["There is a vast cyber-cesspit..." quote]

["Dredged up from the cesspit..."]

Robert Manne, associate professor of politics at La Trobe University, Victoria, and editor of the Jewish quarterly Quadrant, published in 1993 a little noticed pamphlet entitled The Culture of Forgetting. Helen Demidenko and the Holocaust, in which he already settled a few scores against David Irving--with whom he had suffered a losing bout on television when Irving last visited Australia--and other revisionists, whom he roundly called "Holocaust deniers", the only rude word that he has learned since bum and fart, apparently.

In 1998 he published a collection of essays titled The Way we Live Now, including the 1993 chapter reproduced below, in which he takes more cowardly swipes at Mr Irving, comfortable in the knowledge that his victim is 12,000 miles away and unable to hit back--for the present.

Robert Manne:

The Way we Live Now.

The Controversies of the Nineties.


ISBN 1 875847 70 7

The book is published by The Text Publishing Company, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
It was written in 1993 and published in 1998.

Pages 188-192

ManneDavid Irving

IN 1993 A REPORTER from The Age telephoned. He informed me that the federal government had banned the British historian, David Irving, from visiting Australia. What did I think?

I said that I opposed the ban. My opposition was not, to put it mildly, based on admiration for the work of David Irving. Nor was it based on a view that to impose a political ban on a potential visitor to Australia is always wrong. I would not, for example, oppose the banning , in present Balkans circumstances, of visits to Australia by pan-Serb fanatics or pro-Ustasha Croats.

My opposition to the ban was not based on principle but on practical considerations. Knowing a little of Australia and of Irving's recent history I assumed he and his supporters would be capable of using the ban to make him a civil liberties martyr.

While a visit from Irving would be a low-key affair - perhaps providing aid and comfort to tiny bands of young neo-Nazi thugs and to the ageing anti-Semites still hovering around Eric Butler's League of Rights - a non-visit would, by contrast, be a sensation.


The media and the civil libertarians would, most likely, take up his cause. Many Australians who became interested in the case would see him as merely a dissident historian, whose views on Hitler, Churchill or the Jews deserved serious consideration. If he was wrong, they would think, why could he not be debated and refuted? Some would see the ban as yet another example of the political power of the Jewish lobby in Australia.

For all these reasons I thought the ban on Irving was likely to do more harm than good, Others disagreed.

Who, however, is this David Irving about whom Australians have been arguing over the past months? Until the mid-1970, he could still be regarded merely as a prolific, non-academic usually right-wing, military historian, with a specialty in World War II.

Hitler's WarThe turning point for Irving came in 1977 when he published his most substantial work thus far, Hitler's War. In it he argued that Hitler - the most viciously anti-Semitic political leader in the history of Europe - had not ordered the mass extermination of European Jewry, had not known of his SS subordinates' enactment of his policy and had indeed tried wherever possible to help the Jews. The evidentiary basis for these astonishing claims were one or two ambiguous scraps of evidence which were savagely distorted, and the well-known lack of a written order from Hitler on the question of the Final Solution.

Following Hitler's War Irving ceased to be taken seriously by fellow historians. He began to seek out, and to be sought out by, altogether different company by the neo-fascist fringe in Germany, France, Britain and the United States, and in particular by those devoted to exposing the 'myth' of the Jewish Holocaust.

At the same time, Irving's historical views were becoming increasingly ugly and bizarre. In 1980 he published a book on the 1956 revolution in Hungary. It portrayed the anti-Communist revolution as, in essence, an anti-Semitic uprising of Hungarian gentiles against their Jewish-Bolshevik overlords.


In 1987 Irving launched in Australia a new biography of Churchill which argued that in the l930s an impoverished Churchill had sold his soul to a shadowy group of Jewish businessmen who together were responsible for plunging Europe into war, vetoing the reasonable peace offers of Hitler and, ultimately, destroying the British Empire.

In 1988 Irving took the final plunge into the ultra-right sewer. He became the champion of a report on Auschwitz - authored by a man whose business was in execution equipment and whose engineering qualifications turned out to be fraudulent - which 'exposed' the 'myth' of the six million dead. Irving now published his own glossy version of the so-called Leuchter report, and threatened that he would send it to every MP and every school in Britain.

Irving had now become a priceless asset for the Holocaust denial underground. Until Irving's conversion no historian had been associated with this cause. Irving also became the darling of the Austro-German ultra-right. Last year, Australian television showed film of Irving shedding crocodile tears, before an audience of German skinheads, over the British persecution of Hitler's great deputy, Rudolf Hess.

