The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

David Irving, Holocaust denial, and his connections to right-wing extremists and Neo-National Socialism (Neo-Nazism) In Germany

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6.2.19. Heide finished off `I do not know Dr. Dragon personally, but I understand Ernst Zündel does.'<534>

6.2.20. Despite Piper's refusal, Irving then made increasingly frantic efforts to persuade Piper to appear on his behalf.<535> The aim of the exercise was laid out in a letter from Irving to Dr. Klaus Goebel on 23 April 1992.

Today I sent Mr. Dr. Piper (who is of Jewish decent, to be precise an old communist) the following fax:

[followed by details of Irvings letter to Piper of 15 April 1992]

It is clear to me that Mr. Piper will not appear. I intend, if you or to be precise Mr. Dr. Herrmann have nothing against it, to make capital. At a press take place in Munich on 4 May I will distribute copies of the correspondence. The court will also be presented with the letters.

After three or four days (i.e. something like 27 April), I will then pose this question to Piper in writing:

After ignoring my written invitation, please allow me that I pose you at least one question in writing, that I would have otherwise asked you in the witness stand. Question: is it correct that in your position as the head of the Auschwitz state archive and museum you make no secret of the fact to many visitors and scholars that the `gas chamber' in the Auschwitz main camp [Stammlager Auschwitz I] is a dummy that was built by the Polish authorities after the war [?] And is it correct that amongst others you told this to your friend Mr. Prof Dr, Bernd Martin Mr. Prof Martin confirmed to me on 4 Sept.?

What do you think?<536>

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6.2.21. Dr. Goebel had no problems with Irving's plan, merely adding that Irving should let it be known that he would make an application in court to hear him.<537> To Ewald Althans, Irving wrote: `In my press release I will announce that F[ranciszek] P[iper] will be invited. When he cancels I will give the reason that he must be scared to tell the truth in this point on German soil, because he would also make himself punishable.'<538>

6.2.22. This attempt to call Martin and Piper lay at the root of Irving's later somewhat inconsistent attempts to defend himself against his detractors and to partially rehabilitate himself.<539> Ample evidence has been cited already (see above) that Irving repeatedly claimed that the gas chambers in Auschwitz were fakes. Especially following his later expulsion from Germany Irving piously claimed that he had only asserted that the gas chamber in the Auschwitz main camp was a fake.<540>

6.2.23. A room was booked for the press conference through Ewald Althans's AVÖ for 4 May 1992. Althans wrote to Irving: `VERY IMPORTANT MESSAGE ...the enclosed press release was sent by us to all the influential organs IN GERMANY. The hall has been contractually secured according to your wishes ....The "staff" asked for are naturally

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available.<541> Althans enclosed the invitation to the press conference `where he [Irving] will explain to you his tactic and motives.'<542> It also quoted Irving's words of 21 April 1990: "' The gas chambers in Auschwitz are dummies" and mentioned Irving's invitation to Piper.<543> The invitation finished in bold `DAVID IRVING DOES NOT DEFEND HIMSELF - DAVID IRVING ATTACKS: AS HISTORIAN SWORN TO THE MOTTO: "TRUTH FREES!"'<544>

6.2.24. Irving produced his own press release, which was more measured in its language.<545> On the day of the trial Ewald Althans and the AVO continued their publicity. In a newspaper format, the Muenchen Aktuell [imprint Deutsches Jugendbildungswerk] announced the trial under the heading `STATE GUARENTEED EVENT with DAVID IRVING[.] Topic: "THE AUSCHWITZ GAS CHAMBERS ARE DUMMIES."<546> The article ran

'But he will not come as the accused, appear humbled in front of the conventions of-the justice of the Federal Republic - he comes as the accuser himself, as attacker with a suitcase full of new evidence to support his thesis that he expressed in the words: "THE GAS CHAMBERS IN AUSCHWITZ ARE DUMMIES'<547>

6.2.25: Trving's strategy was obviously two-pronged. Although eager to capitalize on the appeal trial (he did indeed set up his books to prove that he was not a nobody<548>) he was equally eager to try and distance himself from more extreme individuals. This

