Irving v. Lipstadt

Defense Documents

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

Table of Contents
(C) Irving's partial with... >>

(A) Continued misrepresentation of the Himmler phone log of 30 November 1941

1. In his submission to the court, Irving defends his broad, and as we have seen, completely false interpretation of the Himmler phone log of 30 November 1941 by claiming that the phrase 'Judentransport aus Berlin' could be translated as 'transportation' in the sense of a repetitive movement. But there is no doubt about the fact that the German word 'Judentransport' only refers to one single transport. Otherwise, the German plural, 'Judentransporte', would have been used. Irving already knew that the subject of the phone call had been limited to Jews transported only from Berlin because this is what the document actually says. Thus, his more far-reaching claim that there was an order that Jews in general were not to be liquidated was a deliberate misrepresentation of the source. The leading German historian and critic of Irving, Martin Broszat, like Irving writing in 1977, had no difficulty in establishing that Himmler and Heydrich were talking about the transport from Berlin of 27 November 1941.87
 
2. Irving subsequently claimed that only after the publication of the 1977 edition of Hitler's War did 'colleagues provided him with the documentation which usefully narrowed down the reference in the Himmler-Heydrich phone note of November 30, 1941 to one particular trainload of Jews being shipped from Berlin to Riga at that time'. What is this documentation to which Irving refers? The evidence that the phone call referred to a single transport of Jews is unmistakably present in the document itself. However, while implicitly denying that he deliberately manipulated the document by misconstruing it to mean a general ban on killing Jews, Irving does concede that he has amended his account of it since 1977.
3.In Goebbels: Mastermind of the 'Third Reich', published in 1996, as well as in the 1991 edition of Hitler's War, Irving indeed appears to have stepped back from some of his earlier claims.88 All he argues in Goebbels is that the Berlin Jews who arrived in Riga on 30 November 1941 were killed 'even as Hitler...was instructing Himmler that these Berlin Jews were not to be liquidated'.89 In his Reply to the Defence, submitted to the court, Irving similarly argues that the significance of the phone call on 30 November 1941 is that 'these Jews were shot despite the existence of a specific Hitler ruling to the contrary'.
4. However, as we have already seen, there was no 'specific Hitler ruling'. It is also nonsense to argue that the Jews were shot 'despite' a ruling to the contrary, for as Irving himself states in the same paragraph of his submission to the court, the Berlin   Jews were shot dead on 30 November 'a few hours before Himmler spoke with Heydrich'.
5. As the German historians Martin Broszat and Eberhard Jaeckel also pointed out, moreover, if Hitler had intervened personally to stop the killing of a single trainload of Berlin Jews on their arrival in Riga, then this would also strongly suggest that he was making an exception here, and that he knew that there was a general policy of killing them on arrival. Thus Irving's revised interpretation snared him in a fresh net of contradictions, in which the document ends up by showing the reverse of what he intended it to.90

Notes

87. Broszat, 'Hitler', 760.
89. Irving, Goebbels, p. 379.
88. See also Irving, Hitler's War (London, 1991), p. 427, where he speaks of 'a trainload of Berlin's Jews'.
90. Eberhard Jäckel, 'Hitler und der Mord an den europäischen Juden. Widerlegung einer absurden These', in Peter Marthesheimer and Ivo Frenze (eds.), Im Kreuzfeuer: Der Fernsehfilm Holocaust. Eine Nation ist betroffen (Frankfurt am Main 1979), pp. 15162, here pp. 153-4; Broszat, 'Hitler', 761.
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