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The dangers of writing and lecturing on WW2 history in a Europe where some of the old forces are still in control

A further chapter of memoirs by David Irving


Munich court scene
Been there, done that. On Jan 13, 1993 a Munich court fined David Irving 30,000 deutschmarks for stating that the gas chamber shown to tourists in Auschwitz is a fake (in 1995 Poland finally admitted it was constructed in 1948, three years after the war ended). He was banned from Germany. Then too his lawyer was Dr Herbert Schaller (centre) assisting Hajo Herrmann (at far right). Then too there were calls for a further prosecution because of the interview Mr Irving gave Bavarian television.

Lifetime Achievement Award


MOST days in February 2006 a single ray of sunshine found it way down through the rooftop jumble of razor wire, closed-circuit cameras, and floodlight rigs for a few minutes around 11:15 each morning, and a crab-sized patch of sunshine crawled sideways for fifteen minutes across the cell floor. I rejoiced in that small sunbeam until the patch climbed up the wall, two meters away and vanished. A Turkish Hausarbeiter (trusty) furnished the cheering word that in summer the cells here in the Josefstadt jailhouse became baking hot, as the floor was covered in a toxic black paint.

Spring would soon be here and already Austria was gripped in an extended heatwave. The temperature outside had hit minus sixteen in February, but now it began to climb, and things were hotting up for other reasons too. At the behest of who knows whom, Austrian officials were gearing up to charge me, "In the Name of the People" of course, with a new thought-crime.

In his gloomy, 150-year-old workshop at the far end of this imposing grey stone building in the heart of Vienna, the "Landl," the public prosecutor Michael Klackl had begun to polish a second, potentially far more deadly case against me, one which threatened maximum sentences of twenty years and even life imprisonment. Word filtered down the jailhouse grapevine to me that Klackl had already opened a court file with a fresh file number -- the last stage before a formal indictment.

As the temperature outside hit thirty-five, police escorted me on June 16, 2006 before a new investigating magistrate, Dr. Frederic Artner, elsewhere in this rambling building, to answer questions about my post-trial interviews with the Austrian and British media. It seemed absurd that in a free world, six decades after the end of World War II, an interview with a newspaper could lead to new criminal charges.

I cannot deny that I was worried, but I kept this unattractive development from my own family. Our London home was now lost, our property all in storage; they had worries of their own.

Conscious that every letter that I wrote was still being censored and copied, however intimate, for the prosecutor, I reported to a friend:

It looks as though the Viennese criminal authorities are hoping for a second bite at the cherry. The Austrians are now contemplating prosecuting me again for an article published by the Vienna newspaper Die Presse on March 3.

The prosecutor Dr. Michael Klackl is understood to object to a passage in which I drew attention to the fact that nearly 100,000 Jewish prisoners survived Auschwitz until the camp was abandoned in January 1945. More irksome for the criminal authorities was the title for the whole-page article: "AUSTRIA IS ACTING LIKE A NAZI STATE". In the present vindictive mood, if the consequent irony of their new action is lost on the authorities here, I will again be prosecuted.

I was summoned at 9:10 a.m. this morning to be interrogated about the article, and about a dispatch issued by the Austrian Press Agency APA, and no doubt also about the BBC "Today" interview -- although the judge did not get that far as I refused to answer any questions at all.

My continued imprisonment is costing Austrian taxpayers over $1,000 a week. The cost to me is incalculable, of course, and that is what the traditional enemies of free speech are banking on.

HilbergOn June 10 fellow prisoners smuggled in to my cell a page of the local newspaper, Der Standard, carrying a lengthy interview with Jewish historian Raul Hilberg. I think highly of Hilberg; he shares many of my views -- though I was unlikely to see him here in Josefstadt. (In fact there were only two Jews in this jail, on the floor above ours, C-2: one was immediately made Blockschreiber, or block-clerk, although he could write only Hebrew script; the other had his cell door permanently open on some pretext or other.)

