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By Ray Moseley Tribune Foreign Correspondent January 23, 2000

LONDON -- At times, the two men seem to be conducting an academic
discussion, searching for shards of historical truth in a scholarly,
courteous exchange marked by occasional flashes of humor.

Then there are moments when they wield verbal stilettos, while maintaining
an exterior show of politesse.

"Adolf Hitler never used derogatory terms like `the Chosen People.' "

"No, he called the Jews parasites and bacilli."

"Yes, yes, it's all fanciful on your part."

British historian David Irving, who has sought to absolve Hitler from
responsibility for the Holocaust, stands in the witness box in Room 73 of
the Royal Courts of Justice jousting with attorney Richard Rampton.

Irving is suing Penguin Books and professor Deborah Lipstadt of Emory
University in Atlanta for libel because she has written that he is a
Holocaust denier and a "Hitler partisan" who has distorted history to try to
exonerate the German dictator.

In her book "Denying the Holocaust," Lipstadt cites the generally accepted
view that the Nazis killed 6 million Jews, vast numbers of them in
extermination camps built for that purpose in Poland. Most historians
believe the decision to carry out a systematic slaughter of Jews was decided
at a conference held in a villa beside the Wannsee, a Berlin lake, on Jan.
20, 1942. The conference was attended by leading Nazi officials, but Hitler
was not present.

Irving, a gray-haired, broad-shouldered man of 62 who looks and sounds the
part of a mildly querulous academic, has nothing to lose in this case except
his bank balance.

His professional reputation already is in tatters, and he has been barred
from Germany and other countries that he says are essential to his
historical research. It is not the first time Irving has come to court
because of his Holocaust views. At a meeting in Munich, Irving dismissed
reports that the Nazis used gas chambers to kill millions as a "propaganda

Denying the Holocaust is a crime in Germany, and Irving was charged, found
guilty in May 1992 and heavily fined.

But should he win this libel case, he could walk away with millions and
claim a victory for himself and those who share his views about the Third

Even his critics acknowledge that Irving is the most scholarly of the
Holocaust deniers, and few people have searched the wartime archives as
thoroughly--and benefited as well from the recollections and diaries of old
Nazis whom he befriended.

His memory is prodigious. Rampton produces relatively obscure archival
documents, and Irving rattles on at length about minor Nazi bureaucrats
mentioned in them, or says with great confidence this is a document he has
never seen.

The trial, which began last week, is expected to continue for three months
and soon will move, briefly, to the site of the Nazi extermination camp at
Auschwitz. Irving has never been there, but he contends its gas chambers
were built by the Poles after the war as a tourist attraction.

He does not deny the Nazis killed Jews and other civilians on a large scale.
But he does deny it was official policy and contends Hitler knew nothing
about it until October 1943.

"If the killing had been systematic, it would have been done with more
efficient means," he told the court.

Rampton: "The Germans were acting in a random, haphazard way?"

Irving: "Yes . . . It was a totally ramshackle operation, a total lack of

While evidence of the systematic nature of the Holocaust is overwhelming,
the basis of Irving's suit is that he has been falsely accused of denying
the Holocaust, so he accepts the term freely in court.

"I'm not an expert on the Holocaust and don't intend to become one for the
purposes of this trial," he says when Rampton asks what happened in one of
the Nazi camps.

Rampton repeatedly reads documents referring to the deportation of thousands
of Jews to the camps and asks Irving to accept that any reasonable person
would conclude they were sent there for extermination.

Irving resolutely insists he will not draw inferences from documents that do
not specifically support that conclusion.

Rampton asserts that Irving has no evidence to contradict the possibility
that Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec were built as extermination camps.

"That's a very fair statement," Irving replies.

Throughout, he denies Hitler ordered the Final Solution, and says that no
document has surfaced directly tying Hitler to the extermination efforts.
Nevertheless, reputable scholars have no doubt that he was informed and gave
ultimate approval for the Holocaust.

Even in 1942, Irving says, Hitler was talking of shipping the Jews to
Madagascar to begin new lives, but the operation could not be carried out
because of the naval war.

In Hitler's "table talks" with his Nazi henchmen, Irving says, there was
never any suggestion Jews should be systematically killed.

