For other uses see David Irving (disambiguation).
|Birth Name:||David John Cawdell Irving|
|Birth Date:||1938 3, df=yes|
|Birth Place:||Essex, England|
|Residence:||London, United Kingdom|
|Occupation:||military history author|
|Known For:||Holocaust denial and negationist historical writing|
|Spouse:||Pilar Irving (nee Stuyck), divorced 1981 (1) Bente Hogh (common law relationship) (2)|
|Parents:||John James Cawdell Irving & Beryl Irving|
David John Cawdell Irving (born 24 March 1938) is a British writer specializing in the military history of World War II. His interpretations of the Third Reich have proved highly controversial due to allegations of undue sympathy for the Third Reich and antisemitism, and because of his involvement in the Holocaust denial movement. He is the author of 30 books, including The Destruction of Dresden (1963), Hitler's War (1977), Uprising! (1981), Churchill's War (1987), and Goebbels — Mastermind of the Third Reich (1996).
Irving's reputation as an historian was widely discredited after he brought an unsuccessful libel case against American historian Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books in 1996. During the trial, an English court found that Irving was an "active Holocaust denier," as well as an antisemite and racist, and that he "associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism." The judge also ruled that Irving had "for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence." 
On a visit to Austria, Irving was apprehended, tried and convicted of "glorifying and identifying with the German Nazi Party", which is a crime in Austria under the Verbotsgesetz law. He served a prison sentence from February to December 2006 on the charges.
Irving, along with his twin brother, was born in Hutton, near Brentwood, Essex, England. His father, John James Cawdell Irving, was a commander in the Royal Navy, and his mother, Beryl, an illustrator (Beryl Irene Newington was born at St. Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, on 24 October 1896, the daughter of Captain Charles Newington, formerly of the Indian Army, and his wife Frances (née Dolman)). During the Second World War, Irving's father was an officer aboard the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh. On 2 May 1942, while escorting Convoy QP-11 in the Barents Sea, the ship was sunk by the German U-boat U-456. Irving's father survived, but severed all links with his wife and their children after the incident. Irving described his childhood in an interview with the American writer Ron Rosenbaum as: "Unlike the Americans, we English suffered great deprivations...we went through childhood with no toys. We had no kind of childhood at all. We were living on an island that was crowded with other people's armies". Irving went on to claim to Rosenbaum that his negationist views about World War II dated to his childhood, particularly due to his objections to the way Adolf Hitler was portrayed in the British media during the war. Irving asserted that his "sceptical" views about the Third Reich were due to his doubts to the cartoonist caricature of Hitler and the other Nazi leaders that appeared in the British press during the war.
After completing A-levels at Brentwood School, Irving briefly studied physics (though never graduated, due to financial reasons ) at Imperial College London. He gained notoriety by writing for the student newspaper Phoenix and in 1959 served as editor of the University of London Carnival Committee's journal, Carnival Times. His time as editor was controversial because Irving wrote an article calling Hitler the “greatest unifying force Europe has known since Charlemagne” , though Irving deflected criticism by characterizing the Carnival Times as "satirical". Covering the controversy regarding his editorship of The Carnival Times, Irving was asked by a Daily Mail reporter about his political views. In the 1 May 1959 edition of the Daily Mail, Irving is quoted as having replied: "You can call me a mild fascist if you like. I have just come back from [Francisco Franco's] Madrid...I returned through Germany and visited Hitler's eyrie at Berchtesgaden. I regard it as a shrine." Irving has denounced that article as libellous and the "handiwork of an imaginative Daily Mail journalist". He also stated he was against the formation of what is now the European Union. He later studied for a degree in Political Economy at University College London, which he dropped out of after two years. During his time at university, he seconded British Fascist Sir Oswald Mosley in a debate on Commonwealth immigration. He was heckled.
Sometime after serving in 1959 as editor of the University of London Carnival Committee's journal, Irving left for West Germany, where he worked as a steelworker in a Thyssen steel works in the Ruhr area and learned German. He then moved to Spain, where he worked as a clerk at an air base. During his time in Spain, Irving married his first wife, a Spanish woman with whom he had five children. In 1962, he wrote a series of 37 articles on the Allied bombing campaign, Wie Deutschlands Städte starben (How Germany's Cities Died), for the right-wing German journal Neue Illustrierte. These were the basis of his first book, The Destruction of Dresden (1963), in which he examined the Allied bombing of Dresden in February 1945. By the 1960s, a debate about the morality of the carpet bombing of German cities and civilian population had already begun, especially in the United Kingdom. There was consequently considerable interest in Irving's book, which was illustrated with graphic pictures, and it became an international bestseller.
In the first edition, Irving's estimates for deaths in Dresden were between 100,000 and 250,000 — notably higher than most previously published figures. These figures became authoritative and widely accepted in many standard reference works. In later editions of the book over the next three decades, he gradually adjusted the figure downwards to 50,000-100,000. According to the evidence introduced by Richard J. Evans at the libel trial of Deborah Lipstadt in 2000, Irving based his estimates of the dead of Dresden on the word of one individual who provided no supporting documentation, used forged documents, and described one witness who was a urologist as Dresden's Deputy Chief Medical Officer. The doctor has since complained about being misidentified by Irving, and further, was only reporting rumours about the death toll. Today, casualties at Dresden are estimated as most likely 25,000-35,000 dead, and probably towards the lower end of that range.
By November 1963, Irving was in England when he called the London Metropolitan Police with suspicions he had been the victim of a burglary, perpetrated by three men who had gained access to his Mayfair apartment claiming to be General Post Office (GPO) engineers. Gerry Gable was subsequently arrested and held at Hornsey police station, where on 14 January 1964, along with Manny Carpel and another, Gable admitted breaking in with intent to steal private papers. At the trial, counsel for the defence claimed that this was no ordinary crime, telling the court, "they hoped to find material they could take to Special Branch". The case was reported in the Daily Telegraph, 17 January 1964 and other newspapers. Irving considered this incident important, and in his video 'Ich komme wieder' he describes this as the first indication he had that he was under attack for some reason. Gable was a former member of the British Communist Party, and would later run Searchlight a magazine devoted to anti-fascist activities. In a letter from Gable to London Weekend Television in May 1977, he would later boast of his "top level security service sources".
After the success of the Dresden book, Irving continued writing, including some works of revisionist history. In 1964, he wrote The Mare's Nest, an account of the German secret weapons projects and the Allied intelligence countermeasures against it; translated the Memoirs of Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel in 1965 (edited by Walter Görlitz); and in 1967 published Accident: The Death of General Sikorski. In the latter book, Irving claimed that the plane crash which killed Polish government in exile leader General Władysław Sikorski in 1943 was really an assassination ordered by Winston Churchill, so as to enable Churchill to "betray" Poland to the Soviet Union. Irving's book inspired the highly controversial 1967 play Soldiers by his friend, the German playwright Rolf Hochhuth, where Hochhuth depicts Churchill ordering the “assassination” of General Sikorski. Also in 1967, he published two more works: The Virus House, an account of the German nuclear energy project, and The Destruction of Convoy PQ-17, in which he blamed the British escort group commander, Commander Jack Broome for the catastrophic losses of the Convoy PQ-17. Amid much publicity, Broome sued Irving for libel in October 1968, and in February 1970, after 17 days of deliberation before London's High Court, Broome won. Irving was forced to pay £40,000 in damages, and the book was withdrawn from circulation.
After PQ-17, Irving largely shifted to writing biographies. In 1968, Irving published Breach of Security, an account of German reading of messages to and from the British Embassy in Berlin before 1939 with an introduction by the British historian D.C. Watt. As a result of Irving's success with Dresden, but prior to the conclusion of the Broome trial, members of Germany's extreme right wing assisted him in contacting surviving members of Hitler's inner circle. In an interview with the American journalist Ron Rosenbaum, Irving claimed to have developed sympathies towards them (referring to them as "the Magic Circle"). Many aging former mid- and high-ranked Nazis saw a potential friend in Irving and donated diaries and other material. Irving described his historical work to Rosenbaum as an act of "stone-cleaning" of Hitler, in which he cleared off the "slime" that he felt had been unjustly applied to Hitler's reputation. In 1971, he translated the memoirs of General Reinhard Gehlen, and in 1973 published The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe, a biography of Luftwaffe Marshal Erhard Milch. He spent the remainder of the 1970s working on Hitler's War and the War Path, his two-part biography of Adolf Hitler; The Trail of the Fox, a biography of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel; and a series in the Sunday Express describing the Royal Air Force's famous Dam Busters raid.
In 1975, in his introduction to Hitler und seine Feldherren, the German edition of Hitler's War, Irving attacked the diary of Anne Frank as a forgery, claiming falsely that a New York court had ruled that the diary was really the work of an American scriptwriter Meyer Levin "in collaboration with the girl's father". In fact, Levin had been commissioned by Otto Frank to serve as his American literary agent in 1952, whom Frank had then fired and turned over the literary rights to The Diary of Anne Frank to Kermit Bloomgarden. Bloomgraden produced a successful play version of the diary in 1955, leading Levin to sue over alleged plagiarism of his unproduced theatrical version of The Diary of Anne Frank. In 1959, a court ruled against Levin, leading him to appeal; the case was settled out of court in 1963. Lipstadt argued in 1993 book Denying the Holocaust that those like Irving who claim that Levin was the real author of The Diary of Anne Frank are engaging in a wilful misrepresentation of the facts.
