David Irving's Replies to Questions from New York Times London Correspondent Don Guttenplan

For the resulting article see New York Times, Saturday, June 26, 1999

JUNE 8, 1999

IF YOU contact my staff (Bente) in London at 0171 491 3498 they will give you access to my well ordered clippings files, which include masses of reviews including the September 16, 1996 review of Goebbels. Mastermind of the Third Reich by Prof Gordon Craig in NY Review of Books to which you refer. While you are welcome to look, while at that address, at any of my Discovery, we cannot show you the defendants' Discovery yet, which includes a number of interesting items establishing what I shall claim was an international conspiracy by a number of (alas) Jewish organisations to defame me and "destroy my legitimacy as an historian" as one of their documents admits. For some of the reviews, see my Website at


and especially



No word from the NYT yet. (4 p.m. here)

2. Unfortunately Bente is ill today and went to the hospital for scan. May have to wait a day or two.

Patricia Cohen [of New York Times] has now confirmed that you are doing the story. Thank you for indulging me.

As a starting point: you will notice that although a litigant in person, which is a more fearsome beast in the English courts than in the American, I have largely prevailed in the interlocutory actions. The most recent, in which I tried to get Professor Lipstadt's defence struck out because her solicitors had concealed important video evidence, will interest you. You will find my account under


which you have no doubt already seen. You will have correctly surmised that I and my staff are working to produce an informative Website for the general public for when the trial begins, which will include most of the currently privileged documents from Discovery as and when they come into the public domain. It should make for an interesting hearing, as I cannot count on the newspapers to report fairly, or in full.

Incidentally, her solicitors (Libson, Julius, etc.) are a most charming and urbane group of people. At the first hearing, over a year ago they clustered frigidly outside the courtroom door and refused to shake hands. That has changed -- marginally. I rather fancy that now that they have delved into my entire private papers, including having the free run of some 59 volumes of my private diaries, they find that I am anything but the monster depicted by those who pushed Lipstadt into libelling me.

Thursday, June 10, 1999

Dear Mr Guttenplan

Bente was there yesterday, as I spoke with her; she is however not well for a few days and going to hospital for another MRI scan today which may mean you'll have to persevere. Try her own personal phone number at the office: [...].

1. (a) A British newspaper printed on July 30, 1995 a review by Richard Overy of an excellent book by Roger Griffin (ed.), Fascism (Oxford University Press). The review article contained a serious libel on me. It stated,

"The real fascists, lurking on the lunatic fringe, are indeed generically related to the inter-war varieties, but their discourse is simply out of touch with the current political world (consider David Irving, quoted by GrifÞn, who writes in the Mein Kampf idiom: 'I combat Jewry not as a religion, but as a race … a solution to the Jewish problem must come'). It is impossible to imagine circumstances in which the general cultural milieu will support this kind of nonsense as it did in the 1920s."

Since, as the original book made clear, these were statements made not by me at all, but in 1922 by Adolf Hitler to a Munich banker, quoted from an exclusive stenographic record which I myself first published in 1982, the libel could hardly have been clearer. After I issued a writ (again acting in person) there was a settlement in September 1995, under the terms of which Consent Order however I am enjoined from going into any detail whatsoever. The High Court case file is 1995.-I.-No. 1083. It is possible that [...] will be willing to discuss the matter with you, in which case I would be grateful that you confirm to them that I have declined to give you any details.

(b) You will generally find that I provide you with specific and accurate information for your article, so far as I am permitted to do so within the law, although knowing the New York Times I have low expectations that the resulting article will be in the least bit favourable.

2. In Germany, when I was permitted to speak there, my lawyers repeatedly took injunctive action under German law during the 1980s against individuals and organisations who libelled me, notably the Aachener Zeitung, the German IG Metall trades union, and others; examples of these actions are in my Discovery in the Lipstadt case. In every single case the defendant(s) agreed to be bound over not to repeat the libels, which were essentially of the "Holocaust denial" variety. Taking libel action against German newspapers is more difficult, as the applicable law is the Pressegesetz (a holdover from the Dr Goebbels regime!) under which the newspaper can only be held to publish a rebuttal. The procedure is wearisome, and does not commend itself. The newspaper often publishes the rebuttal with a comment which effectively takes back with one hand what it grants with the other. Please feel free to speak with my then Munich lawyer, Dr Michael Hubertus von Sprenger, telephone (was?) 00 49 89 391 037, who should recall some of these cases in broad outline. He also acted against the Süddeutsche Zeitung who implied in July 1992 that I had stolen the glass plates with the Goebbels diaries from the Moscow archives. They published a retraction (after the Institut für Zeitgeschichte themselves hastily retracted).

