Irving v. Lipstadt
David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial: Electronic Edition, by Richard J. EvansTable of Contents
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(C) Invention, fabrication and falsification: placing Hitler's remarks at the meeting with Horthy on 17 April 1943 into a false context, in order to bend a reliable source.
1. As has been described above, Ribbentrop's comments to Horthy at the meeting on 17 April 1943 were almost immediately followed by a murderously antisemitic outburst on the part of Hitler. However, by removing Ribbentrop's preceding remark to a footnote, Irving places Hitler's subsequent statement addressed to Horthy on 17 April 1943 in an entirely different context:
Events in Poland were pointed to as providing an ugly precedent: there were reports of Jews roaming the country, committing acts of murder and sabotage... In Warsaw, the fifty thousand Jews surviving in the ghetto were on the point of staging an armed uprising - with weapons and ammunition evidently sold to them by Hitler's fleeing allies as they passed westward through the city. Himmler ordered the ghetto destroyed and its ruins combed out for Jews. "This is just the kind of incident that shows how dangerous these Jews are".
Poland should have been an object lesson to Horthy, Hitler argued. He related how Jews who refused to work there were shot; those who could not work just wasted away. Jews must be treated like tuberculosis bacilli, he said, using his favourite analogy. Was that so cruel when one considered that even innocent creatures like hares and deer had to be put down to prevent their doing damage? Why preserve a bestial species whose ambition was to inflict bolshevism on us all? Horthy apologetically noted that he had done all he decently could against the Jews: "But they can hardly be murdered or otherwise eliminated", he protested. Hitler reassured him: "There is no need for that."18
2. Thus, Irving implies, Jews were violent and disruptive in Eastern Europe and posed a threat. They had to be dealt with and 'combed out' like lice. But despite all this, Hitler did not want them killed.
3. This is pure invention on Irving's part. Whoever said "This is just the kind of incident that shows how dangerous these Jews are", Adolf Hitler certainly did not say it to Admiral Horthy at their meeting on 16-17 April 1943. Hitler did not mention the Warsaw ghetto uprising at all, which is not surprising, since it did not even begin until two days later. Nor did the uprising involve 50,000 armed Jews, as Irving implies, but at most a few thousand of them.19 Nor did Hitler mention Jewish partisan activity or Jewish violence, but simply poverty and degeneracy, something quite different. Irving also waters down the expression used by Hitler to describe the fate of those Polish Jews who could not work - verkommen - by translating it as 'wasted away', as if they had no assistance towards this fate by Nazi authorities who deliberately starved them of food.
4.Most seriously of all, however, the exchange reported at the end of Irving's account, beginning 'Horthy apologetically noted', did not occur on 17 April, as Irving clearly portrays by placing it immediately after his summary of Hitler's speech, but on the previous day, and in another context, namely during the first of the two men's meetings. On 16 April, namely, Horthy stated: 'He had done everything which one could decently undertake against the Jews, but one could surely not murder them or kill them in some other way. The Führer replied that this was also not necessary. Hungary could accommodate the Jews in concentration camps just like Slovakia did.'20 At this point in the meeting, Hitler and Ribbentrop were not being as open as they became on 17th. It was because he was not satisfied with Hitler's response, and was aware that he had still not satisfied the Nazi leaders with his, that Horthy repeated his question on 17th ('he surely couldn't beat them to death'), eliciting this time far more explicit statements of what they expected him to do, both from Ribbentrop and from Hitler, namely that they were to be put in camps if they could work, and killed if they could not.
5. One might add here that the majority of the Slovakian Jews were by no means 'only' put into concentration camps, as Hitler claimed on 16 April 1943. In fact, they were killed. According to SS statistics, 57,545 Slovakian Jews had been transported to Nazi-occupied Polish territory between 26 March 1942 and 31 March 1943 (only about 25,000 Jews were still left behind in Slovakia). The rest were dead.21
6. What Irving does, therefore, is to bend this reliable source to suit his argument, misprepresenting the historical data and skewing the documents on which he relies, by placing quotations in a false context, removing part of the record to a footnote, and mixing up two different conversations in the text so that it looks as if Hitler is telling Horthy that the Jews should not be killed, only interned in camps. Irving increases the force of Hitler's statement by putting it into direct speech instead of the indirect, reported speech in which it appears in the original minutes.
