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From Revisionism to Holocaust Denial - David Irving as a Case Study*

by Roni Stauber


"This House, on the occasion of the reunion in London of 1,000 refugees from the Holocaust…is appalled by the allegation by Nazi protagonist and longtime Hitler apologist David Irving that "the infamous gas chambers...did not exist."

House of Commons [Early Day] motion, 20 June 19891


Since the 1970s, publications dealing with Holocaust denial throughout the world can be divided into two kinds: the first, vulgar, unsophisticated antisemitic propaganda, and the second, books and articles written in an academic style, with a research methodology, primary sources, "scientific findings" and a complete set of claims.2 Those belonging to the latter group, such as Robert Faurisson and Arthur Butz, do not deny that the Jews fell victim to Nazi persecution and that a large number of them died during the war in the concentration camps, mainly as a result of epidemics and maltreatment. They do, however, deny the existence of a systematic, industrial plan of organized destruction which resulted in the death of six million Jews.3

By the late 1980s/early 1990s David Irving had become one of the most prominent representatives of this stream of Holocaust denial. Unlike other authors in this school whose primary interest in World War II was the attempt to distort or deny the Holocaust, Irving came to the question of the destruction of the Jews as part of his revisionist writing on World War II, which he began to publish as early as the 1960s. He argued mainly against Hitler's demonic image during what he described as "years of intense wartime propaganda and emotive postwar historiography."4 However, up until the late 1980s Irving refrained from explicitly denying the extermination itself.

This article will focus on the transition from a revisionist approach, which presents a historical picture different from the one commonly accepted in World War II and Holocaust scholarship, to the adoption of views which question the uniqueness, and indeed the very historical veracity, of the Holocaust. It will attempt to determine when and under what circumstances this transition occurred and whether the ideas adopted by Irving in the late 1980s were immanent in his general historical concept and early historical writings.


Hitler's War

Irving's involvement in the discussion of the Final Solution began only at the end of the 1970s, after he had published Hitler's War, his most successful book.5 The aim of the book, according to Irving, was to describe the war from Hitler's point of view, "through Hitler's eyes, from behind his desk."6 In order to understand the link between Hitler's War and Holocaust denial adopted by Irving ten years later, one should concentrate on Irving's portrayal of Hitler, which Martin Broszat labelled "the strategy of de-demonization."7 The image of Hitler In Hitler's War, as well as in the War Path, published by Irving a year later, is totally different from that of the fanatic dictator portrayed by historians such as Allen Bullock, Karl Dietrich Bracher and Eberhard Jackel. In Irving's book, Hitler is depicted as a realistic, fair-minded leader, who strove to restore Germany's political status as a dominant power in Europe. As a solution to Germany's rapid population growth, he sought to acquire new territories in the East, a goal also motivated by a genuine fear of Bolshevist expansion and by a desire to "mark the ultimate frontier between Asia and the West." Hitler believed that the annexation of new territories in the East was not fundamentally different from the colonialism of other European powers, notably Britain. Moreover, he had no aggressive intentions in the West; on the contrary, he sought to reach an agreement with Britain and was willing to accept painful compromises, and even harsh terms, in order to maintain peace in Europe.8

So, what about the Holocaust, the Final Solution? How does the image of a rational Hitler mesh with his obsessive war against the Jewish people and his decision to exterminate European Jewry. Irving resolved this complex question by claiming that Hitler never gave any order to exterminate the Jews, either the Jews of Russia or the Jews of Europe. Through his anti-Semitic speeches in the 1930s, admits Irving, Hitler created an atmosphere of hatred toward the Jews. Moreover, "his speeches, though never explicit, left a clear impression that 'liquidate' was what he meant."9 However, Irving claimed that Hitler did not cross the line between propaganda and reality. The instructions that he gave were to evacuate the Jews eastward, first to Poland and then to the territories occupied in the USSR. He intended to postpone the solution of the Jewish problem until the postwar era.10 Thus, "having removed the appalling crime of the deliberate systematic murder of six million Jews, Hitler could be viewed in a much more objective and clinical way," said Irving in an interview to The Guardian.11

It should be noted that in Hitler's War Irving did not deny that the Jews were systematically exterminated, first by squads, later by mobile gas-trucks and eventually in the death camps.12 The extermination, claimed Irving, began as a consequence of local decisions made by "fanatical Gauleiters in the East who were interpreting with brutal thoroughness Hitler's decree that the Jews must ‘finally disappear from Europe'."13 These decisions received the support of Heydrich who, according to Irving, was the true initiator of the Final Solution, and eventually of Himmler, without the approval or even knowledge of Hitler.14 In The War Path, Irving claimed that the distinction between Hitler's more moderate attitude toward the "Jewish problem" and that of fanatic high-ranking Nazi officials was determined before the war. Once Hitler had seized power in 1933, he paid only lip-service to antisemitism and refrained from any involvement with the anti-Jewish policy, which was escalated by Nazi fanatics. Brutal measures, such as Kristallnacht were perpetrated without Hitler's approval and even against his will.15 Disregard of Hitler's will in relation to the Jewish question became even more blatant during the war. Irving alleged that on 30 November 1941, Hitler instructed Himmler that there was to be "no liquidation of the Jews."16 Himmler, together with the SS and the party principals, violated this order as "he had disregarded Hitler's veto on the liquidation of the Jews all along."17

