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Denial, “A Battle to Defend the Veracity of Historical Facts”
Denial, a Holocaust Movie based on Deborah Lipstadt’s book History on Trial, is to be released this September. History on Trial is Lipstadt’s account of her vendetta with author David Irving culminating in a defamation action. The action was tried in a London court in 2000 before Judge Charles Gray.
The release is an opportunity to present the facts which were ignored during the Trial (and which will be ignored in the film.) This letter is meant to give background information. More details relating to this very complex case can be found at the CODOH website at
The Movie follows Lipstadt's book with dialogue from the Trial transcript. The same Believer arguments presented at the Trial are in the movie. The movie is described by its promoters as, “a powerful story about the legal and personal battle Deborah Lipstadt fought to defend the veracity of historical facts.”
The attractive Rachel Weisz is to play Deborah Lipstadt. Timothy Spall was brought in to play David Irving. Spall is best noted for his representation of “Wormtail” in the Harry Potter series.
Per “the Movie on Historical Veracity”:
Also Appearing Anthony Milton plays “Nazi Extremist” and Mark Christopher Collins plays “Neo Nazi.” Must have those! Screen Writer David Hare This is David Hare's second Holocaust screenplay centering on an Auschwitz related trial. (Odd, that.) His first was the ridiculous “The Reader.” A box office disaster was avoided by bringing in the winsome Kate Winslet and popular Ralph Fiennes as players. Hare seems to be playing the same gambit with Ms. Weisz.
Already Hare has claimed “My Holocaust denial film takes on the dangerous politics of Donald Trump.” http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/film/david-hare-my-holocaust-denial-film-takes-on-the-dangerous-politics-of-donald-trump-a3164076.html
Hare, (who goes by the name Sir David,) seems gifted with remarkable presciente since filming ended in February, prior to most of Mr. Trump’s electoral successes.
Gary Foster and Russ Krasnof have been named as producers under their Krasnoff/Foster Entertainment banner. Krasnoff/Foster Entertainment has produced a string of other films such as Origins of Vampire Mythology, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and Contemporary American Poultry.
Participant Media developed the project with BBC Films
Participant Media founded in 2004 by social entrepreneur Jeff Skoll, claims a commitment to producing entertainment with socially relevant themes.
But why BBC Films is interested in the Trial is anyone's guess. Their last film about
Auschwitz (“Out-With” in the movie) was the painfully inaccurate Holocaust exploitation film, Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
Truth, History and Integrity
North American distribution rights have been sold to Bleecker Street. CEO Andrew Karpen announced, “[Director] Mick Jackson’s film will recount this incredible, unbelievable story of two people pitted against each other in a battle over truth, history and integrity.”
The BBC Films describes the movie as follows:
“Deborah must defend herself – and the historical truth that the Holocaust took place. But everything is stacked against her: she wants her day in court with Irving, and to call Holocaust survivors as witnesses. But her legal team persuade her to stay silent, not testify, nor allow survivors to take the stand. She feels like a stranger in a strange land, a fish out of water, denying herself the chance to face Irving down – in the cause of winning a historic battle for truth.
DENIAL is a powerful and important story about one woman’s selfless efforts to win a ground-breaking trial.”
Now the Facts...Which Are Neither Incredible nor Unbelievable
No Attempt to Make Findings about What Actually Happened
Lipstadt and her supporters have loudly proclaimed that the trial “proved the Holocaust.” That is not accurate. Judge Gray specifically stated:
“It is no part of my function to attempt to make findings as to what actually happened during the Nazi regime.”
Irving opened the case telling the court:
“I have never held myself out to be a Holocaust expert, nor have I written books about what is now called the Holocaust.”
Lipstadt told an interviewer shortly after the trial:
“I wasn’t proving how many people were murdered at Auschwitz. But when they say only 68,000 people were killed — it didn’t happen. We weren’t proving how many people were killed…”
The case is better described as a wide-ranging questioning of Irving’s competence as a historian; an ex post facto effort to substantiate Lipstadt’s claim that Irving had falsified historical facts.