Description of Irving as a historian, rather than a historical author, is controversial, with some publications continuing to refer to him as a "historian" or "disgraced historian," while others insist he is not a historian, and have adopted alternatives such as "author" or "historic writer." The military historian John Keegan has praised Irving for his "extraordinary ability to describe and analyse Hitler's conduct of military operations, which was his main occupation during the Second World War." Donald Cameron Watt, Emeritus Professor of Modern History at the London School of Economics, wrote that he admires some of Irving's work as a historian, though he rejects his conclusions about the Holocaust. At the libel proceedings against Irving, Watt declined Irving's request to testify, appearing only after a subpoena was ordered. He testified that Irving had written a "very, very effective piece of historical scholarship" in the 1960s, which was unrelated to his controversial work; he also suggested that Irving was "not in the top class" of military historians.
In 1977 Irving published Hitler's War, the first of his two-part biography of Adolf Hitler. Hitler’s War had been first published in German as Hitler und seine Feldherren (Hitler and his Field Command) in 1975. In Hitler's War, Irving tried to describe the war from "Hitler's point of view". He portrayed Hitler as a rational, intelligent politician, whose only goal was to increase Germany's prosperity and influence on the continent. For instance, Irving's book faulted the Allied leaders, most notably Winston Churchill, for the eventual escalation of war, and claimed that the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 was a "preventive war" forced on Hitler to avert an alleged impending Soviet attack (supported by some, notably Soviet GRU defector Victor Suvorov, and others; see Icebreaker). Irving commented that in light of the "preventive war" that he felt Hitler was forced to wage, the Kommissarbefehl was merely something that Stalin forced on Hitler. He also claimed that Hitler had no knowledge of the Holocaust; while not denying its occurrence, Irving claimed that Heinrich Himmler and his deputy Reinhard Heydrich were its originators and architects. Irving made much of the lack of any written order from Hitler ordering the Holocaust, and for decades afterward offered to pay £1000 to anyone who could find such an order. In addition, citing the work of such historians as Harry Elmer Barnes, David Hoggan, and Frederick J.P. Veale, Irving argued that Britain was primarily responsible for the outbreak of war in 1939. In a footnote in Hitler’s War, Irving first introduced the thesis later popularized in the 1980s by Ernst Nolte that because Chaim Weizmann wrote a letter to Neville Chamberlain on September 3, 1939 pledging the support of the Jewish Agency to the Allied war effort, that this constituted a “Jewish declaration of war” against Germany, thus justifying German “interment” of European Jews. A major law-suit that arose in 1975 from the German edition of Hitler's War when the firm of Ulstein-Verlag removed the passages from Hitler und seine Feldherren claiming Hitler had no knowledge of the Holocaust without Irving's permission, leading him to sue Ulstein-Verlag over abridging his book .
Reaction to Hitler’s War was polarized. Various historians such as Gitta Sereny, Martin Broszat, Lucy Dawidowicz, Gerard Fleming, Charles W. Sydnor and Eberhard Jäckel wrote either articles or books rebutting what they considered to be erroneous information in Hitler’s War. Sereny writing in the Sunday Times called Irving's work as "closer to theology or mythology" than history while Broszat labeled Irving a "Hitler partisan wearing blinkers". In an article published in the Sunday Times under the title “The £1, 000 Question” on July 10, 1977, Sereny and the journalist Lewis Chester examined Irving’s sources and found significant differences from what Irving published in Hitler’s War. In particular, while interviewing one of Irving’s primary informants, Otto Günsche, the latter stated that “one must assume that he [Hitler] did know” about the Holocaust
While some historians like John Keegan and Hugh Trevor-Roper—though disputing Irving’s claim that Hitler had no knowledge of the Holocaust—praised the book as well-written and well-researched, other historians were more hostile (though Trevor-Roper was strongly critical of Irving's repeating the "stale and exploded libel" about Churchill ordering the "assassination" of General Sikorski ). Keegan wrote that Hitler's War was "Irving's greatest achievement...indispensable to anyone seeking to the understand the war in the round" .
Trevor-Roper's praise was more much circumspect. Trevor-Roper commended Irving's "indefatigable, scholarly industry" and that "I have enjoyed reading his long work from beginning to end", but went to note that the many of the conclusions Irving drew were not supported by the evidence. Trevor-Roper objected to Irving's argument that because one entry from Heinrich Himmler's phone log from the 30th of November 1941 ordering Heydrich to ensure that one train transport of German Jews to Latvia not to be executed on arrival proved that Hitler was opposed to genocide. Trevor-Roper argued that the message concerned only the people abroad about that particular train and was not about all the Jews in Europe . Trevor-Roper noted the contradiction in Irving's argument, based on the assumption that it was Hitler who ordered Himmler to spare the people abroad that train and the claim that Hitler was unaware in the fall of 1941 that the SS were rounding up German and Czech Jews to be sent to be shot in Eastern Europe (the first gassings via gas vans started on December 8, 1941) Trevor-Roper commented about Irving's claim that Hitler was unaware of the mass murders of Jews carried out by the SS while at the same time intervening to save Jewish lives that: "One does not veto an action unless one thinks that it is otherwise likely to occur" . Finally, Trevor-Roper complained about Irving's "consistent bias" for Hitler and that "Mr. Irving's sympathies can hardly be doubted".
The British historian Alan Bullock writing the in The New York Review of Books on May 26 , 1977 dismissed Irving’s depiction of Hitler as a leader too busy with the war to notice the Holocaust as contrary to all of the historical evidence.
John Lukacs in a very unfavourable book review in the 19 August 1977 edition of National Review called Hitler’s War a worthless book while Walter Laqueur when reviewing Hitler’s War in the The New York Times Book Review of 3 April 1977 accused Irving of selective use of the historical record in Hitler's favour. . Laqueur argued that Hitler's War read more like a legal brief written by a defense lawyer who was attempting to exonerate Hitler before the judgement of history, than a historical work. .
Lukacs called Irving an "amateur historian" whose determination to defend Hitler had resulted in an "appalling" book. Lukacs complimented Irving's industry in tracking down hundreds of people who knew Hitler, but went on to note personal recollections are not always the best historical source, and that Irving manufactured battles; for instance, crediting Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner with a victory in April 1945 against the Red Army for the control of Ostrava, a battle which did not, in fact, take place. Lukacs took issue with Irving's language, which he described as conveying moral judgements that were not supported by the facts. Lukacs was very critical of Irving's claims that Poland had planned to invade Germany in 1939 and likewise, that the Soviet Union was on the verge of attacking the Reich in 1941, in both cases justifying German "preventative wars" against those states.
In a review published in the German Studies Review, the American historian Bradley Smith noted that Irving had uncovered some new documents and was correct in arguing against those Germans who sought to place all of the blame for the Holocaust onto Hitler, but went on to note that Irving’s determination to tell World War II from Hitler’s point of view had apparently led him to totally identify himself with Hitler. Smith noted it was often impossible to tell where Hitler’s views ended and where Irving's began.
In an article first published in the Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte journal in 1977, Broszat wrote that: "He [Irving] is too eager to accept authenticity for objectivity, is overly hasty in interpreting superficial diagnoses and often seems insufficiently interested in complex historical interconnections and in structural problems that transcend the mere recording of historical facts, but are essential for their evaluation". Broszat argued that in writing Hitler's War, Irving was too concerned with the "antechamber aspects" of Hitler's headquarters, and accused Irving of distorting historical facts in Hitler's favor. Broszat complained that Irving was focused too much on military events at the expense of the broader political context of the war, and that he had offered false interpretations such as accepting at face value the Nazi claim that the Action T4 "euthanasia" program was launched in September 1939 to free up hospital spaces for wounded German soldiers, when in fact the program was launched in January 1939.
In particular, Broszat criticized Irving's claim that because of one telephone note written by Himmler stating "No liquidation" in regards to a train convey of German Jews passing through Berlin to Riga (whom the SS intended to have all shot upon arrival) on 30 November 1941 that this proved that Hitler did not want to see the Holocaust happen. Broszat argued that this was not proof that Hitler had given any such order to Himmler to stop the killings of Jews, but rather that the comment "No liquidation" referred only to that particular train, and was mostly likely related to concerns about questions American reporters were asking about the fate of German Jews being sent to Eastern Europe. Broszat questioned whatever Hitler had given Himmler any order about the train, given that the phone call Himmler made from the Wolfsschanze to Heydrich in Prague took place at about 11: 30 A.M., and the records show that Hitler did not get up until about 2: 00 P.M on November 30, 1941 .
Likewise, Broszat criticized Irving for accepting the "fantastic" claims of the SS Obergruppenführer Karl Wolff that he did not know about the Holocaust (Irving's argument was that if Wolff did not know about the Holocaust, how could Hitler have known), despite the fact that Wolff was convicted of war crimes in 1963 on the basis of documentary evidence implicating him in the Holocaust. Broszat accused Irving of seeking to generate a highly misleading impression of a conference between Hitler and the Hungarian Regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy in April 1943 by re-arranging the words to make Hitler appear less brutally anti-Semitic then what the original notes showed. Along the same lines, Broszat maintained that the picture of World War Two drawn by Irving was done in a such way to engage in moral equivalence between the actions of the Axis and Allied states, leading to Hitler's "fanatical, destructive will to annihilate" being downgraded to being "...no longer an exceptional phenomenon". The criticism by Broszat was considered to be especially damaging to Irving because Broszat had based his critique largely by examining the same primary sources Irving had used for Hitler's War.
