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Letters to David Irving on this Website


Unless correspondents ask us not to, this Website will post selected letters that it receives, and invite open debate.

Gregory Rose asks for Mr Irving's position, Thursday, April 15, 2004, on the Einsatz Reinhardt extermination camps, and gets not much of an answer



How do you think the Jews were executed?

I AM writing to you as one historian to another. I have been deeply impressed over the years with your erudition, especially in archival matters, and regard your biography of Goebbels as an important contribution to scholarship on the period.

I am even prepared to grant that it is possible that Hitler knew little or nothing of thee mass extermination of Germany Jewry until late 1942/early 1943, although I think it is unlikely given the prediclection of his senior subordinates to present him with the occasional fait accompli in anticipation that they would be rewarded for anticipating his inexplicit desires along the lines of the "working toward the Führer" phenomenon which Ian Kershaw discusses at length in his work and, evidence of Hitler being briefed on the Einsatzgrüppen in the Soviet Union, and the involvement of senior personnel of the Führer Chancellory in staffing the Einsatz Reinhardt camps.

However, you clearly, and to my mind rightly, identify Goebbels as a major mover in the extermination of European Jewry and familiar with extermination actions undertaken in the camps under the control of the Higher-SS and Police Leader in Lublin [Odilo Globocnik, right].

Since I have read elsewhere that you reject the thesis that poison gas was used to kill Jews in the Einsatz Reinhardt camps and Auschwitz, how do you think the Jews deported to Belzec, Treblinka, and Sobibor, not to mention Auschwitz, were executed?

I am not trying to be glib or provocative. I take seriously your claim that defintive evidence is not present for gas chambers, although I reserve the right to disagree on the matter (I feel compelled to give at least some weight to the admissions contrary to penal interest of Franz Stangl, Franz Suchomel, and Gustav Müntzberger that gassings took place at Sobibor and Treblinka).

However, it simply seems to me that the exertions of slave labour, the presence of epidemics, and the destruction of the German supply infrastructure in the latter months of the war simply cannot account for the scale of Jewish casualties involved.

Gregory Rose


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David Irving comments

GOOD letter, but I do not have a ready answer. That large numbers entered living and left dead, or were buried there in pits, seems established, though on thin evidence so far -- much thinner than the evidence for the killings, e.g. at Riga and Minsk.

I am not comfortable with eye-witness evidence (Franz Stangl and Co). There is any amount of historical evidence of people falsely testifying to their own guilt, even though it brought them straight to the gallows. László Rájk in Hungary is one example, and many in the pre-war Soviet show trials, and I just do not know the answer to the question, Why do people act that way, after a period of incarceration?

It is a subject of analysis all on its own. I can well imagine that the average Ph.D. candidate would have qualms about suggesting it, however.

Thanks for the bouquets, well deserved -- though I say so myself.


© Focal Point 2004 David Irving