international
endeavor, and that is what I’m striking back at. It’s going to
hurt those people who have done it,” he vows. “That, I think, is
why they’re spending this huge sum of money in what I regard as a
frantic attempt to stop me.”
Mr. Justice Gray, in his wisdom, will decide who is right and who
is wrong, in the eyes of the law. It is a verdict that will
resonate far beyond the confines of Court No. 73.
Copyright 2000 The Jerusalem Report
The Jerusalem Report, February 28, 2000, p. 30
“CONFRONTING HITLER’S DEFENDER,” by Eric Silver
David Irving tells Eric Silver why he’s ‘more interested’ in
the ‘innocent’ victims of World War II ‘than in the Jews’
THE CHILL SETS IN AS SOON AS I mention that I’m going to
interview David Irving. Old friends – one a leading Israeli
Holocaust scholar, another a child survivor of Auschwitz – try to
warn me off. Not because Irving should be ostracized as a
pariah, but because he is clever and knows more about the Third
Reich than I ever will.
The thrice-married son of a Royal Navy officer who fought in both
world wars, Irving is all they say, but our hour-long
interview in his rambling Mayfair apartment (not a piece of Nazi
memorabilia in sight, though he is proud of owning a rare Hitler
self-portrait) clarifies just what he does and does not believe
about the destruction of European Jewry.
He details how he graduated from author of a best-selling 1963
study of the Royal Air Force’s controversial destruction of
Dresden in February, 1945, to Hitler biographer, uniquely trusted
by the Fuhrer’s surviving personal staff, to become what
Professor D.C. Watt of the London School of Economics labelled
“Britain’s most hated historian.” His affair with Germany
began after he dropped out of university and became a steel
worker for the Thyssen company.
The Report: What was the bridge between writing about Dresden and
embarking on a crusade to challenge the accepted
version of the mass slaughter of the Jews?
Irving: The more you become involved in that history, the more
you realize there’s a lot of history that’s either been not told,
lot of history that’s been told wrongly. Because I had written
the Dresden book, I was persona grata with a large number of
Germans. They thought I was capable of thinking honestly, so they
were more willing to show me their files and their private
papers. They wanted to trust someone, and they decided to trust
me with the stuff.
And that led you to Hitler’s aides?
Yes, I was introduced to Otto Guensche, the man who burned
Hitler’s body. And Guensche, an SS officer on Hitler’s personal
staff, introduced me to the rest of the team. Gradually a ring of
confidence built up among these people. They were willing to
talk to me when they weren’t willing to talk to anybody else.
Do you admire Hitler?
There are things you admire and things you don’t admire. You have
to admire his steadfastness in defeat. And viewed from a
German viewpoint, he reunited the country, brought it back to
greatness and restored a sense of national pride after the
humiliating defeat of 1918. Then there’s the way he took the
Allied leaders one by one for a ride from a position of enormous
weakness. Even as a warlord, he didn’t do too badly until
Stalingrad. There were one or two specific military operations
have the seal of Hitler’s military genius – the campaign in
France in the winter of 1940, then the Ardennes offensive in
December, 1944, which took the Allies completely by surprise. It
very nearly came off.
What about the other side of the ledger?
On the other side of the ledger you have inexplicable qualities.
The criminality of his actions, the callousness and brutality.
Winston Churchill had exactly the same contempt for human life.
So did Roosevelt. The ability to issue an order which they
knew would by morning kill tens of thousands of people who had
not asked for this war, who were completely innocent. I’m far
more interested in these innocent people than I am in the Jews.
But Hitler promulgated a doctrine of racial supremacy. He
dehumanized and demonized the Jews, in his speeches and his
writings. And by so doing he made it legitimate for people to
kill unarmed, vulnerable Jews.
You’re right, and I’ve made no secret of this in my books. But
even then you’ve got to start splitting hairs and saying when did
he make the speeches, when did he write the writings. And the
answer is that as the years of his rule progressed, once he was
in power, the speechmaking against the Jews subsided. The writing
against the Jews totally vanished.
Did they really? On January 30, 1942, Hitler delivered a speech
at the sports palace in Berlin in which he said: “The result of
this war will be the complete annihilation of the Jews. They will
be finished for at least 1,000 years.” The speech was broadcast.
Millions of Germans heard it.
This particular passage appears in just about every speech Hitler
made. It’s like an old gramophone record. It was totally
meaningless. His tongue wagged, his lips opened, he breathed the
words. They had no real meaning. I think he was alluding to
the fact that three or four months earlier, the Jews were having
an extremely hard time in all the Nazi-occupied areas, not
necessarily just because the Germans were shooting them into mass
graves, but because all the indigenous populations were
taking revenge on them as well.
But they were encouraged to do so.
I didn’t know this at the time I was writing.
But you don’t deny it now?
No, a new document has arisen. In the SS files recently opened in
Moscow they have found an instruction by (Nazi security
chief) Heydrich to local commanders saying: “If the local
population desires to take action against the Jews, you are not
intervene. Indeed you are actively to encourage and assist them.”
Doesn’t this fostering of genocide under Hitler’s authoritarian
rule override the question of whether he was a brilliant
who fooled Chamberlain?
Certainly, in the eyes of history it’s condemned him
unfortunately for all time.
But in your eyes?
The crime that was inflicted on the Jewish people in Nazi-
occupied Europe undoubtedly outweighs all the achievements that
can be credited to Hitler’s name in the same period. And this is
what made it absolutely essential to establish precisely what his
role had been. I don’t contest that there was a total linkage,
from Himmler downwards, to the killings. But 55 years from the
end of World War II, nobody has yet managed to bridge the final
link between Hitler and Himmler when it comes to the Final
Before the war there were three million Jews living in Poland.
After the war, only one tenth of that number remained. The story
was repeated elsewhere. Camps were set up. There was a whole
technology of forced labor and of murder. There was an
apparatus, a bureaucracy. There were senior SS officers involved.
Surely, you can’t say that Hitler was unaware of this, that
Hitler wasn’t encouraging this, that this wasn’t the fulfillment
of Hitler’s vision of wiping out the Jews.
His vision was just to get them out of Europe, either beyond the
Urals or down to Madagascar. This is the documentary link we
have with Hitler, talking about geographical solutions. We also
have Hitler intervening to stop ugly things happening to
groups of Jews.
But he could have stopped the killing of all the Jews just as
easily if he had wanted, couldn’t he?
I’m quite happy to say that Hitler had not the slightest interest
in preserving the lives of the East European Jews. He’d made a
distinction in his own mind between the high-grade German Jews
and the low-grade Eastern Jews. Hitler made this distinction.
One grade, as far as he was concerned, had no right to continue
Yet you still claim that Hitler was innocent until proven guilty?
Nobody has proved it. Nobody has come forward with evidence that
would even satisfy a British court as to his culpability.
Israeli and German researchers tried independently to estimate
how many Jews died. They came to similar conclusions,
between 5.6 million and 6.1 million. If you don’t accept such
figures, how many Jews do you think did die?
I’m quite satisfied that the shootings on the Eastern Front
happened, that these probably reached a total victim figure of one
What about the people who died in concentration camps?
We have to ask two infuriating questions. Who is a Jew? And what
do you mean by died? I appreciate the criminality of being
taken out of your home in Vienna or Budapest and sent to
Auschwitz, where you died of typhus. But is that being killed, or
is it dying?