7. In fact, the real sequence of statements on 17 April is perfectly clear: Horthy, unclear as to why the Nazi leaders were still putting pressure on him after all the measures he had already taken against the Hungarian Jews, repeated his question to Hitler and Ribbentrop: surely you can't want me to kill them? Ribbentrop replied yes, that is exactly what they wanted, kill them or put them in camps, and Hitler immediately followed by saying he should do as had been done in Poland, namely shoot those who refused to work in the camps, and ensure that those who were unable to work perished.22 Just to make it absolutely clear, Hitler used the analogy of a healthy human body ridding itself of tuberculosis bacilli. His meaning could hardly have been clearer.
8. In the 1991 edition of Hitler's War, Irving omits all reference to the Warsaw uprising in this disussion of the meeting. Instead, he offers two different accounts of Hitler's words:
In Hitler's warning to Horthy that the "Jewish Bolsheviks" would liquidate all Europe's intelligentsia, we can identify the influence of the Katyn episode - a propaganda windfall about which Goebbels had just telephoned him...Hitler warmly approved Goebbels's suggestion that Katyn should be linked in the public's mind with the Jewish question. But the most persuasive argument used to reconcile Hitler with the harsher treatment of the Jews was the bombing war: From documents and target maps found in crashed bombers he knew that the British aircrews were instructed to aim only at the residential areas. Only one race murdered, he lectured the quailing Horthy, and that was the Jews. It was they who had provoked this war and given it its present character against civilians, women, and children.23
9. Irving provides no factual evidence for these two claims in his footnotes. The word 'Katyn' does not even occur a single time in Horthy's conversations with Hitler.
10. To be sure, Hitler did know about the massacre, since Goebbels had recorded Hitler's decision that it should be used for propaganda in his diary on 14 April 1943.24 But all of Hitler's statements in his conversations with Horthy were couched in general terms and differed little from his previous warnings about 'Jewish-Bolshevism':
It would surely be madness to believe that if the German army should not be in a position to stop the Russians, a Turkish-Bulgarian-Hungarian combination would be capable of it. It would be swept aside, and the Bolshevist Jews in Moscow would annihilate the intelligentsia and exterminate the masses by unimaginable means.25
11. Katyn thus had nothing to do with it, and there is no evidence that knowledge of it made Hitler more antisemitic than he had been previously. The reference is pure invention on Irving's part.
12. Similarly with Allied bombing raids. Irving's claims that these lay behind Hitler's antisemitic outbursts in his conversations with Horthy rest on Hitler's statement to Horthy on 16 April 1943 that there was no need to be soft towards the Jews because
they were also responsible for the present war and the form which it has taken, in particular for the bombardment of the civil population and the numerous victims among women and children...Only one murdered, namely the Jew, who sparked wars and through his influence given them their present character directed against civilians, women and children.26
13. And on the following day, Hitler told Horthy at the beginning of their conversation that the Germans had found detailed plans which showed that during a recent raid on Frankfurt the British bombers were not specifically instructed to destroy industrial targets but had been told they could also bomb residential areas (not quite the same as Irving's claim that they were told to aim only at residential areas). Also, there is no mention of Jews in this passage.
14. Immediately after this statement, Hitler added that ''the attacks themselves had been irritating but wholly trivial.'27 In view of the fact that he dismissed them as unimportant, it is highly unlikely that these bombing raids roused Hitler to an unprecedented antisemitic fury which he then expressed to Horthy. The antisemitic outbursts in his conversations with the Hungarian leader in fact only need explaining in Irving's scheme of things by such inventions and fabrications because Irving denies the normal antisemitic virulence of Hitler's views at other times. In fact, of course, there is massive evidence for the extreme nature of Hitler's antisemitism at other times, stretching back over more than two decades.
