captions added by this website]|
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sunday, May 29, 2005
The woman who
BRITISH libel court is war unto
the knife. Loser pays all. David Irving set
out to demolish Deborah Lipstadt. One year
after the trial
May 2002], Irving's wife
and daughter wept on a curbside as liquidators
seized their house, its contents, Irving's library.
By the time Irving got home, he discovered that the
suit he was wearing was the only one he now
"They took everything. They took my entire
research archive of 35 years," Irving said. "I find
it increasingly difficult to be good-humored about
The great irony here is that Irving was the
plaintiff. He was out to destroy Lipstadt,
an American historian, for criticizing his
increasingly implausible suggestions about the
For decades, Irving frightened off his worst
critics with a belligerent certainty that made him
a hero to the Holocaust denial crowd, even as he
protested he was not part of it.
He argued that the
Nazis killed Jews, but mostly on the eastern
front, and in numbers far below the 6 million
that sensible history has long asserted.
When he denied that Auschwitz
had gas chambers for killing Jews, Lipstadt, a
professor of Jewish history, numbered him among
Holocaust deniers in her 1993 book on the subject.
When it was published in Britain, where libel law
essentially holds a defendant guilty until proven
otherwise, Irving went
after her with a flair that attracted the
attention of a world that quickly dubbed it "The
Holocaust on Trial."
Lipstadt didn't simply win her case. She
basically brought down the one historian who lent
any measure of legitimacy to Holocaust denial. She
comes to Pittsburgh on June 8 as keynote speaker
for the American Jewish Committee's annual meeting.
Holocaust survivors are constantly thanking her for
saving their history, and this flummoxes
"I tell them, 'Wait a
minute, your history would have been fine. It's
not so fragile that this one
can destroy it,' " she said.
That's hard to say. The tyranny of the clock is
taking away the eyewitnesses to the Holocaust. A
shocking number of people are prepared to suggest
that it is possible 6 million Jews were not
murdered. When C-Span, the cable public affairs
plans to carry a Lipstadt speech they decided
to balance it with an appearance by Irving, as if
there is "another side" to the near annihilation of
Europe's Jews. History, in this case, needs to be
never expected her book or her trial to define her
career. She'd finished a project, had joined the
faculty at Emory University in Atlanta, and was
casting about for something to write.
"I thought, this is a good short topic. I'll
write on it and be done with it," she said.
When Irving sued her, Lipstadt was infuriated.
Here was a man who had spoken at the Institute
for Historical Review, a blatantly anti-Semitic
assortment of pseudo-scholars in California.
Irving's speeches in the Cleveland area were booked
by Erich Gliebe, currently head of the
testified on behalf of Ernst
Zündel, the Canadian co-author of "The
Hitler We Loved and Why." This
guy was suing her for
Lipstadt thinks she knows why.
- "First of all, I'm a woman, and the guy is a
- Second of all, I'm an American. I was far
away. Maybe he thought I wouldn't take it
- And third of all and most importantly, I am
a Jew. I am strongly identified with the Jewish
community and this was his way of going after
enemies of truth,' as he kept calling them.
This guy is a bully. This guy is really a bully.
He's used to getting away with it."
IRVING does, indeed, have a rough streak going
through him. When I wrote a column
about the trial five years ago, he posted it on
his Web site with an instant link for readers to
send me their thoughts. The kindest read,
are a communist jew pimp."
The 10-week trial, in which Irving acted as his
own lawyer, ripped away the veneer of scholarship
he had applied in careful coats starting with his
first book, a devastating, though now numerically
suspect, account of the allied
bombing of Dresden near the end of World War
book on Dresden was so widely accepted that
Kurt Vonnegut used it as a historical
foundation for his own best-seller, "Slaughterhouse
Defense lawyers got their hands on Irving's
personal diaries and found such nuggets as his
expositions about Jews and Jewish control
There was not one such passage found in Mr Irving's
private diaries, which he voluntarily disclosed,
under the protection of a draconian Court Order to
protect their confidences. The Defence introduced a
total of twelve sentences from the diary into
transcripts]. They came across a little
rhyme he'd written for his daughter:
- I am a baby Aryan
- Not Jewish or sectarian
- I have no plans to marry
- An ape or Rastafarian.
Irving argued that out of 50 million words he
has written these 19 were the only ones that
painted him as a racist. Problem is, when you go to
the trouble of rhyming something like that, it's
going to stick. It did. By trial's end Irving had
been cornered as a racist, an anti-Semite, a sloppy
historian, a keeper of company with the
jackboot-and-suspenders crowd. He lost everything:
his court action, his reputation, his home, the
very couch in his living room.
