Well, that didn’t take long.
Only a few days after his conviction for Holocaust denial, David Irving has reverted to form:
Far-right author David Irving’s repudiation of his views on the Holocaust and Hitler’s role in it has not lasted very long. In a prison interview just days after he told an Austrian court he had been wrong to deny the Holocaust, he reverted to insisting that the slaughter in Nazi death camps was exaggerated, and that Jews “bear blame for what happened”.
He went on:
The author was jailed on Monday for three years for denying the Holocaust during two lectures and in a newspaper interview in Austria nearly 17 years ago. But despite the conviction, the 67-year-old did not shy away from the subject. Irving complained that the Jews held far too much power and predicted their disproportionate control in the US would see a second Holocaust “in 20 to 30 years”.
Just days after he told the Viennese court “I’ve changed my views”, he said it was part of the human condition to dislike Jews and that they were at least in part to blame for the 3,000 years of hatred they had had to endure.
Then, in another interview, he said:
Today, the British academic repeated his assertion that the number of Jews killed at the camp was relatively small, and certainly much smaller than the figure of 1.1 million that is generally accepted by Holocaust historians.
“There were these two small buildings where gassings were done, but I think we can be very argumentative about the scale of it,” he said. “Certainly, anybody who suggests that this was the heart of the Nazi programme is way off track.”
Irving said he accepted that 1.4 million Jews were killed at the so-called Reinhard extermination camps of Sobibor, Belzec and Treblinka, but he insisted Auschwitz was different: “You can say millions died, but not at Auschwitz.”
The story of Anne Frank, according to Irving, backs up his argument: “The Anne Frank family wasn’t gassed, although they were in Auschwitz,” he said. “When they fell ill, they were looked after by SS doctors, and two of them survived. The whole Anne Frank story is proof that I am right.”
He also questioned the responsibility of Hitler for the 20th century’s greatest crime. Asked whether he believed that Hitler had overseen the Holocaust, Irving replied: “No. That is absolutely wrong and nobody can justify that.
“Adolf Hitler’s own involvement in it has a big question mark behind it.”
Those of us who have been watching David Irving’s career for years are not surprised at this reversion to form in the least. These are the sorts of things he’s been saying for years and continued to say right up until his ill-fated trip to Austria.
Some explanation might come from his childhood, where, it turns out, he was always a provacateur and a bit of a bully, as revealed in an interview with his brother, Nicholas:
Even as a child, David had a horribly malicious sense of humour. He loved to play cruel pranks, particularly on those in authority, says Nicholas. “It has all been really distressing for me; we were always so very, very different. As children, he was always trying to drag me into his devilment. Like the time, when we were six, that he gave a ‘Heil Hitler’ salute when a German bomber destroyed a nearby house. I knew it was wrong, I wouldn’t do it, but David went right ahead. Anything to outrage, anything for attention.”
At school, David, unlike Nicholas, was something of a loner who specialised in playing malicious pranks on teachers. “David was incredibly clever but instead of doing homework he would be up in his room plotting ever more cruel pranks.” The twins’ Latin teacher was an elderly man suffering from sciatica who needed to relieve the pain by leaning on things every few moments when he walked.
“David worked out where he would stop and he would take the peg out of the blackboard so that, when the master leaned on it, he and it crashed to the ground. Then there was our French master. David spent hours making an intricate model of him that tapped a pencil as was his habit and left it on his desk to humiliate him.” When pupils were allowed to stage mock elections, David led a neo-fascist party.
Sibling rivalry, on David’s part, was never resolved. “If I was dancing with a pretty girl he would cut in,” Nicholas says, “just because he could I suppose. He always felt he had to be better.”
And this malicious streak continued into adulthood:
“Let me try to explain my brother. Some years ago, he invited his publisher and wife, a Jewish couple, to his home for dinner. He was rather bewildered when the chap stormed out before the meal had even begun. David simply could not understand why this Jewish gentleman was offended when he sat at the table to discover that it was laid with cutlery embossed with the Nazi swastika.
David told the man that he had bought it in Russia, that it originally came from Hitler’s bunker. Hardly surprising that the poor man stalked off. David told me that himself. And to him it was nothing more than a merry jape. He has a somewhat warped sense of humour and he truly thought it was hilarious.”
So, there is no doubt that David Irving has always been a bit of an asshole who takes joy in playing pranks and bullying others. No doubt he didn’t expect to spend more than a couple of months in jail for his little trip to Austria. He miscalculated badly.
Even so, none of this changes my opinion that Irving doesn’t belong in jail and that the Austrian prosecutor is being vindictive in trying to It’s not a crime to be a pompous asshole, nor should it be a crime to deny the Holocaust, no matter how much of an anti-Semitic and racist twit the denier is.