Posted Wednesday, December 10, 2003

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David Irving comments:

JEFF GERMAN was a polite enough journalist and, yes, somewhat younger than myself; I had misheard his name to be Gammon, and I had had no qualms about meeting him as I doubted that one of the Traditional Enemy would be called Gammon of all things.
   But having met him I decided he could be objective, and invited him to attend; his objective and well- reported story shows my decision to be largely vindicated.
   As for slipping quietly into the town, I do not advertise my means of travel or the place I am staying, for self-evident reasons.

Las Vegas Sun

Tuesday, December 9, 2003



Columnist Jeff German:

Holocaust denier slips into town

IF YOU sit down and chat with David Irving, he comes across as anyone's grandfather. He is charming, educated and easy to engage in conversation, particularly about World War II. But behind this facade is the world's most recognizable Holocaust denier -- a 65-year-old London author who does not believe that 6 million Jews perished in Nazi death camps during World War II.

His position on the Holocaust has won him anti-Semitic friends in the national white supremacist movement, such has David Duke, the jailed former leader of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Louisiana. And it has landed him on government watch lists and made him the archenemy of such organizations as the Anti-Defamation League and the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, which fight bigotry and hate groups. Irving, who has written 30 historical books, including his best known "Hitler's War," slipped into town as quietly as he could for a rare speaking engagement in the shadow of the Las Vegas Strip Monday night [December 8, 2003] on his latest national tour.

His visit didn't go totally unnoticed, however. It caught the attention of the local Anti-Defamation League, law enforcement authorities and this writer, who interviewed him for an hour at the Hard Rock Hotel's "Lucky Seven" coffee shop prior to his talk across the street at the St. Tropez Hotel. Irving told me that he found the subject of the Holocaust "boring" and of no historical interest to him. But when asked, he was quick to give his opinion on the extent of the extermination of the Jews.

He acknowledged that the Germans carried out mass shootings of Jews on the war's Eastern Front in Poland. "There were individual operations where 20,000 or 30,000 Jews were killed at a time over several days on the Eastern Front," he said. "However, the other part of the story, which is the factories of death, the mass extermination gas chambers -- a lot of that story doesn't wash. It's based on the evidence of a very slim number of eye witnesses, most of whom are highly discredited when you read all of their evidence."

Irving suggested the 6 million figure, validated at the post-war Nuremberg Trials, was a "symbolic" figure and that only one-tenth the number of Jews actually died in Nazi concentration camps. His words, of course, are contradicted by voluminous documentation of Nazi atrocities during the war. But Irving seemed to relish giving an opinion that doesn't conform to society's view. In the interview, and later when he spoke to a small crowd of followers at the St. Tropez, Irving said he was proud that he has been able to "generate the kind of hostility" that has gotten him kicked out of countries and his books banned from bookstores and libraries.

The Anti-Defamation League devotes an entire section to Irving on its website, saying he has "sought to rehabilitate the image of the Nazi regime" throughout his writing career. The section concludes by suggesting that Irving "remains probably the most lucid expositor of history in which [Adolf] Hitler was benevolent, the Allies despotic and Jews the perpetrators of their own phony genocide." Irving, meanwhile, told me he is firmly convinced that long after he dies, he will be proven right.

Himmler, HitlerHe barely mentioned the Holocaust during his talk at the St. Tropez. He discussed his exploits writing about Hitler and his latest book in the works, a biography of Heinrich Himmler, who headed the Nazi dictator's feared Gestapo. Then Irving moved to the subject of the war in Iraq and his belief that the Bush administration has misled the American people and gotten itself into a war it can't win. He accused the administration of mounting a propaganda campaign aimed at drumming up support for the war, suggesting at one point that the well-publicized tearing down of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad shortly after American troops arrived was nothing but an American government hoax.


THE St. Tropez was not the original location for Irving's talk. He had come to Las Vegas on Saturday from a speaking engagement in Phoenix and planned to hold a discussion that evening at the Casa Di Amore Italian restaurant on East Tropicana Avenue. Paul Schiada, the restaurant's co-owner, said he was alerted to Irving's background and asked him to give his talk somewhere else. Schiada said his restaurant later received a couple of harassing phone calls from Irving supporters, including one who asked whether "the Jews" were responsible for the cancellation.

Irving eventually persuaded the St. Tropez, where he stayed, to give him a small partitioned room in the back of the property Monday night. Before his talk, which lasted about two hours, Irving set up a table and sold a half-dozen or so of his books. He said he sells the books to help finance his speaking tour. Sometimes, he said, he runs into trouble on the speaking circuit when members of the Jewish community try to disrupt his talks. As a result, he said, he generally is particular about whom he lets into meetings. Most people have to sign up on his website and divulge personal information about themselves.

Irving explained that he rarely lets reporters hear him speak, and though I have no way of telling whether this is true, he said Monday's interview was the first he had granted to a journalist in this country in 20 years. I'll have more on my chat with Irving, plus reaction, this week. At the St. Tropez, a mixed group of 21 people each paid $22 to eat a catered dinner of steak or chicken with potatoes and chocolate cake for desert. There were men and women, teenagers and seniors, skin-head types and businessmen and even retired military officers in attendance. No one wanted to identify themselves or be quoted in the newspaper.

You could tell you were among people who don't appreciate minorities, but for the most part, aside from casual references to "the Jews" by both Irving and his supporters, there was not a lot of racist talk. The meeting-goers were polite and well aware that a journalist was in their presence. Afterwards, however, some complained that law enforcement authorities were taking their pictures and watching them walk into the meeting, where they insisted they merely were exercising their right to free speech. When Irving finished his talk, he collected money for the dinner from his guests and then packed up his books. He said he planned to drive to Los Angeles for his next speaking engagement, hoping to leave as quietly as he arrived.

Previous Las Vegas Sun stories about David Irving: 18 Apr, 2000 | 20 Apr, 2000 | 30 Oct, 1997


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