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Subject: Holocaust Almanac: David Irving, background
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Archive/File: holocaust/england/irving irving.shallit
Last-modified: 1993/06/25


   Jeff Shallit


   3.  David Irving

   David John Cawdell Irving is a British "historian", born in 1938.
   According to David Cesarani of the Wiener Library in London, England,
   he attended Imperial College at the University of London, but never
   graduated.  He holds no academic degree and no academic position at
   any university or college.  He calls himself a "moderate fascist",
   and claims, among other things that the gas chambers at Auschwitz (in
   which an estimated 1--2 million people died) were "built by the Poles
   after the war as a tourist attraction." (For this remark, he was
   fined DM 10,000 by a Munich court in May 1992.  The judge was quoted
   as saying that the gas chambers of Auschwitz were "an historically
   certain fact.")

   Irving denies being a "Holocaust denier" or "Hitler apologist", and
   seems willing to resort to legal action if necessary.  In a recent
   fax printed in the K-W Record, he is reported as saying, "I have
   warned 22 British newspapers that I shall not hesitate to commence
   libel action if they use smear phrases such like 'Hitler apologist'
   or 'Holocaust denier' to embellish their writings." But Bernard
   Levin, writing in the Times of London in May of this year, quoted
   Irving as saying, "I hope the court will fight a battle for the
   German people and put an end to the blood lie of the Holocaust which
   has been told against this country for 50 years."

   Irving first entered the headlines in 1970.  In July of that year, he
   was forced to apologize in the High Court of London for "making a
   wholly untrue and highly damaging statement about a woman writer." --
   not an auspicious start for someone who claims to be in pursuit of
   the truth.  Later that year, Irving was back in the headlines,
   concerning publication of his book, "The Destruction of Convoy PQ17".
   Ostensibly an expose of an ill-fated 1942 Arctic convoy headed for
   the Soviet Union during World War II, it eventually resulted in
   Irving being fined 40,000 British pounds for libel.  Irving's book
   faulted Captain John Broome, commander of the convoy at the time,
   saying he was guilty of "downright disobedience" and "downright
   desertion of the convoy." Broome brought suit against Irving for
   false statements, and won a judgment in August of 1970.  Irving's
   lawyers appealed, and lost in March, 1971.  The case is revealing
   because of what it says about Irving's abilities as a historian and
   his motives as an author.

   According to the Times of London, Irving showed a copy of the
   manuscript to Broome before publication.  Broome objected to the
   accuracy of some thirty passages in the book, and threatened to sue
   for libel if Irving did not make changes.  At that point, William
   Kimbers Ltd., Irving's publisher, notified him that they would not
   publish the book as it was then written.  Later, Irving published the
   book with another publisher.

   The court found that Irving "was warned from most responsible
   quarters that his book contained libels on Captain Broome...  To make
   [the book] a success he was ready to risk libel actions...
   Documentary evidence...  showed that [Irving] had deliberately set
   out to attack Captain Broome and in spite of the most explicit
   warnings persisted in his attack because it would help sell the
   book." The court labeled Irving's conduct as "outrageous and

   Irving's misrepresentations did not end with the publication of his
   book.  According to Cesarani, in 1979, a German publisher had to pay
   compensation to the father of Anne Frank after printing the German
   edition of Irving's book, Hitler's War.  Irving had claimed that Anne
   Frank's diary was a forgery.

   Irving claims that according to his "research", the Holocaust is
   greatly exaggerated.  (He was recently quoted in the K-W Record as
   saying that the number of Jews who died in concentration camps was
   "of the order of 100,000 or more.") But during the 1988 trial of
   pro-Nazi publisher Ernst Zundel, he was forced to admit under
   cross-examination that he hadn't even read all of Eichmann's 1960
   trial testimony.  (In this testimony, Eichmann admitted that Nazi
   leaders discussed the so-called "Final Solution to the Jewish
   problem''-- extermination, in 1942.)

   In November 1991, a reporter from the Independent showed that Irving
   omitted crucial lines from a translation of Goebbels' diaries --
   lines that would have contradicted his theory that Hitler knew
   nothing about the extermination of the Jews.

   Irving's record is clear: he is not an historian, and he has made
   false statements and been forced to apologize for them.  As Andrew
   Cohen, reporter for the Financial Post, has said, "David Irving
   should be denied credibility."

Those wishing to learn more about Mr. Irving are invited to send the 
command INDEX IRVING to, to obtain a list of
available files.

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