David Irving: Intrepid Battler for Historical Truth

David Irving:
Intrepid Battler for Historical Truth

Mark Weber

(Based on introduction of Irving at the Eleventh IHR Conference, 1992.)

Soviet premier Nikita Kruschev might have had David Irving in mind when he once warned that historians are dangerous because they have the power to upset everything. German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck once said that the main thing is not to write history, but to make it. Irving is a man who has been able to do some of both.

He is also living proof that the life of a historian need not be dull. The leftist British daily The Guardian once commented, “If one can overlook his outrageously odious views, Irving–like Hitler–can be a funny man. The humor comes from a hint of self-mockery and an obvious delight in making liberal flesh creep.”

At the Eleventh IHR Conference in October 1992–as he had in his presentations at the IHR Conferences of 1983, 1989 and 1990–this good friend of the Institute for Historical Review not only shed new light on important chapters of twentieth-century history, he delighted attendees with humorous updates on some of the new ways he had found to make liberal flesh creep.

In the three decades since he published his first book, Irving has firmly established himself as not only one of the most successful and widely-read historians of our time, but also as one of the most courageous.

He has an enviable track record of uncovering startling new facts about even supposedly well-known episodes of history. His effectiveness is due in very large measure to his discovery of original source materials, such as diaries, original documents, and so forth, from both official and private sources. He is tenacious in his ceaseless digging in just about every important historical archive in the western world.

A professional historian, Irving has little respect for taxpayer- financed scholars who are guilty of what he calls “inter-historian incest,” and who thereby help to keep alive dangerous myths and legends left over from wartime propaganda.

His first work, The Destruction of Dresden, was published in 1963 when he was 25 years old. Since then, he has published more than two dozen books, many of them best-sellers, including biographies of Hermann Goring, Winston Churchill, and Erwin Rommel. He is currently at work on a biography of Joseph Goebbels.

Several of Irving‘s books have appeared in various languages, and several have been serialized in prominent periodicals, including the Sunday Express, the Sunday Telegraph and Der Spiegel.

Over the years, he has also contributed articles to some 60 British and foreign periodicals, including the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Express in London, the Mainichi Shimbun in Tokyo, and Stern and Der Spiegel in Hamburg.

Irving‘s reputation first came under vicious attack following the publication in 1977 of Hitler’s War, a monumental work that was hysterically criticized for its contention that Hitler did not order the extermination of Europe’s Jews. The mass killings must have been carried out by Himmler and his cohorts behind Hitler’s back, Irving concluded at that time.

As a journalist for _Time_ magazine once told him, “Until Hitler’s War you couldn’t put a foot wrong, you were the darling of the media. After it, they heaped slime on you.”

So enraged was the Zionist Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith by this book that the shadowy organization promptly added his name to its ever-growing list of enemies. As it turned out, the ADL’s troubles with Irving were only just beginning.

The international campaign against him became even more vicious following the publication in 1981 of Uprising, a history of the 1956 anti-Communist revolt in Hungary. This book enraged the ADL crowd because it does not whitewash the significant Jewish role in the Hungarian Communist regime. [Softcover edition available from the IHR for $16.95 plus $2.00 shipping.]

Irving has made several highly successful speaking and promotion tours in Germany, Canada, Australia, South Africa, the United States, and other countries. German listeners in particular delight in hearing an Englishman say out loud what many in that country believe in their souls but have been intimidated into keeping to themselves. In Germany, Irving has become a kind of conscience for a people who have been largely robbed of their own.

A startling climax in the second “Holocaust Trial” of Ernst Zundel in 1988 was the testimony of Irving, who was the last of 23 defense witnesses. He stunned the completely packed Toronto courtroom by announcing that he had changed his mind about the Holocaust story. During his three days on the stand, he explained in detail why he now endorses the Revisionist view of the extermination story.

In June 1989, Irving published the British edition of The Leuchter Report. This handsome, illustrated edition, for which he wrote a foreword, was launched by him at a press conference in London. He told the journalists there that the infamous extermination gas chambers of Auschwitz and Majdanek did not exist, except, perhaps, as the brainchild invention of Britain’s wartime propaganda bureau, the Political Warfare Executive (PWE).

A magnificent 860-page Focal Point edition of Hitler’s War was published last year. Taking account of his most recent research and insights, references to so-called “extermination camps” have been removed from this revised edition. And in his introduction, Irving deftly tears apart one historical legend after another.

This work–the product of decades of patient research and writing–has proven particularly enraging to the enemies of truth in history.

In addition to the usual lies, his adversaries have even turned to criminal burglary and arson in their fitful and frantic efforts to silence him.