2GB SYDNEY RADIO INTERVIEW TUESDAY, APRIL 13, 1999 8:10-18 A.M.
Mike Jeffries: It is 11 minutes past five on 2GB. I am just about to talk to the controversial British historian David Irving on this story, where an Australian historian who disputes the Holocaust has been charged in Germany with the crime of hate speech and as I understand it is being held under a German law which basically means you can be investigated until they decide whether or not they are going to do more with you.
Now officials said that Dr Fredrick Toben, who's the director of the right-wing think-tank the Adelaide Institute, has been held in Mannheim prison since late Friday and has been refused bail by the German authorities. Colleagues of Dr Toben including Mr Irving alerted the press to his arrest last week after he was held for challenging details about the Holocaust on his Website. He's been arrested apparently for "defaming the dead."
Now, you can't defame the dead in New South Wales. Our defamation laws are tricky and, uh, a little unfair but you can't defame the dead. But apparently in Germany you can. Australian embassy officials were not immediately able to confirm press reports but, according to Mr Irving, Toben's Website has historical materials of the kind to which the German government takes official umbrage. But also you can understand that the German government -- along with other groups around the world which you can kind of, uh, imagine -- the German government basically don't take kindly to the Internet. And they're trying to figure out ways to censor it.
The Germans specifically refer to the Toben Website and to a number of other historical Websites as being the reason why censorship of the Internet is urgently needed.
Let's go to, uh, David Irving. Good evening, and thanks for your time...!
David Irving: It's very nice to speak to you again. Thank-you.
Mike Jeffries: I must say I was rather, my attention was caught by your remark where you say that, uh, Dr Toben was naive and foolish to challenge German authority on their own soil. But you go on to say that this is one of the endearing charms of the Australian people and I felt this myself about, ur, not all Australians but many of them: they go to many different countries expecting that the whole world is like Australia and it just isn't, is it?
David Irving: No, uh, it's sad to say, uh, the, Australia is a very beautiful country and the Australian people have a, have an endearing charm about them, a great, a great simplicity and a certain naiveté and a lovely blue-eyed innocence about them, um, and, uh, one imagines Dr Toben going to Germany, going to the office of the public prosecutor, Dr Hans-Heiko Klein who is a particularly nasty specimen among the public-prosecutor breed and uh, having this long talk with Dr Klein, uh, as happened with the prosecutor and trying to clear up, uh, trying to educate Dr Klein as to what actually happened during the Holocaust; and eventually Dr Klein apparently became increasingly impatient and, uh, sent for the police and had, had this man arrested. Had him taken to prison to cool his heels for a bit brought him back out again. Toben, being Australian, stuck to his guns, whereupon the man was then formally locked away into 'Untersuchungshaft' as its called in German, in German investigative custody where he will now smoulder for the next two or three months until the case even comes up for trial.
Mike Jeffries: It is interesting to us that that is even possible, especially on the basis of what has been said on a Website. Uh, I just can't imagine it happening here. I mean if you were, uh, giving, specific recipes on how to make bombs, maybe yes, but I, I can't imagine, here in Australia, that you would have that kind of problem because, um, people wouldn't want you in Australia because of the views you hold which are similar to Dr Toben's.
David Irving: Well indeed. I do it the other way around. I have my own website here in England called Focal Point Publications which is FPP and anyone can go to my very large website and they can read materials on both sides of the case on this historical matter and other historical matters and, the Germans don't like that too. And the Chinese don't like it...
Mike Jeffries: So, Mr Irving would you go to Germany?
David Irving (laughs): At present no, no, no. I was going to go to Auschwitz last year with the BBC, to film a programme with the BBC and I made it quite plain to the BBC: the plane must not touch down between London and Poland and the plane must not touch down in Germany, because if so the BBC must be prepared to put up the costs of my wife and family for the next six years or so. The German government has not got an easy relationship with freedom of speech unfortunately and it's doing them great discredit.
Mike Jeffries: So, because -- and I think this is what we have established in this conversation --ur, they are keen to censor the Internet if they possibly can, do you think that Dr Toben now has unwittingly made himself the focal point of a test case for the German government?
David Irving: I think he has and I think that was probably his intention. I think he went there, um, determined to "beard the lion" and I think he is going to find it very unpleasant. German prisons are not comfortable establishments at all. Um, he will find himself locked away in a prison in Mannheim, um, surrounded by Turks, and Kurds, and people whose languages he can't speak -- who regard him with extreme disfavour. He will have an extremely uncomfortable two or three months, I think.
Mike Jeffries: So far from, uh, lively academic argument he's going to experience prison life -- possibly at it's harshest -- and you say for two or three months.
David Irving: Oh, at least. A Spanish colleague of mine who was the most gentlemanly character you could imagine who owned a book store in Barcelona: he went to Austria, which has very much the same kind of laws, on a permitted, legal, lecture tour across Austria; after three or four days he was arrested by the Austrian police, held in jail for six months at the end of which they released him without charge. Um, and it's just one of the ways they have to turn the screw against free speech in these countries.
Mike Jeffries: So, uh, let's have a look at this now, is there any way Dr Toben can get out of this now or is he going to be charged for sure?
David Irving: It is not like contempt of court, of which I also have some experience: you can't just go before a judge and go down on your hands and knees and apologise -- uh, kow-tow. He, he will be locked up. He is now in the jaws of the German legal machinery and it gets even worst from here on in, because if he then goes before the judge, as he will, and he pleads "what I said was true," -- in Germany, truth is no defence. Not only that, the judge in Germany will not allow him to call witnesses in his defence or to produce documents in his defence. This is on my own experience. Uh, we were going to call the chief of the Auschwitz concentration camp archives, who would testify that what I said was true, but the judge wouldn't allow it, because the truth's no defence. It's a very serious will probably charge him with the German crime of 'Volksverhetzung', as well as "defamation of the memory of the dead" which is this absurd German law. Volksverhetzung is the equivalent to racial incitement, and once you've got that slapped on you you're going to have plenty of troubles getting into an awful lot of countries around the world. So it is an increasingly narrow tube into which he has squeezed himself and he may find it very difficult to squeeze out of the other end.
Mike Jeffries: So what kind of jail term could he be facing?
David Irving: Oh, he won't be facing a jail term, unless they are extremely mean. He will be facing something like - in my case, a fine of, ur, I was finally fined thirty thousand dollars for one sentence that I said in a German speech, which turns out to be true because the Poles have now admitted that what I said was true. And, um, so truth is no defence and in his case he can expect a fine, if they are being extremely mean, of probably forty of fifty thousand dollars Australian dollars by, by this time. Because his web site is probably a source of extreme annoyance to the Germans, because they couldn't get at it, and they still couldn't get at it, -- because even when he's being held in jail now, in Mannheim his website is still there ticking away for people to tune into.
Mike Jeffries: Probably not helping him with his present predicament. Alright, Sir, I appreciate your time. Thank-you.
David Irving: Thank-you.