David Irving is guaranteed to cause a rumble wherever he goesas he did in Jackson earlier this month after white supremacist Richard Barrett promoted his Oct. 21 presentation at City Hall. The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants describes him as a "Holocaust Denier and anti-Semite," although Irving himself disagrees with the portrayal.
"A Holocaust denier is a phrase that I'd take legal action against if I could," Irving said. "... I say quite frequently the Nazis killed likely at least 3 million Jews just in four (concentration) camps, but I'm called a Holocaust denier because I don't buy the (6 million Jews) story as it is now popular to tell it."
Irving didn't get to hawk his version in Jackson, thoughhe and Barrett publicly split after the Jackson Free Press reported the upcoming visit, his appearances on local radio shows didn't happen, and then Irving told the JFP that he would appear at an "undisclosed location" in Ridgeland instead of Jackson.
Why the Outrage?
Irving pushes a story that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was a man focused on winning the war against Britain rather than the extermination of a culture. The Brit stubbornly insists that Hitler was "kept out of the loop" on the extermination by SS heads such as German Minister of the Interior Heinrich Himmler.
Irving's book "Hitler's War" contains the passage: "Himmler
continued to pull the wool over Hitler's eyes. On September 17
he calmly jotted in his notes for that day's Führer conference: '1. Jewish emigration – how is to be handled in future
,'" among other notes, which never says "kill," he says.
He took his argument to British court in the 1996 suit Irving v. Lipstadt, wherein Irving sued Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt and publisher Penguin Books for libel for her book, "Denying the Holocaust."
Irving pushed for his interpretation of Himmler's notes, which meant considering words like "Jewish emigration" to be nothing comparable to the Nazi Party's forced emigration of Jews to extermination camps.
Lipstadt's defense argued, however, that "the Nazis generally used camouflage terms like 'evacuation,' 'resettlement,' 'wandered off,' or 'disappeared'" when cataloging the details of extermination. The judge agreed with the defense, partially basing his assessment upon the fact that Irving himself admits that Hitler approved a program of shooting Jews, so it was "reasonable to suppose" that gas chambers weren't a far jump. The judge also doubted that Hitler's surrogates would have concealed the use of the chambers from their leader.
'Don't Let Irving In'
Irving also enrages by questioning the origin of photos of concentration camp cadavers, and with his weak excuse that both sides murdered during the war. "Look in the small printthey'll say exactly where they come from. If you want to see genuine photographs of atrocities, have a look at my book 'The Destruction of Dresden,'" he said. "I got those photos from the photographer himself who went into Dresden after the British air raid on Feb. 23, 1945, while the Germans were burning the bodies of thousands of German victims on huge funeral piles."
Lipstadt said that it's pointless to argue with Irving. "You can't talk your way through to him on historical accounts. He'll twist the information; he'll inflate some information and downplay or completely ignore others. That's what he does, and he's very good at it," Lipstadt said.
Irving says his opponents would rather shut him down than debate. Every country I go to, every ban I get from Canada or Italy, Australia or New Zealand I regard as another victory because that's an indication that that country cannot debate. These are the people, the academics, who put pressure on the government telling them 'don't let Irving in,' because they can't answer me."
The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants asked Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. to bar Irving from City Hall. Johnson cited freedom of speech issues in allowing his appearance, but emphasized that he would not attend and that the city in no way condoned the visit.
The author told the JFP that he and his guests "sat around plotting, as neo-Nazis do, and finding synagogues we can set on fire and tombstones that we can throw around." It was a facetious little account sure to inflame adversaries. (Mission accomplished: The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants later described his flippant account as "nothing short of monstrous.")
The same day that he retreated from City Hall, American Express dropped him as a merchant, barring the use of an AmEx account to sell his books. "The materials that he sells on his Web site are not consistent with the brand policies that we have in our merchant agreement," AmEx spokeswoman Christine Elliott told WalletPop.com.
Irving called the AmEx snub "very interesting and very hurtful, and of course indicates my opponents' views. They're trying to silence free speech and ordinary people who want to hear me speak," he said.
He then launched into an attack on Brooklyn, N.Y., Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who drafted the letter stoking the credit company into its boycott. It was an attack the likes of which obviously makes Irving infamous.
"Hikind says he's the son of a Holocaust survivor. OK. You feel a slight twinge of compassion for himexcept that his mother survived Auschwitz, so big deal. I thought the Germans were supposed to be committing genocide. Were the Nazis just talking, or perhaps the word 'genocide' is a bit of an exaggeration?"
The author goes on to describe the Nazi treatment of Jews as a kind of lesson the Jews should have never forgotten. "I've said to them myself: 'You Jews in America are now in the same position as the ones before Nazi Germany.' In the 1920s they owned all the banks, the newspapers; they had all the professional jobs. They were the doctors and lawyers, to the exclusion of non-Jews. Now you're doing the same thing in the United States. They ... are, in a way, the architects of their own fortune. They don't want to examine the simple two-word question 'why us?' Why is it that no sooner did they arrive to a country then 50 years later they were so hated?"
'I'm Sorry; Your Kid's What?'
At that point, I asked Irving to address accusations of his opposition to race-mixing. The Lipstadt court case referenced this issue in 2000, having entered as evidence a 1994 entry in his diary wherein Irving recorded a snippet of his interaction with his daughter Jessica, containing the limerick: "I am a Baby Aryan; Not Jewish or Sectarian; I have no plans to marry an ape or Rastafarian."
The following verbatim exchange from his JFP interview suggested that Irving may be a few decades out of his era:
Lynch: Do you really care if blacks and whites have children together?
Irving: Do you have any children yourself?
Irving: Do you have any daughters? I've got five daughters. What would you say to that question?
Lynch: Well, it's probably an unfair question to put to me. My kid's interracial.
Irving: I'm sorry. Your kid's what?
Lynch: Interracial. He's half-black. So I'm probably not the best person to pose the question to.
Irving: That makes you a rather unobjective reporter on this matter then. Let's move on to another question. Suffice to say I've got five daughters. And that's that.