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Defense Documents

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

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(d) Irving's biography of Hermann Göring

1. Irving claims in his reply to Lipstadt's defence that the Index to his biography of Hermann Göring, the head of the German Air Force and overlord of the German economy in the late 1930s and the early part of the war, also shows that he is not a Holocaust denier. The book was published in 1989 and therefore at a time when Irving's views could be expected to be broadly similar to those he expressed in the second edition of Hitler's War. It has an index entry on 'Jews, mass extermination of,   343-9, 469, 487, 489, 499, 502'. Let us look these pages up. The first, and longest passage referred to, on pages 343-9, begins by claiming that in the 'winter of 1941/42 Hermann Göring heard rumors of mass killings in the east'. A significant proportion of those transported to the east, particularly those unable to work, were being 'brutally disposed of' when they arrived. Irving continues: 'The surviving documents provide no proof that these killings were systematic; they yield no explicit orders from "above", and the massacres themselves were carried out by the local Nazis (by no means all of them German).'
2. The famous order signed by Göring on 31 July 1941 ordering the head of the SS Security Service Reinhard Heydrich to 'make all necessary preparations in an organizational logistical, and material context for an overall solution of the Jewish problem within Germany's sphere of influence in Europe' is dismissed by Irving as 'a routine administrative directive' extending Heydrich's powers to the East. 'Final Solution' was not yet the term for extermination, Irving asserts. Göring, in effect, was being duped by Heydrich and Himmler, who were the real architects of murder. Göring did not know and did not want to know. 'In the entire files of Göring's Stabsamt 20 and other bureaus there is no evidence that Göring knew of Heydrich's ultimate intentions.' He simply implemented official Nazi policy, which was to expel the Jews from Europe, if not to Madagascar, then to the East. 'The documentary record shows that the initiative for specific atrocities came from Nazi officials in the field.' Göring even noted in a speech to the Reich Research Council on 6 July, 1942, that Hitler had 'made exceptions' to the policy and kept valuable Jewish specialists in one   area or another working 'all the way down to operetta level'.21 If Jews were killed in considerable numbers, this was because, Irving goes on, the whole trend was towards illegal and brutal modes of war - towards 'innocenticide on a grand scale. Violent air raids had resumed. The partisan warfare developing in Russia was barbarous beyond belief. Millions were starving too.' Interrogated by the Allies after the end of the war, Göring protested that cruelty had always been abhorrent to him - a claim which Irving quotes without any comment or critical note. Göring knew, Irving claims, of Auschwitz only as a synthetic rubber plant (at least, this is how it appears in the economic planning minutes, which however is only to be expected and does not provide any concrete evidence of the limits of Göring's knowledge at all).
3. The first, and by far the longest reference to the Holocaust in the Göring book thus turns out to be a chapter arguing that there was no systematic extermination, that Göring, like Hitler, knew nothing about the killings of Jews in Eastern Europe, that official Nazi policy was only to deport the Jews, and that if many died, it was as a product of the general brutalization of the war, not because of any deliberate plan to kill them. What of the other references? On page 469 we find Irving citing Göring under interrogation claiming that the extermination camps were 'merely propaganda'. 'I always thought they were places where people were put to useful work', he said. Irving offers no comment on this remarkable claim. He goes on to report that Göring reminded his questioners that atrocity stories in World War I had turned out to be untrue. On page 487 we are told that Göring did not enjoy the prosecution's depiction of atrocities in the concentration camps. On page 489 we find Göring saying he 'still can't grasp' the atrocities in the camps - what exactly these atrocities were, Irving does   not say - and Göring getting angry that some other leading Nazis were deserting the united front he had hoped to put up against the Allied indictment. On page 499 Irving reports that Göring was accused of directing Heydrich to kill the Jews. On page 502 he records the appeal against Göring's sentence by the lawyer Otto Stahmer on the grounds, among other things, that his client could not have known about the extermination of the Jews. Taken together, these references hardly seem to amount to an admission of the Holocaust as normally understood. On the other hand, they are quite compatible with the core beliefs of Holocaust denial as outlined above in Section (b) [sic] , in other words, with a miminization of the number of Jews killed, denial of the use of gas chambers, refusal to accept that the mass murder was co-ordinated or systematic, and belief that the evidence for it was fabricated.


20. Stabsamt: staff office.
21. lrving cites the Milch papers MD58, 3640ff.
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