[verbatim trial transcripts]
Friday, February 11, 2000
Irving 'doesn't deserve to be called a historian'
BY A CORRESPONDENT
DAVID IRVING did not deserve to be called an historian, a leading academic said yesterday. Richard Evans, Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University, told the High Court that he was not prepared for the "sheer depth of duplicity" which he encountered in Mr Irving's treatment of historical sources relating to the Holocaust.
Mr Irving, 62, who is suing for libel over claims that he is a "Holocaust denier", said that Professor Evans's "sweeping and rather brutal" dismissal of his career stemmed from personal animosity. "I think you dislike what I write and stand for and what you perceive my views to be," he told Professor Evans, who has been called as an expert for the defence by Deborah Lipstadt, an American author, and Penguin Books.
Professor Evans, who has produced a 740-page report on Mr Irving's historical method, said he had no personal feelings towards him and had tried to be as objective as possible. He said that he previously had little knowledge of Mr Irving's work - although he knew of his reputation as someone who was in many areas a sound historian - and was "shocked" at what he found.
He said that the proceedings had reinforced his view in the report that Mr Irving "has fallen so far short of the standards of scholarship customary among historians that he doesn't deserve to be called an historian at all".
Mr Irving said that he was "scrupulously fair" in everything he did in public life - "the total opposite of being unscrupulous and manipulative and deceptive, as you say in your report".
Professor Evans said that he agreed that Mr Irving had a wide knowledge of the source material for the Third Reich and had discovered many new documents. "The problem for me is what you do with them when you interpret them and write them up," he said.
Mr Irving's published writings and speeches contained numerous statements which he regarded as "anti-Semitic" - to the extent that he blamed the Jews for the Holocaust, he said. The professor dismissed the theory that there was a "worldwide Jewish conspiracy" to suppress Mr Irving's works - or undermine Germany in the 1930s - as "a fantastic belief which has no grounds in fact".
Professor Evans said that he had examined a sufficient selection of Mr Irving's output to justify his view that he did not use acceptable methods of historical research. In his report, he said that Mr Irving had relied on the fact that readers, listeners and reviewers lacked "either the time or the expertise" to probe deeply enough in the sources he used to discover the "distortions and manipulations".
Mr Irving, who is representing himself, is claiming damages over the 1994 book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, which he says has generated waves of hatred against him.
The hearing was adjourned until Monday.
Friday, February 11, 2000