The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david//press/new-statesman.0792

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism,soc.history
Subject: Holocaust Almanac - Cesarani on David Irving
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Chesarani,Irving

Archive/File: holocaust/england/irving irving.05
Last-Modified: 1993/11/01

[Ed. note: I find the multiple diary references confusing. If someone has
access to the New Statesman issue cited, I'd appreciate it if they would
check the diary references and let me know if these are correct.knm]

New Statesman and Society  Vol 5, Issue 210, Date July 10, 1992 pp 19-20

Bad and Dangerous
by David Cesarani

     [Why do "respectable" newspapers continue to use the so-called
historian David Irving?  David Cesarani reports.]

     Twice this year David Irving has grabbed the headlines.  In January,
he claimed to have discovered the Eichmann diaries.  Last week he was back
in the limelight, following the disclosure of a deal with the "Sunday
Times" to supply it with previously unseen parts of the Goebbels diaries.
Yet Irving is irrevocably linked to neo-Nazis in Germany and has repeatedly
denied the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz, epicentre of the
Holocaust.  Why do editors and journalists continue to use him?  He is a
man with a mission who thrives on publicity, so if his views are so
obnoxious and wrong, why does he keep on getting it?

     Irving is a master at using the newspapers for the self-publicity that
serves his broader political objectives.  As he brazenly told the "Sunday
Telegraph" on 19 January this year, in the wake of his hyped up and
ultimately trivial discoveries about Eichmann, he "was simply trying to
manipulate the press."

     The case of the Eichmann diaries is a good example of how journalists
play into his hands.  In January, the Wiener Library and Institute of
Contemporary History held a conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the
Wannsee Conference at which leading Nazis gathered to discuss details of
the "Final Solution."  A journalist at the "Observer" decided to do a piece
on the conference, but rang Irving for a comment.  Irving then hijacked the
story with the "revelation" of the Eichmann diaries.  Gullible and ill-
informed hacks didn't know that most of this material was already in the
public domain.  Despite warnings, they went after Irving in a gadarene
charge that turned news of the event commemorating the extermination of
European Jewry into a week-long Irvingfest.

     Was it mere coincidence that the Goebbels diaries affair just happened
to break at the same time as Irving was due to launch a series of so-called
revisionist seminars on the Holocaust in London?  The publicity for these
grotesque meetings has been circulated by the neo-Nazi British National
Party in its monthly journal "British Nationalist."  It announces that "The
'Holocaust' myth is increasingly exposed as a preposterous fraud thanks to
the painstaking researches of people like Professor Faurisson and gas
chamber expert Fred Leuchter.  But information [sic] about their
discoveries is denied to the general public who are, instead, served up
with an intensified diet of mind-rotting 'Holohoax' garbage."  Hopefully,
most editors would abhore such notions.  Then why give Irving, their chief
purveyor, the oxygen of publicity?

     The British press seem obdurately unwilling to recognise the fact that
Irving is a propagandist and not a scholar.  Until the "Independent," on 3
July 1992, labelled him a "Hitler apologist," a tag that seems to have been
quite widely adopted, he was usually described as a "right-wing historian"
("Independent" and "Daily Telegraph," 13 January 1992), a "controversial
historian" ("Observer," 12 January 1992), or just a "historian" ("Sunday
Telegraph," 19 January 1992).  Some papers, the "Sunday Times," of course,
but also the "Observer" (5 July 1992), persist with this flattering
nomenclature.  But Irving can barely claim the necessary credentials.  Over
the years, his once lauded scholarship has taken a pounding.  His errors
have cost him, and those who trusted his "expertise," a small fortune.  His
views on the Holocaust are comparable to the flat-earthers' opinions about
geography and can only be supported by massively distorting the archival

     In 1970, Irving was successfully sued for &L 40,000 for statements
made in his book on the ill-fated Arctic convoy PQ17.  Not long after that,
the publisher Andre Deutsch was sued for bringing out a play by Rolf
Hochhuth based on Irving's sensational account of the death of the Polish
wartime leader General Sikorski.  Irving had "misread" a crucial document.
In 1979, the German publisher Ullstein had to pay compensation to the
father of Anne Frank after printing the introduction to the German edition
of "Hitler's War," where Irving claimed that Anne Frank's diary was a
forgery.  More recently, in the Independent on 27 November 1991, Gitta
Sereny showed that when he quoted an entry from Goebbels' diary on the
killing of the Jews, Irving omitted lines that contradicted his thesis that
Hitler knew nothing about the extermination process.

