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Ohio, Friday, June 7, 2002

[This review was origibally written for the CODOH website. Some images are added by this website]




Lying bookA Review of Lying about Hitler: HISTORY, HOLOCAUST, AND THE DAVID IRVING TRIAL by Richard J. Evans. New York, 2001. Clothbound, 336 pages, $27.00, Hb., ISBN 0-465-02152-2.

By Paul Grubach

AS most visitors to this site already know, from January to April 2000 the high-profile libel case brought by British historian David Irving against the Jewish American historian Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin Books, was tried in the British High Court in London. Irving charged he was libeled when Lipstadt labeled him a "Holocaust denier" in her anti-Holocaust revisionist tome, Denying the Holocaust (1993).

EvansAccording to the jacket of his new book Lying about Hitler, Richard J. Evans, Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University and a noted specialist on modern German history, was the chief historical advisor to Penguin Books in its defense of Lipstadt.

Lying about Hitler, a revised and condensed version of Evans's 700-page report that he provided the High Court, uses the Irving-Lipstadt trial as a lens to explore various issues that surround the Holocaust. Two sections of the book are devoted to Hitler and the Jews, one to Holocaust revisionism (or in Evans's terms, "Holocaust denial"), one to the Allied fire bombing of Dresden, and a chapter to the trial's Judgment.

This essay will rebut Evans's analysis of two vital documents in regard to Holocaust revisionism, and discuss important points of the book ignored by other reviewers. All page numbers in parentheses refer to Lying about Hitler.

[ I ]

ONE of the most interesting aspects of the Irving-Lipstadt trial was the debate about the famous "Schlegelberger document." This March 1942 memorandum of Nazi State Secretary Franz Schlegelberger reads as follows:

"Reich Minister Lammers [Hitler's top civil servant] informed me that [Hitler] had repeatedly explained to him that he wanted the solution of the Jewish Question put back until after the war. Accordingly the present discussions possess merely theoretical value in the opinion of Reich Minister Lammers. But he will be in all cases concerned that fundamental decisions are not reached by a surprise intervention from another agency without his knowledge (p.83)."

documentIrving argued that this document shows that Hitler had no plans to exterminate European Jewry; it is incompatible with the notion that he had ordered an urgent liquidation program.

Professor Evans expresses the opinion that the subject matter of the "Schlegelberger note" was probably not the Jewish question generally, but rather the narrower issue of mixed marriages between Jews and Gentiles and the children of such marriages. He argues that the Nazis had already decided that "full Jews" in the German sphere of influence were to be transported and murdered. But the answer to the question as to what to do with "half Jews" and Jews in "mixed marriages" was to be postponed until after the war (pp.83-84).

As evidence in favor of this hypothesis, Evans claims that the "Schlegelberger note" was found in a file, probably compiled by the Allies, with German documents (dated around the time of the "Schlegelberger note") that pertained to the issues as to what to do with "half Jews" and Jews in "mixed marriages." The crucial memorandum was also probably referring to these questions also, and not to all Jews.

Consequently, Evans concludes, this most interesting document cannot be used by revisionist historians to prove there was no Nazi policy to exterminate the Jews, because it does not refer to all Jews, only to a small category of Jews.

The file in which the "Schlegelberger memo" was found was probably (as Evans claims) composed by the Allies (p.83). Thus, the association of the memo with documents discussing what to do with "half Jews" and Jews in "mixed marriages" may have been a reflection of Allied decision-making, and not necessarily a German decision to link the ideas in the "Schlegelberger note" with thinking on what to do with "half Jews" and Jews in "mixed marriages."

Evans More importantly, however, in volume 13 of the Nuremberg Military Tribunal (NMT) publications, there is a discussion of Nazi Jewish policy. One part, NG-2586-J, a memo written by Nazi official Martin Luther, dated August 21, 1942, is a summary of this policy.1 Under point number 8 it contains this most telling statement:

On the occasion of a reception by the Reich Foreign Minister [Joachim von Ribbentrop] on 26 November 1941 the Bulgarian Foreign Minister Popoff touched on the problem of according like treatment to the Jews of European nationalities and pointed out the difficulties that the Bulgarians had in the application of their Jewish laws to Jews of foreign nationality.

