Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Daily Mail: It was all a lark for Irving

This report in the Daily Mail buttresses the statement by his wife that "he thought it would be fun to provoke." He rather brazenly told reporters that he had booked a "first-class ticket back to London," for Monday night the night of the verdict. In other words he expected to be let off with a slap on the wrist and, to my mind, to return to London as the "conquering hero."

As I have said a number of times on this page. He refused to recognize that his words and his actions have consequences.

Jailed: Historian David Irving

David Irving stumbled from court stunned and humiliated yesterday after receiving a three-year jail sentence for denying the Holocaust happened.

The Right-wing British historian had expected to be given a suspended term in Vienna after pleading guilty and recanting his previous claims. He had even booked a flight back to London last night.

But he failed to win over the three judges and eight jury members who jointly decided to make an example of him. Judge Peter Liebtreu compared him to a "prostitute who has not changed her ways for decades".

Irving, 67, said he was "very shocked" as he was led from court.


The prosecution had condemned his sudden conversion to conventional historical thinking as a "theatrical exhibition"
designed to save him from the maximum jail term of 10 years.


Ever the showman, he entered the main courtroom of the Imperial-era State Court in Vienna 20 minutes ahead of the trial clutching a copy of his book Hitler's War to his chest.

He said Austria would be "stupid" to sentence him to jail, claiming: "I am not a Holocaust denier nor have ever been."


Irving told Judge Liebtreu yesterday that it was only after 1991, when he had access to the papers of the former deputy commander of Auschwitz and the private papers of Nazi logisitician Adolf Eichmann, that he came to believe in the Nazi extermination programme.


Addressing the court in fluent German. "I'm not a Holocaust denier. Obviously, I've changed my views. I spoke then about Auschwitz and gas chambers based on my knowledge at the time, but by 1991 when I came across the Eichmann papers, I wasn't saying that any more and I wouldn't say that now. The Nazis did murder millions of Jews."

[Then how come he sued me in 2000??]

State prosecutor Michael Klackl ... scoffed at Irving's '1991 enlightenment' and quoted articles and speeches by him afterwards, including a statement in 1994 that the gas chambers were "a great lie".

Addressing the jurors he added: "He has played a role for you today. The thread of anti-Semitism runs through him."


He blamed a "failure of judgment" for his claim that there were no gas chambers in Auschwitz.

Irving's twin brother said:… "All his life, he's fallen on his feet. This time he's fallen on his backside."


S said...

i agree with you that irving is wrong about the holocaust but his expression of holocaust doubt, however repugnant it is to us, ought to be protected free speech. your comment that "his words and actions have consequences" should not extend to imprisonment. by imprisoning irving for his stupidity one only lends fuel to censorship in other areas. for example, muslims who censor images of mohammad can use this case as an example of the west's duplicity regarding free speech.
Santi Tafarella (

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Thatis exactly what I have been saying all along. However, I also think we should not lose sight of the fact that Irving, who was well aware of his legal situation, sought this out.

He thought it would be big nothing which would get him some PR. Instead it turned out to be something quite serious.

As much as I don't like laws vs. Holocaust denial, we have to recognize that for him this whole thing was a big joke until the judge said: 3 years.

Olah Chadasha said...

Dear Professor, I have a very important question to ask you. Earlier today, while my husband was perusing through the internet, he came across some holocaust denial and anti-semetic sites. On these sites, he found books that people good buy. Of course, they were holocaust denial books and anti-semetic literature. Going forward a little bit, my husband found many of these books on These books also come up under keywords like holocaust, gas chambers, myth, etc. Therefore, I can find your books right above or beneath a book like The Leuchter Report or The Auschwitz Myth.

My husband was completely astounded by this; that a company like would willingly be selling these books. So, he wrote them a letter. Essentially, he inquired as to what's policy was toward allowing holocaust denial and openly anti-semetic literature on their site.

Their response was as follows:

Thank you for writing to with your concerns about Ant-
semetic books and also Holocaust Denial books.

As a retailer, our goal is to provide customers with the broadest
selection possible so they can find, discover, and buy any item
they might be seeking. That selection includes some items which
many people may find objectionable. Therefore, the items offered on
our web site represent a wide spectrum of opinions on a variety of
topics. believes it is censorship not to sell certain titles
because we believe their message is objectionable. Therefore, we
will continue to make controversial works available in the United
States and everywhere else, except where they are prohibited by
law. We also allow readers, authors, and publishers to express
their views freely about these titles and other products we offer on
our web site. However, does not endorse any opinions
expressed by individual authors, musical artists, or filmmakers.

