The Journal of Historical Review

Judge Gray’s Harsh But Predictable Ruling

After the Irving-Lipstadt Trial: New Dangers and Challenges

Mark Weber

A verdict has finally been reached in the much publicized Irving-Lipstadt libel trial in London.

Judge Charles Gray, in a lengthy ruling made public on April 11, 2000, called David Irving an anti-Semitic and racist “Holocaust denier” who has “deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence.” The judgment could hardly have been more severe. The 62-year-old British historian is now obliged to pay some $3 million in legal costs to the two defendants: Jewish American writer Deborah Lipstadt, and Penguin Books, the British publisher of her anti-revisionist work, Denying the Holocaust.

Irving, now reportedly facing bankruptcy and confiscation of his spacious London apartment, was ordered on May 5 to pay some $250,000 by June 16 “on account,” as a kind of down payment toward the total he must eventually turn over. Describing himself as “defeated but unbowed,” he announced that he is appealing the verdict.

In his lengthy judgment, Judge Gray harshly concluded:

The charges which I have found to be substantially true include the charges that Mr. Irving has, for his own ideological reasons, persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence; that for the same reasons he has portrayed Hitler in an unwarrantedly favorable light, principally in relation to his attitude towards and responsibility for the treatment of the Jews; that he is an active Holocaust denier; that he is anti-Semitic and racist, and that he associates with Right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism.

Actually, and as several Jewish commentators had implicitly acknowledged during the trial, the evidence was not at all as clear cut as Judge Gray’s judgment suggested. He could have decided in favor of either Irving or the defendants, depending on how he chose to look at the evidence. Thus, before the April 11 ruling, Jewish commentators engaged in a form of preliminary “damage control” by warning that an Irving victory would not really matter because, after all, the trial wasn’t about the Holocaust story itself.

Several British newspapers commented that the judgment demolishes Irving’s reputation as a credible historian, and thoroughly discredits Holocaust revisionism (or “Holocaust denial”). “Never again,” wrote The Guardian, “will the deniers’ claims to standing have even the sliver of credibility that attached to Irving before he took action against Professor Lipstadt.”

Jewish leaders around the world were, of course, pleased. New York City’s Yeshiva University, for example, a bastion of Jewish orthodoxy, hailed the London court’s verdict as a “victory on behalf of the Jewish people.” (Forward, April 21, p. 4). In a congratulatory message to Lipstadt, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, writing in the “name of the Israeli people and the Jewish people,” commented: “The strength of Israel today ensures that today no second Holocaust will take place, and no one in the world will dare rise against the Jewish nation. But in parallel, a determined struggle is going on against the people who deny the Holocaust that brought the death of a third of our nation.”

Irving himself described the ruling as “perverse,” adding that it “is so laden with historical inaccuracies the grounds for an appeal in the public interest are very evident ... The judge picks up the bucket of slime prepared by the defense counsel and tips it over me.”

A Predictable Defeat

As harsh as it was, Judge Gray’s verdict should not have been surprising. As Irving put it: “The leaders of the Jewish communities around the world have used the most horrific methods to try and destroy me. They had bottomless pockets to afford justice and say go ahead and destroy that bastard – which they just did.”

Irving initiated his libel suit knowing that he faced a formidable and ruthless adversary with vastly greater financial resources. But throughout the grueling nine-week courtroom ordeal, he showed tremendous psychological and physical stamina. “I have been able to take them all on single-handed and give them a very good run for their money,” he said.

As he acknowledges, Irving is himself largely to blame for the scope of this defeat. “At the end, I suppose, it is my own fault for having explained myself with insufficient clarity,” he commented. And however great his fortitude and endurance in the courtroom, he risked additional problems by acting as his own lawyer.