I must admit that I had not realised, until seeing the transcript of a videotape Irving dispatched to Australia recently, how disreputable a scholar or how dreadful a man he had become. Throughout the tape Irving refers to Jews as "our traditional enemies."[1] Enemies of whom? Europe? Christianity? Humanity? He refers to the Holocaust as a 'blood lie' against the innocent German people. He treats it as nothing but a conscious big-business swindle by Jewish racketeers to extract vast amounts of money from reparations payments and the entertainment industry.

Of the Jewish eyewitness survivors who passed through Auschwitz, Irving recommends psychiatric investigation. Of the hundreds of Germans of the SS who were tried after the war for their role in the mass extermination, and whose testimony


provides thousands of pages of detailed knowledge of every phase of the Nazi genocide, Irving remains silent. Elsewhere he dismisses all this testimony as the tainted fruit of a victor's justice. For Irving, it must be assumed, the vast mountain of evidence concerning the Nazi extermination of the Jews - one of the most exhaustively documented events in history - has all been faked.

Curiously enough, Irving knows little of the Holocaust. He himself has written nothing and conducted no research on the policy of Jewish mass extermination. He boasts, moreover, of his refusal even to read the books of fellow historians - all of whom conclude that between four-and-a-half and upwards of six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. He nevertheless comes up with a figure, virtually plucked from the air, of 25,000 Jewish murders.[2] In these claims scholarly pretensions have altogether collapsed. Irving defines the 'myth' of the Holocaust thus: 'Adolf Hitler ordered the killing of six million Jews in Auschwitz.'

Even this formula is an Irving invention. No one claims six million Jews died in Auschwitz.

All historians know that the figure of approximately six million Jewish murders refers to the combination of deaths in the labour camps and ghettos of Poland (perhaps 500,000); the shootings in occupied USSR by the SS's Einsatzgruppen (perhaps 2.2 million); the gas veins [sic. Vans?] of Chelmno (perhaps 55,000); the death factories of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka (perhaps 1.8 million) and the gas chambers of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp (perhaps 1.5 million).

To argue, as does Irving, that 25,000 Jews were murdered in Auschwitz, and to imply that this constitutes the total of Jewish deaths by murder under Nazism, represents for those who experienced the Holocaust and who survived, and even to those who have reflected upon it, a moral and intellectual scandal almost beyond endurance.

Most people are not in this situation. What has been particularly interesting to me in the controversy thus far is the influence


Irving has been able to exert over a younger generation of Australians, who have picked up at university a half-baked and philosophically confused scepticism regarding the very idea of truth, but who have acquired there virtually no solid historical knowledge.

Take a recent editorial in the Herald-Sun: 'The muzzling of David Irving'. This editorial described Irving as a 'controversial' historian who had become 'unpopular' merely because, after thirty years of archival research, he had arrived at the unfashionable view that tens of thousands rather than millions of Jews had been murdered by the Nazis. Such views, the editorialist believed, were offensive to Jews not because they were shockingly false but because of the great post-war Jewish 'article of faith', the Holocaust. Article of faith, indeed!

This editorial is based on profound, but, I suspect, not uncommon historical ignorance. It is also based on breathtaking political naiveté. Irving's opinions have nothing whatever to do with genuine historical controversy or archival research. They have everything to do with the attempt by the ultra-right fringe in Europe and America to restore racism and anti-Semitism to respectability.

For the record I must point out that I have become a supporter of a ban on I)avid Irving. An obscure visit is now inconceivable. T[Flush this loo]o lift the ban would present Irving with a heaven-sent opportunity for media-driven mischief and propaganda. The initial ban on Irving was probably, on balance, a mistake. To lift it now would be a far greater one. In politics, circumstances matter.

- 1993


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Extracts from The Way We Live Now © Robert Manne, 1998

Notes on some of the lies:

  1.  Nowhere has Mr Irving called the Jewish community "our traditional enemy." He has however often spoken of the "traditional enemies" of the truth and of free speech as "our enemies". Jewish community leaders have taken this as a reference to them alone. In fact the definition must include non-Jewish groups too. [BACK TO TEXT]
  2.  Around 74,000 deaths are adequately documented in Auschwitz; say, a hundred thousand, a criminally high figure. Of these, according to Arno Meyer, the British official histories, and other reliable sources, all but a fraction were probably due to "normal" wartime causes - typhus, starvation, ill-treatment, air raids, etc.[BACK TO TEXT]

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