David Irving is not the Embodiment of Holocaust Revisionism

A crucial misrepresentation in the trailer for the upcoming film "Denial"
Published: 2016-08-24

The ultimate purpose of the film Denial, about David Irving's failed libel-suit against Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt in 2000, is not to pound David Irving even farther into the dust – although it may do that – but to discredit Holocaust Revisionism: hence the film's title is not Irving, but Denial.

To attack Holocaust Revisionism through the person of David Irving, however, requires portraying him as the quintessential Holocaust Revisionist or "Denier," which he never was. The purpose of the film thus requires misrepresentation.

There is a crucial misrepresentation at 0:42 in the trailer, where David Irving is represented as saying: 

"... I've got a thousand dollars to give anyone who can show me a document that proves the Holocaust."

In fact, David Irving never offered $1000 for any document that could "prove the Holocaust."

This fictitious offer bears some resemblance, but only superficially, to challenges that David Irving did issue. 

In 1977 David Irving issued the challenge that he would pay $1000 to anyone who would bring forth a document proving "that Adolf Hitler knew about the mass-liquidation of Western Europe's Jews." Irving's contention at that time was not that there was no Holocaust, but only that Hitler did not know. 

David Irving has declared many times (for example during his libel-suit in 2000) that he is "not a Holocaust historian." As an expert on documents relating to Adolf Hitler, however, Irving noticed that there was no documentation that Hitler had ordered or knew about gassings of Jews. Irving's conclusion that Hitler did not know of such doings was thus commensurate with his expertise, while the contention that such doings were never done was beyond his scope, and he thus avoided making that claim.

David Irving trusted postwar testimonies like that of Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski at the 1964 Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, to the effect that Himmler had undertaken the destruction of the Jews without Hitler's knowledge (Irving, Hitler's War, 1977, p. 858, cited by the crown during Irving's 1988 testimony for Ernst Zündel).

People other than David Irving investigated whether the gas-chamber story was true. In 1983 Professor Robert Faurisson issued his "Challenge to David Irving" wherein he argued that it was not credible to say that mass-gassings did happen but without Hitler's knowledge. Irving was unpersuaded. It was only in 1988, after reading the Leuchter Report, that Irving embraced the conclusion that some of the claims of gassings were false – at least in regard to the Kremas at Auschwitz, which Leuchter had examined.

Even after he embraced Leuchter's findings, however, Irving avoided saying that there was no Holocaust. At times he casually implied that the entire gas-chamber story might be false, but that would not be a disproof of the Holocaust for David Irving. During a 1995 speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, Irving said about the Holocaust:

"Bits of the story are undoubtedly true. Let me say this right from the start. There's no doubt at all ... that the Nazis in their twelve-year rule inflicted nameless horrors on large segments of the population, including the Jews and other people whom they disliked.... What I do question are the methods."

Irving thus avoided saying that the Holocaust per se was or might be categorically false. Irving really never gave himself the possibility to conclude that the Holocast per se was false, because, unlike the much more rigorous and courageous Robert Faurisson (a genuine Holocaust Revisionist), Irving never specified what "the Holocaust" meant. He never affirmed that gassings were the essence, the sine qua non of the Holocaust. This identification of what distinguishes "the Holocaust" as the unique event that it is supposed to be is the prerequisite for concluding, upon the disproof of gassings, that the Holocaust itself is a lie. Instead, Irving allows the Holocaust to include "nameless horrors" that may have been accomplished through "methods" other than gassing. Therefore, since Irving has never disputed that some nebulous and undefined event called "the Holocaust" happened, it would be very unlike him to say that "the Holocaust" requires proof. 

In Atlanta on 11 November 1994 Deborah Lipstadt gave a presentation wherein, in addition to making derogatory statements about Mr. Irving without realizing that he was present, she claimed that she knew of "a blueprint of a gas chamber complete with the openings through which the S.S. tipped the pellets of cyanide." Mr. Irving stood up and issued to Professor Lipstadt the following challenge:


"I have here a thousand dollars for you if you can produce to this audience, now or at any time in the future, this document about which you have just lied to them." (D. Irving, A Radical's Diary, 11 November 1994)

By his own account, then, David Irving dared Deborah Lipstadt not to prove the Holocaust, but only to show a particular document of which she had claimed knowledge -- which he knew she had misrepresented. Irving on this occasion was relying on the work of Professor Faurisson, who eighteen years earlier had acquired copies of the blueprints of what are supposed to be gas-chambers at Auschwitz, noting that they were in fact blueprints for mortuaries.

It is, thus, quite clear that David Irving has been misquoted in that trailer, in a way that facilitates calling him a Denier. It is contradicted by Irving's own contemporary record, and, furthermore, it is simply not the kind of statement that David Irving has been known to make.

The trailer also calls Irving a liar and a falsifier of history, which – as I demonstrated a few months ago – is unfortunately true, but Irving's falsifications are in the direction of creating an interesting story, not exculpating the Germans – other than Hitler himself. In fact the drama that Irving has constructed in some of his "histories" requires that Himmler and Goebbels continue to be villains who deceive and betray a well-intentioned Hitler by doing bad things to the Jews behind Hitler's back. 

Obviously the makers of Denial want the public to believe that falsifications by David Irving underpin the anti-Holocaust argument, but this is far from true. The question of David Irving's falsifications is beside the point, because all the essential work in Holocaust Revisionism was done by people other than David Irving. Again, David Irving is not an expert on the Holocaust. He has never written a book on the subject. Irving's role in Holocaust Revisionism, to the extent that it has been a positive role, has been mostly that he used his eloquence and pre-existing notoriety to call attention to the findings of others. Consequently, any criticism of the methods or trustworthiness of David Irving as an historian should have little bearing on the credibility of Holocaust Revisionism.

Additional information about this document

Author(s) Hadding Scott
Title David Irving is not the Embodiment of Holocaust Revisionism, A crucial misrepresentation in the trailer for the upcoming film "Denial"
Sources www.fpp.co.uk/Auschwitz/docs/controversies/Reward.html www.fpp.co.uk/Legal/Penguin/transcripts/day007.htm www.fpp.co.uk/Auschwitz/docs/ZundelTrial.html codoh.com/library/document/4061/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgGP_evkvOk web.archive.org/web/19990508124933/ http://www.fpp.co.uk/Online/98/10/RadDi141194.html
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Dates published: 2016-08-24, first posted on CODOH: Aug. 24, 2016, 6:29 p.m., last revision: n/a
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