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In winter-spring of 2000, British historian David Irving brought a libel suit against American author Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin Books, in the High Court in London, claiming that he was libeled in her anti-revisionist tome, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. Lipstadt and company’s defense attorneys assembled a team of world-renowned Holocaust experts as part of their campaign to discredit Irving and validate Lipstadt’s assertions. In April of the same year the court ruled against Irving, labeling him a falsifier of history who allegedly manipulates the historical record in order to promote an ulterior and extreme right-wing agenda.
On July 20, 2001, the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of April 2000; Irving was denied the right to an appeal.
This important trial garnered much attention from the world’s media. One journalist and trial observer claimed that the traditional view of the Holocaust was put on trial—and it emerged triumphant. Others have claimed that Holocaust revisionism was put on trial—and it was judged as “false history.” There is no question that the judgment in this case will be used by many as “proof” that the traditional view of the Holocaust is correct, and Holocaust revisionism is a falsification of history. But how valid is this interpretation of the trial’s result?
During the trial, the presiding Judge, Charles Gray, was presented with powerful evidence and arguments in favor of the traditional view of the Holocaust. Lipstadt’s defense team argued that an ensemble of eyewitness, documentary, and physical evidence converged on the conclusion that the traditional view of the Holocaust is correct.
What did Judge Gray conclude?
In regard to the allegedly incriminating words and statements in Nazi documents that are employed to “prove” the Nazis had a policy to exterminate all the Jews, Judge Gray concluded that many of these words and statements are of an equivocal nature and are capable of being interpreted in a manner that is consistent with Holocaust revisionist theory. He wrote:
“A considerable number of documents were scrutinized in an attempt to ascertain whether the words in question [ausrotten, vernichten, liquidieren, evakuieren, umsiedeln and abschieben] were being used or understood in a genocidal sense. Irving contended that most of these words are properly to be understood in a non-genocidal sense. Longerich [one of Lipstadt’s expert witnesses] agreed that most, if not all, of these words are capable of being used in a non-genocidal sense. For example, [exterminate or uproot] can bear such anodyne meanings as ‘get rid of’ or ‘wipe out’ without connoting physical extermination. But he asserted that its usual and primary meaning is ‘exterminate’ or ‘kill off,' especially when applied to people or to a group of people as opposed to, for example, a religion.”
In a similar vein, Judge Gray also noted: “It is also accepted by [Lipstadt’s team of Holocaust experts] that in certain respects the documentary evidence, including the photographic evidence, is capable of more than one interpretation.”
In regard to the evidence for mass genocide in the Nazi concentration camps, Gray admitted:
“What is the evidence for mass extermination of Jews at those camps? The consequence of the absence of any overt documentary evidence of gas chambers at these camps, coupled with the lack of archeological evidence, means that reliance has to placed on eyewitness and circumstantial evidence…”
Referring to the evidence used to “prove” the Nazis used gas chambers and crematoria for mass murder, Judge Gray drew this eye opening conclusion:
“…contemporaneous documents, such as drawings, plans, correspondence with contractors and the like, yield little clear evidence of the existence of gas chambers designed to kill humans. Such isolated references to the use of gas as are to be found amongst these documents can be explained by the need to fumigate clothes so as to reduce the incidence of disease such as typhus. The quantities of Zyklon-B [the gas allegedly used by the Nazis to commit mass murder in the gas chambers] delivered to the camps may arguably be explained by the need to fumigate clothes and other objects.”
Gray noted that even the architectural plans of the buildings that allegedly housed the homicidal gas chambers do not contain any incriminating evidence:
“None of these drawings refers overtly to any part of the buildings being designed or intended to serve as gas chambers whether for fumigation or extermination purposes. In particular the drawings for [the supposed gas chamber of Krema II at Birkenau] make no provisions for ducts or chimneys by means of which Zyklon-B pellets might be inserted through the roof.”
The same holds true for the extant ruins of the Nazi concentration camps; Gray pointed out that they contain almost no evidence for the traditional view of the Holocaust:
“[Lipstadt’s team of Holocaust experts] accept that the physical evidence remaining at the site of Auschwitz provides little evidence to support the claim that gas chambers were operated there for genocidal purposes.”