The short answer to your question is however:

  • (a) I do not wish to spend my life in the Law Courts
  • (b) I accept that there is a certain amount of rough and tumble in public life as an author
  • (c) by 1996 however a mudslide of seismic proportions was developing, with the Anti-Defamation League, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and others demonstrably operating the backhoes and mudpumps, and it was time to start hammering big pegs into the hillside if I was not to get buried.

Hence the writs against Professor Lipstadt and Gitta Sereny, on the relative merits of which cases you will not of course expect me to comment. The Lipstadt book was repeatedly referred to at the time that St Martins Press came under last-minute pressure in April 1996 to cancel production of my biography Goebbels. Mastermind of the Third Reich, on which I had researched and written for eight years.

3. Feel free to telephone me at my Key West rental cottage. The number (including fax) which is strictly for your own use and confidential, is [...].

JUNE 10, 1999

I have written to Lipstadt's lawyers Mishcon de Reya today as follows


3. A journalist Mr Don Guttenplan of Hampstead has contacted me, writing a feature on the action for the New York Times. I have provided him with certain information, so far as legally possible, and if you wish to answer his questions I shall raise no objection."

JUNE 11, 1999

Please let me know roughly if and when you have word that your article will appear. We can buy the NYT down here in the boonies.

JUNE 13, 1999

I don't want to start sounding like Nato's unspeakable Jamie Shea, but to answer most of your questions would provide my legal opponents with valuable intelligence, which I cannot afford to do at this late stage.

In detail therefore only this:

[Question] 1. In your reply to Lipstadt's response, you say: "it is denied that the Plaintiff has denied that gas chambers were used by the Nazis as the principal means of carrying out that extermination; they may have used them on occasion on an experimental scale, which fact he does not deny." There seems to be a typographical error here, since as far as I can tell you continue to maintain that gas chambers were never used on a large scale to kill human beings. Or have I misunderstood you? Please clarify.

Answer: No typographical error; I concede that there is evidence of experimental use by the Nazis of gas chambers in various establishments (not that I am any kind of expert).

[Question] 2. Would you please detail your most salient points of disagreement with Faurisson and Zundel?

Answer: I am not thoroughly familiar with their views; I have my hands full defending my own.

[Question] 3. Do you feel it would be accurate to describe Faurisson and/or Zundel as denying the Holocaust?

Answer: I am not sure what is meant by this (to me meaningless) phrase.

[Question] 4. What is your response to the Pressac book describing the gas chambers at Auschwitz?

Answer: Haven't read it. It's not my patch.

[Question] 5. Do you feel that those who describe you as an anti-semite do you an injustice? If so, why?

Answer: They are entitled to express their views but, in the UK at least, they must expect to take the consequences if those views are defamatory and untrue.

[Question] 6. Among the reasons listed for bringing the action, you say your feelings were hurt. In what way is this true? Which of the characterizations of you in the book hurt your feelings?

Answer: that's, uh, classified, uh, information, uh.

[Question] 7. Aside from Dr. McDonald, are you able to reveal the name of any of your other expert witnesses?

Answer: could but won't.

[Question] 8. If the Lipstadt book was, as you suggest, instrumental in the campaign to pressure St. Martin's to cancel your contract, why did you not also sue St. Martins? Or did they pay the full advance and release the rights to you?

Answer: I consulted half a dozen firms of New York lawyers about taking action against SMP, including several Jewish lawyers incidentally. Those I consulted included Kenneth Norwick of Norwick & Shand; Bickel & Brewer; John Linkenauer of Floyd, Abrams; Martin Garbus; Ronald Rauchberg of Proskauer, Rose, Goetz, Mendelsohn; and Bruce Rich of Weil, Gotshal, Manges. Mr Rich would have acted but his company had relations with SMP via Don Sugarman, I believe, thus a possible conflict of interest. The best legal advice I had was that I had no prospect on the only two footings that commended themselves:

(a) Breach of contract: SMP had specifically not violated their contract with me; the contract stated that if after accepting the Goebbels. Mastermind of the Third Reich manuscript (as they did) they had still not published within twelve months of my giving them three months' notice to do so, i.e. 15 months in total, rights would revert to me. In their final fax to me on April 6, 1996, they stated they now had no intention of publishing and there was no need for me to wait out the 15 months. Nice folks, and 20-year SMP CEO Tom McCormack (who had dined with me on occasions in London, had published several of my books, had used puffs from me on the jackets of several others, and then claimed on April 6, 1996: "If only we had known who Mr Irving was...") got his come uppance only six weeks later (sacked).

(b) Defamation: no realistic prospect of success. Public figure. (New York Times v Sullivan).

