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The Search for Truth in History

A Videotaped Speech for Australia, 1993

Part 4 (conclusion):


I WOULDN'T mind it if somebody had said about me that some of my statements need to be psychiatrically analysed. Because the human being, the psyche, is a very complex instrument, it is not like a piece of electronics that you can analyse with a cathode-ray tube; the human being is motivated by all sorts of swirling, contradicting, confluences of cross-currents and eddies and emotions.

click to helpAnd so it is with human beings who came in and out of World War II. They have been at the centre or near the centre of a traumatic experience and this traumatic experience grows larger, it bulks larger in their memory as time recedes.

Human pride demands that these people must have been at the centre of the traumatic experience that has formed such a large part of their own personal history.

So little Mrs Altman can point to a tattoo on her arm and say, "I was in Auschwitz." Then I am deeply sorry for there is no doubt at all that Auschwitz was a brutal slave-labour camp; but Mrs Altman has probably been questioned by her friends and neighbours and relatives for the last 50 years about Auschwitz, and she can't very well describe her everyday life as centering around the peeling of potatoes or some other menial task.

She knows that the people who are questioning her about Auschwitz want to hear about the crematoria and the gas chambers, and after a time she describes the crematoria and the gas chambers, because human pride demands that she not have been in one of the other barracks perhaps five miles away from the crematorium but right next door to it.

It's a matter of human pride and we can't really begrudge these people for placing themselves, in their recollections, so close to the event, so close to the heart of the particular trauma; they're not dissimulating -- they're not being consciously mendacious.

We all suffer from this problem for as time goes on we no longer remember events, we remember memories of events, we remember things no longer in a stereoscopic fashion but in a monochrome plane, flat, series of flashes of still images; and if you once asked somebody what was it like around the edge of the picture or what is going on behind it or something else, then their mind is blank. Your memory can no longer help, because you're no longer remembering the event, only remembering the series of pictures and images, and into this series of flashes of still-life images are of course, undeniably interposed and interpolated over the ensuing fifty years, not just the product of images generated by your own memory, -- the memory of the eye witness, -- but also images that have come from other sources -- from television, from books from newspapers, from reading about trials of Adolf Eichmann, from films like "War and Remembrance", with Robert Mitchum, and the rest of it. Until by now in the 1990s there's not an Auschwitz survivor who doesn't know what a gas chamber looked like, because they've seen the images in the media.

yklon canistersAnd so at the beginning of the episode,-- at the beginning of history of this particular tragedy, back in 1945, where the eye witnesses, so-called, in question (there were at that time very few of them in number): there are eye-witness descriptions of the gas chambers, and the gassing procedures are all wildly contradicting each other in a manner which would be totally impossible if they were actually describing something they had seen only a few weeks earlier.

By now, in the 1990s, the images are streamlined. The man went up on the roof: he opened this hole in the roof: there were six of these holes: and the man tipped in the canister of the Zyklon B capsules, and the screams down below lasted only a few minutes and then the Jewish commandos had to go in and bring the bodies out. Somehow of course these Jewish squads were no longer affected by the cyanide fumes, they were in some way miraculously protected from them.

That the fumes were blue, the bodies were red and so on. All the pictures are the same.

None of them stand up to any kind of historical analysis, or indeed forensic analysis; but the streamlining is there, because although the people tried very hard to remember what actually happened and what they saw, they no longer recalled the experience in their own memory.

For Eye witness to survive (?) the testimony is very shaky, it's far too shaky on which to base the condemnation of an entire nation -- namely the German nation -- in my view, and I think probably any sober and independent judge would probably back me up on that.

The very existence of so many eye witnesses, of course, begs the existence of an extermination program; and so I had to say rather tastelessly to people like the Mrs Altman that I mentioned before, I say, "Isn't it rather extraordinary that there are so many thousands of Jewish survivors?"

And she said, "What do you mean?"

I said, "How many survivors, how many eye witnesses are there?"

And she said, "Tens of thousands of people saw the gas chambers."

And I say, "Tens of thousands of Jews survived Auschwitz, which we are told was an extermination camp where the Nazis were killing every Jew they could get their hands on, isn't there something a bit paradoxical there? I mean are you trying to tell us that the Nazi's were sloppy in some way, sloppy Nazis, it just doesn't go, does it?"

How did so many Jews survive? The answer is of course, there was an enormous death rate in Auschwitz from epidemics. Probably 100,000 Jews died in Auschwitz but not from gas chambers, they died from epidemics and in fact, the Russians in September 1990, released to the West German government the death books of Auschwitz.

They didn't release all of the death books because they hadn't got them any longer. They released 46 death books containing the names of 74,000 dead people. We have now seen some of those death certificates that are contained in the death books and the ages range from about ten years old to nearly 95, the whole spectrum of human life is there, dying at Auschwitz, from every conceivable cause, just as you will find it in any large town -- and Auschwitz after all was a town of a couple of 100,000 people.

