A very filthy cell. . . I lie down and
wait for the glaring ceiling light to go
out. It stays on all
20, 2006 (Wednesday)
APPEAL hearing this morning at
9:15 a.m. At six a.m. I am wakened, and I dress in
"best" clothes, such as they are.
In view of last night's remarks by Officer
Grobmann, I now have little hope of the
appeal succeeding: only three have succeeded at the
OLG in recent years, he said; Dr Herbert Schaller
[my new defence lawyer] had humanely kept
that little statistic from me.
Fetched at eight by prison escort party and
searched by very friendly officer with a walrus
moustache (see the press photos). I have tucked an
Agatha Christie paperback into my blazer pocket,
peeping out of the flap; "What's that book?" he
asks, clearly having been told not to let me carry
War again. I still slip an open fountain
pen into my handcuffed hands: Warenzeichen,
I explain to The Walrus: I am a writer
Across Vienna to the Oberlandesgericht at nine
in a prison van shared with an unpleasant Eastern
European hoodlum; it is unusual to see people,
crowds, cars, trees, birds, children. I had
forgotten all about them.
In the courtroom I am faced by the usual (to an
English eye, unusual) crush of press
photographers and television cameras in the court
room; I am obliged to stand there for fifteen
minutes while they shoot away with their cameras
with the court's permission.
The judge is Maurer, who looks
disconcertingly like me, and throughout the two
hours he runs his tongue around his lips as though
dying or at least in need of water; he looks very
frightened. It does not encourage me.
the public gallery about fifty members of the
public have packed in; I spot Réka in the
back row, very fetching in a powder blue suit. I
invite her over and shake hands before the
uniformed heavies surrounding me can stop it. She
does not understand a word of course; I indicate I
am wearing the tie, trousers, and socks she had
given for the cause -- mostly bought in China.
Frölich turns up and takes photos, and
I think illegally films from the back until he is
stopped; lucky they do not realise he has just
finished a seven year sentence.
Rather alarmingly the young woman
Beisitzer (there are five judges) reads out
the whole of the Urteil (Judgment) of
February 20, in a toneless unaccentuated voice. At
one point where I quoted in my 1989 lectures a
particularly shocking 1942 Foreign Office admission
that they had invented the gas chamber story for
war propaganda (Auch das war eine
Lüge), I interject: "Zitat" -- a
quotation, i.e., it was not I who had said it.
The Oberstaatsanwältin, public
prosecutor, speaks for half an hour demanding a
stiffer penalty than the three years (and no doubt
wishes for a death sentence if humanly possible).
My Dr Schaller follows, an oddly droll, proud
looking little man, wiry, red faced and tough,
speaking unlike her without notes -- because he is
an expert -- and with great force. How dare the
prosecution, he asks, add-in my lectures around the
world (which were not about the Holocaust anyway)?
They were not illegal anywhere except Austria.
Austria can not police the world. He repeats twice
that I was not properly defended at the lower
level, in February. Quite so.
At Judge Maurer's invitation I speak for two
minutes, pointing out
- that Judge Peter Liebetreu's February
2006 Urteil as read out of course only
quoted the "prosecutable" parts of my two 1989
lectures, but that if taken as a whole they had
been properly balanced pro and con, and that
this was why the police officials who actually
attended at our invitation each time found (and
recorded) that I had not broken the law;
- that I had been 400 days in Einzelhaft,
- that Bente is very ill, and
- that there could be no exchange of prisoners
to the UK as this Austrian law does not exist in
the UK -- one of the conditions. I.e., I would
not see my family for three years, if then.
The panel retires to consider their verdict, and
I chat with Réka. I have decided it is
hopeless, and say goodbye to my friends. I expect
the figure to increase to five years now.
Irving, Hajo Herrmann, Herbert Schaller at Munich
trial, 1993 [click for 500 DPI
my surprise however Judge Maurer reads out a
verdict -- it even seems to me to have been
pre-typed -- immediately dismissing the
prosecution's case 100 percent, and accepting ours.
He licks his lips more frantically than before. I
wink at Schaller. They can not overturn the
monstrous Judge Liebetreu's judgment -- because
Austria would then have to pay major compensation
to me -- but they do adjust the sentence to effect
an immediate release; time served, in other words.
Still an injustice, but what the hell. The gallery
takes it very quietly. The press cling around
asking questions with an altogether different hue
now. Open season seems to have ended.
"Give no interviews in Austria!" demands Dr
Schaller loudly, protecting my interests:
journalists, as we have found, have a tendency to
distort things to create fresh stories. Réka
dashes forward and affords me a warm hug which is
nice. Fly Hungarian!
