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Tuesday, 18 January, 2000, 20:48 GMT
Hitler historian branded 'mad or liar'

David Irving David Irving - questions the number of Jewish dead

Historian David Irving must be "mad or a liar" to suggest Jews deported to the East during WWII were not being sent to their deaths, a court has heard.

Mr Irving is suing Professor Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books for libel over claims in her book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, that he was a "Holocaust denier".

Deborah Lipstadt Mr Irving claims Prof Lipstadt's book generated hate mail against him
The 62-year-old author of Hitler's War and Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich alleges Prof Lipstadt's book accuses him of distorting statistics and documents to serve his own ideological purposes. He says it has generated "waves of hatred" against him.

On Tuesday, Richard Rampton QC, defending Prof Lipstadt, told the High Court in London that no "sane" person could conclude that hundreds of thousands of Jews were transported to the middle of nowhere on the Russian border during World War II to "restore their health".

The previous day, the controversial historian had told the court that messages intercepted by British wartime intelligence indicated trains transporting Jews to the camps were equipped with a "very substantial amount of food", and "tools of the trade" for their occupants.

He said this indicated "the system that was sending them was apprehending that they would be doing something when they got there".

Middle of nowhere

Mr Irving, of Mayfair, London, says he has never claimed that the Holocaust did not take place.

He does, however, question the number of Jewish dead and denies there was a systematic extermination of Jews in concentration camp gas chambers.

Mr Rampton, questioning Mr Irving on whether or not he denied the Holocaust took place, asked what he believed the Jews sent to "little villages in the middle of nowhere" on the Russian border in eastern Poland in 1942 were going to do there.

The historian replied: "The documents do not tell me... There could be any number of convincing explanations."

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 hearing continues. It is expected to last up to three months.

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See also:
17 Jan 00 |  UK
Holocaust trains 'well provisioned'
11 Jan 00 |  UK
Revisionist scholar with talent for controversy
11 Jan 00 |  UK
Hitler historian branded a 'liar'
10 Jan 00 |  UK
High Court battle over Holocaust book
12 Jan 00 |  UK
Historian: Gas chambers are 'big lie'

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