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The BBC's Jon Silverman
"David Irving said he was not a Holocaust denier"
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Tuesday, 11 January, 2000, 21:58 GMT
Hitler historian branded a 'liar'

David Irving: "Robbed of financial security"

Controversial historian David Irving has been branded a liar on the first day of his High Court libel action over a book which described him as a "Holocaust denier".

The 62-year-old author of Hitler's War and Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich says Penguin Books and academic Deborah Lipstadt were part of "an organised international endeavour" to destroy his career and "vandalise" his legitimacy as a historian.

No person in full command of his mental faculties...can deny that the tragedy actually happened
David Irving
He says that the "waves of hatred" generated by their book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, had robbed him of financial security for the future.

But Penguin and Professor Lipstadt, holder of the Dorot Chair in Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, deny libel and plead justification.

And their counsel, Richard Rampton QC, told Mr Justice Gray, who is hearing the case without a jury: "Mr Irving calls himself an historian. The truth is, however, that he is not an historian at all, but a falsifier of history. To put it bluntly, he is a liar.

'Falsify history'

"Lies may take various forms and may as often consist of suppression or omission as of direct falsehood or invention, but in the end all forms of lying converge into a single definition: wilful, deliberate mis-statement of the facts.

"Mr Irving has used many different means to falsify history: invention, misquotation, suppression, distortion, manipulation and - not least - mistranslation.

"But all these techniques have the same ultimate effect: falsification of the truth.

"Moreover, the lies which the defendants in this case will show that Mr Irving has told concern an area of history in which, perhaps, it behoves any writer or researcher to be particularly careful of the truth: the destruction of the Jews by the Nazis during World War II - the Holocaust - and Adolf Hitler's role in that human catastrophe."

Mr Irving calls himself an historian. The truth is, however, that he is not an historian at all, but a falsifier of history. To put it bluntly, he is a liar
Richard Rampton QC
Earlier, Mr Irving, who is representing himself, said his career was destroyed by a "cumulative, self-perpetuating, rolling onslaught from every side - engineered by the same people who have propagated the book which is the subject of this action".

He said he intended to show that "far from being a Holocaust denier", he had repeatedly drawn attention to major aspects of the Holocaust, had described them, and had "selflessly" provided historical documents both to scholars and the general public of which they had been previously unaware.

'Potent phrase'

He said that to justify her allegations of manipulation and distortion, it was not enough for Professor Lipstadt to show that he had misrepresented what happened but that he knew what happened and "perversely and deliberately" portrayed it differently.

Mr Irving said that the phrase "Holocaust denier" had become "one of the most potent phrases in the arsenal of insult".

He said: "The word 'denier' is particularly evil: because no person in full command of his mental faculties, and with even the slightest understanding of what happened in World War II, can deny that the tragedy actually happened, however much we dissident historians may wish to quibble about the means, the scale, the dates and other minutiae."

Expected to last up to three months, the case is not being heard in front a jury as both sides felt the mass of documentation made it more appropriate for a judge alone.

The case continues.

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See also:
11 Jan 00 |  UK
Revisionist scholar with talent for controversy
10 Jan 00 |  UK
High Court battle over Holocaust book
18 Oct 99 |  UK
Britain plans Holocaust remembrance

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