At 10:30 a.m., the police drive me back across
Vienna to the prison, cracking jokes of an
off-colour nature, and educating me that everybody
knows I have been the victim of a small religious
Menschengruppe, (clique), a people not like
us at all. They were the ones really behind my
arrest; go on, you don't say; and I make no
response. They clearly like driving around with the
notorious; one boasts he has seen Robert Mang, the
4 million euro Saliera thief, a few days ago
in the prison building.
in Josefstadt prison I am a free man, but I am not.
Shortly -- despite what Dr Schaller has assured me
-- I am escorted before the Fremdenpolizei
for expulsion proceedings. The aforementioned
clique has evidently leapt into action again.
Schaller has already left for Mannheim. I refuse to
sign any documents, on advice, and am then kept
hanging around in the foyer of our cell block until
2:30 pm. I use the time to phone the Press
Association to arrange a press conference in London
at 7 pm this evening, and brother John. This
call to the PA might easily have become another
undoing, as I might still be under Liebetreu's
phone prohibition order; and not allowed to call
I am handed today's mail, thirty more letters;
including one from Rym (my long-lost Tunisian
friend from 1982), and others of great
I also get through eventually to Bente who is
somewhat hostile -- because the press are now
phoning her -- but softens when I mention that (a)
I am bringing cash and (b) Vincent B., a
landscape gardener, has named me in his will; I ask
her to look him up on my supporters'
list. . . Bente says the BBC is reporting
that Judge Liebetreu is livid at the overturning of
his judgment and is searching for ways to detain me
pending a fresh prosecution. Inspector
Hornicek [our cell block chief]
confirms, Liebetreu is refusing the release pending
the arrival of the paper warrant -- it is just a
AT 2:30 pm a very unpleasant period begins;
Hornicek has shown up again and smilingly invites
me to return to my old cell, and locks me back in.
They are all going off duty at usual at this hour.
The whole jailhouse is about to be buttoned down
for the night.
No longer am I here in solitary: My cell home of
the last 400 days has a chain smoking Viennese
thug, mentally unbalanced and already angry about
it. He looks likes another candidate for the rope,
like last week's two "C"-Block unfortunates. I make
diary notes of the day on scraps of paper.
At 4:30 pm however, I am extricated and driven
across Vienna by another squad of happy cops to the
Police Building. There is a perceptibly inflated
evening shift of officers waiting to receive their
notorious prisoner. I am now told I will be held
here for one or two more days pending, uh, things.
Stripped, searched, my dwindling property
registered, all the usual chicanery; but I am
philosophical now -- been there, done that before.
Police driver says thirty more letters have already
arrived today for me. I may not get them now.
He asks, "Who was the beautiful young Hungarian
girl in court?" -- everybody was commenting on her.
Prison-visitor, I tell him; and he makes a mental
note to become a writer too, perhaps. I now weigh
in at 110 kg,, six less than when I was arrested,
and height 186 cm; I would have just made it into
the Leibstandarte but for the weight
perhaps. Locked down again for the night; getting
tired of this.
At 5 pm all my effects are opened and re-boxed.
The rest of the money in the canteen fund will be
brought over from Josefstadt prison tomorrow. At
5:30 I phone Bente to tell her I will not be home
tonight after all, I am back in a jail. "Are you
bringing money?" she asks, as there is none left
there. I tell her I will now hold the press
conference December 22, as I cannot even bank on
being back tomorrow. Clouds are gathering, it
seems. She has not been able to identify B. on my
Then I phone John again. (My phone card is
nearly empty): Call the Marriott to rebook the
conference, I say. He does, says they have no
vacancy for Thursday. I say, no -- Friday.
TV Channel Four, an Ellen Caccachee, is
trying to reach me. After this I phone the Press
Association in London direct, still from the very
obliging Police HQ, and postpone the press
conference to Friday. News Desk asks if I am
looking forward to returning to Blighty. I reply,
"After 400 days in solitary confinement, uh,
The B. letter, which I so nearly missed, is the
modest icing on the cake. The legacy will become
payable in February. How clever of B's executor to
have found me; his letter to our old address in
Hertford Street was returned undeliverable. The
building has been taken over completely by Russian
hookers. High-class, no doubt; even putes de
luxe. Jailers have put a dish with three
Semmeln and three cheese-quarters into the
cell and a pouch of toilet articles. A very filthy
cell, but it has clean sheets; I am tempted to
stand up all night, but I am hungry and exhausted.
I lie down and wait for the glaring ceiling light
to go out.
It stays on all night.
Irving arrest in Vienna (dossier)