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

Table of Contents

(B) Citing other documents to discredit the minutes of the meeting.

1.Irving has referred repeatedly to other documents, which, he claims, indicate that Hitler, in fact, did not mention the extermination of the Jews during his meeting with Horthy. These arguments by Irving are utterly pointless, as the authenticity of the original minutes is beyond doubt, and never directly challenged by Irving. Not surprisingly, the documents used by Irving indirectly to   undermine the official minutes fail to support his case and once more illustrate his flawed methodology.
2. First, in his footnote, Irving casts doubt on the reliability of the official minute by claiming that
Secret Hungarian records do not echo the wording in such bluntness. In a draft letter to Hitler on May 7, Horthy included a sentence - later deleted - "Your Excellency further reproached me that my government does not proceed with stamping out Jewry with the same radicalism as is practised in Germany."13
3. This is pure invention by Irving. It is based on the fact that the draft letter by Horthy (disclosed by Irving to the court) uses the term Ausrottung, which Irving insists on translating as 'stamping out'. However, its true and generally agreed meaning is 'extermination', which is of course no less blunt than the term 'annihilated' used by Ribbentrop in the minutes. The complete passage in Horthy's draft letter should thus be translated as follows: 'Your Excellency further reproached me that my government did not proceed in the extermination of Jewry with the same radicalism with which this is being carried out in Germany and there is also regarded as desired for other countries too.'14 Clearly, this draft letter comprehensively fails to support the claim which Irving attaches to it.
4. Secondly, in his plea to the court, Irving cites a report submitted by the Hungarian representative in Berlin, Sztójay, to Prime Minister Kallay in Budapest.15 According to Irving, the report summarised 'the talks between Hitler and Horthy and Ribbentrop' and did not say that the Hungarian Jews 'were to be liquidated, only interned'. In fact, the document is concerned with a   separate conversation between Sztójay and Ribbentrop. Only a very brief passage of the document deals with the Hitler-Horthy meeting. In this brief passage, Sztójay reports that Hitler 'personally drew the attention of His Highness the Regent [Horthy] to the necessity of settling in a more thorough and penetrating manner the Jewish question in Hungary. No doubt His Highness the Regent has informed Your Excellency [Kallay] of this'.16
5. Clearly, Irving completely misrepresents this source. As is plain to see, Sztójay in his reference to the Hitler-Horthy talks does not mention that Hungarian Jews were 'only' to be interned. Also, it is no surprise that Sztójay speaks merely of 'more thorough and penetrating' measures, and does not directly mention killing. Possibly, Sztójay was not aware of the explicit statements made by Ribbentrop and Hitler on 17 April 1943. After all, Sztójay himself had not been present during the meeting. More likely, though, Sztójay was well aware of Nazi extermination policy, and merely cloaked the murderous programme in more neutral, euphemistic language. This was common practice. For instance, Horthy himself in his letter of 7 May 1943 to Hitler (see above) deleted the sentence which spoke of the 'extermination' of the Jews. The remaining letter made no direct reference to the fate of the Jews.17
6. Thus neither Horthy's draft letter to Hitler on 7 May 1943, nor Sztójay's report of April 1943 can cast any doubt on the remarks made by Hitler and Ribbentrop at the meeting on 17 April 1943. Irving's claims are totally irrelevant and simply designed - not very effectively - to undermine a reliable source, namely the minutes drawn up by Schmidt of the meeting.

Notes

13. Irving, Hitler's War (1977), p. 872.
14. 'Euer Exzellenz warfen mir des weitern vor, meine Regnierungen schritten nicht mit dem gleichen Radikalismus in der Ausrottung des Judentums vor, als dieses in Deutschland durchgeführt und dort auch für andere Länder als erwünscht betrachtet wird'. Horthy to Hitler (draft); cited in The Confidential Papers of Admiral Horthy (Budapest, 1965), disclosed by Irving in this court case as document 85.
15. Document 82 in Irving's Discovery.
16. Sztójay report, 24.4.1943; cited in E. Levai, Black book on the Martyrdom of Hungarian Jewry (Zurich, Vienna, 1948), pp. 26-27.
17. The reference to the 'internment' of the Jews was made by Ribbentrop in a subsequent meeting with Sztójay. Sztójay also noted that Hitler had decided to 'rid Europe of the Jews' and that all 'Jews of Germany and the German-occupied countries are to be moved to the Eastern i.e. Russian, territories'. Again, the use of this kind of language has no special significance. In general, when dealing with foreign government officials, leading Nazis preferred to speak of 'resettlement' in the East, a widely used euphemism for extermination - hence the great significance of the blunt statements by Ribbentrop and Hitler on 17 April 1943. Ribbentrop probably used such euphemistic language in his meeting with Sztójay. Alternatively, Ribbentrop might have used language at his meeting with Sztójay that was as open as that used at the meeting with Horthy. In that case, Sztójay might in turn have thought it wise to use a euphemism such as'resettlement' in view of the opposition of his superior, Prime Minister Kallay, to such a measure if he did not receive guarantees that the Hungarian Jews so resettled would be well-treated. Sztójay was well known to be more antisemitic than Kallay and has been described by historians as having 'constantly undermined his Prime Minister's position in Berlin' during his many meetings with German officials; see IMT Case XI, NG 1800; Braham, Politics, 229-234; Jagow to Foreign Office, 2.6.1943, reprinted in R. L. Braham (ed.), The Destruction of Hungarian Jewryvol 1 (New York, 1963), document 107.
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