International Campaign for Real History

In the High Court of Justice

DJC Irving

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Penguin Books Ltd and Deborah Lipstadt

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In 1993 American scholar Deborah Lipstadt published Denying the Holocaust, product of a research contract funded by an Israeli agency.

British writer David Irving claims that it libels him.


Spellings and punctuation are as in original

Witness Statement of Dr John P Fox

1. I am Dr John Patrick Fox of 98 Baring Road, London SE12 0PT.[...]

From 1970 to 1987 I was employed in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as British editor on the official intergovernmental publication project of Akten zur deutschen Auswärtigen Politik 1918-1945 (Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945), the standard annotated edition of captured German foreign ministry records.

From 1995 to 1999 I was under contract as a part-time lecturer in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University College London (University of London), where I lectured on the history of anti-semitism, the Nazi genocide of the Jews, and the comparative history of genocide in the 20th century.

I also lectured at Jews' College London from 1995 to 1998 on the history of anti-semitism and the Nazi genocide of the Jews.

2. As a published historian whose work is almost always based on original historical documentation, I have long been familiar with several British and German archival resources in the United Kingdom and Germany for the modern history of Britain and Germany to 1945, especially the history of the European Jewish question to 1945. In 1997, for example, I spent several months at the Public Record Office, Kew, working meticulously through the British wartime records of the Government Code and Cypher School, Bletchley Park, concerning that establishment's German Police Decodes which were newly released to the Public Record Office on 19 May 1997.

3. From 1992 to March 1995 I was also sole editor and sole review editor of The British Journal of Holocaust Education, published by Frank Cass & Company, London, on behalf of the United Kingdom Yad Vashem Charitable Trust. That work emerged from my participation on the United Kingdom Yad Vashem Educational and Academic Sub-Committee during the 1980s to March 1995.

4. Although I am unable to become intimately involved in the complex details of Mr Irving's dispute with Professor Deborah Lipstadt over her book, Denying the Holocaust. The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (Penguin Group: Plume Books. July 1994 paperback edition), there are certain matters within my own experience relating also to Mr Irving and also to certain issues of freedom of speech raised by Professor Lipstadt in her book on which I have expert opinions which I believe should be placed in the record.

I adopt this standpoint because, in common with the standpoint adopted by Voltaire in the 18th century, I defend to the utmost the democratic right of every single person in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to enjoy freedom of expression.

5. As an independently-minded historian, I was affronted by the suggestion concerning Mr David Irving made at a meeting attended by me in my capacity as [John: please fill in the detail here: one line] on 12 December 1991 of the United Kingdom Yad Vashem Educational and Academic Sub-Committee in the then premises of the Board of Deputies of British Jews at Woburn House, Tavistock Square, London WC1H OEZ.

At a certain point in the meeting, attention turned to the subject of Mr Irving and reports that the publishing company of Macmillan UK Ltd would be publishing his biography of Joseph Goebbels. Mr Ben Helfgott, the Chairman of the main United Kingdom Yad Vashem Committee, spoke about how that publication by that publishing firm might be stopped. Mr Helfgott then turned to me, the only non-Jew present at the meeting, and suggested that "John could approach Macmillan to get them to stop publication".

I refused point-blank to accede to that suggestion, arguing that in a democracy such as ours one simply could not do such a thing. That amounted to censorship, especially since nobody present had the least idea what Mr Irving's biography of Goebbels would contain. For me, such attempted censorship was totally unacceptable. I said that if people did not like what Mr Irving wrote, the time to respond to him was when anything was actually published. I - and to their credit, at least two other (Jewish) committee members - rejected Mr Helfgott's proposal out of hand.

Nevertheless, as the Committee minutes make it clear, it was planned by some to consider further action about how best to scupper Mr Irving's publishing plans with Macmillan. I have no knowledge as to subsequent developments or actions in this regard by Mr Helfgott and/or anybody else present at that meeting of 12 December 1991.