How was it possible that the Jews were exterminated without the approval or even knowledge of the Führer? Irving offers as explanation the theory of the weak dictator: "Hitler was probably the weakest leader Germany has known in this century." The war was his only concern, "[he was] unable to oversee all the functions of his executives acting within the confines of his far-flung empire," and Germany became a "Führer-Staat without a Führer."18


Between Revisionism and Holocaust Denial

Irving's thesis of Hitler's character and policy, and especially his involvement in the Final Solution, provoked severe criticism from historians, such as Bullock, Jackel, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Martin Gilbert, Gerald Fleming and Martin Broszat. They showed that he omitted important evidence and that he misused, manipulated and even altered documents to support his theory.19 However, not only distinguished historians, but Holocaust deniers too were critical. This should be especially explained, in order to understand Irving's transition from revisionism to Holocaust denial and his later influence on this line of thought.

In September 1983 Irving was invited to lecture at the International Revisionist Conference, organized by the Institute for Historical Review (IHR) in California which, since the early 1980s, has been the principal international forum for Holocaust denial.20 During the conference, as well as in articles published in its wake, major Holocaust deniers such as Robert Faurisson expressed ambivalence toward Irving. On the one hand, they felt solidarity since he was under attack for expressi "revisionist" ideas." This attitude affected far-reaching decisions such as preventing or censoring publications containing harsh criticism of Irving.21

On the other hand, the fact that Irving did not accept their claim that millions of Jews were not systematically exterminated, provoked vehement attacks from deniers. Faurisson expressed his amazement that a serious historian such as Irving had raised an illogical claim that millions of Jew were killed without Hitler's knowledge. Irving, wrote Faurisson, did not find any orders to exterminate the Jews, because no such operation was ever planned and implemented. Irving who was known to his readers as "a master historian of World War II" must devote himself to investigating Nazi policy toward the Jews more thoroughly22

Like Holocaust denial writers, in the 1980s extreme rightists and neo-Nazis were also ambivalent toward Irving. Irving's attitude toward Hitler as a fair-minded leader, as well as his "balanced" approach toward the role of Germany in the outbreak of World War II and its atrocities, indeed made him popular in these circles.23 By the late 1970s and early 1980s Irving was invited by extreme right-wing societies in Germany, among them the Gesellschaft für Frei Publizistik (GFP), to deliver lectures, which were reproduced by German far right publications such as Deutsche National-Zeitung and Nation Europa.24 In contrast to their attitude toward mainstream German scholars, Irving was praised as one of the few reliable and unprejudiced historians. "When will our own historians begin to search for the truth," wrote Der Freiwillige, the journal of Waffen SS veterans, in late 1979, after a talk given by Irving to ex-servicemen in Stuttgart.25 Nonetheless, the fact that he refrained from denying the Holocaust provoked criticism among leading neo-Nazi activists.26

It is reasonable to assume that the unique status which Irving acquired already at the beginning of the 1980s among wide circles of the extreme right was influenced by his evident success as a writer. His books were published by respectable publishers and he gained worldwide publicity when Hitler's War appeared. In addition, Irving's thesis in regard to the question of Hitler's role in the destruction of European Jewry stimulated, as Ian Kershaw wrote, the ongoing debate in West Germany about the genesis of the Final Solution. This debate divided the historians of National Socialism into two camps: the so-called "intentionalist approach" and the "functionalist," or "structuralist," one."27

It should be noted that some of Irving's basic arguments in Hitler's War in regard to the Final Solution were not essentially different from those raised already in the 1970s by ardent German "structuralists," who claimed that the extermination of the Jews in the occupied territories was an ad hoc improvisation when all other solutions had failed, and that Hitler did not direct, and was not even involved in, the actual planning of the Final Solution, which developed a dynamic of its own.28

Nevertheless, there was a fundamental difference between Irving's attempt to whitewash Hitler's knowledge of the Final Solution and even to prove his objection to the annihilation concept, and the German "structuralists." They claimed that even if Hitler did not issue an executive order to exterminate the Jews, his wish to destroy the Jewish people, and hence his principled support of the implementation of the Final Solution, was clear to his subordinates.29 Extreme rightists were impressed by the fact that in contrast to eccentric neo-Nazi and Holocaust denial writers, Irving's thesis, although widely criticized, was part of the historians debate on the genesis of the Final Solution.30 Moreover, even some of his strongest critics, such as Martin Broszat, agreed that he had "managed to produce a number of remarkable and hitherto unknown documents…on the National Socialist period."31


