Encyclopedia > David Irving

  Article Content

David Irving

David Irving (born 1938) is the most accomplished and successful proponents of Holocaust revisionism. He was a self-taught historian without academic connections who for a time was a leading British scholar of World War II.

Irving was particularly noted for his mastery of the voluminous and confused German war records, but he lost his reputation after he unsuccessfully sued another scholar, Deborah Lipstadt[?] and her publishers,Penguin Books[?], who identified him as a Holocaust denier. Up to the trial, his works had been accepted, although they were noted for their sympathetic view of German actions in the Hitler regime.

Among other things, he has denied that the Germans exterminated Jews in gas chambers during World War II and claimed that The Diary of Anne Frank was a forgery.

Among the Holocaust revisionists, Irving is perhaps the only one who for some time managed to keep up the reputation of a serious, if controversial, historian. Today, few share that view of him.

After working in a steel mill in the Ruhr and learning German, Irving wrote his first book, The Destruction of Dresden (1963). He was 25 years old. The book examined the Allied bombing of Dresden during the final months of World War II. By the 1960s, a debate about the morality of the strategic bombing of German cities and civilian population had already begun, especially in the UK. Hence, the public was receptive to Irving's persuasively written book, illustrated with gruesome pictures. The book became a best seller.

Irving's figures for deaths in Dresden, which he reported at from 130,000 to more than 200,000, were an order of magnitude higher than anyone else's. Nonetheless, these figures became widely accepted and were repeated in many standard references and encyclopedias. It was not until Irving's trial for libel that the figures were discredited. See the Dresden bombing article for more information on casualty figures.

At first publication, many historians agreed that the fire bombing of Dresden was open to criticism, but took note of the pro-German tone of Irving's book. Yet, at this time, Irving's credentials as a British historian of generally democratic views were not rarely challenged.

After the Dresden book, Irving shifted to writing biographies, demonstrating a flair for a writing. He tended to be at pains to find positive aspects of Nazi officials, although not openly endorsing them. Aging formerly mid-ranked Nazis saw a potential friend in Irving, and donated diaries and other material. This enabled Irving to claim he was a serious historian, publishing original material.

A good example of Irving's writing style is the biography of Goering. The book tends to ignore Goering's role in the Holocaust and his greedy theft of art treasures. Instead a wealth of information is given about Goering's jovial personality and brighter aspects, such as his outlawing of vivsection and promotion of reforestation. Various incidents are presented as proof that he always disliked the persecution of Jews and other Nazi crimes. Flow of language and a wealth of entertaining anecodotes made it yet another good seller.

Later, David Irving began lecturing to far right wing groups. In addition, statements about the suposed nonexistence of gas chambers moved him from murky to clearly revisionist territory. As a result, organized Jewry and others became openly hostile to Irving and managed to persuade major book houses to refuse to publish Irving's work. Irving's response was to engage in a libel suit against Deborah Lipstedt, who had criticized him as fraudulent and a Nazi apologist. Not surprisingly, Irving lost the suit and is liable to pay the substantial costs of the trial, which is likely to ruin him. In addition, many felt that Lipstedt's counsellors were able to show that Irving's supposed scholarship was severly flawed. Irving remains an icon of the holocaust revisionist camp, but fights an increasingly lonely battle.

Irving Bibliography

  • The Destruction of Dresden, published in (1963)
  • The Mare's Nest (1964), a study of German secret weapons of World War II
  • The Virus House (1967), about the German atomic bomb project
  • The Destruction of Convoy PQ17 (1967), Irving lost a libel action regarding this book
  • Accident -- The Death of General Sikorski (1967), which charged Winston Churchill with ordering the assassination of the Polish Prime Minister in exile, Wladyslaw Siskorski[?], in 1943.
  • Hitler's War (1977), Hitler in wartime
  • The Trail of the Fox (1977), a biography of Gen. Erwin Rommel
  • The War Path (1978), companion volume to Hitler's War covering events leading up to the war.
  • The War Between the Generals (1981), a study of differences among Hitler's commanders
  • Uprising! (1981), about the 1956 revolt in Hungary, which Irving characterized as "primarily an anti-Jewish uprising" because he believed the Communist regime was controlled by Jews.
  • Churchill's War (1987)
  • Göring (1989), biography of Hermann Goering
  • Goebbels -- Mastermind of the "Third Reich" (1996)
  • Hitler's War (1991), revised edition, incorporating The War Path
  • Nuremburg: The Last Battle (1996)

About Irving

  • Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial by Richard J. Evans. ISBN 0465021522

External Links

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article
Quadratic formula

... x, both of which are real. (Geometrically, this means that the parabola intersects the x-axis in two points.) If the discriminant is negative, then there are two ...

This page was created in 23.2 ms