* David Irving, in first interview since his guilty verdict: “Part of the human condition to dislike Jews”
* Irving’s 12-year-old daughter, in a show of defiance towards her father, now carries a copy of Anne Frank’s Diary
1. “A political prisoner”
2. Irving “is no impartial seeker after knowledge”
3. “Truth will triumph, provided that its friends are vigilant and relentless”
4. “I am a soldier. I march towards the sound of gunfire”
5. Holocaust denial is a crime in several countries
6. Irving’s daughters, and Anne Frank’s Diary
7. “David Irving A suitable case for treatment” (By Dominic Lawson, Independent, Feb. 24, 2006)
8. “From his cell, just two days after he recanted his views on the Holocaust, David Irving reverts to extremism” (Independent on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2006)
9. “The jailing of David Irving” (By Melanie Phillips, incorporating the views of Daniel Finkelstein, David Cesarani and David Conway, Feb. 24, 2006)
10. “Less Freedom, Less Speech” (By George F. Will, Washington Post, Feb. 26, 2006)
11. “Making of a monster” (Daily Mail, April 22, 2000)
IRVING “IS NO IMPARTIAL SEEKER AFTER KNOWLEDGE”
Some commentators have welcomed the decision last week by the Austrian court. Melanie Phillips writes that “Irving’s statements are not a simple matter of gross historical error. They are not even merely an expression of prejudice. They are an active incitement to hatred of the Jews The concept of ‘Holocaust denial’ is unfortunate, because in itself it muddles the issue and lends itself to the argument that freedom of speech is threatened. It would be far better to prosecute the Irvings of this world under the much clearer laws against incitement to racial hatred and incitement to violence.”
Phillips cites David Cesarani, who writes in The Guardian that Irving “is no impartial seeker after knowledge. He writes what amounts to propaganda for the neo-Nazi cause. This cannot even be defended as slanted history with a claim on our indulgence. It is an incitement to hatred. Holocaust denial is a particularly vicious form of anti-Semitism.”
“TRUTH WILL TRIUMPH, PROVIDED THAT ITS FRIENDS ARE VIGILANT AND RELENTLESS”
Other commentators have criticized the Austrian court’s decision. Daniel Finkelstein, the comment editor of the Times of London, writes that “it is always tempting to fear the liar and believe, as Mark Twain did that ‘A lie can make it half way around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on’. But I have more faith than that. I believe that by allowing free exchange, by allowing anyone to assert anything, the truth will triumph, provided that its friends are vigilant and relentless.”
The conservative commentator George F. Will, writing in the Washington Post, contends that “Holocaust denial is the occupation of cynics and lunatics who are always with us but are no reason for getting governments into the dangerous business of outlawing certain arguments. Laws criminalizing Holocaust denial open a moral pork barrel for politicians: Many groups can be pandered to with speech restrictions. Why not a law regulating speech about slavery? Or Stalin’s crimes?”
Both Phillips and Will mention the upcoming Holocaust revisionist conference to be held in Tehran. For more on this, please see Iran planning to host international Holocaust (denial) conference.
“I AM A SOLDIER. I MARCH TOWARDS THE SOUND OF GUNFIRE”
Dominic Lawson, in an article titled “David Irving a suitable case for treatment” questions why Irving went to Austria. Lawson, the former editor-in-chief of the (London) Sunday Telegraph and of the Spectator, points out that “Irving knew very well that there was an arrest warrant still out for him in Austria. Indeed, his wife and friends warned him not to go. He replied, characteristically ‘I am a soldier. I march towards the sound of gunfire.’ Well, those who do that occasionally get hit by a bullet.”
Lawson argues that “I certainly don’t think that anyone should be imprisoned in this country [Britain] for something he said seventeen years ago no matter how offensive,” but praises the Law against Neo-Nazi activity in Austria because “the laws of every country limit freedom of speech in ways which reflects that country’s history.”
To support this argument Lawson cites the successful EU policies against Jorg Haider which although they were “undemocratic and grossly improper shocked the Austrian political class to its core which may be one reason why the Law against Neo-Nazi activity has not been revoked.”
HOLOCAUST DENIAL IS A CRIME IN SEVERAL COUNTRIES
I would agree with Dominic Lawson on these points and also remind readers of Austria’s past. This includes the fact that most leading Nazi war criminals, including Hitler, were Austrian, and that Austria never went through the deNazification process that Germany did. With residual Nazi sympathies still at large in Austria it is all the more important to clamp down on those who would whip them up, as Irving intended to do as he re-entered Austria last year to speak to a neo-Nazi audience and was arrested while en route to the engagement.