Some fundamental weaknesses of Irving’s case became ever more apparent during the course of the trial. However effectively he was able to show that he had been a victim of an international Jewish-Zionist campaign to silence him, he failed to show convincingly that Lipstadt’s book, Denying the Holocaust (much less Penguin Books) had caused any of the specific damages he cited, such as the April 1996 decision by St. Martin’s Press to abandon publication of his Goebbels biography, or his banning from Germany and other countries. Irving never proved that he had been blackballed by the publishing industry or banned from various countries specifically because of Lipstadt’s book. In truth, her Denying the Holocaust was only a small part of the vast anti-Irving campaign.

This weakness of Irving’s argument was reflected in the judgment. While Judge Gray agreed that Lipstadt’s book “does indeed represent a deliberate attack on Irving, mounted in order to discredit him as an historian,” he rejected, with justification, Irving’s claim “to have been the victim of a conspiracy in which both Defendants were implicated.” Irving failed to link Penguin Books to the campaign against him.

Irving’s decision to forego a jury trial and instead let Judge Gray alone decide the case was, in hindsight, clearly a major error. No jury verdict could have been any harsher than the one that was rendered. More important, a jury would not have been able to issue a lengthy, scathing written judgment like that of Judge Gray.

The severe verdict was all the more predictable given the personality of the man who decided his fate. Irving could hardly have had a more unsympathetic judge than Charles Gray. In the words of one knowledgeable observer, Edward Garnier, Queens Counsel and shadow attorney general: “I don’t think I’ve heard of a judge speaking in such terms before ... [Irving] is the most unattractive person that can have come in front of that particular judge.”

‘Denier’?

Irving almost certainly damaged his credibility during the course of the trial in abandoning, or seeming to abandon, revisionist positions he had once embraced. While acknowledging that he had revised some of his views during the trial, he said that his overall opinion on the Holocaust and Hitler’s role in it had not changed.

Precisely defining “the Holocaust” and “Holocaust denial” proved a key point of contention in the trial. Insisting that he is not a “denier,” Irving told the court:

The word “denier” is particularly evil, because no person in full command of his mental faculties, and with even the slightest understanding of what happened in World War Two, can deny that the tragedy actually happened, however much we dissident historians may wish to quibble about the means, the scale, the dates and other minutiae.

All the same, Irving reaffirmed – before Judge Gray and the world – some of his most controversial views on specific aspects of the Holocaust issue. For example, he rejected the familiar Six Million figure of Jewish wartime dead, instead expressing the view that between one and four million Jews lost their lives under German or Axis rule during the war. “Do you deny the Nazi killed millions of Jews in gas chambers in purpose-built establishments?,” he was asked. “Yes. It’s logistically impossible,” Irving responded. “I deny that it was possible to liquidate millions of people in gas chambers as presented by historians so far.” Such statements sufficed for Judge Gray to label him a “Holocaust denier.”

Lipstadt’s Defamation of Irving

In spite of the outcome, there is no question but that Irving was libeled by Lipstadt in her book Denying the Holocaust. Even the judge acknowledged that at least two or three of the claims made against Irving in her book were not true. As Gray wrote in his judgment:

... There are certain defamatory imputations [in Lipstadt’s book] which I have found to be defamatory of Irving, but which have not been proved to be true. The Defendants made no attempt to prove the truth of Lipstadt’s claim that Irving was scheduled to speak at an anti-Zionist conference in Sweden in 1992, which was also to be attended by various representatives of terrorist organizations ... Nor did they seek to justify Lipstadt’s claim that Irving has a self-portrait by Hitler hanging over his desk. Furthermore, the Defendants have, as I have held, failed in their attempt to justify the defamatory imputations made against Irving in relation to the Goebbels diaries in the Moscow archive.

Nevertheless, Gray went on, these false and defamatory claims did “not have any material effect on Irving’s reputation.”

