Irving v. Lipstadt
David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial: Electronic Edition, by Richard J. EvansTable of Contents
|<< (J) Misrepresentation of...||< (A) Misquotation, manip...||(L) Invention of evidenc... >|
(K) Use of a discredited and disreputable source: Ingrid Weckert
1. It has already been noted that Irving contemptuously almost never cites, discusses or makes use of the work of other historians or writers. It is all the more surprising, therefore, that in his Goebbels: Mastermind of the 'Third Reich', he refers no less than six times in seven pages to an author by the name of Ingrid Weckert in his account of the events of 9-10 November 1938. Clearly he regards her as an eminent authority on the pogrom. Characteristically, however, the references he supplies are inadequate, the footnotes sloppy and in crass contravention to the normal practice of responsible historical scholarship. Footnotes are designed to enable the reader to check statements in the text against the sources cited to see if the statements rest on a reasonable interpretation of the sources in question. Checking Irving's statements and claims is often difficult, since he commonly provides vague or incomplete references, but in the case of Ingrid Weckert it is even more difficult than usual. In the footnotes to the seven pages under consideration here, Irving repeatedly refers merely to 'Ingrid Weckert' or 'the author Ingrid Weckert', without providing any details of who she is or even the name of the publication or publications for which she is responsible. The critical reader is entitled to ask, therefore, who this mysterious writer Ingrid Weckert is, and which of her works provide authority for the statements Irving is making in the text.
2. Ingrid Weckert has long been active on the far-right German and international 'revisionist' scene. Based in Munich, she had close connections with leading Holocaust deniers. In March 1991, for example, Ernst Zündel, the German-Canadian antisemite, admirer of Hitler and proven Holocaust denier, was apparently arrested at Weckert's Munich home.151 Weckert has also corresponded with Zündel and Irving.152 She has authored several articles in publications by Holocaust deniers and self-styled 'revisionists', such as the Journal of Historical Review, discussed above. Her work has consistently aimed to play down or deny the crimes of the 'Third Reich'. In an article published in 1994, for instance, she declared that 'the claim that Germans killed thousands of people in "gas vans" is to be categorized as rumour.'153 In an article published in 1985, which Irving has evidently read, Weckert openly acknowledged her sympathy for the Nazis, confessing that 'the youth of Adolf Hitler's Germany was the finest of all Europe and perhaps of the entire world. The same ethical standards', she continued, 'applied to the SS and SA...It was their faithfulness and gallantry which saved Germany from chaos and Communism.'154
3. In 1997, Weckert suggested in an article that conditions in the Dachau concentration camp were better when it was run by the SS than when it became a US internment camp after the end of the Second World War. The article in which she put forward this claim was first published in the magazine Sleipnir, published in Berlin by the Verlag der Freunde (VdF).155 According to the annual report of the North-Rhine-Westphalian Government Office for the Protection of the Constitution, this magazine is
Mainly a forum for extreme right-wing authors from home and abroad. Besides agitation against foreigners and antisemitic agitation, revisionist views are particularly represented...On the basis of suspicion of publishing contributions which are an incitement to antisemitism, the offices of the VdF and the private residences of those responsible for it have been searched several times in the past and relevant publications as well as parts of the publishing operation seized.156
4.According to information posted on various 'revisionist' websites, Weckert was sentenced in 1998 by the local court or Amtsgericht in Berlin-Tiergarten to a fine of over three thousand German Marks for her article in Sleipnir.157
5. Weckert is best known, however, for her manipulation of the historical record of the pogrom of 9-10 November 1938. She published a series of articles on the subject in the late 1970s, at least one of which was read at the time by Irving.158 Her book Feuerzeichen: Die 'Reichskristallnacht', was first published in German in 1981 and is also available in an English translation. The complete third German edition of the book published in 1989, is available on the Internet on the website of Vrij Historisch Onderzoek,, a 'revisionist' website offering a forum for the dissemination of the writings of prominent Holocaust deniers such as Arthur R. Butz, Robert Faurisson, Fred Leuchter, Wilhelm Stäglich and m any others. The same website also includes a substantial number of articles by David Irving.159 Irving has also read at least parts of Weckert's book, as well as an article on the pogrom published by Weckert in 1985.160