To be sure, Judge Gray does believe the evidence converges to the conclusion that the Nazis did have a policy to exterminate world Jewry, and Jews were killed in large numbers in the “Auschwitz gas chambers,” but he virtually admitted that the best evidence presented to him by a team of world renowned Holocaust experts is weak at best.
The judge stated that it appeared to him to “be important to keep well in mind the diversity of the categories [of evidence for the “gas chambers”] and the extent to which those categories are mutually corroborative.” Gray summarized Lipstadt and company’s case as being “there exists…a ‘convergence’ of evidence which is to the ordinary, dispassionate mind overwhelming that hundreds of thousands of Jews were systematically gassed to death at Auschwitz...”
In regard to the “eyewitness evidence” for the “gas chambers,” he stated that while he acknowledged, “that reliability of the eye-witness evidence is variable, what is to me striking about that category of evidence is the similarity of the accounts and the extent to which they are consistent with the documentary evidence.”
Gray added that “the various categories of evidence do ‘converge’ in the manner suggested by [Lipstadt and company’s Holocaust experts]… My overall assessment of the totality of the evidence that Jews were killed in large numbers in gas chambers at Auschwitz is that I would require exceedingly powerful reasons to reject it. Irving has argued that such reasons do exist.”
Convergence of Evidence?
Judge Gray’s final conclusion was as follows: “Having considered the various arguments advanced by Irving to assail the effect of the convergent evidence relied on by the Defendants, it is my conclusion that no objective, fair-minded historian would have serious cause to doubt that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz and that they were operated on a substantial scale to kill hundreds of thousands of Jews.”
The following example will illustrate to the reader how questionable “convergence of evidence” proofs for the traditional view of the Holocaust really are.
In their article on the Treblinka concentration camp, historian Mark Weber and attorney Andrew Allen collected six pieces of evidence that point to the conclusion that Jews and others were murdered in steam chambers at the site. Let us note each of them:
- According to an “eyewitness” account received in November 1942 in London from the Warsaw ghetto underground organization, Jews were supposedly exterminated in death rooms with “steam coming out of the numerous holes in the pipes.”
- In 1943, the New York Times published more “eyewitness” testimony regarding the mass murder of Jews in the alleged Treblinka steam chambers. This account provided readers with essential details about the operation of these steam chambers.
- In The Black Book of Polish Jewry, a 1943 work sponsored by an array of respected dignitaries like Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt, the Treblinka steam story was again given in detail.
- Another book, Lest We Forget, published in New York in 1943 by the World Jewish Congress, describes how Jews were steamed to death, and provides a diagram showing the location of the purported boiler room that produced the live steam.
- According to a 1944 “eyewitness” account compiled by the OSS, the principal US intelligence agency, Jews at Treblinka “were in general killed by steam and not by gas as had been first suspected.”
- In 1945, the Polish government “conclusively proved” the Germans operated these death chambers. They carried out “an onsite, physical examination of the steam chambers,” submitting an “expert report” to the Nuremberg Tribunal.
Here we have a convergence of evidence from six sources. The eyewitness testimony is substantiated by the onsite, hands-on investigation of the Polish authorities. This convergence of evidence is even better than the one that Judge Gray heard because it has an onsite, expert study of the murder weapon itself that “conclusively proves” the existence of the steam chambers. Therefore, the Germans must have murdered people in steam chambers at Treblinka. Lo and behold, the pitfalls of such a conclusion!
Historians now tell us there were no steam chambers at Treblinka. The convergence of evidence that “proves” their existence is entirely false. Over the years, the story changed and today it is alleged that Jews and others were murdered with carbon monoxide gas, generated from captured Soviet diesel tank engines. Neither Judge Gray or Lipstadt and company’s team of world renowned Holocaust experts have ever explained why the convergence of evidence for Treblinka steam chambers points to a false conclusion and the convergence of evidence for the Auschwitz gas chambers allegedly points to a true conclusion.