And these death books have now been turned over by the Russians, back to the West German Government; and in that figure of 100,000 people, if you look at it, it's about what you would expect, from the number of crematoria they had in Auschwitz, the handling capacity of the crematoria, it's about what you would expect.

It also tallies incidentally with the death rate which we can calculate from the intercepts which we British were decoding. It all appears to mesh. And I don't deny that the death of 100,000 innocent people in a slave labour camp like Auschwitz is a crime. -- 100,000 people dying, innocent people dying, in three years.

Even if we say that of those 100,000 people who died, a fraction were murdered, hanged or shot. Suppose we say a quarter were murdered, 25,000 people murdered in Auschwitz in three years. Then we take that generously as a fact.

Then, I would say 25,000 people murdered in Auschwitz in three years is still half the number of people that we murdered in Hamburg, burning them alive in one night in 1943.

You're looking at crime and crime. They are both crimes. One crime gets all the publicity, one crime is the only one that is referred to in the media today -- and the other crime, you put up a statue to commemorate that man who carried it out. There's something wrong about that.

Now the second question is, if the gas chambers didn't exist, where did they come from?

Well, had I come to Australia I would have "produced and shown" to you, in the manner that they say in the Law Courts, the documents from the British archives showing how we in Britain, having first heard rumours that the Nazi's were killing Jews in gas chambers, rumours that the Jews themselves had told us, Gerhard Riegner, a man who is still alive, in the autumn of 1942, we decided to use that fact which we knew was totally untrue, in our wartime propaganda.

We turned it up over to the British political warfare executive, the PWE, and from that moment on, as I can prove producing the radio monitoring reports, the BBC and our psychological warfare organisations, the aerial leaflet organisations, made increasing use of this particular legend about the gas chambers killing millions of Jews in Nazi concentration camps.

That I think is a plausible explanation where the legend first came from. And after a year of course we're hearing the echo of our own propaganda. There's hardly a German who hasn't been listening clandestinely to the BBC who hasn't heard talk about the gas chambers and they begin mentioning the rumours to each other from one woman to the next, the rumour going around Germany till they have finally seen about it and their sons working their unit (?) and he's heard about it too and that's how the legend gains credibility from the German side too.So this explains in my view, where the story came from.

And the third and final question is what happened to the Jews then?

Everybody has met a Jew who says, or has seen about it in the newspaper, who says his entire family vanished in World War II. Well it has to be said that World War II was a bloody and a brutal war, a barbarous war, in which entire cities were set on fire; many Germans can say their entire families have vanished in World War II and they don't know what happened to their families, to their next of kin.

Many concentration camps, as the Russians approached, were evacuated and set out on a long cold march through the European winter of December 1944 to January 1945 to the West. The concentration camp inmates arrived in Berlin, or in Leipzig, or in Dresden, just in time for the RAF bombers to set fire to their cities. In Dresden, a million and a half people camping out in the streets on the night of February 13th 1945, nobody knows who they were, refugees, concentration camp prisoners, citizens of Dresden itself, after the bombers retired, 2 hours and 45 minutes later another wave came, and at noon on February the 14th the American airforce joined in.

Over 130,000 people died in that particular air raid. The same kind of raids took place on Leipzig, Berlin, Cottbus -- refugee centres up and down the centre of Germany. Nobody knows how many Jews died in those areas. Nobody knows how many Jews died on the roads of hunger or starvation or just sheer cold.

Nobody knows how many Jews then survived World War II in the displaced persons camps -- and this is one of the most interesting aspects. It's possible to research it I suppose, but to my knowledge none of the Holocaust historians has done so. The National Archives in Washington, houses a report this thick of the Office of Strategic Services -- the American Secret Service -- in which it investigated the activities of the Haganah, the Jewish Zionist underground organisation in those very Displaced Persons camps in the first months after World War II.[*]

The Haganah went from DP camp to camp, scouring them for all the Jews they could find who were still living in these camps, these wretched people, loading them onto trucks and shipping them then with United Nations funds and resources all the way across Europe to the Middle East, Palestine.

So a "Mr Goldmann" who is found in a camp somewhere in Bavaria, is put aboard a truck with his family and shipped across to the Middle East, to Palestine, where he is given a new life and a new identity. An Israeli identity with a Hebrew name. Mr Goldmann has vanished, and the Hebrew gentlemen in the Middle East then starts drawing compensation because Mr Goldmann has vanished.

This is the irony which a lot of the Germans are now beginning to worry about. And it's been going on now for fifty years, and you begin to suspect why the West German government for all these years has made it a criminal offence even to challenge and to question what had been going on.

As the Chief Rabbi in Britain Lord Jakobovits said[**], it became big business. It did no credit to the Jews as a whole, because I know thousands of Jews -- my publisher was a Jew, my lawyer was a Jew, -- they are all perfectly ordinary decent respectable people, when you know them, and those whom you speak to utterly abhor what has been going on; they thoroughly abhor the kind of intimidation that's gone on in the last year or two in this frantic final "Endkampf" by the organised Jewish community, -- the self-appointed leaders of the Jewish community who try to protect the last tattered remnants of the Holocaust legend.