6. In my considered opinion, the proscriptive attitudes towards Mr Irving and the publication of his historical works described in paragraph 5 above are akin to those concerning Mr Irving contained on page 181 of Professor Lipstadt's book:

"As a result of Trombley's book and film Leuchter has once again been invited to appear on various talk shows as an expert on gas chambers. He has been interviewed on German, French, and British television. Most of these segments fail to mention his association with the Holocaust deniers. A similar attitude is evident in the media reviews of David Irving's books. Most rarely address his neofascist or denial connections" [emphasis added].

I believe the sentences of Professor Lipstadt's I have emphasised to mean that irrespective of the subject-matter of Mr Irving's "books" - i.e. whether or not they contain what Professor Lipstadt claims to be matters pertaining to "his neofascist or denial connections" - those books should either not be reviewed "in the media", or not be published, or through mention by reviewers of those points which Professor Lipstadt complains about have the effect of damaging those books and Mr Irving's reputation.

On the grounds of freedom of expression, I find such an attitude reprehensible in the extreme.

There are yet further disturbing aspects to Professor Lipstadt's book in respect of freedom of expression which relate not only to Mr Irving but also to other historians concerning the wider discussion of the subject of 'the Holocaust', the Nazi genocide of the Jews. Before I refer to those further aspects, mention should be made in this connection to yet another incident involving me.

7. Early in February 1995 I published three letters in The Guardian (February 3), The Times (February 3), and the Jewish Chronicle (February 10, 1995). Based on authoritative historical documentation which I researched at the Public Record Office, Kew, those letters utterly demolished claims made in the press during the last week of January 1995 by certain Jews that Britain was "responsible" for the gassing in Auschwitz in the winter of 1942-43 of orphan Jewish children from Vichy France.

Such letters indicated two things. First, my strong adherence to the historical truth in whatever I publish. Second, that irrespective of my, then, close working relationship with certain Jewish groups, I was far from compliant with certain un-historical "messages" which many of them wished to propagate about the subject of the Nazi genocide of the Jews.

I strongly believe it was as a consequence of my actions in publishing those letters on that subject that at the end of February 1995, at a meeting of the editorial committee of The British Journal of Holocaust Education, certain proposals were made which would effectively have brought to an end the total freedom of editorial control I had hitherto enjoyed as sole editor and sole review editor of that journal. It was my belief that following the publication of my letters in the press, it was intended by certain others that Jewish hands should thereafter "control" the future direction of said journal - i.e. in its "presentation" of the subject of "the Holocaust". Since I could not accept such a restrictive - and proscriptive - situation, I withdrew from all association with that journal and the United Kingdom Yad Vashem committees at the end of March 1995.

8. Apart from similarly proscriptive attitudes concerning Mr Irving to be found in Professor Lipstadt's book on page 181 as recounted in paragraph 6 above, Chapter Eleven entitled "Watching on the Rhine. The Future Course of Holocaust Denial" of that lady's book constitutes nothing less, in my opinion, than a vigorous assault on the whole concept of freedom of expression concerning historical interpretations of 'the Holocaust'. It is my belief that this assault goes far above and beyond her stated initial brief of dealing with the publications and statements of those she accuses of denying 'the Holocaust', i.e. the Nazi genocide of the Jews between 1941 and 1944 (the dates I always give for that historical event).

9. The main focus of Professor Lipstadt's ire in Chapter Eleven of her book are German historians and other observers who participated in the so-called Historikerstreit, 'historians' debate', of the 1980s. That public - and honest - debate focused on how Germans in the 1980s might perceive themselves and their country in the light of German history in the twentieth century, especially the years of the Nazi Third Reich 1933-45. Discussion of the Nazi period of German history obviously involved examination of present-day German attitudes towards the history of the Nazi persecution and extermination of European Jews.

Professor Lipstadt's response to this debate - or at least, how she represented that debate within the 13 pages of her Chapter Eleven - was extremely proscriptive in that it was implied that there should be no other debate about the subject of 'the Holocaust' other than to affirm it as a 'unique' historical event. That German historians and other observers apparently dared to think otherwise - as indeed I do in all my own writings and lectures - caused her to adopt positions opposed to freedom of expression which are in line with other matters discussed in previous paragraphs above.