Hilberg had a degree of intellectual honesty not often found in the conformist historians. Here is part of that interview:

Standard: Mr. Hilberg, do we know all there is to know now about the Holocaust?

Hilberg: As good as twenty percent. . . There just hasn't been the research, because people did not want to know certain things, for example that the poor died first, and only then the well-to-do. . .

Standard: One topic at the Wiesenthal Symposium was his memorandum to the Austrian Government forty years ago, stating that Austrians were disproportionately involved in the Holocaust.

Hilberg: [Agrees, with many details].

Standard: Should we be imprisoning David Irving for Holocaust-denial [sic]?

Hilberg: To be honest, no. He is a fraudster (Hochstapler).

Standard: As an historian, yes. But he has provided legitimacy to the deniers. Should Holocaust denial be criminalized at all?

Hilberg: Not in my view. I am for freedom even for these people. We can even learn from them. They're like children who say: Prove it! And so we must -- prove it!"


Dr. Herbert Schaller, my attorney, had also seen the Hilberg interview and had included it in a fresh submission to the OGH, the Viennese Supreme Court.

The Zündel Trial, 1988


Outside the Toronto courthouse in April 1988: l to r Doug Christie, Mrs Zündel, Ernst Zündel, David Irving, cameraman

I reminded him that the Crown called the unfortunate Dr. Hilberg as a well-paid expert witness at the original trial of Ernst Zündel in Toronto, Canada. He had crumpled under defence counsel Douglas Christie's fierce cross-examination, and when the prosecution asked him to testify again at the 1988 retrial (at which I was also called, by the defence) Hilberg flatly refused, stating that he never wanted to go through that ordeal again.

Hence, I rather suspect, Hilberg's wan admission that only twenty percent is known; which is not to claim that we non-conformist historians know the other eighty percent.

Schaller and I, we both chuckled loudly as we shook hands and parted, and a friendly officer escorted me back to Cell 19.

"Air conditioning's out in my cell," I jest.

"Whole building," he grunts with perfect timing, and the bare, wax-polished corridor, lined with its dark green steel doors, rocks with our jovial laughter.

In the afternoon a different prison officer brings me an ominous Notice. The prison had started a formal inquiry whether I had breached regulations by having a copy of Henri Roques' dissertation on the so-called Kurt Gerstein Report in my cell. Not much mileage for them in this new game, I fear: Judge Peter Liebetreu himself cleared this book and the accompanying letter from Dr. Roques through Censorship to my cell.

"How wonderful to live in a free democracy," I wrote to friends outside. "I shall look forward to it on my release."

A few days after the Hilberg article appeared, on June 20, 2006, I wrote this to a friend in Chicago:

Letter number 69 [of a final total of 114] goes off to Jessica and Bente. Coffee bubbling on a chair in the corner. In this cell everything is within arm's reach. Humid and 33 degrees C today, the cell is boiling. I am now into the eighth month of my Austrian taxpayer-funded Sabbatical.

My new lawyer is Dr. Herbert Schaller, 83, veteran member of the Ernst Zündel defence team in Mannheim. He shuttles between Mannheim and Vienna, ministering to our needs. A great guy. He is optimistic about this appeal; I warn him that in all countries that have Ministries of Justice it is politics and politicians that ultimately call the shots.

I remind him of the last big trial in Munich where he acted for me, in 1993: Hajo Herrmannhis German co-lawyer Klaus Göbel arrived at court palpitating with fear -- he had that morning received a letter from the Bavarian Bar Association which he showed me, ordering him not to defend me, on penalty of permanent suspension; fortunately I also had Colonel Hajo Herrmann (right) as an attorney, a bearer of the Knight's Cross and hence not easily intimidated -- still alive today in Düsseldorf, he fought as a Luftwaffe pilot in the July 1942 battle for Convoy PQ.17 -- and of course Dr. Herbert Schaller too, again fighting for my freedom today.

I have today lodged a formal complaint with the Vienna Bar Association about Schaller's predecessor, the feckless left-winger Dr. Elmar Kresbach. . . I do not seriously expect them to act. These professional bodies rarely do. . .