Crossing the Line

Until 1988 Irving refrained from supporting the deniers' outlook explicitly. The event which caused him to cross the line and join the deniers' camp was the publication of The Leuchter Report. Fred Leuchter, who claimed to be a specialist in constructing and installing execution apparatus in US prisons, was hired by the Canadian Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel to be an expert witness at his trial.32 Before the trial, with Zündel's financial assistance, Leuchter traveled to Poland where he visited Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdanek and illegally collected "forensic samples" for chemical analysis. In his published findings, he claimed that the facilities in these camps were not capable of mass annihilation.33 The allegation that the gas chambers in Nazi concentration camps in general and in Auschwitz in particular were used only for disinfection purposes was not new, having been raised already a few years after the war by one of the first European Holocaust deniers, the French fascist Maurice Bardèche,34 and from then on it appeared in numerous Holocaust denial publications. For Holocaust denial writers, however, Leuchter's report was significant. It was introduced as a major breakthrough for those who were "seeking the truth"; now their claim had allegedly been proved scientifically.35 "For myself, shown this evidence for the first time when called as an expert witness at the Zündel trial in Toronto in April 1988, the laboratory reports were shattering. There could be no doubts as to their integrity," wrote Irving in his introduction to The Leuchter Report, which was published in the United Kingdom by Irving's publishing house Focal Point Publications.36

Irving’s thesis was complete. When working on Hitler’s War he had found no proof that Hitler knew about the Final Solution; now he attributed this to the fact that no systematic operation to exterminate European Jewry had ever been planned or implemented. "Too many hundreds of millions of honest intelligent people have been duped by a well--financed and brilliantly successful postwar publicity campaign," wrote Irving.37 In the new edition of Hitler’s War, all references to the extermination camps were removed.38

Thirty years after he had begun working as an "independent historian," as he frequently described himself, presenting revisionist concepts in regard to World War II, and ten years after he had published his most popular book Hitler’s War, he no longer refrained from explicitly denying the systematic annihilation of the Jewish people.

At the beginning of the 1990s, Irving concluded his thesis on the fate of the Jewish people during the war. While denying the existence of homicidal gas chambers, he claimed that there was sufficient evidence to prove the mass murder of Jews by firing squads in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union. Following his basic thesis in Hitler’s War, Irving has continued to emphasize that Himmler and Heydrich knew of and approved the executions in the East, while Hitler remained in ignorance. The mass shootings as well as maltreatment, disease, air raids and hunger caused hundreds of thousands of Jewish causalities, he asserted.39

On October 1992 Irving chose to present his completed thesis at the eleventh conference of the IHR. A year before he announced that he had succeeded in acquiring the typescript of Eichmann’s monologues, transcribed in the 1950s by the Flemish Nazi journalist Willem Sassens.40 In his lecture to the IHR, as well as in other statements that he made in 1992, he refuted reports worldwide that reading Eichmann’s monologues had changed his revisionist views on the Holocaust, as well as about Hitler’s role in the atrocities committed against the Jews.41 Eichmann’s memoirs, claimed Irving, were an important confirmation of the true distinction that should be made between the "legend of the gas chambers" and "certain My-Lai-type atrocities" by German troops, mainly in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union. Eichmann admitted he had witnessed executions and cruel actions against the Jewish population. Moreover he even maintained that "some prisoners" were by exhaust fumes, but that "this kind of experiment" was rapidly abandoned. Nevertheless, while he failed to mention the gas chambers, even in his "vivid description of his visit to Auschwitz," he did not hesitate to depict the disposal of bodies in open pits by fire; thus, claimed Irving, had the Germans used gas chambers, Eichmann would undoubtedly have referred to them. Moreover, for Eichmann, claimed Irving, the words "Final Solution" meant only the evacuation of European Jews to Madagascar, "where they couldn’t bother any of their neighbors and where none of their neighbors could bother them" -- which for Irving "would have been an ideal solution to the perennial world tragedy."42


Between History and Ideology

Since the Zündel trial and the publication of The Leuchter Report, Irving has been identified both by his opponents and his supporters as one of the main spokesmen of Holocaust denial. However, analyzing the theses of his various books on the war leads to the conclusion that joining the deniers did not constitute a fundamental change in Irving’s historical outlook and weltanschauung, into which Holocaust denial had been well integrated. Revisionist concepts have been elaborated by Irving in the course of his 30 years as an "independent historian." The buds, however, can be found already in his early writings, having stemmed from the extreme right views he adopted when he was still a young man.43 Holocaust denial was the missing link which made it possible for him to complete his general thesis in regard to the genesis and the course of World War II.

Two recurring, interrelated motifs in his books constitute the foundation of his historical viewpoint. The first, raised initially by American isolationists after the war, is the assertion that the suffering inflicted by the Germans was not essentially different from that perpetrated by the Allies.44 Over the years this has become a central component of Nazi apologetics, and was incorporated also by the extreme right in Britain.45 The alleged genocidal policy toward Germany was described by Irving as early as 1963 in his first book The Destruction of Dresden. While exagerating considerably the number of casualties, Irving claimed that the brutality of the Allies against the German population was unnecessarily vicious and unjustified.46