We value all feedback from our customers, and I thank you again for
taking the time to send us your comments about this issue. We hope
you will allow us to continue to serve you.

Best regards,

David Customer Service

I thought you would be the best person to ask as to whether we should write back to them. I distinctly remember you talking about the freedom of speech issue regarding holocaust denial in "Denial of the Holocaust". Since is not a government entity, they don't have to abide by freedom of speech, do they? They can make a decision to not sell objectionable or outright false material, right? I mean, it's not like these are books debating evolution. The holocaust is a matter of fact, so some-one who writes a book about holocaust "myths", they're not expressing another point of view. They're expressing lies. Therefore, wouldn't that mean that if Amazon decided not to sell these books, it wouldn't be censorship. I'm confused.

I really would like to do something and contest Amazon's policy. Should I even start? Is there any advice you can give me? Thanks so much.

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Many people have tried to address this issue with Amazon but to no avail. I have not been involved in that battle so I can't give you any details on it.

Narukami said...

"They can make a decision to not sell objectionable or outright false material, right? I mean, it's not like these are books debating evolution. The holocaust is a matter of fact, so some-one who writes a book about holocaust "myths", they're not expressing another point of view."

And there is the "slippery slope."

As Dr.Carl Sagan said "Evolution is not a theory, it is a fact."

Who gets to make the choice of what books are or are not included on the list?

As the trial in England clearly demonstrated, and as Dr.Lipstadt has said herself, the best way to fight this is not with censorship, but with facts.

Use the tools Amazon provides -- write reviews of the books in question and let potential buyers know that the author is playing fast & loose with the facts and suggest alternative books that do deal with the facts.

Just some thoughts on the matter.


Still suspicious of (Austro)Germans said...

Professor Lipstadt: "We Jews, who have suffered from censorship, should not be supporting it. Moreover, I don’t believe censorship is efficacious. It renders the censored item into forbidden fruit, making it more appealing, not less so.", "Germany and Austria are sovereign states with a democratic system. And, more importantly, they have a unique history which gives Holocaust denial a different resonance in their country than it might in the United States or the UK.", "Nonetheless, given how I feel about the efficacy of censorship laws and laws against Holocaust denial, I understand the jury's inclinations-- they were Austrian after all -- but I am not pleased.",
"As I have said a number of times on this page. He refused to recognize that his words and his actions have consequences." & "David Irving brought this down on himself."

Try as I may, I do not see these remarks as being clear & unequivocal for justice. Even her above response to Santi Tafarella is more 'on the one hand, on the other hand'. Does Professor Lipstadt say when a prostitute is raped by a john, a robber's hand is amputated, or a child molester is slain by a vigilante that she or he had it coming?

Only G-d can fathom why the professor is mild about a state crime committed to expiate other state crimes; why she is "understanding" about a state crime committed against David Irving by a people with the world's worst record of state crimes. Does she recognize Irving's imprisonment as a crime? Is trampling on that man's freedom for her merely a democratic mistake with which she is "not pleased" but will abide with alacrity?


nickM said...

Professor Lipstadt,
You appear to prefer truth and accuracy to censorship, an attitude with which I wholeheartedly concur.
Please can you say what your reaction is to Poland's recent refusal to allow Iranian scientists to study the concentration camps there?
Wouldn't such a study help put an end to revisionist attitudes?

Deborah Lipstadt said...

The Iranians come with a political agenda. They have made that clear.

Furthermore, the evidence has repeatedly been studied by reputable historians and scientists.

The Iranians want to turn the place into a political and antisemitic football.

Good for the Poles for seeing right through them.

Dave said...

There is also the likelihood that the Iranians, as Ernst Zundel and Fred Leuchter did, would illegally hack out pieces of the remains of the gas chambers and crematoria, and further defile these sites.

As Deborah said, plenty of highly-capable historians and scientists have worked on those sites, and come up with results that match the convergence of evidence of history.

The Iranians just want to go there and say, "This place is a fraud, and we're here to prove it."

The Iranians are merely seeking to create a warrant to justify, at least in the Islamic and anti-Semitic world, the nuclear destruction of Israel.

So in denying Hitler's work, they seek legitimation to complete it.