DOWN in the prison yard there was a new face, a fresh young Italian-looking man. Like the young Sinti whom we shall meet later, he recognized me at once from press reports, and made a bee-line over to me. His name was Andrew von W., he announced, citing the name of one of Austria's most famous philosophers.

He offered congenial, amusing company, and I often shared my morning stroll with him. After a day or two he initiated a subtle campaign whose purpose I never really fathomed. His grandfather von W. had been a famous Luftwaffe ace, he confided, and had left behind two cases filled with uniforms, a Luftwaffe dagger, and three black leather-bound volumes which located one of the most sought after treasures of WW2, the fabled Bernstein Zimmer, the Amber Room looted by German troops from Leningrad during the war. The loot was concealed, he said, in a former Luftwaffe bunker in what had been the German Democratic Republic, the DDR, near Halle.

This was precisely how I had picked up so many precious documents during the years of my research, an unexpected tip-off. To the questions which immediately arose -- why me? And why had he not himself profited from this immense wealth? -- he had ready answers. So I pricked up my ears; after all I had little else to do; he was good company, as said, and a cut above the rest of those in the prison yard.

He seemed to have free access to our jailhouse wing's pay-telephone, and the officers allowed him to speak for hours at a time. As for the black leather volumes, he said that these contained in copperplate Gothic handwriting the inventory of each piece of the Bernstein Zimmer -- he professed that he himself could not read such handwriting well -- and of the bunker room in which it was stored; helpfully, a map of the location was glued into the third volume.

The easy telephone access did momentarily puzzle me. I recalled that when I had first arrived, Inspector Böhm, an elderly prison officer about to retire, snarled: "Even though the judge has given his consent, Herr Irving, that doesn't mean that we'll permit it here, not by a long chalk."

From Cell 19 of C Block I began Operation Leonard, to research the real history of the Bernstein Zimmer -- not easy when six weeks elapsed between every letter and reply. I began to check the details through my friends. One Australian historian whom I knew was an expert on the whole Von W. family and their ancestors. Another knew all about the Luftwaffe aces.

By the time their replies came in, this Italianate gentleman in the yard had already begun to lose me; he was making the familiar mistake of all tricksters. It reminded me of the saga of one Klaus Benzing, who had offered me the hidden diaries of Vice-Admiral Wilhelm Canaris (right) back in the 1970s.

"Von W." embroidered the story with more and more detail, as I mildly asked for more, and eventually he tripped himself up. The map gave the precise geographic coordinates, he said. It was glued in, unusually, with North at the bottom, he recalled. He even sketched what it looked like. He and his brother had visited the location in the closing years of the DDR, he said, using GPS [SatNav] to pinpoint the precise location: they had spoken with the farmer on whose land the bunker ruins were -- the bunker was still there, partly demolished, and overgrown with weeds.

I pointed out in the nicest possible way that the DDR breathed its last gasp in 1989, and that GPS was not publicly available by then. Of course he smoothly and seamlessly enlarged his story to explain that blemish too.

I never really fathomed what he was after; true, he got free coffee handouts and other groceries from me in the first weeks of his imprisonment, but I would have given him those even without the tall stories.

His face vanished from our wing some weeks later; the court had sentenced him to seven years as a confidence trickster, having deceived the noble lady whose name he now bore (he had changed it by deed poll).

He had also used his charms on Inspector J., one of the senior Block chiefs, as I learned later from Zoran, a trusty. We were swapping yarns about the trickster, to general laughter in the prison yard. Each had his own story. Learning that J. was a passionate huntsman -- a member of what Adolf Hitler referred to scathingly as "die grüne Freimaurerei," the green Masonic lodge -- Von W. had mentioned that he had had a bit of luck: he had inherited a hunting preserve in the Tyrol, and he hinted that he would be happy to invite the Inspector as his guest when happier times returned. That explained the liberal use of the telephone.