The Reich Foreign Minister answered that he thought this question brought by Mr. Popoff not uninteresting. Even now he could say one thing to him, that at the end of the war all Jews would have to leave Europe. This was the unalterable decision of the Fuehrer and also the only way to master this problem, as only a global and comprehensive solution could be applied and individual measures would not help much.

Clearly, this passage supports the Irving thesis and undermines the rival thesis of Evans. Hitler's orders are perfectly clear. Referring to Jews in general (thus contradicting Evans's claim), the German dictator stated they would still be around when the war is over (as he had no plans to exterminate them en masse), and they will have to emigrate to a new land outside Europe. This decision was "unalterable," that is, not subject to change. And, this Luther memo gives no indication that there was any change in policy during the time between the enunciation of Hitler's Jewish policy to Bulgarian Foreign Minister Popoff in November 1941, and the creation of said memo in August 1942.

Here we have an important August 1942 memorandum underscoring the Hitler orders of the "Schlegelberger note" of March 1942.

Once again on July 25, 1942, Hitler emphasized this determination to remove all Jews from Europe after the war:

After this war is over, I will rigorously hold to the view…that the Jews will have to leave and emigrate to Madagascar or some other Jewish national state.2

Three days after the Wannsee Conference, January 23, 1942, Hitler told his associates:

The Jew must clear out of Europe. Otherwise no understanding will be possible between Europeans…I restrict myself to telling them they must go away. If they break their pipes on the journey, I can't do anything about it. But if they refuse to go voluntarily, I see no other solution but extermination.3

Hitler added: "A good three or four hundred years will go by before the Jews set foot again in Europe. They'll return first of all as commercial travelers, then gradually they'll become emboldened to settle here -- the better to exploit us…"4

Hitler is recorded to have said this on January 27, 1942:

The Jews must pack up and disappear from Europe. Let them go to Russia. Where the Jews are concerned, I'm devoid of all sense of pity.5

(On pages 74-75, Evans claims that the source from which the January 23, 1942, and the January 27, 1942, Hitler quotes come from is an inaccurate English translation of a German book. Even if this is so, Irving's interpretation of the "Schlegelberger memo" is corroborated by the Luther memo of August 21, 1942.6)

Hitler's meaning in these documents is clear. He had no plans to physically exterminate all of the Jews, as he realized they would still be around hundreds of years from now. Yet, he clearly realized the brutality of his plans to rid Europe of the Jews; many would die as a result of his policies, and many of the ones that did not leave voluntarily would be shot or would die of disease or starvation. (All of this evidence is consistent with Holocaust revisionist theory.) A brutal and evil policy indeed, but it is not the same as a policy to exterminate all Jews in gas chambers, to make them disappear from the face of the earth.

Here we have a chain of documents that strongly suggests that Hitler did not order the wartime extermination of all of Jewry, as he expected them to be around at the war's end and they would be required to leave Europe. Furthermore, this "chain" supports Irving's interpretation of the "Schlegelberger note"; it refers to all Jews and not just to "half Jews" and Jews in "mixed marriages."

[ II ]

On pp. 78-82, Evans discusses SS leader and German Police Chief Heinrich Himmler's telephone note of November 30, 1941, in which [speaking from Hitler's bunker] he ordered Reinhard Heydrich in Prague that there was to be no liquidation of a transport of Jews. Part of the phone log reads as follows:

Jew-transport from Berlin. No liquidation.

Irving originally believed that this showed that Hitler gave the general order that there was to be no liquidation of the Jews. Subsequently, Evans points out that Irving rejected this belief and came to realize that the note refers to only one transport of Jews; that is, there was to be no liquidation of this single trainload.

Evans's colleagues have drawn the inference that "if Hitler had intervened personally to stop the killing of a single trainload of Berlin Jews on their arrival in Riga, then this strongly suggested that he was making an exception here, and that he therefore knew that there was a general policy of killing them on arrival (p.80)."

