That's fine; this is a free democracy. But I was dismayed to learn that Professor Evans took offence when I exercised my own freedom and, in self-defence of my reputation, accepted The Herald's offer of a "right-of-reply".
Please read this ENTIRE page to gain an understanding of the different vantage points and perspectives of Professor Evans and me.
Author of numerous well-received books, Professor Evan has been Editor of The Journal of Contemporary History since 1998. Over the years, his work has won the Wolfson Literary Award for History, the William H. Welch Medal of the American Association for the History of Medicine, the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History, and the Hamburg Medaille für Kunst und Wissenschaft. He is a Fellow of the
His Cambridge University homepage is located at: http://www.hist.cam.ac.uk/academic_staff/further_details/evans-r.html
New Zealand Herald
Richard J. Evans: Academic standards the issue, not freedom
The dissertation, awarded a master's degree in 1993, purported to assess on the basis of an objective study of the historical evidence claims by Holocaust deniers that the Nazis did not deliberately kill some six million Jews between 1939 and 1945, and did not use mass gassings to do so.
What I found was very shocking. The Holocaust denial literature Dr Hayward was considering was well-known to specialists and others as anti-semitic, racist and frequently neo-fascist propaganda masquerading as scholarship.
Yet Dr Hayward not only treated it on an equal footing with genuine historical research but consistently denigrated the many historians in many countries who had carried out bona fide research into the Holocaust, claiming for instance that they were mainly Jewish (not true) and therefore produced tendentious and unscholarly work (which did not follow, and was also untrue).
He presented Holocaust deniers on the other hand as objective scholars searching for the truth, and concluded that in many cases the deniers' claims were justified.
Dr Hayward's dissertation was systematically tendentious and dishonest in its appraisal of the literature. I found evidence that he had suppressed material he claimed to have read if it counted against the deniers. I concluded that it was not a bona fide work of scholarship, and that the degree of MA should be withdrawn.
The university appointed a working party to consider the case. It concluded, astonishingly to anyone familiar with this area, that Dr Hayward's work was merely flawed, and that the degree awarded to it should not be withdrawn.
Now Dr Hayward has left the academic profession. A new row has broken out, with his defenders, principally Dr Thomas Fudge, claiming in your pages that Dr Hayward has been the subject of a witch-hunt.
In advancing his case, Dr Fudge has systematically denigrated my work and assailed my integrity and objectivity as a historian. He has also made a number of inaccurate claims about my report and the use made of it by the working party.
Dr Fudge is misleading your readers when he claims that no appropriate expert historians were approached by the working party. The working party explicitly accepted my expertise, and indeed could hardly do otherwise when I had shortly before been accepted by both sides in the London High Court case of
The working party accepted that my report has a strong scholarly foundation. It upheld all of its central findings, which included detailed evidence of selective and biased use of evidence in Dr Hayward's dissertation, failure to disclose contrary evidence, failure to pay attention to relevant secondary literature, tendentious interpretations and, to quote the working party report, being consistently misleading in the handling of relevant evidence.
The number of points that the working party did not accept in my 71-page report were few, and all very minor.
Dr Fudge claims my report was a partisan opinion commissioned by an interested caucus. He should be aware that while expert reports are customarily commissioned by one party or another in a dispute, the law insists that they should be objective, irrespective of who has commissioned them, and experts who have acted as advisers to court proceedings, such as myself, in the past, are fully aware of the need to be objective.
When I was asked to write the report, I made it quite clear to the New Zealand Jewish Council that I would carry out the work completely independently, and I required them to submit it to the working party irrespective of my conclusions. The report was not edited or vetted by the council in any way.
The working party claimed that the language I used went beyond that normally used by an expert witness in a law case. It did not provide a single example to back up this unconvincing claim. Moreover, this was not a law case, and I was not an expert witness, merely an external consultant.
It is not true of Dr Fudge to claim that the working party took little or no account of the criticisms made by Dr Hayward and his defenders of my report. On the contrary, it gave them full consideration, and in almost every case upheld my findings.
It is completely untrue of Dr Fudge to claim that the report makes no reference to extenuating circumstances, qualifications about the nature of Dr Hayward's preliminary research exercise go unnoted, and Dr Hayward is treated as though the thesis in question was the culminating work of a long career rather than an inaugural effort.
