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April 5, 1996

St. Martin's Cancels Book On Goebbels


CHASTENED executives of St. Martin's Press this week halted publication of a controversial new book by David Irving after the company was besieged by angry telephone calls about the historical biography that even the company's chairman concluded was "inescapably anti-Semitic."

The company notified Irving Wednesday night about the cancellation of his book, "Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich," with a faxed letter. The British author vowed in turn to distribute the book around the world on the Internet.

April 5, 1996
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The decision by St. Martin's, a unit of the British publisher Macmillan Ltd., came after weeks of defending the book including vigorous statements from the book's editor, Thomas Dunne, who insisted that when he agreed to a contract with Irving in 1995 he was not aware of the author's association with the Institute for Historical Review, a group that questions the existence of the gas chambers at Auschwitz and the extermination of six million Jews in World War II.

Yesterday, the company's chairman, Thomas J. McCormack, said he had personally decided to cancel the book's publication after a close reading of the 700-page biography and a search of sites on the Internet, including a "David Irving Page," created by Holocaust revisionists. Company employees had also registered their disdain for the book in an unusual two-hour employee forum on the issue Tuesday.

"I hated it," McCormack said of the book. "I tried to summon up why I hated it. It seemed to me that the subtext was the ugly one: that Jews brought it on to themselves."

Dunne said that he agreed with the decision, but not because he was disturbed by the book's contents. "I was the first one to suggest that we haul down the flag on this one," he said, adding that with mounting publicity about the book, "There's been all this mud-splattering on innocent people, horrible phone calls and death threats. Orders to our college department were canceled." Dunne said he himself had received several anonymous death threats.

The book, a lengthy biography of Hitler's confidant, is based on Irving's review of Goebbels's diaries from 1923 to 1945, which he said he had read from microfiche glass plates in a Moscow archive. His introduction begins with the words "Writing this biography, I have lived in the evil shadow of Dr. Joseph Goebbels for over seven years."

Irving said this beginning indicated his views on Goebbels, but his critics scorn his works, calling him an apologist. In 1977, his book "Hitler's War" argued that Hitler was unaware of any policy to exterminate the Jews and theorized that the mass killings had been carried out by others in the top command. In the last five years, Irving has apeared as a guest lecturer for the annual conference of the Institute for Historical Review, which critics say is at the center of the international Holocaust denial movement.

Yesterday, Irving said in a telephone interview that he was "outraged" by St. Martin's decision, which he characterized as slanderous and part of a larger effort to persecute him for his views. "Because I write history, which runs across the track of political correctness, there has been for the last five years a determined effort to silence me globally," he said.

Irving, who was paid $15,000 of his promised $25,000 advance, said he intended to consider legal action. But in the meantime, he said he had agreed to provide computer diskette copies of his book to people who manage Internet sites who have offered to post the material around the world. 

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