London, March 2, 2000
Irving denies raising glass to Hitler
BY MICHAEL HORSNELL
THE after-dinner toast was to the memory of a "certain statesman" to mark what would have been his 101st birthday. But, unlike the 16 other guests at the hotel in Munich on April 20, 1990, the British historian David Irving declined to join in. The trinkspruch (toast) was to Adolf Hitler and the guests were neo-Nazis.
The cosy scene was painted at the High Court in London yesterday when Mr Irving, 62, denied taking any part in the tribute to the Führer.
The author referred to his private diary recording the event in which he wrote: "All rose, toasted; I had no glass as I don't drink."
He was in Munich as the "star speaker" at a revisionist conference organised by Ewald Althans, an alleged leading neo-Nazi in the city who also sells and distributes the historian's books, videos and cassettes. Pressed on whether he did raise a glass when Herr Althans proposed the toast, Mr Irving responded: "Did I join in or not in this very tasteless toast? If one has no glass and does not drink, how can one toast anyone?"
Mr Irving is suing the American academic Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books for libel over claims that he is a Hitler partisan who denies that the Holocaust took place.
The story of the night of Hitler's birthday was disclosed by Hajo Funke, a Professor of Politics and Culture at the Free University of Berlin, during cross-examination by Mr Irving.
Professor Funke, who has produced a 137-page report for the hearing on Mr Irving's alleged extremist connections, told him: "You are an admirer of Adolf Hitler."
Later, Mr Irving was referred to a letter that he had written to Gerhard Frey, the leader of the far-Right anti-Semitic DVU party, on January 30, 1991, prophesying the emergence of a new German empire.
He forecast a huge expansion of the German economy with a political drawing together of the German-speaking peoples of Europe, with incredible potential for the mark.
In the letter, which outlined the contents of a speech that he proposed making, he said: "Germany would use this economic power in order to help the backward countries in the east of Europe -- therefore expand a kind of German empire in the east.
"The German economic hegemony would then, in the course of ten to 20 years, expand to Poland, the Ukraine, White Russia and the original German sphere of interest, the Baltic States.
Mr Justice Gray, who is sitting without a libel jury, was also told about a speech that Mr Irving made in Alsace in which the author denied suggestions that the Germans used portable gas chambers to exterminate the Jews in countryside areas of Poland. Mr Irving denies that gas chambers were used for the mass extermination of Jews.
The case continues today.
March 2, 2000