Posted Friday, April 14, 2000

Quick navigation

Alphabetical index (text)

The National Post,
 April 11, 2000

Verdict today in libel suit by Hitler revisionist

by Kate Kelland

LONDON -- A British historian who says the Auschwitz Nazi death camp is a "Disneyland for tourists" that never had gas chambers will learn today whether a court will uphold his libel suit against a U.S. professor who accused him of extremism and bad scholarship.

The judgment in one of the most bizarre libel cases to be heard in London's High Court may mean that David Irving -- branded a "Holocaust denier" and a racist -- can continue to enjoy a reputation as an eminent Hitler historian.

But if the court rules against him, his work will be damned as virulent anti-Semitism and neo-Nazi propaganda.

Mr. Irving, who once said he would like to form an association of "Auschwitz Survivors, Survivors of the Holocaust and other Liars," is suing Deborah Lipstadt and her publishers, Penguin Books, for libel.

Ms. Lipstadt, a specialist in Holocaust studies at Emory University in Atlanta, says Mr. Irving is a Hitler partisan who "prostituted his reputation" as a historian to try to prove Adolf Hitler had no part in Nazi persecution of the Jews. The case is being heard by a single judge in London's High Court since the details were considered too complex for a jury.

The ruling in the eight-week trial is of profound significance both for survivors of what many term "the worst crime in human history" and for history itself.

The judge heard that Mr. Irving claims Hitler knew nothing of Nazi plans to exterminate Jews during the Second World War until 1943.

Mr. Irving "distorts, misstates, misquotes and falsifies" the historical record to deny the Holocaust and back up his right-wing views, say Ms. lipstadt's lawyers.

During the trial they read a poem from Irving's diary that they claimed was evidence of right-wing extremism.

"I'm a baby Aryan, not Jewish or sectarian; I have no wish to marry an ape or Rastafarian," the poem read.

Mr. Irving says he wrote the verse for his baby daughter.

Jewish leaders say they would be surprised if Mr. Irving won his battle, but they fear if he does, this twisted version of the Holocaust will gain credence.

"Even though the historical truth of the Holocaust is not on trial, a verdict in his favour would be perceived by the public as lending support to his allegations," said Ephraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem.

"It would give a certain legitimacy to the Holocaust deniers and would greatly encourage them to continue their assault on historical truth."

But a spokeswoman for the legal department of Penguin Books said the issue was simple: "The question is whether we have proved he distorted history," she said. "It is not history that is on trial here."

Mr. Irving, too, told the court that a judgment in his favour would not mean the Holocaust never happened.

"It means only that ... discussion is still permitted," the historian, who represented himself, told the court.

In a recent interview, he said the case centered on whether historical writing should be "politicized."

"You can write that Stalin didn't commit a single crime and that he was deeply misunderstood, and you'll get a professorship," he said of the former Soviet dictator.

"But if you were to insert the words Adolf Hitler in place of Stalin -- on equally tenuous evidence -- you'd be kissing goodbye your chances of getting a book published."

If you write to a newspaper don't forget: 1. keep it short; 2. add your mail address and a daytime telephone number. They will not print it otherwise.

The above news item is reproduced without editing other than typographical
 Register your name and address to go on the Mailing List to receive

David Irving's ACTION REPORT

© Focal Point 2000 [F] e-mail: Irving write to David Irving