What the Trial Was Really About
Judge Gray broke the alleged falsification of historical facts into 4 elements:
“(a) 19 specific individual criticisms of Irving's historiography…;
(b) his portrayal of Hitler…
(c) his claims in relation to Auschwitz
(d) the bombing of Dresden.”
Items (a), (b) and (d) deal with historical minutiae which are outlined at http://www.codoh.com/library/document/3693/ For example the 19 specific criticisms relate to items such as Hitler's trial in 1924 or a mistranslation of an entry in Himmler's log for December 1, 1941.
Item (c) (Irving's claims in relation to Auschwitz) received the most media attention. It was also the area in which Irving had little knowledge or experience. Irving ended up having to defend his “tasteless” comments made off-the-cuff to some right-wing groups.
The technical questions of whether certain buildings could have been homicidal gas chambers only related to Auschwitz and not to Treblinka, Sobibor or any other alleged “Extermination Camp.” In fact, Irving really only challenged the operation of one gas chamber at Auschwitz, Krema II. Nor did the trial address operations of Einsatzgruppen.
Ironically, Lipstadt's claim that the “Trial Proved the Holocaust” should be classified as a “falsification of historical facts.”
Outgunned and Outflanked
A striking fact about Irving v. Penguin, et al. was the vast disparity in economic resources between the parties. The trial was not a David vs. Goliath affair, with David Irving in the role of David and Penguin Books as Goliath. A phalanx of solicitors, legal talent, staff and barristers represented the defendants. Irving, on the other hand, was unable to retain either counsel or barrister. He would show up at court alone and with his papers carried in a plastic shopping bag. Lipstadt did not contribute any of her own money.
You Are Our Witness
Lipstadt filled her book with self-praise. Her favorite gambit is to recount being approached by a stranger who thanks her and often blesses her. After a tourist trip to East Jerusalem in 1967, she claims the border guards tell each other, “She’s got guts.” In Russia, old Jewish women kiss her hand. Of course, there is the mandatory “Survivor” who approaches Lipstadt during the trial:
“You are fighting for us. You are our witness.”
This is ironic since Lipstadt never was a witness at the trial
She never gave a statement to the press. She never took advantage of the opportunity to face David Irving in the courtroom. By her own account, Lipstadt was remarkably passive throughout the trial; often not understanding what was going in the court or “blindsided” by her attorney’s actions. She contributed nothing to the defense. She even seems confused about the number of “recreated” gas chambers at Auschwitz, and the location of structural features in buildings.
A paranoid streak runs throughout History on Trial. Lipstadt is upset that Christians got to go in and out of the Mandelbaum Gate to visit Bethlehem on Christmas Day while Jews could not. She goes to the British Museum just to see the Assyrian exhibit because: “Once the Assyrians tried to destroy the Jewish people. Today their remnant is in museums.”
Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice offends her, and she admits that she is “deeply troubled by intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews.” Ironically, Lipstadt writes that she is “intrigued by what scholars called the ‘paranoid style in American politics,’ an American susceptibility to all sorts of conspiracy theories, particularly those that fostered prejudice and antisemitism.” Paranoid politics fills her blog: the Arab headdress (the kaffiah) has “become a symbol of international terrorism.” There are stories of violence against women perpetrated by Muslims, general anti-Muslim comments, and attacks on Jimmy Carter for “dwell[ing] on the Palestinian refugee experience:” She quotes the smear:
“But the clearest endorsement of terror as a legitimate instrument of political bargaining came from former President Jimmy Carter.” Lipstadt and Irving seem to be two sides of the same coin.
A Tour de Force
In contrast to the do-nothing Lipstadt, the Trial was very much a personal battle for Irving. He was, along with being his own legal counsel, his own barrister, his own expert on a vast array of historical material, his own PR person, and a witness in the trial. Day after day, for 31 days of trial, he personally defended his case. It was an impressive tour de force.
