Union is lending academic
credibility to an individual
who has been ruled to be an
'anti-semite and a racist' by
The leftist National Union of
London, Friday, May 4, 2001
HISTORIAN AT CENTRE OF DEBATE
A LEADING lecturer
today threatened to campaign for a boycott
of one of Britain's most famous academic
institutions for inviting
far-right historian David Irving to
speak in a debate.
David John Cawdell Irving was born in
Essex in March 1938, one of four children,
Beryl, a writer and illustrator,
and John, a naval commander.
The family lived in straitened
circumstances and Irving attended a minor
public school, Sir Anthony Browne's in
Brentwood, Essex - later attended by Home
Secretary Jack Straw.
He achieved eight A-levels and 13
O-levels and read physics at London's
Imperial College, but did not finish his
degree for lack of money.
He then embarked on a love affair with
Germany, working for a year in the Ruhr
steelworks, where he rose to the position
of third smelter.
Back in England, he again began a
degree, financing his studies by working
as a nightwatchman and writing
The publication of his first book,
about the Allied
air raids on Dresden, was followed by
a score more with another three still in
Irving claims that envy for his early
success and research methods turned to
malice after Hitler's
War - with its claim that the
Fuehrer did not know about the mass
killings until 1943 - appeared in the US
In 1961, Irving married the daughter of
a Spanish industrial chemist, who was
fiercely opposed to Franco.
Before their divorce in 1981, the
couple had four daughters. The eldest,
Josephine, committed suicide in
September 1999 aged 33
36] after a period of mental
illness and an accident which led to the
loss of her legs.
Irving, who has been banned from the
German state archives and expelled from
Austria, Italy, Canada
and Germany, claims that he has suffered a
barrage of abuse and death threats on his
unlisted phone number.
He agrees he once had swizzle sticks
adorned with swastikas at a book party,
but denies Nazi sympathies.
In April 2000 he lost a £2 million
action against a
had branded him a Holocaust denier.
Oxford University Students' Union and
the National Union of Students have
jointly condemned a decision by the Oxford
Union to provide a platform for David
Irving, who has 'denied' the
The Oxford Union, renowned for inviting
controversial guest speakers to address
its members, has asked Mr Irving to speak
at the debating chamber in St Michael
Street, Oxford, on May 10.
The move has outraged many, who say his
views, that the Holocaust never took
place, are racist and fascist and should
not be allowed a platform to expound them
further. The NUS said the Oxford Union's
decision was in direct opposition to its
policy not to enable known racists and
fascists to air their views via the
organisation. The policy has been
overwhelmingly passed at NUS conferences
every year for the past five years.
The Oxford Union society is a private
members club and debating society, which
operates entirely independently of Oxford
University and the Oxford University
Kirsty McNeill, OUSU president,
"Only eight per cent of Oxford
students come from ethnic minorities,
compared to 14 per cent of the student
population nationally. How can the
University hope to appeal to minorities
when an individual who propounds such
divisive views is permitted to air
those views by a society which
comprises many of Oxford University's
alumni? The students' union is proud to
say 'never again'."
Owain James, NUS national
president, said: "This is irresponsible.
In providing a platform to David Irving,
the Oxford Union is lending academic
credibility to an individual who has been
ruled to be an 'anti-semite and a racist'
by the courts. This is an affront to
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