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New Zealand Herald

Wednesday, July 23, 2003


Dr Thomas Fudge's suppressed article is published: ...

Holocaust, history and free speech: Part IIHayward


Canterbury University history lecturer Thomas Fudge concludes his essay, which the university History Department refused to publish, on the fallout from Joel Hayward's controversial thesis on the Holocaust.


IN DECEMBER 2000, the working party established by the University of Canterbury to investigate the Hayward thesis released its report.

Totalling 296 pages, including supporting material, this report was received by the administration, adopted by the university council on December 18 and no public contest was offered to its findings.

However, the report was not accepted unanimously. Several senior Canterbury University historians took the view that their institution had been far too apologetic.

Vincent Orange, Hayward's thesis supervisor, contested a great deal in the report, as did Professor John Jensen of Waikato University.

In February 2001, the History Department at Canterbury took the report under consideration and concluded its deliberations by affirming that it supported the broad thrust of the recommendations of the inquiry.

The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of this ambivalent motion but not unanimous. Three members of the department (besides Orange) put forward arguments in opposition to the report and to the nature of the inquiry.

One member of the department insisted on being named in the minutes of the meeting as opposing both the report and the departmental support for it.

Among those who supported the motion were some who admitted having read neither the report nor the thesis. One senior member argued that the department should not be seen as being in opposition to the university.

Vincent Orange, who absented himself from the February meeting, submitted to the department a dossier of 31 documents, titled A Case for the Defence of Dr Joel Hayward. The dossier included submissions from academics who had read Hayward's thesis, documents presenting another side of the matter and related material.

This material had been submitted to the working party but appeared to have had no significant influence on the ultimate report.

The dossier was prepared for three reasons:

  • For consideration by the working party.
  • That it might be attached to the working party report as an extended appendix (to provide balance).
  • That it might be placed in the university library, where scholars or students in the future considering this matter might have access to both sides of the story.

The working party report did not respond to the contents of the dossier. Efforts to have the dossier appended to the report itself were unsuccessful, and the other objectives were not attained.


WHY was this body of material not made more widely available to those actively involved or interested in the Hayward affair?

Vincent Orange or other members of the History Department opposing the submissions of the New Zealand Jewish Council could very well have distributed the dossier on their own. The apparent reason is repeated requests by university officials that no comment be made to the media and that the university administration be responsible for comment on the Hayward affair.

That administration, though aware of the dossier, elected not to publicise it. For this reason, the public has not been able to form a balanced judgment informed by testimony on both sides.

Prof R EvansThe Barker committee [working party] relied heavily on a report by Cambridge University Professor Richard J. Evans, who was engaged by the Jewish Council to provide comment on Hayward's thesis.

The Jewish Council originally presented a 14-page submission to the working party which summarised their concerns and specified their wishes about the inquiry.

It submitted that the thesis was dishonest, the award of Hayward's MA should be revoked, and all University of Canterbury endorsement of Hayward's work towards the MA be withdrawn, and by implication that the Hayward thesis be removed from the university library.

Fresh from his very public victory over David Irving in a high-profile London court case in April 2000, wherein Irving was found to have falsified historical evidence, Evans submitted a 71-page report trenchantly condemning the thesis.

Professor Gerald Orchard, one of New Zealand's most highly regarded lawyers, in turn denounced this report to the working party as adversarial, not objective and could not be relied on.

The working party acknowledged that Evans appeared to diminish the objectivity required of an expert witness, submitted unwarranted allegations, and was highly antagonistic.

The committee professed to have made every effort to discount Professor Evans' tendency to intemperate expression but accepted the report as authoritative and seems not to have been influenced markedly by the sustained responses to Evans' report in the dossier for the defence.

But faced with the profound disagreement on the merits of Hayward's thesis between its official examiners (Orange and Jensen) and Evans, the working party had received legal counsel that preference for one perspective over the other was a question for appropriate expert historians.

No appropriate expert historians were approached. Why, on such a critical point supported by legal advice, did the working party not take this step?

Vincent Orange and Joel Hayward made a strategic error in not also contracting an expert on Holocaust historiography to review the thesis and submit a report. This apparently did not occur to them at the time and the faux pas proved costly and monumental in its eventual implications.

THE willingness of the working party to accept a partisan opinion commissioned by an interested caucus is curious and places the inquiry itself in a troubling light.

Notwithstanding the working party's remarks on Evans' language and lack of objectivity, he appeared both to the Jewish Council and the working party as a witness otherwise above reproach.

Evans' report makes no reference to extenuating circumstances, qualifications about the nature of Hayward's preliminary research exercise go unnoted, and Hayward is treated as though the thesis in question was the culminating work of a long career rather than an inaugural effort.

The working party's report satisfied neither of the protagonists. It appears to have been intended to soothe by offering a compromise solution.

It agreed with the Jewish Council and Richard Evans that there were serious flaws in the thesis, but not that it was either dishonest or fraudulent, or that it was unworthy of being awarded a master's degree.

It also disagreed that Hayward's degree should be withdrawn or that the thesis should be removed from library collections.

On the other hand, the report was not the exoneration of the thesis that Hayward and Orange had hoped for, and the university's examination procedures were severely criticised.

