The Case for Auschwitz: Evidence from the Irving Trial

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Indiana University Press, 2002 - History - 570 pages
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"The Irving case has done for the new century what the Nuremberg tribunals or the Eichmann trial did for earlier generations." —The Daily Telegraph


From January to April 2000 a high-profile libel case brought by the British historian David Irving against Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt, charging that Lipstadt’s book, Denying the Holocaust (1993), falsely labeled him a Holocaust denier, was tried in the British High Court. 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 prepare for the court an expert report presenting the 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 submitted an exhaustive forensic report, which he successfully defended in cross-examination in court. In his verdict in favor of the defendants, Mr. Justice Charles Grey concluded that "no objective, fair-minded historian would have serious cause to doubt that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz and that they were operated on a substantial scale to kill hundreds of thousands of Jews."


The Case for Auschwitz analyzes why Auschwitz has become central to Holocaust denial and how it became a focus in the Irving-Lipstadt trial. It presents the compelling evidence contained in the original expert report and details the way this evidence played out at the trial. Unique in its comprehensive assessment of the historical evidence for Auschwitz and devastating in its demolition of the arguments of Holocaust deniers against Auschwitz, van Pelt’s book is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of the Holocaust and for those who seek to combat Holocaust denial.

  

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Contents

The Negationists Challenge to Auschwitz
1
Marshaling the Evidence for Auschwitz
66
Intentional Evidence
137
Confessions and Trials
224
Witnesses Despite Themselves
293
Aoschwirz at the Irving Trial
399
Epilogue
494
Abhreviations
507
Notes
509
Bibliography
539
Index
553
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

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, winner of a National Jewish Book Award, 1996, and of the Spiro Kostof Award of the Association of Architectural Historians, 1997, and coauthor (with Carroll William Westfall) of Architectural principles in the Age of Historicism.

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