THE yard was a kaleidoscope of strange faces at 11:30 each morning that summer, as new prisoners arrived, and others fled outside from the heat of their cells. That same month as I was shuffling anti-clockwise round the crowded yard in the sunshine, and occasionally pausing to read another chapter of a Graham Greene novel in my favorite spot along the sunshine wall, a prisoner came over the baked mud and grass patch in the centre, and rather shyly asked if I was the English writer.

I nodded cautiously. "There is somebody over there who'd like to speak with you," he said, and beckoned over a slim, educated looking young man in his thirties hovering in the far corner.

His name, he said, was Gitan W.; I won't write his full name as he is still a prisoner; and it may not even have been his real name, as two searches of the Austrian prison computer database on my behalf by friendly officers failed to raise any trace of him. Prison is full of mysteries.

He had been passing through Vienna a few days ago, his pockets full of euros, he described, when police arrested him -- and then the whole story came tumbling out.

"I am a Sinti, a gypsy," he said. "We are not like the Romas. They are just lazy layabouts; we are a hard working, educated clan, with careers and professions like teachers and lawyers. The Romas come originally from India," he continued. "They are crooks, thieves, and cheats, they do nothing but thieve all day, and sing all night."

At the mention of the late-night lullabies I nodded with a weariness born of familiarity.

"We live on a housing estate, a project, outside Stuttgart," he continued his tale, "we are awarded 500 euros a month by the German Federal Republic, and we pay no taxes -- these concessions are a recognition of our suffering as Sintis under the Nazis. My father and grandfather were in Auschwitz," he explained. As a court- and newspaper-nominated "denier," I stiffened slightly, still not guessing where his story was heading.

Shortly he began to pour out his whole extraordinary case: he had been driving through Vienna to Bulgaria a few days before, carrying a large sum of euros in cash, to buy oil paintings. He was a dealer -- "We buy up unwanted family junk, and sell antiques." (I still do not know whether to put quotation marks around that latter word or not.) He had checked into the Intercontinental Hotel and paid cash in advance for the night, but in completing the registration form which the Austrian police still require of their country's hotels, he had entered himself simply with his family name "W." -- omitting the first name, Gitan.

I understood why, I said. They don't like gypsies in Austria, whether Roma or Sinti in origin. I motioned him to go on, and he did. At two a.m. the police had rousted him out of his room, at the instance of the hotel management, and searched his property.

Here the story took a totally unexpected turn: In his wallet they had found, carefully folded, the fading and yellowing original death warrant which Rudolf Höss, the commandant of Auschwitz, had pronounced in July 1942, sixty-five years before, on his grandfather and a dozen other Sintis who had staged a mutiny in the camp that month, killing a number of SS guards.[*]

Going into a degree of detail that again made me briefly suspicious, Gitan described the document -- it carried the swastika emblem, rubber stamps, the commandant's signature, and the names of the other unfortunates sentenced to death by hanging. Before his execution, Gitan's grandfather had given it to his father; the father let Gitan carry it with him as a memento, which is why the Viennese police had found it, a few days before, in his wallet.

And? I looked at him quizzically, waiting for an explanation why he was here in prison. At five a.m. that night, he continued, he was formally arrested, charged with concealment of a genocide, and brought here to Josefstadt prison.

I gasped, but the young man's story grew even wilder: the investigating magistrate had been as perplexed as I was, and had promised a swift hearing in five days' time, and indicated he would be released. He had phoned his wife back in Stuttgart with the good news. Instead, he was taken to Stein prison, which I knew from yard talk was one of the nastier prisons in the Austrian system. Here plain-clothes investigators had visited him from, he was told, the Israeli embassy.

The lady judge presiding over the subsequent hearing in Vienna would not hear of a swift release. In Austria all prisoners are guilty until they prove their innocence. In Austria all accused must always show remorse. "Do you regret your deed?" she had challenged the prisoner, as is the Austrian custom.

Deed? Gitan W. protested that he was innocent -- the document was his family property, he had nothing to show regret for. His court-appointed lawyer shifted uneasily and went red.

