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

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(c) The Boycott of 1 April 1933

 
1. In his book Goebbels: Mastermind of the 'Third Reich', Irving justifies the Nazi-sponsored boycott of Jewish shops and businesses on 1 April 1933 as a legitimate reply to an irresponsible anti-Nazi press campaign instigated by Jews and Communists. In the last days before the March 5 elections in 1933, he writes,
the Jews and communists who had fled to Prague, Paris, and London poured vitriol over the new Hitler government. Irresponsible foreign journalists did the rest. Even ex-chancellor Brüning, still in Germany, watched in fury as they filed blatantly untrue stories exaggerating the plight of the Jews. At that time (Spring, 1933), he (Brüning) pointed out, hardly any Jews had suffered except for the leaders of the communist party. This year, 1933, was however the year of the big lie.14
2. These exaggerated reports, Irving continues, led to a boycott of German goods started by the international Jewish community, and thus 'Goebbels secured from Hitler - or so he claimed - approval to threaten a short, sharp counter-boycott of the Jews', on 1 April. This was 'crude but effective'. But, Irving continues, 'untrue' foreign press stories alleging for example (in 1935) that shops were refusing to serve Jews, continued to appear.15
3. Irving has made similar claims elsewhere. For instance, in 1996 he told an audience in California:
Dr. Goebbels was the man who had the Jews in his power...Dr. Goebbels was the one who made the decisions. Well, there are some of the reasons for his motivation in the book [Irving's biography of Goebbels]. The first piece of motivation is the episode of the Nazi boycott of the Jews in 1933. Very famous. Everybody knows about the Nazi boycott of the Jews, April 1, 1933, it took place on a Saturday. What nobody knows is that one week previously there had been a Jewish boycott of the Nazis, worldwide.   And this is one of those facts of history which is suppressed. Cause and effect. Only the cause is never mentioned in the history books.16
4. In an article published in 1995 he similarly claimed that the Nazi boycott of Jewish shops on 1 April 1933 was merely a response to a boycott of German goods by Jews:
We must not overlook the fact that the world's Jewish community lost no time in striking at Nazi Germany. We all too readily talk about the book-burning and about the Nazi boycott against the Jews as if those things happened in a vacuum. They didn't. The Nazi boycott against the Jews on April 1, 1933, was a foolish reprisal by the Nazis in retaliation for the Jewish boycott against Germany. As soon as the Nazis came to power the world Jewish community announced an international boycott campaign against Germany.17
5. Irving once again tries to distance Hitler from any actions taken in Nazi Germany against the Jews:
It was Goebbels who organized that boycott, even though, if you read his diary, you can get the impression that Hitler authorized it, sanctioned it, and possibly even suggested it. But there's no doubt at all in my mind that this is another case of Goebbels having an idea, of putting it into effect, and then playing a trick by writing in his diary that he'd gotten Hitler's approval in advance.18
6. There may be no doubt in Irving's mind. But there is absolutely no warrant for this supposition either in the Goebbels diary or anywhere wlse.
7. There are many problems with Irving's account of the April, 1933 boycott. To begin with, he is wrong to repeat Brüning's claim that 'hardly any Jews had suffered except for the leaders of   the communist party': wrong on two counts. First, the leaders of the Communist Party were predominantly not Jewish. Indeed, by late 1932, not one of the 100 Communist deputies in the German Reichstag was Jewish.19 Secondly, many Jews had suffered in a variety of ways. Immediately after the elections on 5 March 1933 there were violent anti-Jewish disturbances in Berlin.20 On 9 March 1933, the SA seized dozens of East European Jews in Berlin and took them off to concentration camps.21 Among the first German Jews to die in Berlin were Dr. Ascher and the journalist Leo Krell, killed on 16 March.22 Those attacked included American Jews who happened to be in Berlin. One of them, Herman Roseman, was kicked by an SA man on the street on 10 March and then the 'SA man continued to attack me, struck me in the face, wounded me in the eye and continued to do me bodily harm', he reported the following day.
8. Another Jew, Jean Klauber, was attacked in her home on 10 March by Nazi thugs who said to her 'Jews. We hate you. For fourteen years we have been waiting for this, and tonight we'll hang many of you', before beating her husband unconscious.23 In the town of Gedern in Hesse, the SA forced their way into Jewish homes and beat up the inhabitants 'with the   acclamation of a rapidly growing crowd'.24 In Bündingen, many resident Jews were taken off to a local pub on the evening of 15 March 1933 and beaten up by SA men.25
9. Numerous other incidents of this kind were reported by officials. The later March report of the governing president of Bavaria noted:
On the 15th of this month, around 6 in the morning, several men in dark uniforms arrived by car at the home of the Israelite businessman Otto Selz in Straubing. Selz was taken by them from his house in his nightclothes and abducted in a car. Around 9.30 Selz was found, shot to death, in a forest near Weng, in the Landshut district. The car is said to have arrived from the direction of Munich-Landshut and to have departed in the same way. It carried six uniformed men and bore the sign II.A....Several people claim to have noticed that the car's occupants wore the red armband with the swastika.26
10. The American consul in Leipzig reported in the following terms on 5 April, recounting the anti-Jewish violence which had occurred since the elections of 5 March, a month before:
In Dresden several weeks ago uniformed "Nazis" raided the Jewish Prayer house, interrupted the evening religious service, arrested twenty-five worshippers, and tore the holy insignia or emblems from their head-covering while praying. Eighteen Jewish shops, including a bakery, mostly in Chemnitz, had their windows broken by rioters led by uniformed "Nazis". Five of the Polish Jews arrested in Dresden were each compelled to drink one-half litre of castor oil...Some of the Jewish men assaulted had to submit to the shearing of their beards, or to the clipping of their hair in the shape of steps. One Polish Jew in Chemnitz had his hair torn out by the roots.27
 
