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BBC's Jon Silverman reports
"Llikely to be one of the most emotive cases to be heard at the high court for a generation"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 11 January, 2000, 18:53 GMT
Revisionist scholar with talent for controversy

David Irving says comments about him are David Irving says comments about him are "lies"

British historian David Irving has been no stranger to controversy during his 30 years on the British literary scene.

He has been praised for his academic rigour by some and vilified as an Adolf Hitler 'partisan' who distorts history by others.

David Irving was born the son of a naval commander from Essex who had served in both world wars.

After dropping out of university - he got 11 A-levels - he spent a year as a steelworker in the Ruhr learning German.

He made his name with a book about the Allied bombing of Dresden and biographies of Rommel and Rudolph Hess.

But the work Irving is probably best-known for is Hitler's War, his best-selling account of the World War Two from the Fuhrer's perspective.

Personal tragedy

Irving's personal life has not been without tragedy.

He had four daughters during his first marriage and now lives with his Danish partner in Mayfair with their two-year-old daughter.

One of his daughters from his first marriage, Josephine Tucker, fell three floors to her death from a central London flat in September.

Detailed research

However the 62-year-old academic has a reputation as a painstaking researcher, trawling through Nazi archives and unearthing elderly Nazis from Alpine villages and isolated Argentine ranches as part of his work.

He has been attacked for questioning whether 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis - and suggesting that Hitler knew nothing of the Final Solution until late in the war

His controversial views on the Holocaust have led to a fine in a German court and exclusion from Canada and Australia.

As Irving's profile grew, he became a presence in extreme right wing circles in Britain and attended conferences of the Institute for Historical Review in the United States, the leading forum for those who deny the Holocaust ever happened.

His growing notoriety led one of his New York publishers to ditch his book on Goebbels.

When Professor Deborah Lipstadt, an expert on anti-semitism, went on to publish a book in which he was called "a dangerous spokesman for Holocaust denial", it must have been the final straw.

They refer to me as being particularly dangerous and it is that word dangerous that baffles me
David Irving
His reputation as a historian was on the line. He decided to sue for libel in the High Court in London.

Mr Irving accuses Ms Lipstadt - Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Georgia - of painting him as a neo-Nazi and attempting to destroy his reputation as a historian. She and Penguin, which published her book in 1995, both deny the charge.

But Mr Irving insists: "They refer to me as being particularly dangerous and it is that word dangerous that baffles me.

"I mean what kind of danger am I to them? I don't go around putting bombs under their cars. I don't go round blowing them up.

"I don't think I am any kind of personal danger to them. But I am a danger I think to their interests."

It will take months for the High Court to decide whether Britain's most controversial historian is the victim of libel.

The outcome of the emotive case will watched across the world.
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See also:
10 Jan 00 |  UK
High Court battle over Holocaust book
06 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
The ones that get away
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Britain's chequered war crimes history
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Analysis: The Baltics' wartime record
15 Dec 99 |  Europe
Nazi slave cash dismissed as 'gesture'
06 Dec 99 |  Europe
Holocaust victims' accounts revealed
18 Oct 99 |  UK
Britain plans Holocaust remembrance

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