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Tuesday, 11 April, 2000, 09:43 GMT 10:43 UK
David Irving: Controversial scholar
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 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 through lack of money, 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.

One of his four daughters from his first marriage, Josephine Tucker, fell three floors to her death from her central London flat in September 1999.

He now lives in Mayfair with his Danish partner and their two-year-old daughter.

Detailed research

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.

Camp inmates
Irving questioned that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust
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.

'Death threats'

His growing notoriety led one of his New York publishers to ditch his book on Goebbels and he has been banned from the German state archives.

But Irving says he is the victims of a barrage of abuse and telephone death threats.

He agrees he once had swizzle sticks adorned with swastikas at a book party - symptomatic of the in-your-face naughtiness of the gauche schoolboy he often resembles - but denies Nazi sympathies.

And, he says, the tale of a portrait of Hitler over his desk is the stuff of legend - the only signed photo on display is one of Sir Winston Churchill.

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