Another recurring motif in Irving’s books, as well as in his articles and lectures, is the claim that the British leadership, and especially Churchill, was responsible for the outbreak of World War II. Here again the influence on Irving’s writings of such first World War II revisionists, as David Leslie Hoggan, Harry Elmer Barnes and Frederick J.P. Veale, is evident.47 Adopting their historical approach, Irving claimed that British leaders could have prevented the war had they accepted Germany’ reasonable peace proposals: The decision to enter the war was against the essential interests of the British; its main consequence was the decline of Britain as a world power.48

These two motifs were central in Hitler’s War. Hitler, the fair-minded leader, tried to reach an agreement with Britain; when he failed, he devoted all his time and energy to the victory of the German army. On the other hand, Churchill, described by Irving as an irresponsible and ruthless leader, led Britain consciously into an unnecessary war. He wantonly destroyed all hope of peace by deliberately launching RAF bombing raids in the heart of Germany -- although he himself behaved in a cowardly manner during the blitz on London.49

Denial of the gas chambers, which actually meant denial of the systematic machinery of destruction, was intended to reinforce Irving’s claims in regard to the relativism of German atrocities. By adopting the Holocaust denial concept he could argue that German violence against the civilian population, including local killings and atrocities against the Jews, was not morally different from Allied atrocities. Denial of the Final Solution removed not only from Hitler but from the whole Nazi regime the Satanic label which had created a clear distinction between Nazi Germany and the Allies. So while it is true that until the end of 1980s Irving refrained from denying the Holocaust explicitly, the conceptual foundations were laid years before, originating in the desire to change the widely-accepted Satanic image of Nazi Germany.

Moreover although Irving’s identification with Holocaust denial was announced publicly only in 1988, it is clear that this admission was not a dramatic turnabout, rather the end of a prolonged process. Irving’s attraction to these ideas as the missing link in his historical concept was visible already in his first public meeting with deniers at the 1983 International Revisionist Conference (see above). Shortly after the conference two observers from two totally opposite school of thought, Robert Faurisson and the historian Gerald Fleming, pointed out that Irving deliberately used in his lecture conditional words and phrases which indicated his doubt as to whether the Holocaust had occurred.50 Moreover, when relating to the death camps, Irving said, "We do know in the meantime that Dachau is a legend, that everything that people found in Dachau was in fact installed there by the Americans"; as to Auschwitz and other extermination camps, the question "about the actual goings-on inside" was left open by him "as a matter of controversy."51 It is also significant that in contrast to Hitler’s War, at the 1983 International Revisionist Conference Irving refrained from mentioning the role of Himmler and Heydrich in the Jewish liquidations, which indicated that he tended to accept the deniers’ claim that the Nazi leadership did not initiate global destructive measures against the Jewish people. "I would say I am satisfied in my own mind that in various locations Nazi criminals, acting probably without direct orders from above [emphasis added], did carry out liquidations of groups of people including Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, mentally incurable people and the rest."52


Blaming the Jews

Already in Hitler’s War Irving implied that Hitler’s harsh instructions in regard to the evacuation of the Jews eastwards stemmed from his confidence that the Jews would be one of Germany’s most determined and dangerous enemies in the forthcoming war. Irving claimed that Hitler’s determination to forestall this danger was considerably influenced by a letter from Chaim Weizmann to Neville Chamberlain, published in The Times in September 1939. Weizmann’s proclamation that the Jews would stand by the democracies against Nazi Germany, was considered by Hitler as "a Jewish declaration of war."53 The allegation that world Jewry had declared war on Germany and had forced other nations to join, in revenge for Germany’s anti-Jewish policy, originated in extreme right-wing and Nazi propaganda before the war. After the war it was raised both in Europe and in the United States by Nazi apologists and revisionists, as well as by Holocaust deniers. In 1974, a few years before Hitler’s War, it was brought up again by Richard Harwood (aka Richard Verrall), a leading extreme right activist in Britain, in his well-known and influential Holocaust denial pamphlet Did Six Million Really Die?54

By attaching disproportionate importance to Weizmann’s statement,55 Irving tried to reason hat Hitler’s hostility toward the Jews stemmed from a deep and not unrealistic fear, based on an actual threat made by the Jews prior to the war. Accordingly, Irving led the reader to speculate that if the Jewish leader had not "declared war" on Germany, Hitler would not have adopted harsh measures against the Jews, such as the deportations, which were escalated later by his subordinates to annihilation. Years after he had raised his concept of "Weizmann’s provocation," Irving elaborated this thesis -- or possibly revealed thoughts that at the end of the 1970s he had preferred not to disclose. In 1992, at the eleventh conference of the IHR, he used Eichmann’s memoirs to imply that as part of its strategic plan, the Zionist movement soughtto motivate the Nazis to adopt an extremist policy against the Jewish population.56 The alleged causal link between Weizmann’s declaration and "preventive" measures taken by Hitler was adopted in the late 1980s by the German historian Ernst Nolte,57 as well as by Nazi apologists and Holocaust deniers.58

