should be hauled in for questioning
was quiet consternation in Sydney's white trash intelligentsia and the
incestuous world of publishing last week. Helen "Demidenko"
Darville had surfaced in a little-known mag called Australian Style
and many people who burned their fingers with her anti-Semitic novel
wished she had not.
had never heard of Australian Style, but when I heard the news
I bought a copy and took it home in a plain brown wrapper. It is not
a glossy, more of a matt -- a mag for rich teenagers, vacuous yuppies,
and persons who like looking at skinny, barely-pubescent girls and boys.
title page lists the publisher and editor-in-chief as Andrea Horwood,
the managing editor as Alex McKinnon. The newly appointed editor (who
commissioned the piece by Darville) is one Jack Marx. The directors
are Horwood, McKinnon and young Wendy Deng's stepson, Lachlan Murdoch.
is holed up in London now and her piece is a rambling impressionistic
interview with David Irving, the right wing English historian who notoriously
denies the existence of the Third Reich's gas chambers, and that Hitler
knew about the Final Solution, at least until 1943. The occasion is
Irving's libel action against an American Academic, Deborah Lipstadt
for remarks about him in her 1993 book Denying the Holocaust: The
Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.
does Irving was a curious meeting of minds, for Darville, under the
assumed identity of "Helen Demidenko", was the author of The
Hand That Signed the Paper, a first novel that won the 1993 Australian-Vogel
award and the 1995 Miles Franklin. In a cause celebre of Australian
letters she was subsequently exposed as a sad little fantasist. She
claimed The Hand was the story of her family. She wore a peasant
blouse and screeched hysterically on the radio about Ukrainian ancestors
butchered by "Jewish Bolsheviks", but when the truth came
out, she was just a brazen liar and a plagiarist, a disturbed young
lady from a prosaically English family.
novel pushed the old Nazi line that the Bolshevik Party was a Jewish
conspiracy and that the Ukrainian Jews thereby brought it all on themselves.
line, by contrast, is that the Holocaust wasn't so bad after all. This
is mad political masochism, an intellectual suicide mission. He doesn't
deny there was a Holocaust, and he'd even put the total number of Jews
killed at somewhere between one and four million. The question is, why
does he bother with this bizarre crusade? In terms of saving Hitler's
'honour', could the exact numbers really matter? One million murders,
four million, six million ... who cares. The whole of Nazi ideology,
propaganda and social policy headed inexorably towards the Final Solution.
A huge bureaucracy was created to implement it. The Einsatzgruppen were
formed to hunt down and execute Jews wherever they could be found. Who
cares if Hitler didn't attend the committee meetings and sign off on
all the plans? Does it make a difference whether a few million people
died by gassing or -- as Irving would prefer to see it -- by shooting,
typhoid, starvation and forced labour?
the ultra-right care, because their new generation must rescue the 'honour'
of European fascism somehow. They must 'prove' to themselves, in some
twisted way, that Hitler was actually a rational moderate nationalist,
who knew nothing of extreme measures implemented by over-zealous underlings.
And what of the motives of Australian Style? Is printing Darville's
piece an attempt to rehabilitate her, or is it just a tasteless tactic
to boost sales through controversy? When they sat down to plan the March
edition, why did they decide to commission such a person to report on
a trial of such gravity? They had hundreds of freelance writers trying
to crack the big time in London to choose from. Why not do something
on Michael Hutchence or run a new conspiracy theory on Lady Di's death?
one claim by Darville caught my eye: she repeats her old story that
in 1992 she "conducted extensive interviews with a Ukrainian who
served as a guard at Treblinka", a man she says participated in
herding Jews to the gas chambers. She's probably lying again, but just
to be sure, the war crimes investigators should haul her in for questioning.