A point barely mentioned in the book, is that Lipstadt was found by Judge Gray to have actually defamed Irving. In his massive 333-page ruling, Gray wrote:
“The Defendants made no attempt to prove the truth of Lipstadt’s claim that Irving was scheduled to speak at an anti-Zionist conference in Switzerland in 1992, which was also to be attended by various representatives of terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Nor did they seek to justify Lipstadt’s claim that Irving has a self-portrait by Hitler hanging over his desk. Furthermore the Defendants have, as I have held, failed in their attempt to justify the defamatory imputations made against Irving in relation to the Goebbels diaries in the Moscow archive."
If Irving had stuck to these clear defamations and not gone off on his classification as a ‘Denier,’ he PROBABLY would have won his case.
Revisionist Facts worth repeating
The Hitler Order
From the time of the Nuremberg Tribunal, most interpretations of the Holocaust claimed that Hitler had given an order for the mass murder of all Jews, and he directly planned and organized a secret program of mass murder. This is the now-defunct Intentionalist Theory. David Irving’s cardinal role in sinking this theory emerged during his cross-examination of defense expert witness Christopher Browning.
“I would say that there had been substantial study of the Holocaust; the Trunk book, in terms of the Jewish Councils, Hilberg in terms of the apparatus, Schloenus in terms of the pre-Holocaust bureaucratic process.What had not been studied before you published was a particular focus on decision-making process and Hitler’s role. That is one part and, insofar as we can confine ourselves to that, indeed, your publication of Hitler’s War was the impetus for the research in that area.”
Q. [by Mr Irving] Do you know what his [Hilberg’s] opinion is on whether Adolf Hitler actually issued an order or not?
A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning] I think his feeling is if you are looking for an order in a formal sense, that such a thing probably was not given.”
German Secret Code
Evans’s critique of Irving often relied on the claim that the Germans used a “secret code” in their communications. In the trial Evans stated:
“Every time there is a euphemism, Mr. Irving... or a camouflage piece of statement or language about Madagascar, you want to treat it as the literal truth, because it serves your purpose of trying to exculpate Hitler.”
But Judge Gray wrote:
“Much of the argument revolved around questions of translation. I did not derive much assistance from the debate as to how words such as ausrotten, vernichten, abschaffen, umsiedeln and abtransportieren are to be translated.”
As mentioned above, the issue that attracted the most attention was comments made by Irving, “namely that no gas chambers were commissioned or operated at the camp and that in consequence no Jew lost his or her life in gas chambers there.” This is also of the most interest to revisionists. Penguin hired Dr. Robert Jan Van Pelt, a professor of architectural history, as their expert on the functioning of the eight alleged gas chambers at Auschwitz. (There were also numerous rooms for clothing fumigation at Auschwitz and Birkenau.)
Van Pelt testified that Morgue 1 of Crematorium 2 could have been used as a gas chamber. Irving was overwhelmed. He raised only two objections to Van Pelt’s testimony about Crematorium 2, and nothing about any of the other “gas chambers.” It was a very poor performance.
“Although Irving spent hardly any time in his cross-examination of van Pelt on the evidence that gassing took place elsewhere at Auschwitz, it is the Defendants’ case that gassing took place in other gas chambers, notably at crematorium 3.”
Irving’s main challenges to Van Pelt were the Leuchter Report and the lack of any holes in the roof of Morgue 1, Krema II.
The Leuchter Report
Irving failed to challenge the Defense’s expert witnesses. Judge Gray wrote:
“Irving was unable to controvert the evidence of Dr Roth that the results on which Leuchter relied had effectively no validity.”
“What is more significant is that Leuchter assumed, wrongly as Irving agreed, that a greater concentration of cyanide would have been required to kill humans than was required to fumigate clothing. In fact the concentration required to kill humans is 22 times less than is required for fumigation purposes… Irving was constrained to accept Leuchter’s false assumption vitiated his conclusion.”