6. Weckert's book is full of crude and offensive antisemitic remarks and praise for Hitler's 'Third Reich'. On Nazi antisemitism, for example, Weckert declares that a 'rational and sustainable solution' to 'the Jewish problem' between 1939 and 1942 was sought by the German government, the Nazi party and the SS. As far as the events of 9-10 November 1938 are concerned, Weckert absolves all the leading Nazis of any blame and suggests that it was master-minded by German 'traitors' and 'World Jewry' in the hope that such violence would reflect badly on the (blameless) Nazi regime and cause it to fall. The real victims of the pogrom were the Germans, not the Jews. Not surprisingly, the German authorities have blacklisted the book. It is illegal to sell or lend it to any person under the age of eighteen. The authorities not only described the book as likely to corrupt young minds by arousing antisemitic feelings in them but also declared that it showed no evidence even of minimal attempts at truthfulness and objectivity.161
7. Irving's source Ingrid Weckert thus turns out to be an antisemitic propagandist who is a well known figure on the Holocaust denial scene, who has been sentenced for her antisemitic and pro-Nazi outpourings, and whose book is blacklisted in Germany. It is obvious that Irving has good reason to hide the true identity of his source from his readers and to withhold full references to her work in his footnotes. Nevertheless, he knowingly makes use of the book in his biography of Goebbels. His claim on page 276, for example, that only three of the twenty-eight SA Gruppen received actual orders to stage demonstrations is taken straight from Weckert's work.162
8. It is neither possible nor necessary here to pursue all the instances in Goebbels: Mastermind of the 'Third Reich', in which Irving relies on Weckert's spurious historical work. One example must suffice. On page 280, Irving claimes that Werner Naumann, State Secretary in the Propaganda Ministry, reported that when Goebbels returned to Berlin early on 11 November 1938 he 'fulminated with suppressed anger against the extent of the pogrom and issued a public dressing down to his deputies Görlitzer...and Wächter when they met him on the railroad platform'. The source for this claim? If we turn to note 59 on page 614, we find simply: 'Cited by Weckert'. Exactly what is cited by Weckert can be found in her Chapter on the events following the pogrom of 9-10 November, where she refers to a 'personal communication of Dr. Naumann to the author on 24. 1. 79 and 27. 3. 79', in which Naumann supposedly described how he and Goebbels arrived in Berlin on 10 November 1938:
When we arrived in Berlin in the morning, Görlitzer (the deputy Gauleiter of Berlin) welcomed us at the station and reported on the events of the previous night. The doctor (i.e. Goebbels) was extremely angry and made no secret of his displeasure, which was all the more unpleasant because in the meantime numerous fellow-travellers had recognised him and gathered around him. As the two gentlemen were debating with one another, I succeeded with difficulty in persuading them to continue their loud discussion in the car.163
9. Comparing this alleged letter with Irving's text, it is immediately clear that for whatever reason, Irving has simply invented the presence of Wächter on the station; there is no mention of him in this 'source' at all. Even if he had just relied on the letter instead of embellishing it with his own invention, Irving would not have been out of trouble. For Naumann is a demonstrably unreliable source for the events of 9/10 and 11 November 1938. Naumann's alleged letter to Weckert makes it clear that he is claiming to have boarded the train in Munich on the night of 9 November and arrived on the morning of 10 November, which is demonstrably untrue, since Goebbels stayed in Munich that night. In another passage, Naumann claims that Goebbels was upset when they passed the burning synagogue in Munich, a claim which Goebbels's own diaries show to be completely without foundation.
10. Since Irving is familiar with the diaries, he therefore unilaterally alters the date of arrival in Berlin clearly indicated by Naumann - 10 November - to 11 November, when Goebbels did indeed arrive in the capital. But if this was so, then what were 'the events of the previous night' to which Naumann referred? Not a lot happened on the night of 10/11 November, and certainly not the pogrom over which Naumann says Goebbels was upset: it had happened on the night of 9/10 November.
11. What we have here, therefore, is a whole chain of fabrications and inventions. Irving here is deliberately using sources that are obviously unreliable; he is also copying from another author - a notorious antisemite and falsifier of history - in a manner that he has frequently criticized legitimate historians for doing. Moreover, he does not rest content with merely copying. Irving doctors and manipulates a claim made by Weckert, which rests on a dubious and demonstrably false report, by Naumann, in order to bolster his wholly misleading account of the pogrom of 9/10 November 1938. A more blatant disregard for the most elementary rules of historical scholarship would be hard to imagine.
