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Holocaust denier David Irving is jailed


John Simkin
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Report on the BBC website:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4733820.stm

British historian David Irving has been found guilty in Vienna of denying the Holocaust of European Jewry and sentenced to three years in prison.

He had pleaded guilty to the charge, based on a speech and interview he gave in Austria in 1989.

"I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," he told the court in the Austrian capital.

Irving appeared stunned by the sentence, and told reporters: "I'm very shocked and I'm going to appeal."

An unidentified onlooker told him: "Stay strong!".

Irving's lawyer said he considered the verdict "a little too stringent".

"I would say it's a bit of a message trial," said Elmar Kresbach.

But Karen Pollock, chief executive of the UK's Holocaust Educational Trust disagreed. "Holocaust denial is anti-Semitism dressed up as intellectual debate. It should be regarded as such and treated as such," Ms Pollock told the BBC News website.

Fears that the court case would provoke right-wing demonstrations and counter-protests did not materialise, the BBC's Ben Brown at the court in Vienna said.

Irving arrived in the court room handcuffed, wearing a blue suit, and carrying a copy of Hitler's War, one of many books he has written on the Nazis, and which challenges the extent of the Holocaust.

Irving was arrested in Austria in November, on a warrant dating back to 1989, when he gave a speech and interview denying the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz.

He was stopped by police on a motorway in southern Austria, where he was visiting to give a lecture to a far-right student fraternity. He has been held in custody since then.

During the one-day trial, he was questioned by the prosecutor and chief judge, and answered questions in fluent German.

He admitted that in 1989 he had denied that Nazi Germany had killed millions of Jews. He said this is what he believed, until he later saw the personal files of Adolf Eichmann, the chief organiser of the Holocaust.

"I said that then based on my knowledge at the time, but by 1991 when I came across the Eichmann papers, I wasn't saying that anymore and I wouldn't say that now," Irving told the court.

"The Nazis did murder millions of Jews."

In the past, he had claimed that Adolf Hitler knew little, if anything, about the Holocaust, and that the gas chambers were a hoax.

In 2000, a British court threw out a libel action he had brought, and declared him "an active Holocaust denier... anti-Semitic and racist".

On Monday, before the trial began, he told reporters: "I'm not a Holocaust denier. Obviously, I've changed my views.

"History is a constantly growing tree - the more you know, the more documents become available, the more you learn, and I have learned a lot since 1989."

Asked how many Jews were killed by Nazis, he replied: "I don't know the figures. I'm not an expert on the Holocaust."

Of his guilty plea, he told reporters: "I have no choice."

He said it was "ridiculous" that he was being tried for expressing an opinion.

"Of course it's a question of freedom of speech... I think within 12 months this law will have vanished from the Austrian statute book," he said.

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Jewish organizations have been quick to condemn this verdict. As a spokesman for the Simon Wiesenthal Center pointed out, it is virtually impossible to get the Austrian authorities to prosecute Nazi war criminals. Yet they send someone for prison for 3 years for saying it did not happen. In doing so they have turned someone who needs to be detained under the Mental Health Act into a martyr.

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In doing so they have turned someone who needs to be detained under the Mental Health Act into a martyr.

These loonies are not just a danger to themselves however John. Irving and his ilk have long historys of rabble rousing amongst far right groups. We are all better off with them behind bars - actually there's one in your JFK section I could recommend for similar treatment :lol:

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE CORPULENT SLUG TO WHOM I REFER FEATURED PROMINENTLY ON IRVING'S WEBSITE

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Jewish organizations have been quick to condemn this verdict.

???????? No they haven't

February 20, 2006

SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER STATEMENT ON DAVID IRVING SENTENCE

The Simon Wiesenthal Center commended the Austrian government for its commitment to fighting Holocaust denial by sentencing British historian David Irving to three years in prison on charges of denying the Holocaust. The sentencing makes the Austrian court the second judicial system in a democracy to convict Irving on this charge.

“Today’s sentencing confirms David Irving as a bigot and an antisemite and also serves a direct challenge to the Iranian regime’s embrace of Holocaust denial,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center.

“While Irving’s rants would not have led to legal action in the United States, it is important that we recognize and respect Austria’s commitment to fighting Holocaust denial, the most odious form of hatred, as part of its historic responsibility to its Nazi past,” Rabbi Cooper concluded.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, and the Council of Europe.

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036, or visit www.wiesenthal.com.

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The spokesman for the Simon Wiesenthal Centre definitely criticised the decision on C4 news. However, he seemed keen to make the point that it has been impossible for the last 30 years to get the Austrian authorities to prosecute former Nazi war criminals. It seems to me that is a far more important thing to do than to send bad historians to prison. (Irving dropped out of university before completing his physics degree at Imperial College).

In a way, Austria is trying to recapture the past. After all, Nazi Germany imprisoned left-wing historians during the 1930s. The Soviet Union also imprisoned historians. As Khrushchev once said “historians are dangerous people”. Even during the height of the Cold War in the early 1950s, the United States did not imprison left-wing historians (they only blacklisted them and made it very difficult for them to get work).

