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Thursday, February 3, 2000

ARTS | Shelf Life | p. B4  


David Irving repeats 'Holocaust denier' accusations against himself on his Web site  

ABOUT to hit its second month is an unusual and expensive libel trial in which the party claiming damages is amplifying the libel by publishing all the trial materials on the Internet. British historian David Irving, whose Goebbels biography hit the reefs of public scorn in 1996 and was pulled by its publisher, has brought a claim in the British High Courts against the writer Deborah Lipstadt and her publishers, Penguin.

Irving, who testified on behalf of Ernst Zundel at his Toronto 1988 "false news" retrial, claims in court documents that Lipstadt's book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Aassault on Truth and Memory, accuses him of being "an ardent admirer" of Hitler and having "consorted with anti-Israel, anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial forces."

LipstadtSince under strict British libel laws, defendants assume the burden of proving their claims in court, Lipstadt and Penguin have gathered together a battery of renowned lawyers and experts, including Cambridge University historian Richard Evans. With access to thousands of letters, videotaped speeches and diaries, including a verse Irving wrote to his one-year-old "Baby Aryan" daughter, Evans has prepared a 740-page document to debunk Irving's related claims.

Since British rules of procedure demand that before trials each side reveals witnesses and what they intend to say in court, Evans' treatise has already appeared in public -- strangely enough, on Irving's Web site,, along with a host of other materials that drag Irving through the mud.

Trial onlookers include the Canadian Web site Nizkor,, devoted to confronting claims diminishing or denying the Holocaust, and Penguin U.K.,, which has published its own opening statement calling Irving a "falsifier of history" and a "Holocaust denier."

The dispute has posed a difficult question for observers: Is Irving's mission to win, or to force Holocaust historians to engage him in a theatrical debate on even ground? Irving's limited assets and vulnerability are bound to make any win for Lipstadt and Penguin a pyrrhic one, allowing a martyred Irving to broadcast, via the courts, the newspapers and the Internet, a kind of virtual history no mainstream publisher would be likely to touch. - Dan Glove, National Post

Our opinion
  OF course that there may have been more orthodox reasons for bringing a libel action does not occur to these journalists' minds.

If you write to a newspaper don't forget: 1. keep it short; 2. add your mail address and a daytime telephone number. They will not print it otherwise.

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