These astonishing claims make me wonder if Dr Fudge has read my report at all. Let me quote directly from my report: "Clearly we are not dealing here with deliberate and repeated falsification and manipulation of the historical record of the sort undertaken over the years for example by David Irving. Nor does there appear to be any racist or anti-semitic purpose behind
My report made a particular point of noting that Dr Hayward's chosen subject was far too large a topic for a master's thesis. His supervisor was clearly at fault in not guiding him towards a more manageable topic, and also lacked the expertise to correct the numerous errors and tendentious claims present in the dissertation.
There were no procedures in place at the university to ensure that the topic chosen was appropriate for the level of the degree. Worse still, the regulations in force at the time allowed the supervisor to act as internal examiner, a clash of interest if ever there was one.
These procedural faults, as I pointed out, bore a large measure of responsibility for the fact that the dissertation received an MA degree with high honours. I am glad that they have since been rectified.
What has happened to Dr Hayward since is not my responsibility.
The central issue in all this is not academic freedom, because in dealing with Holocaust denial we are not dealing with academic work. It is, rather, the upholding of academic standards.
Nobody has stopped Dr Hayward or Dr Fudge from publishing what they have written. Whether it should receive the imprimatur of a respected university institution is the question at issue.
* Richard J. Evans is Professor of Modern History at the
New Zealand Herald
Joel Hayward: Enough - academic calls for peace
It is unpleasant being a David and facing a Goliath, so I write this response to the article by Professor Richard Evans of
I'm an unemployed scholar who hates the Holocaust controversy that has swirled for decades and recently brought my academic career to a halt.
Professor Evans is an Oxbridge don who apparently loves the debate and who gave expert testimony, for a large fee, at the 2000 trial in London of David Irving, the world's leading revisionist.
Three years ago Professor Evans, again for payment, wrote a cutting report on my 1991 MA thesis, calling it tendentious, biased and supportive of Mr Irving and others like him.
David slew Goliath so perhaps all is not lost for me. I have nothing against Professor Evans but I cannot let him wield his sword without defending myself.
I'm not particularly interested in re-litigating the contents of my thesis, which the [
But am I missing something in Professor Evans' article? He calls my thesis dishonest, but accepts that I had not acted with "deliberate" dishonesty. It seems to me that no such thing as accidental dishonesty exists.
I can't make sense of a similar statement Professor Evans made last week during an exchange with another Kiwi academic: "The distinction between dishonest intent and dishonest effect is a fine one but it was one that the Working Party accepted."
Not only is Professor Evans' logic jumbled but the Working Party did not find me dishonest at all. The party rejected Professor Evans' claims to that effect.
The party found my research honest and concluded that my thesis could not be stripped from me and that my masters degree could not be downgraded or otherwise changed.
Professor Evans noted that there did not appear to be "any racist or anti-semitic purpose" behind my masters research (also the view of the Working Party, which stated more emphatically that I was not motivated by malice).
That's good, and I thank Professor Evans for openly acknowledging that I was no racist. But the professor still accused me of sustained bias towards those whose motives and historical arguments were, in his opinion, solely and unmistakably racist and anti-semitic.
Is he suggesting, therefore, that I was a non-racist, non-antisemitic supporter of racism and anti-semitism? Again, with respect, his logic seems flawed.
His example of my bias (albeit this strangely accidental, non-racist and non-anti-semitic bias he identifies) is odd, to say the least. He points to a sentence in my 12-year-old thesis that said that almost all Holocaust scholars are Jews (Thesis, p9).
Although he infers from this statement that I was accusing Jewish scholars of bias, he appears to have misread the page or two around that statement. I was actually making five points:
1. Orthodox Holocaust scholars are predominantly Jewish or zionistic (Thesis, p9).
2. Revisionists are predominantly "of German descent or known to express affection for
3. "Their [that is, those on both sides] experiences, interests, beliefs and values have [therefore apparently] guided their decision to specialise in this field" (p9).
4. "Proving that protagonists on either side of this heated debate are biased, however, is different from demonstrating that their historical theses coincide with their interests, current beliefs or points of view" (p10).
5. "It would have to be shown that their values have hardened into biases, preconceived feelings for or against someone or something which have led to an improper or defective consideration of the evidence" (p10).
