Revisionist who lost credibility

The recent exchanges among various readers regarding religious matters have been interesting, but Thomas Clark’s May 30 letter on the subject, “The power of ideas over time,” brings up a most important point that readers should bear in mind — namely, in every war, be it secular or religious, there are two sides on every battlefield, and buried between them are not only the bodies of the slain, but the truth behind the opposing views of the combatants.

A excellent case in point concerning such views is Clark’s citing of David Irving’s book “Hitler’s War.” The more politically correct history of virtually any conflict is generally the version produced by the victors, while the views of the defeated, or those who take their side, are usually relegated to the category of revisionist history. Irving’s highly controversial writings on World War II from the Axis point of view are definitely in the latter category.

This would include Irving’s dismissal as spurious the published “diaries” of Hitler’s former army adjutant, the highly decorated Gerhard Engel (“At the Heart of the Reich”). Engel’s book is still in print and is regarded as a factual account by historians around the world, except by Irving.

This is not to say that revisionist history does not have its place in the scheme of things, particularly since many such studies present views that, while perhaps not the accepted ones, are still historically valid and should at least be considered.

While much of Irving’s earlier work in regard to the German side in World War II contains a wealth of such information, his more recent role as a Holocaust denier has robbed him of any credibility he may once have had. The weight of historical evidence from virtually every source is just too overwhelming for any one in his right mind to deny that millions of concentration camp inmates suffered death at the hands of the Nazis — not for anything that they did, but merely for who they were or what they believed.

john e. marquardt
tokyo

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.