The judge repeated her qurestion, more sharply: "Do you regret your deed?" Gitan could see his lawyer nodding fervently as a signal to him. So he shrugged and agreed that he did feel remorse.

"That is just as well," said the judge, "otherwise the sentence would have been ten years. You will serve two years."

As he was led out in a daze, he stopped and called out to the Judge: "You'll go home tonight to your own bed, and I won't see mine, or my wife and kids for two years. . ."

She ordered him to be silent, and motioned dismissively to the guards.

The Viennese prosecutor smirked. "Auf Wiederseh'n, Zigeuner! Farewell, Gypsy!"

"My name is not Gypsy, it's Gitan W--," he retorted, as he was escorted out.

"Z'gainer bleebt Z'gainer," sneered the prosecutor, lapsing into the Viennese dialect. Once a gypsy, always a gypsy.

I asked if he would appeal, and he bitterly said he would not: he could just about handle the two years, and sentences on appeal were often increased -- half a dozen words I did not really want to hear.

I wrote a six-page note on what he had told me, and tested him during the exercise period the next day for more details, just as I had the "noble" trickster earlier. His account remained identical, with one piquant added detail: "The Judge was a Jewess," he recalled, as an afterthought, and he gave me her name. "Sonja Allyes."

I wanted to ask him the next day for his court file number and his lawyer's name, but they had already removed him in the Krokodil to Stein. I mailed my six-page note to Rolf Hochhuth in Berlin -- I knew that the playwright could make a fine two-act drama out of this real life human story. Act 1: 1942 Mutiny in Auschwitz; Act 2, 2006 Trial in Vienna. The letter never reached Rolf.

Everything is monitored here, I wrote in a letter later that broiling hot summer. An Italian nobleman is paying Jessica's next school fees. The world is full of Irving-lovers (and Austria-haters).

I'm still reading Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall (his son Auberon Waugh was a good friend of mine, who once wrote in The Daily Telegraph, "I cannot help asking myself what sort of truth it is" that requires the protection of fines and prison sentences to survive.)

After I replaced Dr Elmar Kresbach with Dr Schaller, the prison officers searched me only once more. This time they subjected me to a very different treatment: the door was flung open without warning, and I was curtly ordered to stand up and stop writing in mid-sentence -- it reminded me of Hungary's 1956 revolutionary prime minister, the luckless "Reform Communist" Imre Nagy, dragged away from his own writings in mid-sentence to be hanged -- and I was escorted to an empty cell, ordered to strip naked and searched.

This time their search of my cell, No. 19, lasted over an hour, and when I was finally escorted back to it, the scene defied all the usual hurricane-aftermath clichés. Every tin and packet had been torn open, papers strewn around, and much of my property had drifted down to the floor (a level I was now finding more difficult to reach).

Again the officers left my cell empty-handed, and this time there were no smiles. Two other cells were also searched, but given only the briefest once-over. The next day a trusty told me that the Block chief, the same Inspector J., had confided to him that Judge Liebetreu had ordered this special search, as the prison had been informed that Dr Schaller had smuggled an item of contraband into me at his last visit. The two other cells had been searched as a blind.

In fact Schaller was not just korrekt, but over-scrupulous: the Austria judiciary had disbarred him some years back for five years for his nationalist views, and even now it allowed him to act only as a Strafverteidiger, defence counsel, and not as a Rechtsanwalt, attorney, like young Dr Kresbach.

I picked up my pen and resumed writing where I had left off, and I wondered who had wrongly fingered Schaller, and why.


I HAD been imprisoned for eight months, most of the time locked down alone for twenty-three or twenty-four hours a day. I now had a small new television in my cell (when I eventually left, I donated it to the prison wing for other needy prisoners to borrow). I tried not to think of the disasters that had befallen us in London. "Tip," I wrote sardonically to friends in Chicago on their national holiday, July 4: "Become a controversial historian. Assemble forty-five years of stuff. Watch it ALL being seized and destroyed. Simplifies subsequent moves, evictions, removals, etc., no end."

