TRANSCRIPT OF TELEPHONE
CONVERSATION FRIDAY, APRIL 9, 1999
This is a message for David Irving. It is Rebecca Barrett of ABC Radio in Sydney, Australia. It is Friday night about 8 o'clock our time. I'll be here for about four hours or so...
DAVID IRVING: ... This is David Irving. Let me just turn off the answering machine. -- Right. You're phoning about Fredrick Toben, I suppose.
I am indeed. Look, our um, it's been interesting because our Australian officials here just can't tell us anything and they're saying that they're in contract with German authorities but they've just drawn a blank, I was wondering if ... a wire copy here about the fact that you've given a few details ...
IRVING: I've phoned the press agency here. I am outraged by it. I think that the German authorities have gone berserk. Uh, I don't know exactly what Toben was doing in Germany and I don't know exactly where he was when he was arrested: I don't know whether he was arrested because, uh in general because of the contents of his Website which can be accessed by Germans -- I suspect that that is the reason -- because the German Government has been trying for over a year now I think to find some ways of censoring the Internet, which will not make them popular with the global community...
Right. Uh, had he been on a speaking tour at all in Germany do you know?
IRVING: That I don't know. If he, if he was, uh, I would have urgently cautioned him not to. That is a minefield in Germany and they will arrest you at the drop of a hat. And it is the same in Austria and this is the reason why I won't go to Germany, for the next few years, until they revive their sense of freedom of speech; but Germany hasn't got a very good record on freedom of speech this century. Perhaps in the next millennium they'll do better.
Right... Mr Irving, are you happy for me to do an interview with you, just about -- I mean, you've said you don't know many of the details surrounding it, but are obviously outraged at what's happening, even if it has about what's going out on the Website... what it means for freedom of speech.
IRVING: Go ahead whenever you want.
Look I'll just put us straight through to a tape now. I won't be a second. Okay, I'll just try a ...
David Irving, what do you know of Fredrick Toben's arrest in Germany?
IRVING: I was contacted by my friends in Australia yesterday with this astonishing news that Dr Fredrick Toben had been arrested in Mannheim by the public prosecutor Hans-Heiko Klein. And I think that this man Klein has gone berserk, he's a lunatic; he's a German, and the Germans this century have not had a very good record of freedom of speech. They may do a bit better in the coming Millennium, but so far they give me sufficient reason not to (chuckles) want to go to Germany for the next few years and I'm just very surprised that Fredrick Toben didn't realise the dangers that he was exposing himself to.
Do you know any of the circumstances surrounding his arrest?
IRVING: Uh, Fredrick Toben is the promoter or "Webmaster" of a website in Adelaide called the Adelaide Institute, and on that he publishes historical materials of the kind to which the German Government takes official umbrage. They don't like it, and for two or three years the German Government have been frantically trying to censor the Internet; and Toben is also, I think, the subject of an Australian Human Rights commission by Jeremy Jones who is an Australian Jewish community leader, and all these things are almost certainly interlinked in some way -- they are trying to have at him now that he's in Germany where he's exposed to this danger, and I am deeply concerned for him because I think he will now vanish into a German prison for many weeks, if not months, before he even comes to trial.
Do you know specifically what he was doing in Germany?
IRVING: No. I don't know whether he was visiting, or lecturing, -- if he was lecturing I think he would have been very foolish, because the Germans don't allow free speech any more.
But you believe that the Germans are aware of the Website that he has put together here in Australia?
IRVING: Yes indeed. That is quite certain. The German specifically refer to that Website and to a number of other historical Websites as being the reason why censorship of the Internet is urgently needed.
What does that say to you about freedom of speech?
IRVING: Well, I think that freedom of speech is gradually easing in Australia, and I know that the Australian people is very alert to this danger. The Internet is a medium which has so far not come under control except in a few countries like China, and I personally hope that the Internet will be kept a free medium for as long as possible. I've got my own Website, and I know that I have a colossal following on that Website.
Would you have warned Fredrick Toben against going to Germany, knowing the controversy surrounding his Website?
IRVING: I would have advised him to have kept a very low profile in Germany, I've heard rumours that he was actually arrested in the Chief Prosecutor's office, and I wonder what on earth he was doing in the lion's den. But he's like very many Australians, -- he's a very innocent man, and a very naive man, (laughs), I mean no offence, but it would not have occurred to him that you can be arrested in a country just for what you think. But in Germany, as I say, they haven't had a very good record on freedom of speech - or freedom of thought -- for most of this century.
There are reports that he had actually arranged to speak to this prosecutor!
IRVING: Yes, indeed, and that's what really puzzles me. So he may have been lured into the lion's den specifically for the purpose of arresting him as the Webmaster of this Australian Website.
What are your views for him now. What is it likely he could be charged with, and what would happen to him.
IRVING: He will be charged under the unique German law which makes it a criminal offence to "defame the memory of the dead." This is the offence that I was charged with in 1991. It is a law that exists nowhere else on earth but it's sufficient to give you a "criminal record" and (chuckles) well, I suppose they can't bar him from Australia now, as an Australian citizen, it was enough to get me barred by Philipp Ruddock and by your own Prime Minister John Howard, from visiting Australia. If you speak the truth in Germany, truth is no defence as far as World War II is concerned.
Are you worried now that he could in fact spend months perhaps in jail in Germany?
IRVING: Yes. In Germany they will hold him in what's called Untersuchungshaft which is investigative custody while they make up their mind whether to prosecute him or not. It's happened to several associates and friends of mine. It's a way of punishing them without any kind of redress. They will just be held locked up in a jail, under very unpleasant circumstances, with common criminals, although he's of course a "thought-criminal", he's being held under these Orwellian laws that the German Government alone has introduced.
Would you say, would you go so far as to say that he was in fact a bit foolish, trying to outline his research into the Holocaust to this German Government prosecutor - I mean, surely he should have realised he wouldn't have been going to get a sympathetic ear?
IRVING: I have to say that I regard it as naive and foolish in the extreme. But that's one of the endearing charms of the Australian people. They are nice simple, innocent people who don't believe that up here in the Northern hemisphere the laws are different.
David Irving, thank you very much for your time.
IRVING: Thank you, ABC Radio. Good-bye.