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Wednesday 19th April 2000

Irving's short historical memory

Did David Irving really lose his case? The "revelation" of his Nazi sympathies, which have been well known for decades, is about as newsworthy as dog-bites-postman; yet, after years as a media outcast, he now finds himself a welcome guest on Today and Newsnight. and the subject of innumerable full-page profiles. No wonder his website has such a jaunty, almost jubilant tone.

Irving's hunger for publicity is insatiable. One need only recall his antics during the affair of the Hitler diaries: when Lord Dacre was declaring the documents to be authentic, Irving condemned them loudly as forgeries; when Dacre came round to his point of view, Irving then announced that they were genuine.

Why? I tackled him on this point a few years ago, and he cheerfully confessed that his eccentric volte face was "purely commercial" and "very much tongue-in-cheek". Having pocketed large fees from television companies for rubbishing the diaries, he decided he could double his money by becoming the only historian who would publicly defend them. And so it proved. During the month after the story broke, he told me, he earned £30,000.

Now that he is again in need of cash, can it be long before the wily old villain does another U-turn -- and informs an astonished world that, er, Hitler was a bit of an anti-semite after all?


© Copyright Guardian Media Group plc. 2000

Action ReportDeathwish: Many of our Website visitors are puzzled by the vehemence and unflagging character of the attacks by The Guardian and The Observer on Mr Irving's character. Clue: his next libel action is against their publisher, Guardian Newspapers Ltd; the writ was served in September 1996 and the action is at an advanced stage. Could they be trying to get him knocked out before it comes before a judge?


Wednesday 19th April 2000
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