Irving v. Lipstadt
Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Charles GrayTable of Contents
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The passages complained of
2.1 In Denying the Holocaust Lipstadt examines the origins and subsequent growth in the scope and intensity of what she describes as the phenomenon of Holocaust denial. She identifies several adherents of the revisionist movement and examines the basis for their beliefs, their methodology and the manner in which they deploy their arguments. She argues that "the deniers" represent a clear and present danger that the lessons to be learned by future generations from the terrible events of the 1930s and 40s will be obfuscated.
2.2 Irving regards himself as being the victim of an orchestrated campaign of boycotting, hounding and persecution by organisations in the UK and elsewhere. He considers Denying the Holocaust to be one of the principal instruments deployed in the campaign to destroy him.
2.3 He has selected for complaint a number of passages from Denying the Holocaust. (I was told that the passages complained of represent in total no more than five pages from a book which runs to more than two hundred pages). This is a course which he is entitled to take, providing of course that the removal of the passages from the context in which they appear in the book does not affect their interpretation. The Defendants are accordingly entitled to invite attention to the context in which the passages complained of appear in support of a submission that the context alters the meaning of the allegedly libellous passages. In the present case I do not understand the Defendants to be maintaining that the context materially affects the interpretation of any of the passages which Mr Irving has selected for complaint.
2.4 I shall therefore confine myself to setting out, with pagination, the passages which Irving contends are libellous of him (as well as highly damaging to his reputation as a serious historian):
- Cover and title page:
"Denying the Holocaust
The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory"
- Page 14:
The confluence between anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and Holocaust denial forces was exemplified by a world anti-Zionist conference scheduled for Sweden in November 1992. Though cancelled at the last minute by the Swedish government, scheduled speakers included black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan, Faurisson, Irving and Leuchter. Also scheduled to participate were representatives of a variety of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel organisations, including the Russian group Pamyat, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, and the fundamentalist Islamic organisation Hamas1.
- Page 111:
Nolte contended that Weizmann's official declaration at the outbreak of hostilities gave Hitler good reason "to be convinced of his enemies' determination to annihilate him much earlier than when the first information about Auschwitz came to the knowledge of the world"2 [...] When Nolte was criticized on this point in light of prewar Nazi persecution of Jews, he said that he was only quoting David Irving, the right-wing writer of historical works. How quoting Irving justified using such a historically invalid point remains unexplained [...]3 As we shall see in subsequent chapters, Irving [...] has become a holocaust denier.These works demonstrate how deniers misstate, misquote, falsify statistics and falsely attribute conclusions to reliable sources. They rely on books that directly contradict their arguments, quoting in a manner that completely distorts the authors' objectives. Deniers count on the fact that the vast majority of readers will not have access to the documentation or make the effort to determine how they have falsified or misconstrued information.
- Page 161:
At the second trial Christie and Faurisson were joined by David Irving, who flew to Toronto in January 1988 to assist in the preparation of Zundel's second defense and to testify on his behalf. Scholars have described Irving as a "Hitler partisan wearing blinkers" and have accused him of distorting evidence and manipulating documents to serve his own purposes.4 He is best known for his thesis that Hitler did not know about the Final Solution, an idea that scholars have dismissed.5 The prominent British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper depicted Irving as a man who "seizes on a small and dubious part particle of 'evidence'" using it to dismiss far-more substantial evidence that may not support his thesis. His work has been described as "closer to theology or mythology than to history," and he has been accused of skewing documents and misrepresenting data in order to reach historically untenable conclusions, particularly those that exonerate Hitler.6 An ardent admirer of the Nazi leader, Irving placed a self-portrait of Hitler over his desk, described his visit to Hitler's mountaintop retreat as a spiritual experience,7 and declared that Hitler repeatedly reached out to help the Jews.8 In 1981 Irving, a self-described "moderate fascist", established his own right-wing political party, founded on his belief that he was meant to be a future leader of Britain.9 He is an ultra-nationalist who believes that Britain has been on a steady path of decline accelerated by its decision to launch a war against Nazi Germany. He has advocated that Rudolf Hess should have received the Nobel Prize for his efforts to try to stop war between Britain and Germany.10 On some level Irving seems to conceive himself as carrying on Hitler's legacy.