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Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Fudge's suppressed article is published:
history and free speech: Part I
University history lecturer Thomas Fudge has
resigned in protest at the university's refusal to
publish this article defending a young academic
against the charge of holocaust denial. It appears
in two instalments, today and tomorrow.
The Fate of Joel Hayward in
New Zealand Hands: From Holocaust Historian to
By Thomas A. Fudge
For the past three years,
newspapers, national periodicals and television
programmes have provided coverage about the Joel
Hayward affair, a story of a New Zealand
student who wrote a controversial
work and arguable conclusions are not uncommon in
modern universities, but Hayward's unpublished work
as a student seems to remain, after ten years, a
point of unusual and continuing interest.
Does Canterbury University support holocaust
denial? The university answers no. Is Hayward a
denier? He claims he is not. Does his thesis
constitute holocaust denial? His critics say yes
(some without having read it); others (who have
read it) answer in the negative.
In June 2002, Joel Hayward resigned as senior
lecturer in history at Massey University where he
had been respected as an effective teacher and
productive scholar. His departure generated
applause from some quarters. Others lamented
What brought Hayward, a year and a half after
the Hayward affair, still in the early stages of a
potentially distinguished career, to this act of
In 1993 Hayward was awarded a master of arts
degree with first class honours in history by the
University of Canterbury for a thesis
['The Fate of Jews
in German Hands'] on the historiography of
the Holocaust. He later wrote a PhD thesis, and in
1996 was appointed to a lectureship at Massey
In late 1999, the MA
thesis was publicly denounced. The New Zealand
Jewish Council alleged that the work amounted to
historical revisionism constituting Holocaust
denial, and called on the University of
Canterbury to revoke the degree.
Hayward repeatedly apologised for any harm or
distress his thesis might have caused, agreed to
the extraordinary step of including an appendix to
his thesis modifying his findings, co-operated with
the subsequent investigation and appears to have
made efforts to distance himself from Holocaust
Under pressure, the university appointed an
independent working party to investigate the claims
against the thesis. This committee consisted of
retired High Court judge Sir Ian Barker and
academics Professor Ann Trotter and
Professor Stuart Macintyre.
Their lengthy report
concluded that the thesis was seriously flawed, and
that Hayward should not have essayed a judgment in
such a controversial area. The report did not
recommend withdrawal of the thesis by the
university and did not agree with the allegations
that Hayward's argument was racist or motivated by
While the opinion that the thesis did not
deserve the high marks it received was widely
publicised in the media, no fewer than six serving
or retired members of the history department
persisted in their own judgment
that it was a first-class
Notwithstanding the apparent finality of the
report and its qualified exoneration of Hayward,
during 2000, 2001, and 2002 Hayward received
hundreds of pieces of hate mail, abusive telephone
calls, threats against himself, his wife and small
children, harassment at Massey University and
continued negative media attention.
Further attempts to publish, as well as efforts
at finding other employment, have been
unsuccessful. The issue therefore goes beyond the
apparent concern over allegedly flawed (but
unpublished) research. Is this issue really about
academic values and freedom?
ANIMOSITY towards Hayward arose not in 1999 but
several years earlier. The subject of Hayward's
thesis was controversial before he wrote it and
there were attempts to censure Hayward at the
Aware of these factors, Hayward embargoed the
thesis for three years as soon as it was examined.
When the embargo expired, he notified the
university library that the thesis could be made
available to researchers.
The library replied that it had decided to
restrict the thesis so it could be consulted only
with Hayward's permission until January 1999.
Almost immediately allegations were published about
his alleged Holocaust denial.
That someone should have chanced upon the thesis
so promptly seems an unlikely coincidence. Rather,
events were to show that there were good reasons
for the embargo on access.
Was this because Hayward had written things that
he knew to be reprehensible? The Barker inquiry
found no evidence of malicious intent, dishonesty
or deliberate efforts to circumvent the truth on
Is it possible that the outrage over the thesis
itself was also a device for attacking Hayward?
One of the complexities of the Hayward affair is
its apparent relation to issues of academic freedom
and intellectual fashions.
Hayward's detractors claim that he is wrong in
terms of both. One of his critics stated that
academic freedom could exist without academic
However, considered legal opinion concluded that
the interpretation being applied in the Hayward
affair permitted a very limited right to academic
Proponents of academic freedom insist that
universities should be great storehouses of wisdom
and learning, and students ought to be able to go
there, learn and choose.
Academic freedom implies there are no taboo
subjects, no off-limits topics.
The fuss made about
this obscure piece of work fits rather awkwardly
with the position taken by New Zealand academic
Official statements read, "No library materials
should be excluded ... because of the ... views of
their authors [and] no library materials
should be censored, restricted or removed from
libraries because of partisan or doctrinal
disapproval or pressure."
Senior academics in New Zealand universities are
often sensitive to public opinion and political
moods. They may actively discourage graduate
students from investigating certain topics.
There are other topics that although encouraged
or permitted, are sometimes subject to constraints
on arguments that may be employed, evidence that
may be weighed and conclusions reached. This is
especially the case in areas that touch on
contemporary political or ethical concerns.
Many people do not
regard these strictures as problematic but
rather praise them as virtuous. The Jewish
Holocaust is one of those delicate topics about
which certain beliefs have become so fashionable
as to be unassailable regardless of intellectual
The Hayward affair elicited the pronouncement
that at least in this country anyone wanting to
question received notions about the Holocaust is
controlled by accepted truth standards. The danger
in this thinking lies in the ambiguity of the term
What did Hayward say?
The major issue appears to be the belief that
Hayward rejected well-established facts about the
Holocaust. His thesis examined the writings of some
of those who question the Holocaust industry, which
has reached significant political proportions in
the past 30 years.
