The Case for Auschwitz: Evidence from the Irving Trial

The Case for Auschwitz: Evidence from the Irving Trial

by Robert Jan van Van Pelt, Robert Jan Van Pelt, R. J. Pelt
     
 

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From January to April 2000 historian David Irving brought a high-profile libel case against Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt in the British High Court, charging that Lipstadt’s book, Denying the Holocaust (1993), falsely labeled him a Holocaust denier. The question about the evidence for Auschwitz as a death camp played a central role in these proceedings.

Overview

From January to April 2000 historian David Irving brought a high-profile libel case against Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt in the British High Court, charging that Lipstadt’s book, Denying the Holocaust (1993), falsely labeled him a Holocaust denier. The question about the evidence for Auschwitz as a death camp played a central role in these proceedings. Irving had based his alleged denial of the Holocaust in part on a 1988 report by an American execution specialist, Fred Leuchter, which claimed that there was no evidence for homicidal gas chambers in Auschwitz. In connection with their defense, Penguin and Lipstadt engaged architectural historian Robert Jan van Pelt to present evidence for our knowledge that Auschwitz had been an extermination camp where up to one million Jews were killed, mainly in gas chambers. Employing painstaking historical scholarship, van Pelt prepared and submitted an exhaustive forensic report that he successfully defended in cross-examination in court.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Fascinating insights into the conduct of the case and the main personalities..." —Jewish Chronicle

"The Irving case has done for the new century what the Nuremberg tribunals or the Eichmann trial did for earlier generations." —The Daily Telegraph

"Readers of this book, which will become the sine qua non of all writing about the Holocaust, should be warned that it describes the gruesome nature of Holocaust history, and the equally gruesome role of those who have sought to deny it." —The Jerusalem Post

Publishers Weekly
"More people died in the back seat of Edward Kennedy's car in Chappaquiddick than ever died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz." These are the words of David Irving, who made history himself when he lost a British libel trial against Deborah Lipstadt for labeling him a Holocaust revisionist in her 1993 book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. This dense, fact-filled but always compelling volume not only details Irving's libel suit (van Pelt testified against him at the trial), but collects and documents the plethora of historical and scientific evidence that proves he was wrong. While Irving's claim astonishing for a historian who had received praise for works such as The Destruction of Dresden (1963) and Hitler's War (1977) is overtly ludicrous, the power of this book resides in van Pelt's broad analysis of Holocaust revisionism or "negationism," as van Pelt more accurately labels it and its myriad manifestations. He discusses Irving's gradual emergence from respected historian to full-fledged negationist; the career of French professor Dr. Robert Faurisson, a "hard-core negationist" who managed to elicit intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Jean-Fran ois Lyotard to defend his "academic freedom"; and the "scientific" testimony of Fred Leuchter (the subject of Errol Morris's 1999 film, Mr. Death). The bulk of the book is the methodical and chilling presentation of materials presented at the trial first-person accounts, photos, historical documents, diagrams, scientific evidence, testimony of former SS guards interwoven with Irving's testimony and defense. Van Pelt (Auschwitz: 1270 to the Present) has arranged an enormous amount of complex material succinctly and to greateffect. Read as a whole, the book is a stunning courtroom drama and a vital document of historical evidence. This is an important addition to Holocaust literature and 20th-century history. 130 b&w illus. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780253340160
Publisher:
Indiana University Press
Publication date:
02/28/2002
Pages:
592
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.70(d)

Meet the Author

Robert Jan van Pelt is Professor in the School of Architecture, University of Waterloo, Canada. He is coauthor (with Debrah Dwork) of Auschwitz: 1270 to the Present and winner of a National Jewish Book Award, 1996, and of the Spiro Kostof Book Award of the Society of Architectural Historians.

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