     Nor is it sufficient any longer simply to call Irving "right-wing."
As long ago as June 1984, he was giving lectures to outlawed neo-Nazi
groups in Austria.  In May 1990, he was detained in the city centre.  A
year later, he was fined &L 3,000 for denying that there were gas chambers
at Auschwitz when he addressed an earlier meeting in a Munich beer cellar.
On 28 November 1991, he was shown on ITV's "This Week" speaking to a rally
of neo-Nazi's in Halle.  As he poured abuse on asylum-seekers, the crowd
chanted "Sieg Heil."  For several years he has appeared at the annual
meeting of the radical right Deutsches Volks Partei in Passau.

     The German press are less coy.  The conservative "Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung" on 4 March 1988 called Irving's Hitler biography an
"Apologetik" and on 4 January this year described him as the
"rechtsradikale britische Historiker."  Uwe Westphal, the London-based
correspondent and head of the German writers abroad section of PEN, labels
him "der Neo Nazi David Irving."  Westphal is bemused by the attraction
that Irving holds for the British press.  After Irving described the gas
chambers at Auschwitz as a tourist attraction built by the Poles after the
war, an official at the Polish Embassy in London declared him "mentally

     But Irving is not mad;  he is just bad and dangerous.  As he has
openly stated, he has a mission to convert public opinion (especially in
Germany) to his way of thinking.  This involves exculpating Hitler of the
murder of Europe's Jews and denying that the Holocaust took place.  If
there is one single obstacle to rehabilitating the radical right and the
Nazis, it is the crime of genocide.  Irving's pseudo-history and his
politics, the man and his views, cannot be separated.

     So why do editors still permit their papers to enhance Irving's
notoriety and afford him a measure of credibility?  Nazism and the
Holocaust are to up market papers what soft porn is to the gutter press.
Revelations about Nazi hierarchs, pictures of men in crisp black uniforms
and, if possible, some details of sadistic anti-Semitism are calculated to
sell copies.  Irving provides the peg on which to hang all this and adds
more.  He is a "name," a "controversial" figure.

     The fact that his views are obscene, and in some countries illegal,
seems not to worry them.  They refuse to acknowledge the difference between
scholarly debate and propaganda, failing to contextualise Irving's pseudo-
history within his political activity.  Worse still, the liberal notion of
"balance" is frequently wheeled out.  If you have a conference on the
Holocaust, why not get a comment from someone who denies it occurred?  If
survivors of the gas chambers denounce Irving, his voice should also be
heard.  Fair play for all.

     It is hard to believe that the editors who order profiles of Irving
and encourage their staff to follow up Irving stories really want to
whitewash Hitler or assist the revival of a movement which made mincemeat
of the freedoms they currently enjoy.  Rather, they seem guilty of the most
abysmal opportunism or a myopic liberalism that enables them to divorce
Irving from his politics.

     The affair of the Goebbels diaries underlines this point.  No doubt
Andrew Neil means it when he condemns neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism, but how
can he square this stance with his employment of David Irving?  It is
simply not true that Irving was the only scholar available who could read
the Goebbels manuscripts.

     In any case, how could a man who has been shown to distort archive
sources, including earlier copies of the very same diaries, be trusted with
this delicate work?  Is he a reliable "technician," as Neil maintains?
Astoundingly, Neil admitted in an interview for the BBC World Service that
he deplored Irving's politics and regarded his views on the Holocaust as

     What Neil and other editors apparently cannot understand is that any
publicity for, or reference to, Irving as an "historian" suits his
political agenda.  In Germany he operates on the edge of the law, and in
the face of a nearly unanimous obloquy;  but in Britain newspapers hang on
his words and deeds, picking up his cues like well-trained spaniels.  Now
the press is once again under scrutiny, it is surely time to add gross
political irresponsibility to its list of failings.

     [David Cesarani is Depute Director of the Wiener Library, London, and
author of "Justice Delayed," a study of Nazi war criminals in the UK.]

Followups to alt.revisionism

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.