At one point Irving, referring to the lack of an extermination order from
Hitler, tells Rampton: "I have to remind you of the basic principle of
English law that a man is innocent until he is proved guilty. Am I right?"

During one break in the proceedings, a woman accosts him and says her
parents were gassed at Auschwitz.

"You may be pleased to know that they almost certainly died of typhus, as
did Anne Frank," Irving replies.

Rampton sometimes betrays a lack of familiarity with the historical record.
The trial almost certainly will become more interesting when Irving, who is
acting as his own attorney, cross-examines expert witnesses assembled by the

The son of a British naval commander who served in both world wars, Irving
has been a Germanophile since his teens. He dropped out of university and
spent a year as a steelworker in the Ruhr while learning German.

He came to prominence with a book on the bombing of Dresden and biographies
of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess.

His most controversial book, "Hitler's War," was published in 1977 and
sought to absolve Hitler from responsibility for the mass murder of Jews.
Irving offered a cash reward to anyone who could find a document directly
linking Hitler to the Final Solution.

In the book he said a handwritten note by Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS,
quoted a Hitler order of Nov. 30, 1941, that there was to be "no
liquidation" of Jews. As late as October 1943, he said, Hitler was still
forbidding liquidation of Jews but was disobeyed by the SS.

Irving contended that, despite his public image, Hitler was a weak political
leader who lost control over those serving under him.

In 1979 Irving's German publisher apologized for printing in "Hitler's War"
that Anne Frank's diary was a forgery and paid compensation to her family.

After "Hitler's War," Irving wrote a biography of the Nazi propaganda chief
Josef Goebbels, which won praise from leading British historians.

But from the mid-1980s Irving regularly addressed enthusiastic neo-Nazi
audiences in Austria and Germany.

In 1988 he went to Toronto to testify on behalf of Ernst Zundel, a Canadian
on trial for denying the Holocaust. He also has attended conferences in the
U.S. of the Institute of Historical Review, a leading forum for those who
deny the Holocaust.

His twin brother, a British civil servant, changed his name to avoid being
identified with him.


In court, Holocaust revisionist admits that Nazis =91systematically' gassed=

By Douglas Davis
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

LONDON, Jan. 23 (JTA) =97 A British Holocaust revisionist who is suing a=
Holocaust scholar in a London court has admitted that the Nazis=20
"systematically" gassed 97,000 Jews in trucks.

David Irving, whose trial against Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of Emory=20
University in Atlanta, is now entering its third week, said last week that=
he was "willing to eat humble pie" after he admitted that he had been=20
"quite plainly wrong" for statements in which he said the Nazis used=20
gassing trucks "on a very limited scale to experiment."

Irving is suing Lipstadt and her British publisher, Penguin Books, over=20
passages in her book, "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth=
and Memory."

He says that by labeling him a denier of the Holocaust and accusing him of=
distorting historical data to suit his own ideological goals, Lipstadt has=
ruined his career as a writer and historian.

Irving told the High Court that what he had said in the past about the=20
scale and number of the gas truck deaths was based on his knowledge at the=

But under cross-examination by Richard Rampton, Irving admitted he was=20
mistaken after he was shown a document that specified that 97,000 Jews were=
gassed in three trucks in a period of just five weeks.

When the judge, Justice Charles Gray, asked Irving if he would describe=20
that as "very limited and experimental," Irving replied: "No, this is=20

In another exchange, Rampton said Irving must be "mad or a liar" to suggest=
Jews who were deported to the East during the war were not being sent to=20
their deaths.

He was responding to a claim by Irving that messages intercepted by British=
wartime intelligence indicated trains transporting Jews to the camps were=20
equipped with a "very substantial amount of food" and "tools of the trade"=
for their occupants.

Irving said this indicated "the system that was sending them was=20
apprehending that they would be doing something when they got there."

Rampton asked why he thought the Jews were being sent to "little villages=20
in the middle of nowhere" in eastern Poland in 1942.

"The documents do not tell me," replied Irving, adding that "there could be=
any number of convincing explanations."

At an earlier hearing, Irving told the judge that his extradition was being=
sought by a German court for telling a meeting in Germany that the gas=20
chambers at Auschwitz were erected as a tourist attraction by Poland's=20
postwar Communist regime.


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