That is why Holocaust denial is a crime in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland i.e. countries where residual Nazi stirrings still exist but not in countries such as the US and UK.
IRVING’S DAUGHTERS, AND ANNE FRANK’S DIARY
David Irving has four daughters (The fifth, his eldest, committed suicide in 1999.)
As a teenager I was quite friendly with Irving’s daughter, Paloma, from his first marriage to a Spanish woman, Pilar. Paloma, who is a good deal more attractive than her father is, attended the French Lycee in London. When with her one day, I had the misfortune to meet Irving at his plush residence in London’s Mayfair district.
Even at the time Paloma (who was then 17) hated her father and after he left said he was “like Hitler.”
To this day, Paloma and her sisters Pilar and Beatrice have said they regard their father’s views as loathsome.
Irving’s youngest daughter from his second marriage, Jessica, 12, now carries a copy of Anne Frank’s Diary in a show of defiance towards her father.
I attach various articles below. Please note that the final article, from the Daily Mail, is from 2000, and was published following Irving’s defeat in the libel case he brought against Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin books.
Dominic Lawson, Melanie Phillips, George F. Will, Daniel Finkelstein and David Cesarani are all subscribers to this email list.
-- Tom Gross
DAVID IRVING A SUITABLE CASE FOR TREATMENT
David Irving A suitable case for treatment
By Dominic Lawson
February 24, 2006
“All the scum of humanity stand outside. The homosexuals, the gypsies, the lesbians, the Jews, the criminals, the Communists ” If a team of undergraduates were asked on University Challenge to identify the author of that remark, I suspect a bright young history student would immediately press the buzzer and tell Jeremy Paxman: “Adolf Hitler.” In fact I am quoting the words of a man who himself is widely described as an historian. They come from a video entitled “David Irving: Ich komme wieder.”
For the record, what David Irving was describing was the crowd who demonstrated outside his Belgravia apartment when he was contracted by the Sunday Times to assist the newspaper with their serialisation of the Goebbels Diaries. Given that Irving had some years earlier been one of the “experts” who said that that newspaper’s “Hitler Diaries” were the genuine article, it was perhaps surprising that the Sunday Times should have employed him. But it was not until Irving’s unsuccessful attempt in 2000 to sue the writer Deborah Lipstadt for calling him an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier, that he was comprehensively exposed as a man whose exhaustive research into the events of the Second World War were motivated not by a disinterested search for the historical truth, but by a burning desire to justify Hitler and his philosophy.
It is well worth reading Lord Justice Gray’s 333 page judgement in Irving vs Lipstadt for a full flavour of Irving’s “historical method”, but here’s just one example from the judgement of how Irving attempts to persuade the readers of “Hitler’s War” that the Fuhrer did not plan or desire the slaughter of the Jewish populations of Europe: In Hitler’s Table Talk of 25th January 1942, the Nazi leader says to his dining companions “The Jew has to get out of Europe; if he collapses in the course of it, I can’t help there. I can see only one thing: absolute extermination if they don’t go of their own accord.” Irving quotes the first sentence but not the second one. It’s almost disappointing, really: this is the sort of childish trick that would get an undergraduate history essay gamma beta at best.
The court in Vienna last week was not, of course, passing judgement on Irving the historian. Irving was on trial for what he said in speeches in 1989 to his Austrian fan club. The Times reported from one of the gatherings that Irving told his admirers the testimonies of so-called Holocaust survivors were worthless since they were “psychiatric cases” and that of the six million European Jews who disappeared 74,000 died of natural causes in work camps and the rest were hidden in reception camps; from there they were “transferred to Palestine” where they took on assumed identities.
A number of commentators, including Deborah Lipstadt, have questioned the wisdom of sentencing Irving to three years’ imprisonment for something that he said 17 years ago. I certainly don’t think that anyone should be imprisoned in this country for something he said seventeen years ago no matter how offensive. But Irving knew very well that there was an arrest warrant still out for him in Austria. Indeed, his wife and friends warned him not to go. He replied, characteristically “I am a soldier. I march towards the sound of gunfire.” Well, those who do that occasionally get hit by a bullet.
