Transcript of David Irving's speech to the Oxford Union, November 26, 2007
[ALLOTTED a ten-minute time to speak, Mr Irving began by introducing himself, and went on to emphasize the importance of the written word. He proceeded to give an example of the power of the Word: In the 1980s he had researched several times in communist Hungary, a country still behind the Iron Curtain, at that time, and interviewed Miklos Vásárhelyi, one of the ministers in the doomed anti-Soviet Uprising of Imre Nagy in Hungary in 1956. Curious about what had motivated Vásárhelyi, who had spent years in prison as a communist, and would now spend more years jailed as a revolutionary, Mr Irving has asked him what had moved him to take such a mortal risk with his own life, and the lives of his family. A member of the audience seated forty or fifty feet away now switched on a camera phone and recorded the rest of the presentation. The resulting sound track is briefly obliterated by the chanting from outside the building. ]
DAVID IRVING: his entire family and their lives. "What was it that persuaded you to take your life in your hands and join the uprising, the revolutionaries?" And he said, "Mr Irving, I read a book." Of course I asked what that book was that he had read, and he said, "It was George Orwell's Animal Farm".
Now, I have read that book, and most of you have probably read it too. You don't understand The way that Orwell wrote it, you don't know whether it's fascists or Nazis or communists too. It is "cross-platform," that book. It doesn't target any particular group or ideology. It's against dictatorship. It's against repression. It's against the people who say, "Some are more equal than others."
Well, I've been more unequal than others in the field of writing books in the field of historians.
I started writing books in 1963. My very first book was a best seller. I've written thirty books since then. In fact last night I had a dream that I was in a ski lift -- this is true -- rising up into the mountains and beneath me were the titles of all my books, and I could see ahead the three books that are still to come, I suppose, before I die: The third volume of my Churchill Biography - the third volume of my Churchill Biography! How many of you even know that I have written volumes one and two. My Himmler biography. A biography of Heinrich Himmler, the mass murderer who thought ... [drowned in chants from outside]. An interesting question: what did he know, what did he tell Adolf Hitler? Who was responsible?
These are questions which I have researched in depth for the last ten or fifteen years.
The book will probably never be published, because I am "more unequal" than the other historians, because of the networking of the people who have paid for the demonstrators outside, who paid for the coaches to bring them here from across the country.
These coaches cost money. Who put up the money for the coaches to bring demonstrators here to Oxford today, to try and stop us speaking? Ask yourself these questions!
Then again, we have brave people in this country, like Mr. Michael Howard, who was Home Secretary of this country at the time when the question of "Holocaust Denial" laws were raised in Europe. The thirteen, then, ministers of the tnterior for Europe, all voted in favour, except for one, and that was Michael Howard. He said England is a free country, and historians and writers must be allowed to research, and write, and publish what they find to be true, without fear of the law.
Let us be ...[word lost in chanting]. A year ago, two years ago November the eleventh two thousand and five, I was on a motorway in Austria. I had been unable to address the University of Austria students in Vienna, on a very interesting subject. The subject was in fact, the negotiations between Adolf Eichmann and Joel Brand, and the British, uh, role of the British code breakers, who were following these extraordinary negotiations between Adolf Eichmann, the mass murderer, and Joel Brand, a leader of the Jewish community in Budapest; and we British, British Intelligence, were following what was going on [six words lost] to speak to that student body. [Several words lost.]
I drove south, towards Italy, to try and get out of Austria on time, because Austria is a dictatorship again, very similar to the Nazis in fact now. Similar ...
Within two hours my car was stopped on the motorway, and eight policemen jumped out, and held their nine-millimeter Glock automatics to my head, and I spent the next four hundred days in solitary confinement in a prison in Vienna -- which is why I limped from the bench over to here just now: being in solitary confinement twenty four hours a day, you don't get the exercise that your muscles demand.
