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Holocaust Research: How Accurate Is the 2016 Movie "Denial"?

mikegriffith1

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The 2016 movie Denial, starring Rachel Weisz, has been nearly universally hailed as an important, educational film. Amazon's description of the movie says that "Deborah E. Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) battles for historical truth when renowned Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall) sues her for libel." IMDB puts it this way: "Acclaimed writer and historian Deborah E. Lipstadt must battle for historical truth to prove the Holocaust actually occurred when David Irving, a renowned denier, sues her for libel."

In actuality, the movie presents a severely distorted portrayal of the controversy and trial between Lipstadt and Irving.

This is an awkward post for me to write, partly because I am extremely pro-Israeli and have a great love for all things Jewish. I speak Hebrew and spent a wonderful summer in Israel.

But I must say that the movie is very misleading. It presents a warped, almost-fictional portrayal of the trial and that events that led up to it. Anyone who takes the time to read just the closing arguments and the judge's ruling will readily see how misleading and unfair this movie is.

Let's start with the fact that Irving proved at the trial that Lipstadt had twice admitted in writing before the trial that he had not denied the Holocaust but that he believed that Himmler initiated the Holocaust. I quote from handwritten notes that Lipstadt wrote in a 1994 lecture, which Irving entered into evidence at the trial:

“Irving denies that Hitler was responsible for the murder of European Jewry. Rather, he claims that Himmler was responsible. But he does not deny its occurrence."

Ten years earlier, Lipstadt said much the same thing in a research proposal for Israeli scholar Yehuda Bauer. I quote from the proposal, which Irving also introduced at the trial:

". . . those such as David Irving who do not deny that the Holocaust took place but seek to shift the blame to others.”

Yet, Lipstadt let her lawyers argue in court that Irving had denied the Holocaust, and the judge had to use a greatly expanded definition of "Holocaust denial" to find Irving guilty of it.

Specifically, Irving's position has long been that approximately 3 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, that Himmler initiated the Holocaust, that Hitler learned of it in 1943 (and perhaps earlier) and did nothing to stop it, and that Hitler was legally responsible for it because he was the head of state. A big problem with Irving's position is that he does not believe that gas chambers were the main method of killing, and that most of the Jews who died at Auschwitz were not killed by gassing but by other methods.

I disagree with Irving about Auschwitz, and I believe the number of Jews killed was closer to 6 million. However, acknowledging that 3 million Jews were murdered and that Hitler was at least legally responsible as head of state does not sound like Holocaust denial to me. And, again, Lipstadt herself admitted twice in writing before the trial that Irving had not denied the Holocaust. The movie doesn't say a word about any of this.

This is just one of many examples of the movie's distortions and omissions. Here are some other examples:

-- The movie never mentions that even the judge conceded that Lipstadt and her allies had made false statements about Irving, and some of them were egregious. For instance, in her book on Holocaust denial, Lipstadt falsely claimed that Irving had justified the imprisonment of Jews in Nazi concentration camps. Lipstadt's legal team never even tried to defend this slander during the trial.

-- The movie fails to mention that Lipstadt's legal team made no effort to defend her false claim that in 1992 Irving was scheduled to speak at an anti-Zionist conference in Sweden that was to be attended by members of two notorious radical Muslim terrorist groups (Hezbollah and Hamas).

-- The movie fails to mention that one of Lipstadt's allies and confidants, Anthony Lerman, spread the slanderous claim that Irving had supplied the trigger mechanism for the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

-- Another fact omitted in the movie is that Lipstadt's legal team painted a misleading picture of Irving's appearance at a rally in Halle, Germany, where neo-Nazis in the crowd were chanting pro-Hitler slogans. They failed to mention that a video taken of Irving's speech at the rally showed that Irving visibly and audibly rebuked those who were chanting pro-Hitler slogans. Irving's critics in Australia provided Australian TV stations with a heavily edited version of this video, a version that omitted Irving's rebuke of the neo-Nazis, giving the false impression that he approved of the chants.