Another significant example of the link made by Irving between world Jewry’s alleged threat of war against Germany and Hitler’s decision to escalate the anti-Jewish measures, was Hitler’s meeting with the Hungarian regent Mikllos Horty in April 1943. Irving could not disregard the murderous language that Hitler used in that meeting concerning the fate of the Jews; however, he claimed that Hitler was deeply influenced by the Allied bombing of German cities. Documents and target maps found at bomb sites, Irving wrote, proved that British aircrews were instructed to aim only at residential areas, convincing Hitler that this was mainly the Jews’ retaliation.59 Again, the fact that Irving refrained from any comment, left the impression that Hitler’s belief might have been realistic.60 It should be noted that years before the publication of Hitler’s War, Irving had already raised the possibility that Jewish pressure had been one of the main factors behind the Allied decision to bomb and devastate German cities. In 1961, during his research "into the causation of the bombing of Dresden," Irving wrote provocative letters concerning alleged Jewish involvement in this operation to the curator of the Wiener Library. Based on dubious German testimony, he requested confirmation of the claim that the World Jewish Congress had demanded the liquidation of Dresden in reprisal for the crushing of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and the destruction of the ghetto."61

Irving denies unequivocally the allegation that he is an antisemite.62 However, his antisemitic attitude, and especially his strong belief in a Jewish conspiracy ("our traditional enemies"63) in general, and its role in the "myth of the Holocaust" in particular, are well reflected in some of his books, articles and speeches.64 Irving’s book Uprising, about the 1956 Hungarian uprising, can serve as an example of his antisemitic outlook. In this book, described by the historian Bela Vago as an "anti Jewish historic forgery,"65 Irving claimed that the testimonies and documents he had found proved undoubtedly that the Hungarian uprising was not directed against the Soviet Union and the communist system, but against what the rebels perceived as Jewish domination of Hungary.66

The "Jewish conspiracy notion," the "myth of the Holocaust" and the revisionist theories presented by Irving over the years, were integrated into a complete thesis: Contrary to British global interests, Churchill, paid and influenced by the Jews,67 refused any compromise with Germany. The Holocaust myth was inflated by British intelligence to serve as a "moral alibi" for Churchill’s disastrous decision to confront Germany to the bitter end.68 To conclude in Irving’s own words, in a speech he made at Dresden’s Palace of Culture in February 1990:

The Holocaust suffered by the Germans in Dresden was real. The one against the Jews in the gas chambers of Auschwitz is complete fiction.69


* This article is the elaboration of a paper delivered at the international conference "The Dynamics of Antisemitism in the Second Half of the 20th Century," organized by the Vidal Sasson International Center for the Study of Antisemitism. I am indebted to Mr. Mike Whine, CST, London, for his invaluable assistance. The study was supported by the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.BACK

  1. Quoted in Philip Rubenstein, "The Leuchter Report in the United Kingdom," in Shelly Shapiro (ed.), The Truth Prevails (New York, 1990), p. 89.BACK
  2. Deborah E. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust (New York, 1993), p. 24;

    Sarah Rembiszewski, The Final Lie, (Tel Aviv, 1996); Limor Yagil, Holocaust Denial in France, (Tel Aviv, 1994) pp. 61-72 ; Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, p. 24. BACK

