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Copyright 2000 Associated Newspapers Ltd.
DAILY MAIL (London), April 22, 2000, p. 28

"Making of a monster; He taunts his lover with Hitler jibes and is
'improper' with his six-year-old child. Here David Irving, deserted by
his first wife and three daughters, talks of the family destroyed by his
beliefs," by Mary Riddell

THESE, one imagines, must be fraught times for David Irving. 'Do I sound
fraught?' he booms crossly, as if a GBP 2.5 million legal bill, the
prospect of financial ruin and a shredded reputation are mere pinpricks
to man of such elephantine resilience.

Ten days have passed since he listened as a High Court judge branded him
a racist and an anti-Semite who falsified history to try to disprove the
existence of Nazi gas chambers and exculpate Hitler from involvement in
the mass murder of six million Jews.

Irving's libel action against a fellow historian, Deborah Lipstadt,
culminated in disgrace for him, as his record as a pro-Nazi polemicist
unravelled in the judge's summary.

Naturally Irving, a master of denial, wishes to exploit defeat for his
own end - though the word hubris springs easily to mind. 'Now I'm one of
the best-known historians in the world,' he boasts.

Notoriety apart, both the professional and the personal history of David
Irving offer grim chronicles. The first has been charted in a court of
law; the second only patchily addressed.

Irving is now 62 and a veteran of family bitterness and heartbreak.

His first marriage ended in acrimonious divorce, and the eldest of four
daughters from that relationship, Josephine, died last year when she, a
schizophrenic, flung herself from the window of her London flat. The
other three are said to deplore his views.

Estranged from his twin brother, Nicholas - of whom he speaks in the
coldest terms - Irving now lives with Bente Hogh, his Danish partner,
and their six-year-old daughter, Jessica.

If there were an oasis in the life of David Irving, this relationship,
with a beautiful woman of 37, would be the tranquil centre. Instead, it
is impossible to venture into his study in London's Mayfair without
absorbing the querulous taint of domestic disharmony.

Several times, Bente drifts through the door, fragile, charming and
almost piteously eager to dissociate herself from our conversation. 'I
am a very private person. I am totally different to David, and I do not
share his views,' she says quietly.

'Also, David has a very funny relationship with the truth.' Irving
plants beefy forearms on his desk and stares at her. 'You do not share
my views?

She's more extreme than me. She marches up and down. Adolf Hitler's
birthday is a great day for her.

'Ha, ha, I am only joking,' he roars as she slips away, her eyes heavy
with weariness - or contempt.

Down the years, Irving has described women as 'mental chewing gum', 10pc
less intelligent than men and useful only for procreation and

In court, much was made both of a racist ditty beginning 'I am a baby
Aryan', which he sang to the infant Jessica.

HE IS eager to laugh off his more repellent sayings as a slap against
political correctness. It seems harder to explain why he should taunt a
partner who, according to the website promoting his cause, 'has been
fighting her own battle for a year.' 'She is very ill,' he says, when
Bente has left the room. 'She won't talk about it. She won't want me to
talk about it.

Throughout the trial, she was in bed all day in a darkened room.

'She was there when I left and there when I came home at 5pm. It would
not be right for me to add any more,' he says in a rare display of

One wonders what influences made him what he is. 'You mean where did it
all go wrong? I had a very happy childhood. No one can take that away
from me.'

In fact, his early life was fractured after his father, John, a Royal
Navy officer who fought in the Battle of Jut-land, left Irving's artist
mother, Beryl, to bring up her four children alone.

'I didn't miss having a father. He'd probably have beaten me to a pulp,
and I'd have grown up an ordinary person. Being brought up as the
wayward youngest child of a family with only a mother must have had an
effect.' The depth of that effect only emerges much later, when he tells
me idly of a horror story about lone parents that he has invented for
Jessica: 'I'm trying to instil in her a terror of single-parent
families. Highly improper. But if you can't be improper with your own
children, who can you be improper with?'

AT Brentwood Grammar, Irving was a difficult pupil who chose Hitler's
Mein Kampf as a school prize to attract notice.

At university, he dabbled in two degree courses and finally went to
Germany to work in a steel factory in the Ruhr; the seedbed for his
obsessive interest in the Third Reich.

But the hallmark of his early years seems to have been an inability to
forge close family bonds; seemingly with his mother and certainly with
his father, who became an author later in life and whom he got to know
after years of estrangement only when he brought him, by then an old
man, to London to finish a military history.

'I tortured him to do it, made him write every morning. A few months
later he started dying of cancer,' he says, describing a reunion that
sounds less like reconciliation than retribution.

Irving claims to stay in touch with his sister, Jennifer, and elder
brother John, a Wiltshire county councillor.

