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Newsday, Apr. 13, 2000, p. A54.

Truth Is Winner in Holocaust Denier's Libel Defeat

It's always sweet to see a fraud get his comeuppance, but this week's
verdict in a high-profile British libel trial is particularly satisfying
in several different ways-not least because the loser is on the hook for
the winner's legal bills, which could amount to $3 million.

David Irving, once a reputable British historian of Nazi Germany, had
accused Deborah Lipstadt, an American professor of Jewish studies, of
defaming him in her 1993 book, "Denying the Holocaust." But the judge in
the case - which was tried without a jury - concluded firmly that
Irving was not only a Holocaust denier, as Lipstadt had charged, but had
"for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately
misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence." In short, the judge
wrote, Lipstadt's characterization of Irving was "substantially
accurate." And even under Britain's plaintiff-tilted libel laws, the
truth isn't libelous if you can prove it. So if Lipstadt's charges
undermined Irving's reputation as a historian, that was his problem, not

Irving complained that the verdict was "perverse" and "historically
incredible"-terms many historians would apply to his own revisionist
view of the Nazi era. He has said, for instance, that there were "no gas
chambers at Auschwitz" and the Holocaust was "a propaganda hoax by the
British." His claim that there is an "organized international endeavor"
to destroy his career has more than a whiff of anti-Semitism about it.

The British court's ruling doesn't restrict Irving's right to spread
such noxious falsehoods. What it
does do is send a clear message that a crank historian has no right to
whine about his reputation
when his distortions are forcefully rebutted by another scholar.
Majority views are entitled to free
speech, too. Not bad for a country with no First Amendment.


Newsday, Apr. 13, 2000, pp. A55-A56.

Law Catches Up With Denial of Holocaust

Kenneth S. Stern. Kenneth S. Stern is a program specialist on
anti-Semitism and extremism for the American Jewish

I CAME TO LONDON for the verdict in the
Holocaust-denial libel case
brought by British writer David Irving against
Penguin Books Ltd. and
my friend, Deborah Lipstadt. But the most moving
moment occurred the
night before the verdict. Lipstadt and I were eating
dinner in her London
apartment when the phone rang. Lipstadt - one of the
more outspoken
people I know -sat quietly, listening. Her eyes
misted. It was a Holocaust
survivor who called, simply to wish her "good luck."
My eyes misted, too.
These old men and women who had gone through so much
nearly 60
years ago were, in a way, also on trial. Holocaust
deniers had, for years,
ridiculed their experiences.

Irving had claimed that "more women died on the back
seat of Edward
Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than ever died in a
gas chamber in
Auschwitz." And that "here are so many Auschwitz
survivors going
around, in fact the number increases as the years go
past which is
biologically very odd to say the least, because I am
going to form an
association of Auschwitz survivors, survivors of the
Holocaust and other
liars." Lipstadt is a professor of modern Jewish and
Holocaust studies at
Emory University in Atlanta. She had written the
book, "Denying the
Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory,"
to expose the
lies, distortions, hate and political agendas that
drive Holocaust denial.

She called Irving-a prolific writer of such books as
"Hitler's War"-a
"dangerous spokesperson" for Holocaust denial. He,
in turn, sued, saying
his reputation as a historian was defamed.

To defend this suit, Lipstadt's team spent thousands
of hours tracking
Irving's footnotes in his voluminous books, from his
volume on Dresden
to his writings that claim Hitler was a "friend" of
the Jews.

Justice Charles Gray of the British high court ruled
Tuesday in favor of
Lipstadt. He cited example after example where
Irving "significantly
misrepresented . . . the evidence . . . pervert[ed]
the evidence . . .

misrepresentation . . . misconstruction . . .
omission . . . mistranslation . .

. misreading. . . . double standards." The judge
found Irving's
explanations for his writings "tendentious . . .
unjustified . . . specious . . .
distorted . . . fanciful . . . hopeless . . .
disingenuous . . . [and] a
travesty." "It appears to me," Gray also wrote,
"that Irving qualifies as a
Holocaust denier . . . . Irving is anti-Semitic . .
. . Irving is a racist. . . .
Irving [is] a right-wing pro-Nazi polemicist." The
irony is Gray's findings
are even stronger than the words Lipstadt had
written. He concluded
that Irving's distortion of the historical record
was "deliberate" and "borne
of his own ideological beliefs to present Hitler in
a favourable light." That
is the core of the matter. People such as Irving
don't deny the Holocaust
because they have a peculiar view of the world or
because they are
sloppy or incompetent historians. The judge found
that Irving had
significant associations with neo-Nazis and
right-wing anti-Semitic
organizations, and that his political and hateful
agenda was the
explanation for his historical distortions.