  3. Although providing different figures, most of the leading deniers claim that several hundred thousand Jews died during the Holocaust -- see Rembiszewski, The Final Lie, pp. 39-44; Yagil, Holocaust Denial in France, pp. 35, 51; Arthur Butz, the leading Holocaust denier in the US, estimated that as many as one million Jews died -- Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, p. 124. BACK
  4. David Irving, Hitler’s War (New York, 1977), p. xvii. BACK
  5. Ibid. The book was published simultaneously in Canada. BACK
  6. Ibid. p. xvi. Irving used the same phrase in The War Path (London 1987), p. ix. He claimed that describing the "events from behind the Führer’s desk" led him to adopt a previously untried technique -- cf. D.C. Watt’s harsh criticism of The War Path, Daily Telegraph, 20 June 1978 and J.P. Taylor’s relatively favorable criticism, Observer, 18 June, 1978. BACK
  7. Martin Broszat, "Hitler and the Genesis of the ‘Final Solution’," Yad Vashem Studies 13 (1979), p. 80. BACK
  8. Irving, Hitler’s War, pp. xv, xvi, 7, 31, 34; Irving, The War Path, pp. xiv, xviii, 54-67. BACK
  9. Irving, Hitler’s War, p. xiii. BACK
  10. Ibid., pp. xiv, 269-71, 329-32; Irving, The War Path, p. xvi. BACK
  11. Guardian, 6 August 1977. BACK
  12. Irving, Hitler’s War, pp. 325-27, 329-30, 390-3. In his introduction to The War Path, p. xvi, Irving refers again to Auschwitz as a liquidation camp. BACK
  13. Irving, Hitler’s War, p. 332. Referring to the period 1933-39 in The War Path, p. xv, Irving claims that after Hitler seized power in 1933, he paid only lip-service to antisemitism as part of his creed and it was the "Nazi gangsters under him [who] continued to ride to hounds…" BACK
  14. Irving, Hitler’s War, pp. xiv, 326-32, 392-3, 503-4, 576 . BACK
  15. Irving, The War Path, pp. xv, 163-6. BACK
  16. Irving, Hitler’s War, p. 332. Hitler’s alleged prohibition of Jewish liquidation was based on a note in Himmler’s pocket telephone book, according to which, on 30 November 1941 Himmler telephoned Heydrich in Prague from Hitler’s bunker at the Wolf’s Lair. The note of his conversation with Heydrich read: "Judentransport aus Berlin. Keine Liquidierung." Many of Irving’s critics pointed out that Irving misused the document to support his thesis. While Himmler’s note referred merely to a single transport from Germany, it was presented by Irving as clear proof that Hitler forbade the liquidation of the Jews -- Charles W. Sydnor, Jr., "The Selling of Adolf Hitler: David Irving’s Hitler’s War," in M.R. Marrus (ed. ), The Nazi Holocaust (London, 1989), p. 35; Broszat, "Hitler and the Genesis of the ‘Final Solution’," pp. 103-6. BACK
  17. Irving, Hitler’s War, p. 576; see also pp. xiv-xv, 326-7, 330-2, 391-3, 503-5, 601-2.. BACK
  18. Irving, Hitler’s War, pp. xii-xv. BACK
  19. Sydnor, "The Selling of Adolf Hitler, pp. 21-51; John Lukacs, The Hitler of History (New York, 1997), p. 179; Broszat, "Hitler and the Genesis of the ‘Final Solution’," pp. 73-125; Gerald Fleming, Hitler and the Final Solution (Jerusalem, 1987; in Hebrew), pp. ix, p. 21, note 19, pp. 46-7; Guardian, 16 June 1977. Hitler’s War was not the first book by Irving to provoke severe accusations of falsification. When he published his first book The Destruction of Dresden (London, 1963), he was accused of exaggerating considerably the number of dead at Dresden. And indeed, three years later he admitted having given a false number, claiming that he had been deceived. Now the figure he gave was 25,000 instead of 135,000, Evening Standard, 28 October 1967. Years later, however, he did not hesitate to repeat his exaggerated figures -- The Destruction of Dresden (London 1985); The Journal of Historical Review (January/February 1993), p. 10. Two of his books: Accident: The Death of General Sikorski (London, 1968), in which he claims that the death of General Vladislav Sikorski, prime minister of the Polish Government-in-Exile, in an aircraft crash, was engineered by Churchill; and The Destruction of Convoy PQ17, in which he blamed a Royal Navy commander for the sinking of the convoy (London, 1968), were subjected to legal proceedings. In both cases it was proved that Irving mor misinterpreted documents and evidence -- Sydnor, "The Selling of Adolf Hitler, p. 24, note 10; Broszat, "Hitler and the Genesis of the ‘Final Solution’," p. 77, note. 9. BACK
  20. The Institute for Historical Review (IHR) was founded in 1979 by Willis A. Carto, head of the extreme right and antisemitic organization Liberty Lobby. During the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s the IHR sponsored annual conferences which became the main forum for Holocaust deniers worldwide. The lectures delivered at these conferences were published in the IHR journal The Journal for Historical Review (JHR). From the outset, the IHR suffered from internal dissension, mainly between Carto and senior IHR staffers. The latter described Carto as a dictator who did not refrain from censoring articles. See, for example, letter of Keith Stimely, the JHR editor, to "editorial advisors, contributors, and friends of JHR," 25 February 1985 , The Archive of the Stephen Roth Institute, TAU, David Irving Files C02, (hereafter, Irving Files). In September 1993 the IHR editorial staff and the board of directors voted to terminate IHR’s association with Carto, which led to litigation -- see Anti-Defamation League, Embattled Bigots: A Split in the Ranks of the Holocaust Denial Movement (New York, 1994). BACK
