January 14, 2000
Germans Want Irving to Face Incitement Trial
Germans want Irving to face incitement trial
BY MICHAEL HORSNELL
THE German Government has requested the extradition of the Hitler historian David Irving on charges of alleged racial incitement.
The move was disclosed yesterday by Mr Irving, 62, at the High Court on the third day of his libel action over what he claims is an international conspiracy to ruin his reputation as an historian. If extradited and found guilty, he could be jailed for three years.
The request to the Home Office concerns a lecture he gave in Weinheim, near Stuttgart, at the invitation of the right-wing NPD, at which he allegedly challenged Hitler's blame for the Second World War and maintained that the Holocaust had not happened.
After the lecture, made nearly ten years ago, the NPD chairman Günter Deckert was jailed, but a trial of Mr Irving was cancelled when he failed to appear. A subsequent attempt to summon him via the German Embassy failed after Mr Irving left for the United States.
Mr Irving revealed the extradition request to Mr Justice Gray as an example of the "hatred" and problems he faced because of "repugnant allegations" against him. He said that the court could find "his end of the bench empty" one day if extradition proceedings interrupted his libel action. The judge, sitting without a jury, said that he would not intervene.[*] Mr Irving said that he believed disclosure in the German press 24 hours earlier of the extradition proceedings was "not just coincidence". The paper suggested it would have to be dealt with quickly before the issue "ran out of time". In Germany it is illegal to question the Holocaust.
Outside court, Mr Irving said: "I have written to the Home Secretary warning him that if they tried to serve the warrant on me I will prosecute the Home Office for assault."
Of the Weinheim meeting, he said: "I was talking about history and somebody asked me questions. Police were there and made a record of what I said." In 1992, he said, he had been fined £15,000 for views he aired at a subsequent meeting in Munich, and was banned from Germany.
Mr Irving is suing Deborah Lipstadt, the American historian, and Penguin Books, which published her Denying the Holocaust. In the book she claimed that he was a "Hitler partisan" who had twisted history by denying the Holocaust occurred.
Mr Irving says that he has never claimed that the Holocaust did not take place. He does, however, question the number of Jewish dead and denies there was a systematic extermination of Jews in concentration camp gas chambers.
Yesterday he rejected an accusation that he had rewritten history by portraying Hitler as a "merciful and benign" dictator who wanted to save the Jews, and allegations that he had deliberately mistranslated or suppressed documentary evidence. The case continues on Monday.
As he left court Mr Irving was approached by a woman who said that her grandparents had died at Auschwitz in gas ovens - said by Mr Irving to have been built after the war by the Poles. He told her: "You may be pleased to know that they almost certainly died of typhus, as did Anne Frank."
A German court confirmed last night that the British Government was formally asked to help in extraditing Mr Irving five months ago on charges of incitement to racial unrest after a speech in 1990 to a far-Right rally of the National Party of Germany on the Holocaust (Roger Boyes writes from Berlin).
January 14, 2000