Another equally scathing review was published by the American historian Charles Sydnor who argued that Hitler's War was marred by Irving's efforts to present Hitler in the most favorable light possible. Sydnor commented that Irving wrongly and bizarrely presented SS massacres in Poland in September 1939 as the legitimate response to the British rejection of Hitler's peace offer of October 1939 , and that Irving seemed to imply that Hitler's anti-Semitism was justified by the Anglo-American strategic bombing offensive against German cities. Sydnor noted numerous errors in Hitler's War such as Irving's claim that Andreas Hofer was shot by the French in 1923 for opposing the French occupation of the Ruhr (Irving probably had Albert Leo Schlageter in mind), and that the 1945 film Kolberg, which dealt with the theme of a Prussian fortress besieged by the French in 1806 was set in the Seven Years' War.
Syndor was highly critical of Irving's unreferenced statement that the Jews who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 were well supplied with weapons from Germany's allies. In the same light, concerning Irving's claim that Hitler was ignorant of the Holocaust prior to October 1943, Syndor commented that Hitler had received a SS report in November 1942 which contained a mention of 363,211 Russian Jews executed by the Einsatzgruppen between August-November 1942. Similarly, Syndor charged Irving with misquotation such as having Hitler say on 25 October 1941 "...with the Jews too I've found myself remaining inactive", thereby implying that Hitler wanted to be "inactive" against the Jews for the rest of the war, when the documents show Hitler's remarks to be "Even with regard to the Jews I've found myself remaining inactive", and that Hitler's remark was referring to the past when Hitler was criticizing himself for his past "inactivity" against the Jews.
Likewise, Sydnor argued that Irving's statement that all previous Hitler biographies were compromised by their hostility towards der Führer is not supported by an examination of said biographies. Syndor remarked that Irving's statement that the Einsatzgruppen were in charge in the death camps seems to indicate that he was not familiar with the history of the Holocaust as the Einsatzgruppen were in fact mobile death squads who had nothing to do with the death camps. Moreover, Syndnor noted that Irving falsely claimed that the Einsatzgruppen operating in Poland in 1939 were under the authority of SS General Udo von Woyrsch, when in fact the Einsatzgruppen were divided into two groups, one of which reported to Heydrich and another to Theodor Eicke (General Woyrsch commanded a group reporting to Heydrich).
Continuing on the theme of the Einsatzgruppen, Syndor criticized Irving for his statement that the Babi Yar massacre of September 1941 was the first massacre carried out by the Einsatzgruppen in 1941, when in fact the Einsatzgruppen had been staging massacres of Soviet Jews since the beginning of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941. Syndor charged Irving with offering a false interpretation of Hitler's reaction to Konrad Morgen's report of October 1944 about widespread corruption in the SS as marking Hitler's moral outrage to the Holocaust; Syndor asserted that Hitler's outrage had nothing to do with the murder of the Jews, and everything to do with the revelation of SS corruption. Concerning Irving's claim that General Friedrich Olbricht was engaged in an orgy on the night of 20 July 1944 in reaction to the news of Hitler's apparent assassination, Syndor noted that Irving does not explain how General Olbricht could have been engaged in directing a putsch at the Bendlerblock on the night of 20 July while at the same time engaging in an orgy at his home. Finally, Syndnor argued that Irving's account of the final days of Hitler appeared to comprise little more than a rehashing of Hugh Trevor-Roper's 1947 book, The Last Days of Hitler, only with Hitler as an object of sympathy, rather than scorn.
Dawidowicz in her 1981 book The Holocaust and Historians called Irving an apologist for the Third Reich with minimal scholarly standards. Dawidowicz wrote that she believed that the term revisionist was inappropriate for Irving because revisionism is a legitimate historical method whereas Irving was not entitled to call himself a historian, revisonist or otherwise, and only deserved the label apologist . Dawidowicz maintained that the “No liquation” message in Himmler’s phone log refers not to the German Jews being deported to be shot in Riga, but rather to a Dr. Jekelius, whom Himmler believed to the son of Soviet Foreign Commissar Vyacheslav Molotov, who was also travelling on that train, and whom Himmler wanted arrested, but not executed. Because of the controversy Hitler’s War generated, it was a best-seller in 1977.
Just months after the initial release of Hitler's War, Irving published The Trail of the Fox, a biography of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. In it, Irving attacked the members of the July 20 Plot to assassinate Hitler, branding them "traitors", "cowards", and "manipulators", and uncritically presented Hitler and his government's subsequent revenge against the plotters, of which Rommel was also a victim. Irving painted the men and women involved in the plot in the blackest of colours, and argued that their fate after 20 July was fully deserved. Irving challenged the popular notion that Rommel was one of the leaders of the rebellion: Rommel stayed loyal to Hitler until the end, Irving claimed, and the real blame for his forced suicide lay with his associates, who schemed against him so they could save their own lives and because they were jealous of Rommel's medals. In particular, Irving accused Rommel's friend and Chief of Staff General Hans Speidel of framing Rommel in the attempted coup. One reviewer of The Trail of the Fox noted that Irving celebrated German victories in North Africa with more gusto than one would expect from a British author, and that Irving had an evident dislike for the “criminals” Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, General Ludwig Beck and Carl Friedrich Goerdeler. The British historian David Pryce-Jones in a book review of The Trail of the Fox in the 12 November 1977 edition of The New York Times Book Review accused Irving of mindlessly taking everything Hitler had to say at face value. .
In 1978, Irving released The War Path, the companion volume to Hitler's War which covered events leading up to the war and which was written from a similar point of view. Again, professional historians such as D.C. Watt noted numerous inaccuracies and misrepresentations. Despite the criticism, the book sold well, as did all of Irving's books to that date. The financial success of his books enabled Irving to buy a home in the prestigious Mayfair district of London, own a Rolls-Royce car, and to enjoy a very affluent lifestyle. In addition, Irving, despite being married, became increasing open with his affairs with other women, all of which were detailed in his self-published diary. Irving's affairs were to cause his first marriage to end in divorce in 1981. In 1982, Irving began a common-law relationship with a Danish model, Bente Hogh.
In the 1980s Irving started researching and writing about topics other than Nazi Germany, but with less success. He began his research on his three-part biography of Winston Churchill. In 1981, he published two books. The first was The War Between the Generals, in which Irving offered an account of the Allied High Command on the Western Front in 1944-45, detailing the heated conflicts Irving alleges occurred between the various generals of the various countries and presenting rumours about their private lives. The second book was Uprising!, about the 1956 revolt in Hungary, which Irving characterized as "primarily an anti-Jewish uprising", supposedly because the Communist regime was itself controlled by Jews. Irving’s depiction of Hungary’s Communist regime as a Jewish dictatorship oppressing Gentiles sparked charges of anti-Semitism. In addition, there were complaints that Irving had grossly exaggerated the number of people of Jewish origin in the Communist regime and had ignored the fact that Hungarian Communists who did have a Jewish background like Mátyás Rákosi and Ernő Gerő had totally repudiated Judaism and sometimes expressed anti-Semitic attitudes themselves. Critics such as Neal Ascherson and Kai Bird took issue with some of Irving’s language that seemed to evoke anti-Semitic imagery such as his remark that Rákosi possessed “the tact of a kosher butcher”.
In 1983, Irving played a major role in the Hitler Diaries controversy. Irving had long been an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia, and in October 1982 purchased eight-hundred pages of documents relating to Hitler, only to discover that many of the documents were forgeries. Irving was an early proponent of the argument that the diaries were a forgery, and went so far as to crash the press conference held by Hugh Trevor-Roper at the Hamburg offices of Der Stern magazine on 25 April 1983 to denounce the diaries as a forgery and Trevor-Roper for endorsing the diaries as genuine (Trevor-Roper had called the press conference to announce his withdrawal of his endorsement, arguably rendering Irving's attack on Trevor-Roper irrelevant). Irving's performance at the Der Stern press conference where he violently harangued Trevor-Roper until ejected by security led him to be featured prominently on the news and the next day Irving appeared on Today television show as a featured guest. Irving had concluded that the alleged Hitler diaries were a forgery because the diaries come from the same dealer in Nazi memorabilia that Irving had purchased his collection from in 1982 . At the press conference in Hamburg, Irving announced "I know the collection from which these diaries come. It is an old collection, full of forgeries. I have some here". Irving was proud of the "trail of chaos" he had caused at the Hamburg press conference and the attendant publicity it had brought him, and in particular took a great deal of pride in his humiliation of Trevor-Roper, whom Irving strongly disliked for his criticism of Irving's methods and conclusions. Irving also noted internal inconsistencies in the supposed Hitler diaries such as diary entry for July 20, 1944 which would have been unlikely given that Hitler’s right hand been badly burned by the bomb planted in his headquarters by Colonel Stauffenberg earlier that day.
However, a week later on 2 May, Irving reversed himself and claimed the diaries were genuine; at the same press conference, Irving took the opportunity to promote his translation of the memoirs of Hitler’s physician Dr. Theodor Morell. Robert Harris in his book Selling Hitler suggested that an additional reason for Irving's change of mind over the authenticity of the alleged Hitler diaries was that the fake diaries contain no reference to the Holocaust, thereby buttressing Irving's claim in Hitler's War that Hitler had no knowledge of the Holocaust. Subsequently Irving reversed himself again when the diaries were revealed as a forgery. At a press conference held to withdraw his endorsement of the diaries, Irving proudly claimed that he was the first to call the diaries a forgery, to which a reporter replied that he was also the last to call the diaries genuine . In his later accounts of his role in the Hitler Diaries matter, Irving has always mentioned his role as proponent of the theory that the diaries were fake, while ignoring his change of opinion about their authenticity.
