The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david//reviews/showalter-hitlers-war

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: [Repost] Real Historians on Irving: Dennis E. Showalter

[Originally posted by Rich Graves 
as <>, October 21, 1996]

This article is two decades old, written before Irving raised the wrath 
of "the Jews" by testifying at Zundel's trial. Irving claims he was held 
in great esteem right up until that point. Indeed, in this article, 
Showalter says, "Irving is neither a closet revisionist nor a covert 
anti-Semite." Wherever Showalter is now, I'm sure he's eating those 
words. But my point here is, even before people considered him a 
Holocaust denier and an overt anti-Semite, he was judged a very poor 

Dennis E. Showalter. "Book Review -- David Irving. *Hitler's War*." *The 
American Historical Review*, Vol. 82, No. 5 (Dec. 1977), p. 1281.

Dennis Showalter is a professor at Colorado College.

"...Irving's argument can be criticized on two levels. He overlooks, 
instead of refuting, Lucy Dawidowicz's argument that Hitler's language 
was Aesopian, concealing the reality of extermination behind the 
rhetoric of expulsion. He also discounts the evidence that, however 
twisted the road to Auschwitz may have been, concrete decisions 
implementing the Final Solution were taken, and these decisions involved 
Adolf Hitler. Irving emphasizes the difficulty of establishing precise 
documentatary connections between Hitler's anti-Semitism and the 
extermination of the Jews until the process was virtually completed. But 
while the Third Reich has been compared to every form of government from 
European feudalism to Oriental despotism, another analogy suggests 
itself -- the Mafia structure as commonly visualized. On certain 
sensitive issues the Godfather's will is understood and implemented with 
little need for formal instructions!

"The general thrust of Irving's work also contradicts his interpretation 
of the Final Solution. Unlike the scholars who stress the *limits* of 
Hitler's power, Irving takes pains to show that the war was Hitler's war 
>from  start to finish. He overrode all opposition from the *Wehrmacht*, 
the party, or the foreign office. He alone knit together the threads of 
intelligence and strategy, production and aollocation. In this context, 
even given the increasing autonomy of the "SS state," could subordinates 
have so completely concealed for so long the elaborate apparatus of the 
death camps from the Fuhrer?

"It would be unfortunate if *Hitler's War* were to be judged solely on 
its treatment of the Holocaust; Irving is neither a closet revisionist 
nor a covert anti-Semite. [sic] The key weakness of the book is 
professional, not polemic. It tends to push every bit of evidence to the 
limits of credibility, and the Jewish issue is only one example.... To 
cite further examples of Irving's approach would only belabor the point. 
*Hitler's War* is essentially a nine-hundred-page seminar paper of the 
kind often produced by intelligent beginning graduate students. It is a 
work too clever by half, and certainly too clever to be sound history."

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