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Defense Documents

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

Table of Contents
5.4 Explaining Nazi Anti... >>

5.1 Introduction

5.5.1In her book Denying the Holocaust, it will be remembered, Lipstadt makes a series of allegations about Irving's work, both indirectly, by describing him as a Holocaust denier, and directly, by referring to him in person. Lipstadt argues that Holocaust 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' (p. 111). Since this statement comes immediately after the allegation that Irving has become a Holocaust denier, the implication that he does all these things too is unmistakable. Indeed, Lipstadt also claims that scholars 'have accused him of distorting evidence and manipulating documents to serve his own purposes' and of 'skewing documents and misrepresenting data in order to reach historically untenable conclusions' (p. 161). 'Familiar with historical evidence, he bends it until it conforms with his ideological leanings and political agenda...he is most facile at taking accurate information and shaping it to confirm his conclusions' (p. 181).
5.1.2It is important to unravel the normal or common-sense meaning of these charges in order to determine whether or not it is reasonable to conclude after examining Irving's work that they are justified. If we put them in (a more or less arbitrary) order, they can be summarised as follows:
  • 1.Irving misstates. This would seem to mean that he gives a false account of historical fact.
  • 2.Irving misquotes. This must mean that he does not quote from historical documents in an accurate manner. Such misquotation can include suppression of vital parts of such documents as well as false and inaccurate quotations from the documents themselves.
  • 3.Irving falsifies statistics.
  • 4.Irving falsely attributes conclusions to reliable sources.
  • 5.Irving relies on books that directly contradict his arguments, quoting in a manner that completely distorts the authors' objectives.
  • 6.Irving distorts evidence and manipulates documents to suit his own purposes.
  • 7.Irving skews documents and misrepresents data in order to reach historically untenable conclusions.
  • 8.Irving bends historical evidence until it conforms to his own ideological leanings and political purposes.
  • 9.Irving takes accurate information and shapes it to confirm his conclusions. The implication is that the conclusions have been reached before the information has been evaluated, and that in using accurate information, in this way, Irving distorts it.
5.1.3It has already been shown in the preceding sections of this Report how Irving adopts a variety of procedures which conform to several of the techniques of falsification and manipulation laid out in Lipstadt's list. He bends and wilfully mistranslates reliable sources; he deliberately suppresses evidence which runs counter to his argument; he skews evidence and misquotes by omitting vital parts of documents and by mistranslating other parts which he does cite; he takes accurate and reliable sources such as the Himmler phone log and shapes and bends it to suit his purposes by including speculation and pure invention which is in no way warranted by the documentary record; he misrepresents data by presenting unreliable sources as reliable when they serve his argument; he relies on books such as memoirs and diaries that directly contradict his argument, and interprets them in a way that   runs counter to what the authors intended, falsely attributing to them conclusions which they did not reach.
5.1.4All of this Irving does in order to support the historically untenable conclusion that Hitler neither knew nor approved of the extermination of the Jews, and that insofar as persecution of Jews came to his notice, he did his best to stop it. This conclusion is untenable because, as we have seen above, all of Irving's attempts to prove it rest on a falsification of history. An accurate and unbiased reading of relevant parts of the documentation, as we saw in the previous section, would indeed lead any reasonable person to conclude that Hitler did indeed know, approve of and in documented instances order the killing of large numbers of Jews. But it is not necessary to prove this point beyond all reasonable doubt in order to prove that Irving is manipulating the evidence to reach an untenable conclusion. It is the untenability of Irving's argument that Hitler did not know or approve of the mass murder of the Jews that is at issue, not the validity of the contrary argument that he did.
5.1.5Part IV of this Report takes these points further, and examines other aspects of Irving's work where he is not directly engaged in the exculpation of Hitler. It begins with a discussion of one point so far largely (though not entirely) left to one side, namely the charge that Irving falsifies statistics. This Report has already shown how he falsifies statistics in the matter of the numbers killed in bombing raids on Hamburg and Pforzheim; it will now examine in more detail his account of the numbers killed in the 1945 Allied bombing raid on Dresden.
5.1.6The Report then turns to Irving's use of one particular kind of source, namely the testimony, mostly postwar, of Hitler's adjutants, much of it elicited from them in interviews by Irving himself. This will provide further evidence, on a more general level, in support of the conclusions reached above, particularly, though not exclusively, in connection with Irving's attempt to exculpate Hitler from responsibility for the extermination of the Jews.
5.1.7Finally, the Report details the ways in which Irving seeks to explain those acts of Nazi antisemitism which he can neither dismiss nor ignore. Here too, it will be demonstrated that Irving's methods involve a wholly unprofessional and dishonest falsification of the historical record.
5.4 Explaining Nazi Anti... >>