Let's be clear: David Irving is not a sympathetic character. He has made offensive statements, especially about Jews. He has picked foolish, needless fights, such as arguing over the authenticity of one of the exhibits at Auschwitz because it's a replica or arguing there's a big difference between the words "exterminated" and "destroyed" in reference to violence against humans. He has voiced rude criticisms of Holocaust survivors. On a few occasions, he has appeared on the same stage with unsavory characters (although he did not voice agreement with their views). He publicly promoted the Leuchter Report without mentioning any of the serious problems with the report, problems that he acknowledged in private correspondence with fellow revisionists.

However, all this being said, Irving is not the hateful ogre that the movie portrays him to be. On several occasions, Irving has publicly told Holocaust deniers/radical revisionists that they are wrong for claiming that fewer than one million Jews were killed by the Nazis. He has also condemned extremist neo-Nazi groups and other groups that deny the Holocaust, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Most important, Irving has not denied the Holocaust, and he has not portrayed Hitler in a positive light when you consider everything he has said on the subject. Although Irving has minimized Hitler's role in certain criminal actions, especially relating to the Holocaust, he has also said that Hitler was ultimately responsible for the Holocaust and that Hitler may have known about it earlier than 1943. Moreover, Irving has condemned Hitler's conduct in numerous cases and has discussed most of Hitler's crimes in his books. But Irving has also argued, in agreement with recognized historians such as A.J.P. Taylor, that Hitler was not solely responsible for starting WW II, that England was at least partly responsible for starting the war, and that on some occasions Allied conduct during and after the war was barbaric.

Let's put it this way: If you knew nothing about Hitler and Nazi Germany and then read Irving's books, you would come away with a very negative view of Hitler and the Third Reich. You might not view Hitler as the worst monster on the planet in that time period, but you would definitely view him as an evil, immoral man who caused enormous death, suffering, and destruction. You would also learn information about the war that most books on the subject do not discuss.

Even some leading historians have acknowledged that Irving's books contain enlightening discoveries and important information. Even the trial judge, Justice Charles Gray, was willing to acknowledge Irving's expertise and contributions to historical research. I quote from the judge's decision:

"As Evans acknowledged, Irving has uncovered much new material about the Third Reich. He has researched documents not previously visited by historians, for example the Himmler papers in Washington and the Goebbels diaries in Moscow. He has tracked down and interviewed individuals (such as Hitler's adjutants or their widows) who participated in or observed some of the events which took place during Hitler's regime. . . .

"My assessment is that, as a military historian, Irving has much to commend him. For his works of military history Irving has undertaken thorough and painstaking research into the archives. He has discovered and disclosed to historians and others many documents which, but for his efforts, might have remained unnoticed for years. It was plain from the way in which he conducted his case and dealt with a sustained and penetrating cross-examination that his knowledge of World War 2 is unparalleled. His mastery of the detail of the historical documents is remarkable. He is beyond question able and intelligent. He was invariably quick to spot the significance of documents which he had not previously seen. Moreover he writes his military history in a clear and vivid style. I accept the favourable assessment by Professor Watt and Sir John Keegan of the calibre of Irving's military history (mentioned in paragraph 3.4 above) and reject as too sweeping the negative assessment of Evans (quoted in paragraph 3.5)."

If the makers of Denial had given a balanced portrayal of the controversy and trial, the movie would have been truly educational and worthwhile; however, if they had done this, the movie would not have had the effect that they wanted it to have, which was to falsely portray Irving as a neo-Nazi and a Holocaust denier.

I close by quoting from the appeal that attorney Adrian Davis submitted to the Court of Appeals on Irving's behalf:

33. One of the three defamatory charges which the Defendants wholly failed to justify was “Lipstadt’s claim that Irving was scheduled to speak at an anti-Zionist conference in Sweden in 1992, which was also to-be attended by various representatives of terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas.” (Per Gray J at 13.166).