  21. Journal of Historical Review. 2-4 (Winter 1984), p. 303; It was probably Carto who decided to censor Faurisson’s article against Irving as well as to prevent publication of other articles -- Stimely to "editorial advisors, contributors and friends of JHR," 25, February 1985; Stimely to Arthur Butz, Robert Faurisson, James J. Martin, Mark Weber, Wayne Lutton, Fritz Berg, Tom Marcellus, 29 December 1983, Irving Files. BACK
  22. Journal of Historical Review , 2-4 (Winter 1984), p. 302; Stimely to Faurisson, 9 September 1983, "Guidelines for ‘A Challenge to David Irving’," Irving Files. BACK
  23. See, for example, League Review (of the League of St. George), 17 December 1977. BACK
  24. Patterns of Prejudice 2 (1982), pp. 35-8; see also Searchlight 24 (May 1977); New Statesman, 7 July 1978. BACK
  25. Patterns of Prejudice 2 (1982), p. 38. BACK
  26. Ibid, pp. 37-8 . BACK
  27. Ian Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship (London, 1993), p. 82. BACK
  28. See, for example, Hans Mommsen, From Weimar to Auschwitz (Oxford/Cambridge, 1991), pp. 224-53; Broszat, "Hitler and the Genesis of the ‘Final Solution’," pp. 73-125. BACK
  29. Broszat claimed that the annihilation of the Jews was "improvised" rather than triggered by a single secret order, that it was a "way out" of a blind alley that evolved into a comprehensive program. He assumed that Hitler had "contented himself with verbal authorizations," Broszat, "Hitler and the Genesis of the ‘Final Solution’," pp. 98-102, 110. Mommsen went much further than Broszat in claiming that no direct order, either written or verbal, in regard to the Final Solution was ever issued by Hitler. Moreover he claimed that when Hitler was "confronted with the actual consequences of the destruction of the Jews he reacted in exactly the same way as his subordinates, by attempting not to be aware of the facts or suppressing his knowledge" -- Mommsen, From Weimar to Auschwitz, pp. 238-9, 251, 348, note 149; see also Lukacs, The Hitler of History, p. 178. BACK
  30. See, for example, Prospectus for the JHR special issue on David Irving, submitted, probably, by Keith Stimely [Autumn 1983]. BACK
  31. Broszat, "Hitler and the Genesis of the ‘Final Solution’," pp.75-6. Despite his severe criticism of Irving’s methods, Broszat maintained that had it not been for Irving’s unreserved acquittal of Hitler, Irving’s thesis would have been welcomed as a necessary contribution to the historical polemic in Germany, p.81. Mommsen in his well-known article on the Final Solution, "The Realization of the Unthinkable," was much less critical of Irving than Broszat, even using Hitler’s War as a source for some of his arguments regarding Hitler’s allegedly loose connection to the actual implementation of the Final Solution. See Mommsen, From Weimar to Auschwitz, pp. 232 , note 21;. p. 234, note 32; p. 235 note. 46, p. 239 note.66. See also favorable statements by well-known scholars such as John Keegan and Gordon Craig about Irving’s contribution to the historiography of National Socialism and World War II, New York Times, 26 June 1999; New York Review of Books, 19 September 1996; The New Republic, 21 October 1996. BACK
  32. Ernst Zündel, "Holocaust, Zündel Trial Update," Irving Files. Leuchter’s claims to be a chief engineer specializing in gas chambers, proved to be fraudulent -- Shapiro, Introduction, The Truth Prevails, pp. 1-28. BACK
  33. The Leuchter Report (London, 1989); Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, pp. 162-3. BACK
  34. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, p. 50. BACK
  35. Zündel, "Holocaust, Zündel Trial Update." BACK
  36. Irving’s introduction to The Leuchter Report; see also Rubenstein, "The Leuchter Report in the United Kingdom," p. 87. BACK
  37. Irving’s introduction to The Leuchter Report. Similar texts can be found in various pamphlets and letters circulated by Irving in the wake of his "revelation" on the "myth of the gas chambers -- see, for example, his arrogant letter to M.P Hugh Dykes, 30 June 1989. BACK
  38. In 1992 a Munich court convicted Irving of claiming publicly that the gas chambers in Auschwitz were a lie and that no more than one million Jews perished in World War II, Times, 16 May 1992; Guardian, 6 May 1992; Siegener Zeitung, 6 May 1992; see also Verfassungsschutzbericht 1990, p. 116. BACK
  39. Daily Telegraph, 19 March 1990. BACK
  40. It seems that there were 67 transcripts, one for each tape recording. The prosecution in the Eichmann trial succeeded in getting most of them, but only one transcript and a few pages with Eichmann’s corrections and notes were accepted by the judges -- see Jacob Robinson, And the Crooked Shall Be Made Straight (Jerusalem 1966; in Hebrew) pp. 108-9, 278-9, notes. 52-54. In 1980 the monologues, edited by a former Nuremburg defense attorney Rudolf Aschenauer, were published by the extreme right publication, Druffel Verlag, under the title "Ich, Adolf Eichmann." Irving claimed that in contrast to the edited manuscript, he based his arguments on the verbatim transcriptions -- see David Irving, "The Suppressed Eichmann and Goebbels Papers, "Journal of Historical Review (March/April 1993), pp. 16-19; see also IHR Newsletters 85 (February 1992), pp. 2-3. BACK
  41. Observer, 12 January, 1992; Sunday Telegraph, 19 January 1992; IHR Newsletter 85 (February 1992); Spotlight, 10 February, 1992. BACK
  42. Irving, "The Suppressed Eichmann and Goebbels Papers," Journal of Historical Review (March/April 1993), pp. 14-25; see also his statements in the Munich court in 1992, Times, 16 May 1992; Guardian, 6 May 1992. BACK