Rightly or wrongly, the laws of every country limit freedom of speech in ways which reflects that country’s history. In Britain for example where there is a substantial black and Asian population there are laws which can be used to jail people for expressing views which might incite racial hatred. They were recently invoked to prosecute Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party. The politicians and courts of Austria have slightly different concerns. Although there are only about 7,000 Jews left in the country, its experiences in the Second World War still lie heavily on the national consciousness. The Allies treated the defeated Austria as a victim of Nazism, rather than a collaborating nation, despite the enthusiasm displayed by its people for the extirpation of the Jews. So there was no de-Nazification of the sort imposed by the Allies in post war Germany. The Austrians had to do it for themselves. Hence in 1947 they brought in the Law against Neo- Nazi activity which prohibits any form of neo-nazism or anti-semitism, including this may interest you, Mr Blair the “glorification of National Socialist Ideology”. This is the law which has snared David Irving. Despite Irving’s claim to the Vienna court that he is no longer a Holocaust denier, his website which of course can be accessed in Austria shows that he is still up to his sly old tricks. This is from an entry in May 2005: “We have no idea who the mountains of shoes at the Auschwitz tourist centre come from, forensically speaking. We do know that footwear was routinely removed from the bodies of German air raid victims, including thirty tons of clothing from those killed in the Dresden air raids alone and turned over to recycling agencies.”
The bombing of Dresden is Irving’s standard counter charge to those who accuse the Nazis of war crimes. And there is an appetite for this sort of thing in what used to be called “Greater Germany”. In February 2000 I flew out to Klagenfurt to conduct the only British newspaper interview with Jorg Haider, the Freedom party leader who had just had astounding success in the Austrian elections. In the past Haider had expressed support for the employment policies of the Third Reich and had claimed that Winston Churchill was a war criminal. When I asked him if he still had that opinion about Churchill he did not demur. Later that month Haider’s party became part of the Austrian governing coalition: the European Union responded by barring all Austrian politicians from its governing councils. Distasteful and creepy as I found Haider and he threatened to sue me for the article I wrote about him I thought the EU’s reaction was undemocratic and grossly improper. Nevertheless it shocked the Austrian political class to its core which may be one reason why the Law against Neo-Nazi activity has not been revoked.
One mystery remains. Why did David Irving, an intelligent man in many ways, become such a Germanophile anti-Semite in the first place? He comes from a Service family his father fought against Germany in both world wars and his elder brother reached the rank of Wing Commander in the RAF. In 1956 young David Irving presented himself at the RAF recruiting office in Holborn. But despite getting, he claims, “the highest result in their IQ test that they had ever recorded” a bitterly disappointed Irving was rejected as “medically unfit for military service.” It was, of course, the RAF which bombed Dresden. Perhaps Irving’s whole career is a form of revenge.
LATEST STATEMENTS COULD SEE IRVING BACK IN COURT
From his cell, just two days after he recanted his views on the Holocaust, David Irving reverts to extremism
As he starts a three-year sentence in Austria, the historian continues to voice his controversial views
By Bojan Pancevski and Steve Bloomfield
The Independent on Sunday
February 26, 2006
Far-right author David Irving’s repudiation of his views on the Holocaust and Hitler’s role in it has not lasted very long. In a prison interview just days after he told an Austrian court he had been wrong to deny the Holocaust, he reverted to insisting that the slaughter in Nazi death camps was exaggerated, and that Jews “bear blame for what happened”.
His latest statements, made just two days after he was convicted of Holocaust denial, could see him end up back in court. Prosecutors are demanding an increase in his jail sentence, and the Austrian supreme court must now decide whether he goes down for the full 10 years.
Speaking through a telephone behind a thick glass panel in a visitors’ room at the Josefstadt prison in central Vienna, Irving, who is appealing against his three-year prison sentence, appeared unrepentant and referred to himself as a political prisoner. As he entered the visitors’ room, unshaven and wearing a prison-issue blue shirt, shabby trousers and a pair of old trainers, he was escorted by a burly, uniformed prison warden.
But he appeared in high spirits and denied he was having personal difficulties, insisting that his Danish partner, Bente Hogh, could not visit him because she was sick. A series of interviews she has given to the British press in recent days appear to belie this.
A shortage of money now means Ms Hogh and the couple’s 12-year-old daughter Jessica face eviction from their expensive London flat. She told the Daily Mail that Jessica now carries a copy of Anne Frank’s Diary to make plain her disagreement with her father. “She hates his views. She is a lovely girl, bright and clever, and it is not her fault who her father is. It is easier for her when he is not around.”