34. It is submitted that this libel is so very grave that, as a matter of law, section 5 does not avail the Defendants, even if Irving fails on every other issue. . . .

45. The Defendants did not attempt to justify Lipstadt’s allegation (8B) that Irving associates with violent extremists, and failed to justify Lipstadt’s allegations that Irving (9) works in his office under a portrait of Hitler, (10) had damaged the historic glass microfiches of the Goebbels diaries in the Moscow archives, and (11) had broken an agreement with the director of the Moscow archives. . . .

47. Though anathemized by Lipstadt as a “Holocaust denier,” Irving has never denied and has indeed repeatedly and forcefully stated in books and public lectures (1) that the Nazis and their allies committed systematic mass murder of Jews on a chilling scale, especially in the Baltic states, in Byelorussia and the Ukraine, but also in Russia proper, in Poland, and in other occupied countries in eastern Europe, or (2) that many mass killings were latterly carried out as a matter of policy on the personal orders of Himmler and Heydrich, though (3) particularly in the early stages of Operation Barbarossa (the invasion of the Soviet Union in June, 1941), mass killings were carried out not only by German forces, but also by local, non-German, anti-Semitic elements, especially in the Ukraine and in the Baltic states, acting independently of Himmler and Heydrich for reasons of their own. . . .

55. The Schlegelberger memorandum is central to the appeal on the facts. Contrary to Gray J’s express finding at 5.162, Irving has never acknowledged that the Schlegelberger memorandum is in any sense “unsatisfactory.” On the contrary, he has always contended that it is a contemporaneous, authentic, brief, official, precisely worded, internal ministerial record of Hitler’s thinking on the Jewish question, and so of seminal importance. . . .

57. Gray J errs in the gravest fashion in assessing the real evidence actually before him when he states at 13.33 that the Schlegelberger memorandum was “unsigned” and “an Abschrift (copy) rather than an original document. . . ” and that “there is no clear evidence of the context in which the note came into existence.”

58. A facsimile of the Schlegelberger memorandum was before Gray J in Court at all times. As is apparent from the facsimile itself, it is not (unlike most of the Defendants’ documents) an Abschrift (typed copy or transcript) at all, but an original with holograph signatures. The original is still in German Federal Archives in its original Reich Justice Ministry file called Behandlung der Juden (“Treatment of the Jews”), which provides all necessary contextual material. The whole text makes it plain that the Judenfrage (“Jewish question”) to which Hitler refers is by no means confined to the issue of Mischlinge (people of mixed descent), as suggested by Evans. (https://www.hdot.org/longskel/)
https://www.hdot.org/longskel/)[/quote]
 

Donald H

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Are you asking this forum to revisit the holocaust Mike?

If you wrote all that and didn't quote it from somebody else, then you should know that your numerous disclaimers come off as necessary damage control.

Not that you'll get any argument from me. Your written opinions aren't inciting violence or promoting hate speech.

Fwiw, I think you should have posted this thread in the 'Clean Debate Zone' for the protection afforded everyone's opinions there. Or theoretically should do so.
 

jwoodie

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Hitler was not the "absolute" dictator he liked to think of himself as. He was constantly fretting about maintaining the support of the 100+ "Gauleiters" who exercised Nazi authority over various localities throughout Germany. Under the belief that they need only accept orders directly from Hitler himself, they essentially operated as independent chieftains of their own districts.

As a result, Hitler's obsession with micromanagement led to the opposite in operational reality. Many programs proceeded without Hitler's direct approval because he was otherwise engaged in minute military details or architectural drawings. Given the utter lack of documentation regarding his involvement in Final Solution plans, it is entirely possible that he didn't know (or care to know) about the death camps.
 