While many of Irving's neo-Nazi friends were
European (he had even
joined them in Germany, where they celebrated
Hitler's birthday), he also
counts former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke as a
friend. And this
was no casual acquaintance. Irving dined at Duke's
house, played tennis
with him, edited Duke's racist book "My Awakening"
(which Irving
referred to as a "quasi Mein Kampf"), tried to get a
book agent for Duke
and was given hundreds of names and addresses of
what he called
Duke's "best" contributors to "milk" for his own

It is gratifying that Lipstadt had the courage to fight this battle against
hatred and historical distortion and that her publisher, Penguin, had the
courage to support her despite the large costs involved. But I'm also
under no illusions. Despite the severe blow that a British court gave
Irving and his fellow deniers, the hatred that drives this movement is not
going to evaporate.

But it was a good day for those who want to write
and publish the truth
about anti-Semites and racists without fear of being
sued. And it
especially was a good day for those who somehow
managed to survive
the Holocaust, so many of whom have dedicated their
lives to making the
world a better place. They deserved it.


Chicago Tribune, April 13, 2000,2669,SAV-0004130046,FF.html

April 13, 2000 

Truth, justice and history were well
served Tuesday when British writer
David Irving lost his libel suit
against an American academic who
had branded him a Holocaust denier
and an apologist for Adolf Hitler.

This won't mark the end of
Holocaust denial, which sadly still
has plenty of vocal, despicable
adherents. But Jewish groups rightly
saw it as vindication of historical
fact--that 6 million Jews were
slaughtered by Nazis in the
European Holocaust. The Simon
Wiesenthal Center wisely hailed it as
"a victory of history over hate."

In his 333-page opinion, Justice
Charles Gray was justified in his
unsparing condemnation of Irving,
62, as an anti-Semite and a racist
who, "for his own ideological
reasons," deliberately distorted
historical evidence to deny the
Holocaust and try to absolve Hitler
of responsibility for it. Irving was
perhaps the most prominent of the
revisionists who have questioned
what is arguably history's most
abominable crime. Such views are
grievously offensive to Holocaust
survivors and world Jewry, not to
mention anathema to fair-minded
people who see them as hate speech
at best, anti-Semitic incitement at
worst. Yet he has no regrets and
plans to appeal.

Irving has said Hitler did not know
about the mass killings until at least
1943. He has questioned whether
gas chambers at the Auschwitz death
camp were used to kill Jews, once
observing derisively: "More people
died in the back of Ted Kennedy's
car." While admitting hundreds of
thousands of Jews were killed by
the Nazis, he has disputed the
accepted figure of 6 million.

Irving's libel suit against Deborah
Lipstadt, a professor of modern
Jewish and Holocaust studies at
Emory University in Atlanta, and
her publisher, Penguin Books,
comes at a time when a growing
number of neo-Nazis and Hitler
apologists have been questioning
the facts and the scale of the
Holocaust. Lipstadt noted that Irving
was "hoist on his own petard" and
expressed hope that no reputable
U.S. group would give him a
platform now to spread "perverted
and distorted views."

Freedom of speech is a principle as
dear as any to Americans, but it also
means freedom for pernicious
speech and opinions we find
contemptible. In this case, Irving's
speech was hateful and despicable.
While he has a right to say what he
thinks, it has cost him his reputation
and perhaps also his wealth and

In the end, there could be no more
fitting punishment than the
self-inflicted one he brought on
himself by espousing hatred of
Jews, falsifying history and
dishonoring the memory of
innocent victims of Nazi genocide.

Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal. 