The author was jailed on Monday for three years for denying the Holocaust during two lectures and in a newspaper interview in Austria nearly 17 years ago. But despite the conviction, the 67-year-old did not shy away from the subject. Irving complained that the Jews held far too much power and predicted their disproportionate control in the US would see a second Holocaust “in 20 to 30 years”.
Just days after he told the Viennese court “I’ve changed my views”, he said it was part of the human condition to dislike Jews and that they were at least in part to blame for the 3,000 years of hatred they had had to endure.
Irving is locked up for 23 hours a day and is taking medication for a heart condition. He gets one hour’s exercise a day “in a yard half the size of my drawing room in Queen Anne’s Gate, walking around with 70 other men who are robbers, rapists, swindlers, murderers and cocaine dealers”.
Meanwhile, in Wiltshire, his elder brother, John, campaigns against exactly the sort of prejudice that Irving displays. John Irving, 75, is chairman of Wiltshire Racial Equality Council and a devout Muslim. Living on a pig farm in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, John Irving is also, probably, Britain’s only Muslim pig farmer. He converted to Islam in 1981 while commanding troops for the Sultan of Oman and now attends Trowbridge’s mosque on a regular basis.
When asked about his brother, John refers to Genesis, chapter four, verse nine: “Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel, your brother?’ And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ I value family harmony,” he said. “He is my brother and that is all there is to say about it. My primary concerns are for racial harmony in Wiltshire.” The two do still talk.
IRVING’S STATEMENTS “ARE AN ACTIVE INCITEMENT TO HATRED OF THE JEWS”
The jailing of David Irving
By Melanie Phillips
February 24, 2006
Two excellent articles have neatly illustrated the profound confusion which has characterised the reaction to the jailing of the anti-Jewish rabble-rouser David Irving. His conviction and imprisonment in Austria for the crime of Holocaust denial has provoked the general response that, odious as his views are, he should have been allowed to express them so that they could be exposed and defeated in open debate, this being the democratic way. The issue is therefore principally one of freedom of speech. A fine example of this viewpoint was furnished by Danny Finkelstein, who wrote in the Times:
“It is difficult, even for me now, born in safety, free to bring up my sons as Jews, sitting at a desk typing my article in civilised Britain, it is difficult not to feel anger, rage at Irving. It is difficult not to wish him behind bars. And I do feel rage. But I do not wish him behind bars, not for giving his opinion, not for delivering a lecture, however warped and horrible his opinion is. I still believe in the power of truth. And my belief in truth is what separates me from Irving. The admirable author Deborah Lipstadt had it right when she destroyed Irving in the courts, challenging his methods as a historian, undermining his reputation, demonstrating his falsehoods and his distortions. It is always tempting to fear the liar and believe, as Mark Twain did that ‘A lie can make it half way around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on’. But I have more faith than that. I believe that by allowing free exchange, by allowing anyone to assert anything, the truth will triumph, provided that its friends are vigilant and relentless.”
A point of view which is in itself admirable. But in this case, it is surely misplaced. For the issue raised by the Irving case is not one of freedom of speech. It is incitement of racial hatred. In the Guardian on the same day, David Cesarani got to the heart of the matter:
“Irving has not gone to prison for defending truth. There is not the slightest resemblance between him and the courageous journalists in China, genuine martyrs for free speech, imprisoned for criticising a totalitarian regime. He is no impartial seeker after knowledge. He writes what amounts to propaganda for the neo-Nazi cause. This cannot even be defended as slanted history with a claim on our indulgence. It is an incitement to hatred. Holocaust denial is a particularly vicious form of anti-semitism. It is predicated on the absurd notion that after 1945 the Jews systematically fabricated evidence on the ground and in archives, and staged trials, to convince the world that millions of Jews had been murdered by the Nazis. Having forged this evidence, the Jews then ruthlessly squeezed the hapless Gentiles for every dollar and drop of sympathy they could. It reinforces the stereotype of Jews as powerful, merciless and conspiratorial.
“At a time when anti-semitism is on the rise, tolerating Holocaust denial is like allowing a man to shout fire in a crowded theatre.”
This is surely the point. Context is everything. Irving’s statements are not a simple matter of gross historical error. They are not even merely an expression of prejudice. They are an active incitement to hatred of the Jews. That’s why, as Cesarani also says:
“He went to Austria at the invitation of a far-right student group to peddle his lies and spread his neo-Nazi message. Under these circumstances, the Austrian authorities were not only right to act, they were almost under a compulsion to do so.”