But for his twin Nicholas there is only scorn: 'The story that he
changed his name by deed poll to dissociate himself from me is not true.
He changed it to Newington-Irving because is a snob.

'I got a horrible letter from my sister asking how I could say that
Nicky was boring and balding. But he is quiet, reserved, boring and a
pipe-smoker: the kind of person on whom this country depends,' he says

The last time the twins met was last September, at Josephine's funeral.

She was the first child of his marriage in 1959 to his Spanish wife,
Pilar, and a normal girl until she developed schizophrenia in her late

'It happened in the A-level period,' he says. 'She said she could not do
that day's paper because the Devil was sitting in the front row.
Finally, there was the knowledge that it was incurable; a permanent
burnout in the brain.' Josephine married and had a son but remained
incapable of a normal life.

Four years ago, a terrible accident left her with both legs amputated
and paralysed from the waist down.

'Then, in 1999, my sister phoned to say Josie had thrown herself from
her window. The hospital asked if I wanted them to describe her
injuries. I said no.

'The rest of my family saw her body. I refused. I had such fond

She had come to see me two weeks

before, full of plans. She and her husband had just bought a secondhand
car for GBP 1,000 and wanted me to pay for the insurance.

'That day, I had a premonition I might not see her again. I asked
someone to take a picture of us on the pavement outside, because she
couldn't get her wheelchair into the lift. Then suddenly I was arranging
the funeral of my own child.' Irving talks about Josephine with such
unusual warmth that it is only afterwards that one wonders about the
oddness of the tableau he paints: of a disabled daughter lingering in
the street because there was no way of transporting her to her father's
first-floor flat.

When his libel case first began, Irving offered to settle if his
opponents paid GBP 500 to a 'charity for the limbless'. Was there not
something strange about dragging Josephine's memory into his battles?

'I don't think that's a valid allegation,' he says evenly. He is eager
to deny that his other daughters, Paloma, Pilar and Beatrice - all in
their early 30s - have publicly labelled his views loathsome.

Whatever his relationship with them, his divorce from their mother, 20
years ago, seems to have been the lowest point in his life.

'The whole family just rotted apart.

You hurt for a long time afterwards.

I've never seen Pilar's house in Paddington, though I paid for it, but I
still wear my wedding ring.

Bente doesn't like it.' And has he offered to marry Bente? 'I've said
for two or three years that she ought to have the bit of paper. The
first time I suggested it, she freaked out and vanished for a month.
Danes are not into that kind of thing.

'She doesn't realise there would be all sorts of advantages and

Also, I don't like having a daughter who can be regarded as

That is very wrong.' Irving first met Bente when she, a dentist's
daughter who had worked as an au pair, rented his flat while he was
abroad. A friend had already appraised Irving, who has a quite
undisguised interest in women, of the 'gorgeous blonde' in residence.

SO HE returned to find her 'like Goldilocks in his bed'.

Her two companions, of whom one was 'frightfully nice, although she wore
blue underwear, which I do not like', eventually left, and Bente was
pregnant with Jessica soon after.

At times, Irving displays a clumsy fondness for a partner he calls 'the
beautiful Bente bird'. Her feelings are harder to gauge. 'You are on
Planet Vanity,' she taunts him as she passes through. 'She was my
concubine,' he says as she departs.

If this dialogue was only a stageshow for a visitor, it might seem a
minor matter. But there is something in Bente's drawn face that suggests
a deep unease.

Irving, meanwhile, is glorying in his notoriety. He will, he hopes, get
leave to appeal against his libel verdict, and he is about to publish
the second part of his biography of Churchill and a reprinted edition of
his book Hitler's War.

And what does Bente think of his high public profile? 'She hates it,
hates it. There was a hatefest for days after the verdict. She told me:
"How can I be seen out with you?"' Does he think she will leave him?

'No, I'm sure she won't. Why should she? Where would she go? Of course,
she lives in a state of terror for Jessica, because of the opponents we
are up against.

'Why do people stay together?

Togetherness, inertia; all sorts of reasons. She is good-looking and the
mother of my child. Jessica is the most important thing in my life.'
Though he is grizzled now, it is easy to see how the younger Irving, for
all his gruesome opinions, might conceivably have seemed a mesmeric
figure; handsome and possessed of a brilliant, if warped, intelligence.
Clearly, in his view, this doubtful charm has not evaporated.

'I like being interviewed by women,' he says happily at the end, as we
pause to stare at a vast portrait of Hitler propped in his hallway.

'Besides, you are rather like Bente - just my type.' And, even more
preposterously: 'You are wearing black stockings in my honour.' If
Irving were the powerful figure he deems himself to be, such comments
might seem truly odious.

Instead the current verdicts on his record - a judge's damning
indictment, a lover's withering stare - provoke a feeling closer to pity
than to outrage.


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