[...] Prior to participating in Zundel's trial, Irving had appeared at IHR conferences [...] but he had never denied the annihilation of the Jews.11 That changed in 1988 as a result of the events in Toronto.Both Irving and Faurisson advocated inviting an American prison warden who had performed gas executions to testify in Zundel's defense, arguing that this would be the best tactic for proving that the gas chambers were a fraud and too primitive to operate safely. They solicited help from Bill Armontrout, warden of the Missouri State Penitentiary, who agreed to testify and suggested they also contact Fred A. Leuchter, an "engineer" residing in Boston who specialized in constructing and installing execution apparatus. Irving and Faurisson immediately flew off to meet Leuchter. Irving, who had long hovered on the edge of Holocaust denial, believed that Leuchter's testimony could provide the documentation he needed to prove the Holocaust a myth.12 According to Faurisson, when he first met Leuchter, the Bostonian accepted the "standard notion of the 'Holocaust'".13 After spending two days with him, Faurisson declared that Leuchter was convinced that it was chemically and physically impossible for the Germans to have conducted gassings.14 Having agreed to serve as an expert witness for the defense, Leuchter then went to Toronto to meet with Zundel and Christie and to examine the materials they had gathered for the trial.
- Page 179: David Irving, who during the Zundel trial declared himself converted by Leuchter's work to Holocaust denial and to the idea that the gas chambers were a myth, described himself as conducting a "one man intifada" against the official history of the Holocaust.15In his forward to his publication of the Leuchter Report, Irving wrote that there was no doubt as to Leuchter's "integrity" and "scrupulous methods". He made no mention of Leuchter's lack of technical expertise or of the many holes that had been poked in his findings. Most important, Irving wrote, "Nobody likes to be swindled, still less where considerable sums of money are involved." Irving identified Israel as the swindler, claiming that West Germany had given it more than ninety billion deutsche marks in voluntary reparations, "essentially in atonement for the 'gas chambers of Auschwitz'". According to Irving the problem was that the latter was a myth that would "not die easily".16 He subsequently set off to promulgate Holocaust denial notions in various countries. Fined for doing so in Germany, in his court room appeal against the fine he called on the court to "fight a battle for the German people and put an end to the blood lie of the Holocaust which has been told against this country for fifty years." He dismissed the memorial to the dead at Auschwitz as a "tourist attraction".17 He traced the origins of the myth to an "ingenious plan" of the British Psychological Warfare Executive, which decided in 1942 to spread the propaganda story that Germans were "using 'gas chambers' to kill millions of Jews and other 'undesirables'.18Branding Irving and Leuchter "Hitler's heirs", the British House of Commons denounced the former as a "Nazi propagandist and long time Hitler apologist" and the latter's report as a "fascist publication". One might have assumed that would have marked the end of Irving's reputation in England, but it did not. Condemned in the Times of London in 1989 as "a man for whom Hitler is something of a hero and almost everything of an innocent and for whom Auschwitz is a Jewish deception", Irving may have had his reputation revived in 1992 by the London Sunday Times.19 The paper hired Irving to translate the Goebbels diaries, which had been discovered in a Russian archive and, it was assumed, would shed light on the conduct of the Final Solution. The paper paid Irving a significant sum plus a percentage of the syndication fees.*[Footnote] * The Russian archives granted Irving permission to copy two microfiche plates, each of which held about forty-five pages of the diaries. Irving immediately violated his agreement, took many plates, transported them abroad, and had them copied without archival permission. There is serious concern in archival circles that he may have significantly damaged the plates when he did so, rendering them of limited use to subsequent researchers.Irving believes Jews are "very foolish not to abandon the gas chamber theory while they still have time." He "foresees [a] new wave of anti-semitism" due to Jews' exploitation of the Holocaust "myth", C.C. Aronsfeld, "Holocaust revisionists are Busy in Britain," Midstream, Jan. 1993, p.29.Journalists and scholars alike were shocked that the Times chose such a discredited figure to do this work. Showered with criticism, the editor of the Sunday Times, Andrew Neil, denounced Irving's view as "reprehensible" but defended engaging Irving because he was only being used as a "transcribing technician". Peter Pulzer, a professor of politics at Oxford and an expert on the Third Reich, observed that it was ludicrous for Neil to refer to Irving as a "mere technician", arguing that when you hired someone to edit a "set of documents others had not seen you took on the whole man".20However the matter is ultimately resolved, the Sunday Times had rescued Irving's reputation from the ignominy to which it had been consigned by the House of Commons. In the interest of a journalistic scoop, this British paper was willing to throw its task as a gatekeeper of the truth and of journalistic ethics to the winds. By resuscitating Irving's reputation, it also gave new life to the Leuchter Report.
