David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial: Electronic Edition, by Richard J. Evans

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(e) Conclusion >>

(a) Lipstadt's allegations and Irving's replies

1. In her book Denying the Holocaust, Deborah Lipstadt unhesitatingly identifies David Irving as a Holocaust denier. He 'declared himself converted to Holocaust denial' in 1988, she writes, and since then, she alleges, he has been untiring in his efforts 'to promulgate Holocaust denial notions in various countries'. 'Irving is', says Lipstadt, 'one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial.' 1 Irving has objected strongly to this description in his libel action against Lipstadt. 'It is a particularly mischievous and damaging libel to call the Plaintiff "a Holocaust denier",' he wrote in his reply to Lipstadt's defence, 'a lie worthy of the Nazi propaganda minister Dr Goebbels himself.'2
2. In his reply to Lipstadt's defence against his charge of libelling him in this way, Irving asserts 'that the whole of World War Two can be defined as a Holocaust'. He 'considers it invidious to single out one single act of mass murder of innocents and to label it "The Holocaust", as though there was none other. But he goes on to add:
If however the Defendants seek to define the Holocaust as the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis and their cohorts during World War II, then the Plaintiff maintains that he has at no time denied it; on the contrary, he has rendered it more plausible by investigating documents, questioning witnesses, and uncovering fresh sources and making no secret of for example the alleged liquidation of 152,000 Jews at Chelmno on December 8, 1941, about which he wrote in Hitler's War, 1991 edition, at page 426. At page 7 of his book on aerial warfare   against civilians Von Guernica bis Vietnam (From Guernica to Vietnam), the very first page of text, the Plaintiff emphasised: "The massacre of minorities by the National Socialists in Germany...probably cost more lives than all the air raids carried out to the present date." 3
3. Similarly, Irving maintains that he 'has at no time denied that the Nazis established concentration camps throughout their territories'. He says he 'has at no time denied that the murder of the Jews began in about June 1941 when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, or that hundreds of thousands of Jews were shot to death'. In this context he refers to pages 270-1 of the 1977 edition of Hitler's War, pages 380-1 of the revised edition of the same book, and unnumbered pages of his recent biography of Goebbels.4
4. These points, however, do not really relate to the Holocaust as defined above, in Section (a) or Holocaust denial as defined above, in Section (b). Irving writes only of an 'alleged liquidation' at Chelmno; he does not accept, therefore, that 152,000 Jews were actually killed there (and this Report will examine later on what precisely he has written and said about this matter). He refers to 'concentration camps', but the existence of such camps is not at issue, for nobody has denied that concentration camps were built to imprison those whom the Nazis regarded as their enemies, above all within the borders of the Reich, at Dachau, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen, Flossenbürg and elsewhere. What is at issue is a different category of camp, namely those constructed in occupied Eastern Europe, such as Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka and Chelmno, and built specifically and exclusively to exterminate Jews, or, in the case of   Auschwitz-Birkenau, with extermination as one of its principal aims: in other words, the extermination camps. The distinction between the two is crucial.
5. The murder by shooting of thousands of Jews is not the same as the extermination by shooting, gassing, starvation and deliberate neglect of millions of Jews which forms an essential part of the Holocaust as conventionally understood. Moreover, the book on aerial warfare to which Irving refers was published in 1982; but Irving's views on these issues have not stood still over time. Indeed, in order to establish the accuracy or otherwise of Lipstadt's characterization of Irving as a Holocaust denier, it is particularly important to bear this point in mind. A comparison of the two editions of his major work, Hitler's War, published respectively in 1977 and 1991, will make this clear, and will also shed light on the first counter-argument put by Irving, namely that an examination of this book demonstrates that he is not a Holocaust denier.

Notes

1. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, pp. 179-81
2. Reply to Defence of Second Defendant, p. 11.
3. Ibid., pp. 10-11.
4. Ibid, p. 4.
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