In contrast to David Irving’s willingness to make available to the defendants his records, including his voluminous correspondence and exhaustive diary, in all their enormous (and sometimes embarrassing) detail, the defendants were loath to turn over records and documents. This reticence was perhaps most glaring in Deborah Lipstadt’s refusal to testify in court. She would not submit to close questioning by Irving because, obviously, she and her lawyers calculated that doing so would prove harmful to their case.

Important Evidence

Regardless of the verdict, much good has come of the trial. For one thing, it has encouraged greater public awareness of the Holocaust controversy. For another, Irving managed to compile and present crucially important facts that – while they may be temporarily overlooked in the celebratory aftermath of the trial – are now permanently on the public record.

As cogently laid out in his Closing Statement (published elsewhere in this Journal issue), he highlighted two broad issues of particular significance:

First, Irving carefully assembled and forcefully presented a mass of evidence showing – perhaps more clearly than has ever been done before – just how the formidable “international endeavor” of Jewish activist organizations operates to smear and silence those who, like Irving, are regarded as threats to Jewish-Zionist interests. He traced a network of secretive collaboration involving the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Israel’s Yad Vashem center, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and even the US taxpayer-funded US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“It is quite evident,” Irving told the court, “that the ADL set itself the task of destroying my career, in concert with other similar organizations around the world, many of whom, if not all, collaborated with the Second Defendant [Lipstadt] in writing her book.” Unfortunately, he went on, “the real defendants in this case are not represented in this court.” Irving spoke bitterly of “this secret common enterprise, this frantic international endeavor to destroy my legitimacy as an historian and to deprive me of free speech ...” This “hidden network of Orwellian organizations,” he went on to warn, is “determined to ensure that no version of history of these matters of which they disapproved was [is] given currency, or indeed allowed to survive.”

A concrete and well-publicized expression of this “international endeavor” was the February 29 release by the Israeli government of a long-suppressed memoir written by Adolf Eichmann in 1960–62 while he was awaiting death in an Israeli prison. This memoir of some 1,300 pages (which, in spite of great media hype, contains nothing really new) was made public, at an opportune moment during the trial, at the request of Lipstadt and her legal team.

In dissecting the machinations of this global network, Irving has performed a great public service on behalf of free speech and free historical inquiry – benefiting even many who revile him.

Second, Irving brought out important evidence, some of it new, that challenges key aspects of the Holocaust extermination story. Building on earlier work of pioneer revisionist scholars, he took aim especially at claims of mass killings in the “gas chamber” of Auschwitz-Birkenau Krema II. All this has doubtless encouraged intelligent skepticism on the part of many around the world who had never before seriously questioned the Auschwitz gassing stories.

Evaluating Gas Chamber Evidence

“I have never held myself out to be a Holocaust expert,” Irving announced at the outset of the trial. “I have never claimed to be a Holocaust historian.” And Judge Gray, at the beginning of his April 11 ruling, declared that it is not “part of my function as the trial judge to make findings of fact as to what did and what did not occur during the Nazi regime.” But he then proceeded, page after page, to do precisely that. In the words of one London daily paper: “The judge started by saying it was not his job to decide what happened under the Nazis; he was a trial judge and not an historian. But, as he hurried through his main findings, that was exactly the role he assumed.” (The Independent, April 12)

Gray did grant that at the outset of the trial he had assumed that evidence of mass gassing in German wartime camps was abundant and compelling. “I have to confess,” he wrote in his judgment, “that, in common I suspect with most other people, I had supposed that the evidence of mass extermination of Jews in the gas chambers of Auschwitz was compelling. I have, however, set aside this preconception when assessing the evidence adduced by the parties in these proceedings.”

But in examining and evaluating the sometimes complex specific historical questions at issue in the trial, Judge Gray proved unable entirely to “set aside” his well-entrenched preconceptions and, as his own disclaimer might suggest, showed himself unequal to the task.

Thus, he concluded:

Having considered the various arguments advanced by Irving to assail the effect of the convergent evidence relied upon 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.

