AR-Online logo 



Posted Sunday, September 27, 1998

BookNew Book by Holocaust Museum, Washington, agrees that until David Irving's biography of Hitler in 1977 there was no real Historical Analysis



The Known, the Unknown, the Disputed, and

the Reexamined


Michael Berenbaum and Abraham J. Peck

ushmmPublished in association with the
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Washington, D.C.

Indiana University Press
Bloomington and Indianapolis


The assertions, arguments, and conclusions contained herein are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council or the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.


© 1998 by Michael Berenbaum and Abraham J. Peck


On pp. 23ff Professor Eberhard Jäckel* admits that it was thanks to the research of David Irving that the real research into the Holocaust began in 1977:

* For Jäckel's own Holocaust research, including forged documents and photographs, see elsewhere on this Website.


The Holocaust



Research on the Holocaust began strikingly late everywhere; even more astonishing, it began internationally almost at the same time. It seems that the first results of serious research did not begin to appear until 1953. In that year the first comprehensive study by Gerald Reitlinger was published in England. In the same year the Knesset in Israel passed the law establishing Yad Vashem as a memorial and a research institute. And in that year in Germany the Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte were inaugurated with the first volume containing Kurt Gerstein's report on the mass gassings. It was also in 1953 that Hermann Graml's book on the November 1938 pogrom saw publication for the first time.

There had not been much scholarly historiography before 1953. Looking at Reitlinger's bibliography one is surprised to see how short the list is. [...] There had been almost no historical work on the Holocaust in the eight years that had elapsed between 1945 and 1953, and of course even the term Holocaust was not yet applied to the event.


While in the 1960s and 1970s the stream of historical publications grew steadily, there was still almost no scholarly debate on the Holocaust. [Raul] Hilberg certainly had sparked a stormy controversy, which was particularly vehement in Israel, but his interpretation, derived from Franz Neumann, was not discussed profoundly by his fellow historians.


Hitler BookIt was not until 1977 that historians finally began to discuss the origins proper, not in terms of anti-Semitism but in terms of decision making. Strangely enough, the discussion was provoked by David Irving who, in his book Hitler's War, had denied that Hitler had ordered the extermination of the Jews and maintained that it had been carried out by some of his subordinates behind his back, without his knowledge, until 1943.

Even stranger, Irving's book had been published first in Germany in 1975, but the outrageous passages had been suppressed by his German publisher so that the shocking thesis became known only when the English version appeared in the United States in 1977. This, in turn, provoked Martin Broszat's famous article on 'Hitler and the Genesis of the "Final Solution."' While refuting Irving's assertions, he admitted that historical research had so far indeed neglected the question of when, how, and by whom the murder of the Jews had been initiated.

I shall not reproduce in detail the arguments exchanged in the course of the debate. I shall, however, venture to make two more general statements in this respect. Broszat's article marked a turning point. It opened the first scholarly debate on the origins of the Holocaust, and it incorporated no national undertones whatsoever. On the contrary, the debate was international from its very outset.

Provoked by an English writer, the debate was launched by a German historian.


The opposing parties in the debate about the origins of the Holocaust have become known as the "intentionalists" and the "functionalists." The terms, which initially did not refer to the origins of the Holocaust but to the nature of the Nazi regime in general, were coined by the English historian Tim Mason at a conference organized by the German Historical Institute at Cumberland Lodge outside London in 1979. Briefly summarized, the intentionalist position is--or was--that it had been Hitler's premeditated intention to kill as many Jews as possible ever since the 1920s and that he implemented his plans when the opportunity arose during the war. The functionalists, on the other hand, were unwilling to attribute such a decisive influence to a single person. They argued that the anti-Jewish measures taken by the Nazis were steadily intensified until they finally and almost automatically culminated in the mass killings.



On pp. 30ff another Holocaust Museum historian, Michael Marrus, scoffs at Jäckel's admission that it was thanks to the careful, assiduous research of David Irving -- banned, punished, fined, imprisoned, persecuted, deported, silenced -- that the real research into the Holocaust had begun in 1977:


The Holocaust



In studying the Holocaust, historians have been challenging theories for decades, far longer than Eberhard Jäckel suggests when he refers to Martin Broszat's famous 1977 attack on David Irving. For example, a firestorm of criticism on the subject of Jewish reactions to Nazi persecution greeted Raul Hilberg's The Destruction of the European Jews. The debate on the Judenräte, focused by Hannah Arendt's reporting for the New Yorker in 1961 and carried to a new level by Isaiah Trunk's Judenrat in 1972, is another important milestone. [...]

Our opinion
  This is one of those rare occasions when comment is superfluous. Smug satisfaction seems an appropriate response.

The above news item is reproduced without editing other than typographical

 Register your name and address to go on the Mailing List to receive

[ Go back to AR Online Index | Index to AR.#14 | Go to Main Action Report Index ]

Order books | Auschwitz Index | Irving Index | Irving Page | Irving Book-List | Other FP Authors
Buchladen | Auschwitz | Irving-Verzeichnis | -Hauptseite | -Bücher | Weitere FP-Autoren
© Focal Point 1998 write to David Irving