And it is why Irving was also on his way to Iran to put his neo-Nazi lies at the service of Ahmadinejad’s genocidal intention to write the Holocaust out of history and thus pave the way for a second Shoah. On the Civitas website, David Conway puts it well:
“There is a perfectly bona fide liberal case for favouring the legal interdiction in Austria and Germany, and wherever else there is a genuine threat of resurgent Nazism, of the public expression of such opinions as those which Irving expressed and for which he has been imprisoned. It issues from no less an impeccably liberal source than John Stuart Mill and is to be found in his famous essay On Liberty which this week has been so much wrongly cited as warrant for supposing liberals must condemn the fate Irving has suffered at the hands of the Austrian authorities.
“In the first paragraph of the third chapter of that essay that immediately follows the famous one in which Mill defends freedom of thought and expression, Mill adds a caveat to his general commendation of such freedom. He observes: ‘even opinions lose their immunity, when the circumstances in which they are expressed are such as to constitute their expression a positive instigation to some mischievous act. An opinion that corn-dealers are starvers of the poor, or that private property is robbery, ought to be unmolested when simply circulated through the press, but may justly incur punishment when delivered orally to an excited mob assembled before the house of a corn-dealer, or when handed out among the same mob in the form of a placard. Acts, of whatever kind, which, without justifiable cause, do harm to others, may be, and in the more important cases absolutely require to be, controlled, ...when needful, by the active interference of mankind.’
“... To illustrate what danger Irving posed, consider a speech he made in March 1990 in the East German town of Halle before an audience of neo-Nazis. The account comes from a book about Irving’s unsuccessful libel suit in 2000 against Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt for having published a book she wrote accusing him of having wilfully and maliciously distorted facts of history of which he was fully aware so as cast doubt on the Holocaust having happened. A video of the speech was presented in evidence by the defendants:
“‘A trench-coat clad Irving is shown addressing a crowd of young skinheads... As the ranks of skinheads march in front of him stamping their Doc Martens and waving the red and black Reichskriegsflagge Reich battle flag emblem of German irredentism since the turn of the century, and a stand-in for the banned Nazi swastika,...in response to a burst of German rhetoric from Irving, they begin chanting: Sieg Heil! Seig Heil! Sieg Heil! ’ [D.D.Guttenplan, The Holocaust on Trial: History Justice and the David Irving Libel Case (London: Granta Books, 2001), p. 244]
“Again, consider a slogan that Irving coined and which he unveiled to the world in a press conference that he gave in West Berlin in October 1989 and which was subsequently used as the slogan of a conference in Munich in 1990 at which Irving spoke. The slogan runs: Wahrheit Macht Frei (The Truth Makes Free), and is a clear allusion to the slogan Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Makes Free) that festooned the gates of Auschwitz. Clearly, within the context of Holocaust denial what it seems to be suggesting is that, by denying the occurrence of the Holocaust in the manner in which Irving and his like are, legitimacy, and thereby, more importantly, legality, will once again be able to be conferred on the Nazis and their latter-day sympathisers.”
This is why the comparison that has been made with the Danish cartoon controversy is simply grotesque. It has been argued that, just as those cartoons should have been published, so too should Irving’s Holocaust denial; or conversely, from the Muslim perspective, that both should be banned. But the two things are totally different. The cartoons were a political protest against clerical fascism and intimidation. Irving’s utterances are the handmaiden of fascism and an attempt to incite racial hatred.
The key confusion is to view these issues, and others like them, through the prism of freedom of speech. The cartoons issue was not at root about freedom of speech. It was rather the latest salient of the global jihad against the west. That’s why the Danish cartoonists and editors should have been defended to the hilt, and why it was so disastrous that they were not. The academic boycott of Israeli universities by British academics was also wrongly fought on the basis that Israeli academic freedom of expression was being threatened. The real issue, however, was the abuse of free expression by the boycotters peddling lies and libels against Israel, whose effect was to whip up further hatred of Israel and aid those who wish to exterminate it.
The concept of ‘Holocaust denial’ is unfortunate, because in itself it muddles the issue and lends itself to the argument that freedom of speech is threatened. It would be far better to prosecute the Irvings of this world under the much clearer laws against incitement to racial hatred and incitement to violence. Unfortunately, such laws are rarely used in Britain because of the supine nature of the prosecuting authorities but that is another story.
“WHY NOT A LAW REGULATING SPEECH ABOUT SLAVERY? OR STALIN’S CRIMES?”
