Letter from Joel Hayward to Harry Mazal of the Holocaust History Project
Yes, you may reproduce my letter and post it on your website ...
[private remarks deleted]
Thank you for your kindness. I appreciate it.
I would like to correct some of the statements that Mr David Irving has made on his web site.
First, I have not "recanted" about the Holocaust because of pressure from Jewish groups or individuals. I have instead changed my mind about the conclusions I reached as a young MA student in the very early 1990s.
I'm baffled by the insistence of some people that I "must not" change my mind about the Holocaust debate. This attitude is unscholarly. Why can I not change my mind? Must my ideas be stuck in a 1991 rut?
I am obliged as a scholar to remain open to new evidence, to reflect on old evidence, to test arguments, and to abandon those that -- to me -- don't stack up. I have done this, and now know from reflection and further reading that my old MA thesis contains errors of fact and interpretation. I also know that those errors have caused pain to some people in the New Zealand Jewish community, especially to Holocaust survivors. So I have done what I sincerely believe is the right thing: admitted my mistakes and said I'm sorry.
My change of mind is genuine, and absolutely not the product of coercion by Jewish groups or individuals or anyone else (even though it's true I have experienced some resistance over the years). I have simply come to realise that I made mistakes and now want, on my own initiative, to say sorry so that my mistakes don't continue to cause distress.
The responsibility to do so wouldn't normally accompany recognition of errors in an unpublished masters thesis, but I am well aware that my old work dealt with an unusually sensitive and contentious topic.
I would also like to clarify one other issue:
In a letter to a Wehrmacht military history discussion group (which now appears on Mr Irving's web site) I once offered support for the quality of Mr Irving's MILITARY history scholarship, even though I simultaneously stated that I did not agree with his political and racial views.
My research in German primary MILITARY documents (conducted in several European archives) does indeed show me that Mr Irving did not falsify those sources or employ them according to an improper methodology. I have not seen any examples from the diaries of Jodl, Milch, Richthofen, etc, where he falsified evidence.
But I have now seen enough evidence from the trial transcripts to believe that Mr Irving has a problem with Jews and consequently employed improper methodology when dealing with certain documents relating to aspects of the Holocaust. I did not know this until the intense scrutiny of his books during the recent trial made it manifest.
I was also offended by some of his statements and actions, and consider the trial to be extremely informative. I learned many new things about Mr Irving.
I still consider much of Mr Irving's work on Wehrmacht operational history to be strong and useful (as even the judge observed), and he deserves credit for books like Trail of the Fox. But I accept the judge's verdict that Mr Irving's obvious difficulty with Jewish issues distorted the way he sees and presents the Holocaust.
Last modified: May 15, 2000