May 19, 2000
David Irving and history
Letters to the Editor, 19th May 2000
I agreed with the main point of your editorial "Making History", in which you are critical of filmmakers who change history for their own dramatic or chauvinistic purposes. However, I think you were a little unfair on David Irving in bracketing him with these filmmakers.
Much of Irving's work has been outstanding, and this has been asserted very recently by Sir John Keegan and Professor Donald Cameron Watt.
Sir John wrote (Daily Telegraph, April 12, 2000): "He has, in short, many of the qualities of the most creative historians. He is certainly never dull. Prof Lipstadt, by contrast, seems as dull as only the self-righteously politically correct can be."
While Professor Watt wrote (Evening Standard, April 11, 2000): "Penguin was certainly out for blood. The firm has employed five historians, with two research assistants, for some considerable time to produce 750 pages of written testimony, querying and checking every document cited in Irving's books on Hitler. Show me one historian who has not broken into a cold sweat at the thought of undergoing similar treatment. For what it is worth, I admire some of Mr Irving's work as a historian."
While Sir John and Professor Watt are critical of certain aspects of Irving's work, both hope that he will continue as a serious historian. Indeed, Professor Watt's article is entitled: "History needs David Irvings".
David Irving brought his libel case because a determined lobby had succeeded in preventing much of his recent work being published and because he is forbidden entry in several countries. At the moment there is an attempt to get his books removed from public libraries. His "crime" is that he has questioned certain aspects of the Holocaust, although he has not denied the great massacre of Jews. He has produced a great deal of detail to support his case, and although some of this evidence has been rejected in court (although there may be an Appeal), it is a sad day if historical events cannot be questioned in a serious way. This is quite different from the Hollywood re-writing of history.
It seems that the Resurrection can be queried but all aspects of the Holocaust must be accepted without any question.
The Rev Paul M James
Related files. Two hostile replies.
May 19, 2000
Website fact: The stamina of the defence team in the Lipstadt libel action was aided by a six million dollar slushfund provided by Steven Spielberg, Edgar J Bronfman, and the American Jewish Committee, which enabled them to pay 21 lawyers and "experts". A million pound lollipop was figuratively brandished from the defence lawyers' table throughout the trial, and all those who behaved got a lick at it; their experts like the "scholars" Prof. Evans, Prof. Longerich and others were paid up to £125,000 each (on top of the academic salaries they continued to draw) to testify as they did. Nobody was paying for Mr Irving. His defence witnesses testified without payment, from conviction. [Help!]