This does not necessarily follow. At the second trial of revisionist publisher Ernst Zündel in Toronto, Canada, Irving offered an equally plausible interpretation of this document:

"It is one of a series of documents showing Hitler intervening to try and stop mindless subordinates carrying out atrocities. There was another identical handwritten note by Himmler on April the 20th, 1942, reading in English: 'no annihilation of the Gypsies.'…But you don't see this kind of thing referred to…in the history books because they can't make it fit. They pretend these documents don't exist."7

Evans goes on to argue that there is no evidence for the claim that any order was issued by Hitler to spare the trainload of Jews or that he was involved in this matter at all. But then again, there is no conclusive evidence to show that Hitler did not issue said order.

However, as Holocaust historian Yisrael Gutman and Hitler's chief architect and minister of armaments, Albert Speer, have noted, Hitler interfered with all major decisions in regard to the Jews.8 If this be so, then Irving's assumption that Hitler did issue the order to spare the trainload of Jews is indeed a plausible assumption.

In all fairness, Himmler's telephone note of November 30, 1941 is an equivocal document that can be interpreted in a manner consistent with both Irving's and Evans's viewpoints.

[ III ]

Many years after the end of WWII, Adolf Eichmann wrote a passage in his memoirs which, Evans believes, supports the theory that Hitler ordered the complete extermination of the Jewish people. Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich allegedly told Eichmann in July 1941: "I've come from the Reichsfuhrer [Heinrich Himmler]. [Hitler] has given orders for the physical destruction of the Jews (p.248)."

Irving claimed that Eichmann had inserted this phrase in his manuscript so that if he were captured his defense would be that he was merely following orders (pp.248-249). Evans claims that Irving is simply trying to rationalize away the evidence that does not fit his views.

But the chain of documentary evidence put forth in section I of this review suggests that the Irving explanation may indeed be correct. Why would Hitler order the physical destruction of the Jews in 1941, and then change his mind in 1942, ordering that after the war is ended they will have to leave Europe? A reason for skepticism about Eichmann's account is his wish to exculpate himself.

The convergence of evidence strongly suggests that Hitler never ordered the wartime physical destruction of the Jews. In light of this, it is reasonable to assume that Eichmann may have added the passage to his memoirs sometime in the 1950s. Authentic and genuine war-time documentation is a much more reliable form of evidence than a memoir written many years after the fact and under pressure to alter the memoirs so as to help one escape retribution.

Finally, let us give Evans the benefit of the doubt and assume the Eichmann passage is 100% correct; Hitler did order the physical destruction of the Jews in 1941. The convergence of evidence shows that he changed his mind in 1942 and simply wanted them deported to a land outside Europe. This is further substantiated by what Hitler is recorded to have said on January 27, 1942, about three months after Eichmann was allegedly told of Hitler's order for Jewry's physical destruction: "The Jews must pack up and disappear from Europe. Let them go to Russia. Where the Jews are concerned, I'm devoid of all sense of pity."9

[ IV ]

On page 115, Evans discusses Irving's view of some German Security Service and Security Police task force reports filed by field commanders giving numbers of Jews shot by their forces on the Eastern Front. Irving does not trust the statistics that they contain, and suggested that may have been artificially inflated by Nazi commanders in the field.

Evans responds: "This of course was pure speculation, unsupported by any documentary evidence. This was characteristic of Irving's methods of disposing of inconvenient documents (p.115)." Here, Evans is claiming that Irving invented a "convenient rationalization" to "explain away" evidence that does not fit his theories.

On pages 90-91, there is a discussion of the important fact that there is no mention of the alleged "homicidal gas chambers" and the supposed "Nazi policy to exterminate all of Europe's Jews" in the wartime correspondence of top German officials. Allegedly, when Hitler, Himmler and others referred to "Jewish emigration" at this time, they were secretly and euphemistically referring to the mass murder of Europe's Jews. In Evans's own words: "The Nazis generally used camouflage terms when noting details of the extermination of the Jews at this time (p.91)."

