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Defense Documents

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

Table of Contents
(vi) Conclusion. >>

(ii) Irving's manipulation of the source.

1. The journalist Gitta Sereny pursued Irving's reference for her 1977 Sunday Times article.2 The original document in the Bavarian State Archives contained an additional sentence as translated by Sereny: 'On the other hand, judging from his [Hitler's] Last Will, one must suppose that he at least knew about it, if, in his fanaticism against the Jews, he didn't also order [it]'.3 When Sereny and her collaborator asked him about the omission Irving told them   'that it was "irrelevant" to the logic of his argument and that he did not "want to confuse the reader."'4
2. Irving's own notes on the original make clear that by editing away the later sentence, he has altered the sense of Ribbentrop's comments. Far from 'exonerating him wholly' the full text, even from Irving's own notes, makes clear that Ribbentrop drastically qualified the reference to Hitler which is quoted by Irving. The full text of the manuscript account by Ribbentrop as noted by Irving reads:
Undoubtedly the Führer saw world Jewry, about whose organisation he was convinced, more and more in the last years as the actual originators of this war. One saw this in his speeches, although, knowing my attitude about this subject, he did not speak with me. How things came to the destruction of the Jews, I just don't know. As to whether Himmler began it, or Hitler put up with it, I don't know. But that he ordered it I refuse to believe, because such an act would be wholly incompatible with the picture I always had of him. Adolf Hitler, who ate no meat because he did not want animals to be killed, to whom children had such trust that we all adored him, could not have been cold blooded to such a terrible degree. On the other hand, judging from his testament, one must suppose that he at least knew about it, if not even ordered it, in his fanaticism against the Jews.5
 
3. The word 'ordered' put into italics by Irving in the published version does not appear so in the extract.
4. Following the appearance of the article by Chester and Sereny, Irving wrote to the editor of The Sunday Times on 14 September 1977 claiming that 'The passage from Ribbentrop's statement which I omitted is totally irrelevant to my claim that up to October 1943 there is no evidence for the claim that Hitler knew what was going on.'6 But this does not detract from the documentary manipulation by Irving which was revealed in the article. At no other point in this letter or in his subsequent correspondence did Irving try and defend his editing of the Ribbentrop note.7 Despite such devastating criticism by Chester and Sereny, the quotation remained intact and is still without the missing sentence in the 1991 edition of Hitler's War [p. 809].
6. In his Reply to the Defence, Irving stands by his argument 'that the omitted passage was irrelevant to the logic of his argument and that its inclusion would confuse the reader.' It is of   course perfectly true that the omitted passage did not support the logic of Irving's argument. But to claim that it was irrelevant is another matter. Its relevance consists in the fact that it undermines Irving's argument. The reader is entitled to know that the passage in point is by no means as unequivocal about Hitler and the 'Final Solution' as Irving would have us believe. Ribbentrop concedes that he cannot but suppose that Hitler knew about, and probably ordered, the 'Final Solution'. In editing the document Irving has manipulated its meaning.

Notes

2. Document 500, newspaper clipping from The Sunday Times, 10 July 1977, Gitta Sereny and Lewis Chester: 'Mr Irving's Hitler - the $1000 Question'.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Zweifellos sah der Führer im Weltjudentum, von desssen Organisation er überzeugt war, in den letzen Jahren mehr und mehr die eigentlichen Urheber dieses Krieges. Man sah dies aus seinen Reden, obwohl er mit mir - meine Auffassung über dieses Thema kennend - nicht sprach. Wie es zu den Judenvernichtung gekommen ist, weiss ich nicht. Ob Himmler dies begonnen hat oder Hitler dies gedult hat, weiss ich nicht. Dass er es angeordnet hat, kann ich nicht glauben, denn eine solche Handlungsweise würde so gar nicht zu dem Bilde passen, das ich immer von ihm hatte. Adolf Hitler, der kein Fleisch ass, weil er nicht wollte, dass man Tiere töten sollte, zu dem Kinder ein solches Zutrauen hatte, den wir alle vergötterten, kann doch nicht kalten Blutes eine so furchtbare Order gegeben haben. Anderseits lässt sein Testament [vom 29. April 1945] den Schluss zu, dass er es zumindest gewusst, wenn nicht gar in seinem Fanatismus gegen die Juden angeordnet hat.' Doc. 116, extract of an undated manuscript by Joachim von Ribbentrop, notes on Hitler's personality.
6. Doc. 524, letter from Irving to Harold Evans, The Sunday Times, 14 September 1977.
7. Doc. 505, reader's letter from Irving to The Sunday Times, 28 July 1977; 508, letter to Irving from Ron Hall, features editor of the The Sunday Times, 17 August 1977; 511; reader's letter from Irving (not for publication) to Harold Evans, The Sunday Times, 16 August 1977; 527, letter to Irving from George Darby, The Sunday Times, 21 Septemeber 1977; 529, letter to George Darby,The Sunday Times, 26 September 1977; 533, letter to Irving from Frank Giles, The Sunday Times, 5 October 1977; 535, letter from Irving to Harold Evans, The Sunday Times, 3 October 1977; 541 letter from Irving to Frank Giles, The Sunday Times, 10 October 1977; 542, reader's letter from Irving to The Sunday Times, 10 October 1977; 543, letter from Irving to the Press Council, 12 October 1977; 545, letter to Irving from The Sunday Times, 13 October 1977; 549, letter to Irving from the Press Council, 26 October 1977; 557, letter from Irving to the Press Council, 21 November 1977; 565, letter to Irving from the Press Council, 7 December 1977; 566, letter from Irving to the Press Council 113 December 1977; 569, letter to Irving from the Press Council, 7 December 1977; 612, letter from Irving to The Press Council, 31 May 1978; 614, letter from Irving to the Press Council; 615, reader's letter from Irving to The Sunday Times, 19 June 1978; 624, letter to Irving from The Press Council, 19 July 1978; 625, letter to the Press Council from Irving, 6 August 1978; 630, letter from Irving to the Press Council, 29 July 1978; 657, letter to Irving from the Press Council, 22 December 1978, enclosing proposed press release; 665, letter from Irving to the Press Council, 1 January 1979; 666, letter from the Press Council to Irving, 5 January 1979.
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(vi) Conclusion. >>