Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day001.02 Last-Modified: 2000/07/20 MR IRVING: Yes, and that is the reason why I wish particularly to show those videos. I know videos are a sore point between us because we discussed this at the pretrial hearing. Your Lordship will remember that I am concerned about the state of commercially edited videos where there have been cross-cuttings ---- MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes. MR IRVING: --- and things cut out, and so on. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes. Now do open the case. MR IRVING: May it please your Lordship, this is my opening statement in the matter of David Irving v. Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt. I appear as a litigant in person . P-9 and the Defendants are represented by Richard Rampton and Miss Rogers of counsel and by Mr Anthony Julius. My Lord, there were originally three other Defendants as well who can be characterised here as booksellers, which your Lordship will observe that they no longer figure in this action, a settlement having been reached. This is an action in libel arising from the publication by the First Defendant of a book entitled "Denying the Holocaust" written by the Second Defendant, Professor Lipstadt. As your Lordship is aware, the work complained of has attracted considerable attention, both in this country and in the United States and elsewhere since it was first published in 1993. Your Lordship will have before you my Statement of Claim in which I set out the grounds for my complaint, the consequence of which I am asking that the Defendants be ordered to pay damages of an amount which I will venture to suggest, and I will invite your Lordship to issue an injunction against further publication of this work and also order that the Defendants should make the usual undertakings. My Lord, it is almost 30 years to the day since I last set foot in these Law Courts, and I trust that your Lordship will allow me to digress for two or three minutes, being (in my submission) something of . P-10 an historian, on the history of those events because there are not without relevance to the proceedings upon which we are about to embark. The occasion of that visit to this building was an action heard before Lawton J, which became well- known to law students as Cassell v. Broome & Another. It too was a libel action and I am ashamed to admit that I was the "Another", having written a book on a naval operation, "The Destruction of Convoy PQ17. That was the only actively fought libel action in which I became engaged in 30 years of writing. There were two reasons for this abstinence; my Lord, first, I became more prudent about how I wrote and, second, I was taught to turn the other cheek. The man who taught me the latter lesson was my first publisher. He had signed up my first book, "The Destruction of Dresden" which was eventually published in 1963. I had been approached in about 1961 by this gentleman, a well-known English publisher, Mr William Kimber. When I visited him in his offices (which were on a site which has long since been built over, buried by a luxury hotel, the Berkeley in Belgravia) I found him surrounded by files and documents, rather as we all are in this courtroom today, my Lord, and he wore an air of exhaustion. Your Lordship may remember that Mr Kimber and . P-11 his author, Mr Leon Uris, had become involved through a book which Mr Uris had written, entitled "Exodus", in a libel action brought by a London doctor who had been obliged to serve at Auschwitz. That case was also heard before Lawton J. There was one other similarity that closes this particular circle of coincidence: like me now, Mr Kimber was, in consequence, also obliged to spend two or three years of his life wading, as he put it, "knee deep" through the most appalling stories of atrocities and human delegation. That day he advised me never, ever, to become in involved in libel litigation. I might add that, with one exception that I shall later mention, I have heeded his advice. There have since been one or two minor legal skirmishes which have not involved much "bloodshed". There was an action against an author which I foolishly started at the same time as the PQ17 case and, having lost the latter, i was obliged for evident reasons to abandon it on relatively painless conditions; and a more recent actions against a major London newspaper who put into my mouth, no doubt inadvertently, some particularly offensive words which had, in fact, been uttered by Adolf Hitler. That newspaper settled out of court with me on terms that were eminently acceptable, my Lord. I have often thought of Mr Kimber's predicament . P-12 since the 1960s and, more particularly, the last three years. I have been plunged into precisely the same "knee deep" position ever since I issued the originating writs in this action in September 1996. My Lord, by the way, does your Lordship actually require to see the writs today? MR JUSTICE GRAY: No, not at all; if I need to look at any document, I will just mention that I would like to look at it -- certainly not the writs. Thank you. MR IRVING: If I am late with the bundles and papers upon which this court relies, I can only plead this in mitigation, knee deep. I have never held myself out to be a Holocaust expert, nor have I written books about what is now called the Holocaust. If I am an expert in anything at all, I may be so immodest to submit that it is in the role that Adolf Hitler played in the propagation of World War II, and in the decisions which he made and the knowledge on which he based those decisions. As a peripheral