This of course is pure speculation on Evans's part, unsupported by any credible documentation, as there are no authentic and genuine wartime German documents (dated between 1941 and 1945) that instruct Nazi officials: "Never explicitly mention the homicidal gas chambers. Never directly mention our Jewish extermination policy. If you do refer to these things, always use camouflaged and euphemistic terms like 'Jewish emigration,' 'Jewish resettlement,' or 'special treatment.'"

Evans's explanation is a post-hoc rationalization -- after-the-fact reasoning to justify contrary evidence. It is an attempt to "explain away" the embarrassing fact that there is no explicit reference to "homicidal gas chambers" and "the attempt to exterminate all of Europe's Jews" in authentic and genuine wartime German documents. By employing this explanation, Evans has made the traditional view of the Holocaust unfalsifiable, and thus, self-perpetuating.

Evans is guilty of the very sin he imputes to Irving.

[ V ]

Professor Evans castigates Irving for supposedly "applying double standards in his approach to different types of evidence (p.122)." The Cambridge intellectual then describes how scholars should treat evidence: "The fact was that historians had to take all kinds of evidence into account, and apply the same standards of criticism to all of them (p.122)." Yet, in regard to the motives of his colleague Deborah Lipstadt, and his own enemies David Irving and the Holocaust revisionists, Evans operates with a double standard -- the very flaw he imputes to Irving.

According to the author, Irving and Holocaust revisionists in general have evil and malevolent motives. "What moved [the revisionists]," he writes, "seemed to be a strange mixture of prejudice and bitter personal experience." (p.105)

Nevertheless, he fails to note the moral hypocrisy inherent in Lipstadt's motives. Commenting upon her alleged reasons for studying and writing about the Holocaust and anti-semitism, Evans's asserts that for Lipstadt "remembering the Holocaust was crucial in the perpetuation of Jewish tradition, but also in teaching lessons about the need to fight prejudice and persecution in the world today." (p.3)

Possibly, the only true statement here is that Lipstadt's promotion of the Holocaust ideology is connected with a desire to perpetuate Jewish tradition. Evidence suggests that fighting prejudice and persecution of non-Jewish Arabs is not part of her agenda. Indeed, she ardently supports Israel, a state with a horrendous human rights record, a long history of persecuting Palestinian Arabs, and in which severe discrimination against non-Jews is enshrined in law.10

Don Guttenplan, a journalist who covered the trial and wrote a book about his experiences, pointed this out:

It was hard not to feel queasy listening to [Richard] Rampton [Lipstadt and Penguin's defense counsel] quiz Irving about his attitude to 'intermarriage between the races' -- on behalf of a defendant [Dr. Lipstadt] who has written, 'We know what we fight against: anti-Semitism, and assimilation [of Jews with non-Jews], intermarriage [between Jews and non-Jews] and Israel-bashing.11

It's no secret. Ms. Lipstadt, a prominent ideologue and activist of the Jewish power elite, openly identifies with the Zionist movement and the state of Israel. Jewish scholars Uri Davis, Ian Lustick, and the late Israel Shahak have documented the fact that Israel is a state founded upon a principle of racial and religious discrimination.12 First class citizenship is for Jews; second-class citizenship -- even feudal servitude -- for non-Jews. Noted Israeli scholars Simha Flapan and Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi have documented the persecution and prejudice that has been and still is directed toward Arabs by the Zionist movement and state of Israel.13

If Lipstadt were truly interested in fighting against prejudice and the persecution of non-Jewish people, she would publicly denounce Israel's horrendous human rights record.

[ V ]

One of the expert witnesses called by historian Irving on his behalf was the American scholar, Kevin MacDonald, an evolutionary psychologist who wrote a three-volume analysis of the Jewish question. In two places, Evans makes derogatory remarks about the California State University Professor of Psychology (pp.192-193, 231-232). Evan's wrote:

"No doubt Macdonald was sincere in his belief that Jews had an evolutionary strategy of sticking together and competing with gentile society. But did sincerity guarantee truthfulness? This was clutching at straws." (pp.231-232)

Ironically, Evans provides evidence that supports MacDonald's thesis of Jewish cohesion and competition with gentile society. MacDonald hypothesized that one tactic employed by some Jews in their competition with gentile society is to recruit gentiles into movements that serve Jewish interests, and give them highly visible roles in order to lesson the appearance that these movements serve ulterior Jewish interests. This helps to camouflage any conflict of interest that may exist between the Jewish community and the surrounding gentile society.14

