Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Charles Gray

Table of Contents
(xviii) Kurt Aumeier >>

The general case for the Defendants

5.2At p161 of Denying the Holocaust Lipstadt attributes to scholars the description of Irving as a "Hitler partisan wearing blinkers". That phrase, importing the suggestion that Irving deliberately ignores what is revealed by the historical record, encapsulates one of the main defamatory meanings of which Irving complains and which the Defendants seek to justify.
5.3The way in which the Defendants summarise their plea of justification on this part of the case is as follows:
"that the [Claimant], driven by his obsession with Hitler, distorts, manipulates and falsifies history in order to put Hitler in a more favourable light, thereby demonstrating a lack of the detachment, rationality and judgment necessary for an historian".
In their Summary of Case the Defendants highlight claims made by Irving as to Hitler's friendship for and leniency towards Jews, which claims they   assert ignore a large and powerful body of contradictory evidence. The Defendants contend that Irving
"misstates, misquotes, falsifies statistics, falsely attributes conclusions to reliable sources, relies on books and sources that directly contradict his arguments, quoting in a manner that completely distorts the author's objectives, manipulates documents to serve his own purposes, skews documents and misrepresents data in order to reach historically untenable conclusions, bends historical evidence until it conforms to his ideological leanings and political agenda, takes accurate information and shapes it to confirm his conclusion and constantly suppresses or deliberately overlooks sources with which he is familiar because they contradict the line of argument which he wishes to advance".
5.4The Defendants advance a similar case against Irving in relation to his account of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, culminating in the genocide which they assert took place in the gas chambers, and his claims as to the extent of Hitler's involvement in that persecution. I shall deal with that part of the defendants' plea of justification in sections VI to VIII below. The present section is confined to certain specific instances where the Defendants attack Irving's historiography.
5.5The principal protagonist amongst the Defendants' witnesses of the view that Irving persistently and deliberately falsifies history is Evans. In seeking to make good this full-blooded assault on Irving's historiographical approach, Evans included in his lengthy written report multiple examples of the way in which in his opinion Irving portrays Hitler in a manner which is utterly at odds with the available evidence. He cited numerous occasions when, so he alleged, Irving distorted the historical record by one means or another; suppressed evidence; made uncritical use of unreliable sources and arrived at perverse irrational conclusions about events and documents. Evans also drew attention to occasions when Irving has written in inappropriately flattering terms about him. One example is Irving's description of the Fuhrer in Hitler's War as "a friend of the arts, benefactor of the impoverished, defender of the innocent, persecutor of the delinquent". Evans considers that the consistent bias in favour of Hitler which is manifested in Irving's works may stem in part from Irving's identification with Hitler and from his professed intention to write Hitler's War from Hitler's perspective. Irving has himself written that he sees himself as having acted as Hitler's   "ambassador to the afterlife" when he was engaged upon writing his biography of Hitler. On the evidence of what Irving has written and what he has said in his talks and speeches, Evans concludes that Irving remains an ardent admirer of Hitler despite the overwhelming evidence which condemns him.
5.6Evans does not stand alone in making these harsh criticisms of Irving's historical method. In the narrower fields covered by their evidence van Pelt, Browning and Longerich level similar criticisms at him.
5.7The Defendants based their attack on Irving's historiography upon a number of selected episodes. They contend that a detailed analysis of the evidence which was available to Irving supports their case that in his account of those episodes Irving has persistently and deliberately falsified, manipulated and suppressed documents so as to presents a picture which is skewed and misleading. The Defendants focus their attention on a "chain of documents" which Irving has relied, initially on BBC television in June 1977 and on several later occasions, in support of his view that Hitler opposed the persecution of the Jews and sought to protect them from the excesses advocated by other Nazis. I shall consider the parties' arguments in relation to each of the incidents to which the chain of documents relates.
5.8Evans's detailed examination of those documents reveals, so he alleged, consistent falsification of the historical record on the part of Irving. Evans expressed the opinion that what he described as Irving's "egregious errors" were calculated and deliberate. He accepted that anyone can make mistakes but pointed out (as did Browning) that, where all the so-called mistakes are exculpatory of Hitler, the natural inference is that the falsification of the record is intentional. Evans did not resile in his oral evidence from the view expressed in his written report that Irving does not deserve to be called an historian.
(xviii) Kurt Aumeier >>

accessed 11 March 2013