JUNE 14, 1999

Operative word appears to be "principal" (means of destruction). Under the rules of court, any matter not formally traversed (denied) in a Reply to a Defence is deemed to be admitted, hence the rather awkward double negative effect.

2. SMP paid the initial "on acceptance" sum due to me under the contract. They did not pay either the second, "on publication", sum, or the sum contractually due to us (i.e. my imprint Focal Point Publications) for a license to offset from our print: i.e., we did the setting and typography, we supplied the films, they produced a photographic copy for USA. I never comment on the size of advances. My editor at SMP, Thomas L Dunne (212 674 5151, ext 776) told me that the book was read and praised by, he said months before the disaster, "seven of their editors" before acceptance. It was also initially accepted subsequently by Steve Wassermann at Random House, then shot down by spiteful premature publicity in the New York Post. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich [in the person of Daniel H Farley, Vice President, who has known my work for twenty years; e-mail: dfarley@harcourtbrace.com] ran with it for three or four months in 1997, then got sudden cold feet, no doubt for all the usual reasons: fear of the traditional enemies of free speech; "holocaust denier". Last summer it was rediscovered by Basic Books (Don Fehr, senior editor at Basic Books, e-mail: Don.Fehr@perseusbooks.com, who sent me an admiring e-mail, learned that US rights were still out there, and carried the project upwards through his building for two months before it was shot down by high-level flak). I myself am doing nothing whatever to market rights in the USA.

3. Website speed: [...] Warning: if you use the AOL browser the Java pulldown menus won't work and your stuck on the page you're on. You have to use e.g. Netscape or Explorer for them to work.

4. The Widener Library at Harvard currently carries 41 of my books; just thought you'd like to know...

JUNE 22, 1999

Thank you for staying in touch.

The answer on Pressac is, in detail: at a 1993 Washington occasion I was shown briefly a copy of the large Pressac book, which is I presume "Technique and Operations..." etc. I leafed through it for about ten minutes. I have read many critiques of it, both for and against, and I gather that it aids the revisionist cause more than it harms it. In particular, I believe that Pressac concluded, rightly or wrongly, than only an infinitesimal amount of cyanide delivered to Auschwitz may have gone for homicidal purposes, and that over 95 percent was used for pesticidal purposes. For reasons like this, it is possible to surmise, the Pressac book was never widely published or republished. I repeat however, I have not read it.

I did however read Professor Van Pelt's book, which, if the contributions by Deborah Dwork be identified and disregarded, I consider to be a first rate work of history and archeology (you will understand what I mean by that word). I did submit some observations and criticisms to Pelt; he has not so far acknowledged my letter, over two years later. I shall not be surprised if he surfaces as an expert witness for Professor Lipstadt (and, boy, am I ready for him). The Pelt book is one which I purchased, and read from cover to cover, as you will see from the many notes in the margin. (You are at liberty to go and see the copy at Duke Street.)

As for the Website, I am sorry you have had trouble accessing it. Feel free to call in at Duke Street and read it on one of the Macs there. The only new things you might find of use are the text index to the site, which I have put in for those who cannot use Java. This is:


And the verbatim transcript of the speech which I delivered on the campus of Washington State University last April, which you will find now (in part) at:


You might also find it helpful to point readers of The New York Times to my Website at


since I shall be posting full daily court reports on that when the case is heard.

JUNE 23, 1999

Again, my answer will disappoint. Since I apprehend that it is very likely that Professor Van Pelt will surface in seven days' time as one of Professor Lipstadt's expert witnesses, and yours are probably the kind of questions that will arise in court, I am not going to answer them substantively at this stage. I expect however that Van Pelt's book, which is a deservedly widely sold book, has been bought by thousands of readers for whom the holocaust is not within their patch, and you can count me among those.

Dwork disqualifies herself by her uncritical use of sources (assuming I have correctly identified which parts she wrote, and that is not difficult).

JUNE 23, 1999

In a message dated 23.6.99 4:59:07 AM, DonGutten writes:

Thanks for your reply (though you have made a short paragraph of my piece longer). But you still haven't told me (I'm afraid my masters at the Times are insistent) how you would describe "your patch".

Steve Spender described me (as you probably noticed) as "a British historian, David Irving, perhaps the greatest living authority on the Nazi era," The New York Times review of books, Sunday . . . March 1977. [precise date in March uncertain, it tore off my clipping]. I am content with that generic description.

The Times in London on March 14, 1971 already wrote "DAVID IRVING TAKES his place in the first rank of historical chroniclers".

I would describe myself in those terms, were I immodest; I would add that I regard myself principally as a biographer of top Nazis (and others).

Clearly, the holocaust is only a corner of that patch.

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