Consequently, both parties were embittered; neither could claim victory, and indeed, everyone seemed discredited by the whole affair.

The academics felt betrayed and the Jewish Council felt that its cause had been frustrated.

The official Jewish view was that the outcome of the inquiry was unacceptable. [Council president] David Zwartz told a newspaper: "We must take it further".

However, the University of Canterbury was unprepared to invest further time or financial resources on the Hayward affair, which it considered resolved.

Since the university clearly was not going to revoke Hayward's degree, excoriate him any further, censure the thesis supervisor or keep the matter at the forefront, one might have expected that the affair had run its course.


HAYWARD continued with his duties at Massey University and press releases seemed to indicate that his tenure was secure and the university had no intention of withdrawing support. The affair was closed at last.

But it did not end. There were people whose passions had evidently been aroused by the affair and the extensive publicity it had received, and these people had recourse to informal and sinister methods of expressing their anger.

In early 2001, Hayward began to receive even more vitriolic hate mail, along with obscene and disturbing telephone calls. More than a year after the working party's report became public, Hayward received death threats directed at his children.

He continued occasionally to issue apologies for any unintended consequences created by his MA work and tried to get on with his life and career.

Feeling ridiculed and harassed, and believing that even among his colleagues at Massey sentiment had turned against him, Hayward suffered an emotional breakdown. He spent more than two years under medical care.

More than that, he became disenchanted with the world of higher education. He no longer believed universities (at least in New Zealand) were places for the free exchange of ideas. He had come to regard the exalted virtue of academic freedom as an illusion sold out to considerations of expediency.

He became convinced that the ideals taught by his professors and lecturers at Canterbury were simply rhetorical.

In brief, he no longer wished to be an academic. He regarded higher education as irreparably soiled by indifference and moral cowardice.

In December 2001, in deep depression, Hayward tendered his resignation from Massey University effective in June 2002. Massey appears to have made no effort to assess Hayward's condition or provide support of the kind usually available to distressed employees.

With Hayward out of Massey and his academic career at an end, was the affair now truly over and done with?

Efforts were made to link another Canterbury thesis to Holocaust denial and to Hayward but came to naught. For Hayward, though, there was more to come.

Early last December, he was informed by HarperCollins, a major international publisher, through their Auckland office, that they wished to withdraw from publishing a book of which Hayward was co-editor.

The book, a collection of essays about New Zealand airmen, was fully prepared and ready for printing.

Hayward was shocked at the news and pressed for an explanation.

  • HarperCollins was reluctant to explain their eleventh-hour decision.
  • Nor is that company alone in shunning Hayward. People fear being seen in a cafeteria with him.
  • Others are afraid that emails might be monitored and association with him might have serious consequences for their own careers.

Some former associates suspect their own work has been scoured for traces of heretical thinking about topics on which freedom of thought and independence of expression are unwelcome.

Shortly after the HarperCollins shock, Hayward was hired by dairy company Fonterra as communications co-ordinator with responsibilities for writing internal communications, information and training documents. But the company decided, on the day he began, to terminate the position.

Why won't the Hayward affair come to an end? Apologies have availed nothing. Resignation has been for naught. Passivity has been unproductive.

Do the alleged (but contested) deficiencies of the thesis justify the chain of events, from the unauthorised copying of a thesis, to a highly publicised but not public inquiry, to nationwide ridicule and humiliation, personal threats, isolation and termination of a career?

What good was it thought was being served? Relatively early in the story, some senior academics wanted to know why the issue was pursued, and called for an inquiry into the motives for such activities.

On the most recent publicity, one opinion was blunt: There seems to be a determination both to break Joel's career and to silence inquiry into the facts of the Holocaust.

On the latter, the implications are precipitous. Dogmatic emphasis on the Holocaust only reinforces and legitimises closed-mindedness, unrealistic foreign policies and barbaric behaviour.

What specifically constitutes denial of the Holocaust? Is it as simple as questioning whether fewer than 6 million Jews died? Questioning testimonies of survivors? Alleging that countries other than Germany committed war crimes? Denying that Jewish suffering during World War II was somehow unique?

Is it anti-Semitic to try to remove the element of sacred myth from 1940s Jewish history? Is it really so intolerable to deny that the Holocaust transcends history; that it is the ultimate event or the ultimate mystery?

Is it truly obligatory to acquiesce in the view that any survivor has more to say than all the historians combined about what happened?

The shackles of a new orthodoxy suggest universities cannot allow certain assumptions to bear the weight of inquiry.

There is nothing redemptive about the Holocaust and arguably less redemptive value in the pursuit of Joel Hayward along a journey from Holocaust historian to the fate of personal holocaust.


* Yesterday: The first instalment.


Our dossier on the Joel Hayward case
Report of the Working Party established by University of Canterbury to Inquire into Hayward Case | summary
Holocaust scholar at heart of 'book burning' row | 'Book-burners' feared libel suit
Joel Hayward thesis: 'The Fate of Jews in German Hands' (zip file)
The Fate of Joel Hayward in New Zealand Hands: From Holocaust Historian to Holocaust? Part I | Part II
© Focal Point 2003 e-mail:  write to David Irving