Regarding Dale Walker's letter from this spring: First, I agree that what the ADL is doing is wrong. Censorship from the left is no better than censorship from the right, regardless of the censors' intentions. Trying to ban books on the basis of offensive content, even racist propaganda that denies the Holocaust, is not only wrong, but it reinforces the belief in the lunatic fringe that the Jews control everything and are conducting a cover-up.
Nazis burned books by Jewish authors at the Berlin Opera House when they came to power, and we're not Nazis. The best way to combat an offensive work or a lie in danger of gaining mainstream support is not to suppress it, but counteract it with the truth, or with your own viewpoint. It's not the ADL's job to decide whether Irving's theories and arguments are valid, as if I'm somehow too stupid to do so myself. The solution for offensive speech is more speech, not Orwellian censorship as the Nazis themselves practiced. Lies must be challenged openly, not swept under the carpet.
Second, Walker's right to read what he wants aside, he does make some very questionable statements about David Irving and Nazi Germany.
1. He dismisses the notion that Irving is an anti-Semite. I would point out that purchasers of Irving's book Hitler's War received a mini swastika flag like the one mounted on Hitler's Mercedes. Interpret this as you wish.
2. He refers to Irving as "eminent," and "esteemed." These words mean "rising above others; prominent; of high rank or station; regarded with respect; prized." Irving has no degree in history, or any training at all in the field. He is not a good theoretician and does a lot of selective quoting to support his biases. He has continued to waver on many of the points of the Holocaust throughout his career. He once asserted that only 500,000 to 600,000 Jews died in the war, but in July 1995, when asked on an Australian radio talk show how many Jews were killed, he admitted that it may have been as many as 4 million. He once held that Hitler was unaware of the Holocaust, then Hermann Goring, and now Joseph Goebbels. As a result of his activities, he's been deported from or denied entry into Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and South Africa. Walker must have a different definition for the words "eminent" and "esteemed."
3. He advocates Goebbels' assertion that the communists started the Reichstag fire. The Reichstag fire was not started by the Nazis, as many believe, nor by the communists. According to historian A.J.P. Taylor, a Dutch socialist named Marinus van der Lubbe started it to protest Nazism. He confessed to the crime, was found guilty at a fair trial, and executed. Historians blame Nazis because they can't believe Hitler merely made the most of what someone else did, but he did.
4. He repeats the myth that post-WW I Germany was impoverished by unjust war reparations. Rubbish. Payments Germany made were far offset by loans the Allies made to the Germans. After 1919, Germany paid 16.8 billion gold marks to the Allies, but private citizens in the Allied countries loaned Germany 44.7 billion gold marks. As historian Stephen Schuker observed, "the net capital flow thus ran strongly toward Germany." The inflow totaled about 2 percent of national income during the entire Weimar Republic. Some poverty! Germany was also better off than other countries in other ways.
The German population after Versailles was twice as large as France's. Most of the war was fought in France, and German territory was mostly unaffected.
Germany was strategically stronger than its neighbors after the war. France was weakened, Russia, under treaty, gave up many of its territories, and the Slavic states were now divided.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Let the David Irvings of this world speak their rhetoric and lies. We don't have to silence them. Merely discredit them with the truth.