By the mid-1980s, Irving had not had a successful book in years, and was behind schedule in writing the first volume of his Churchill series, the research for which had strained his finances . By the time he finished the manuscript in 1985, his reputation was greatly diminished, so it was not until 1987 that the book was published as Churchill's War, Volume I. In it, Irving writes a revisionist portrayal of Churchill—a debauched alcoholic, a coward, an unabashed racist, and a corrupt warmonger servile to the interests of "international Jewry". Irving also accused Churchill of "selling out the British Empire" and "turning Britain against its natural ally, Germany".
In 1986, Irving was one of the few English language authors to endorse the controversial thesis of the German philosopher Ernst Nolte who, in a 1986 article named Die Vergangenheit, die nicht vergehen will ("The Past That Does Not Want To Go Away"), claimed that because the President of the World Zionist Organization Chaim Weizmann wrote a letter to the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain pledging the full support of his organization to the British war effort on 3 September 1939, that this constituted a “Jewish declaration of war” against Germany, and thus the German government was fully justified in “interning” the Jews of Europe in concentration camps . Nolte in his turn, had received his notion of Weizmann's letter to Chamberlain as a "Jewish declaration of war" from Irving, who had first introduced this theory in Hitler's War. Nolte commented that since Irving had made that point in Hitler's War, he felt that proved that the point was historically valid . Many other historians attacked Nolte’s argument (and those, like Irving, who supported Nolte’s views) as misleading, intentionally or not, and as coming very close to justifying the Holocaust. Nolte in his turn has been a great admirer of Irving and has often cited Irving’s work in his writings.
In 1989, Irving published his biography of Hermann Göring, in which he largely portrayed the Reichsmarschall as an overweight drug addict largely concerned with his own wealth and personal pleasures rather than his duties within the Third Reich. Irving downplayed Göring's role in the Holocaust, describing instead Göring's jovial personality and offering a wealth of lesser-known facts about his life. Irving also recounts various incidents and produces documents as evidence that Göring disapproved of the persecution of Jews and other Nazi crimes.
In 1992, Irving signed a contract with Macmillan for a biography of Joseph Goebbels entitled Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich. Following charges that Irving had selectively "edited" a recently discovered complete edition of Goebbels's diaries in Moscow, Macmillan cancelled the book deal. The decision by Sunday Times (who had brought the rights to serialized extracts from the diaries before Macmillan published them) in July 1992 to hire Irving as a translator of the Goebbels's diary was a controversial one with many historians such as Peter Pulzer arguing that Irving because of his views about the Third Reich was not the best man to do that job. Andrew Neil, the editor of the Sunday Times called Irving "reprehensible", but defended hiring Irving because he was only a "transcribing technician". Pulzer argued that it absurd to describe Irving as a "mere technician" translating the diaries from German into English, asserting that a translator working on a "set of documents others had not seen, you took on the whole man" . During his time in Moscow, Irving was given access to two microfiche plates containing 90 pages of previously unknown pages of Goebbels diaries . Though Irving was only supposed to translate the diaries, he stole the plates, smuggled them out of Russia, and copied them without permission . Concern has been expressed by historians such Deborah Lipstadt that Irving may have destroyed or damaged the plates, thereby depriving of the world of knowledge of what was on those plates .
In 1995, the St. Martin's Press of New York City agreed to publish the Goebbels biography. By this time, Irving's financial state was such that he very much needed this book deal to be completed in order to pay down the massive arrears on his mortgage. In March 1996, following widespread protests over allegations of antisemitism in Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich, St. Martin's cancelled the contract, and left Irving in a situation where he was desperate for both publicity and the need to re-establish his reputation as a historian.
Over the years, Irving's stance on the Holocaust has changed significantly. Until 1988, when he started to espouse Holocaust denial openly, Irving never sought to deny the reality of the Holocaust and for this reason many Holocaust deniers were ambivalent about him. They admired Irving for the pro-Nazi slant in his work and the fact that he possessed a degree of mainstream credibility that they lacked, but were annoyed that he did not openly deny the Holocaust. In 1980, Lucy Dawidowicz noted through Hitler's War was strongly sympathetic to the Third Reich, that because Irving argued that Hitler was unaware of the Holocaust as opposed to the denying the Holocaust, that his book was not part of the "anti-Semitic canon". Typical of the ambiguity felt by them was a letter written in 1984 by the French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson in the Journal of Historical Review, the official journal of the Institute for Historical Review (I.H.R). In an open letter entitled “A Challenge to David Irving”, Faurisson praised Irving as a historian but criticised him for maintaining that the Holocaust had taken place, and challenged him to take up the cause of Holocaust denial. It has been alleged by the Anti-Defamation League that the original draft of Faurisson's open letter was more critical of Irving, but Willis Carto persuaded Faurisson to tone down the criticism, lest it alienate Irving (who had spoken at a conference sponsored by the I.H.R. in September 1983) from the I.H.R. It is not known what Irving’s response to Faurisson’s letter was.
Until 1988, Irving seemed torn between a desire to be taken seriously as a historian and a desire to associate with those he seemed to share an ideological affinity with. In the first edition of Hitler's War, Irving footnotes, "I cannot accept the view… [that] there exists no document signed by Hitler, Himmler or Heydrich speaking of the extermination of the Jews." In 1982, Irving made an attempt to unify all of the various neo-Nazi groups in Britain into one party called Focus, in which he would play a leading role. Irving described himself as a "moderate fascist" who through his leadership of Focus would become the future fascist Prime Minister of Britain. The effort failed due to fiscal problems. One of the main writers for Irving's magazine Focal Point in the 1980s was John Tyndall, the leader of the British National Party. At the time, Irving told the Oxford Mail of having "links at a low level" with the National Front. Irving described Spotlight, the main journal of the Liberty Lobby as "an excellent fortnightly paper." At the same time, Irving put a copy of Hitler's "Prophecy Speech" of 30 January 1939, promising the "annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe" if "Jewish financiers" started another world war, onto his wall.
A major theme of Irving's writings since the 1980s was his belief that it had been a great blunder on the part of Britain to declare war on Germany in 1939, and that ever since then and as a result of that decision, Britain had slipped into an unstoppable decline. Irving also took the view that Rudolf Hess should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his flight to Britain in 1941, and that Hitler often tried to help the Jews of Europe. At an IHR conference in September 1983, Irving proclaimed Hitler to be the "biggest friend the Jews had in the Third Reich". In a June 1992 interview with the Daily Telegraph, Irving stated his belief that "Marriage is a detour" that prevents men from getting ahead in life, and praised Hitler for understanding this. In the same interview, Irving claimed to have heard from Hitler's naval adjutant that the Führer had told him that he could not marry because Germany was "his pride". Irving then claimed to have asked the naval adjutant when Hitler made that remark, and upon hearing that the date was March 24, 1938, Irving stated in response "Herr Admiral, at that moment I was being born". Irving used this alleged incident to argue that there was some sort of mystical connection between him and Hitler.
By the mid-1980s, Irving associated himself with the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review, began giving lectures to groups such as the far-right German Deutsche Volksunion, and publicly denied that the Nazis systematically exterminated Jews in gas chambers during World War II. Irving was a frequent speaker for the DVU in the 1980s and the early 1990s, but the relationship ended in 1993 apparently because of concerns by the DVU that Irving’s espousal of Holocaust Denial might lead to the DVU being banned. He also alleged that parts of The Diary of Anne Frank might have been forged by her surviving father.
In January 1988, Irving travelled to Toronto, Canada to assist Douglas Christie, the defence lawyer for Ernst Zündel at his second trial for denying the Holocaust. Working closely with Robert Faurisson, who was also assisting the defence, Irving contacted Warden Bill Armontrout of the Missouri State Penitentiary who recommended that Irving and Faurisson get into touch with Fred A. Leuchter, a self-proclaimed execution expert living in Boston. Irving and Faurission then flew to Boston to meet with Leuchter, who agreed to lend his alleged technical expertise on the behalf of Zündel's defense. Irving argued that an alleged expert on gassings like Leuchter could prove that the Holocaust was a “myth” After work on the second Zündel trial, Irving declared based on his exposure to Zündel's and Leuchter’s theories that he was now conducting a “one-man intifada” against the idea that there had been a Holocaust. Subsequently, Irving claimed to the American journalist D.D. Guttenplan in a 1999 interview that Zündel had convinced him that the Holocaust had not occurred.
In the 1988 Zündel trial, Irving repeated and defended his claim from Hitler's War that until October 1943 Hitler knew nothing about the actual implementation of the Final Solution. He also expressed his evolving belief that the Final Solution involved "atrocities", not systematic murder:
I don't think there was any overall Reich policy to kill the Jews. If there was, they would have been killed and there would not be now so many millions of survivors. And believe me, I am glad for every survivor that there was.As to what evidence further led Irving to believe that the Holocaust never occurred, he cited the Leuchter report by self-styled execution expert Fred A. Leuchter, which claimed there was no evidence for the existence of homicidal gas chambers at the Auschwitz concentration camp. In Errol Morris' 1999 documentary about Leuchter, Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr., Irving said, "The big point [of the Leuchter report]: there is no significant residue of cyanide in the brickwork. That's what converted me. When I read that in the report in the courtroom in Toronto, I became a hard-core disbeliever." In addition, Irving was influenced to embrace Holocaust denial by the American historian Arno J. Mayer’s 1988 book Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?, which did not deny the Holocaust, but claimed that most of those who died at Auschwitz were killed by disease; Irving saw in Mayer's book an apparent confirmation of Leuchter's and Zündel's theories about no mass murder at Auschwitz.
