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

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(e) Conclusion

1. Irving's working methods are fatally flawed: not because of a naive credulity towards those he interviewed and the documents he read, but because of his overriding desire to excuse Hitler's role in the 'Final Solution'. Irving deliberately ignored the most basic cautions when interviewing the surviving members of Hitler's staff. The symmetry of aims and means   between interviewer and interviewees is perfect. Irving resorted to the very same methods of excusing Hitler as those he interviewed had adopted in excusing themselves.
2. Irving's work with historical material is characterised by his utterly tendentious choice and interpretation of documentation. The greater wealth of statements directly implicating Hitler's role in the 'Final Solution' is rejected out of hand, whilst those rather fewer statements exculpating Hitler are adopted as 'persuasive' without any explanation as to why greater emphasis should be put on one set of statements than another. Likewise, Irving deliberately fails to take into account a number of key considerations when using his material. For instance, rather than Hitler not knowing about the 'Final Solution' he may quite explicablly have lied to certain members of his staff. Only by taking the sources at face value can he mould them to his pre-conceived ideological aims.
3. Neither is it coincidental that at no time does Irving enter into source criticism, save when the aim is to dismiss a source that contradicts his theory. Irving has written: 'In fact I have been startled by the number of such 'diaries' which close scrutiny proves to have been faked or tampered with - invariably to Hitler's disadvantage.'309 Almost invariably these rejections are either unfounded or involve crass double standards on Irving's part. Wolff's trial, Engel's diary, and Zoller's book are but the three most blatant examples amongst a veritable myriad of distortions, suppressions, and manipulations.
4. Irving requires absolute standards of proof from those sources which contradict him, yet requires no such proof from those which support him. For instance Irving rejects those like von Below who said:  
Nevertheless I am completely convinced, even without written evidence, that the extermination of the Jews originated in an express instruction from Hitler, because it is inconceivable that Himmler and Göring undertook such a thing without his knowledge. Certainly Himmler did not inform Hitler in every detail, but he acted in this matter with his approval and in complete accordance with him.310
5. Irving discredits the statement by resorting to the phrase 'A scrupulous historian is not impressed by what sources either "imagine" or profess themselves incapable of "imagining."'311 And yet both Wolff and Krause too stated what they believed, or better said what they wanted to believe. Nowhere does Irving seek to reconcile these contradictions.
6. Irving was unequivocal when he said 'Hitler's surviving adjutants, secretaries, and staff stenographers have all uniformly testified that never once was the extermination of either the Russian or European Jews mentioned - even confidentially - at Hitler's headquarters.'312 This is contradicted by the evidence cited above. By looking at the documents and statements from Hitler's former staff, not only does Hitler's personal role in the murder of the European Jews become apparent, but it becomes clear that concrete episodes in the 'Final Solution', such as Einsatzgruppen killings and even the death camps, were talked about at the Führerhauptquartier. Any idea that members of Hitler's entourage knew nothing about the mass murders in the East is similarly contradicted in the evidence.
 

Notes

309. Hitler's War (1991), p. 6.
310. Von Below, p. 219.'Allerdings bin ich fest überzeugt davon, auch ohne schriftliche Beweise, daß die Vernichtung der Juden auf eine ausdrückliche Anweisung Hitlers zurückgeht, da es undenkbar ist, daß Himmler und Göring so etwas ohne sein Wissen unternommen hätten. Sicher hat Himmler Hitler nicht über jede Einzelheit unterrichtet, aber in dieser Angelegenheit mit seiner Billigung und in gänzlicher übereinstimmung mit ihm gehandelt.'
311. Reply to the Defence of Second Defendant, paragraph 23, p. 18.
312. Ibid. Hitler's War, p. 327. The sentence stands in David Irving, Hitler's War (1991), p. 424.
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