Auntie's Knickers to Warm Irving's Book

Published: 1995-01-01

There may have been other writers who have been hounded as much as historian David Irving but I can't think of any. A fascinating book could be written on the subject — if it could find a publisher.

That would not be easy. A lot of powerful people don't want to hear what he has to say. He digs up unwanted material.

He used to believe in the six million 'holocaust' story, for instance. But after going through tons of original records it dawned on him that he had found no documents relating to a planned, mass extermination of the Jews.

He does not deny that thousands of them died in the camps, as did many others, or that thousands were slaughtered, especially in Eastern Europe during the war with Russia. But he had broken a taboo.

The result was that he condemned himself to the literary rack, the latest example being the cancellation by St. Martin's Press in New York of his book Goebbels, Mastermind of the Third Reich.

The work contains extracts from the Nazi propaganda minister's diaries, held by the Russians. It has been published in England to many favorable reviews, including one by historian Hugh Trevor Roper (Lord Dacre) an expert on the Nazi regime. But the moment it became known that it was to be published in the U.S. the American Book Police got into action.

Jewish critics led the attack. The New York Times, the Washington Post, Time etc., gave it the full treatment. Most of them took the view that Irving condemns Goebbels, whom he describes as an evil man, while excusing Adolf Hitler.

We shall see. All I can say is that some writers have excused Joe Stalin while condemning Beria and Co. The New York Times itself was soft on Joe for decades, and apologized for it only three years ago.

Initially, St. Martin's resisted. But the pressure increased. Elie Wiesel, a 'holocaust survivor' who has made a fortune writing about it was quoted as saying he 'wanted nothing to do with a firm that published Irving.' Other Jewish authors threatened to pull their books.

St. Martin's collapsed. As one of its top editors stated, 'There's been all this mud-slinging on innocent people, horrible phone calls and death threats.'

Irving may be a controversial figure but some commentators could hardly believe what was going on in the land of the free and the brave. Any publisher has the right to cancel a book, of course. But in this case things were being done that Goebbels himself might have been proud of.

Even some U.S. critics had second thoughts. Richard Cohen of the Washington Post was one. To him, 'Irving is a thoroughly repulsive character,' but 'this book is worth reading.'

Irving's comment on that: 'They stand by politely applauding, while You-Know-Who terrorizes St. Martin's, and then they salve their liberal consciences...'

Christopher Hitchins of Vanity Fair magazine declared that Irving has 'never and not once called the Holocaust 'a hoax''' and that 'unless you have read his studies on the Churchill-Roosevelt relationship, the Rommel campaigns and the bombing of Dresden you can't say you know such subjects at all.' (His emphasis.)

The Goebbels book, says Hitchins, 'contains amazing new material and was chosen by the Military Book Club as a main selection.' It too has now cancelled. As for the critics, 'they can't take the idea of a debate with David Irving?'

In Hitchins' view, Irving is a great historian of Fascism and St. Martin's has disgraced the business of publishing.

No writer has been libeled as much as Irving. It has often been reported, for instance, that he describes himself as 'a mild Fascist.' But he has explained how a British journalist put those words into his mouth.

'It seems to me, you're some kind of mild fascist,' the man said. To which Irving replied, contemptuously, 'You can call me what you like.'

You can bet that the Canadian Book Police will keep Goebbels out of Canada, just as Irving himself has been banned. But this is one book I am going to get even if my old Aunt Maud has to stick it in her knickers for me.

The North Shore News believes strongly in freedom of speech and the right of all sides in a debate to be heard. The columnists published in the News present differing points of view, but those views are not necessarily those of the newspaper itself.

Copyright 1995, North Shore News

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Douglas Collins
Title: Auntie's Knickers to Warm Irving's Book
Sources: North Shore News, 1995
Published: 1995-01-01
First posted on CODOH: June 29, 1995, 7 p.m.
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