The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Irving ready for court battle over Holocaust: Historian who 
questioned whether Nazis killed 6m Jews sues US academic for 
claiming he is a 'Hitler partisan' guilty of twisting facts


01/08/2000 The Guardian
Copyright (C) 2000 The Guardian; Source: World Reporter (TM)

Fiachra Gibbons Arts Correspondent

The most emotive libel trial to be heard in Britain is due to start next week in
what is billed as the most far-reaching court case about the Holocaust since the
execution of Adolf Eichmann.

The British historian, David Irving, who has been widely vilified for 
questioning whether 6m Jews were killed by the Nazis - and who believes 
that Hitler knew nothing of the Final Solution until late in the war - is 
suing an American academic for claiming that he is a 'Hitler partisan' 
who twists history to cast the German dictator in a better light.

Deborah Lipstadt , professor of modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory
university in Atlanta, Georgia, accused Mr Irving of being one of the most 
prominent and dangerous 'Holocaust deniers' in the world in her book 
Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault On Truth and Memory, published 
by Penguin four years ago.

Both sides have amassed considerable fighting funds. The trial in court 37 of the
high court in London starting on Tuesday will raise questions about the limits of
free speech when dealing with views which are likely to incite hatred.

Holocaust denial is a crime in several European countries, including Germany and
France, and the government is still considering proposals to introduce similar 
laws in Britain. The trial will open as Downing Street announces the first 
national Holocaust memorial day.

Mr Irving claims Professor Lipstadt defamed him by alleging his writing 
'applauds the internment of Jews in Nazi concentration camps' and that he 
was 'an Adolf Hitler partisan who wears blinkers and skews documents and 
misrepresents data in order to reach historically untenable conclusions, 
specifically those that exonerate Hitler".

Mr Irving alleges she also tarnished his reputation by linking him with the
Iranian-backed Hamas and Hizbollah terrorists, the anti-Semitic black American
Nation Of Islam and the Russian neo-Nazi group Pamyat, which he believes leaves 
him open to assassination.

He claims that 'as a reputable historian with some ground-breaking work behind 
me I should be enabled to use an element of scepticism in my work without 
being accused of being a Holocaust denier'.

Penguin and Prof Lipstadt deny libel and have assembled some of the world's 
leading authorities on the Holocaust and the second world war to bolster 
their case. The defence is being led by Richard Rampton QC, and Anthony Julius, 
the solicitor who handled Princess Diana's divorce and the author of a book 
about the poet TS Eliot's anti-Semitism.

Irving, the author of more than 20 controversial books, including Hitler's War 
and a biography of Goebbels, has gathered a formidable team but has been forced 
to subpoena two key witnesses, the military expert and journalist Sir John 
Keegan and DC Watt of the London School of Economics, who would not give 
evidence voluntarily.

Mr Irving, who his representing himself in court, told the Guardian he 
does not want 'to fight the second world war all over again' but claims 
Jewish and leftwing organisations - which he terms the 'traditional 
enemies of truth' on his website - 'seem intent on leading a global 
onslaught against me.

'They say I am the most dangerous man on earth. I must admit I am very intimidated
by the amount of money they have spent, and the number of people they have sent to
Germany to scour for facts.'

Mr Irving was banned from Germany after claiming the gas chambers at Auschwitz 
were built by the Polish communists, and has also been refused entry to 
Canada, Italy, Austria and Australia.

'They want a showdown. I think they are relishing the prospect and I doubt 
they will have change from Dollars 5m in the amount they have spent 
already on experts,' he said. 'They have some very good experts indeed and I 
look forward to meeting them.

'But if they want to fight the second world war all over again, they will 
regret it.  We have some experts of our own in the shadows including one 
of the USA's most distinguished architects. We have surveys using 
ground penetrating radar of the Treblinka camp looking for mass graves.'

He said the case would boil down to two crucial issues. 'They are out to 
prove what they call the Holocaust and the figures - figures I will dispute - 
and to prove that I'm a corrupt, dishonest and rotten historian.'

Neither Anthony Julius nor Penguin would comment publicly on the case but a leading
Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer, of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem,
said the trial was a wonderful chance to nail the myth once and for all that the
Holocaust did not happen.

He admitted, however, that Mr Irving was a 'dangerous" adversary.

'There is no doubt that he is an extremely intelligent man, and he has read a 
huge number of documents, and this conscious denial of the truth is 
something that he has in common with many other deniers.'

But Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, said the
British libel courts were not the best place to determine the truth about anything.

'I know from bitter experience how crazy they can be. My own book about a Nazi war
criminal living in Britain cannot be sold there because of your libel laws.

'Anything can happen in those courts. Any victory for Irving will be a loss for
truth and historical accuracy."

Mr Irving, who frequently claims his finances are 'on a knife edge', said he was
only able to pursue a notoriously expensive libel action because of the '4,000
supporters across the world who have contributed to the cause. Help comes - three
dollars here, five dollars or 10 dollars there - but I have got to be careful 
[about saying who they are] because of poor Neil Hamilton.

'Not that I will lose, but after the shock people got they are having second
thoughts about supporting me.'

He claims he would have settled for pounds 500 donated to a charity for limbless
girls in memory of his daughter who died in September.

His opponents claim he is being bankrolled by rightwing extremists, mainly from
America. Mr Irving denied that he had been funded by members of the Ku Klux Klan,
although he did have their details on his database. 'They are clearly marked,
warning KKK,' he said.

He claims he has been forced to hand over his private papers and diaries by the
defence. 'My diaries amount to 25m words as well as my telephone logs.

'This will all backfire on them . . . the only thing they have on me is a song I
hummed to my one-year-old daughter, a little Hilaire Belloc type ditty.' 
Belloc, an English interwar poet, was an infamous anti-Semite.

The non-jury case will be heard before Mr Justice Charles Gray, a distinguished
former libel barrister, and is expected to last at least three months. Mr Irving 
is also suing the historian Gita Sereny over a review in the Observer of his 
book about Joseph Goebbels, which claimed he rather than Hitler was the brains 
behind the Holocaust.

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