  43. Some of Irving’s basic historical and political concepts, as well as his racist and antisemitic beliefs, appeared in his article "Battle for Europe" published in the student paper Carnival Times in May 1959. In the wake of the controversy his first articles provoked, he described himself as a "mild fascist" -- Daily Mail, 1 May 1959. Irving’s ideological motives and his political aspirations culminated at the beginning of the 1980s in the establishment of the Focus Policy Group as the nucleus of a new ultra-right movement -- Roger Griffin, The Nature of Fascism (London, 1991(, p. 167. BACK
  44. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, p.43; Harry E. Barnes, "The Court Historians Versus Revisionism," in The Barnes Trilogy (Torrance, 1979), p. 14; Barnes, "Blasting the Historical Blackout," The Barnes Trilogy, p. 33; Barnes, "Revisionism and Brainwashing," The Barnes Trilogy, pp. 37. BACK
  45. See, for example, League Review, 17 December 1977. BACK
  46. David Irving, The Destruction of Dresden -- see note 19. BACK
  47. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, p. 68-9; Lucy S. Dawidowicz, "Lies about the Holocaust," Commentary (December 1980), pp. 31-3; Barnes, "Blasting the Historical Blackout," p. 18; Barnes, "Revisionism and Brainwashing," pp. 5, 47. BACK
  48. See note 8; Theodore J. O’ Keefe, "Irving On Churchill," Journal of Historical Review 4 (Winter 1986), pp. 499-504. BACK
  49. O’ Keefe, "Irving on Churchill," pp.502-3; David Irving, "On Contemporary History and Historiography," Journal of Historical Review 2-4 (Winter 1984), pp. 274-83. BACK
  50. Irving, "On Contemporary History and Historiography," pp. 274-83; Jewish Chronicle, 25 November 1983; unpublished section from Robert Faurisson’s "A Challenge to David Irving" (censored by W. Carto), Irving Files. In his reply to Fleming, Jewish Chronicle, 23 December 1983, Irving claimed that he did not deny the annihilation of "many millions of Jews"; however, the conditional phrases that he used made it clear that he doubted the veracity of the Holocaust. BACK
  51. Irving, "On Contemporary History and Historiography," p. 282... BACK
  52. Ibid., p. 274. BACK
  53. Hitler’s War, p. 12. BACK
  54. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, pp. 36-7, 110, 111; Pierre Vidal-Naquet, The Assassins of Memory , (Tel Aviv, 1991; in Hebrew), pp. 103-7; Richard Harwood, Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth at Last (London, n.d.), p. 4; Pierre Birnbaum, Anti-Semitism in France (Oxford, 1992), pp. 267-8. BACK
  55. On the misrepresentation of Weizman’s statement, see Richard J. Evans, In Hitler’s Shadow (Tel Aviv, 1991; in Hebrew), p.50.. BACK
  56. Irving, "The Suppressed Eichmann and Goebbels Papers," p. 19. BACK
  57. Evans, In Hitler’s Shadow, pp. 42, 50-1; Lukacs, The Hitler of History, p. 180; interview with Ernst Nolte Der Spiegel, 3 October 1994. BACK
  58. The allegation that the Jews were the first to declare war on Germany was made, for example, in 1995 in Freiheitliche Jahrbuch by Austrian political scientist Warner Pfeifenberger -- Anti-Semitism Worldwide 1995/6 (Tel Aviv , 1996). German Holocaust denier Germar Rudolf made a similar claim in 1994 -- Rembiszewski, The Holocaust Lie, p. 42. BACK
  59. Hitler’s War, p. 510. BACK
  60. In the years that followed, Irving suggested other "Jewish provocations" that had instigated the Nazis to escalate their anti-Jewish policy," for example, Theodore Kaufman’s book Germany Must Perish," which allegedly motivated the Nazis to force the Jewish population to wear the yellow star -- Irving, "The Suppressed Eichmann and Goebbels Papers," p. 19. BACK
  61. David Irving to C.C. Aronsfeld, 26 May 1961; C.C. Aronsfeld to David Irving, 26 May 1961; R. Dolinsky to David Irving, 29 September 1961; C.C. Aronsfeld to David Irving, 6 October 1961, Irving Files. BACK
  62. See, for example, his letter to the Australian Jewish News, 29 September 1992. BACK
  63. David Irving, "The Suppressed Eichmann and Goebbels Papers," p. 18; "The David Irving Fighting Fund," 8 December 1995. BACK
  64. See note 43; also his interview with L’Espresso, 26 July 1992, in which he said that "the problem of the Jews is that I am a historian that cannot be corrupted, that I cannot be either bought or intimidated"; Journal of Historical Review ( March/April 1993), pp. 14-25; Journal of Historical Review (Winter 1984), 263-4; and his interview with Spotlight 10 (February 1992), in which he predicted a new wave of antisemitism because the Jews "have exploited people with the gas chamber legend." BACK
  65. Bela Vago, "An Anti-Jewish Distortion of History," Soviet Jewish Affairs 3 (1981), pp. 68-72. BACK
  66. Irving’s allegations about Hungarian Jewish domination has appeared in extreme right antisemitic propaganda. See, for example, "State and Jewish Terror," distributed by Stormfront-List, 21 April 1998; see also Irving’s statements in the case of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry against Frederick Toben concerning the role of the Jewish people in the Bolshevik Revolution and "in running the satellite nations in the Soviet empire," Irving Files. BACK
  67. O’ Keefe, "Irving on Churchill, pp. 498-504. BACK
  68. Irving’s introduction to The Leuchter Report. BACK
  69. M.Schmidt, (London, 1993), p. 208; Irving’s publications were displayed by neo-Nazis in Dresden on the 50th anniversary of the Allied bombings -- "Kleine Anfrage der Abgeordneten Ulla Jelpke und der Gruppe der PDS," Deutscher Bundestag 13, Wahlperiode, 24 March 1995. BACK