11. SA troops attacked a Jewish-owned department store in Breslau on 11 March, and on the same day several SS men, on the orders of the local SS leader, raided two Jewish-owned department stores in Braunschweig and caused as much damage as they could, ruining the interiors and smashing many shop windows. Local Nazis in Göttingen broke in the windows of almost all the Jewish-owned shops in the town, while in Mannheim Jewish shop-owners were forced to close their shops by the local SA.28
12. Jews suffered in other ways and other walks of life too. For instance, almost immediately after the election of 5 March 1933, Nazi violence started against Jewish judges and lawyers. On 9 March 1933, the local SA forced their way into the district court in Chemnitz, forced Jewish officials to leave the building, and took several of them into protective custody. On 11 March 1933, Jewish judges and lawyers in Breslau were forced onto the streets by the SA and physically assaulted; many of them were prevented by the SA and police from returning to work. Similar incidents had taken place in Kaiserslautern and Zweibrücken the previous day, and the courts were also occupied in Oels on 18 March, Gleiwitz on 24 March, Görlitz on 29 March and Königsberg on 31 March. On 14 March 1933, the Nazi association of jurists demanded that all Jewish judges in Germany should be suspended immediately and that all Jewish lawyers should have their licences revoked within four years. The Nazi newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, demanded on 19 March 1933 that the Berlin courts should be 'cleansed' of Jews.29
 
13. The Nazi boycott of Jewish shops and businesses on 1 April 1933 has to be seen first of all in the light of all this preceding violence. Contrary to what Irving claims, there was no organized boycott of German goods by the international Jewish community; indeed the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine sent a telegram to the Reich Chancellery 'offering assurances that no authorized body in Palestine had declared or intended to declare a trade boycott of Germany'.
14. There were, to be sure, protests outside Germany against Nazi attacks on Jews, but these were based not on reactions to irresponsible reporting and exaggeration but on accurate representations of what the Nazis were actually doing to Jews in the weeks following the elections of March 5th. The Nazi boycott of Jewish shops and businesses on 1 April was not, as Irving claims, a 'counter-boycott'. The German Jews were in no way responsible for the actions of American Jews, and in any case the movement amongst Jews in the USA to boycott German goods was neither organized nor co-ordinated, and certainly not undertaken at the behest of the German Jews.
15. Indeed, the idea of a boycott of Jewish shops and businesses was not first mooted as a response to foreign criticism of Nazi policies in March 1933 but had been frequently proposed by a variety of Nazis over the precious two years.30 Nor, finally, was it undertaken on 1 April on Goebbels's initiative and without Hitler's approval, as Irving claims; on the contrary, Hitler told the cabinet meeting on 29 March 1933 that he supported the proposed boycott and said he himself had called for it.31 Once more, Irving's attempt to exonerate Hitler from measures   taken in Nazi Germany against the Jews is totally discredited by contemporary documentation. Once more, too, it is apparent that he has borrowed a long-established 'revisionist' assertion, lifting it, as he does so much else, from other Holocaust deniers. In this instance, Irving seems to have based his claims on an article published by the notorious antisemite Ingrid Weckert in 1985, in which she wrote:
No legal measures were taken against the Jews in Germany until after the international Jewish "Declaration of War" against Germany, as announced, for example, on the front page of the London Daily Express of 24 March 1933. This "declaration" took the form of a worldwide boycott of German goods. A week later there was an officially sanctioned boycott of Jewish shops and stores throughout Germany. This action was in direct response to the international Jewish boycott of German goods already in effect.32