After the trial, Irving published Leuchter's report as Auschwitz The End of the Line: The Leuchter Report in the United Kingdom in 1989 and wrote its foreword. Leuchter's book had been first published in the United States in 1988 as The Leuchter Report: The End of a Myth: An Engineering Report on the Alleged Execution Gas Chambers at Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdenek. In his foreword to the British edition of Leuchter's book, Irving wrote that "Nobody likes to be swindled, still less where considerable sums of money are involved". The alleged swindle was the reparations money totating 3 billion DM paid by the Federal Republic of Germany to Israel between 1952-1966 for the Holocaust. Irving described the reparations as being "essentially in atonement for the 'gas chambers' of Auschwitz", which Irving called a "myth" that would "not die easily". In his foreword, Irving praised the “scrupulous methods” and “integrity” of Leuchter.
For writing the foreword to Auschwitz The End of the Line, on June 20, 1989 Irving together with Leuchter was condemned in a House of Commons motion as "Hitler's heirs". The motion went on to describe Irving as a "Nazi propagandist and longtime Hitler apologist" and Auschwitz The End of the Line as a "fascist publication".
In a pamphlet Irving published in London on June 23, 1989 Irving made the "epochal announcement" that there was no mass murder via gas chambers at the Auschwitz death camp. Irving labeled the gas chambers at Auschwitz a "hoax", and writing in the third person declared that he "has placed himself [Irving] at the head of a growing band of historians, worldwide, who are no sceptical of the claim that at Auschwitz and other camps were 'factories of death', in which millions of innocent people were systematically gassed to death". Boasting of his role in criticizing the Hitler diaries as a forgery in 1983, Irving wrote "now he [Irving] is saying the same thing about the infamous 'gas chambers' of Auschwitz, Treblinka and Majdanek. They did not exist – ever – except perhaps as the brainchild of Britain's brilliant wartime Psychological Warfare Executive". Finally, Irving claimed "the survivors of Auschwitz are themselves testimony to the absence of an extermination programme". Echoing the criticism of the House of Commons, on May 14, 1990 a leader in The Times described Irving as a "man for whom Hitler is something of a hero and almost everything of an innocent and for whom Auschwitz is a Jewish deception".
In the early 1990s, Irving was a frequent visitor to Germany, where he spoke at neo-Nazi rallies. The chief themes of Irving's German speeches were that the Allies and Axis states were equally culpable for war crimes, that the decision of Neville Chamberlain to declare war on Germany in 1939 had been a great mistake that set Britain on a path of decline, and the Holocaust was just a "propaganda exercise". Irving's self-proclaimed mission was to guide "promising young men" in Germany in the "right direction" (Irving has often stated his belief that women exist for a "certain task", namely reproduction, and should be "subservient to men"; leading as Deborah Lipstadt noted to a lack of interest in guiding young German women in the "right direction"). As a foreigner, Irving was a popular figure with German neo-Nazis, who liked to hear praise and support from abroad.
In January 1990, Irving gave a speech in Moers where he asserted that only 30, 000 people died at Auschwitz between 1940-45, all of natural causes, which was equal – so Irving claimed – to the typical death toll from one Bomber Command raid on German cities. Furthermore, Irving claimed that there were no gas chambers at that death camp. In that speech, Irving averred : "I say the following thing: there were no gas chambers in Auschwitz. There have been only mock-ups built by the Poles in the years after the war". On April 21, 1990 Irving repeated the same speech in Munich, which led to his conviction for Holocaust denial in Munich on July 11, 1991. The court fined Irving DM 7,000. Irving appealed the judgement, and received a fine of DM 10,000 for repeating the same remarks in the courtroom on May 5, 1992. During his appeal in 1992, Irving called upon those present in the Munich courtroom to “fight a battle for the German people and put an end to the blood lie of the Holocaust which has been told against this country for fifty years”. Irving went on to call the Auschwitz death camp a “tourist attraction” whose origins Irving claimed went back to an “ingenious plan” devised by the British Psychological Warfare Executive in 1942 to spread anti-German propaganda that it was the policy of the German state to be “using ‘gas chambers’ to kill millions of Jews and other undesirables”. Following his conviction for Holocaust denial, Irving was banned from visiting Germany. .
Expanding upon his thesis in Hitler's War about the lack of a written Führer order for the Holocaust, Irving argued in the 1990s that the absence of such an order meant that there was no Holocaust. In a speech delivered in Toronto in November 1990 Irving claimed that Holocaust survivors had manufactured memories of their suffering because “there’s money involved and they can get a good compensation cash payment out of it.” During the same 1990 speech in Toronto, Irving claimed that "more people died on the back seat of Senator Edward Kennedy's motor car in Chappaquiddick than died in the gas chamber of Auschwitz". In that speech, Irving used the metaphor of a cruise ship named Holocaust, which Irving claimed had "...luxury wall to wall fitted carpets and a crew of thousands… marine terminals established in now virtually every capital in the world, disguised as Holocaust memorial museums". Irving went on to assert that the "ship" was due for rough sailing because recently the Soviet government had allowed historians access to "the index cards of all the people who passed through the gates of Auschwitz", and claimed that this would lead to "a lot of people [who] are not claiming to be Auschwitz survivors anymore" (Irving's statement about the index cards was incorrect; what the Soviet government had made available in 1990 were the death books of Auschwitz, recording the weekly death tolls). Irving claimed on the basis of what he misleadingly called the index books that, "Because the experts can look at a tattoo and say 'Oh yes, 181, 219 that means you entered Auschwitz in March 1943" and he warned Auschwitz survivors "If you want to go and have a tattoo put on your arm, as a lot of them do, I am afraid to say, and claim subsequently that you were in Auschwitz, you have to make sure a) that it fits in with the month you said you went to Auschwitz and b) it is not a number which anyone used before".
In his 1991 revised edition of Hitler's War he had removed all references to death camps and the Holocaust. In a speech given in Hamburg in 1991, Irving stated that in two years time "...this myth of mass murders of Jews in the death factories of Auschwitz, Majanek and Treblinka...which in fact never took place" will be disproved (Auschwitz, Majdanek, and Treblinka were all well known Vernichtungslager). Two days later, Irving repeated the same speech in Halle before a group of neo-Nazis, and praised Rudolf Hess as "that great German martyr, Rudolf Hess." At another 1991 speech, this time in Canada, Irving called the Holocaust a "hoax", and again predicted that by 1993 the "hoax" would have been "exposed". In that speech, Irving declared, "Gradually the word is getting around Germany. Two years from now too, the German historians will accept that we are right. They will accept that for fifty years they have believed a lie". During that speech, Irving expressed his contempt and hatred for Holocaust survivors by proclaiming that:
”Ridicule alone isn’t enough, you’ve got to be tasteless about it. You’ve got to say things like “More women died on the back seat of Edward Kennedy’s car at Chappaquiddick than in the gas chambers at Auschwitz.” Now you think that’s tasteless, what about this? I’m forming an association especially dedicated to all these liars, the ones who try and kid people that they were in these concentration camps, it’s called the Auschwitz Survivors, Survivors of the Holocaust and other liars, A-S-S-H-O-L-E-S. Can’t get more tasteless than that, but you’ve got to be tasteless because these people deserve our contempt.”
In November 1992, Irving was to be a featured speaker at the world "anti-Zionist" congress in Stockholm that was cancelled shortly before beginning by the Swedish government. Also scheduled to attend the "anti-Zionist" conference were Robert Faurisson, Louis Farrakhan, Fred A. Leuchter together with representatives of the anti-Semitic Sunni Islamic group Hamas, the anti-Semitic Shiite Islamic Hezbollah, and the Russian anti-Semitic group Pamyat. In a 1994 speech, Irving lamented that his predictions of 1991 had failed to occur, and complained of the persistence of belief in the "rotting corpse" of the "profitable legend" of the Holocaust.
In October 2007 Irving threatened to sue The Jewish Chronicle for describing him as a "Holocaust denier". The Jewish Chronicle responded by printing their solicitor's name and address on its front page.
Irving has expressed racist and antisemitic sentiments, both publicly and privately. Irving has often expressed his belief in the theory of a sinister Jewish conspiracy ruling the world, and that the belief in the reality of Holocaust was manufactured as part of the same alleged conspiracy. Irving uses the label "traditional enemies of the truth" to describe Jews, and in a 1963 article about a speech by Sir Oswald Mosley wrote that "Yellow Star did not make a showing" . In 1992, Irving stated that "...the Jews are very foolish not abandon the gas chamber theory while they still have time" and claimed he "foresees a new wave of antisemitism" the world over due to Jewish "exploitation of the Holocaust myth" . During an interview with the American writer Ron Rosenbaum, Irving stated his belief that Jews were his "traditional enemy".
Several of these racist statements were cited by the judge's decision in Irving's lawsuit against Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt. For instance, in his diary entry for 17 September 1994, Irving wrote about a ditty he composed for his young daughter "when halfbreed children are wheeled past":
I am a Baby Aryan
Not Jewish or Sectarian
I have no plans to marry an
Ape or Rastafarian.
Christopher Hitchens writes that after having dinner in his New York apartment, Irving sang the rhyme to his daughter once they were alone in the building's elevator. In one interview cited in the lawsuit, Irving also stated that he would be "willing to put [his] signature" to the "fact" that "a great deal of control over the world is exercised by Jews".
And from a speech in 1992, given to the Clarendon Club:
I am not anti-coloured, take it from me; nothing pleases me more than when I arrive at an airport, or a station, or a seaport, and I see a coloured family there—the black father, the black wife and the black children... When I see these families arriving at the airport I am happy, and when I see them leaving at London airport I am happy.