In his Opening Statement to the court, David Irving related that, at a meeting in Munich in April 1990, he had said that the “gas chamber” shown for decades to tourists in the Auschwitz I main camp is a fake. (Sept.–Dec. 1999 Journal, p. 22). Even though he was later fined by a German court for this provocative statement, it is, in fact, completely true. Remarkably, even Robert Van Pelt, a major defense witness in the Irving-Lipstadt trial, himself has acknowledged that this infamous “gas chamber” is actually a fraudulent postwar reconstruction. (See: R. Faurisson, “The ‘Gas Chamber’ of Auschwitz I,” Sept.–Dec. 1999 Journal, pp. 12–13.) In his detailed April 11 ruling, Judge Gray took no notice of the Auschwitz I “gas chamber” fraud – passing it over in silence.

Forensic Examinations of Auschwitz

A good portion of the trial proceedings, and of Judge Gray’s judgment, dealt with the Leuchter Report, the path-breaking 1988 on-site forensic examination of the alleged “gas chamber” facilities at Auschwitz (including Birkenau) by American gas chamber expert Fred Leuchter. (For more on this, see the Winter 1992–93 Journal of Historical Review.) When Irving testified as a witness for Ernst Zündel in the 1988 “Holocaust trial” in Toronto, the British historian cited the Leuchter Report as a crucial factor in his “conversion” to the view that there were no wartime homicidal German gas chambers.

An important aspect of the London courtroom debate on the Report focused on the crucial chemical-technical issue of blue “staining” in the brickwork of the alleged “gas chambers” at Birkenau camp produced by the interaction of hydrocyanic acid (from Zyklon) and iron compounds. Gray accepted as valid the defense contention that this “staining” could not have penetrated the brickwork more than the depth of a human hair. This contention is demonstrably incorrect. As several independent specialists have affirmed, similar blue “staining” visibly penetrated through the entire depth of brick walls of Auschwitz-Birkenau delousing (non-homicidal) gas chambers.

“I have not overlooked the fact,” Gray continued, “that Irving claimed that Leuchter’s findings have been replicated, notably in a report by German chemist Germar Rudolf. But that report was not produced at the trial so it is impossible for me to assess its evidential value.” Gray also mentioned that Irving had “produced a letter from the Institute for Historical Review” noting that other independent specialists had arrived at conclusions similar to those of Leuchter and Rudolf.

As Judge Gray pointed out, both Irving and defense witness Van Pelt agreed that in “about 1989” Polish authorities carried out forensic tests at Auschwitz that confirmed essential points of the Leuchter and Rudolf investigations. Judge Gray went on to state: “The results of these tests were not published.” In fact, the complete text of this secret Polish forensic institute investigation, with the test results, was published in the Summer 1991 Journal of Historical Review (as Gray himself had acknowledged in passing during the trial [Jan.–Feb. 2000 Journal, p. 54]).

No Roof Holes

Consistent with familiar Holocaust claims, expert witnesses for the defense testified that hundreds of thousands of Jewish prisoners were killed with poison gas (from Zyklon) in a “gas chamber” in “morgue cellar” 1 of Birkenau crematory building (Krema) II. In rejecting this and similar claims of mass killings with poison gas at Birkenau, Irving stressed that there are no roof holes or vents through which deadly Zyklon could have been introduced into the infamous “gas chamber.” Even defense witness Van Pelt acknowledged this crucial point, as Judge Gray noted in his judgment: “Irving produced a photograph which appears to show no sign of any hole in the roof. Van Pelt conceded in one of his supplementary reports that there is no sign of the holes.”

On this point alone, a key element of the Auschwitz extermination story collapses. As Irving so colorfully put it:

They [the defendants] know, and they knew from the outset, that I was right about that roof. Their entire case on Krema II – the untruth that it was used as a factory of death, with SS guards tipping canisters of cyanide-soaked pellets into the building through those four (non-existent) manholes – has caved in, as surely as has that roof.

