Holocaust revisionist David Irving mocked victims of the Holocaust by “feeding and encouraging the most cynical anti-Semitism” in his speeches, it was alleged last week at a trial for a defamation suit that Irving has filed against a U.S. scholar.
The charge was leveled by the lawyer for Jewish historian Deborah Lipstadt.
Irving, who denies that Auschwitz was a death camp or that there was systematic, mass destruction of Jews, claims that Lipstadt libeled him in her 1994 book, “Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory,” when she called him a Holocaust denier who manipulates facts to suit his ideological bias.
In an acrimonious exchange during the closing cross-examination Lipstadt’s lawyer, Richard Rampton, told Irving that he “is feeding the anti-Semitism in your audience by mocking the survivors and dead of the Holocaust.”
Irving replied that he was “mocking the liars” who, he said, had misrepresented their experiences.
Irving told the court that “there have been increasing numbers in recent years who have capitalized on the Holocaust.”
“It’s become an important part of their social and religious awareness, and it is almost blasphemy to them to tread on that holy ground.”
Rampton quoted from a 1991 speech in Canada in which Irving told his audience that he saw no reason to be “tasteful” about Auschwitz.
“It’s baloney, it’s a legend,” he told his audience. “Once we admit the fact that it was a brutal slave labor camp and large numbers of people did die — as large numbers of innocent people died elsewhere in the war — why believe the rest of the baloney?
“I say quite tastelessly, in fact, that more women died on the back seat of Edward Kennedy’s car at Chappaquiddick than ever died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz.
“Oh, you think that’s tasteless,” he continued. “How about this? There are so many Auschwitz survivors going around — in fact, the number increases as the years go past, which is biologically very odd to say the least. Because I’m going to form an association of Auschwitz Survivors, Survivors of the Holocaust and Other Liars, or the A-S-S-H-O-L-S.”
Irving, who is defending himself, denied that there were “skinheads or extremists” in the audience, which, he said, appeared to comprise “a perfectly ordinary bunch of middle-class Canadians.”
At an earlier hearing, Hajo Funke, a professor at the Free University of Berlin, told the court he considered that Irving, 62, had “committed himself wholeheartedly” to neo-Nazism.
He said Irving had used Germany as a “playground” for his right-wing extremism until he was expelled in 1993.
Irving’s expulsion, he continued, indicated the unwillingness of the authorities to “further tolerate his use of Germany as a `playground’ for his right-wing extremism.”
Funke, who had prepared a 137-page report on Irving’s alleged links to extremists, said Irving had “committed himself wholeheartedly to the cause of revisionism, and thus to neo-Nazism, in Germany.”
“By denying the Holocaust,” said Funke, “he willfully and persistently violated the criminal law in Germany.”
The German expert said that for several years, Irving was one of the “main speakers and agitators” for the German People’s Union, which was extremist, anti-Semitic and “propagated racial hatred.”
The court was also shown video footage of a meeting in Germany in the early 1990s, at which Irving was a speaker, with skinheads chanting “Sieg heil.”
In response, Irving said he accepted invitations from “whichever body invites me,” as long as his schedule allowed it.
The hearing was adjourned until March 13 for closing arguments.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.