The American academic Deborah Lipstadt, the world’s leading authority on Holocaust deniers (the author of the book Denying the Holocaust) and the woman who defeated Irving in court in 2000, condemned the verdict. As she pointed out, the decision had played right into the hands of the Nazis. It has given them publicity and highlighted the fact that certain countries in the world are unwilling to discuss different interpretations of history.

As Rosa Luxemburg once said: “Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.” That was true when she wrote it in 1918 and it is true today.

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Shame they didn't decide to throw away the key.

You can't be serious, Andy. Certainly you must see the importance of someone like Irving telling the holocaust deniers that he was wrong. In my opinion someone like him has more credibility than Simon Wiesenthal. Because he was blind, but now can see, those who are still blind might trust him... In the U.S. George Wallace publicly apologized for his mistakes regarding civil rights and became somewhat of a hero. His being so wrong for so long made his change of heart an important event. I think Irving should be sentenced to community service: lecturing troubled teens in white power gangs about the clear evidence for the holocaust. Do you really think justice will be served by them putting him behind bars?

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As Rosa Luxemburg once said: "Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently." That was true when she wrote it in 1918 and it is true today.

Quite so, but there is no case for the free propagation of lies designed to stir conflict and to humiliate individuals.

I think you are guilty of rather muddled thinking on this issue John.

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Shame they didn't decide to throw away the key.

You can't be serious, Andy. Certainly you must see the importance of someone like Irving telling the holocaust deniers that he was wrong. In my opinion someone like him has more credibility than Simon Wiesenthal. Because he was blind, but now can see, those who are still blind might trust him... In the U.S. George Wallace publicly apologized for his mistakes regarding civil rights and became somewhat of a hero. His being so wrong for so long made his change of heart an important event. I think Irving should be sentenced to community service: lecturing troubled teens in white power gangs about the clear evidence for the holocaust. Do you really think justice will be served by them putting him behind bars?

Denying the holocaust should not be tolerated but I agree with Pat that putting Irving behind bars does not solve the problem. On the other hand and I want this to get clear I’m not an Anti-Semite but the attention given to the crimes in the WWII are to me in no proportion to all the other crimes done to other people of other ethnic origins in history. It must be very hard for those who had suffered the same obliteration but never ever got only a fraction of attention, apology and reparation. History seems to have different half-life periods of different events and as I stated in another thread, I do not see the difference of the horrible crimes committed but I do see a difference in dealing with these events.

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Guest Stephen Turner

Irving always knew the junk he was peddling was lies, he is, and remains, a vicious anti semite, and racist. But its the mindless thugs that believe what the likes of Irving spew out that are the bigger problem, at least at street level, how do members feel we should deal with a burgeoning fascist movement, and if history teaches us one thing, its that they must be dealt with, one way or another.

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Andy wrote:

but there is no case for the free propagation of lies designed to stir conflict and to humiliate individuals.

Andy, there is such a case. It is called freedom of speech.

For someone to trivialize an event as horrific and evil as the Holocaust is terrible. But I think freedom of speech should, in my opinion, even include the right to advocate racist positions so long as there is not a specific incitement to violence.

That being said, it does not mean that in order to defend free speech one must give a forum for those who spread racial hatred. In my opinion, that would include legitimizing the bona fides of a Hitler defender by granting him the right to defend his scenario that Jews or Israelis killed Kennedy.

In other words, if I owned a journal or a newspaper I would be a strong advocate of free speech but in order to prove my sincere belief in free speech I would not feel any obligation to provide space for anyone whose views I felt were really abhorrent.

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Andy wrote:

but there is no case for the free propagation of lies designed to stir conflict and to humiliate individuals.

Andy, there is such a case. It is called freedom of speech.

I am afraid this is a rather naive perhaps even primitive definition free speech.

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Freedom of speech must include the right to be wrong; the right to challenge the conventional wisdom. Remember that Galileo was jailed for agreeing with the Copernican theory of the solar system.

I agree with John that the marketplace of ideas is the best way to correct erroneous facts.

Where I disagree with John is I do not believe one must demonstrate one's belief in free speech by providing your communication mechanism, as a vehicle for the propogation of ideas you know to be garbage. When someone expounds an idea as outrageous as one that says the death of millions of innocent Jews (or blacks or Christians or whatever) is boring, such an individual ought to be shunned by decent citizens. Shunning the works of the individual is NOT the same as denying him the right to peddle his ideas and it is a far cry from jailing him for his ideas.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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Where I disagree with John is I do not believe one must demonstrate one's belief in free speech by providing your communication mechanism, as a vehicle for the propogation of ideas you know to be garbage.

But that is what I allow you to do when you argue that Fidel Castro organized the assassination of JFK.

However, I do agree with the rest of your argument. Freedom of speech should only be restricted when it is clearly intended to incite violence against a racial minority. However, I do think the incite violence against an undemocratic tyranny, such as a military dictatorship, is acceptable.

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