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Donald H

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Hitler was not the "absolute" dictator he liked to think of himself as. He was constantly fretting about maintaining the support of the 100+ "Gauleiters" who exercised Nazi authority over various localities throughout Germany. Under the belief that they should only accept orders directly from Hitler, they essentially operated as independent chieftains of their own districts.

As a result, Hitler's obsession with micromanagement led to the exact opposite in operational reality. Many programs proceeded without Hitler's direct approval because he was otherwise engaged in minute military details or architectural drawings. Given the utter lack of documentation regarding his involvement in Final Solution plans, it is entirely possible that he didn't know (or care to know) about the death camps.
Where did you get that? Especially the part about the architectural drawings! That's not correct.

As to being unaware of the death camps, a Polish professional engineer I know, lived almost right next door to A2 and told me that it was 200,000 tops.

That could argue well for the excuse of not being aware? The Polish people apparently weren't aware either.

I can't see any value in the claim that Hitler wasn't aware of the true facts.

Read Albert Speer too. Inside the Third Reich.
 

DudleySmith

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It would have been impossible for Hitler not to have known about the Operation Reinhardt camps, Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka; their operations were far too large and consumed a lot railroad logistics, and involved a lot of military time and resources, even with using Eastern European and Polish sympathizers and troops. Those camps killed over 3.5 million alone, based on train records captured after the war.

Operation Reinhard was initiated in the autumn of 1941. The operation was later named after SS General Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich died in June 1942 from injuries sustained during an assassination attempt by Czech partisans. From September 1939 until his death, he served as chief of the Reich Security Main Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt, RSHA). The RSHA was the Nazi agency responsible for coordinating the deportation of European Jews to killing centers in German-occupied Poland.


Heydrich was a key architect of the “Final Solution.” In January 1939, December 1940, and July 1941, Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering personally tasked him with drafting plans for a solution of the "Jewish question."



He didn't answer to Himmler.


Yitzhak Arad's book on it is the best available:


Others dispute Arad's numbers.


My analysis was based on carefully compiled train records presented in a 1987 book by Holocaust historian Yitzhak Arad. Arad documents approximately 500 transportations from some 400 different Polish Jewish communities, recording for individual days the location, number of victims of each transportation and final death camp destination.p/b]
 
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mikegriffith1

mikegriffith1

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Are you asking this forum to revisit the holocaust Mike?

If you wrote all that and didn't quote it from somebody else, then you should know that your numerous disclaimers come off as necessary damage control.

Not that you'll get any argument from me. Your written opinions aren't inciting violence or promoting hate speech.

Fwiw, I think you should have posted this thread in the 'Clean Debate Zone' for the protection afforded everyone's opinions there. Or theoretically should do so.

Just shaking my head. Did you merely read every third word of my post or something? How on earth could you conclude that I want the forum to "revisit the Holocaust"? How? The subject of my post is the movie Denial and its false, misleading portrayal of the trial between Lipstadt and Irving. Somehow you missed the central point that Irving has not denied the Holocaust. So, no, there's no need to "revisit the Holocaust." What needs to be revisited is the movie's misleading portrayal of the Irving-Lipstadt trial.

I, like 99% of other educated Westerners, believe the Holocaust is not open to serious, rational debate. What I do believe is open to debate is Hitler's role in the Holocaust. Specifically, did Hitler initiate the Holocaust or did others initiate it? If others initiated it, when did Hitler learn of it and what actions did he take once he learned of it? Irving argues that Hitler learned of the Holocaust no later than 1943 and did nothing to stop it. However, Irving also says that Hitler may have secretly initiated the Holocaust and then pretended to know nothing about it for as long as he could.
 
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Donald H

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Just shaking my head. Did you merely read every third word of my post or something? How on earth could you conclude that I want the forum to "revisit the Holocaust"? How? The subject of my post is the movie Denial and its false, misleading portrayal of the trial between Lipstadt and Irving. Somehow you missed the central point that Irving has not denied the Holocaust. So, no, there's no need to "revisit the Holocaust." What needs to be revisited is the movie's misleading portrayal of the Irving-Lipstadt trial.