Less Freedom, Less Speech
By George F. Will
The Washington Post
February 26, 2006
In some recess of David Irving’s reptile brain, he knows that his indefensible imprisonment is helping his side. His side consists of all the enemies of open societies.
Irving, born in England in 1938, was a prodigy of perversity, asking for a copy of “Mein Kampf” as a school prize. He grew up to be a “moderate fascist” his description historian who has made a career of arguing, in many books and incessant speeches, that although many Jews died of disease and hardship during World War II, nothing like the Holocaust 6 million victims of industrialized murder occurred.
Holocaust deniers, from crackpots to the president of Iran, argue that the “so-called” gas chambers were only for showers or fumigation; that Zyklon B gas was too weak to produce mass deaths; that it was too strong to be used it would have killed those emptying the chambers; that Poles built the crematoria after the war as a macabre tourist attraction or by Jews to extort compensation; and that Germans concocted “evidence” of “genocide” to please their conquerors.
Holocaust denial, which is anti-Semitism tarted up with the trappings of historiography, is a crime in Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland. And in Austria, which criminalizes speech that “denies, grossly trivializes, approves or seeks to justify” Nazi atrocities.
In 1989, in two speeches in Austria, Irving said, among much else, that only 74,000 Jews died of natural causes in work camps and millions were spirited to Palestine after the war. An arrest warrant was issued. Last November Irving was arrested when he came to Austria to address some right-wing students. Last week, while Europe was lecturing Muslims about the virtue of tolerating free expression by Danish cartoonists, Irving was sentenced to three years in prison.
What folly. What dangers do the likes of Irving pose? Holocaust denial is the occupation of cynics and lunatics who are always with us but are no reason for getting governments into the dangerous business of outlawing certain arguments. Laws criminalizing Holocaust denial open a moral pork barrel for politicians: Many groups can be pandered to with speech restrictions. Why not a law regulating speech about slavery? Or Stalin’s crimes?
Some defenders of the prosecution of Irving say that Europe and especially Austria, Hitler’s birthplace rightly has, from recent history, an acute fear of totalitarians. But that historical memory should cause Europe to recoil from government-enforced orthodoxy about anything.
American legislators, using the criminal law for moral exhibitionism, enact “hate crime” laws. Hate crimes are, in effect, thought crimes. Hate-crime laws mandate enhanced punishments for crimes committed as a result of, or at least when accompanied by, particular states of mind of which the government particularly disapproves. Governments that feel free to stigmatize, indeed criminalize, certain political thoughts and attitudes will move on to regulating what expresses such thoughts and attitudes speech.
For several decades in America, the aim of much of the jurisprudential thought about the First Amendment’s free-speech provision has been to justify contracting its protections. Freedom of speech is increasingly “balanced” against “competing values.” As a result, it is whittled down, often by seemingly innocuous increments, to a minor constitutional afterthought.
On campuses, speech codes have abridged the right of free expression to protect the right for such it has become of certain preferred groups to not be offended. The NCAA is truncating the right of some schools to express their identity using mascots deemed “insensitive” to the feelings of this or that grievance group. Campaign finance laws ration the amount and control the timing and content of political speech. The right to free political speech is now “balanced” against society’s interest in leveling the political playing field, or elevating the tone of civic discourse, or enabling politicians to spend less time soliciting contributions, or allowing candidates to control the content of their campaigns, or dispelling the “appearance” of corruption, etc.
To protect the fragile flower of womanhood, a judge has ruled that use of gender-based terms such as “foreman” or “draftsman” could create a “hostile environment” and hence constitute sexual harassment. To improve all of us, people with various agendas are itching to get government to regulate speech of this or that sort.
Even open societies have would-be mullahs. But the more serious threats to freedom are mullahs who control societies: Irving, expecting a suspended sentence, had planned to travel to Tehran to participate in a conference, organized by Iran’s government, to promote Holocaust denial.
MAKING OF A MONSTER
Making of a monster
By Mary Riddell
Daily Mail (London)
April 22, 2000
“Making of a monster; He taunts his lover with Hitler jibes and is ‘improper’ with his six-year-old child. Here David Irving, deserted by his first wife and three daughters, talks of the family destroyed by his beliefs,” by Mary Riddell
THESE, one imagines, must be fraught times for David Irving. ‘Do I sound fraught?’ he booms crossly, as if a GBP 2.5 million legal bill, the prospect of financial ruin and a shredded reputation are mere pinpricks to man of such elephantine resilience.
