Thursday, March 5, 2009

Letter in NY Times on Irving "the historian"

I have a letter in today's New York Times. I was not surprised when I learned that so-called Bishop Williamson's first stop in the UK was to consult with David Irving. Birds of a feather flock together...

I was surprised that the Times chose to describe Irving as an historian.

To the Editor:

“Vatican Calls the Apology of a Bishop Insufficient” (news article, Feb. 28) reports that the Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson has consulted with David Irving. Mr. Irving is a fitting partner for him.

Strangely, Mr. Irving is described in the article as a “historian.” When he sued me for libel for calling him a Holocaust denier, the court ruled that his “falsification of the historical record was deliberate” and motivated by “ideological beliefs,” including anti-Semitism and racism.

The judge called Mr. Irving’s writings on the Holocaust “misleading,” “unjustified,” a “travesty” and “unreal.” He “perverts” and “distorts.” This is not the description of a historian. It is the description of a denier.

Deborah E. Lipstadt
Washington, Feb. 28, 2009

The writer is a professor of modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University.


Shoneen said...

I think that the unholy alliance between Irving and Williamson is based on something more than Holocaust denial or anti-Semitism. Irrespective of their views on these particular issues, both men appear to be members of a particular, rather unpleasant reactionary strand of British political opinion.

It may be that Williamson sees Irving as a kindred spirit, and vice versa, not merely because of their shared views on the Nazis (let alone shared religious views - Irving doesn't appear to be religiously observant). It's more because they both stand for a nostalgia for a vanished Britain where the King was on his throne, the Pound was worth a Pound, people said "please" and "thank you", women knew their place, and one didn't have to watch a black man reading the news on ITN.

Both men are in their 60s. With any luck, theirs will be the last generation to carry this poisonous nostalgia with them.

Diogo said...

How would you answer to the Austrian Catholic pastor Viktor R. Knirsch?:

“It is the right and the duty of everyone who seeks the truth to doubt, investigate and consider all available evidence. Wherever this doubting and investigating is forbidden; wherever authorities demand unquestioning belief – there is evidence of a profane arrogance, which arouses our suspicions. If those whose contentions are questioned had truth on their side, they would patiently answer all questions. Certainly they would not continue to conceal evidence and documents which pertain to the controversy. If those who demand belief are lying, however, they will call for a judge. By this ye shall know them. He who tells the truth is calm and composed, but he who lies demands worldly justice.”

Toby said...

In fairness, the great military historian John Keegan included Irving's book "Hitler's War" in list of 50 books for recommended reading on WWII (see Keegan's own "Second World War[Penguin]"). Keegan said it is "one of the five or six most important books about the period", describing how Hitler directed the Nazi war effort.

A sort of left-handed tribute is given by the description "the autobiography Hitler did not write". Perhaps it should be linked with the works of Albert Speer or the Goebbels diaries as interesting, monstrously fascinating even, but ultimately biased and self-serving. Yet still required reading for anyone who wants to study Hitler and the Nazis.

Personally, I am not that interested in the subject matter to bother.

Philosemite said...

Please note that Diogo (above) is himself a Portuguese negationist and manages one of the most vicious blogs "Um Homem Das Cidades".

He has this article about you
"Zionist psychological terrorism in an American universty" (Terrorismo psicológico sionista numa universidade americana)

He wants to pass as a serious scholar/historian:

"Reacting to a cartoon comparing the Palestinian West bank to a Nazi ghetto by a young student, Dylan Woodliff, ... Ms. Deborah Esther Lipstadt completely smashes the ill-advised student in three posts.

He then goes on to translate with great care your posts and finishes with a comment :

"Maintaining the awareness of the systematic massacre of Jews in schools"

Which of course he considers to be a crime.

He has a link to you on his blog roll... He is a refined man.

heather said...

Thank you Deborah. For the first time in my life, I have been called a perpetuator of the Holohoax and I am stunned. As the biographer of the 716th woman in Auschwitz, whose book was endorsed by the Museum of Women Oscweicm back in 1996, it is startling. I posted a Letter to Bishop Williamson on YouTube and the response has been chaotic, from supporters to deniers, mostly deniers! How did this happen? Thank you for fighting the good fight, Heather Dune Macadam, co-author of Rena's Promise

David said...

How would I answer ?

Probably something like, "What does it feel like to know that the only thing about you most people in the world know is that your words are being used by Holocaust deniers in their own defense? How does that make your Austrian soul feel?"

dan said...

Heather, that is an amazing note you posted and wow, how sad! But we have to realize that the sickness of antisemitism is out there everywhere and has been for a long time. You post a good video on Youtube and the deniers come out in spades! I believe it. They do it everytime.

Back in 1985, I wrote a sweet, innocent children's book titled "Bubbie and Zadie Come to My House" and the New York Times wrote a cute feature story about this particular bubbie and zadie, reporter was Nadine Brozan at the Times, and I was in Alaska at the time, and the Times printed a snail mail address where Jewish children were invited to write special handwritten Hannukah letters to this imaginary Bubbie and Zadie, and as soon as the Times printed the post office box in Nome where I lived then, dozens of sick hateful antisemitic letters came in, unsigned of course, and with no return address on any of the the envelopes, of course, and all the letters said the same things over and over: "Hitler should have gassed all of you murderous Jews" and things like that."

Really! From a sweet innocent cute children's book featured in a major newspaper. 1985. Nothing has changed. In fact, with the Internet, now, hate mail and hate posts are par for the course.

I understand how you feel. How sad it is. Antisemitism is really such a sick sick disease of modern Christianity and the West. Living in Asia since 1991, I never see antisemitism anymore, except on the Internet. And then I try to ignore that crap. UGH!


German Superior of the SSPX, Father Franz Schmidberger, takes distance from Bishop Williamson and repeats the institutional views:

4. The bishops are bound by the eighth commandment, which reads: "Thou shalt not give false testimony." We therefore urge the Episcopal Conference to take back the defamatory accusation of anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish sentiments within the SSPX. In the Williamson affair, the SSPX Superiors have reacted immediately. The German District has stated immediately after the publication of the unspeakable statements clearly and unambiguously condemned any kind of trivialisation of Nazi crimes and apologised to those who were injured by the statements. We would again point out that the father of Archbishop Lefebvre lost his life in Sonnenburg Concentration Camp.