I envied the Americans the freedom of speech that they still enjoy, protected by their Constitution. It used to exist in Britain too. In that letter, I added:

I HAVE hung that excellent copy of the Magna Carta on my wall. I just hope the turnkeys can read it when they search the cell, as they often do.

The TV is about two feet from my nose, so it takes minimum effort to adjust it. It's off all day, however, except for the Russian-language channel's "Novosti" (News) at midday and CNN in the evening. Oh, and C.S.I. Miami (for glimpses of favorite haunts) and, of course, Monk with Tony Shaloub.

Most of the time I have my small radio on, tuned to the St. Stephen's Cathedral radio station nearby, which provides wall-to-wall (in my case a distance of five feet) classical music.

As for this continued incarceration, I regard it now as an Oscars-style "Lifetime Achievement Award", made in recognition of writing forty years of inconvenient history.

On July 24, the Procurator General informed Dr Herbert Schaller that he would recommend that my application to set aside the February 20 judgment should not go before the Supreme Court, the OGH. It had taken three months to get this far. I wrote to a correspondent in London, that day:

Schaller will now demand an oral hearing of the application by the OGH, to which he is entitled. If that fails [it did], the main appeal will be heard by the lower appeal court, the OLG. Either way, it is expected that the appeal will be heard in September [in fact late December].

I have been in solitary confinement on political charges since November 11. I am continuing to write, and thank the hundreds who write me from all over the world every month, especially those writing anonymously from Germany and Austria -- evidence, in my view, that these citizens still fear that they are living in Nazi-like police states.

As the autumn approached I followed outside events with more than usual curiosity, especially the tragic and needlessly prolonged fighting in the Middle East. Like hundreds of millions of fathers around the world, I wept for the little Palestinian daughter running scared and frantic hither and thither about that Mediterranean beach, after all seven members of her family had been killed by an Israeli artillery shell, and sensed impotent fury as the Süddeutsche Zeitung, like all the hidebound German media, tried to mitigate and expiate and reason and exonerate the government which had committed this atrocity.

A week later full-scale war broke out -- the Palestinians were held to blame, of course. To writers on history it all seemed so familiar -- particularly the propaganda from both sides, and the lies.

I have been very intrigued by the media coverage of this Israel-Hizbollah conflict, I wrote to one friend. I get the Süddeutsche Zeitung every day and Die Zeit brought regularly to my cell by helpful prison officers, and I follow the news bulletins on my tiny TV -- we get Moscow Channel One, Turkish TV, CNN, two Austrian, one German and a scattering of other channels.

The main German government channels were scolded yesterday by former president Richard von Weizsäcker for showing too much of the carnage inflicted on Lebanese civilians by those nice folks next door [Israel], whose ambassador to the U.N., the racist Dan Gillerman, actually called the Lebanese "just animals" in one live broadcast; I have seen only one newspaper reference, in the SZ, to that Freudian slip.

I am more robust. In one speech to a Passau audience I said that I had heard that people sometimes wrote letters to "Richard von Speichellecker" -- Richard von Lickspittle -- and that German postal workers knew who that was and delivered them to his palace too! And there has been no mention that Germany supplied many of the tanks, guns, shells and bombs used against Lebanon, free of charge!

But I digress. The war bulletins. Unlike other recent wars, we have seen nothing of any actual ground fighting between Israeli troops and Hizbollah guerrillas. (Perhaps, as with Schindler's List, Mr. Spielberg will later oblige). Correspondents were "embedded" -- i.e. in bed with -- the IDF forces, but I never saw them step outside that compound of artillery howitzers, whose mission was to create a holocaust among the Lebanese villages, a clear war crime, by the way.

The fighting stopped four days ago. We have still not been told how many IDF tanks and armored vehicles were destroyed by rocket-propelled grenades [RPGs] -- and those tanks don't come cheap.

Other battlefield incidents have just vanished as though they never happened. Hizbollah claimed to have shot down an aircraft. Israel denied it. I saw with my own eyes on the Turkish news bulletin a large flaming object brought down over Beirut. Israel suggested it was "a container". Robert Fisk saw the wreckage, mostly unidentifiable but including what looked to him like a helicopter rotor blade. Hizbollah claimed to have attacked a warship. Israel muttered that a "Colombian freighter" had been sunk. Again, nobody followed up.

