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The Chronicle of Higher Education

Friday, January 5, 2001


University in New Zealand Is Faulted for Awarding Degree for Thesis That Questioned the Holocaust



AN independent six-month inquiry has found that New Zealand's University of Canterbury, in Christchurch, was "seriously deficient" in awarding a master's degree with honors seven years ago to a student whose thesis questioned the existence of the Holocaust.

But a report based on the investigation stopped short of endorsing a call by a national Jewish group that the institution rescind the degree earned by Joel Hayward.

Mr. Hayward, who went on to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Kansas and now lectures in strategic studies at Massey University, in New Zealand, had argued in his thesis that the notion of gas chambers' being used to kill Jews during World War II was propaganda invented by American and British lobbyists in the thrall of Zionist forces, and that far fewer than six million Jews -- perhaps as few as one million -- perished in concentration camps.

Mr. Hayward recently apologized for the 360-page work, "The Fate of Jews in German Hands: An Historical Inquiry Into the Development and Significance of Holocaust Revisionism," which he wrote in 1993.

The thesis came to international attention during a libel case last year in London in which David Irving unsuccessfully sued Deborah E. Lipstadt, a historian at Emory University, and Penguin Books, for the American academic's statement in a book published in 1994 that Mr. Irving was a "falsifier of history." (See an article from The Chronicle, April 12, 2000.)

Mr. Hayward was invited but refused to testify for Mr. Irving, whom the judge in the case later described as an avowed anti-Semite.

The case embarrassed the University of Canterbury, which at Mr. Hayward's request had embargoed the contents of the thesis for five years, and has since found itself with the unlikely distinction of being the only accredited university in the Western world to have awarded a master's degree for such a work.

The inquiry into Mr. Hayward's thesis concluded that the work had showed "industry, breadth of research, and lucidity," but the report criticized its "perverse and unjustified conclusion" and its author's "faulty method" and "poor judgment."

The report also questioned the quality of his academic supervision and the lack of explicit procedures for dealing with postgraduate research at the university, and said that the thesis had not deserved honors.

But the inquiry found that it could not be proved that Mr. Hayward had acted dishonestly in his use of research. It concluded that the New Zealand Jewish Council's request for the degree's annulment had no legal standing.

The members of the inquiry panel, appointed by the University of Canterbury, were Ian Barker, a New Zealand lawyer; Ann Trotter of the University of Otago, in New Zealand; and Stuart Macintyre of the University of Melbourne, in Australia.

In a newspaper interview, Daryl Le Grew, the vice chancellor of the University of Canterbury, said "an extraordinary and most regrettable set of circumstances" was to blame for the decision to confer the degree. He again apologized to New Zealand's Jewish community for any distress the situation had caused.

Mr. Hayward was on vacation and unavailable to comment.

Related items on this website:

 Index to Joel Hayward
  Joel Hayward's thesis: 'The Fate of Jews in German Hands' (zip file)

To Read his dissertation in the uncensored form, search for it on the Google search engine.

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