International Campaign for Real History

IN 1977 The Viking Press Inc. (New York) and Hodder & Stoughton (London) published David Irving's flagship work, the biography of Adolf Hitler, Hitler's War. It had already appeared in German in 1975. The uproar has continued ever since. For the first time, historians began to question how and why the Holocaust had occurred. But there was more. Melvyn Lasky, the perceptive editor of the British literary magazine Encounter invited David Irving to comment on the critical reception accorded to his book. On June 17, 1977 the writer submitted the article below (which was never published).

Irving in 1975DAVID IRVING:

A Revisionist Replies


[I]t would be an understatement to say that the critical response to my book HITLER'S WAR has been wide and varied. In New York, where I talked all night on a radio show [the Long John Nebel Show] with its critics, the station logged 2,100 telephone calls between four and five a.m. -- most of them foul with abuse, if those that were actually answered are any guide. In this country, the public response to my television appearances on the Frost Programme and ITV have been quite the opposite: of all the letters I received, only one, from an octogenarian, was angry and hostile; the rest, particularly those from the younger generations, have expressed support and -- most satisfyingly -- a measure of concern to understand just why our country having "won the war" has ended up like this, near-bankrupt and in debt to the rest of the world.

The tone of the reviews has varied from ecstatic to apoplectic. What are we to make of the American psycho-historian Professor Robert Waite, who denounces my book to the Los Angeles B'nai B'rith leadership ("noted historian lashes out at revisionist writers") in these words: "Even the method of the murders was in line with Hitler's personal infatuation with hygiene, filth, stench, putrefaction and strangulation." It seems clear that historiography still has a long way to go in the United States before it can square up to the unique Adolf Hitler phenomenon objectively and dispassionately. In this country, reviewers so far have either dismissed my humble offering as badly written ("Mein Kampf is better reading", recommends the Daily Express) or "highly readable" (Birmingham Post); The Times regards the book as "brilliantly successful" and concludes an unusually perceptive and witty review with the judgement that "Hitler's War" is "an absorbing and highly talented book."

So what has unbalanced the ritual harmony of book reviewers this time? I suspect that the critics have attacked me not for what I have published, but for they would have expected a David Irving to publish. I remember the rather sad episode in 1964 when three misguided Jewish youths were procured by a certain Jacobs to burglarise my London flat and steal my Hitler manuscript; so they confessed to the police after I caught them at it. Yet another seven years would pass before I even set pen to paper on it, upon the conclusion of my research! I remember too how Sir George Weidenfeld [later Lord Weidenfeld] annulled the publishing contract on the book in 1972, at a time when neither he nor any other person had set eyes on the draft that was then emerging.

 ... I suspect that the critics have attacked me not for what I have published, but for they would have expected a David Irving to publish.

I make no apology for having revised the existing picture of Adolf Hitler. The post-war world's view of him has been so bedevilled by our own highly effective propaganda efforts beginning in 1933 that any record based primarily on the documents of the era was bound to be an improvement. I think I have given him the kind of hearing that he would have got in an English magistrate's court -- one where the normal rules of evidence apply, but also a certain amount of insight and empathy with the defendant.

HitlerFor this reason I also applied quite rigorous tests to the evidence I used. Many sources regularly used by my predecessors turn out to be forgeries or frauds perpetrated on history for a variety of motives. In one case I had a City of London forensic laboratory carry out chemical tests on the paper and ink of a document (a spurious "Canaris Diary" offered to me) and established that it was a post-war fake.

Small wonder that now, thirty years later in 1977, the whole house erected by less scrupulous historians is tottering.

Is it proper to assign all the blame for the misfortune of Europe's Jews to Hitler, when we read a note by the Polish ambassador Josef Lipski on a meeting with Hitler in September 1938: Hitler had mentioned to him, wrote Lipski, that he was toying with the idea of solving the Jewish problem in unison with Poland, Hungary, and perhaps Romania too by making them emigrate ("to the colonies"). Lipski wrote to his foreign minister in Warsaw: "I replied that we would erect a fine statue to him in Warsaw if he found a solution."

And what are we to make of an urgent edict issued by Rudolf Hess, deputy Führer, during the infamous Night of Broken Glass -- the first, Goebbels-inspired anti-Jewish outrages -- ordering an immediate stop to all acts of arson and pillaging of Jewish property "on orders from the very highest level." Every other historian, if he even found this document, has shut his eyes to documents like these and hoped that when he opened his eyes the horrid, inconvenient item would have somehow gone away. Some of them did: key items were extracted from the files during the period of the Nuremberg Trials.

Of course, field work is cold, expensive and often unrewarding. I do not blame the academic historians for shirking this part of their responsibility. Field work means bargaining for years with governments like the East Germans for permission to search forests for buried documents; it means sleeping on overnight trains, dealing with pernickety old generals and charming or conniving elderly widows temporarily out of possession of their hoards of letters and diaries. It means long separations from wife and family, it means leafing through hundreds of thousands of pages of filthy paper in inconvenient and chilly archives, mentally registering egregious facts in the intuitive belief that some of them may perhaps click with facts found in another file five thousand miles away several years later. Not everybody has the time to do it; not everybody has the neck to publish even what he does then find to be true. But I deny anybody who has not done this ground work to issue labels like "revisionist" or "whitewasher" to me.

HimmlerWhat kind of diplomatic historians are they who never once bothered in thirty years to trace the widow of Ribbentrop's state secretary [Ernst von Weizsäcker] and learn that she still had all her husband's papers and diaries? Or never looked for the widow of Walther Hewel, Hitler's liaison officer to Ribbentrop, to see his diaries either? Who are these emotional historians of the Jewish holocaust who rely only on the Nuremberg exhibits and have never once bothered to read even a file of the SS chief Heinrich Himmler's own telephone notes, or his hand-written agenda for his secret meetings with Adolf Hitler? What kind of historian offers us a book on the Origins of the Second World War without using the German foreign ministry file actually entitled "documents on the outbreak of the war" (it contains the telephone intercept reports on the British embassy in Berlin, and decoding results on British diplomatic telegrams).[*]

These are the questions that I ask, and it is small wonder that Professor A.J.P. Taylor calls me a "serious nuisance" to other historians because of them. The truth until now has been that when you write about Adolf Hitler "anything goes": No lie is too monstrous, no legend too absurd to be believed and win raucous applause.

The matter of profoundest regret to me is that nearly all the reviewers have caught on to my refutation of the most durable legend about Hitler -- his involvement in the liquidation of the Six Million -- and overlooked the far more serious question raised by the body of the book: what on earth were we, the British, doing to fight this man after June 1940, when as we now find to be true he at no time posed a real threat to the British Empire or the British Isles? When we research at Hitler's own level, from 1933 right through to 1945, there is not a scrap of evidence to the contrary.

Well, the book is now pouring into the hands of the people: these are questions that cannot be ignored; it is for the academic historians now to explain why they have offered different interpretations on all these issues in the past, and to try to salvage something from the shipwreck of their own hypotheses.


London, 17 June 1977

* See the book by David Irving, Das Reich hört mit (Arndt Verlag, Kiel), the first exhaustive history of Hermann Göring's Forschungsamt (the Nazi equivalent of the National Security Agency).

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