Magazine article The Spectator

Let Irving Speak

Magazine article The Spectator

Let Irving Speak

Article excerpt

I am surprised, incidentally, that our traditional enemies do not object that only Aryan names are used for these disasters -- why no Hurricane Isidores or Chaims?

David Irving offers up his observations on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, September 2005.

David Irving, the British historian and alleged 'Holocaust denier' will be spending this Christmas and New Year in a Viennese prison cell while the Austrian authorities attempt to cobble together a charge against him relating to something he said 16 years ago. Back in 1989, while visiting Austria, he remarked, as he was wont to do, that there were no gas chambers in Auschwitz -- a view he has more recently modified (he now accepts, apparently, that there were one or two). A warrant was issued for his arrest and, two weeks ago, when Irving was en route to address some similarly wacko right-wing Austrian students, he was arrested in the southern state of Styria.

So many ironies abound in this story that one scarcely knows where to begin: we might muse that, for the sake of historical symmetry, it's a shame he wasn't picked up in Linz. But Styria will do, I suppose.

Anyway, he faces up to ten years in prison if found guilty.

It is often said that Mr Irving was a respectable historian until he went off the rails about the Holocaust. I am not remotely qualified to assess the veracity of this judgment; however, having read a little of Mr Irving's work and browsed his website (from where that quotation above was culled), I can attest to the fact that he is possessed of the most repulsive views, is a rotten writer, and quite possibly is as mad as a box of frogs. More pertinently, I would venture to suggest -- warily, perhaps, because Mr Irving is litigious, if usually unsuccessfully so -- that he is more steadfast and implacable in his loathing of Jewish people than any hook-handed bearded imam you care to mention.

His website -- Action Report -- is a truly filthy business. One section is entitled, in Irving's characteristically lumpen prose and with hammer-headed irony, 'Possible Causes of the Irrational Phenomenon known as Anti-Semitism, Diffidently Offered to the Question: "Why Us"?' What then follows is an almost endless, exhausting catalogue of Jews getting up to no good:

Jews running the slave trade, Jews exploiting black workers, Jews pillaging Russia, Jews money-laundering, Jews extorting, Jews cheating and lying, Jews bribing and taking bribes, Jews spitting, Jews selling drugs, Jews peddling porn, Jews murdering, Jews running everything, Jews unequivocally the architects of their own deserved downfall.

From a lay perspective, I would hazard that the author, or compiler, of this stuff is unhinged. Certainly he is obsessed. I am also close to 100 per cent certain that he is utterly wrong in his assertion that Hitler was not aware of the murder of six million Jews (Dave disputes this figure, of course) and, further, that his conclusions have been arrived at as much through a loathing of Jews and an admiration for Hitler than through rigorous academic inquiry. I'm about 99.9 per cent sure of that.

Meanwhile, in the other corner, we have Austria -- the little country which has banged up this British citizen for, effectively, stating an opinion. There is no more anti-Semitic nation in Western Europe, nor one which has tried so hard to suppress its own extraordinary guilt in the attempted annihilation of the Jewish race. …

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