I, like 99% of other educated Westerners, believe the Holocaust is not open to serious, rational debate. What I do believe is open to debate is Hitler's role in the Holocaust. Specifically, did Hitler initiate the Holocaust or did others initiate it? If others initiated it, when did Hitler learn of it and what actions did he take once he learned of it? Irving argues that Hitler learned of the Holocaust no later than 1943 and did nothing to stop it. However, Irving also says that Hitler may have secretly initiated the Holocaust and then pretended to know nothing about it for as long as he could.
You've interpreted my question in a wrong way. Revisiting the holocaust doesn't need to mean the same thing to all people. If you want to revisit what Irving said then you're asking for much more than a few comments from a movie.

I'm afraid that a conversation on Irving, the movie, or the holocaust is not possible in a forum such as this.

I was only curious about learning what your motive was but now I'm pretty sure I know. If you wish to pursue the question further with me, you can ask me what I think your motive is and I'll tell you what I believe you're after.
 
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mikegriffith1

mikegriffith1

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You've interpreted my question in a wrong way. Revisiting the holocaust doesn't need to mean the same thing to all people. If you want to revisit what Irving said then you're asking for much more than a few comments from a movie.

I'm afraid that a conversation on Irving, the movie, or the holocaust is not possible in a forum such as this.

I was only curious about learning what your motive was but now I'm pretty sure I know. If you wish to pursue the question further with me, you can ask me what I think your motive is and I'll tell you what I believe you're after.

Ah, whatever. This is getting a little weird.

Just remember that the OP is about the movie, i.e., whether or not the movie presents a fair, balanced portrayal of the Irving-Lipstadt trial. That's the focus of the OP. It's not about Irving's personality or Lipstadt's career or the function of Auschwitz or Israel or Holocaust survivors.

I thoroughly disagree with Irving about Holocaust survivors, but I must admit that the movie's portrayal of what was said on this issue in the trial is grossly one-sided and misleading.
 
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mikegriffith1

mikegriffith1

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If anyone's interested, I just finished my website on the Holocaust.

The Holocaust: Issues

I'll be updating the site over the next few weeks, but there's enough material on the site that I feel comfortable sharing the link.
 

whitehall

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What's the point? Novelist, Irving was (is) a Hitler admirer who was offended that a genuine historic researcher challenged his opinion about the Holocaust and sued her and lost the law suit. Why Hollywood decided to do a movie about it is anybody's guess.
 

Likkmee

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I heard they plan to make sure all the fonts on the whining wall be updated to 2" for easier viewing.All 5,999,999,999 will be made. The wall will need to be extended from IsNtReal to Iowa to fit them all but G-d and W-B sais it can happen.
ea36ccaa-a423-495b-a9ec-a27f21c8ec5c_1.a1ec15996d08414c654d5be0ba2a5a7a.jpeg
 
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mikegriffith1

mikegriffith1

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What's the point? Novelist, Irving was (is) a Hitler admirer who was offended that a genuine historic researcher challenged his opinion about the Holocaust and sued her and lost the law suit. Why Hollywood decided to do a movie about it is anybody's guess.

Irving is a "Hitler admirer"??? You haven't read any of his books on Hitler, have you? If so, you'd know better than to make this claim. If Irving is a Hitler admirer, it's very odd that his books contain so much damning information on Hitler's crimes--some of that information was discovered by Irving himself.
 
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mikegriffith1

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To abjectly bury the lie that David Irving's books whitewash Hitler and the Third Reich, I've web-published an article that contains dozens of anti-Nazi/anti-Hitler statements from Irving's books. The article is titled "Lying About David Irving: Refuting the Myth that David Irving's Books Whitewash Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany." Here's the link:

 

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