matter to that topic on which I have written a number of books, I inevitably investigated the extent to which Hitler participated in or had cognisance of the Holocaust. That was the sum total of my involvement as a book author up to the launching of these writs. Since then, because of the tactics chosen by the . P-13 Defendants, my Lord, I have been obliged willy-nilly to become something of an expert through no desire of my own. To my utmost distaste, it has become evident that it is no longer possible to write pure history, untrammelled and uninfluenced by politics, once one ventures into this unpleasant field. I have done my best to prepare the case that follows, but I respectfully submit that I do not have any duty to become an expert on the Holocaust, my Lord. It is not saying anything unknown to this court. I remind those present that, the Defendants having pleaded justification, as they have, it is not incumbent upon me, as the Claimant, to prove the wrongness of what they have published; it is for them to prove that what they wrote was true. I intend to show that far from being a "Holocaust denier" -- the phrase in the title of the book -- I have repeatedly draw attention to major aspects of the Holocaust and I have described them and I have provided historical documents, both to the community of scholars and to the general public of which they were completely unaware before I discovered these documents, and published them and translated them. It will be found that I selflessly provided copies of the documents, that I had at great expense myself unearthed foreign archives even to my rival . P-14 historians, as I felt that it was important in the interests of general historical research that they should be aware of these documents. I am referring, for example, to the Bruns Report, my Lord, which we will shall shortly hear -- it is the document which I provided to you separately -- and to the dossier on Kurt Aumeier in British files, a dossier which even the Defence experts admit is one of the most important historical finds since the writings of Rudolph Hoss, the commandant of Auschwitz, were published after the war. My Lord, that actual document I quote all the relevant parts in the opening statement, but I have submitted the document to your Lordship as a courtesy. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Thank you very much. MR IRVING: There is one essential plea that I wish to make of this court: I am aware that the Defendants have expended a considerable sum of money in researching all over again the harrowing story of what actually happened in what they call the Holocaust. I submit that, harsh though it may seem, the court should take no interest in that tragedy. The court may well disagree with me, and show a profound interest in it, but, in my submission, we have to avoid the temptations of raking over the history of what happened in Poland or in Russia 50 years ago. What is moot here is not what happened in those sites of atrocities, but what . P-15 happened over the last 32 years on my writing desk in my apartment off Grosvenor Square. That is what is at stake here. To justify her allegations of manipulation and distortion, it will not suffice for Professor Lipstadt to show, if she can, that I misrepresented what happened, but that I knew what happened and that I perversely and deliberately, for whatever purpose, portrayed it differently from how I knew it to have happened. That is what manipulation and distortion means, and the other, though fundamental, story of what actually happened is neither here nor there. In effect, this enquiry should not leave the four walls of my study, my Lord. It should look at the papers that lay before me and not before some other magnificently funded research or scholar, and at the manuscript that I then produced on the basis of my own limited sources. My Lord, if we were to seek a title for this libel action, I would venture to suggest "Pictures at an execution" -- my execution. Your Lordship may or not be aware that I have had a reputation as an historian and as an investigative writer arising from the 30 or so works which I have published in English and other languages over the years since 1961. I am the author of many scores of articles in serious and respected newspapers, including over the years [Page 16] in this country, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, the Jewish Chronicle, the Sunday Express, the Evening Standard, Encounter and publications of similar repute in Germany. My articles have appeared in newspapers ranging from Die Welt, Die Welt am Sonntag, and magazines and journals like Stern, Der Spiegel, Neue Illustrierte, Quick. My books have appeared between hard covers under the imprint of the finest publishing houses. I might mention in this country the imprints of William Kimber Ltd, Cassell & Company Ltd, Macmillan Limited, Hodder & Stoughton, Penguin -- Penguin, the First Defendants in this action -- and Allen Lane and others. As the Second Defendant is, I understand, an American citizen, it might be meritorious for me to add that my works have also been published by her country's leading publishing houses too, including the Viking Press, Little, Brown, Simon & Schuster, Holt, Reinhardt, Winston, St Martin's Press and a score of no less reputable paperback publishing houses. Each of those published works by me contained in or near the title page a list of my previous publications and frequently a sample of the accolades bestowed on my works by the leading names of literature and historiography on both sides of the Atlantic.
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