But if there is one thing that gets up my nose, I must admit, it is this—the way... the thing is when I am down in Torquay and I switch on my television and I see one of them reading our news to us. It is our news and they’re reading it to me. If I was a chauvinist I would say I object even to seeing women reading our news to us...
But now we have women reading our news to us.
If they could perhaps have their own news which they were reading to us, I suppose, it would be very interesting.
For the time being, for a transitional period I'd be prepared to accept that the BBC should have a dinner-jacketed gentleman reading the important news to us, following by a lady reading all the less important news, followed by Trevor McDonald giving us all the latest news about the muggings and the drug busts...
In 2007, The Guardian reported that Irving said, "The Jews are the architects of their own misfortune, but that is the short version A–Z. Between A–Z there are then 24 other characters in intervening steps".
In November 1994, Irving had his first encounter with Deborah Lipstadt at DeKalb College in Atlanta, where Lipstadt was lecturing on Holocaust denial. Irving stormed into the lecture hall, did his best to disrupt Lipstadt's lecture by challenging her to a debate, waved about a large amount of money in his hands, and announced he had $1,000 to give right here and now to the first person who could find a written order from Hitler for the Holocaust. Lipstadt ignored Irving, despite his repeated attempts to draw her into a debate. After Lipstadt's lecture had ended, Irving announced that Lipstadt's refusal to debate him or produce a written order from Hitler for the Holocaust despite his promise to pay $1,000 on the spot proved that her criticism of him in Denying the Holocaust was invalid, and he proceeded to hand out free copies of his Göring biography to Lipstadt's students.
On September 5, 1996, Irving filed a libel suit against Lipstadt and her British publisher Penguin Books for publishing a British edition of Lipstadt's book, Denying the Holocaust, which had first been published in the United States in 1993. At the same time, Irving also sued Gitta Sereny for libel for an article she had written about him entitled "Spin Time for Hitler" in The Observer newspaper on April 21, 1996. As of 2008, the claim has yet to be heard in a court. In letters of October 25 and October 28, 1997 Irving threatened to sue John Lukacs for libel if he published his book, The Hitler of History without removing certain passages highly critical of Irving's work. The American edition of The Hitler of History was published in 1997 with the alleged libelous passages included, but because of Irving's legal threats, no British edition of The Hitler of History was published until 2001. As a result of the threat of legal action by Irving, when the British edition of The Hitler of History was finally published in 2001 the passages containing the criticism of Irving’s historical methods were expunged by the publisher.  Although Irving in his letter of October 25, 1997 informed Lukacs's American publisher that he considered The Hitler of History to be libelous, he did not see fit to cross the Atlantic to launch a libel suit in the United States, perhaps because American libel law does not favor the claimant the same way British libel law does and perhaps he already had two libel suites in his hands.
In her book, Denying the Holocaust, Lipstadt called Irving a Holocaust denier, falsifier, and bigot, and said that he manipulated and distorted real documents. Irving claimed to have been libeled under the grounds that Lipstadt had called him a Holocaust denier when in his opinion there was no Holocaust to deny as well as suggestions that Irving had falsified evidence or deliberately misinterpreted it. Though the author was American, Irving filed his suit in the English High Court, where the burden of proof in libel cases is on the defendant, unlike the U.S. where the burden is on the plaintiff. He was able to file the lawsuit in the UK because the book was published there (before 1996, if Irving had wished to sue Lipstadt, he would had to launch his legal action in an American court; British libel law applies only to alleged acts of libel committed in Britain). As explained by the trial judge, Mr Justice Gray:
4.7 ... the burden of proving the defence of justification rests upon the publishers. Defamatory words are presumed under English law to be untrue. It is not incumbent on defendants to prove the truth of every detail of the defamatory words published: what has to be proved is the substantial truth of the defamatory imputations published about the claimant. As it is sometimes expressed, what must be proved is the truth of the sting of the defamatory charges made.Irving approached Penguin and offered to drop them from his lawsuit if they would pull the book from publication in the UK, deny all of Lipstadt's conclusions and make a charitable donation in the name of Irving's daughter (who is disabled); he made clear he would not settle the lawsuit with Professor Lipstadt if Penguin settled with him. The publisher rejected his terms and the case went to trial.
Lipstadt and Penguin hired the British solicitor Anthony Julius to present her case and they briefed the libel barrister, Richard Rampton QC. They also retained Professor Richard J. Evans, historian and Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University, as an expert witness. Also working as an assistant expert witnesses was the American Holocaust historian Christopher Browning, the German historian Peter Longerich and the Dutch architectural expert Robert Jan van Pelt. Van Pelt wrote a report attesting to the fact that the death camps were designed, built and used for the purpose of mass killing while Browning testified for the reality of the Holocaust. Longerich testified about Irving's links to neo-Nazi groups in Britain, the United States, France, Australia, Germany and Austria.
Evans and his two assistants spent more than two years examining Irving's work, while gathering evidence to support the claim that Irving had misrepresented evidence to support his prejudices. Evans suggested that in his view, Irving had knowingly used forged documents as sources, and that for this reason, Irving could not be regarded as a historian. Evans' report was the most comprehensive, in-depth examination of Irving's work:
"Not one of [Irving's] books, speeches or articles, not one paragraph, not one sentence in any of them, can be taken on trust as an accurate representation of its historical subject. All of them are completely worthless as history, because Irving cannot be trusted anywhere, in any of them, to give a reliable account of what he is talking or writing about. ... if we mean by historian someone who is concerned to discover the truth about the past, and to give as accurate a representation of it as possible, then Irving is not a historian".Evans later described in 2001 to the Canadian columnist Robert Fulford his impression of Irving after being cross-examined by him as: "He [Irving] was a bit like a dim student who didn't listen. If he didn't get the answer he wanted, he just repeated the question."
Longerich testified to the meaning of the often euphemistic language used by German officials during the war regarding the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question”, and argued that from 1941 onwards, the term “resettlement in the East” was a metaphor for deportation to the death camps. During his exchanges with Irving, Longerich insisted quite firmly that the term “resettlement” was only a euphemism for extermination and nothing more, and used the Posen speech given by Himmler in October 1943 as a proof of the genocidal policy of the German state. Irving by contrast argued for a literal interpretation of the phrase “resettlement in the East”.
During his testimony and a cross-examination by Irving, Browning countered Irving’s suggestion that the last chapter of the Holocaust has yet to be written (implying there were grounds for doubting the reality of the Holocaust) by replying: "We are still discovering things about the Roman Empire. There is no last chapter in history." Browning countered Irving’s argument that the lack of a written Führer order proves the alleged non-occurrence of the Holocaust by arguing that although no such order was ever written down, Hitler had almost certainly made statements to his leading subordinates indicating his wishes in regards to the Jews of Europe during the war, thus rendering the need for a written order irrelevant. Browning testified that several leading experts on Nazi Germany believe that there was no written Führer order for the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question”, but no historian doubts the reality of the Holocaust. Browning went on to assert that Irving was attempting to falsely equate doubts about the existence of a written Führer order with doubts about the Holocaust. Browning used to support his thesis the example of Hitler’s secret speech to his Gauleiters on December 12, 1941, in which Hitler strongly alluded to genocide as the “Final Solution”. Browning testified that the Madagascar Plan of 1940-41 was "fantastic" and "bizarre", but countered Irving's suggestion that this proves the alleged impossibility of the Holocaust by stating: "...I do think they took it seriously. It is fantastic, but of course, Auschwitz is fantastic, too". Browning testified that the Madagascar Plan was not "Hitler's pipe dream" as Irving claimed, and that:
"I would not call it a pipe dream, because I think, if England had surrendered, they would have tried to do it. They would have to tried to implement it just as they tried to implement the Lublin reservation plan [Browning was referring to the [[Nisko Plan]] here] and just as they tried and succeeded in implementing the death camp plans"Browning categorically rejected Irving’s claim that there was no reliable statistical information on the size of the pre-war Jewish population in Europe or on the killing processes, and argued that the only reason historians debate whether five or six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust is due to a lack of access to archives in the former Soviet Union. Likewise, Browning argued that it is possible to become soaked in human blood after shooting people at close range based on his research for his 1992 book Ordinary Men, and dismissed Irving’s argument that accounts of German personnel being soaked in blood were improbable because it is not possible to have a blood splattered uniform after shooting people at close range. Browning responded to Irving's claim that because Browning had done work for the Yad Vashem center in Jerusalem that made him an "Israeli agent" and thereby compromised his scholarly abilities by stating:
"If that was the case, then since I had been at the [US} Holocaust Museum, I would also have been an agent of the American government, and since I have received scholarships in Germany, I would be an agent of the German government, so I must be a very duplicitous fellow to be able to follow these regimes"</blockquote> Irving seemed anxious for Browning’s approval, and Browning later recalled that Irving behaved like the two of them were on "a joint journey of exploration and discovery."<ref name="robertfulford.com"/><ref name="Guttenplan, D.D. page 210"/> ===Claimant=== In the trial, Irving represented himself. He called the American [[Kevin B. MacDonald]], an evolutionary psychologist, to testify on his behalf. Irving also subpoenaed the diplomatic historian D.C. Watt and the military historian John Keegan to testify in his case against Lipstadt; both men had refused an earlier offer to testify for Irving on their own and appeared to be very reluctant on the stand. Rather than focus on the defence's evidence against him, or on whether or not Lipstadt had defamed him, Irving seemed to focus mainly on his "right to free speech". In his closing statement, Irving claimed to have been a victim of an international, mostly Jewish, conspiracy for more than three decades. At one point on 15 March 2000, during the course of Irving's closing argument, he referred to the Judge as 'Mein Führer' (page 193 of the transcript).
