Video nasty loses search for truth
Media commentator SAM LIPSKI (pictured) reviews the videotape by British historian David Irving, released for public meetings after his visit was banned, Many of the meetings were cancelled on Wednesday night, under threat of protest
DAVID Irving stands in front of a potted palm and for 80 minutes harangues the single camera on the 'Holocaust legend", the "Auschwitz myth" and his "traditional enemies" in the international Jewish organisations.
There is something chilling and yet absurd about this man. On jumpy video, this is a performance which meanders between bombast and boredom. In short bursts on television current affairs programs, Irving comes over as clever and loaded with information, however distorted and selectively deployed.
But on The Search for The Truth In History -- the pompously mendacious title of this relentlessly egoistic home video -- his insidiously delivered message is too long, too rambling and too fanatical.
May 21, 1993
The language purports to be that of the disinterested historian and dedicated archivist, and at times it is.
But then come the lapses and give-aways. "The Jews have dined out on the Holocaust for too long ... I'm not an anti-Semite but if I ever become one it will be their fault ... the Holocaust legend (has been kept alive) by a long chain of gullible people."
It is difficult to see this shabby exercise in self-promotion, disguised as a self-less crusade for free speech, becoming a box office success on the country pub circuit, the occasional Mechanics Hall or wherever else the promoters can now book a venue. Surely the numbing effect of the Irving rave for nearly an hour and a half, with no pic-torial relief from his talking head, will be too strong.
Yet those who have experienced Nazism and other forms of totalitarianism will argue that such a relaxed analysis of the Irving tape underestimates the insidious power of the big lie to capture the minds of otherwise rational citizens and to incite the less than rational to violence.
That is a compelling argument and it is precisely why I supported the Government's decision to ban Irving. The video, however, as it stands, is in a different category than the man himself on a lecture tour.
But the views on the video are certainly the same as they have been, with increasing outlandishness and outrageousness over recent years. Here the first hour of Irving's speech is taken up with a potted history of his various appearances in courts in half a dozen countries and his disagreements with other historians whom he attacks as "a gang of liars... and cowards"
All the opposition to him he blames on the international Jewish-Zionist conspiracy to keep the world from learning "the truth". The truth, according to Irving. is not that the Holocaust is a lie but that it is "a legend". There were no gas chambers at Auschwitz, and at most 100,000 Jews died there of epidemics and possibly limited killings rather than the minimum of 1 million victims that the Nazis themselves acknowledged.
Basing much of his argument on the forensic "findings" of Fred Leuchter, a discredited American revisionist whom the British Home Secretary banned in 1991, Irving dismisses the thousands of surviving eye-witnesses to the Auschwitz extermination machine. They are all, without exception, suffering from a mass delusional state, Irving explains, or else they have seen too many television mini-series.
As for the
question of the millions of missing Jews. Irving offers the
truly prepos-terous suggestion, even for him, that the Royal
Air Force probably killed them when it bombed
and other German cities where, according to Irving, who
knows how many Jews had ended up in the middle of World War
II as refugees who had somehow been able to wander away from
the Nazi death camps. Even the Nazis themselves did not come
up with that one at Nuremberg.
[As others have pointed out, Lipski's summary of the video is grossly dishonest and distorted. Mr Irving himself wrote a Reader's Letter to The Australian, suggesting that it would have been more honest if Mr Lipski had identified himself to readers as editor of the Australian Jewish News, rather than as a mere "media commentator".]
© Focal Point 1999 write to David Irving