- Page 181:
A similar attitude is evident in the media reviews of David Irving's books: Most rarely address his neofascist or denial connections.21Irving is one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial. Familiar with historical evidence, he bends it until it conforms with his ideological leanings and political agenda. A man who is convinced that Britain's great decline was accelerated by its decision to go to war with Germany, he is mist facile at taking accurate information and shaping it to confirm his conclusions. A review of his recent book, Churchill's War, which appeared in New York Review of Books, accurately analyzed his practice of applying a double standard of evidence. He demands "absolute documentary proof" when it comes to proving the Germans guilty, but he relies on highly circumstantial evidence to condemn the Allies.22 This is an accurate description not only of Irving's tactics, but of those of deniers in general.
- Page 213:
As we have seen above, Nolte echoing David Irving, argues that the Nazi "internment" of Jews was justified because of Chaim Weizmann's September 1939 declaration that the Jews of the world would fight Nazism.
- Page 221:
Another legal maneuver has been adopted by a growing number of countries. They have barred entry rights to known deniers. David Irving, for example, has been barred from Germany, Austria, Italy and Canada. Australia is apparently also considering barring him.23
2.5 These are the passages which (to quote Irving's opening) "vandalised [his] legitimacy as an historian".
1. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Nov 26, 1992.
2. Ernst Nolte, "Between Myth and Revisionism? The Third Reich in the Perspective of the 1980's,"in Aspects of the Third Reich, ed. H.W. Koch (London, 1985) pp. 36-37, Maier, The Unmasterable Past, p.29.
3. Maier, The Unmasterable Past, p.179. n. 34
4. Martin Broszat, Vierteljahrshefte fuer Zeitgeschichte (Oktober 1977), pp. 742, 769, cited in Patterns of Prejudice, no. 3-4 (1978), p. 8.
5. Sunday Times, July 10 1977.
6. Ibid., June 12, 1977; July 10, 1977
7. Selling Hitler (New York, 1986) p. 189.
8. Canadian Jewish News, March 16, 1989
9. Ibid., London Jewish Chronicle, May 27, 1983
10. Spotlight, June 1989
11. "David Irving", Clipping Collection, Calgary Jewish Community Council, Alberta, Canada.
12. Toronto Star, April 20, 1988; Stephen Trombley, The Execution Protocol: Inside America's Capital Punishment Industry (New York, 1992), p.85.
13. Robert Faurisson, "Foreward" The Leuchter Report: The End of a Myth: An Engineering Report on the Alleged Execution Gas Chambers at Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Majdanek, Poland (U.S.A., 1988) p.1, (hereafter cited as Leuchter Report).
14. Robert Faurisson, "The Zundel Trials [1985 and 1988]," Journal of Historical Review (Winter 1988-89), p.429.
15. Searchlight, August 1989.
16. David Irving, "Foreward", Auschwitz the end of the Line: The Leuchter Report (London, 1989), p.6.
17. Times, London, May 11 1992.
18. Irving, forward, Auschwitz the end of the Line, p.6.
19. Times, London May 14, 1992.
20. Independent, July 11 1992.
21. Trombloy, The Execution Protocol, pp. 87-94; New York Times Book Review. Nov. 22, 1992, p.33
22. New York Review of Books, June 15 1989.
23. Toronto Sun, Oct 15, 1992; Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Nov 16, 1992.
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