Setting aside the question of whether Hayward's
conclusions were really so exceptional, is it not
the duty of universities and researchers to
challenge conventional understandings?
In his MA thesis, The Fate of Jews in German
Hands: An Historical Enquiry into the Development
and Significance of Holocaust Revisionism, Joel
Hayward investigated Holocaust historiography,
especially that branch of it regarded as
He concluded that some of the revisionist
literature was unworthy of sustained scholarly
consideration. Other approaches he found to be
significant and worthy.
He came to three principal conclusions from the
historiography, the weight of historical evidence
and his own discernment.
First, that there is no unimpeachable evidence
that Adolf Hitler personally ordered the
physical extermination of Jews.
Second, that it is impossible to know how many
Jews were killed and
third, that gas chambers were not used
systematically to murder Jews in European
Do these conclusions make Joel Hayward a
This allegation that he is can be easily
document has come to light to prove that Hitler
gave a final solution order.
That Hitler was anti-Semitic is beyond
denial. That Hitler wished for Jews to be
subjugated is without argument. Hayward makes
these points. That Hitler gave an order for Jews
to be exterminated cannot be proven.
Second, Hayward agrees that millions of Jews
perished during World War II. He regards the
figure of six million murdered as symbolic and
impossible to prove on the basis of documentary
traditional figure of 11 million - Jews and
others - killed by the Nazis is essentially the
invention of Simon Wiesenthal, the famous hunter
of Nazi war criminals. This speculative figure
has attained virtual canonical status in
In 1986 Shmuel Krakowski, then
archives director of Yad Vashem, the
international centre for Holocaust documentation
in Jerusalem, told the Jerusalem Post
that most of the 20,000 testimonies he had from
alleged survivors of the Holocaust were
untrustworthy, fraudulent, lacking support or in
some way untruthful.
Although this statement is at least as
revisionist as anything Hayward wrote, Krakowski
is not regarded as a Holocaust denier.
Wiesenthal admits that he manufactured figures
but appears to have escaped censure; Hayward
merely questioned other suggested figures and
was denounced for it.
Third, it was once held that concentration camps
in Germany were used to gas Jews en masse. That
hypothesis has now been abandoned by most
historians of World War II without this being
condemned as Holocaust denial.
There is stronger evidence for the use of gas
chambers in Polish camps. Hayward relied upon
certain studies now regarded as highly
controversial or discredited to question the extent
of the use of Polish gas chambers, and for his
scepticism was labelled a Holocaust denier although
he unequivocally states that millions of Jews
perished under the Nazi regime through various
means. He wondered merely what contribution gas
chambers made to these results. But some of his
detractors claimed that he denied the existence of
gas chambers altogether.
That the historic Jewish community has been
subjected to discrimination and persecution must be
acknowledged, but that does not mean that there
might not be new understandings of that
It does not therefore provide that same
community or any of its representatives with
immunity to investigation.
Nor is it true that what happened to Jews
historically is fundamentally different from
atrocities perpetrated against native Americans,
Africans, Gypsies, the victims of the witch hunts
in early modern Europe, those trapped in the
Stalinist purges in Russian lands, the fate of
Iraqis in the hands of Saddam Hussein,
heretics hunted by crusaders, and indigenous
peoples around the world throughout human history,
in which large numbers of people have been
subjected to campaigns of mass extermination.
There is a great difference between
anti-Semitism and arriving at research-based
conclusions which do not support or conform to
values, ideas and interpretations held by Semitic
peoples and cultures.
Diversity of interpretation is not the same
thing as discrimination. To contest common opinion
is not racism. To argue against or disagree with
conventional wisdom, regardless of the subject,
cannot, ipso facto, be characterised as cultural or
Even Jewish communities
cannot stand detached from intolerance, violence
and destruction against others. The conquests
recorded in the Hebrew Bible are one example. To
argue that the Holocaust is in some way
culturally specific or historically significant
in unique ways on a universal level is opinion,
not binding, necessarily persuasive, or
To insist that it is amounts to intellectual
terrorism.A Holocaust of those dimensions is less
about history and more about myth.
To say so does not constitute a total betrayal
of Jewish history.
The working party found that Hayward was not
guilty of racism or anti-Semitism, or of falsifying
data. But it criticised the quality of Hayward's
work, and dissented from the grade that it was
Hayward's novice research exercise, however,
became widely regarded by academics, university
administrators, news media persons and members of
the general population as the product of a
contemptible scoundrel, a man lacking in probity,
unfit to influence impressionable minds, and
unworthy of being employed even in non-academic
circles and whose writings, even though he has
written nothing on the Holocaust since his MA
thesis, should be suppressed.
It should be borne in mind that unlike many
ambitious young academics, Hayward made no attempt
to publish any aspect of his MA thesis. Nor was it
the basis of his employment as an academic. Its
only role in his career was to qualify him to
proceed to the PhD degree, for which he undertook
research on an unrelated topic.
Judging from the essays in the New Zealand
Jewish Chronicle, the report
issued by the working party in December 2000 and
the articles appearing in the New Zealand news
media, the Hayward affair might seem to be a rather
straightforward case of incompetent research and
There are other details which have been less
publicised, if at all. While some voices have
condemned the lack of balance in the Hayward
affair, others have dismissed it all as a
Continuing publicity indicates that important
parts of the story are not known.
* Tomorrow: The
Our dossier on the Joel
Joel Hayward thesis: 'The
Fate of Jews in German Hands' (zip
Report of the Working
Party established by University of Canterbury to
Inquire into Hayward Case | summary
at heart of 'book burning' row | 'Book-burners'
feared libel suit
Fate of Joel Hayward in New Zealand Hands: From
Holocaust Historian to Holocaust? Part I |