David Irving speaks on April 13, 1998 to 600 university students at Washington State University, Pullman.
DAVID IRVING: . . . ..and then I am quite happy to answer any questions -- we'll have a discussion and talk about matters that I may not have talked about in my introductory talk.
The reason for that is because I know that a lot of you probably have opposition views to me, and I am quite happy, of course, in the interest of free speech to debate with you.
[About a dozen members of the audience in the front rows stood up on a signal and turned their backs on the speaker.]
A number of people have turned their backs to me -- it makes no difference to me -- these are the people who have their ears quite close to the other part of their anatomy, and I am sure they can hear me too!
We'll wait while they remove themselves, because there are some who don't wish to listen. And this is of course the United States where the First Amendment is the amendment, which I personally, as an English historian and writer, most cherish.
I find it rather unusual, I must admit, to talk and lecture the students under the conditions that I am lecturing to here this evening: We don't normally have to pay for our own lecture hall; we don't normally have to pay for the protection of our audience -- but this may very well make it all worth while to sit here for the twenty, thirty, forty minutes that I'll talk to you about my writing career as an English historian -- I am so modest to claim, probably the world's leading historian on Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party movement.
This isn't my only claim; I am not the only person who says that -- Professor Gordon Craig, who is the doyen of the American historians says the same; Steven Spender says the same. You'll find this printed in many places, you won't find it in the leaþets that's been handed to you outside this evening.
What has made me the leading authority on the Nazi Party, which I think is one of the guiding forces of evil in the 20th Century, is the fact that I took the trouble to do the groundwork. I went to the archives around the world. I spent twenty years tracking down Adolf Hitler's private staff, and interviewing them and winning their confidence, and winning over their private diaries and their letters, and I try to find out.
This is the job of the historian -- Winston Churchill once said this -- the job of the historian is "to find out what happened and why". We know what happened; we know what happened in World War II. We haven't really been able to investigate the question Why. It's the "Why" question that frequently doesn't get asked and answered.
Daniel Goldhagen has written a very good book on the Holocaust [Hitlers Willing Executioners]. He has written a book telling us who pulled the trigger; who caused the deaths; who did the shooting and the mass exterminations on the eastern front. But he overlooks the basic question, which is far more important to my mind, and this is the question "Why"?
Why did the Holocaust happen, for example? Why did the Germans, the Ukrainian, the Latvians and all the other nations which took part in the Holocaust find it so easy to kill the Jews? Why were the Jews so hated? The questions that really matter don't get asked.
IS there a difference in the German mentality? I think there is, and I think Goldhagen in this point, with whom I otherwise share very little in common, is right. I can give you one example of this. Outside this lecture theatre, you'll find some very big pictures in colour, which were taken by one of Adolf Hitler's personal cameramen.
He is a personal acquaintance of mine; he's considered a skilled cameraman. He is still alive; he's aged ninety. He lives in Lake Constance, and he witnessed a mass shooting. He told me this one morning -- at two in the morning, when we were having a bottle of wine -- in Lake Constance. He and his wife and I. He said: "You know Mr Irving, I went on a trip to the Eastern Front with the Chief of the SS, Heinrich Himmler. Himmler said to me: 'Herr Frentz, it gets a bit boring here in Hitler's headquarters. You want to come on a little excursion with me?'" And Frentz said: "Well, yes, I'd like to go, Herr Reichsführer, it would be very interesting."
He went for three days, in a little column of three six-wheel motor cars, driving around the Eastern Front, visiting the SS police battalions who were doing the shooting. And one evening, Himmler says to this photographer, Walter Frentz: "Herr Frentz, tomorrow morning we are going to be having a mass shooting. Do you want to come along and have a look? A mass extermination, tomorrow morning, first thing. Do you want to come along and have a look?"
And this is where I think an Englishman's mentality is a bit different from the German mentality. Because if Himmler had said: "Mr Irving, we are going to have a mass shooting tomorrow morning. Do you want to come along and have a look?" I would have said: "Mr Himmler, tomorrow morning is completely inconvenient for me -- any other day of the week I would have been glad to come along and have a look, but not tomorrow."