Since most of the evidence in the convergence of evidence for the Treblinka steam chambers is not qualitatively different from the evidence in the convergence of evidence for the Auschwitz gas chambers; and since the convergence of evidence for the Treblinka steam chambers leads to a false conclusion, isn’t it also possible that the convergence of evidence for the Auschwitz gas chambers also points to a false conclusion?
Dr. Michael Shermer is the Holocaust historian that formulated this “convergence of evidence” method for “proving” the traditional view of the Holocaust. What is not well known is that he also formulated the criterion for proving that the traditional view of the Holocaust is incorrect. He wrote:
“In order to prove that the Holocaust did NOT happen, a revisionist… will have to show that the consilience of inductions method [i.e., the convergence of evidence method] is either philosophically fallacious in general, or misinterpreted in the case of the Holocaust in particular.”
It was shown here that the “convergence of evidence” method has been misinterpreted in the case of the Holocaust by Lipstadt’s team of Holocaust experts and Judge Gray. Shermer’s criterion for proving the traditional view of the Holocaust “did not happen” is thus satisfied.
This is only one of the many weak points in Judge Gray’s final judgment. The Holocaust Lobby’s presumed victory in the Irving-Lipstadt libel trial is a Pyrrhic victory, for the whole affair forced the Lobby to publicly reveal how weak and questionable the evidence for the traditional view of the Holocaust really is. Time and the dawn of a new age of reason will show the world the validity of Holocaust revisionism.
© Copyright 2001, Paul Grubach
- D.D. Guttenplan, The Holocaust on Trial (W.W. Norton & Company, 2001).
- See Judge Gray’s “Judgment” in the Irving-Lipstadt libel trial, online: www.focal.org/judg.html, paragraph 6.107.
- Ibid., paragraph 7.75
- Ibid., paragraph 6.80.
- Ibid., paragraph 13.73.
- Ibid., paragraph 7.59.
- Ibid., paragraph 7.118.
- Ibid., paragraph 13.72.
- Ibid., paragraph 13.72.
- Ibid., paragraph 13.77.
- Ibid., paragraph 13.78.
- Ibid., paragraph 13.91.
- “Treblinka,” The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1992, pp.134-135.
- “Likwidacja zydowskiej Warszwy, Treblinka,” Biuleytn Zydowskiego Instytutu Historysznego (Warsaw), Jan.-June 1951, pp. 93-100. Quoted in Carlo Mattogno, “The Myth of the Extermination of the Jews.” The Journal of Historical Review, Fall 1988, pp.273-274, 295 (n.16).
- The New York Times, August 8, 1943, p.11.
- Jacob Apenszlak, ed., The Black Book of Polish Jewry( New York, 1943), pp.142-143.
- World Jewish Congress, Lest We Forget(New York, 1943), pp.4, 6-7.
- OSS document, April 13, 1944. National Archives (Washington, DC), Military Branch, Record Group 226 (OSS records), No.67231.
- Nuremberg Trial Document 3311-PS. IMT, Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT “blue series”/1947-1949), vol.32, pp.152-158; Also published in Carlos Whitlock Porter, Made in Russia: The Holocaust(Historical Review Press, 1988), p.2-7.
- See the statements of Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg in Barbara Kulaszka, ed., Did Six Million Really Die?: Report of the Evidence in the Canadian "False News" Trial of Ernst Zündel (Samisdat, 1992), p.31.
- Michael Shermer, “An Open Letter to Holocaust Revisionists: In Response to W.D. Brocksmidt’s ‘Open Letter to Michael Shermer’ in Newsletter of the Adelaide Institute, 27, January, 1995.” March 14, 1995. A copy of this letter is the possession of Paul Grubach. This letter may have been published in Shermer’s Skeptic magazine or posted on his Website.
Additional information about this document
|Title:||Convergence of Evidence, Reflections on the Irving/Lipstadt Affair|
|Sources:||The Revisionist, # 9, Jan. 2002, Codoh series|
|First posted on CODOH:||Jan. 30, 2003, 6 p.m.|