In MacDonald's own words, "gentiles have often been actively recruited to the movements [that serve Jewish interests] and given highly visible roles within these movements in order to lessen the appearance that these movements are indeed Jewish-dominated or aimed only at narrow Jewish sectarian interests. From the standpoint of social identity theory, such a strategy aims at making gentiles perceive the intellectual or political movement as permeable to non-Jews and as satisfying gentile interests…the rhetoric of universalism and the recruitment of gentiles as advocates of Jewish interests have been recurrent themes in combating anti-Semitism in both the ancient and modern world."15

Lipstadt's attorney, the successful and well-known Anthony Julius of the London firm of Mishcon de Reya, along with Penguin's attorneys, formulated a strategy in order to defeat Irving (p.29). One element of that strategy was to recruit non-Jewish experts to provide evidence. Evans explains why this was so important:

"Regrettable though it was, there was clearly something to be said for ensuring that most of them were not Jewish, since Irving would undoubtedly try to make something out of it if they were. Assembling a range of experts from various countries -- Britain, the United States, Germany, and Holland -- would also indicate the international dimension of recent and current research on modern German history and the Nazi period, and further counter any suggestion that such research was mainly carried out by one particular ethnic group or nationality." (p.29)

This is precisely what MacDonald's thesis would predict. In order to lessen the appearance that their anti-Irving crusade and defense of the Holocaust ideology mainly serves Jewish and Zionist interests, gentile experts were recruited and given highly visible roles; the defense team employed the rhetoric of universalism and the recruitment of gentiles as advocates of Jewish interests.

Furthermore, even if it is true that research about Nazism and the Holocaust is not mainly carried out by one particular ethnic group, the fact of the matter remains is that this research is utilized by the Jewish power elite to further their sociopolitical agenda.16

In fact, this has become such as obvious embarrassment that Evans was prompted to comment: "Visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., for example, I was struck by its marginalization of any other victims apart from the Jews, to the extent that it presented photographs of dead bodies in camps such as Buchenwald or Dauchau as dead Jewish bodies, when in fact relatively few Jewish prisoners were held there. Little attention was paid to the non-Jewish victims of Nazism…." (p.261)

There is another aspect to MacDonald's hypothesis that applies here. "Moreover," the psychologist observed, "once Jews have attained intellectual predominance, it is not surprising that gentiles would be attracted to Jewish intellectuals as members of a socially dominant and prestigious group and as dispensers of valued resources."17

In other words, for intellectuals who want to advance their career, it would be advantageous for them to cater to the Jewish power elite. This may very well apply to Professor Evans. According to a document on David Irving's website, he was paid £70,181.18 David Irving wrote that Penguin paid him a quarter of a million pounds for his "neutral advice."19 Whatever the final amount may be, he was probably very amply rewarded for being a part of Lipstadt's and Penguin's defense team. Furthermore, Lying about Hitler is priced at $27.00 and was favorably reviewed in the mainstream press.20

Professor Evans would dispute any insinuation that large sums of money influenced his judgments, for he wrote:

"I would be paid by the hour [for his services to Lipstadt's and Penguin's defense], not by results. So the money would have no influence on what I wrote or said (p.7)."

Does Evans really believe that his services would have been employed from beginning to end if he had found in favor of Irving's work? Does he really believe that he would have a book published by a mainstream publisher and then favorably reviewed in the mainstream press if he promoted favorable views of the revisionist arguments and claims of the maverick British historian?

We are justified in looking with skepticism on Professor Evans's claim that he was objective and fair with the work of David Irving. The comment of revisionist writer Samuel Crowell may very well apply here: "The main character of the book is not Hitler at all, but David Irving. Perhaps Lying about David Irving would have been a better indication of the book's contents."21



Related items on this website:

Richard Evans index
Dagens Nyheter interview of Evans, May 2001
Alphabetical site index (text)
© Focal Point 2002 F Irving write to David Irving