Irving was unaware that there was a vast difference between the amount of cyanide gas needed to kill one person (120mg/m³), and the amount needed to kill a roomful of people in minutes. The Believer-researcher Jean-Claude Pressac calculated the amount of cyanide gas that would have been used in the “gas chamber,”: “Concentration used in homicidal gassing in Birkenau: 12g/m³ (1%), or 40 times the lethal (or mortal) dose.” Hence Leuchter’s assumption was correct, but Irving missed it.
Leuchter’s findings had been replicated by a brilliant researcher, Germar Rudolf. But Judge Gray ruled that Rudolf’s, “report was not produced at the trial so it is impossible for me to assess its evidential value.” Irving missed the trick.
Holes in the Roof of Morgue 1 at Crematorium 2?
Judge Gray framed the question as follows:
“Irving argues that there is no evidence of the presence of the chimneys or ducts by means of which, on the Defendants’ case, Zyklon-B pellets were poured down from the roof of morgue 1 into the gas chamber below (where the Defendants claim most of the deaths occurred).”
During the Trial Irving made an attempt at showing the present state of the roof of the morgue by showing a photograph,
“of the underside of the concrete roof and you can see—exactly, my Lord—you can see the condition of the concrete roof underneath this messy slab is in. You can see the wooden markings on the concrete where formwork was all these years ago when they built crematorium No. 2 in Auschwitz. You can appreciate that if there had been those holes in the roof, which are the cardinal linchpin of the Defense in this action, they would have been found by now. This is, by the way, the origin of the Revisionist slogan, No Holes, No Holocaust.”
At the Trial, Van Pelt admitted that no vent holes could be found in the roof and nervously fumbled around claiming the Germans might have concreted the holes up or the holes were buried under rubble, or that they had disappeared over time. But Irving did not rebut these various explanations either by a more detailed analysis of the roof or even by showing that no vent holes were shown in the German construction records. (For example Drawing 2197 of March 1943.) Judge Gray was able to find:
“In my view van Pelt is right in his opinion that it is after so many years difficult to verify whether or not holes at one time existed in a roof which collapsed as long ago as 1944. It is unclear how much of the roof can be seen in the photograph on which Irving relies. The roof is in a bad state, so that it is hard to tell if there were holes in it. There is a possibility that the holes were backfilled.”
Again, Irving was not prepared with even the most basic supporting evidence.
Lipstadt’s Arguments in History on Trial
It is useful to examine some of Lipstadt’s arguments about the alleged gas chambers presented in her book. The earliest presentation of the large collection of construction documents left by the Germans was Jean-Claude Pressac’s 1989 work Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, published by the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation.
Van Pelt seems mainly to have copied/repeated what Pressac had found. In History on Trial, Lipstadt repeats these arguments made by Van Pelt, who, in turn, is repeating facts reported by Pressac. Two of Lipstadt's claims are:
- that the construction plans for the cremation buildings and morgues were “secret,” and
- the significance of the corpse chute.
NOTE: The best work on the subject today is Carlo Mattogno’s The Real Case for Auschwitz, a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand the debate.
1. Secret Plans
Lipstadt claims that the modifications to the crematorium plans were “something unique” and hidden from the normal drafters of the plans:
“Why, Robert Van Pelt wondered, such strict secrecy, if the buildings were just morgues?”