In other words, my stated position 12 years ago was that even if Holocaust scholars were all Jewish, or Brazilians, or Zulu warriors, or Martians, this in itself would be no evidence of their bias. Thus, I respectfully suggest that it is Professor Evans who has erred and misread, not me.
Brevity prevents me explaining other points of difference between us but in my view they are of a similar nature.
Professor Evans also criticised me for not reading all secondary or accessible primary sources. This would be a stronger complaint against me if my research wasn't for a thesis written within the constraints of a single year.
I certainly made the most of the limited time available, and the Working Party praised my ability to access a multitude of sources. So if I couldn't get to read every single thing that Professor Evans thinks I ought to have read then this was a pity, but not a grievous or deliberate error.
I've said little about the entire
I also believed that no one showed much interest in the big issues that lay behind this story. Those issues are not about me and whether I was ever a revisionist or not. Only a few individuals with their own agendas still try to convince us otherwise.
This was all about a ratbag - these few claim - who, either because he was duped by others or because he believed so himself, once tried to rewrite "the truth".
Actually, the issue here is the freedom our forebears fought and died to give us. In a free and enlightened society no historical actions or events, and no area or type of historical inquiry, should be treated as so sacrosanct that asking questions about them, or arriving at unorthodox or even unpopular answers, constitutes a heresy. Historical events are not unquestionable religious dogma.
It should never have launched an external investigation into the truth standards contained within a historical masters thesis, however unpopular or controversial the thesis' historical arguments were.
Many other options for the university existed, including mediation, which did not involve putting one of its former students effectively on trial and did not jeopardise the university's obligations under both its Charter and the Education Act (1989).
These documents emphatically state (to quote the act) that students and academics have the freedom, within the law, to query and test received wisdom, to advance new ideas and to state unpopular or controversial opinions.
The university was apparently scared stiff when the New Zealand Jewish Council's complaint came, as I was. But rather than stand firm and hold up the principles of free inquiry and free speech upon its huge institutional shoulders, it buckled and dropped them on my examiners and me, in particular.
I collapsed under the strain, and have now spent three years feeling crushed.
The fact that
During my first grilling by the Working Party that carried my name I quickly reached the conclusion that it was little more than a medieval heresy trial dressed up as an objective investigation. I have never deviated from that opinion.
The complainants paid a significant fee to employ Professor Evans, who submitted to them, and thence to the Working Party, a 71-page report.
In language that even the Working Party considered strident and over the top, Professor Evans insisted my thesis wasn't motivated by racism or malice but was very seriously flawed.
I could not afford to employ an expert to counter Professor Evans' report, which was in any event severely criticised as "adversarial", "not objective" and "partisan" by Professor Gerald Orchard, one of
Being unable to hire an expert historian, I did the best job I could myself. My key defence was that Professor Evans was judging my thesis by far too high a standard. I was, after all, only in my fourth year of tertiary study when I had written it.
I was not a doctoral student, much less an established scholar with a string of books to my name. Professor Evans was mistakenly judging me by that very highest of standards, as even a member of the Working Party let slip on one occasion.
The Working Party's report, released in Christmas week 2000, was an unsatisfactory document of compromise. That is, it would hang me out to dry by criticising my research as badly flawed and my conclusions as perverse, which would hopefully mollify the complainants.
But, because the thesis revealed no malice or dishonesty, it would not strip my degree from me, and thus hopefully placate all academics and students deeply concerned at such a possibility.
The report left no one happy, and so the controversy continued. I pray it dies now, and I can regain my life.
Far from being strongly interested in the Holocaust, let alone obsessed with it, I've never written anything on it after that thesis of 1991.
Since then I've written a PhD dissertation, scores of peer-reviewed academic articles and six books, some of which are used as set texts in university and staff college courses around the world.
And in not one of the million words I've published have I repeated any so-called heresy. So the choice becomes obvious: either I'm not a heretic and never was, or I'm the most uncommitted and unsuccessful heretic there ever was.
On 29 August 2003 Professor Evans emailed the following letter to Associate Professor Martin Lally of Victoria University of Wellington. Professor Lally circulated this correspondence widely on his address-books, with Professor Evans' knowledge. No confidentiality has been violated in the reproduction of Professor Evans' letter on this website.