Amazingly, though, Judge Gray nonetheless concluded:

... I consider that an objective historian, taking account of all the evidence, would conclude that the apparent absence of evidence of holes in the roof of [the] morgue at crematorium 2 falls far short of being a good reason for rejecting the cumulative effect of the evidence on which the defendants rely.

A David-Goliath Battle

In terms of manpower and financial resources, the Irving-Lipstadt clash was a David-Goliath battle. Whereas Irving acted as his own attorney, the Lipstadt-Penguin side employed some 20 courtroom lawyers and legal experts.

Irving’s adversaries were also fabulously better funded. According to British press reports, generous financial aid for the Lipstadt-Penguin defense came from the American Jewish Committee, Edgar Bronfman, Sr. (co-chairman of the giant Seagram’s company, and president of the World Jewish Congress), and Steven Spielberg (filmmaker and Jewish activist). “If that is not evidence of the global scale of the endeavor to destroy me,” commented Irving wryly, “I do not know what is.”

More than 543,000 pounds (about $841,650) was paid to defense experts and researchers for their testimony, reports and other help. Of this amount, Robert Jan Van Pelt received a staggering 109,244 pounds ($169,330), while Richard Evans, a Cambridge University historian, was paid 70,181 pounds ($109,482), and Peter Longerich received 76,195 pounds ($118,102). In addition, courtroom lawyer (barrister) fees totalled some 509,989 pounds ($790,482), of which Richard Rampton alone reportedly received half a million dollars.

Racist?

Responding to Judge Gray’s finding that he is a racist, Irving said:

My own feelings about race are precisely the same as 95 percent of the people of my generation ... If the British soldiers on the beaches of Normandy in 1944 could look forward to the end of the century and see what England has become, they would not have bothered to advance another 40 yards up the beach.

But by any objective measure of the term, Deborah Lipstadt must herself be considered a “racist.” As undisputed evidence presented during the trial established, she publicly opposes Jews marrying non-Jews, and supports discriminatory Jewish-Zionist supremacy in Israel.

Demonstrable Falsehoods

Even before the London trial, Lipstadt’s career had been flourishing. In addition to her position as a professor of “Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies” at Emory University in Atlanta, she recently served as an advisor to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Now, in the wake of her London courtroom victory, this 53-year-old Jewish scholar-activist is being awarded an honorary doctoral degree by New York City’s Yeshiva University for her “distinguished ... academic career and scholarship.”

In fact, she is a sloppy academic – more polemicist than scholar. “I regard Deborah Lipstadt more as an ethnic activist than a scholar,” said American professor Kevin MacDonald in his trial testimony. (See “An American Professor Responds to a ‘Jewish Activist’,” Jan.–Feb. 2000 Journal.)

Her Denying the Holocaust book is strewn with factual errors. In the London proceedings, Lipstadt and her lawyers made no effort to defend the more outrageous of her book’s falsehoods about Irving. In addition, the book is littered with many other demonstrably untrue statements. In her brief half-page discussion of Holocaust revisionism in Australia, for example, Denying the Holocaust contains several factual errors, as Australian civil rights attorney John Bennett has detailed. (“Lipstadt’s ‘Fine Scholarship’,” Nov.–Dec. 1993 Journal, pp. 48–49.)

A Threat to Historians

As Jewish writer D. D. Guttenplan pointed out in a recent Atlantic Monthly article on the Irving-Lipstadt clash, Jewish activist organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League have for decades routinely sought to stifle and punish historians – even such Jewish scholars as Raul Hilberg, Hannah Arendt and Arno Mayer – who deviate from the Jewish-Zionist “party line” on 20th century history. (Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 200, pp. 60–62.) As a result of such efforts, notes Guttenplan, “certain aspects of the Holocaust and its aftermath ... became not just controversial but unmentionable.”