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involved executing a precarious balancing act between his reputation and the practicalities of his case on the one hand, and his own wishes and those of his political allies on the other.<549>

6.2.26. Before travelling to America he wrote to Hajo Herrmann `As you know I hope that you manage to invite Dr. Piper of the Auschwitz museum, but I also wish to do without "right-wing" witnesses."<550> Irving wrote to Karl Philipp that `I fundamentally do not want it to come to rallies with this date, however I wish to make as much capital as possible with the press out of my appearance. Therefore let's think what we could do to this end.<551> To Hajo Hermann he wrote that he wished to do without Karl Philipp as a witness `this for your confidential information' and announced his intention to bring his `collected works in various translations, unload them on the table as silent witnesses to the fact that I'm not anybody, and that I enjoy a high reputation in the outside world (that means in the free outside world).<552> Nevertheless Irving enjoyed the explicit help of Ewald Althans and Karl Philipp, and the trial was given prominence by Ernst Zündel.<553> Moreover the trial's nature is characterised by the presence in the courtroom of Leuchter disciple Germar Rudolf, at Irving's agreement.<554> Germar Rudolf was in court to testify, but the application to hear him

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was refused.<555>

6.2.27. Secondly Irving himself had tried to tactically and rhetorically retreat to a position that he had only said that one of the gas chambers (i.e. in the Auschwitz main camp) was a `dummy' and not all of them.<556> If the court had allowed Martin, and more importantly Piper, to give testimony, they would have been able, according to Irving, to confirm that the gas chamber shown to the tourists in Auschwitz was a post-war dummy ['Attrappe']

...namely exactly that which I have been accused of in the prosecution demand, why I am standing before you. This admission was made in front of many credible witnesses, although with the comment that the "real gas chambers" were to be found somewhere completely different in the camp. (Which naturally allows the logical question to appear legitimate, why build a dummy here when the "real" ones can be seen there next door.<557>

6.2.28. This was a retreat doomed to failure because it was a lie.<558> But even this tactical retreat was not as clear cut as it would have seemed. In his closing speech Irving stated:

I had hoped that you would seize the opportunity, Mr. Judge, to take up cudgels for the German people.

Because a blood lie has been pronounced on the German people for fifty years by the enemies of the German people, beginning with the original English propaganda lie, that we ourselves put in circulation in November 1942 against the German Reich.<559>

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6.2.29. All this, Irving's claim to speak as a friend of the German people' ['Freund des deutschen Volkes.'], his self-attributed authority, and his claim that the trial was slightly reminiscent of a show trial, all failed to impress the court.<560> Irving's fine was increased to DM 10,000, because at the original meeting of 21 April 1990 `...the plaintiff in particular held view that Jews were never gassed in Auschwitz.'<561> The judgement continued that `Whoever denies the murder of the Jews in the Third Reich, and the accused consciously did that, as he acknowledged in the main trial [Hauptverhandlung], defames every Jew...', and further that this denial was a 'smear' [`Verunglimpfung'] on those Jews murdered.<562>

6.2.30. In handing down punishment it was in Irving's favour that he had admitted the `outward course of events' [äusseren Ablaut], but, pointing to the exhibiting of Irving's books in the court room, that it weighed against him that he `also negates the National Socialist atrocities denied by the so-called revisionists to market his own works. <563>

6.2.31. The court was perceptive in identifying this mixture of denial and marketing. Irving's closing speech was in due course recorded and marketed by Althans `which we will now use as a propaganda tool.'<564>

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6.2.32. In a later trial the court again rejected Irving's appeal and raised his fine to DM 30,000.<565>

6.2.33. On the 30 November 1993, Irving's higher appeal application was heard by the Bavaria's highest state court [Bayerischen Obersten Landesgericht], who confirmed the judgement of 13 January. 1993.<566> Irving received the decision in December 1993 calling judge Huber `senile' and `alcoholic'.<567>

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