I invite readers to consider whether Professor Evans' expressed thoughts on my article of 25 August (above) are professional in tone and content. I offer no opinion. As Professor Evans asked Professor Lally what he though I was implying in my Herald article I will offer clarifications.
Professor Evans' words to Professor Lally appear, unaltered, in black type. My clarifications, interspersed, appear in blue type.
"I note that Dr Hayward was given considerable space in the New Zealand Herald on Monday to attacking me, using the same selective and biased techniques that are so evident in his MA thesis. Lest anyone should take what he says seriously, let me make the following points."
JH: I am surprised that the Professor perceived my article as an attack. His unhappiness was certainly not my aim. In my article I remained courteous and never criticised his outstanding scholarship and career achievements, or his personality. I merely repeated what the Working Party and Professor Orchard had said about the report he submitted to the Canterbury Working Party.
Moreover, The Herald gave me no more space than Professor Evans had received. And I chose not to exercise my right-of-reply to Professor Dov Bing's lengthy Herald article. So I am no newspaper "word hog".
JH: Professor Evans was paid over seventy thousand British pounds ($280,000 NZD at that time) to testify against David Irving. I do not think the payment of this grand fee inclined Professor Evans to bias. But I do think that expert witnesses are selected by their clients because their views are well known to coincide with their own. It is inconceivable that the Lipstadt defence team employed the expert advice of Professor Evans in ignorance of the views that he would express in court. It is, I respectfully suggest, equally inconceivable that the New Zealand Jewish Council employed his expert advice without regard for the testimony he had offered at the Irving/Lipstadt trial in
As for doing this expert work "on a political basis," I never accused Professor Evans of any such act. Nor have I tried to insinuate that. But if he is fearful of any perception that he was or is politically motivated he could, even now, donate his fees to an unrelated but eminently worthy charity or aid organisation. I respect and support Amnesty International [please click], and am confident that the English branch of this fine organisation could put his funds to wonderful use.
"Second, to repeat what I wrote in the NZH, the Working Party did not say I was highly partisan - this is pure invention on
JH: I regret that I must again politely correct Professor Evans. I certainly expressed no "pure invention" in The Herald. The Canterbury Working Party wrote: "The tone of the Evans report is strongly antagonistic" and that Professor Evans "sometimes appeared to diminish the objectivity required of an expert witness." The Working Party even found itself having to make "every effort to discount Professor Evans' tendency to intemperate expression." (Report, pp. 36, 37)
JH: The Working Party disagrees with Professor Evans on this point. It observed that his "understanding of the nature of the MA thesis at the University of Canterbury was incomplete." In particular, the Working Party noted that Professor Evans had mistaken the requirements of a half-masters thesis and that his judgement of it, by too high a standard, "might have affected his evaluation of it and inflamed his comments on its supervision and examination reports". (Report, pp. 36, 42, 43.)
"Fourthly, I did point out that the topic Hayward covered was far too large for an MA thesis, and the thesis itself was far too long and tried to cover far more ground than was possible in the time available. This is the fault of
JH: The Working Party concluded, contrary to Professor Evans' view, that my thesis was flawed but was also honest and non-malicious and non-racist and non-antisemitic. This may disturb some people who previously liked to claim that only a dishonest writer, motivated by race hatred, would ask fresh questions and seek new explanations about even such a sensitive subject as the Holocaust. But this was certainly true in my case. I did not, and do not now, employ dishonest research practices.
"Finally, Dr Hayward repeats some of the Holocaust deniers' claims that he supported in his thesis (that most historians of the Holocaust are Jewish, for example) and which, despite the selective quotes in his article, his thesis used to try and discredit their work. It would be nice to see him admit he was wrong on this and other claims he makes in the thesis, as he has not done so far."
JH: No. With great respect, Professor Evans has again mistaken my point: one's ethnicity or political inclinations do not by themselves create bias. Jews are no more likely to falsify the historical record than any other ethnic group, and even fervent Zionists are no more likely to do so than, say, fervent English republicans. Humans are just humans.
It seems strange, too, that Professor Evans seems not to know that I readily acknowledge any mistakes in my work once evidence of them has proven persuasive. I have not only accepted the presence of mistakes in my fledgling research, “that” 1991 thesis, but I also have apologised for the anger those mistakes have caused some people.
Why would I not? Intellectual misinterpretations or mistakes are not crimes. Or are they?