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History of a Delusion

2009-01-16 18:15:37.661177+00 by petronius 6 comments

An interesting piece from the Independent: a long interview with David Irving, the pro-Hitler historian, and the state of his delusions as he retreats into old age. There is a lot of dicussion about what one does about people like Irving, and he has already spent time in an Austrian prison for Holocaust denial. It seems all this has done is polish his marytr status. Maybe if he had been left free, penetrating interviews like this would have shown better just how pathetic and pathological he actually is.

The strangest part is when the interviewer brings up Irving's eldest daughter, Josephine. She was severely mentally ill, and ended up killing herself after a life of appaling suffering. Irving loved her very much, and is forced to admit that Hitler's minions would have executed her without question, and that there is no way Irving can wiggle out of Hitler's responsibility for the crime. The ashes of his daughter is an apt metaphoir for the ashes that his philosophies have left him with.

[ related topics: History Current Events War Dictators Archival ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2009-01-16 19:13:01.635864+00 by: ebradway

Which is more delusional: thinking Hitler is a good guy or conflating free donuts with abortion?

I agree that they never should have locked up Irving. They should have given him a blog or a column in the Sunday Times or better, The Onion. Nothing like a raving loon to discredit a position...

#Comment Re: made: 2009-01-16 22:10:36.318479+00 by: andylyke

Yeah, punishment for punishment's sake often backfires.

On the subject of Hitler's entourage - in the late 60s, I stayed for a few days in the hotel that had been part of the Berchtesgaden redoubt and Nazi vacation spa. Housekeepers there spoke unabashedly of having met "the great man".

Denial - not just a river in Africa.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-01-17 01:08:32.046942+00 by: Dan Lyke

Wow. What a weird, weird case. I thought the use of language was interesting:

“Had we been in Nazi Germany then Josephine would have been swept up in that procedure.”

"that procedure", that mechanical process in which the humans aren't actually involved.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-01-17 13:31:32.868591+00 by: jeff [edit history]

I wonder how Irving would respond to this timeline. Or this collection of information.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-01-18 13:57:48.741803+00 by: Dan Lyke

Jeff, I'm betting that the only change you could make in the man's worldview is to convince him that what was done was necessary, but only because no "better" solutions could be come to. My impression is that people get these mental structures of how the world works, and no amount of evidence will convince them (us?) otherwise.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-01-18 14:57:54.487289+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Dan--I couldn't agree more. And it's not just Irving.

There are plenty of examples just like him, in various snapshots in history, and instantiations today.