Frentz said: "I'd love to go," and he described to me what he saw, when he arrived the next morning, when he arrived in this field outside Minsk in White Russia, on the Eastern Front. Seven in the morning -- a big field, the SS officers standing at one end in their elegant uniforms, and at the other end they had dug out great big pits, and lorry loads, truck loads of civilians were being driven up, and being stood on the edge of the pit, and machine-gunned into the pit; and eventually one of the gunners comes running across to Frentz -- who is wearing a Luftwaffe uniform, German air-force uniform -- wide-eyed and staring, and saying "I can't do this anymore, can you get me posted to somewhere else?"
At this point incidentally, Mrs Frentz, who is listening to this description to me, interrupts her husband and says: "Walter -- I have never heard this story from you before." (This is the kind of suppressed history, which exists in the German mentality. You have got to dig deep to find this kind of real truth . . . Real History, I call it. "Real History" with capital R and capital H.)
Walter's a bit embarrassed, and says to his wife: "I thought I told you this." And his wife, you know the way wives are, she begins to niggle a bit: She says: "Walter, these people being shot . . . were there women and children being shot, too?"
And he says: "I can't really remember!"
But of course he can remember, he doesn't want to say it.
I give this example, as an example that the fact that, if you spend enough time with these people, you can win their confidence and you can win their trust and you begin to get to the real [bedrock] of what happened and why.
And the other place for findings are in the archives. I am not going to start too much about eye-witnesses, because I am very mistrustful about eye-witnesses, and I leave it to you, particularly the historians amongst you, to decide how far you as individuals should really believe you can trust the evidence of eye-witnesses.
Most of our Holocaust history, which is now available in the library in your university, and in the newspapers and elsewhere, is based on the eye-witness testimony. And sometimes I am a bit tasteless when I say that the eye-witness testimony is really a matter for psychiatric evaluation.
Not that I am implying that the people are in any way mentally unbalanced, but there is a psychiatric phenomenon, which I myself have been prone to, I have discovered over the years, that after a time you don't remember what actually happened . . . you are beginning to remember memories . . . and then you remember memories of memories, and after a time the memories becomes confused and polluted with what you have read and what you have been told . . . and here we are fifty years after the event, and you are no longer quite sure what you actually saw with your own eyes and what you've read in the meantime, or seen in the movies.
So [with] eye-witnesses, I plead with you, be very careful, and trust instead what the magistrate's court would believe in: Like forensic evidence or documents.
And it is in documents that I am quite an expert. I spent a lot of time persuading Hitler's private staff to give me their private papers and private diaries. His private secretary, for example, Christa Schroeder, who was with him from 1933 at the beginning of the Third Reich, right through until a few days before he put a bullet in his head. She trusted me so much she gave me all the private letters she wrote to a woman friend. I think she was . . ., I think there was something odd about their relationship, but she wrote these really intimate letters to a woman-friend in Switzerland . . . a most wonderful historical source, because letters are even better than diaries, you know.
When you write a diary you can go back two years later and you can tear out the page where you got it to a wrong. Rommel did that. I found Rommel's private diaries, and at the time of one of the biggest battles in November 1941, he went back and had a page retyped. But the letters he wrote to his wife Lucy, they are absolutely unimpeachable.
Because once you put them in the mouth of that letter-box they are gone, and you can't change them anymore. So from day to day, letters are of much better value as sources.
IT IS the archival evidence that leaves us with some very odd conclusions indeed in the question of Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust, which I never thought would interest most of the people who are here with us this evening.
What we talk about is revisionism -- revisionist history, which has now become rather eerily acceptable amongst other historians. It used to be "way out," somewhere on the fringe, but now a lot of historians are proud to call themselves revisionists.
You know, it isn't just the Holocaust that is being revised. It is the whole spectrum of history that is being revised. For example in England where we are interested whether we should have been in the war at all, historians are now beginning to follow my line that we would have done very well in getting out of the war in 1940, and that the world would have been a better place, because fewer people would have been killed. There would have been no Holocaust -- whatever that was -- because the Holocaust happened after 1940; so if the war had ended in 1940, certainly the magnitude of the Holocaust would have been less. So we English are partly responsible!
And the revisionists are also examining the whole question of, "What did we English know about the Pearl Harbor in advance?" The British government has finally released to the archives only a few years ago, two years ago, tens of thousands of intercepted Japanese messages, which all these years we pretended we never had.
And if I may make a very tiny [detour] here to show the kind of way that diaries and the original evidence are worth looking at, if you are a historian, rather than printed volumes that are in the libraries.