RulingIrving has for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence; that for the same reasons he has portrayed Hitler in an unwarrantedly favourable light, principally in relation to his attitude towards and responsibility for the treatment of the Jews; that he is an active Holocaust denier; that he is anti-Semitic and racist, and that he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism.
Irving lost subsequent attempts at appeal, the appeal finally being rejected by Lord Justice Sedley.
Not only did Irving lose the case, but in light of the evidence presented at the trial a number of his works that had previously escaped serious scrutiny were brought to public attention. He was also liable to pay all of the substantial costs of the trial, which ruined him financially and subsequently forced him into bankruptcy in 2002.
Criticism by historians
Irving was once highly regarded for his expert knowledge of German military archives. Much of his scholarship was disputed by historians to the point that his standing as a historian was challenged from his earliest publications. Contentious in large part for advancing interpretations of the war considered favourable to the German side and for association with far-right groups that advanced these views, by 1988 he began advocating the view that the Holocaust did not take place as a systematic and deliberate genocide, and quickly grew to be one of the most prominent advocates of Holocaust denial, costing him what scholarly reputation he had outside those circles.
Reaction to Irving's work (1960-1970s)
In a review of 1977, the British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper wrote that "no praise can be too high for his [Irving's] indefatigable, scholarly industry". Trevor-Roper followed up his praise by expressing severe doubts about Irving's methodology. Trevor-Roper argued that :"He [Irving] seizes on a small, but dubious particle of 'evidence'; builds upon it, by private interpretation, a large general conclusion; and then overlooks or re-interprets the more substantial evidence and probability against it. Since this defective method is invariably used to excuse Hitler or the Nazis and to damage their opponents, we may reasonably speak of a consistent bias, unconsciously distorting the evidence". Finally, Trevor-Roper commented: "When a historian relies mainly on primary sources, which we can not easily check, he challenges our confidence and forces us to ask critical questions. How reliable is his historical method? How sound is his judgment? We ask these questions particularly of a man like Mr. Irving, makes a virtue of-almost a profession-of using arcane sources to affront established opinions". Trevor-Roper ended by writing "He may read his manuscript diaries correctly. But we can never be quite sure, and when he is at most original, we likely to be least sure".
The British historian A. J. P. Taylor called Irving in 1978 a author of "unrivaled industry' and "good scholarship" regarding research in the archives. However, Taylor criticized Irving’s double standard with historical judgements, using as an example Irving’s claim that the lack of a written Führer order proves that Hitler did not know about the Holocaust while at the same time claiming that the lack of a written order “proved” that Churchill ordered the “murder” of General Sikorski (In Accident, Irving claimed that there was a written order for Sikorski's "murder", but that Churchill had it destoyed). The British historian Paul Addison in 1979 described Irving as a "colossus of research", but criticized him for his view of "Churchill as wicked as Hitler" and "a schoolboy in judgment". In a book review published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on June 18, 1979, the German historian Andreas Hillgruber for the most part offered a highly unfavorable judgment of Irving’s work. Despite his criticism, Hillgruber ended his review with the comment that Irving’s work “amounts to an indubitable and in no way small merit of Irving”.
Reactions to Irving (1980s-1990s)
In a review of Irving's 1988 book Churchill's War, David Cannadine criticised Irving's "double standard on evidence", accusing Irving of "demanding absolute documentary proof to convict the Germans (as when he sought to show that Hitler was not responsible for the Holocaust), while relying on circumstantial evidence to condemn the British (as in his account of the Allied bombing of Dresden)."
Writing in 1989 about Irving’s Göring biography, the German-Canadian historian Peter Hoffmann declared:“Mr. Irving’s constant references to archives, diaries and letters, and the overwhelming amount of detail in his work, suggest objectivity. In fact they put a screen behind which a very different agenda is transacted…Mr. Irving is a great obfuscator…Distortions affect every important aspect of this book to the point of obfuscation…It is unfortunate that Mr Irving wastes his extraordinary talents as a researcher and writer on trivializing the greatest crimes in German history, on manipulating historical sources and on highlighting the theatrics of the Nazi era”Hoffman went to write that though Irving had at one time played a useful role in the historical profession by making outrageous assertions that at least had the benefit of inspiring historians to undertake research to rebut him, the time for that had now passed, and that Irving was simply irrelevant to the study of the Third Reich.
In a feuilleton published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on October 18, 1989 the German historian Rainer Zitelmann praised Irving for having “struck a nerve” with his provocative style and aggressive assertions. Zitelmann found much to be praised about Irving’s claim that the lack of a written Führer order for the Holocaust suggests that Hitler was unaware of the Holocaust, and argued that if that was true, then historians should stop holding the Holocaust against Hitler. Zitelmann ended his article with the claim that “Irving must not be ignored. He has weaknesses [but he is] one of the best knowers of sources…[and has] contributed much to research”. The British historian John Charmley commented that "Irving's sources, unlike the conclusions which he draws from them, are usually sound" and that Irving "has been unjustly ignored".
Prominent British historian Sir John Keegan wrote in 1996 in his book The Battle for History, "Some controversies are entirely bogus, like David Irving's contention that Hitler's subordinates kept from him the facts of the Final Solution, the extermination of the Jews..." In an 20 April 1996 review in The Daily Telegraph of Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich, Keegan wrote that Irving "knows more than anyone alive about the German side of the Second World War", and claimed that Hitler's War was "indispensable to anyone seeking to understand the war in the round".
During the libel trial of 2000, Keegan—who had been subpoenaed by Irving to appear as a witness—lambasted Irving by saying: "I continue to think it perverse of you to propose that Hitler could not have known until as late as October 1943 what was going on with the Jewish people" and, when asked if it was perverse to say that Hitler did not know about the Final Solution, answered "that it defies common sense". In an article in The Daily Telegraph of 12 April 2000, Keegan spoke of his experience of the trial, writing that Irving had an "all-consuming knowledge of a vast body of material" and exhibited "many of the qualities of the most creative historians", that his skill as an archivist could not be contested, and that he was "certainly never dull". However, according to Keegan, "like many who seek to shock, he may not really believe what he says and probably feels astounded when taken seriously".
In the 1990s, Irving featured on his web-site a translation of a letter by the prominent German historian Hans Mommsen, praising Irving's skill as a researcher. Mommsen, who had written the letter in 1977, unsuccessfully attempted to have it removed, but did succeed in forcing Irving to feature a second letter from him written in 1998 in which Mommsen completely disavowed his 1977 letter.
In a six-page essay in The New York Review of Books published on September 19, 1996 the American historian Gordon A. Craig, a leading scholar of German history at Stanford University, noted Irving's claims that the Holocaust never took place and that Auschwitz was merely "a labor camp with an unfortunately high death rate". Though "such obtuse and quickly discredited views" may be "offensive to large numbers of people", Craig argued that Irving's work is "the best study we have of the German side of the Second World War" and that "we dare not" disregard his views. Craig called Irving a "useful irritant”; a devil's advocate historian who promoted what Craig considered to be a twisted and wrong-headed view of history, with a great deal of élan, but his advocacy of these views forced historians to make a fruitful epistemological examination about the current state of knowledge about the Third Reich.
The Hungarian-American historian John Lukacs in his 1997 book The Hitler of History has labeled Irving an apologist for Hitler who consistently mishandled historical evidence in Hitler’s favor. Lukacs maintains that over the years, Irving’s treatment of Hitler has gone from a barely concealed admiration to a Great Man treatment of Hitler. Lukacs argues that Irving's picture of Hitler is defective because of his tendency to confuse asserting that Hitler was a great warlord as being the same thing as proving Hitler was a military genius, which leads to a total neglect of the crucial question of why Hitler took particular decisions at particular times. Lukacs condemned Irving as a historical writer for his “twisting” of evidence (i.e. labeling Adolf Eichmann’s statement before an Israeli court in 1961 that he heard from Himmler that Hitler had given a verbal order for the Holocaust as mere “hearsay”). Lukacs described Irving in the 1997 American edition of The Hitler of History as the most influential of Hitler’s apologists, and found it “regrettable” that many professional historians cite Irving as a source. Lukacs called Irving’s historical opinions objectionable and inexcusable, and complained that too many of Irving’s opinions were supported by footnotes that referred either to sources that did not exist or said something different from what Irving wrote. Some of the examples Lukacs cited in support of his claim was Irving’s contemptuous statement mocking the Polish cavalry for charging German tanks (a legend discredited even in the 1970s when Irving wrote Hitler’s War), asserting with no source that Hitler refused a lavish banquet prepared for him in Warsaw in 1939 out of the desire to eat the same rations as the ordinary German soldier, for crediting a statement again with no source to Hitler in August 1940 that he would let Churchill live in peace after defeating Britain, for falsely claiming Operation Typhoon, the German drive onto Moscow in 1941 was forced on him by his General Staff, and for putting his own words in a speech of Hitler in September 1943 implying Churchill was a decadent homosexual (not something that was in Hitler’s speech). Lukacs asserted too many of the crucial statements by Irving in Hitler’s War such as his claim that Hitler foresaw Operation Uranus, the Soviet counter-offensive at the Battle of Stalingrad or his claim that the Hungarian leader Major Ferenc Szálasi wanted to fight to the bitter end in 1944-45 (when he wished for a German-Soviet compromise peace) were completely dishonest and untrue statements supported by references to non-existent documents.
