London Tuesday, February 8, 2000
David Irving is a racist and rabid anti-Semite, says QC
By Neil Tweedie
DAVID Irving, the historian, was described yesterday as a "rabid anti-Semite" and "Right-wing extremist" who had falsified history on a massive scale to disprove Hitler's involvement in the Holocaust and the existence of Nazi gas chambers.
The accusation was made by Richard Rampton, QC, as he summed up on the penultimate day of a two-month libel trial at the High Court in London.
Mr Rampton is representing Prof. Deborah Lipstadt, an American being sued for libel by Mr Irving for remarks made in her book, Denying the Holocaust.
She accuses Mr Irving, the author of some 30 books, of being a "Holocaust denier" who has falsified the results of historical research to serve his political purposes.
Mr Irving, who denies the allegation, is also suing her publishers, Penguin Books.
There was standing room only in the court room as Mr Rampton and Mr Irving made their final addresses to Mr Justice Gray, who is sitting without a jury.
Mr Rampton said Mr Irving had become one of the most dangerous spokesmen for Holocaust denial. An extremist himself, he had become an ally of other Right-wing extremists, in particular Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites.
He claimed Mr Irving was guilty of 25 major falsifications of history about Adolf Hitler, together with numerous subsidiary inventions, suppressions, manipulations and mistranslations. When those relating to Auschwitz, the bombing of Dresden and other matters were added, the total came to over 30.
Mr Rampton said: "As the evidence in this court has shown, Mr Irving is a Right-wing extremist, a racist and, in particular, a rabid anti-Semite. How far, if at all, Mr Irving's anti-Semitism is a cause of his Hitler apology, or vice versa, is unimportant.
"Whether they are taken together or individually, it is clear that they have led him to prostitute his reputation as a serious historian -- spurious though it can now be seen to have been -- for the sake of a bogus rehabilitation of Hitler and the dissemination of virulent anti-Semitic propaganda."
Mr Irving, who is representing himself, opened his closing submissions by saying that the case was not about the reputation of the Holocaust but his reputation as a human being, historian of integrity and a father.
A judgment against him would lead to paralysis in the writing of history, with no one being allowed to discuss exactly who was involved in each stage of the Holocaust nor how extensive it was.
He said: "A judgment in my favour does not mean that the Holocaust never happened. It means only that in England today discussion is still permitted."
Mr Irving said Prof. Lipstadt's book was a malicious and deeply flawed work which contained numerous libels against him.
"The very worst of the libels are so blatant that neither defendant has insulted the intelligence of this court by offering any justification for them. They hope instead to divert the court's attention by reference to distant and notorious matters of history.
"For 30 days or more of this court's time we have had to rake over the embers of what may be one of the greatest crimes known to mankind: a harrowing, time-wasting and needless effort which has yielded even now few answers to great questions and mysteries.
Mr Irving said he had always insisted on using original documents in his research. "If, therefore, some of my interpretations are controversial, I also do all possible to let other people judge for themselves.
"This speaks strongly against the accusation that I distort, manipulate and falsify history." In his book Hitler's War, he had clearly stated Hitler's responsibility for the Holocaust.
"Where I differed from many historians was in denying that there was any documentary proof of detailed direction and initiation of the mass murders by Hitler.
"The view was considered to be heretical at the time. But this lack of wartime documentary evidence for Hitler's involvement is now widely accepted."
He had been the subject of a 30-year international endeavour by a group of organisations to destroy his legitimacy as a historian. Prof. Lipstadt had drawn on those "tainted wellsprings" of dossiers and reports for much of the poison she had written about him.
"I have been subjected since at least 1973, and probably before then, to what would be called in warfare a campaign of interdiction.
"I know of no other historian or writer who has been subjected to a campaign of vilification even one tenth as intense. The book, Denying the Holocaust, was the climax of this campaign."
The case continues.