April 13, 2000

Betty Bayť
ELIE WIESEL speaks so softly that you have to lean in close to make out what
he's saying. I did and was rewarded with a feeling I hadn't felt since July
1998, when John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement who is now in
Congress, sat in the same spot at the same table talking about why and how
he's able to love his enemies and, even, to pray for them.
Elie Wiesel was in town to talk about his new book, And the Sea is Never
Full: Memoirs 1969 - , at the Kentucky Author Forum sponsored by the
University of Louisville. He's written 40 books, but before addressing his
larger audience, the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner had lunch with members of
The Courier-Journal's editorial board.
Wiesel and Lewis are kindred souls. They behave honorably, righteously,
morally and lovingly. Yet both endured vicious hatred directed toward them,
in Wiesel's case because he's a Jew, and in Lewis' case because he's black.
Unlike some 6 million others, including his parents and a younger sister,
Wiesel, who was imprisoned in Auschwitz and Buchenwald, survived the Nazi
death camps. He was 16 when finally liberated, and didn't know until after
the war that his other two sisters had also survived.
Lewis was a youngster growing up in America's segregated South when Wiesel
was in the concentration camps in Europe.
Both Wiesel and Lewis refused to die -- refused to succumb to the oft-stated
libel that they were members of some sub-species, only partly human, if
human at all.
Wiesel and Lewis lived to tell their stories and their peoples' stories, and
to dream of a world better than that of their youths. Each has made a life's
work of speaking larger truths to new generations.
Wiesel draws people to his light. It's warm there, and quite frankly, I
didn't wish to leave. I wanted to lean in closer and closer and listen to
him talk and talk and talk -- and teach and teach and teach.
In Wiesel's company, as with Lewis, one feels oneself in the presence of
In a private moment, I asked Wiesel, now an American citizen, how he handles
his critics who accuse him of being "too 'Judeocentric.' "
He shrugged, as if to say, "It is their problem, not mine."
Later, I read an interview in which Wiesel said that he's not indifferent to
any tragedy or the death of any child. But that in no way contradicts the
reality that he's also "profoundly Jewish" and is "profoundly linked to the
Jewish people."
I loved Wiesel's non-apology for loving his Jewishness.
Of greater concern, Wiesel said last December in an Israeli newspaper, The
Jerusalem Post, are the academics who question the testimony of Holocaust
"The Holocaust is being assaulted," he said, contending that certain
scholars and teachers feel as if they must "say something new."
But those who lived the Holocaust -- and others, such as Emory University
historian Deborah Lipstadt, who study it -- are fighting fire with fire.
The day after Wiesel's Louisville visit, a judge in Great Britain ruled that
Lipstadt did not libel British historian David Irving. In her book, Denying
the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, Lipstadt asserts
that Irving is "one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust
The verdict in the British court does more than vindicate Lipstadt's
scholarship. It vindicates Wiesel's own experiences and memories.
Over lunch, Wiesel discussed the Pope's recent outreach to Jews and
admission that the Catholic Church had treated Jews badly over the
Some Jews were disappointed that the Pope was not more specific in
condemning the Catholic Church's role during the Holocaust.
But Wiesel said that the truth is that "nobody can accept an apology, only
the dead can do it."
As far as he's concerned, "the Pope's gesture was good if it means that the
church recognizes that something was wrong in those times."
The gesture "doesn't erase everything," he added, but the Pope "deserves our
respect and our affection.
"In the beginning, I was skeptical about this Pope, but I have changed."
Still, it pains Wiesel that during his Holocaust nightmare, there were
apparently many who knew or suspected, but didn't act to stop the carnage.
Why weren't the rail lines over which Jews were transported to death camps
bombed and bombed and bombed?
Wiesel insists that President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew, "but it was not on
his agenda. The priority was to win the war.
"It hurts," Wiesel said.
It hurts as well to bear witness close up to the hurt in the piercing eyes
that sit below Wiesel's bushy brows. At the end of lunch, I embraced Wiesel
and was surprised that this man, who was tough enough to survive horrors
that most of us could not imagine, felt soft to the touch.
A critic, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, in a New York Times review, scoffed at
Wiesel's humility. It's "professed," he wrote, implying that it is,
therefore, contrived and dishonest.
When reading certain passages of Wiesel's latest book, Lehmann-Haupt wrote,
"You come away persuaded that Wiesel is not entirely innocent of political
skills and that his motives for entering the public arena are not all
connected to self-sacrifice."
Frankly, it doesn't bother me that Wiesel gets paid for his labors. I get
paid, and so does Lehmann-Haupt. All of us who are writers, in one way or
another, peddle our memories. It comes through in the topics we select, the
words we choose and the people we say are our heroes.
Wiesel is living proof that one person can simultaneously remember and move
All of us, I suspect, who were around the luncheon table with Elie Wiesel on
Monday, experienced his humility, his humanity, as real and refreshing. I am
reminded that some people doubted Martin Luther King Jr.'s humility. And he
died broke.

Betty Winston Bay''s column appears Thursdays in The Forum.

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