Ten days have passed since he listened as a High Court judge branded him a racist and an anti-Semite who falsified history to try to disprove the existence of Nazi gas chambers and exculpate Hitler from involvement in the mass murder of six million Jews.
Irving’s libel action against a fellow historian, Deborah Lipstadt, culminated in disgrace for him, as his record as a pro-Nazi polemicist unravelled in the judge’s summary.
Naturally Irving, a master of denial, wishes to exploit defeat for his own end though the word hubris springs easily to mind. ‘Now I’m one of the best-known historians in the world,’ he boasts.
Notoriety apart, both the professional and the personal history of David Irving offer grim chronicles. The first has been charted in a court of law; the second only patchily addressed.
Irving is now 62 and a veteran of family bitterness and heartbreak.
His first marriage ended in acrimonious divorce, and the eldest of four daughters from that relationship, Josephine, died last year when she, a schizophrenic, flung herself from the window of her London flat. The other three are said to deplore his views.
Estranged from his twin brother, Nicholas of whom he speaks in the coldest terms Irving now lives with Bente Hogh, his Danish partner, and their six-year-old daughter, Jessica.
If there were an oasis in the life of David Irving, this relationship, with a beautiful woman of 37, would be the tranquil centre. Instead, it is impossible to venture into his study in London’s Mayfair without absorbing the querulous taint of domestic disharmony.
Several times, Bente drifts through the door, fragile, charming and almost piteously eager to dissociate herself from our conversation. ‘I am a very private person. I am totally different to David, and I do not share his views,’ she says quietly.
‘Also, David has a very funny relationship with the truth.’
Irving plants beefy forearms on his desk and stares at her. ‘You do not share my views? She’s more extreme than me. She marches up and down. Adolf Hitler’s birthday is a great day for her.’
‘Ha, ha, I am only joking,’ he roars as she slips away, her eyes heavy with weariness or contempt.
Down the years, Irving has described women as ‘mental chewing gum,’ 10pc less intelligent than men and useful only for procreation and child-rearing.
In court, much was made both of a racist ditty beginning ‘I am a baby Aryan,’ which he sang to the infant Jessica.
He is eager to laugh off his more repellent sayings as a slap against political correctness. It seems harder to explain why he should taunt a partner who, according to the website promoting his cause, ‘has been fighting her own battle for a year.’ ‘She is very ill,’ he says, when Bente has left the room. ‘She won’t talk about it. She won’t want me to talk about it.
Throughout the trial, she was in bed all day in a darkened room.
‘She was there when I left and there when I came home at 5pm. It would not be right for me to add any more,’ he says in a rare display of delicacy.
One wonders what influences made him what he is. ‘You mean where did it all go wrong? I had a very happy childhood. No one can take that away from me.’
In fact, his early life was fractured after his father, John, a Royal Navy officer who fought in the Battle of Jut-land, left Irving’s artist mother, Beryl, to bring up her four children alone.
‘I didn’t miss having a father. He’d probably have beaten me to a pulp, and I’d have grown up an ordinary person. Being brought up as the wayward youngest child of a family with only a mother must have had an effect.’ The depth of that effect only emerges much later, when he tells me idly of a horror story about lone parents that he has invented for Jessica: ‘I’m trying to instil in her a terror of single-parent families. Highly improper. But if you can’t be improper with your own children, who can you be improper with?’
At Brentwood Grammar, Irving was a difficult pupil who chose Hitler’s Mein Kampf as a school prize to attract notice.
At university, he dabbled in two degree courses and finally went to Germany to work in a steel factory in the Ruhr; the seedbed for his obsessive interest in the Third Reich.
But the hallmark of his early years seems to have been an inability to forge close family bonds; seemingly with his mother and certainly with his father, who became an author later in life and whom he got to know after years of estrangement only when he brought him, by then an old man, to London to finish a military history.
‘I tortured him to do it, made him write every morning. A few months later he started dying of cancer,’ he says, describing a reunion that sounds less like reconciliation than retribution.
Irving claims to stay in touch with his sister, Jennifer, and elder brother John, a Wiltshire county councillor.
But for his twin Nicholas there is only scorn: ‘The story that he changed his name by deed poll to dissociate himself from me is not true. He changed it to Newington-Irving because is a snob.
‘I got a horrible letter from my sister asking how I could say that Nicky was boring and balding. But he is quiet, reserved, boring and a pipe-smoker: the kind of person on whom this country depends,’ he says dismissively.
