Irving v. Lipstadt
David Irving, Holocaust Denial, and his Connections to Right Wing Extremists and Neo-National Socialism (Neo-Nazism) in Germany: Electronic Edition, by Hajo FunkeTable of Contents
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4.4 Irving's conversion to Holocaust denial and Holocaust denial (radical revisionism) as a core element of the German neo-Nazi Network.
4.4.1. In January 1985 a trial started by the Crown against Ernst Zündel in Toronto, Canada. He was charged with reprinting and distributing Richard Harwood's denialist "classic", Did Six Million Really Die? On 25 March 1985 Zündel was found guilty of peddling anti-Semitic propaganda and was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment.143 Because of technicality in the trial proceedings the judgement was lifted and a second trial was ordered, that commenced in January 1988. The Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson commissioned a specialist, Fred Leuchter, to undertake a scientific investigation of the gas chambers and the de-lousing facilities in Auschwitz for the court. Faurisson hoped thereby to prove the non-existence of the gas chambers in Auschwitz. Leuchter flew to Auschwitz and on 5 April 1988 presented his 132-page report to the court. Against the wishes of Zündel's lawyer, the report was not accepted by the court, either as an expert opinion or as evidence, but it was appended to the trial files for documentary purposes. It was first printed in London in June 1989 as The Leuchter Report: The First Forensic Examination of Auschwitz with a foreword by Irving.144
4.4.2. The Leuchter Report appears to have convinced Irving to abandon his previous belief in the existence of a concerted plan for the physical destruction of the Jews and the existence of gas chambers in Auschwitz, and other Nazi death camps, although Irving never seems to have been very far from becoming a full-blown denialist. In 1983 he explained to an audience at the International Revisionist Conference the full scope of what he was certain of, which considering the systematic nature and vast scale of the Holocaust was very little.
I would specify as follows: I would say I am satisfied in my own mind that in various locations Nazi criminals, acting probably without direct orders from above, did carry out liquidations of groups of people including Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, mentally incurable people and the rest. I am quite plain about that in my own mind. I can't prove it, I haven't investigated that particular aspect of history but from the documents I have seen, I've got the kind of gut feeling which suggests to me that that is probably accurate.145
4.4.3. In public in Germany before 1989 Irving endorsed the 6 million figure. For instance in a legal affirmation of 1982 he wrote 'I do not support the "six-million lie", nor do I underpin it in scholarship. The opposite is true. I myself speak in my works of the extermination of 6 million Jews.'146 Yet in private he would seem to have had his doubts about the overall figure. In a letter to Günter Deckert of the NPD in the same year he wrote 'One could therefore present my opinions on the "Final Solution" (in short: it happened, more than a million people certainly died, but on whose orders?)'147
4.4.4. Following the Leuchter Report, Irving saw himself obliged to remove all previous references to Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Majdanek as extermination camps from his subsequent publications, starting in Germany in 1989 with a book based largely on previous works.148 In his foreword to the Leuchter Report Irving wrote:
For myself, shown this evidence for the first time when called as an expert witness at the Zündel trial in Toronto in April 1988, the laboratory reports were shattering. There could be no doubt as to their integrity....
Until the end of this tragic century there will always be incorrigible historians, statesmen, and publicists who are content to believe, or have no economically viable alternative but to believe, that the Nazis used "gas chambers" at Auschwitz to kill human beings. But it is now up to them to explain to me as an intelligent and critical student of modern history why there is no significant trace of any cyanide compound in the buildings, which they have always identified as the former gas chambers.
Forensic science is, I repeat, an exact science. The ball is in their court.149
4.4.5. In the press release accompanying the launch of the Leuchter Report Irving wrote:
In April last year I was called to give expert evidence at the Toronto appeal hearing of Ernst Zündel. The defence attorneys there showed me the forensic test results on the buildings identified by Holocaust historians as Auschwitz gas chambers. The results have convinced me that the buildings were not, at any time, gas chambers. There is no trace of cyanide compounds in their fabric, and there should be.150
4.4.6. Similarly he explained his conversion to the Tenth International Revisionist Conference in a talk held under an exhortation to 'Sink the Auschwitz.'
