Tuesday, April 11, 2000
Historian Loses Lawsuit
By JILL LAWLESS,
Associated Press Writer
LONDON (AP) -- Historian
David Irving, who has outraged survivors of
Nazi death camps by challenging the scope of the
Holocaust, today lost the libel suit that he
launched to save his academic
Irving sued American scholar Deborah
Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin Books, in
Britain's High Court. He said their 1994 book
branded him a "Holocaust denier"and accused him of
distorting the truth of what happened in Adolf
Hitler's Nazi Germany.
The verdict was greeted
in near-silence by a courtroom packed with
Holocaust survivors and others.
"The decision proves that David Irving is a
falsifier of history,"said Eldred Tabachnik,
president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
"Although the Holocaust itself was not an issue at
the trial, we welcome the fact that attempts to
manipulate the truth about the tragic events of
that time have been shown to be baseless."
Irving, whose books include "Hitler's
War," said he does not deny Jews were killed by
the Nazis, but challenges the number and manner of
Jewish concentration camp deaths.
He claimed that after the publication of
Lipstadt's book, "Denying the Holocaust: The
Growing Assault on Truth and Memory," his academic
work was increasingly shunned by publishers and
Under British law, Lipstadt and Penguin were not
able to rely solely on truth as a defense. But
Judge Charles Gray said Irving failed to
prove his reputation had been damaged and called
him "anti-Semitic and racist."
"Irving has for his own ideological reasons
persistently and deliberately misrepresented and
manipulated historical evidence,"the judge
"He has portrayed Hitler in an unwarrantedly
favorable light, principally in relation to his
attitude towards and responsibility for the
treatment of the Jews," he said.
Jewish groups expressed relief at the verdict
against Irving, 62.
Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based movement
dedicated to victims of the Nazis, hailed the
verdict as a "victory of history over hate."
"David Irving's career as a historian is over,"
the center said in a statement. "Today's decision
definitely places Irving where he belongs -- not as
a historian, but as a leading apologist for those
who seek to whitewash the most heinous crime in
Shortly before the
ruling, Irving said that whatever the outcome
"my reputation is bound to be enhanced because
of my ability to stand up to the experts ... to
take them all on single-handed."
He said he will not appeal. He faces legal costs
of $3.2 million for Lipstadt and Penguin's lawyers,
Britain's Press Association news agency said.
Irving, who represented himself during the
nine-week, nonjury trial, is not new to
controversy. His comments -- some made while
addressing neo-Nazi groups -- have drawn fire from
Jewish organizations around the world, and he has
been banned from Germany, Canada and Australia.
Irving told the court he had been the victim of
a 30-year international campaign to destroy his
reputation "as a human being, as an historian of
Richard Rampton, the lawyer representing
Penguin and Lipstadt, who holds the Dorot Chair in
Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory
University in Atlanta, said during the trial that
Irving perpetuated falsifications "for the sake of
a bogus rehabilitation of Hitler and dissemination
of virulent anti-Semitic propaganda."
Irving conceded he had made some "mistakes of
copying, mistakes of omission," but said he
corrected those errors. He claimed that rather than
deny the Holocaust, he drew attention to major
aspects of the tragedy.
Irving questioned the use of large-scale gas
chambers to exterminate the Jews, and claimed that
the numbers of those who perished are far lower
than those generally accepted. He said most Jews
who died at Auschwitz did so from diseases such as
typhus, not gas poisoning.
In a sign of the international outrage directed
at Irving, Israel even agreed to release the
previously secret memoirs of Nazi war criminal
Eichmann for use by Lipstadt and Penguin's
legal team, saying it was morally obliged to help
In the 1,300 handwritten pages penned in an
Israeli prison, Eichmann plays down his own role in
the mass killing but also provides methodical
descriptions of the genocide, including timetables
of death transports.