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Defense Documents

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

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(ii) Uncritical treatment of a biased source favourable to Irving's argument: the diaries of Wilfred von Oven

1. It is enlightening to once again consider the dynamics of Irving's source criticism. As a pendant to Irving's rejection of the Engel diary he has long been happy to use the 'diary' of Wilfried von Oven, Mit Goebbels bis zum Ende (Buenos Aires, 1949-50).141 In his biography of Goebbels he justified this with the following:
Oven's 'diary' was evidently written up only after the war [...] His dates are often late [...] Some parts, e.g. J[oseph] G[oebbels]'s views on Gauleiter Weinrich and the entry of Jun[e] 5-6, 1944 seem derived   from Rudolf Semler (whose 'diary' had been published in London in 1947 ... ). There are syntactical oddities [...] However Oven probably did use contemporary notes [...]142
2. In other words exactly the same 'problems' as Irving took to task in the Engel diary. Why then might Irving criticise one diary and remain content with the other?
3. Wilfred von Oven was Propaganda Minister Goebbels's last adjutant, and spent some of the post-war era in Argentina. At the time of composing his diaries von Oven was contributing to Der Weg, a German language newspaper started in June 1947 with strong antisemitic leanings.143 Fellow founder and contributor to Der Weg was the 'unrestrained antisemite' Johann von Leers.144 Since the 1970s von Oven has been the editor of Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Grabert Verlag) and a writer for the Deutsche Monatsheft and the Huttenbrief für Volkstum, Kultur, Wahrheit und Recht.145
4. Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart is an extremist, right wing quarterly journal, whose authors included Holocaust deniers Robert Faurisson and Wilhelm Stäglich.146 The Huttenbriefe is the publication of the Freundeskreis Ulrich von Hutten, a 1982 creation of the former Socialist Reich Party [Sozialistische Reichspartei - SRP] leader Otto Ernst Remer (the SRP was constitutionally banned in 1952 as neo-Nazi). Von Oven was an activist in the   Belgian AGIR, which had close links to the German Volk und Heimat.147 He is also a regular contributor to Dr. Gerhard Frey's newspapers, leader of the German People's Party [Deutsche Volksunion].
5. In 1997 von Oven was awarded the 'Ulrich-von-Hutten-medal' by Germany's largest extreme right-wing cultural-political association, the 'Society for Free Journalism' [Gesellschaft für freie Publizistik].148 This was set up in 1960 by former Nazi Party and SS members as a public forum to combat whiat it alleged were distorted portrayals of National Socialism in German history, and to demand a revision of the 'dominant doctrine' about the origins of the Second World War. Previous prizewinners included Ribbentrop's widow Annelies von Ribbentrop.149 Perhaps rather predictably the circle closes itself neatly. The Society's yearly congresses offer apologists for National Socialism an open platform. Past speakers have included revisionists and Hitler admirers Robert Hepp, Peter Dehoust, Hans-Dietrich Sander, Adolf von Thadden, and Emil Schlee. And of course Irving.150
6. Irving regards Von Oven's diary as unproblematic, because Von Oven is an apologist for Nazism, and therefore acceptable to Irving; Engel is critical, and therefore is not. The nature of the two sources is almost exactly the same.

Notes

141. Republished as Finale Furioso (Tübingen, 1974).
142. Goebbels. Mastermind of the 'Third Reich', pp. 628-9.
143. Ronald C. Newton, The 'Nazi Menace' in Argentina 1931-1947 (Stanford, 1992), p. 381.
144. Holger M. Meding, Flucht vor Nürnberg? Deutsche und Österreichische Einwanderung in Argentinien 1945-1955 (Cologne, 1992), p. 151.
145. Astrid Lange, Was die Rechten lesen. Fünfzig rechtsextrene Zeitschriften. Ziele, Inhalt, Taktik (Munich, 1993), p. 147.
146. Ibid., p. 82.
147. Bernd Wagner (ed.), Handbuch Rechtsextremismus. Netzwerke, Parteien, Organisationen, Ideologiezentren, Medien (Hamburg, 1994), p. 221.
148. Anton Maegerle, 'Die Strategie des Dr. Frey', in konkret, vol. 6 (June 1998), pp. 20-21.
149. Wagner, p. 165.
150. Uwe Backes/Patrick Moreau, Die extreme Rechte in Deutschland. Geschichte - gegenwärtige Gefahren - Ursachen - Gegenmaßnahmen (Munich, 1993), p. 219; Thomas Assheuer/Hans Sarkowicz, Rechtsradikale in Deutschland. Die alte und die neue Rechte (Munich, 1992), p. 61.
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