“It isn’t only Holocaust deniers who twist facts [and] obscure the truth,” he added. “Time and time again those who insist on the truth in all its ‘complex, unsentimental,’ paradoxical, and ambiguous detail are shouted down.”

Now, in the wake of Irving’s courtroom defeat, Jewish activists are more emboldened than ever to intimidate or smear dissident scholars, and otherwise rigorously enforce the prevailing Zionist dogmatism. “A judgment rendered against me,” warned Irving in his Closing Statement, “will make this paralysis in the writing of history definitive ... Every historian will know that his critique needs to stop sharply at boundaries defined by certain authorities....”

He is not alone in sensing danger. “The news that David Irving has lost his libel case will send a tremor through the community of 20th-century historians,” wrote John Keegan, a prominent and prolific British Second World War historian, and military affairs editor for the London Daily Telegraph (April 12).

Suggesting that Judge Gray could have ruled either way in the case, depending on his own basic attitude toward to the dispute, Keegan wrote:

For more than a year now, the gossip between them [historians] has been about whether he [Irving] would lose or not ... “It all depends whether the judge goes for Holocaust denial or slurs on the reputation,” was the general view. “If the first he’ll lose, if the second he might get away with it.” What this insider talk meant was that Mr. Irving might well persuade the judge of the unfairness of Professor Lipstadt’s accusations of his bad historical method ...

“... Nothing but trouble comes of taking sides over Irving,” Keegan continued. “Decide against him, and his associates accuse one of prejudice.... Decide for him, and the smears start. I have written complimentary reviews of Irving’s work as a military historian to find myself posted on the Internet as a Nazi sympathizer.”

In spite of the opprobrium being heaped on Irving, Keegan had the courage to write:

... Mr. Irving’s performance [in court] was very impressive. He is a large, strong, handsome man, excellently dressed, with the appearance of a leading QC [“Queens Counsel” lawyer]. He performs well as a QC also, asking, in a firm but courteous voice, precise questions which demonstrate his detailed knowledge of an enormous body of material ... His skill as an archivist cannot be contested.

... There are really two Irvings. There is Irving the researcher and most of Irving the writer, who sticks to the facts and makes eloquent sense of them. Then there is Irving the thinker, who lets insecurities, imagined slights and youthful resentments bubble up from within him to cloud his mind ... He has, in short, many of the qualities of the most creative historians. He is certainly never dull.

Prof. Lipstadt, by contrast, seems as dull as only the self-righteously politically correct can be. Few other historians had ever heard of her before this case. Most will not want to hear from her again. Mr. Irving, if he will only learn from this case, still has much that it interesting to tell us.

Donald Cameron Watt, another eminent British historian (author, for example, of the detailed study, How War Came: The Immediate Origins of the Second World War) echoed Keegan’s assessment, specifically noting that historians are uneasy about the trial, that Penguin had been “out for blood,” and that “the truth needs Irving’s challenges to keep it alive.” Remarking on the close scrutiny to which Irving and his writings had been subjected, Watt commented: “Show me one historian who has not broken out into a cold sweat at the thought of undergoing similar treatment.”

“For what it is worth,” Watt went on, “I admire some of Mr. Irving’s work as a historian ... He has ... an encyclopedic knowledge of the truly enormous mass of German documentation ... No book of his has ever failed to come up with new evidence.”

Keegan and Watt were not the only historians to reject the assertion loudly and repeatedly made by Lipstadt and Jewish activist organizations that Irving does not deserve to be regarded as a historian. As Watt noted, a recent survey of leading American and British historians found that a “large majority” agreed that Irving is “a historian ‘of repute’.” Only “those who identify with the victims of the Holocaust” disagreed, added Watt. The eminent American scholar of German history, Gordon Craig (as well as British-American writer Christopher Hitchens) also hold that, in spite of his eccentricities and sometimes annoyingly contrarian views, Irving is an valuable historian.