"He never paid me a penny," Lipstadt says today.
Irving kept things tied up fairly skillfully.
[Website comment: A
seriously libellous allegation. To take steps in
anticipation of insolvency, designed to thwart
creditors, is a criminal offence in the UK, and
even the "Homestead" is not protected as it is in
the United States. The British Government-appointed
Trustees have made no such allegation against Mr
Irving.] He was declared insolvent
and, after three years, he's now untouchable,
though starting over at this late date is likely to
BOTH Lipstadt and Irving say they'd have gone
through this mess all over again. She'd have
written more harshly about him knowing now what he
kept hidden in his diaries and the distortions she
says have been found in virtually every one of his
books. He'd had brought this action as well, he
says. Why he says this, I can't tell for certain,
although Lipstadt has a pretty solid theory.
"Part of it is the contrarian thing, because
that is how he gets attention. If he just did
ordinary scholarship he wouldn't get attention,"
she said. "The one thing about him is he craves
So David Irving makes his own history. Some of
it he writes, taking known events and giving them a
backspin guaranteed to produce the craziest bounce.
Some of it he generates by bringing on a libel
action that destroys him so he can rise like a
phoenix from the ashes of his own making. He'll be
at it as long as he lives. For instance, he has
this theory about Flight
The 9/11 Commission Report made it pretty clear
that passengers on board the hijacked jetliner rose
up, charged the cockpit and caused the terrorists
to crash it into a field in Somerset County. That's
the official story.
"It's quite plain to anybody who looked at the
records exactly what happened," he said.
"I think there's
not the slightest doubt."
Why else, he asked, would the seismographs that
picked up the crash be four minutes off from the
plane's black box. That's a four-minute gap -- time
enough for someone to have shot down the plane.
I suggested that sometimes, just sometimes,
clocks are set differently. The one on my kitchen
wall has been in serious disagreement with the one
on my microwave oven for the past 10 years. That
strikes Irving as improbable.
Like Billy Pilgrim, the hero in "Slaughterhouse
Five," the novel Vonnegut wrote using Irving's
account of Dresden, David Irving has come unstuck
in time. He's more than four minutes off. He picked
a fight with a woman who neglected to be
Roddy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 412-263-1965.)Copyright ©
POSTSCRIPT: Barnes and
Noble website have at present just one
(anonymous) review of the Lipstadt
reviewer, A neutral observer, April 6, 2005, 1
out of 5 stars
not have survived a cross examination by Irving.
Try reading the trial transcript. Irving IS a
racist (equivalent to many Israelis, Japanese,
uhh, let's see, Latvians, Patagonians, Iroquois,
etc). It is a common trait amongst all human
beings, and indeed other primates. Irving is
also a holocaust revisionist ... not a holocaust
denier (so far so fair. Reputable people agree
that the six million were in fact 4.5 million,
or 5.1 million, or 3.5 million, and agree that
many survivors were, in fact, liars (Elie Wiesel
comes to mind)). Correcting the details is not a
crime. But Irving's ability to unearth WW II
documents is unparalleled (yes shame, shame that
he is also a racist like so many Hutus and
Tutsis and Arabs and Jews). Lipstadt on the
other hand, is an extreme lightweight who never
dared engage in intellectual debate unless she
had the advantage of keyboard courage, or a
highly paid professional historian or lawyer to
speak for her.
to the media scandal surrounding Prof Lipstadt's
attempt to silence C-Span and the history
debate | The
Irving -- C-SPAN correspondence
index to the mystery surrounding the crash of
United Arlines flight 93
Irving observes an odd four-minute discrepancy
in the 9/11 Commission Report: the time of
impact of flight UA.93 | Flight
93's smoking gun: The seismic record of a
mystery plane passing at supersonic speed over
Pennsylvania: an investigative article by Robb
Magley | The
Memory Hole: Cleveland Air Traffic Control
Recording of United Flight 93 | Click
here for the clip: : tape ends with the
words "... There appears to be a puff of black
Washington Post, Friday, Aug 8, 2003: FBI
[theory] "9-11 Hijackers Crashed Flight
Oct 2, 2003: U.S.
Air Force pilots now practice shooting down
civilian airliners, general admits
Mar 27, 2004: Sept.
11 crash of UA.93 remains shrouded in mystery,
Pennsylvania coroner reveals in Canada
Dec 2004: Professional
Pilots forum exchanges latest buzz about United
Airlines 93. Ground observer saw plane come down
"smoking". Engine was found 1,800 feet away from