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THE IRVING TRIAL

Doug Collins

April 27, 2000

“The Irving libel case is the nearest thing liberal London society can get to a trial for witchcraft or blasphemy.”

***

Having been out of the country when the Irving-Lipstadt libel trial verdict came down and for some time thereafter I was not able to write anything about it. I was in Jerusalem, where our tour guide did not fail to mention the Holocaust and the six million Jews. Politeness being one of my weaknesses I did not argue with him.

Some people are now asking what I thought of the decision, in which, of course, Mr. Irving was denounced as an anti-Semite, a racist, and a Holocaust denier. My answer, in short, was what I had said while the trial was still on: that he stood not a cat’s chance in hell of winning. No judge, British or otherwise, was about to take on the world-wide Jewish Establishment. He would himself have been branded an anti-Semite, a racist, and a Holocaust denier.

The victors are now dancing the Hora, and may be forgiven for thinking that the argument about the Holocaust and its politics is now over. But they would be wrong. In the first place, the trial judge did not validate the six million story even though he claimed, with Deborah Lipstadt, that Irving had distorted history. At the same time he, the judge, confessed he was no historian, which hardly strengthens his decision.

All historians believe their own theses, and as Professor Donald Cameron Watt pointed out in London’s Evening Standard, “Show me any historian who has not broken into a cold sweat at the thought of undergoing similar treatment,” meaning that Irving had to endure two months of being attacked by hostile historians and top-ranking (and ranting) Jewish lawyers.

One against twenty, and the judge paid the star of this show the compliment of stating that “Mr. Irving knows his stuff ”. In the New York Press, George Szamuely wrote that though he lost the case, he held his own against scholars of international repute”.

In short, although Irving lost, and will be ruined if his appeal is unsuccessful (which, again, I expect it to be) he has also won. Never before has there been such an ocean of critical publicity on this subject. It has dominated the pages of the world’s media and has already led to opinions being expressed that would not have been, pre-trial.

As David Cesarani, who I believe is Jewish, reported in The Guardian, “David Irving may be isolated in his high court battle, but a growing number of respectable academics are criticizing what they have dubbed the ‘Holocaust Industry’.

“Serious scholars on both sides of the Atlantic who scorn [Irving’s] methods and arguments are questioning the purposes to which the Holocaust is being put. They are asking if it deserves a special protected place in the public consciousness.”

Some, he went on, are asking whether memorialization of the Holocaust, as well as Holocaust studies in schools and universities, are not being used wrongly, or simply getting out of hand. (Hello there, you government lickspittles in Victoria, who have just stepped into line with B.C.’s very own Memorial Day!)

Even before the Lipstadt trial began, an announcement that there were plans for a “Shoah Centre” in Manchester caused Brian Sewell of the Evening Standard to write: “Can we not say to the Jews of Manchester that enough has been made of their Holocaust and that they are too greedy for our memories?”

The case for Irving’s being a “Holocaust denier” seems to rest on his claim that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz and on his rejection of the six million story. Here the judge said in his ruling that Irving was right to point out that contemporaneous documents give... little clear evidence of the existence of gas chambers designed to kill human beings.” To support his judgment, he relied on witnesses for the defence. Which raises the question what, precisely, is a “denier”? Irving, after all, had said that between one million and four million Jews died.

Denial depends on who and what is being denied. Historian Robert W. Thurston is one of several who have claimed that Stalin was not guilty of mass murder from 1934 to 1941. For them, too, the Gulag didn’t exist, except for criminals who would have been in jail in any country — the kind of bilge that Eleanor Roosevelt swallowed.

No disgrace for them, though. They are hardly noticed. Even if they were, and faced a case against their critics, there would be no millions of dollars forthcoming for their defence from the Spielbergs, the Bronfmans or the American Jewish Committee, as they were for Lipstadt.

To repeat: this trial marks the start of a new look at the politics of the Holocaust .And it will continue. Have I ever lied to you?

To get the international media comment on this case I recommend Irving’s web page. It’s all there, pro and con, at http://www.fpp.co.uk/online.html

 

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