I'll give you one small example, and this is the Pearl Harbor episode, which historians [inaudible] a strange message -- The Winds Message. The Japanese announced that . . . they told their ambassadors, "After you have destroyed your code machines, we will send you a secret message hidden in the weather forecast, so you know which country we are going to be attacking" -- a Winds Message -- in plain language, no longer in code, because of course the code machines had been destroyed.
Did the British get the Winds Message in time? This had been one of the crucial matters of investigation for historians over the last fifty years.
I can now give evidence [inaudible] that we did, and it is buried in a private diary.
A few weeks ago I am sitting in Churchill College in Cambridge, in England, reading the private diary of Sir Alexander Cadogan, who was the austere Head of the British Foreign Office -- the permanent head of the Foreign Office. Not the temporary head or the Foreign Secretary -- the permanent head is the man who really calls the shots; he is the boss-driver who carries on driving the Foreign Office while other passengers behind him call themselves the "Foreign Secretaries." The Permanent Head, Sir Alexander Cadogan, wrote a private diary, in which he wrote on December 7, 1941 . . . Pearl Harbor date . . . and . . .
But he didn't write it on that date -- he wrote it three weeks later! Because on that day, December 7, 1941 he went to Moscow on a three week trip. He couldn't take his secret diary with him; he left his diary in London. He took sheets of paper with him to Moscow on which he scribbled notes, and he came back to London at the end of 1941 -- three weeks after Pearl Harbor, and he wrote up his diary on the basis of his memory and these scraps of paper.
Pearl Harbor day, begins with a sentence, which you won't find in the version of this diary in your library. Go and have a look . . . "December the 7th, 1941," Sir Alexander Cadogan wrote in his diary that morning: "A lovely morning, but an ominously strong NW Wind". [corrected text]. Then, "We set out for Moscow from the Foreign Office before breakfast." And that sentence, which the British editor, Professor David Dilks had cut out, because he didn't recognise the significance of that sentence, is the most important sentence in the whole diary: The morning begins with an ominously strong North-West wind.
It is proof that we got this strong North-West wind message that was buried in the Japanese weather-forecast that morning. So we knew in advance of Pearl Harbour. We've got to read the original diary to get it.
And all the way down the Adolf Hitler story -- if you apply that criterion: what document is genuine? What document can I generally accept as being a reliable source? -- we begin to come up with a different picture of Adolf Hitler in the connection with the Holocaust.
Let me make quite plain -- those of you who've read my book HITLER'S WAR, the introduction to it, especially -- that I am not saying that Hitler didn't commit any crime. In my view, and I am sure that a lot of people share this opinion, just about every one of the war-leaders involved in World War II, committed international crimes on a grotesque and [inaudible word] scale. Roosevelt and Truman with Hiroshima, Nagasaki; Stalin with [Katyn] and other massacres like that. Churchill, The bombing of Dresden. We also prepared bacterial warfare against some of the biggest German cities.
So none of the war-leaders had completely clean slates, and in the case of Adolf Hitler you can point to certain crimes of which he was undoubtedly guilty. He himself signed in 1940 the order for euthanasia: the killing of the mentally incurable Germans, the lunatic-asylum population, because he needed the bed-space, and under this euthanasia programme, which he signed into effect in September 1940. Under this programme, about 40 or 50 thousand completely innocent people were killed.
I'll come back to the word innocent in a minute, because I think that is what sets the seal on real war-crimes -- killing innocent people.
I call it 'Innocenticide'. In looking for a war-crime, in my view, it isn't genocide, which is rather a narrow view in selecting one tiny fragment of the spectrum of war-crimes and saying this was a war-crime and the rest aren't. In my view the killing of innocent people in a war is a crime.
Genocide was a crime too, because the people who were killed in Auschwitz, or Dachau, or Bergen-Belsen, or elsewhere because they were Jews or Gypsies or homosexuals or whatever -- that's a crime. But it wasn't a crime because they were homosexuals or Jews or Gypsies. It was a crime because they were innocent homosexual, Jews and Gypsies. It was their innocence that made it a crime.
So the crime in my view is 'Innocenticide' -- rather than genocide. But the word genocide is now foisted onto us as part of the propaganda-campaign that has gone on with this Holocaust-offensive that we have been subjected to since about 1970.
BEFORE 1970 the word Holocaust didn't exist in the connection that we now know it. It has been adopted more recently; it has come to mean what it has only since about 1970. If you look in the older [indices] like ?????, or the Times, New York Times index, you won't find the word Holocaust before about 1970. Someone then took the decision: "Let's call it 'The Holocaust'".