As for the tank casualties, the wrecks were pushed into the famous media Memory Hole, like in that popular TV series where the losing robot warrior is toppled into the pit.

Once, an early news bulletin showed telephoto footage of a short column of tanks, and the lead tank receiving an RPG [Panzerfaust] smack in the mouth and blowing up. It vanished from all subsequent bulletins; as did a later picture of RPG damage done to the tracks of a main battle tank. Toward the end there was another brief glimpse of an attack on three tanks -- the rear tank going into reverse, either also hit or billowing out a white smoke screen. This clip also vanished from later bulletins. It had not happened; and they are all just animals.

We conspiracy-theorists and incorrigible extremists all know Who Controls the Media. … The media have served us poorly so far, and they have some explaining to do.


Rommel THERE was another juicy media scandal that summer, which gave me much cause for belated enjoyment. Back in 1977, my main publisher in Germany, Hoffmann & Campe, who had just published my Rommel biography as a huge best-seller, told me privately that leading leftwing novelist Günter Grass had written them threatening that unless they refused to publish any more books by "the Nazi" David Irving, he would publish no books with them, and would put pressure on others too. HoCa of course cravenly complied.

"This week, Oh Joy!," I wrote to a friend:

. . . the German press revealed that Günter Grass had a "dirty little secret". He had fought for the Waffen SS as a volunteer, 1944-1945. In a letter to the Süddeutsche Zeitung I criticize him -- not for that, but for his hypocrisy.

The SZ of course did not publish it. They have their own smear-priorities.

On September 5, a prison escort took me up to Dr Schaller in an interview room. He was wearying, I could see, from his strenuous eight-hour commute to and from Mannheim, Germany, where he was acting in the endless trial of Zündel. He told me he had heard that morning on radio and TV that the Supreme Court (OGH) had, as recommended by the Procurator General, refused to hear my appeal against the February 20 verdict; so the remaining appeal (against sentence) would now go to the lower appeal court, the OLG.

It seemed odd to Schaller that he had had to read this in the morning newspapers before the Court had actually notified him.

It did not seem a good sign to me of the way things were going, although he remained forcefully optimistic about the outcome. I have had a lifetime, indeed a bellyful, of optimistic lawyers. The light at the tunnel's end was visibly receding. A new period of official foot-dragging now began, but we now expected the appeal against the three-year sentence to be heard by the OLG in November.

As the months trickled past, my health also went into decline. The prison had recently promised me an exercise bike for my cell, but it never came.

I confided to a friend in London, September 27, 2006:

My cash is now down to around 150 euros, which will last two weeks -- mostly spent on stamps and phone cards. I am getting a hundred letters a week, half from strangers; I answer them all, and letters to the USA cost 1.30 ¤ (around $2.00. . .)

Still waiting for the appeal hearing, presumably in November. Writing is going well, tho' today I am stricken by a Great Lethargy, to which the detergent [which I had accidentally swallowed one night in mistake for lemon juice] may have contributed. At least it wasn't bleach. That might have had the Coroner guessing.

My writing was making good progress, so the new delay made little difference to me. It was harder on Bente and Jessica, now 12, in London, although I don't think they had expected any different either. "We all know who is really calling the shots here," I wrote to friends in London. To a supporter in Chicago, a few days later, September 29, 2006 I revealed that I knew from my brother that Bente, never well, was in fact now becoming very ill, and she had undergone several operations in London that summer.

I have given five instructions to Jessica on comportment while Mummy's ill. No. 3 reads, "Cars run on gasoline; Mummies run on hugs. So fill her with gallons and gallons of hugs to keep her running smoothly till I am free."

I was deeply concerned by this news from London. Under Tony Blair's Labour Government the British health service has collapsed. Twelve thousand people died last year of infections caught while in British hospitals, the so-called "super bug". I now had to fear for Benté's life.

