Letters to David Irving on this Website

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

“Samuel Crowell” writes from the United States, July 8, 1998:

Ron Rosenbaum has come out with a book entitled Explaining Hitler, which among other things is devoted to a history of the historiography of the Führer's motivations. The book itself appears to be an expansion of articles printed in the New Yorker a few years back.

Particularly relevant are discussions about you, most in the context of an interview that Rosenbaum had with you some years ago. Rosenbaum takes the rather usual tack where the growth of revisionist doubt is seen as a kind of cosmic falling away with consequences too terrible to contemplate. In this respect I am reminded of De Quincey's argument in Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts where a single act of murder may lead one down the slippery slope culminating in rudeness to a maiden aunt.

With regard to your own work Rosenbaum is probably over-generous in giving space to the criticisms of Alan Bullock, and, in my view, remarkably ungenerous if not obtuse in responding to your own clearly expressed attitudes and arguments. Characteristic in this regard is the fact that while he rightly notes your opposition to any kind of rabid anti-Semitism among revisionists, he nevertheless manages to convey the opposite impression.

At the end of this 400 page book, Rosenbaum comes to the apparent conclusion that people, particularly Jewish people, are entitled to regard Hitler and his excesses as evil, unique, and even uniquely evil, if that's what they feel like doing. It is hard to believe that a book containing sometimes excellent summaries and analyses (albeit with heavy authorial interference) would yield a judgment so tepid and pedestrian.

Samuel Crowell

David Irving notes:

Ugly (about me) reviews of Ron Rosenbaum's excellent book have been published in Newsweek and The New York Times, the latter widely syndicated. See my letter to the N Y Times. I responded to the above letter: "A friend sent me the Rosenbaum book. It has irritating flaws (Benté will not like being confused with Susie) but on balance I was not unhappy, except with the overall impression that I have fallen irrevocably overboard. "

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