The Holocaust legend is fizzling out. I said two years ago it probably only had two years left to survive. Probably I was wrong, probably it's got about another six months even now. But then it's finally dead.

World-wide, it has played out. And what we have seen in Canada and in Australia and in America, Italy and Austria -- all around the world, where they are using these extraordinary, desperate, tactics to try and protect, to bolster, to shore up this legend.

What we have seen is just one more piece of proof and evidence. But it is just a legend. Because the truth needs no such "Bodyguard of lies." The truth is capable of surviving by itself. True history has survived down the years, down the centuries, down the millennia, without fines and deportations and prison sentences.

This is what the Holocaust legend has established. To me it is unimportant. I'm not Jewish, I'm not anti-Jewish. People say to me, "Mr Irving, the television viewers they'd say, are you an anti-Semite?"

Well in England my answer to that is: "If you promise not to use the word anti-Semite, I promise not to use the word pension funds." You Australians don't understand that of course, you didn't suffer from Robert Maxwell. I'm not an anti-Semite, -- but I think it's an impertinence that they even ask me that question, after what I've had to put up with for the last thirty years: of being subjected to terrorism, to being raided by people disguised as telephone engineers, to being attacked in the street, to having pressure being put on my publishers to cancel the publication of my books, to being smeared and vilified in a way that the average Australian newspaper reader has only seen a fragment of in the last few weeks of February 1993.

This has gone on, it's been organised and directed at me by the international organised Jewish community -- and yet I'm not an anti-Semite, yet. But if ever become an anti-Semite it will be their fault.

And if the Australian public should become more anti-Semitic as the result of what they have seen over the last days, this kind of publicity campaign that has been generated against me, then once against it will be not my fault, it will be the fault of Mr Jeremy Jones, Mr Michael Marx, Walt Secord and all the others -- the Rubensteins and all the other commentators and letter-writers and authors and journalists and politicians and people who try to put pressure on the fair Australian Government to suppress freedom of speech.

Freedom of Speech isn't just some kind of airy-fairy notion, or an ideal which doesn't really deserve to exist at the end of the Twentieth Century. Freedom of speech is like one of those ancient mediaeval rights -- like a right of way, like a right of passage across a farmer's field.

You know, the important thing about the ancient medieval rights, in England law anyway, and I am sure the Australian law and law around the Commonwealth, which is based on English law in this respect -- these ancient rights like freedom of speech need to be asserted. This is what this is really about.

If I put up this fight around the world for freedom of speech, it's not because I'm particularly interested in the Holocaust or in Winston Churchill or Pearl Harbor or any of these other great historical episodes, it's because I am interested in basic freedom of speech; and freedom of speech like any other ancient right is a right that needs to be constantly asserted -- like a right-of-way across a countryside: once a year somebody has to walk that path, otherwise that right will fall into abeyance. And that is what I try to do.

Around the world I walk that path, the path that's called Freedom of Speech.

Because if you don't walk it, then it falls into abeyance, and ugly forces then come into the fore; and they are the ones who dictate, and lay down, and ordain and restrict, and we see them, a society, emerge that is the kind of society which all these Liberal politicians proclaim they were trying to prevent in the World War I and the World War II, wars that saw the sacrifice of so many millions of lives of innocent people.

click to helpFreedom of speech to me, is more important than my own reputation. It's more important to me than any kind of personal financial gain.

Freedom of speech is an ideal: an ideal for which it's worth laying down ones life and fighting for.

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* In May 1986 researching in the National Archives, Record Group RG 319, a collection of records of "IRR INTELLIGENCE & INVESTIGATIVE DOSSIERS" [Investigative Records Reporting, emanating from Fort Meade] David Irving found in Box 39 a very important US CIC investigation of the operations of the Haganah in Displaced Persons camps in Bavaria, Germany, and elsewhere, the use of short-wave radios to contact Palestine; the report tallies approximately 400 pages, with about four items still withdrawn. Its file number is XE209146. [back to text]

** Suddeutsche Zeitung, Samstag/Sonntag, 28.--29. November 1987: Oberrabbiner bezweifelt Einmaligkeit des Holocaust: Jerusalem (dpa) -- Der britische Oberrabbiner, Sir Immanuel Jakobovits, hat die Einmaligkeit des Holocaust an den Juden in Nazi-Deutschland bezweifelt. Die meisten führenden jüdischen Gelehrten betrachteten den Holocaust als nicht wesentlich verschieden von den früheren nationalen Katastrophen des jüdischen Volkes, meinte der Oberrabbiner in einem Vortrag in Jerusalem. Jakobovits kritisierte, daß es für den Holocaust während des Zweiten Weltkriegs heute einen „ganzen Industriezweig mit großen Profiten für Autoren, Forscher, Museenplaner und Politiker" gebe. Man."[back to text]

© Focal Point 1998 write to David Irving