London, Wednesday May 31, 2000
Irving turns to US fans to fund his legal costs
Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles
The rightwing historian David Irving, who owes more than £1m in legal costs from his failed Holocaust libel case in London earlier this year, has arrived in California to start a three-month fundraising tour of the United States. At the weekend he met at a secret location in Orange county a group dedicated to proving that there was no mass extermination of Jews during the second world war.
The meeting of the Institute for Historical Review was attended by 140 people, including the former Republican congressman Pete McCloskey and a number of rightwing academics and supporters, and watched by 2,500 others around the world via the internet.
The head of the organisation, Mark Weber, told the Los Angeles Times: "Of the 16 or 17 speakers here this weekend, six have been punished as 'thought criminals' with imprisonment, court order fines or travel bans for publicly expressing dissident views on history.
"We are often asked why we seem obsessed with the Holocuast. The answer is very simple ... Our own political, social and intellectual leaders have made the fate of Europe's Jews during world war two a central icon to our age.
"No comparable attention is given to the tens of millions of other world war two victims, including the many millions of Chinese who perished."
Mr Weber said that because of the "Holocaust cult", it was often forgotten that millions of Russians had died, as had 12m to 14m Germans. He said that American history was told from a Jewish perspective.
Mr Irving said that he was appealing against his defeat in the libel action he brought against Professor Deborah Lipstadt, who had accused him of anti-semitism.
In his decision, Judge Charles Gray said that Prof Lipstadt had been justified in her attack on Mr Irving, and his chances in an appeal are thought to be slim.
Local Jewish groups expressed dismay at Mr Irving's presence, although one described him as "a freak at a sideshow" and said that he had been so discredited in the libel case that his views now carried little weight.
They said that under the first amendemnt he was guaranteed the right to free speech in the United States, but he would be essentially "preaching to his own choir".
Mr Irving accused his opponents of spending around $6m in their attempts to defeat him in court.
"It's sad to say in the battle between David and Goliath, David doesn't always win. But I think I can say in this particular battle David is going to win and the victory is going to be sweet when it comes."
He portrayed himself as the underdog fighting against insurmountable odds.
There is a large network of wealthy rightwing sympathisers on a well-travelled circuit who will await Irving in the next three months.
He will be portrayed as a victim of political correctness and a free speech martyr.
There is also a large network of Jewish groups in California who are likely to be unhappy to discover that Mr Irving is promoting his views in their area.
There have been a number of anti-semitic attacks in California, not least that carried out last year by a member of a neo-fascist group, who opened fire in a Jewish community centre. A Filipino postal worker was killed and several children injured.
Comment: The Guardian Newspapers Ltd are of course a defendant in the next libel action being brought by Mr Irving, and have every reason to vilify him while they still can.
London, May 31, 2000
David Irving to The Guardian, Saturday, June 3, 2000:
You quoted the Los Angeles Times report that I am in the USA on a three month speaking and fund-raising tour. Not so. I'm exhibiting at BookExpo USA, the international book fair here in Chicago, then doing some work in Washington DC, then writing in California for three months.