The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

David Irving on 'Ausrotten'

One of the first tasks which any Holocaust-denier must undertake is to explain, if Hitler never intended to exterminate the Jews, why he said so repeatedly in public.

On January 30, 1939, speaking before the Reichstag:

Today I want to be a prophet once more: if international finance Jewry inside and outside of Europe should succeed once more in plunging nations into another world war, the consequence will not be the Bolshevation of the earth and thereby the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.

September, 1942:

...if Jewry should plot another world war in order to exterminate the Aryan peoples in Europe, it would not be the Aryan people which would be exterminated but Jewry...

November 8, 1942:

You will recall the session of the Reichstag during which I declared: if Jewry should imagine that it could bring about an international world war to exterminate the European races, the result will not be the extermination of the European races, but the extermination of Jewry in Europe. People always laughed about me as a prophet. Of those who laughed then, countless numbers no longer laugh today, and those who still laugh now will perhaps no longer laugh a short time from now.

RAThe phrase "annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe" in the 1939 speech is, in German, die Vernichtung der jüdischen Rasse in Europa. This is unambiguous; and there is no question as to its proper translation, even from Holocaust-deniers. If your computer supports RealAudio, you can listen to that portion of the speech, as it was excerpted in the Nazi propaganda film Der Ewige Jude.

But David Irving says of these speeches, and other Hitler speeches, that Hitler's meaning was not really extermination. The German word for "exterminate" and "extermination," in the 1942 speeches, is ausrotten. According to German dictionaries, it means one thing and one thing only when referring to living beings: to kill. (See next page.) The nature of the killing is often rendered as "exterminate" or "extirpate" in English, but the meaning is the same: to kill.

Yet Irving, who is fluent in German, claims that:

it really means "stamping out" or "rooting out." For example, Irving (1977) translates a conversation between Hitler and Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi Reich Minister for the Eastern Occupied Territories. In the Rosenberg's discussion of handling the Jews, Irving infers "stamping out" for the word ausrotten, and then concludes that Rosenberg meant transporting Jews out of the Reich (p. 356n).

The above is from an article in Skeptic magazine by Dr. Michael Shermer, who interviewed Irving in 1994.

When confronted with a native-speaking professor of German who informed Shermer that the word did mean "exterminate," Irving's response was:

The word ausrotten means one thing now in 1994, but it meant something very different in the time Adolf Hitler uses it.

How does Irving know this? Let's start with what he told Shermer in 1994:

Different words mean different things when uttered by different people. What matters is what that word meant when uttered by Hitler. I would first draw attention to the famous memorandum on the four-years plan of August, 1936. In that Adolf Hitler says, "we are going to have to get our armed forces in a fighting state within four years so that we can go to war with the Soviet Union. If the Soviet Union should ever succeed in overrunning Germany it will lead to the Ausrottung [1] of the German people." There's that word. There is no way that Hitler can mean the physical liquidation of 80 million Germans. What he means is that it will lead to the emasculation of the German people as a power factor.

By extension, Mr. Irving is saying that when Hitler spoke of the "Ausrottung" of the Jewish people, he meant only that they would be "emasculated ... as a power factor."

Ten years earlier, Irving had said very nearly the same thing at the 1983 "International Revisionist conference" of the IHR. You can find a complete transcript of his speech on the CODOH website. He said:

I made a card index of every instance where he used that word in the 1930s. About 15 documented instances. Look at his memorandum on the Four Year Plan of August 1936. [...] in that document is the following phrase: The Wehrmacht has got to be ready in four years to fight the Soviet Union (which is significant, because he's only ever looking eastwards) because if the Soviet Union should ever succeed in invading and conquering Germany it will end with the "Ausrottung" [1] of the German people, of the German Volk. And I say to the historians: Is Hitler really saying here that if the Soviet Union succeeds in invading all Germany and conquering them, it's going to end up with the liquidation, the murder, of 80 million Germans? Of course he's not: he's just saying it means the end of Germany.

Again, Irving argues by comparison that Hitler only referred to "the end" of the Jewish religion or Jewish culture, not necessarily to the murder of millions of Jewish people.

Irving makes a good argument. The only trouble is, it just isn't true.

And since Irving has paid such close attention to where Hitler has used that word, he surely knows it isn't true.

(Please continue to the next page.)

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