Thursday, June 22, 2000
added by this website
The Personal Touch
By Elli Wohlgelernter
(June 22) - Whether he is talking about the ordinary man or the world's greatest statesmen, historian Martin Gilbert pays attention to detail.
Excerpt: One future book will come from the 22 pads of notes he took at the recent libel trial in London brought by David Irving against Deborah Lipstadt, which he attended for 25 of the 33 days it lasted. There were astounding moments five or six times a day, he says, but "Holocaust denial in a way didn't get its day in court because it was so discredited."
"Indeed, one of the most astonishing things about the case is that the judge's judgment, if it were to be published, makes Deborah's book, which is serious and scholarly, very mild. The judge simply came down emphatically point-by-point that this man is a racist, an antisemite, a falsifier of history. Something that in a way Deborah Lipstadt couldn't have said; her publisher probably would have said, 'We can't publish this because it is libelous.'
"So one result of his bringing the case - it was his initiative - was to destroy his case. And destroy him as a person."
SIR MARTIN GILBERT is not a Holocaust survivor except in the loosest sense; unlike Mr Irving, Gilbert's wealthy parents (original family name: Fischfinger) evacuated the infant Martin to the safety of Canada for the duration of W.W.II. He has nurtured an understandable dislike of historian David Irving ever since the latter wrote a private five page letter to publisher Tom Rosenthal (William Heinemann Ltd) revealing a hundred blatant historical errors in just one volume of Gilbert's "magisterial" Churchill biography. Rosenthal retorted that no reviewer had reached the same conclusion. Irving: "Few reviewers can thus have got as far as page 129, or they would have spotted that Gilbert repeats the same 20 line paragraph twice, on facing pages."
Related item: Tim Cole on Gilbert's qualities
Website fact: The stamina of the defence team was aided by a six million dollar fund provided by Stephen Spielberg, Edgar J Bronfman, and the American Jewish Committee, which enabled them to shower money on their 21 lawyers and "experts"; the experts like Evans, Longerich were paid up to $200,000 each to testify as they did (while the defence's star legal team was paid considerably more).