The last time the twins met was last September, at Josephine’s funeral.
She was the first child of his marriage in 1959 to his Spanish wife, Pilar, and a normal girl until she developed schizophrenia in her late teens.
‘It happened in the A-level period,’ he says. ‘She said she could not do that day’s paper because the Devil was sitting in the front row. Finally, there was the knowledge that it was incurable; a permanent burnout in the brain.’ Josephine married and had a son but remained incapable of a normal life.
Four years ago, a terrible accident left her with both legs amputated and paralysed from the waist down.
‘Then, in 1999, my sister phoned to say Josie had thrown herself from her window. The hospital asked if I wanted them to describe her injuries. I said no.
‘The rest of my family saw her body. I refused. I had such fond memories. She had come to see me two weeks before, full of plans. She and her husband had just bought a secondhand car for GBP 1,000 and wanted me to pay for the insurance.
‘That day, I had a premonition I might not see her again. I asked someone to take a picture of us on the pavement outside, because she couldn’t get her wheelchair into the lift. Then suddenly I was arranging the funeral of my own child.’ Irving talks about Josephine with such unusual warmth that it is only afterwards that one wonders about the oddness of the tableau he paints: of a disabled daughter lingering in the street because there was no way of transporting her to her father’s first-floor flat.
When his libel case first began, Irving offered to settle if his opponents paid GBP 500 to a ‘charity for the limbless.’ Was there not something strange about dragging Josephine’s memory into his battles?
‘I don’t think that’s a valid allegation,’ he says evenly. He is eager to deny that his other daughters, Paloma, Pilar and Beatrice all in their early 30s have publicly labelled his views loathsome.
Whatever his relationship with them, his divorce from their mother, 20 years ago, seems to have been the lowest point in his life.
‘The whole family just rotted apart. You hurt for a long time afterwards. I’ve never seen Pilar’s house in Paddington, though I paid for it, but I still wear my wedding ring. Bente doesn’t like it.’ And has he offered to marry Bente? ‘I’ve said for two or three years that she ought to have the bit of paper. The first time I suggested it, she freaked out and vanished for a month. Danes are not into that kind of thing.
‘She doesn’t realise there would be all sorts of advantages and privileges. Also, I don’t like having a daughter who can be regarded as illegitimate. That is very wrong.’
Irving first met Bente when she, a dentist’s daughter who had worked as an au pair, rented his flat while he was abroad. A friend had already appraised Irving, who has a quite undisguised interest in women, of the ‘gorgeous blonde’ in residence.
So he returned to find her ‘like Goldilocks in his bed.’
Her two companions, of whom one was ‘frightfully nice, although she wore blue underwear, which I do not like,’ eventually left, and Bente was pregnant with Jessica soon after.
At times, Irving displays a clumsy fondness for a partner he calls ‘the beautiful Bente bird.’ Her feelings are harder to gauge. ‘You are on Planet Vanity,’ she taunts him as she passes through. ‘She was my concubine,’ he says as she departs.
If this dialogue was only a stageshow for a visitor, it might seem a minor matter. But there is something in Bente’s drawn face that suggests a deep unease.
Irving, meanwhile, is glorying in his notoriety. He will, he hopes, get leave to appeal against his libel verdict, and he is about to publish the second part of his biography of Churchill and a reprinted edition of his book Hitler’s War.
And what does Bente think of his high public profile? ‘She hates it, hates it. There was a hatefest for days after the verdict. She told me: “How can I be seen out with you?” Does he think she will leave him?
‘No, I’m sure she won’t. Why should she? Where would she go? Of course, she lives in a state of terror for Jessica, because of the opponents we are up against.
‘Why do people stay together? Togetherness, inertia; all sorts of reasons. She is good-looking and the mother of my child. Jessica is the most important thing in my life.’ Though he is grizzled now, it is easy to see how the younger Irving, for all his gruesome opinions, might conceivably have seemed a mesmeric figure; handsome and possessed of a brilliant, if warped, intelligence. Clearly, in his view, this doubtful charm has not evaporated.
‘I like being interviewed by women,’ he says happily at the end, as we pause to stare at a vast portrait of Hitler propped in his hallway.
‘Besides, you are rather like Bente just my type.’ And, even more preposterously: ‘You are wearing black stockings in my honour.’ If Irving were the powerful figure he deems himself to be, such comments might seem truly odious.
Instead the current verdicts on his record a judge’s damning indictment, a lover’s withering stare provoke a feeling closer to pity than to outrage.