David Irving

[Photo by Michael Hentz, for The New York Times]

Letter to the Editor of
The New York Times

[Not published]

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London, April 3, 1996

WHILE I REFRAINED from responding to the unfriendly advance reviews which appeared in trade newspapers -- being attacked by a anonymous critic is not unlike being mugged by a masked man -- I do appreciate the concerns expressed by Frank Rich (Op Ed, Apr. 3, today) about my forthcoming book Goebbels. Mastermind of the Third Reich.

I hope that readers who obtain the book, which is already on sale in London and being reviewed, will find his fears unjustified; and that a balanced reading of the entire work will provide a better overall feel than the quotations which he has selected.

May I remark briefly on his little cameo of myself? "Only 10 days ago," writes Mr Rich, "a Munich court upheld an order barring him from entering Germany, where Holocaust denial is a crime."
Is Mr Rich suggesting that I have preached what he calls Holocaust denial in my book? Is he advocating that the United States should act in the same dismal fashion as modern Germany, adopting the same restrictions on free speech -- illegal under the UN Charter of Human Rights -- as were perfected by other, less illustrious Germans and by Dr Goebbels himself not so long ago?

Those restrictions levied against me culminated in 1993: On Jan. 13, a Munich court fined me $22,000 for speaking one sentence, an historical opinion, in a public lecture (words which the Polish authorities concerned have now publicly confirmed were true). The court permitted no defence evidence.

On Jul. 1, as I sat in the German federal archives for my final hour's work on the now-published biography, the president of the archives personally informed me that their ministry of the interior had ordered me banned from the building with immediate effect. I was to pack within minutes and leave -- becoming the first historian ever to be so treated -- on the grounds that my continued work in the archives was "not in the interests of the German people." (I glimpsed Heinrich Himmler's daughter working on her father's files as I was ushered out).

On Nov. 13 as I arrived to lecture to students of Munich university on world-wide problems of freedom of speech, I was handed an expulsion order by the city's political police.

As Mr Rich correctly writes, only ten days ago a Munich court upheld this order. I am sure that he would in fairness have added, had he known, that the judge reserved the grounds for his decision, and two days later, after it had been published in newspapers around the world, privately notified my attorney that he has now withdrawn his decision in its entirety . Evidently the lay assessors were refusing to go along with him, something of a rarity in German law.

We shall see. As in history, on some matters the jury is still out.

Yours faithfully,
David Irving

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