But I still refuse to be bowed, and am not going to write what they want me to write. I will write what I find in the archives, and I will try and publish what I find in the archives, and my enemies will continue to try and stop me.
Not because it's a Jewish matter. It isn't &endash; and with respect to the previous speaker [Evan Harris], whose talk I greatly admired: I found myself agreeing with almost everything he said -- it isn't a Jewish matter. What people don't like about what I write about history is what concerns me as an Englishman.
I WAS born in 1938 into a great world empire. We saw that empire frittered away in a useless war, and I am convinced as a historian, from the records that I have read in Germany, and in Britain, that Britain was never at risk. We could have got out of the war cheaply in 1940. We could have accepted what was ... offered to us, had we wanted to, and there would have been no Holocaust, because it happened after 1940! The selfish British politicians decided to fight on, and the records show it quite clearly. The records of the German Naval Staff, the Naval High Command, the records of the British Public Record Office in Kew, show this beyond a shadow of doubt.
Well I've got the right to publish that. I published it in my Hitler biography, Hitler's War, I published it in the Churchill biography; people don't like this, because they don't like being told that World War Two, was a journey we shouldn't have taken. In World War Two the posters on the wall said, "Is your journey really necessary?"
We were bankrupt on the fifth of December 1940, when we were fighting in a war that damaged only Britain, and benefited only the United States.
And this was a very, very great shame, because I personally am proud of what we British did around the world - the Empire that we built over so many years.
I've been directed by the President to bring my remarks back to the motion being debated. The point I am making is that I am prevented from publishing these facts, which are so unpalatable to the English now, because it doesn't suit certain groups of people. It's not "the Jews," it's nothing to do with them, it's the establishment of this country, and the establishment has had it in for me for the last four decades.
Go to the Public Record Office, and you can see the records that are now coming out under the thirty-year rule, how they tried to have me arrested, and prosecuted, and put in prison, even in this country too.
Freedom of speech is too important not to defend. But as the previous speaker said, it must be hemmed in with certain conditions, and certain allowances. We mustn't confuse liberty with license -- Liberty with license. Liberty is important, that's what has to be defended -- Liberty for people like me to tell you things which aren't palatable.
Freedom of speech means the right to be wrong, sometimes. Because, when you see other people being wrong, then you realize what is right. And if you prevent other people from making mistakes, or propagating views that may be wrong, and even unpalatable to you, then you can not satisfy yourself about what is right -- John Stuart Mill put it so much better that I did -- and we have to have libel laws within that liberty to pursue people who use that liberty deliberately to smear.
The journalists, who are what I call Schmierfinken, using the German word, the Schmierfinken, [two words obliterated by audience cough], they say "David Irving the Holocaust Denier" -- but they've stopped saying it again now, they're more cautious and say "Holocaust Revisionist." Okay, a Holocaust Revisionist.
You don't have to buy the whole package. You're entitled to open it up at some point, [two words], and you must be free to read it and make up your own mind. The freedom to make up your own mind is as important as is the right for us to be able to speak freely, and the people outside would do anything to prevent us from speaking freely.
I wish I could invite them in, so that they too could join in and come back at me with their counter-arguments. Of course their minds are closed. It's shocking. They can't debate, they can't argue.
Every time they try to prevent me from entering a country -- the university of Rome, the countries around the world where I am now banned: in Australia, I can't even visit my own children and grandchildren in Australia; I can't visit Canada; I can't visit Germany; I can't go to Austria now -- every time that happens, I regard it as another victory! Its a victory, because it proves that in that country there is nobody ... somebody who hasn't shaken his own [word lost], somebody who's shaken the hands of all the members of Hitler's and Churchill's staff and done the primary research the way that I have.
Other historians hate me, because I have done the work that they haven't.
I must be free to publish and print, and research, and write, and distribute the truth, as I find it to be.
David Irving: Thank you very much.
[No recording is yet available of the lengthy question and answer session that followed]
Transcript: Dave Catleugh