Talking Frankly about David Irving
A Critical Analysis of David Irving's Statement on the Holocaust
Published: 2016-05-24

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To reinforce the fantasy that Sonderbehandlung has a sinister meaning, Irving claims that Himmler wrote a letter asking Korherr very nicely to replace the word Sonderbehandlung (special treatment) with other words:

“And Himmler didn’t like it. Himmler wrote back to Korherr the statistician at the time – and I was the one who found these letters – and Himmler says: ‘Dr. Korherr, excellent report, well written, a bit too long though. You’ve got to remember, this report’s going to be shown to Adolf Hitler, the Fuehrer. I want you to write a short version. Oh, and that sentence where you say the 1.24 million were subjected to special treatment, I want you to reword that. The 1.24 million were sent through camps in occupied Poland to the east.’ Somebody’s having the wool pulled over their eyes.” (1:50:14 – 1:50:45)

Irving says that he himself discovered that letter, but surprisingly neither an image of the letter nor the text of it appears on his website, although it can be found elsewhere online.

Irving’s representation of that letter is quite loose. In the first place, although Irving says that Himmler wrote the letter, it was in fact written by a member of Himmler’s staff, Rudolf Brandt, an attorney. Furthermore, the letter is entirely cold and impersonal. It contains none of the explanation and certainly none of the cajoling flattery that Irving portrays Himmler addressing to Korherr. Contrary to what Irving says, it contains no mention of Hitler. It is nothing more than a curt bureaucratic instruction about how some of the wording in Korherr’s statistical report must be changed.

Why does Irving say that Himmler wrote the letter when it was really written by Brandt on Himmler’s behalf? Most likely because it gives a greater credibility to the imputation that Himmler was trying to hide something if he handled the matter himself.

The lack of formality with which Irving portrays Himmler addressing Korherr is also perhaps more compatible with the crazy scenario that Irving wants to portray, wherein some officers under Himmler’s command are supposed to have undertaken, at their own whim, the project of mass-murdering Jews, while others did not. As improbable as that picture is in itself, formality and discipline do not harmonize well with it.

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Irving refers to an alleged set of memoirs, supposedly written by Adolf Eichmann, that was handed to him “in a brown paper parcel” in (October) 1991 when he happened to be in Buenos Aires (1:52:20 – 1:55:25).

Here, Irving says that the man who gave him the alleged memoirs was “a man of Flemish origin” who was “close to a friend of Adolf Eichmann” (1:52:41 – 48). On Irving’s own website, however, several sources tell a different story. Irving quotes himself as telling a journalist for The Observer in early 1992 that the man who supplied the alleged memoirs was “a mutual friend” of David Irving’s and the Eichmann family’s. Irving has now backed away from claiming that this man knew Eichmann’s family at all, which makes the authenticity of these alleged Eichmann memoirs seem much less certain.

The explanation for why this third party would have Eichmann’s memoirs is not very convincing. Supposedly Eichmann's family worried about being “raided” again after Eichmann had been illegally abducted and taken to Israel by Mossad in defiance of the Argentine government in 1960, and therefore, it is said, gave the memoirs to a friend who then gave them to this Flemish stranger. (1:53:00 - 19)

A news-report from January 1992 has Wilhelm Lenz of the German Federal Archives saying that initial examination of the alleged Eichmann memoirs indicated that they were authentic. But the same report quotes Tuvia Friedman, contradicting Lenz:

“I believe this is the same manuscript made in the 1950s by the German journalist Zossen.” (AP, 14 January 1992)

Journalist Ron Rosenbaum, who interviewed Irving for his book Explaining Hitler, mentions that Irving cites the German Federal Archives at Koblenz as attesting to the authenticity of the alleged Eichmann memoirs, but responds as follows:

“This is only partially true. A spokesman at the Koblenz archives told my researcher that the ‘memoirs’ appear to be cobbled together from interviews with Eichmann by a sympathetic journalist and other sources.” (Rosenbaum, Explaining Hitler (updated edition), p. 224)

The "sympathetic journalist" would be Zossen (whose article Eichmann in fact denounced as inaccurate during his trial). And the “other sources”? It makes little difference. A so-called memoir that is cobbled together from a journalist’s interview and other sources is almost certainly the work of persons other than the alleged author.

The most puzzling thing about Irving’s account is why the man who presented Irving with the supposed memoirs of Adolf Eichmann attesting to an order from Adolf Hitler to start killing Jews did not try to claim the £1000 reward that Irving had been offering for such evidence since 1977. Irving gives no indication that the man asked for his reward.

Irving says that it was “good luck” to receive those alleged Eichmann memoirs out of the blue, but my suspicion is that Irving was used as a conduit for political propaganda, in this instance and in the case of the “Goebbels Diaries” that lay conveniently waiting for him in Soviet state archives during the same period. These “Eichmann memoirs” contain references to an order from Adolf Hitler to start killing Jews, and also gassing vans. That was the poison in this bait offered to David Irving.

Irving however finds a way to have his cake and eat it too. He accepts the reference to gassing-vans in these memoirs, but rejects the claim in the same memoirs that Hitler ordered the mass-killing of Jews. Irving rationalizes this picking-and-choosing by assuming that Eichmann presciently lied about Hitler in his memoirs so as to create an alibi for himself in anticipation of being kidnapped and put on trial. 

Even assuming that Irving is correct about that, one must wonder why the alleged Eichmann memoirs were not revealed at the time of Eichmann’s trial. Keeping them secret negated their purpose, if the purpose was to create an alibi for Eichmann at his anticipated trial.

Irving's argument against the claim that Hitler ordered the Holocaust very easily mutates into an argument against the Holocaust itself. Combined with other information that David Irving supplies, it becomes exactly that:

“Clearly if such an order existed you would expect to find it on paper. You would have expected the British to have decoded it somewhere. You would expect somebody to have written a letter home to their mother saying, ‘Dear Mummy, I have today had to transmit the most terrible order to the SS-Gruppenfuehrers on the Eastern Front.’ This kind of thing.” ( 1:54:30-1:54:57)

Certainly David Irving is correct to say that there would be a written record of it, if Adolf Hitler had ordered the systematic killing of Jews, but not only for the reason that Irving gives, that it is difficult to conceal such things: also because any military officer asked to undertake such enormities would have wanted a written record of the order so that he could defend himself if the action became a matter of controversy. Irving himself indicates this with his discussion of Deckungsschreiben, wherein he says that German officers wanted documentation of orders. We also have Albert Speer’s rebuke that systematic killing of Jews could not take place without Hitler’s knowledge, which means not without Hitler’s order:

“To make such a claim shows a profound ignorance of the nature of Hitler’s Germany, in which nothing of any magnitude happened, or could conceivably happen, without his knowledge.” (Albert Speer, letter to Gitta Sereny, late 1977)

Therefore, the lack of any contemporary written record of an order from Adolf Hitler for systematic killing of Jews really means that no such action was undertaken.


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Author(s): Hadding Scott
Title: Talking Frankly about David Irving, A Critical Analysis of David Irving's Statement on the Holocaust
Sources: David Irving, "Talking Frankly", DVD 2009; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97L_SJrPl6g&list=PL2OXhVAnYg1DfXZ4RejC6eGKlpgufNmt1
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Published: 2016-05-24
First posted on CODOH: May 23, 2016, 9:07 p.m.
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