The Holocaust Historiography Project

From the Editor

Ted O’Keefe

This fortieth issue of The Journal of Historical Review, capping a decade of publication (with one year’s “sabbatical") could be called the “David Irving issue.” In three separate, full-length articles the Englishman gives a masterly display of his versatility as an historian. The dogged prospector for original sources, the merciless discreditor of the forgeries on which the Establishment has based its historical distortions, the defier of censorship and repression, and the dazzling public performer: all these Irvings are on display in this issue of The JHR.

Irving’s revised introduction to the new, condensed American edition of Hitler’s War, reprinted here with his permission, cuts a wide swath through an array of documentary fakes long relied on by other Hitler biographers. Just as important, it covers a good deal of the giant step Irving has taken over the past two years, from his already dissident position on Hitler’s ignorance of the alleged Holocaust to the full-fledged Revisionist position on the gas chambers.

Just as Irving’s unconventional findings on the Hitler years will challenge revisionist and non-revisionist alike, his bravura account of the last days of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel will again stoke the fires of controversy ignited by his Trail of the Fox. That brilliant biography was hailed by serious researchers when it appeared in 1977 for its exploitation of new sources and its relentless debunking of the myth, fostered by West German and Anglo-American circles, of Rommel the unreservedly anti-Hitler plotter and (uniquely) upright opponent. (Readers should note that citations in smaller type size are taken directly from The Trail of the Fox; in other cases, Irving has condensed or paraphrased his sources.)

Then Mark Weber, who will be joining IHR’s staff in Southern California in the new year, reviews a period of extraordinary gains for Historical Revisionism in his keynote address to the Tenth Conference. As Weber demonstrates, the collapse of the Soviet system in East-Central Europe and the impending break-up of the Soviet Union, with the complete discrediting of Communism as its concomitant, have momentous implications for setting straight the past record, in the “democratic” West as well the East. No less important, as Weber shows, has been the steady advance of Holocaust Revisionism, which has won new allies and new influence, and the corresponding retreat of the Exterminationists, who have been driven to unheard-of concessions during the past year.

Fred Leuchter, who changed history with the two reports that bear his name, reveals the full extent of the frenzied persecution which alien terrorist Beate Klarsfeld has whistled up against him: economic boycott, punitive legislation, and prosecution for daring to give his professional assessment of the alleged gas chambers of Auschwitz, Majdanek, Dachau, and Mauthausen. America’s leading expert in the design and maintenance of execution systems shows the mettle and reveals some of the strategy by which he intends to hang tough (sorry, but no pun intended) against Klarsfeld and her coven of witch-hunters.

As Mark Weber pointed out in his review of French pharmacist Jean-Claude Pressac’s Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers (in the Summer 1990 JHR), Pressac’s attempt to defend the Auschwitz myth by publishing and analyzing a wealth of never-before-published documents from Auschwitz has rendered important, if unintentional, service to Revisionism. Carlo Mattogno supplies what will be the first of several in-depth examinations of Pressac’s findings to appear in the JHR with a painstaking analysis of Pressac’s procrustean efforts to square some of the most influential “eye- witness” testimony on the alleged gas chambers with the facts. Mattogno’s demolition of both the celebrated Vrba-Wetzler testimony and of Pressac’s attempts to salvage it by explaining away some of its manifest absurdities is a tour de force, the initial revisionist counter to an exterminationist gambit that portends eventual checkmate to the exploiters of the gas-chamber lie.

Nor is that the only battering the Auschwitz myth takes in this fortieth issue: David Irving (whose father was a Royal Navy admiral) turns his guns on what he calls the “Battleship Auschwitz” (we can’t italicize “Auschwitz” until it’s properly commissioned by breaking a bottle of champagne against the wall of Crematorium I). In his informal, and often hilarious remarks to the Tenth Conference, Irving shares a few of the secrets of the lonely trade of the independent historian, above all eye-opening revelations from the mouths of the court historians on the phoniness which enshrouds the official version. Sink the Auschwitz! (By the way, we hope readers will profit from the entertaining and informative rundown of David Irving’s career with which conference emcee Mark Weber introduced our extraordinary guest.)

These important articles left room for a single review, Jack Wikoff’s deft deflation of a pop-psychological attempt to grapple with wartime propaganda, which is nevertheless, according to our reviewer, not without its merits.

Last but not least is a tribute to the late A. J. P. Taylor, the immensely influential English historian whose classic Origins of the Second World War, published in 1961, was the first attempt by an Establishment historian to apportion responsibility for the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 objectively. According to Harry Elmer Barnes, the publication of that classic (still available for purchase from the Institute for Historical Review) “must be regarded as one of the most courageous acts in the whole history of historical writing.” Sam Konkin’s brief valedictory pays homage to the virtues of this last exemplar of the values of classical liberalism.

Source: Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 387, 486, 508.