In order to damn those German historians and other observers whom she clearly considered were not following the line she felt it was necessary that all should follow, i.e, that "the Holocaust" was a unique historical event, Professor Lipstadt went so far as to lump together and tar with the same brush those whom she described as "deniers" and all those who participated in the German Historikerstreit because of their honestly expressed views.

Examples of Professor Lipstadt's position on this question of freedom of expression are now given. However, in what follows I ignore Professor Lipstadt's many questionable historical conclusions about the subject-matter of the Nazi persecution and genocide of the Jews which permeate her book. Those conclusions of hers are more properly dealt with through the usual channels of historical debate.

10. (A) The two passages from page 209 of Professor Lipstadt's book, the first page of Chapter Eleven, well summarises the several proscriptive points she makes throughout that chapter concerning freedom of expression so far as discussion of 'the Holocaust' is concerned:

"Although the instances of outright denial explored in this book are a cause for concern, the deniers may have an impact on truth and memory in another, less tangible but potentially more insidious way. Extremists of any kind pull the center of a debate to a more radical position. They can create - and, in the case of the Holocaust, have already created - a situation whereby added latitude may be given to ideas that would once have been summarily dismissed as historically fallacious.

The recent "historians' debate' in Germany, in which conservative German historians attempted to restructure German history, offers evidence of this phenomenon. Though these historians are not deniers, they helped to create a gray area where their highly questionable interpretations of history became enmeshed with the pseudohistory of the deniers; and they do indeed share some of the same objectives. Intent on rewriting the annals of Germany's recent past, both groups wish to lift the burden of guilt they claim has been imposed on Germans. Both believe that the Allies should bear a greater share of responsibility for the wrongs committed during the war. Both argue that the Holocaust has been unjustifiably singled out as a unique atrocity" [emphasis added].

In other words, all those who follow a different line from Professor Lipstadt and others on the subject of 'the Holocaust', even though like myself most base their individual interpretations on authoritative historical documentation, are dismissed as propounding 'highly questionable interpretations of history' because many of us question 'the Holocaust' as 'a unique atrocity'.

11. (B) On pages 211-12, Professor Lipstadt classifies as "immoral" any discussion whatsoever of other historically acknowledged cases of genocide in the twentieth century in the same breath as that of 'the Holocaust':

"The historians' attempt to create such immoral equivalences ignored the dramatic differences between these events and the Holocaust" (page 212) [emphasis added].

Her use of the strongly emotive phrase, 'immoral equivalences', implies that there should not be any discussion whatsoever which suggests that the Nazi genocide of the Jews, in certain key respects, is no different from other genocides in the twentieth century.

12. (C) On page 213, Professor Lipstadt further pursues her proscriptive message that there should be no discussion whatsoever which does not acknowledge 'the Holocaust' to be the one and only unique event in history which she and others consider it to be:

"The equivalances [sic] offered by these historians are not analogous to the Holocaust. To attempt to say that all are the same is to engage in historical distortion".

As an independently-minded historian and researcher of the subject of Nazi Germany and the Jewish Question, and indeed of the history of genocide in the twentieth century, I find these proscriptive views of Professor Lipstadt objectionable in the extreme. Apart from serious issues of freedom of expression which her stand raises, it has to be noted that the study and writing of modern history has now almost become an 'exact science'. Consequently, advances in it cannot take place without the free expression of new interpretations and the constant discovery of new documentary sources.

According to the standpoint represented by Professor Lipstadt in the quoted segments from her book, apparently there should be no interpretations or research pertaining to 'the Holocaust' unless they stem from or substantiate the thesis propounded by her and others, i. e. that 'the Holocaust' was a unique event in history. In my expert opinion this contention is ridiculous.

Signed: Dr John P Fox Date:………………….