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Letters to David Irving on this Website


Unless correspondents ask us not to, this Website will post selected letters that it receives, and invite open debate.

Jonathan Josephs is studying the Lipstadt trial for his dissertation, and has two queries, Sunday, January 6, 2008.

David Irving at the High Court, January 11, 2000
Arriving at the High Court, January 11, 2000

About Lipstadt and Vienna

THANKS for your prompt reply. If you could just answer these couple of questions it would help me out a lot.

  1. Do you think you were unjustly treated in your trials?
  2. You have experienced court in a country where they have laws banning Holocaust denial. What is your opinion of these laws? Are they an affront to freedom of speech?

As you know I do intend to include what you say in my dissertation, so what would you like to say in general terms about the various issues raised by this subject which seems to arouse such intense emotion.

I am grateful to you for your time and trouble and thank you in anticipation of your reply.

Jonathan Josephs


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David Irving responds


1) Do you think you were unjustly treated in your trials?

Answer: The Lipstadt trial, 2000: Read my short diary of the trial with comments that may assist; it is a pdf file.

I have also written an extensive chapter or chapters on the Lipstadt Trial for my memoirs. Still in handwriting. In these, I state that the Judge, Sir Charles Gray, was in my view wrong on several important matters:

  • (a) Sir Charles Gray (right) allowed the Defence lawyers to submit an amended defence only a few days before the trial began, in which the entire axis of the defence was changed; it involved dumping on me a score of ring binders with expert statements and documents and exhibits in the days around Christmas 1999, with the trial beginning on January 13, 2000. Being a litigant in person, with no vast legal team behind me, I could not possibly master these new papers in time. It is my own fault that I did not protest at the trial management hearing on this issue, but I could not at that time anticipate the deluge of files, tens of thousands of pages of documents, which began after he ruled the new defence permissible. Mr Justice Gray should have ruled that either (i) the defence has had three and a half years to prepare the trial, and a last minute change of defence is not permitted; or that (ii) the plaintiff should apply for the trial date to be adjourned (which the Court could not easily have done, as the Judge had by then read all the files, and courtroom space had been booked and the expert witnesses were already flying in).
  • (b) Gray J later called the "fees" paid to the six expert witnesses, some of them getting over a quarter of a million dollars, "obscene". I agree. How can any witness remain neutral in the face of such inducements? (See this website for the interim payments made to the witnesses.)
  • (c) Gray J allowed the Dutch/Canadian expert witness Professor Robert Jan Van Pelt to give testimony on the architecture of Auschwitz and other sites, although in my opening cross examination I elicited the confession that Pelt had never studied architecture and was not even allowed to call himself an architect in consequence; Gray J further allowed Pelt to give expert testimony on matters far beyond his ken including pest control, toxicology, document authentication, and the German language; moreover, Pelt and all the other expert witnesses were no longer neutral, as the rules require, because they had all signed book deals (which Pelt denied under my cross examination, on oath: i.e., he perjured himself); Professor Richard J "Skunky" Evans (right) perjured himself too, denying explicitly that he bore any ill feeling toward me (now read his book on this same topic!) Evans was clearly not an expert on the Third Reich either, his knowledge of colloquial and modern German, and of the top Nazi personalities, was very patchy.
  • (d) I argued in my opening submissions to Gray J that the court should concern itself not with what happened or did not happen sixty years ago, but with what happened within the four walls of my study when I was writing my books: did I have documents before me which I willfully ignored or deliberately misconstrued when writing my various books? It is not an abstruse point at all, and Gray J nodded sagely, but he still allowed the trial to develop into an examination of the history of the Holocaust -- with the absurd result that I found myself, although I had never proclaimed myself to be an Holocaust historian, being cross-examined on documents that the defence had brought into court that morning and I had never seen before: why? And why did the Court tolerate it?
  • (e) Most damaging of all: although in her book Lipstadt had never imputed either anti-semitism or racism to me, and the two issues had consequently not been pleaded, large parts of the defence turned on these allegations: grossly prejudicial and totally irrelevant; her lawyers had managed to get all my pre-emptive Discovery documents proving the opposite struck out in the months before they submitted their amended Defence too! Gray J himself interrupted Rampton's closing statement with the hypothetical question, Can an anti-Semite not write true history?, only to ignore it in his Judgment. Gray J should have excluded all such prejudicial and deeply irrelevant arguments at a very early date in the trial. It is my fault that I did not ask the Court to do so, through inexperience. I was a litigant in person, and the Court should itself have ruled such issues inadmissible, because highly prejudicial and not originally pleaded. Both the Court and the Defence were pandering however to an increasingly hostile press (hostile to me, that is, because editors and advertising managers know on which side their bread is buttered).

    2) You have experienced court in a country where they have laws banning Holocaust denial. What is your opinion of these laws? Are they an affront to freedom of speech?

    Answer: I recommend that you read my short book on my 2005 arrest, trial and imprisonment -- it is posted in English on my website.

    European law is, broadly speaking, very different from the Anglo-Saxon laws with which we and the Americans and the British Empire countries are familiar. We are innocent until proven guilty; in Europe, the reverse is true.

    It reached its absurd peak when I found myself ambushed by armed Austrian police on November 11, 2005 and indicted because of opinions I had expressed sixteen years earlier to a small audience in a Vienna restaurant, perhaps forty souls. (Twelve or less would have ruled the case out anyway, even under their laws).

    The police had attended all my Austria talks, and reported in internal documents that I had committed no offences; when the largely Jewish outcry began in the press on November 6, 2005, Vienna's police president then felt he had to issue his warrant, secure perhaps in the knowledge that I was no longer on Austrian soil.

    I revisited the country three times after that, with the full knowledge of the authorities, and nothing happened. The 2005 ambush and imprisonment cost me around half a million pounds in lost contracts, a year's lost income, a lost home and possessions, a cancelled legacy(*), air tickets, speaking engagements and stolen cars (from London airport); it very nearly destroyed my family too. But I shall not allow this sad episode in Austrian history to rule the way I write.

    Good luck with the dissertation

    Explanatory note, in response to inquiries: "A very nice couple in [Germany] whom I shall not name (who knows who else reads these emails), were a doctor and his wife, total strangers to me, and elderly. Out of the blue four years ago she wrote me enclosing the copy of a will they had made out ... in my favour leaving me first their home in Munich, as they so admired me, then adding their homes in Bucharest and Klagenfurt too, as they wanted us to have something to fall back on if I ever grow old. I corresponded regularly with them in the interval. When I was in the Vienna prison I received a letter from the wife, two lines, equally out of the blue: 'We have cancelled everything, do not ask why, do not write to us again.' My letters since have been returned unopened." -- I presume that the malicious media mudbath had shocked them.

© Focal Point 2008 David Irving