15. This boundless antisemitism is also evident throughout Hitler's talks with Horthy. Hitler had mentioned among other things during these conversations that (in his view) the Jews were to blame for the 1918 revolution, the First World War and the Second World War, that they had had a very destructive impact on morals, on the currency and on the economy, that they were parasites, that they ran the black market in wartime, and that any country or city that did not get rid of them would go under.28
16. In another passage not quoted or referred to by Irving, Hitler told Horthy thatLater, he added that 'the Jews had indeed started the war, and one need have no sympathy for them if the war now brought serious consequences for them with it.'30
one did not need to fight shy of pursuing the struggle against the Jews energetically on his part either. There must be no deviation in this, and anyone who believed in compromises in this question was fundamentally deceiving himself. Why should the Jews be treated with kid gloves?...They were also responsible for the present war and the form which it had taken on, and for the numerous victims among women and children.29
17. In view of all this, it seems very unlikely that a bombing raid which Hitler described as 'trivial' and which he did not link directly to the Jews, would have counted for very much in his mind. Hitler pursued his murderous policies against the Jews not because of the alleged criminality of Jews in Poland, the impending Warsaw uprising, or the bombing campaign of the Allies, but because of his all-consuming hatred of the Jews, whom he saw as responsible for almost every problem that faced Germany and the world. Finally, Irving's manipulation of the context of Hitler's remarks on 17 April 1943 cannot distract from the simple fact that Hitler openly admitted and justified the murder of the Jews in these conversations with the Hungarian leader.
18. Irving, Hitler's War (1977 ed.), p. 509; repeated in Irving, 'Hitler and the Jews', The Spectator, 30 September 1978 (correspondence column).
19. R. Ainsztein, Jewish Resistance in Nazi-occupied Europe (London, 1974), pp. 624-5; E. Jäckel, P. Longerich, J. Schoeps (eds.), Enzyklopädie des Holocaust, Vol. 3 (Munich, 1995), p. 1,555; R. Ainsztein, The Warsaw Ghetto Revolt (New York, 1979), pp. 97-9.
20. Hillgruber (ed.), Staatsmänner, Vol. 2, p. 245.
21. R. Hilberg, Die Vernichtung der europäischen Juden, Vol. 2 (Frankfurt am Main, 1990), p. 779, 785..
22. In 1978 Irving also claimed that in this passage Hitler was referring to Poles not Jews at all ('Hitler was alluding to his draconian ordinances of 1939, provided the death penalty for Poles refusing to work'), even though the source in question, cited in the text above, clearly has Hitler saying 'If the Jews there (i.e., in Poland) didn't want to work, they would be shot.' (Irving, 'Hitler and the Jews'; n. 18, above).
23. Irving, Hitler's War (1991 ed.), p. 542.
24. Fröhlich (ed.), Die Tagebücher, von Joseph Goebbels, Teil II, Bd. 8, p. 104.
25. 'Es wäre doch ein Wahnsinn zu glauben, daß, wenn die deutsche Armee nicht imstande sein, sollte, die Russen aufzuhalten, eine türkisch-bulgarisch-ungarische Kombination dazu fähig wäre. Sie würde beiseite gefegt werden, und die bolschewistischen Juden aus Moskau würden die Intelligenz vernichten und die Massen mit unvorstellbaren Methoden ausrotten? (Hillgruber (ed.), Staatsmänner, Vol. 2, p. 254).
26. Hillgruber (ed.), Staatsmänner, Vol. 2, pp. 240, 245:'auch für den jetzigen Krieg und die Form, die er angenommen habe, seien sie verantwortlich, insbesondere für die Bombardierung der Zivilbevölkerung und die zahlreichen Opfer unter Frauen und Kindern....nur einer morde, nämlich der Jude, der die Kriege anzettele und ihnen durch seinen Einfluß seinen jetzigen gegen Zivilisten, Frauen und Kinder gerichteten Charakter gegeben habe.'
27. Ibid., p. 255: 'Die Angriffe selbst seien zwar störend, aber gäzlich belanglos.'
28. Ibid., pp. 240, 245-6, 256-7.
29. Hillgruber (ed., Staatsmänner, p. 240.
30. Ibid. p. 246.
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