Notes

14. Irving, Goebbels,, p. 159. Heinrich Brüning was Reich Chancellor from 1930 to 1932. Irving is quoting from his retrospective writings on the fall of the Weimar Republic.
15. Ibid., pp. 163, 207.
16. Audiocassette 127, Irving speech of 10 September 1996 in Oakland, California, at an event sponsored by the "Berkeley Free Speech Coalition".
17. Irving, 'Revelations from the Goebbels's Diary', Journal of Historical Review, 15 (1995), pp. 2-17, here pp. 9-10
18. Ibid., p. 10.
19. E. Hamburger, 'Jüdische Parlamentarier in Berlin, 1848-1933', in H. A. Strauss and K. Grossmann (eds.), Gegenwart im Rückblick (Heidelberg, 1970), pp. 56-85, here p. 67.
20. U. Adam, Judenpolitik im Dritten Reich (Düsseldorf, 1972), p. 47/
21. S. Freidländer; Nazi Germany and the Jews (London, 1977), Vol. I, p. 18.
22. K. Drobisch, 'Die Judenreferate des Geheimen Staatspolizeiamtes und des Sicherheitsdienstes der SS 1933 bis 1939', Jahrbuch für Antisemitismusforschung, Vol. 2 (1939), pp. 230-54, here p. 230.
23. Affidavits in Nuremberg document 1795-PS, Der Prozess gegen dies Hauptkriegsverbrecher vor dem Internationalen Militärgerichtshof, Vol. 28 (Nuremberg, 1948), pp. 234-54, here pp. 244-6.
24. Drobisch, 'Die Judenreferate', p. 231.
25. Peter Longerich, Die braunen Battalione (Munich, 1989), p. 170.
26. M. Broszat, E. Fröhlich and F. Wiesemann (eds.), Bayern in der NS-Zeit, Vol. I (Munich, 1977), p. 432.
27. Nuremberg Document 2709-PS, reprinted in Noakes and Pridham (eds.),Nazism 1919-1945, Vol. 2, p. 523.
28. H, Graml, Reichskristallnacht. Antisemitismus und Judenverfolgung im Dritten Reich (Munich, 1988), p. 110; H. Buchheim et al., Anatomie des S-Staates, Vol. 2 (Feiburg, 1965). p. 311; Longerich, Die Braunen Battalione, p. 170; Institut für Zeitgeschichts, 6b Gb 10.02: Urteil des Schwurgerichts Braunschweig, 5. 4. 1950.
29. L. Gruchmann, Justiz im Dritten Reich (Munich, 1990), pp. 124-6, 322-3.
30. Friedländer, Nazi Germany, pp. 19-21; M. R. Gottlieb, American Anti-Nazi Resistance, 1933-1941. A Historical Analysis (New York, 1982); G. Arad, The American-Jewish Leadership and the Nazi Menace (Bloomington, 1997).
31. Akten der Reichskanzlei: Die Regierung Hitler, Part I, Vol. I, p. 277; D. Bankier, 'Hitler and the Policy-Making Process on the Jewish Question', Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Vol. 3 (1988), No. 1, pp. 1-20, here p. 4.
32. I. Weckert, '"Crystal Night" 1938: The Great Anti-German Spectacle', Journal of Historical Review, 6 (1985), pp. 183-206, here p. 186, disclosed in Third Supplemental Discovery List by Irving, with pencil lines in the margins.
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