This is how it was when I was in Toronto a couple of years ago. I was called as an expert witness as a historian to give evidence at the Erst Zündel case, where Zündel's researchers showed me the Leuchter Report, the laboratory tests on the crematoria and the gas chambers. As a person who, at the University in London, studied chemistry and physics and the exact sciences, I knew that this was an exact result. There was no way around it. And suddenly all that I'd read in the archives clicked into place. You have to accept that, if there is no evidence anywhere in the archives that there were any gassings going on; that if there's not one single German document that refers to the gassing of human beings - not one wartime German document; and if there is no reference anywhere in the German archives to anybody giving orders for the gassings of people, and if, on the other hand, the forensic tests on the laboratories, of the crematoria, and the gas chambers and Auschwitz and so on, show that there is no trace, no significant residue whatsoever of a cyanide compound, then this can all only mean one thing.151
4.4.7. The international revisionist network intensified and radicalized its activities in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Germany being no exception. This development was in some senses coincidental, in others integral to the growth and force of the German neo-Nazi network. It must suffice to comment that the interdependence of the neo-Nazi movement and radical revisionism was mutual, and indeed in the cases of individuals like Ernst Zündel or Ewald Althans one-and-the-same.
4.4.8. Most extreme neo-Nazi groups closely identify with the Nazi regime and its leadership, explicit in their efforts to revive the central ideas of the Third Reich and play the role of an avantgarde paving the way towards a second National Revolution ('Fourth Reich'). Integral to a rehabilitation of NS was the attempt to deny the realities of Auschwitz and the Nazi regime's mass crimes. For the groups subsumed in the GdNF the ideological propaganda tool of the radicalised version of revisionism, 'the Auschwitz lie', was of decisive ideological importance, and was an important bond between groups, a common point of reference. The GdNF network saw revisionism as an important element in creating a neo-Nazi oriented totalitarian regime. Strands of revisionism which blame Jewish propaganda for the lie of Auschwitz gave added ammunition to attack Jews and others seen as hindering them in achieving their goals.
4.4.9. Thus radical revisionism was to become a central ideological and organisational factor in the neo-Nazi network in Germany. Irving himself was brilliantly prepared after his conversion to denial to spread the denialist gospel in Germany (and indeed in the rest of the world).
143. Irving had been invited to appear as an expert witness in this first trial, but Zündel decided in the end not to use his services. 'Remember, I am stating that no Jews were gassed in German concentration camps and that no six million Jews were ever killed by German authority.' Ernst Zündel to Irving, 20 September 1984.
144. For the fortunes of the Leuchter Report in Germany see Brigitte Bailer-Galanda, 'Leuchter und seine Epigonen' in Brigitte Bailer-Galanda, Wolfgang Benz and Wolfgang Neugebauer (eds.), Wahrheit und "Auschwitzlüge" Zur Bekämpfung "revisionistischer" Propaganda (Vienna, 1995), pp. 87-98; Hermann Graml, 'Auschwitzlüge und Leuchter-Bericht' in Heiner Lichtenstein and Otto R. Romberg (eds.), Täter - Opfer - Folgen: Der Holocaust in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Bonn, 1997) 2nd ed., pp. 91-100.
145. David Irving, 'On Contemporary History and Historiography' in the Journal of Historical Review, vol. 5 (winter 1984), pp. 251-288, p. 274.
146. 'Ich vertrete nicht die "Sechs-Millionen-Lüge", noch untermauere ich diese wissent schaftlich. Das Gegenteil is der Fall. Ich selbst spreche in meinem Werken von der Ausrottung von 6 Millionen Juden.' Irving, Eidstattliche Versicherung, 23 November 1982.
147. Man könnte also meine Ansichten zur "Endlösung" vortragen (kurz: sie fand statt; mehr als eine Million starben mit Sicherheit; aber auf wessen Befehl?)' Irving to Günter Deckert, 22 September 1982.
148. David Irving, Führer und Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler 1933-45 (Munich, 1989).
149. Document 1993, forward to the Leuchter Report.
150. Document 1211, 'Irving's press release on the publication of the Leuchter Report.'
151. David Irving, 'Battleship Auschwitz, Remarks presented to the Tenth International Revisionist Conference' posted on Irving's Internet site, p. 3.
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