151. See http://www.webcom.com/-ezundel/english/zgrams/zg9809/980912.html further information from http://www.codoh.com/thoughtcrimes/9103ZUND.HTML, These are two 'revisionist' websites.
152. Irving to Weckert, 3 June 1979; 22 August 1992,.
153. 'Die Behauptung, Deutsche hätten durch "Gaswagen" Tausende von Menschen umgebracjt, als Gerücht einzuftufen ist': IngridWeckert, 'Die Gaswagen', in E. Gauss (ed.), Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte (Tübingen, 1994), http://www.codoh.com/inter/intgrweckert.html. The Grabert Verlag, which publishedthis collection, is well known for publishing material of this kind.
154. Weckert, "Crystal Night" 1938: The Great Anti-German Spectacle', The Journal of Historical Review, Vol. 6 (1985), pp. 183-206, disclosed in Irving's Third Supplemental Discovery List, with pencil lines in the margin.
155. Ingrid Weckert (alias Hugo Rauschke), 'Zweimal Dachau', Sleipnir 3 (2) (1997), pp. 14-27, reprinted in http://www.who.org/D/Sleipnir/RauWe3_2.html.
156. 'vorwiegend em Forum für rechtsextremistische Autoren aus dem In- und Ausland. Neben fremdenfeindlicher und antisemitischer Agitation werden insbesondere revisionistische Auffassungen vertreten... Aufgrund des Verdachts der Veröffentlichung von volksverhetzenden antisemitischen Beitragen wurden die Räume des VdF und die Privatwohnungen der Verantwortlichen in derVergangenheit mehrfach durchsucht und einschlägige Publikationen sowie Teile der Verlagseinrichtung beschlagnahmt': Innenministerium des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen (ed.), Verfassungsschutzbericht des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen über das Jahr 1997, also on http:// www.verfassungsschutz.nrw.de/.
157. For further information on the trial of Ingrid Weckert, see the 'revisionist' website http://www.who.org/News/D/News3_98.html#Weckert, and for more details on Weckert, see also http://www.webcom.coml-ezundel/english/zgrams/zg1998/zg9809/980912.html
158. I. Weckert, 'Die Reichskristallnacht - 2. Folge', Göttinger Briefe, März-April 1979, and Irving to Weckert, 3 June 1979, both in Third Supplemental Discovery List.
159. Ingrid Weckert, Feuerzeichen. Die 'Reichskristallnacht Anstifter u. Brandstifter - Opfer u. Nutzniesser (3rd ed., Tübingen, 1988); quotations and details here are from the version published on the website http://www.vho.org/D/Feuerzeichen/FR.html.
160. The testimony of Naumann, discussed later in this Report, is taken over by Irving from Weckert, but only mentioned in her book - not in the two articles by her which he has included in his Discovery. See Weckert, 'Die Reichskristallnacht - 2. Folge', Weckert, "Crystal Night" 1938', the latter with pencil lines in the margin, both in Third Supplemental Discovery List; and also Irving's comments in Irving, 'Revelations from the Goebbels Diary', p. 12.
161. Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Schriften, Entscheidung 4651 (V), 16 June 1994, in Bundesanzeiger 120 (30 June 1994); see also Entscheidung 3823, 30 April 1988.
162. See the pencil lines in the margins of the relevant sections of Irving's copy of Weckert, "Crystal Night" 1938, in Third Supplemental Discovery List.
163. 'Als wir morgens in Berlin ankamen, begrüßte uns Görlitzer (der stellvertretende Gauleiter von Berlin) aufdem Bahnhof und berichtete von den Ereignissen der letzten Nacht. Der Doktor war auf das äußerste empört und machte aus seinem Unwillen kein Hehl, was um so unangenehmer war, als inzwischen viele Mitreisende ihn erkannt und sich in seiner Nähe angesammelt hatten. Es geland mir mit Mühe, die beiden miteinander diskutierenden Herren zu bewegen, ihre laute Besprechung im Auto fortzusetzen.' Quotation in 'Nach der "Kristallnacht", chapter of Weckert, Feuerzeichen. Page and chapter numbers not given in Internet version.
|<< (J) Misrepresentation of...||< (A) Misquotation, manip...||(L) Invention of evidenc... >|