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

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<< (e) Dresden and Holocaus...

(f) Conclusion.

 
1. It is clear that Irving has played a pivotal role in keeping the myths of the Dresden attack persistent in the public mind. From the above examination of Irving's account it is clear that this has involved the deliberate falsifying of statistics, mistaking circumstances, misrepresenting testimony, attributing false conclusions to reliable sources, using evidence which he should know to be unreliable or forged, and bending reliable sources to fit his argument in order to arrive at conclusions that are historically untenable. His estimation of the purposes and biases of those compiling historical sources varies not according to the sources themselves, but according to how useful Irving finds them in his attempt to maximise the numbers killed.
2. Irving's overriding purpose has been to drive up the figure of those killed in the raids by any means until it becomes many times greater than the actual number, and begins to achieve implicit comparability with the mass murders carried out by the Nazis at Auschwitz and elsewhere. In the light of his consistent and deliberate falsification of the historical evidence to this end, it was hypocritical of him to ask the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a reputable Munich newspaper, in 1985: 'Is the question of the number of deaths really of consequence?'237, and say to The Times that, 'It is odious to debate whether we killed 200,000 or "only" 35,000 that night.'238
3. Few would now wish to defend the Allied bombing raids on Dresden on 13/14 February 1945. No-one would want to underestimate the terrible cost they wrought in terms of human life and suffering, or ignore the wanton destruction of some of Europe's most beautiful and significant buildings, whose reconstruction is still not complete more than half a century later. But the way   to reach a reasoned judgement on these events is not to falsify the evidence, which is already horrifying enough: all that does is to obscure the issues. Irving's manipulations and exaggerations have merely got in the way of a proper discussion of these events, rather than assisting it.
4. Although his inaccuracies and distortions of the truth have long since been exposed, he persists in presenting them to his readers as an accurate depiction of the historical record. Perhaps the best way of dealing with his version of the destruction of Dresden was found in 1985 by his German publishers, who appended to the title page of his book the description, 'a novel'.
 

Notes

236. Videocassette 200: Irving, 'The Search for Truth in History -Banned!' 1993.
237. Doc. 1063, Irving to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, 15 February 1985.
238. Doc. 1064, Irving to The Times, 21.2.85 (unpublished).
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