In 1993 I received a two-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Canterbury, comprising a supervised one-year research thesis (written thirty years ago in 1991) and four classroom-taught papers (1992). I received a grade of "A+" for the thesis and four "A"-range grades for the papers.
I have naturally regretted for the last thirty years that my 1991 thesis on the historiography of Holocaust revisionism — my first ever attempt at sustained research — was an imperfect piece of research. Straight out of a three-year bachelor degree I found myself overwhelmed by sources, confused by some highly complex arguments, very manipulated by some people I contacted, and not yet mature and wise in my thinking or skilled at the historian's craft. Yet I researched and wrote in good faith, trying hard not only to excel but also scrupulously to follow the guidance and advice of my well-published professor, with whom I had weekly supervision meetings.
My fledgling research under Dr Vincent Orange's close guidance made statements and expressed arguments that were not universally strong. Some were very poor. I wish I had been better prepared at the time to deal with my very complex topic. I regret that I mistakenly wrote erroneous things and that no supervisors or examiners stopped me from doing so or at least pointed out the grave weaknesses of interpretation.
Even worse, I hated occasionally observing online that a few revisionists and Holocaust deniers — many of whom clearly adore the Nazis, whom I despise — alleged that my far more mature, informed and accurate historical assessments about the Holocaust in the years after 1993 had been coerced by Jews. Their accusations were both silly and anti-Semitic. Thankfully, they don’t waste words on me anymore. Thirty years is a long time.
Throughout those thirty years I have written over a dozen books and more than thirty peer-reviewed articles, and in not even a single sentence have I denied, diminished or questioned the Holocaust. On the contrary, I have repeatedly affirmed that the Nazis murdered around six million innocent and undeserving Jewish people in history's worst and most unforgivable act of slaughter. My most recent statement to this effect — in a 2018 interview — states: "I can’t help but conclude that humans are, by and large, rather unkind to each other and sometimes utterly hateful. … How else can we explain ordinary German soldiers and paramilitary people murdering six million Jewish civilians in history’s greatest atrocity?"
I have learned a lot throughout the intervening three decades, both about the historian's craft and about our need as members of decent and forgiving societies to make amends for our youthful mistakes and lack of wisdom. I am at least pleased that, as well as publishing a number of well-received books and many articles on different topics (strategy, leadership, ethics and religion), I have been able to devote my academic career to something honorable, positive and beneficial: the development and intellectual enrichment of decent young men and women who will serve the noble causes of peace, freedom and tolerance.
I was saddened in December 2012 by news of Dr Orange's passing. Although his mid-twentieth-century worldview, iconoclastic nature and larger-than-life personality undoubtedly had a huge and negative influence on the ways in which I came to perceive and was urged to express various historical issues in my 1991 MA thesis, I have always considered him to be a decent, kind and congenial man. Our friendship weakened over time as I reflected each year on the significantly painful consequences of my postgraduate years under his close tutelage, but I still remember him as a scholar of outstanding aptitude and a teacher of truly infectious enthusiasm. Theatrical in the classroom, with a mischievous and anti-establishment streak, he was extremely popular with students. His contributions to air power history are impressive — perhaps unequaled — and no historian of twentieth-century air power or the Allied military effort in the Second World War can afford to ignore his books.
— Professor Joel Hayward, 1 January 2021.