A publisher has dropped plans to bring out a biography of Hitler’s propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels, branding the book an anti-Semitic, “insidious piece of Goebbels-like propaganda.”
St. Martin’s Press “made a mistake, and there’s no worse way to compound a mistake than by not admitting it and not correcting it if you can,” said Thomas J. McCormack, chairman of the publishing house.
“Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich,” was written by David Irving, a British author who contends among other things that Hitler did not know Jews were being exterminated and that there’s no proof gas chambers at Auschwitz were used to kill Jews.
Two weeks ago the Anti-Defamation League denounced Irving as “an apologist for the Nazi regime” and a pseudo-scholar with no academic credentials as an historian. Such writers as Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel and Jonathan Kellerman said they would no longer give endorsements on St. Martin’s book jackets.
Earlier this week Tom Dunne, St. Martin’s editor, defended the impending U.S. publication of the book, which already has been published in England. He likened attacks on Irving to the book burning and character assassination that Goebbels himself practiced.
The turnabout came Wednesday, when McCormack informed Irving that there would be no American edition.
“This is at base an effectively anti-Semitic book, an insidious piece of Goebbels-like propaganda that we should have nothing to do with,” McCormack said.
St. Martin’s bought the American rights last year for $25,000, with Irving receiving $15,000 up front, which he will keep, St. Martin’s spokesman John J. Murphy said.
Irving, who spoke to the New York Daily News by telephone from his home in London, said St. Martin’s had been pressured by an “organized and orchestrated campaign.”
McCormack maintained that neither coercion nor embarrassment played a role, but rather “valid and convincing objections” from outsiders and “discoveries we made on our own” by reading Irving on the Internet.
McCormack said that when St. Martin’s bought the book it knew nothing of his controversial stand on the Holocaust.