John Charmley, one of Britain’s finest younger generation historians, recently wrote to Irving: “... In the area I am competent to talk about, namely Churchill, although I don’t always agree with your conclusions, I am always impressed by the rigor and range of your scholarship ... there are few historians with your record for turning up new and relevant documents.”

Even Judge Gray expressed admiration for his ability as a historian and his skill in the court room. “As a military historian,” declared Gray in his judgment,

Irving has much to commend him. For his works of military history Irving has undertaken thorough and painstaking research into the archives.... It was plain from the way in which he conducted his case and dealt with a sustained and penetrating cross-examination that his knowledge of World War Two is unparalleled. His mastery of the detail of the historical documents is remarkable. He is beyond question able and intelligent. He was invariably quick to spot the significance of documents which he had not previously seen. Moreover, he writes his military history in a clear and vivid style. I accept the favorable assessment by Professor Watt and Sir John Keegan of the caliber of Irving’s military history ...

Implacable Hatred

As he entered the courtroom on April 11 to hear Judge Gray read out his ruling, enraged bystanders threw several eggs at Irving, one of which hit him. In his ruling, Gray seemed to excuse or justify just such incidents. “I can well understand too, that because of his perceived views, Irving and his family have from time to time been subjected to extreme pressure, for example, when his flat was besieged by rioters in 1994.”

Much more ominous than the relatively harmless egg-throwing incident is the implacable hatred harbored by many Jews against Irving and all those who openly defy Jewish-Zionist interests. At a recent meeting in Los Angeles, Deborah Lipstadt called Irving “a contemporary Amalek,” referring to the traditional biblical foe of the Jews. (Jerusalem Post, May 2). Similarly, in an essay about the trial distributed worldwide by a major Jewish news agency, Rela Mintz Geffen, who teaches at Gratz College near Philadelphia, wrote: “Deborah Lipstadt’s work reminds us, as the Torah does in its passage about Amalek, of the importance of memory. In my opinion, it is David Irving and his ilk who should beware.” (JTA dispatch, March 21).

For devout Jews, such words are very serious. According to the Torah (Exodus 17:16, Deuteronomy 25:17, 1 Samuel 15:3–20), the Jewish god called on the ancient Hebrews to “smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and women, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” Accordingly, we are told, the early Jews “utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.” Even today, Jews are admonished never to forget their emblematic enemy, and to wage “war with Amalek from generation to generation” – that is, forever. The inference some will surely (and reasonably) draw here is that Irving and “his ilk” deserve to be killed.

In this same spirit, a high-ranking Israeli government official has publicly suggested that “Holocaust deniers” deserve to be put to death. Rabbi Michael Melchior, Israel’s Minister “for Israeli Society and World Jewish Communities,” said that Judge Gray’s judgment “delivered the message that Holocaust deniers should be regarded alongside the worst of the Nazis.” (London Times, April 12) As the world knows, “the worst of the Nazis” were shot or hanged.

Another high-level Zionist official called for what amounts to a worldwide travel ban on anyone who publicly disputes Holocaust extermination claims. Israel’s ambassador to Britain, Dror Zeigerman called on Australia and other countries to bar Irving and “other members of the Holocaust denial movement.” (AAP dispatch, The Australian, April 13.)

While the judgment in the Irving-Lipstadt trial is certainly a heavy blow for Irving personally, it is only a temporary setback for the ultimately unstoppable march of revisionist scholarship. Irving’s courtroom defeat and its resulting worldwide publicity underscore the vital importance of the work done by the Institute for Historical Review and by those heroic scholars who, at sometimes great personal cost, have been fighting for truth and accuracy in history – even its most politicized, emotion-laden chapters – and struggling against the efforts of those who, for whatever tribal or sectarian concerns, seek to stifle free historical inquiry.


Source: Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 19, no. 2, p. 2.


Published with permission, courtesy of the Institute for Historical Review (IHR).

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