Because of this developing emergency I angrily persuaded Dr Schaller to make an emergency application to the Courts for my temporary release from this prison on parole, or word-of-honor, an Austrian procedure evidently. I recalled the romantic ballad "Die Burgschaft" in that big illustrated volume of Schillers Gedichte, which I had found in a second-hand booksellers in Essex and bought for two pennies while a child.

The application -- at 2:30 p.m. that day, September 29 -- was of course swiftly dismissed in a ten-minute hearing. The Judge was a Reichsleiter Martin Bormann look-alike -- paunchy, scowling, bull-necked, poorly-shaved.

"Anything to say?" he concluded.

I replied, "I was born in 1938, two weeks after the Austrian Anschluss" -- when his country became part of Nazi Germany. "I have changed a lot since then," I added, with the barest emphasis on the first-person singular.

He shrugged and scowled. History evidently wasn't his strong point.


A FRIENDLY lawyer sent me an extraordinary document he had found while browsing through the foot-thick Court file 409 Hv 3/05y on my arrest and trial before Judge Peter Liebetreu. Eighteen days before the trial, Liebetreu had written to the Austrian Staatspolizei authorities, now fashionably renamed the "Anti-Terrorism Police," which doesn't quite have the same cachet, the same je-ne-sais-quoi as "Stapo" -- pleading for extra police measures for the trial-day, because of my worldwide fame and popularity as an historian.

It seemed, I wrote at the time, that they genuinely feared an attempt to rescue me. "All I noticed, apart from barricades and helicopters overhead, was that after sentencing I was surrounded by eight special forces police in combat gear with drawn Glock automatics, and hustled away through a labyrinth of back passages and external staircases to my cell. Now I know why."

"Yes," I wrote mockingly to a friend in Virginia, USA, on November 10, 2006: "It's getting real risky to be a Real Historian in Europe nowadays. The good news is however that I've had around two thousand letters since I was kidnapped and put on trial here in Vienna and all (except for two hate-letters) were supportive, a fact which alarmed the Judge so much that for the day of the trial he secretly ordered massive special protection for the courtroom (Austria's largest), no doubt in case two hidden Waffen-SS divisions turned up in full battle gear with Otto Skorzeny at their head to rescue me! Their paranoia here is boundless."

Work on Himmler is benefiting from the solitary confinement, I added; it will upset a lot of people, I fear, including H's daughter Gudrun, who (wrongly) predicts I will demolish her late father purely in an attempt to rehabilitate myself.

That's what I hear. I don't do things that way; and that's probably why I am writing this letter to you in a five feet by ten feet cell, locked-down 23 or 24 hours a day . . .


THINGS were coming to a head. In the stillness of my cell at night I fancied I could hear the distant rumble of millstones somewhere, grinding trefflich fein -- fine, and finer still.

An investigating magistrate was insisting on interrogating me about my over-bold interviews with the BBC and Austrian Press back in February. Klackl, the very capable prosecutor, was recommending that I be indicted under Section 3(h) of the Banning Law. The maximum penalty was twenty years, and even life imprisonment. Dr Schaller warned that I would now have to answer the judge's questions -- he cited tactical reasons why.

Schaller sent for me. The OLG would hear our appeal on December 20. That would be my last chance of freedom -- of escaping this unfolding nightmare.

© Copyright David Irving and Focal Point, 2007


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David Irving imprisoned in Austria: dossier: index


A Note on the Sinti's story

Alan H., of Warsaw, an expert on Polish WW2 history, comments Sunday, February 25, 2007: "There do seem some rather odd things here. The first hangings took place in Auschwitz in July 1942 but of two Catholic Poles for attempted escape. I have been unable to find any information about a rebellion by Sinti on this month. Furthermore it seems a bit odd that he would have the death warrant on him, where did he get this from? And carrying the original, not a copy? Perhaps you got the month wrong &endash; Himmler visited the camp in July 1942 and perhaps this caused the confusion."



Copyright © David Irving and Focal Point 2007