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The Holocaust History Project.


In 1993 Greg Raven and Mark Weber began a battle to wrest control of the IHR from Willis Carto. And one fine morning the new proprietors of the IHR awoke to discover - just as they were to emerge victorious from their legal battles with Willis Carto -- to discover that there were no longer dependable herds sheep to be sheared. While they had spent all their energy fighting Carto the two constituencies of the IHR had evaporated. The struggle had poisoned the well with nativist anti-Semites who had remained loyal to Carto and the needs of the IHR's pro-Nazi wing had not been met. Circulation of the IHR's premier but sporadic publication -- the Journal of Historical Review -- had dropped from about 6,000 to about 300 and no new books were being published (Germar Rudolf; "Is the Ship Sinking?")

  To add to the woes of the IHR, the credibility of David Irving - their only spokesman with a mainstream reputation -- vanished overnight when he lost a defamation action against Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University. In reality the credibility of Holocaust denial with American audiences, rested squarely on the shoulders of David Irving, the de facto carnival barker for Holocaust denial. Holocaust denial, like any confidence scheme, requires not only a credulous audience but a credible spokesman with a plausible line of patter. It was Irving whose books were issued by mainstream publishers. It was Irving whose books were available in major bookstores. It was Irving whose books were reviewed in both scholarly and popular publications. And it was Irving who was not challenged as am expert by the media when questions about Hitler arose. No other denier had this facade of respectability. Without Irving Holocaust denial appeared to be a lunatic fringe to American audiences -- a collection of cranks with strange accents and even stranger ideas. If they were studied at all it was by the same scholars who perused the writings of Ignatius Donnelly or William Glen Voliva.

  The loss in court was a bitter defeat made even more bitter by the lengthy and detailed opinion issued by the British court. With the detached precision of a pathologist dissecting a tumor, the decision exposed Irving as a racist and anti-Semite who twisted history and falsifies documents to rehabilitate the reputation of Adolf Hitler. This was a public relations debacle from which Irving could not and would not recover. Sir Ian Kershaw, the noted biographer of Hitler, summed up the situation in the London Times (July 7, 2002 ):

  . . . in the court-room drama of spring 2000, history itself was on trial. Those who thought otherwise, and that a law court was not the place to determine issues of historical knowledge and interpretation, were mistaken. The rules of evidence in a law-suit are tougher than those conventionally applied in an article for a historical journal. This was all the more reason why the denial of the systematic mass murder of the Jews needed to be shown, through the most rigorous historical method, to be false. For, in the event of an Irving victory, those who, for pernicious reasons, insisted that the Holocaust was a massive historical hoax would have gained enormous legitimation for their case.



Last modified: September 5, 2002
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