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Jewish Journal
March 25, 2005


Claims Unfounded

PROFESSOR Barry Steiner's claims that had I written more extensively about David Irving in "Denying the Holocaust" this lawsuit might have been avoided is completely unfounded (Letters, Mar. 11). He might have better served his argument by offering some proof, however paltry.
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David Irving comments:

ISN'T it wonderful what Lipstadt can achieve by selective one-word quoting: now see what Mr Justice Gray really said in his Judgment, some of it highly favorable to me.
   Incidentally, Mr Justice Gray interrupted my five-hour closing speech to make the very point to Mr Richard Rampton QC that Prof Steiner did: Is it impossible for a historian accused of political extremism to write historical truth?
   He left the question -- which evoked loud stage-gasps from the Press benches -- hanging in the air, unanswered.
   Perhaps others got on the phone to answer it for him before he wrote his Judgment.

LIPSTADT harps once again on the book The Destruction of Dresden, written in 1961 (when I was 23) and published in 1963. No new editions were published until 1996, thirty-three years later. The Court failed to take this simple fact on board.
   No matter what "errors" I had detected in the interval, I could not have corrected them -- other than by writing to The Times (which I did, in 1966). Lipstadt has yet to correct the lies about Hamas and Hizbollah which she published in her book.

Secondly, his question suggests to me that he has neither read [sic. read neither] "History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving" nor the trial record. [Website note: Lipstadt read none of Mr Irving's books before agitating for their prohibition]. He asks: "Is it possible for a Nazi sympathizer or any other political extremist to be a good historian?" It may be, but in Irving's case, the answer is no.

Mr Justice Gray on David Irving:

His knowledge of World War II is unparalleled.

Trial Judgment

Judge Gray's words [sic. Mr Justice Gray's words] to describe Irving's writings about the Holocaust were unambiguous: "perverts," "distorts," "misleading," "unjustified," "travesty" and "unreal."

Gray wrote:

Irving's "falsification of the historical record was deliberate and ... motivated by a desire to present events in a manner consistent with his own ideological beliefs, even if that involved distortion and manipulation of historical evidence."

Steiner contends that Irving's earlier writings are not fraudulent. I urge him to look at the section of "History on Trial" devoted to Irving's distortions regarding the bombing of Dresden, about which Irving began writing in the 1960s.

He might also check and read the sections of the trial devoted to the topic. Gray found Irving's treatment of the evidence about Dresden to be "absurd" and a "travesty."

Given Irving's distortions of both the Holocaust and Dresden, I believe any good historian would be skeptical about Irving's other work and would, before relying on his findings, do what my defense team and I did for this legal battle: follow his footnotes.

Finally, regarding Irving's ideological views, I again rely on Gray's words: Irving had

"repeatedly crossed the divide between legitimate criticism and prejudiced vilification of the Jewish race and people."

If Steiner wishes to rely on Irving, that's his choice. I just worry about what he teaches his students.

Deborah E. Lipstadt
Emory University, Atlanta


Index to the media scandal surrounding Prof Lipstadt's attempt to silence C-Span and the history debate
Lipstadt writes a paid OpEd in New York Sun: 'Why I said No to C-Span'

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