Irving Censorship Furor

CODOH Website Leads in Publicizing Banned Goebbels Bio
Published: 1996-04-01

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Cowed by a furious campaign organized by Jewish censorship groups, St. Martin's Press has knuckled under and canceled publication of David Irving's Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich. Ironically, CODOH's Website, by posting Irving's introduction to the biography, played a key role in alerting the censors to the planned book.

No comfort for the censors here, though: now and in the coming weeks, CODOH is exploiting its Website and the Internet to:

  • publicize Irving's writings and his world-wide struggle against censorship;
  • make available select articles by Irving, including the Goebbels intro, to an ever broader audience;
  • and alert free-minded persons everywhere to the sordid facts and the ominous implications of this late twentieth-century episode in suppression.

What the censors did

There is no doubt that St. Martin's decision not to publish Goebbels came as the result of, as Irving called it, an "organized and orchestrated campaign."

Some weeks before the affair hit the press, Thomas Dunne, Irving's editor at St. Martin's, began receiving complaints which, he said, escalated into death threats. Then, toward the end of March, press reports disclosed that pre-publication reviews of Goebbels in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and the Library Journal – each highly influential on bulk bookbuyers, distributors, and librarians – all condemned Irving and his book.

Soon the outraged squawking spread to the wire services, the New York City tabloids, and the op-ed page of the august New York Times. Simultaneously, spokesmen for such groups as the American Jewish Committee, the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, and the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith surfaced in the newspapers and on the air waves to demand, in veiled and not-so-veiled terms, that St. Martin's withdraw the book. And that ignoble Nobelist, Elie Wiesel, slithered forth to threaten withholding his magical name from St. Martin's book jacket blurbs.

At first, St. Martin's put up a brave front. Editor Dunne issued a press release in defense of publication which offered the obligatory demurral from Irving's views on the Holocaust, but also named Irving's several renowned publishers, quoted the accolades which leading historians have heaped on his books, and cited laudatory reviews from publications such as the London Sunday Times and the New Yorker.

Alas, poor Dunne! These are precisely the reasons why the censors have targeted Irving, and are determined to deny his books to the American public.

What the censors said

The de facto book banners presented, among other arguments for censorship, the following:

  • "The real insidiousness of the biography is that its formidable documentation will gain it acceptance as history," unsigned review, Publishers Weekly, March 25;
  • "It is a shame that an otherwise legitimate and respected publishing house would publish the works of an illegitimate and unrespected pseudo-scholar," David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, quoted in the New York Daily News, March 22;
  • "This man has a history and it is the responsibility of the publisher to check into the scholarly credentials of someone who purports to be a historian," Abe Foxman, national director, Anti-Defamation League, quoted in the New York Daily News, March 22;
  • "While trade publications may not vet books the way academic ones do, they certainly are, or should be, aware of the author's credentials, legitimacy, and the controversies that surround them," Francine Fialkoff, editorial, Library Journal, April 15;
  • "Call it a bloodless crime [the publication of Goebbels]: the willing execution of the truth," Frank Rich, op-ed page, New York Times, April 3;
  • "What David Irving is doing and St. Martin's is facilitating is not the destruction of live people but the destruction of people who already died. It's killing them a second time. It's killing history," Deborah Lipstadt, quoted in the New York Times, April 3.

Snicker if you like at the lunatic babble of these book-banning loony-tunes: it worked (together with the threats of boycott, ostracism, and physical harm, of course). By April 3, St. Martin's CEO Thomas McCormack had announced that his house was canceling the book. In a pathetic press release, McCormack stated, manfully: "I want to emphasize that we are not canceling under pressure – publishers can often be at their best in resisting pressure."

Yes, that's what he said.

What CODOH did and is doing

McCormack said more than that in his sad three-page articles of surrender. He disclosed that certain unnamed critics had directed St. Martin's staff to "a certain Website on the Internet," where they encountered news of Irving's revisionist views and activities "with a rising wave of alarm and humiliation," quoth the contrite publisher. McCormack also told the New York Times he'd visited several other revisionist Websites, undoubtedly including that of the Committee for Open Debate of the Holocaust.

Why undoubtedly? Because Publishers Weekly's feature article ("Storm Brews over SMP's Goebbels Book," March 25), chief vehicle for conjuring up the tempest in the larger media, included this:

Also on the Net, the Committee for Open Debate of the Holocaust, a revisionist group, provided an "extensive preview" of Irving's biography of Goebbels. In it, CODOH reported that the book will be distributed in America by the Institute for Historical Review, a revisionist publisher based in Newport Beach, CA.

Our critics – or better, our censors – know where to find the CODOH Website. Now, by putting Publishers Weekly on to it, they have inadvertently notified thousands of key people in the publishing and book- selling business that the site exists, that it supplies David Irving's side of the story, and that it makes available – in manageable, readable length – the suppressed introduction to the most controversial book in many a moon. And since CODOH's Internet address is easily derived from the organization's name, they'll have no trouble accessing our Website.

CODOH is leaving nothing to chance, however. By electronic mail, another capability of the Internet, it has already sent a hard-hitting press release alerting key people in the book trade and media to the availability of the material on Irving and Goebbels at the Website.

Nor was this the only activity on-site. For a day or two, when David Irving tinkered with the idea of foregoing royalties and allowing revisionists to disseminate the text of Goebbels over the Internet, CODOH's Co-Webmasters, Richard Widmann and David Thomas, prepared to work with IHR's Greg Raven in programming and posting the long and heavily referenced text to our Website for worldwide distribution through "Cyberspace," as the journalists call it. When Irving changed his mind (and who can blame him) and decided to seek another print publisher, CODOH's computer experts stood down and resumed their ongoing work. The capability remains, however; the potential of a "Cyberspace" samizdat, spreading legally and commercially banned books as Solzhenitsyn and his fellow freedom-fighters circulated banned books in the old USSR, boggles the mind – and elates the heart.

CODOH will be posting more articles by and about Irving on its Website. The many libertarian-minded souls among those who surf and browse on line will encounter the shocking and illuminating facts as to how, when and where their right to read and to hear Irving has been tampered with before; and the story of the often far more brutal censorship of other revisionists. Students and academics will be able to sample Irving's style and skill as a writer and researcher, and begin to judge for themselves whether Irving is the charlatan and "apologist" the men and women who deny their right to read his book make Irving out to be.

As for the censors: these the CODOH Website will offer a mirror – a record of their shabby acts and their foolish words against freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of thought – a mirror in which they may contemplate the repulsive countenance of suppression to their vanity, to their edification, or to their shame.

Additional information about this document
Property Value
Author(s): Bradley R. Smith
Title: Irving Censorship Furor, CODOH Website Leads in Publicizing Banned Goebbels Bio
Sources: Smith's Report, no. 31, April 1996, pp. 1-3
Published: 1996-04-01
First posted on CODOH: July 8, 2012, 7 p.m.
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