Lipstadt's claim is demolished by Pressac-
“With a covering letter of 2nd August 1942 [Document 1], Huta was sent ten Bauleitung drawings of the building. All of these have survived, except for drawing 1341 of the doors and dormer windows. This letter, signed by the head of the Bauleitung Bischoff, and signed on receipt on 4th August by a Huta person (left-hand signature), is material proof that, contrary to what was thought after the war, there was nothing secret about the drawings of Crematorium II, for they were sent to a civilian firm with no particular instructions. […]
The Huta number 7015/IV was inscribed on two Bauleitung drawings: 936 (Elevations) [Document 3] and 980 (Roof frame). This irrefutably confirms that Huta’s civilian employees, who were perfectly free to talk of their work outside, were fully conversant with the drawings of Crematorium II, and studied them carefully, as proved by the static studies carried out, In the face of such evidence, it is difficult to go on talking about ‘secrecy’.” (tinyurl.com/qepp7rd)
2. The Corpse Chute
“Robert Van Pelt also took note of what had been removed from the original plans. There had been a concrete slide on the side of the building... It had been replaced with a staircase. This was presented as proof of a sinister plan since it meant that the corpses would have “walked into the morgue.”
This argument was specifically referred to by Judge Gray.
Van Pelt was looking at a general and undefined plan, Drawing 2003. But the corpse chute appears in a later Drawing Set 2791. What Van Pelt also ignores is that the corpse chute was built in both Krema II and III. Not only was the chute built, but it would have interfered with passage of people from the “undressing room” (Morgue 2) to Morgue 1, the alleged gas chamber. Pressac writes:
“This drawing was made at a time when work on Crematorium II was well advanced, and the main structure was completed, so only part of the modifications were actually realized in the building. The stairway was built, as can still be seen in the ruins, but the corpse chute was also built, no doubt because it was already in place when drawing 2003 was made. (tinyurl.com/tv699)
“The corpse chute was built in Krematorium III and can still be seen in the ruins. As in Krematorium II, it was closed off by a wooden wall (Bauleitung order of 0/4/43, completed by the DAW workshops on 14/4/43).” (tinyurl.com/plybdt5)
On one level it is laughable to see the antics, lies, and distortions in a film about “A Battle to Defend the Veracity of Historical Facts.”
One can also wonder why BBC Films and Participant Media got into bed with the makers of Origins of Vampire Mythology. What is the “socially relevant theme” of this movie other than the inaccurate claim that the trial “proved the Holocaust?”
It will also be interesting to see if the reviewers sing the expected paeans to this farce of a movie. I still hope for some critic to actually analyze a Holocaust film. Will Denial show any of the following?
- That the Trial was not about “proving the Holocaust.”
- That the defense had overwhelming economic and legal resources
- That Lipstadt did nothing during the trial, even talk to the press.
- That Lipstadt is closer to Irving's bigotry than she likes to admit.
- That Irving was a weak reed in discussing the technical details of the Auschwitz gas chambers.
- That Van Pelt seems to have cribbed from Pressac.
- That Christopher Browning admitted that Irving was the impetus for showing that there never was a “Hitler Order” for the mass killing of European Jews.
The opening of Denial is an opportunity to underscore a few obvious revisionist points missed at the trial- That should be mentioned in letters to the Editor or comments on reviews.
- There were no holes in the roof of Leichenkeller 1 Krema II until after January 1945 when a hole was chopped through the roof.
- Leuchter is correct. The concentration of cyanide in the gas chambers must have been many times the minimum needed to kill a human.
- The construction plans of the crematorium were not at all secret. And almost all the plans were left by the Germans.
- The corpse chute shows on plans and was built.
- The best book on Auschwitz is Carlo Mattogno’s The Real Case for Auschwitz.
Additional information about this document
|Title||Denial, “A Battle to Defend the Veracity of Historical Facts”|
|Sources||http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbcfilms/live/bbcfilms_brochure.pdf http://www.codoh.com/library/document/3442/ http://www.codoh.com/library/document/3693/ http://www.codoh.com/library/document/3698/ http://www.holocaust-history.org/auschwitz/pressac/technique-and-operation/pressac0303.shtml http://www.holocaust-history.org/auschwitz/pressac/technique-and-operation/page304.shtml|
|Dates||published: 2016-08-11, first posted on CODOH: Aug. 11, 2016, 12:30 a.m., last revision: n/a|