Sunday, 20 May 2007

David Irving's Trip to Poland III

Still at Auschwitz-Birkenau ... Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes come from Irving's website, and were retrieved on Sunday, the 20th of May 2007.

Reading Irving's diary entry, I an struck anew by the arrogance and pomposity of the man. He likes to present himself as a calm neutral observer, objecytivity personified. Everyone else is a seething rabble of confusion, deception and ignorance. Irving seems incapable of realising, even in the measured, editable form of a diary entry, how often his prejudices and nastiness bubbles through the facade he attempts to present.

I mentioned the 'Werewolf' incident in the last post I wrote on Irving. Later on he refers to the Holocaust survivor as the Russian's "tame Holocaust survivor". He reports "several columns of Israelis marching around the site, carrying blue and white flags as though they are an occupying army." Later on, at Majdanek, he desscribes how a reconstructed wooden gas chamber was damaged when a candle left by "worshippers" set it on fire. He seems to have no idea how grotesque and revealling his word choices are. Unless, of course, he is playing to a different gallery altogether.

He bemoans the fact that "The Poles and others have wrecked the document that this site could have been, by their keenness to generate money and propaganda. They have slapped a vast monument of paving slabs and memorials between Kremas II and III, concealing whatever evidence they might have revealed. They have conducted little if any archeological research, "digs", to get at the truth." This is bizarre. A man who stated "Eyewitness evidence is a problem for psychiatrists" (, disputes the meaning of orders and reports relating to the Holocaust and ignores every piece of evidence that demonstrates that mass murder was carried out in the death camps, using gas chambers as the principal means, expects us to believe that he would be convinced by any evidence that might remain unearthed at Auschwitz. What nonsense. Confronted with new evidence, he would simply deny it.

Which brings me onto a nagging question surrounding Irving's trip to Poland. While there, he is accompanied by various historians, experts and media organisations. A Russian film crew work with him at Auschwitz, and SkyTV are also there. Why are these people making the mistake of giving Irving the publicity he craves, and confirming his belief in his own importance. True, his self-importance is probably unshakeable, but he shouldn't be encouraged. By engaging with idiots, it gives their idiocy a hint of respectability and credibilty, and of course, the publicity to repeat their nonsensical views. I suppose I am doing the same sort of thing here, though.

At Belzec, Irving laments the fact that Belzec
... has been wrecked, even more comprehensively than Auschwitz, by the construction by the American Jewish Committee of a
the size of four football fields -- and by a 'field of lava' ...
The lava field is quite impossible to walk across, a kind of moonscape, with a
concrete passage from the gate to the monument, a half-size imitation of a
Wailing Wall, at its far end. The monument covers all six mass graves, says
We are expected to remember his complaint about the impossibilty of carrying out a prpoer archealogical dig, to retrieve evidence - as if more were needed. But note that Irving doesn't say this directly, because in fact, Belzec was thoroughly excavated before the monuments were constructed:
From late 1997 until early 1998, a thorough archaeological survey of the site was conducted as there was no memorial yet at the site. The survey was headed by Andrzej Kola, director of the Underwater Archaeological Department at the University of Torun, and Mieczyslaw Gora, senior curator of the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Lodz. The team identified the railway sidings and
remains of a number of buildings. They also found 33 mass graves, the largest of
which were 210 by 60 feet. The team estimated that they had found 15,000 unburned bodies, and "The largest mass graves ... contained unburned human remains (parts and pieces of skulls with hair and skin attached). The bottom layer of the graves consisted of several inches thick of black human fat. One grave contained uncrushed human bones so closely packed that the drill could not penetrate."


Perhaps Irving knows this, perhaps he doesn't. Perhaps he wants us to
think that the camp is unexcavated and the earth beneath the 'Sea of lava' is
crammed full of unearthed evidence. Or perhaps Irving, in his blind arrogance, thinks he'll be able to find something everyone else has missed. Or perhaps he wantsus to think it is all part of a conspiracy, the memorials strategicallyplaced to ensure that no-one an ever find the lack of evidence beneath.

Irving and his long-sufferring companion Alan move on to Sobibor. "Not an unattractive place to die" remarks Irving of the site, which might be true if you had chosen to recline on your death bed, in the sun, with your family and pets around you and a string quartet to sooth your final moments. And if, sixty odd years ago, someone hadn't built an extermination camp on the site, which would rather spoil the ambience, one would hav thought.

Irving doesn't have much to say about Sobibor, beyond describing the litter strewn about the site and noting that "Here as elsewhere, according to conformist history, the Nazis did a thorough job of erasing all trace that they had ever been here". Again, the need to add the qualification, the "according to conformist history" that gives him away. It isn't conformist history, it is history. It is an account of the past based upon evidence. If it isn't that, it isn't history. Therefore, Mr Irving's views aren't history, as they are at odds with the evidence. Absurdly, a few lines later, Irving points out that "The whole site reveals no forensic evidence of homicidal activities, to supplement the relatively strong documentary evidence which exists." Well, it wouldn't, if the Nazis had gone to great efforts to cover up the traces of thier activities here.

His companion, Alan, "says he picked up bone fragments on earlier visits, but I doubt he has the forensic knowledge to recognize such things." Why ever not? It doesn't take much "forensic knowledge" to recognise a bit of bone - or is Irving suggesting the woods of Sobibor are strewn with cunningly faked bone fragments so artfully done that they will deceive all but the trained (Irving's) eye? Anyway, the long-sufferring Alan didn't need forensic knowledge - he just needed to find the fragment and lug it off to someone else with that knowledge.

His final visit, to Majdanek, provides nothing new. Irving bemoans the reconstruction work that has been carried out, notes blue stains in the gas chambers and contemplates 'doing a Leuchter' and helping himself to a sample, but refrains. This is tha last camp he visits, leaving Poland for Austria and noting with smug satisfaction that Austrian TV cameras are waiting to film him when he arrives.

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