And he [inaudible] precisely what we mean by it, because the next stage on that particular propaganda campaign, is two words: 'Holocaust denial'. "Somebody who says there was . . . .well, somebody who questions any aspect of the Holocaust, we will call him a 'Holocaust denier,'" -- and that makes him look like a total idiot, because while they are calling him a Holocaust denier, the TV screen will show bulldozers pushing bodies into pits, and people will say how can that man deny the Holocaust, when here's the newsreel evidence of it?.
It is all very clever, the way this is done. And the third word in that . . . in that [inaudible] -- the third word is genocide.
Holocaust --Holocaust denier -- genocide. These are all part of the propaganda which has somehow surrounded the tragedy of the Jewish people, which in my view has done them no good whatsoever, because it doesn't answer the question: Why?
And it doesn't answer the equally important question: How?
WELL, did Adolf Hitler order the Holocaust? Did Adolf Hitler at one stage say: "I want to see all the Jews in Europe exterminated"?
We find one document straight away in the files in 1942, which suggests that he didn't. This is three months after the famous Wannsee Conference we are always being told about. In spring of 1942 the head of the German Ministry of Justice, a man called Schlegelberger writes, or types a memorandum, which is in the archives, and which I printed in my books, in two or three of my books as a facsimile, and which you won't find printed in any of the other books, because they can't explain it: Schlegelberger types a memorandum in which he says [corrected text]: "Dr Hans Lammers" -- (the Chief of the Reich Chancellery, who is the Head of the German civil service) -- "Lammers has telephoned to say that the Führer, Adolf Hitler, has repeatedly ordered that he wants the Solution [of the Jewish Problem] postponed until after the war is over."
It cannot get more explicit than that document, Ladies and Gentlemen.
And I [inaudible] you straight away it has I [inaudible] to step my mentality stability . . . .there may be something wrong with my I [inaudible]. I am going to try to persuade you of the impossible in the next ten or fifteen minutes.
So I am giving to you straight away one of the cardinal documents which suggests that the Holocaust story as presented by the media today has flaws -- fundamental flaws, which we are not told about.
There is this genuine document, which is in the files . . . the Germany government archives today . . . of the war-time Ministry of Justice, in which Franz Schlegelberger, the Head of the German Justice Ministry says, The Head of the German civil-service has informed us, that the Führer, Adolf Hitler, has repeatedly ordered that he wants the Final Solution postponed until after the war is over.
What does he mean by Final Solution? Well, of course that is ground for debate now. Did he mean killing or did he mean the "Madagascar Solution" -- putting all the Jews in Europe onto ships and sending them to Madagascar, or what? . . . We don't know. But one thing is clear -- that document is not reconcilable with the notion that Hitler has some time, either before or after, issued the order for the extermination or shooting of all the Jews. These two facts don't match.
WELL, we are left here with a basic problem of government at high level: and this is that people lower down the government hierarchy don't necessary follow higher orders; and they don't necessarily need higher orders in order to commit crimes or actions of any kind; they act on their own. They think they know what the boss wants, and so they do it.
Or they think they know what the boss would have wanted, but probably doesn't want to issue as an order -- and I am prepared to accept that this is a possibility -- that Hitler, rather like Richard Nixon at the time of Watergate, may have said: "Well, go ahead fellers, go and do it, but don't let me be told about it."
This is a possibility . . . But we are getting into a very grey area here, and it doesn't really match with what we have been told for the last fifty years: That Hitler gave an order for the killing of six million Jews, and nearly got away with it. It doesn't match!
The work hasn't been done; the historians have turned a blind eye on that aspect, they've looked at every other field of military endeavour and political and --, history of World War II, but on the question on the Holocaust, until David Irving came along, they all were quite happy to quote each other. If you look at the history books, you can see what happened. They have all accepted, until 1970 or 1975 or 1977, when The Viking Press first published my Hitler biography, that there was an order somewhere -- that Hitler gave the order -- and tell us there is no need to look for the order, because everybody knows it.
I mean . . . David Irving started saying: "Well, where is the order?" Then Professor Hillgruber in Germany says: "Well, Professor Jäckel has the order; I am sure he has it."
And Broszat says: "No, I think it was Mommsen."
And Mommsen says, "No I had it from Hillgruber." And so they go round and round in circles quoting each other