Richard Evans: David Irving's nemesis publishes book based on trial

Historians in the News

Up until the year 2000, David Irving was the Henry Ford of the Holocaust denial industry. But a lawsuit brought by Irving against a critic effectively put a spanner in his production line of hate.

Professor Richard J. Evans, who visited Australia in July, played no small part in the downfall of the loathed titan.

In 2000, Irving brought a libel suit against Prof. Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books for publishing her 1993 book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. Irving alleged that Lipstadt’s book defamed him by claiming that he had deliberately distorted, misquoted and falsified history.

The lawsuit was a monumental blunder on Irving’s part, turning the focus onto the bona fides of his claims to be a historian and not a racist polemicist.

Lipstadt and Penguin Books hired Prof. Evans, a Cambridge University expert on modern German history, to trawl through Irving’s writings.

Analysing Irving’s works and the original sources cited in the footnotes, Prof. Evans produced a 750-page report that pulled apart the web of deceit, deliberate obfuscations and distortion and selective quoting perpetrated by Irving to further his Holocaust denial activities. Irving lost the trial, and was branded by the court “anti-semitic and racist” and a “right-wing pro-Nazi polemicist,” who “for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence.”

He was so thoroughly discredited by the finding and Prof. Evans’ 24-hours of courtroom testimony that one can comfortably delineate a pre and post-trial period in both Irving’s influence and the number of mainstream fence sitters who had equivocated on Irving’s “scholarship”.

Prof. Evans explained that, essentially, because the trial was not concerned with the veracity of the Holocaust, but whether Irving had been libelled, Lipstadt’s lawyers could delve into his writings and activities.

“I went into it thinking that it would be a very interesting exercise in how and where you draw the line between an imaginative reinterpretation of the sources and the deliberate falsification....

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Randll Reese Besch - 8/29/2007

Just what must be done to confront such false historians as Irving. Too bad Germany doesn't think truth to power is the way instead will not print an annoted,by historians, of the infamous "Mien Kampf" of Adolf Hitler. His ideological map of his dream state which was realized 10 years later. They need to recognize what happened to Irving and learn the lesson.