Many have considered Irving’s historical arguments to be very convoluted. An example occurred in the above-mentioned interview with the American writer Ron Rosenbaum, when Rosenbaum questioned Irving about a memoir that had come into Irving's possession that was alleged to have been written by Adolf Eichmann in the 1950s. The precise authenticity of the Eichmann Memoirs is in doubt, but parts of the book, according to the German Federal Archives, appeared to be genuine (through the book was apparently the result of an interview between Eichmann and an Argentine journalist in the 1950s). Irving had received the alleged memoir during a visit to Argentina in December 1991, when it was presented to him after he had spoken at a neo-Nazi rally and was quite proud of his find. In The Eichmann Memoirs, Eichmann claimed to have heard from Himmler that Hitler had given a verbal order authorizing the Holocaust, thereby contradicting Irving's claim in Hitler’s War that Hitler was unaware of the Holocaust. Irving's response to the claim that Hitler ordered the Holocaust in The Eichmann Memoirs was to claim that Eichmann wrote his memoirs in 1956 at the time of the Suez War, and was fearful that Cairo, Egypt might fall to Israel. Irving's reasoning is that if Cairo was taken by the Israeli Defence Forces, then the Israelis might discover the "rat-line", as undercover smuggling networks for Nazis were known, that had allowed Eichmann to escape to Argentina, and that therefore Eichmann had written his memoirs as a potential defence in the event of being captured by the Israelis. In this way, Irving argued that The Eichmann Memoirs were genuine but that the claim that Hitler ordered the Holocaust was false – made only to reduce Eichmann's responsibility for the Holocaust. Also in the same interview, Irving claimed wanting acceptance as a scholar by other historians and bemoaned having to associate with what he called the lunatic fringe anti-Semitic groups; he claimed he would disassociate himself from these groups full of "cracked" people as soon as he was accepted by the historians' community. Rosenbaum sarcastically wrote in his 1998 book Explaining Hitler that if Irving wanted to considered a historian, he was going about it in a rather strange way by denying the Holocaust at neo-Nazi rallies..
Persona non grata
After Irving denied the Holocaust in two 1989 speeches given in Austria, the Austrian government issued an arrest warrant against him and barred him from entering the country. This case came up again in 2005 when Irving was arrested and brought to trial (see next section). In early 1992 a German court found him guilty of Holocaust denial under the Auschwitzlüge section of the law against Volksverhetzung (a failed appeal by Irving would see the fine rise from 10,000 DM to 30,000 DM), and he was subsequently barred from entering Germany. Other governments followed suit, including Austria, Italy and Canada, where he was arrested in November 1992 and deported back to the United Kingdom. In an administrative hearing surrounding those events, he was found by the hearing office to have engaged in a "total fabrication" in telling a story of an exit from and return to Canada which would, for technical reasons, have made the original deportation order invalid. He was also barred from entering Australia in 1992, a ban he made four unsuccessful legal attempts to overturn.
On 27 April 1993 Irving was ordered to attend court to be examined on charges relating to the Loi Gayssot in France. The law, however, does not permit extradition and Irving simply refused to travel to France.
Then, in February 1994, Irving spent ten days of a three month sentence in London's Pentonville prison for contempt of court following a legal wrangling over publishing rights. Irving's legal troubles continued as a Mannheim court indicted him for defaming the dead; because of this action, he would be fined 20,000 DM in mid-1997.
Early in September 2004, Michael Cullen, the deputy prime minister of New Zealand, announced that Irving would not be permitted to visit the country, where he had been invited by the National Press Club to give a series of lectures under the heading "The Problems of Writing about World War II in a Free Society". The National Press Club defended its invitation of Irving, saying that it amounted not to an endorsement of his views, but rather an opportunity to question him. The intended visit provoked an outcry among Jewish groups, who were not appeased by Irving's promise not to speak about the Holocaust.
Irving had visited New Zealand twice before in the 1980s. His intended 2004 visit was refused on the grounds that he had been convicted of offences by a German court, and that at various times had been deported from, and/or refused entry to, Canada, the United States, Italy, and South Africa. "Mr. Irving is not permitted to enter New Zealand under the Immigration Act because people who have been deported from another country are refused entry", government spokeswoman Katherine O'Sullivan had told The Press earlier. Irving rejected the ban and attempted to board a Qantas flight for New Zealand from Los Angeles on 17 September 2004. He was not allowed on board. "As far as I'm concerned, the legal battle now begins", he was quoted as saying.
Arrest and imprisonment in Austria
On 11 November 2005, the Austrian police in the southern state of Styria, acting under a 1989 warrant, arrested Irving. Four days later, he was charged by state prosecutors with the speech crime of "trivialising the Holocaust". His application for bail was denied on the grounds that he would flee or repeat the offence. He remained in jail awaiting trial. On 20 February 2006 Irving pleaded guilty to the charge of "trivialising, grossly playing down and denying the Holocaust".
Before Irving's sentencing hearing, he stated through his lawyer that he had changed his views and his ways. At the trial, Judge Liebtreu quoted numerous statements of Irving's, including "there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz" and "it makes no sense to transport people from Amsterdam, Vienna and Brussels 500 kilometres to Auschwitz simply to liquidate them when it can be more easily done 8 km from the city where they live". Irving informed Judge Liebtreu that he "regretted the formulation".
Towards the end of the hearing, Irving again publicly recanted, saying that "I've changed my views. I spoke then about Auschwitz and gas chambers based on my knowledge at the time, but by 1991 when I came across the Eichmann papers, I wasn't saying that any more and I wouldn't say that now. The Nazis did murder millions of Jews. ..I made a mistake by saying there were no gas chambers, I am absolutely without doubt that the Holocaust took place. I apologise to those few I might have offended though I remain very proud of the 30 books I have written." However, Irving continued to insist that Hitler knew nothing of the death camps, and that "The figure of six million killed Jews is just a symbolic number".
In an uncompromising summary, Michael Klackl, the prosecuting attorney, stated:David Irving only uses words, but these words are used by right-wing extremists to give them an ideological position. Mr Irving might have said he has changed his views, but that has all been a show for you. Theatrical exhibition to save himself from the maximum sentence. He has played a role for you today. The thread of anti-Semitism runs through him.
The judge, Peter Liebtreu, summarized:He showed no signs that he attempted to change his views after the arrest warrant was issued 16 years ago in Austria.... He served as an example for the right wing for decades. He is comparable to a prostitute who hasn't changed her ways.... Irving is a falsifier of history and anything but a proper historian. In the world of David Irving there were no gas chambers and no plan to murder the Jews. He's continued to deny the fact that the Holocaust was genocide orchestrated from the highest ranks of the Nazi state.
At the end of the one-day hearing, Irving was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in accordance with the Austrian Federal Law on the prohibition of National Socialist activities (officially Verbotsgesetz, "Prohibition Statute") for having denied the existence of gas chambers in National Socialist concentration camps in several lectures held in Austria in 1989. Irving sat motionless as Liebtreu asked Irving if he had understood the sentence, to which Irving replied "I'm not sure I do" before being bundled out of the court by Austrian police. Later, Irving declared himself shocked by the severity of the sentence. He reportedly had already purchased a plane ticket home to London, believing the court would "not be stupid enough" to lock him up.
After the sentencing, Liebtreu told the audience that "The court did not consider the defendant to have genuinely changed his mind. The regret he showed was considered to be mere lip service to the law".
On 28 February, Irving once again questioned the Holocaust, asking "Given the ruthless efficiency of the Germans, if there was an extermination programme to kill all the Jews, how come so many survived?" He claimed that the number of people gassed in Auschwitz was relatively small, and that his earlier claims that there had been no gassing at all had been a "methodological error". According to Irving, "You could say that millions died, but not at Auschwitz". Within hours, the Austrian government reacted by barring Irving from further communication with the media.
Time in prison
Irving stated that he would use time spent in prison to write his memoirs, entitled Irving's War.
Deborah Lipstadt, upon hearing of Irving's sentence to three years' imprisonment, said, "I am not happy when censorship wins, and I don't believe in winning battles via censorship... The way of fighting Holocaust deniers is with history and with truth".
Concerning the Austrian 'Prohibition Statute,' the Austrian Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs insisted that it conforms with international law and international human rights standards, and that it is not contrary to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950, that being a statute "...necessary in a democratic society (inter alia)... for the prevention of disorder or crime,... [and]... for the protection of the rights of others". Should Irving have wished to determine whether the Austrian authorities were correct on this point and not an excessive and illegal intrusion on the right of freedom of expression, he would have had to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
Both Irving, hoping to have the verdict overturned, and the Austrian prosecutor, calling for a longer sentence, served appeals on 22 April 2006. The Austrian Supreme Court considered Irving's appeal but ultimately ruled against him in September 2006.  The appeal over the length of sentence was heard and concluded on 20 December. The court replaced two-thirds of Irving's jail sentence with probation. Since he had already served the balance of his sentence in jail, he was released from prison.   Upon Irving's arrival in the UK he reaffirmed his position, stating that he felt "no need any longer to show remorse" for his Holocaust views. On 21 December 2006, Irving was technically "expelled" from Austria; he was banned from ever returning to the country again.
His imprisonment caused some controversy and has been criticized on the grounds of free speech issues. The German historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler supported Irving’s imprisonment under the grounds that “The denial of such an unimaginable murder of millions, one third of whom were children under the age of 14, cannot simply be accepted as something protected by the freedom of speech”. By contrast Deborah Lipstadt argued that Irving should not be imprisoned for expressing views that she finds odious and wrong. Others have stated that "nothing could be more fatal to our rights to speak and to write than for us to deny others the right to deny our dearest beliefs". Opponents of Irving’s imprisonment argue that free speech should be applied to everyone regardless of their viewpoints and that it is a slippery slope to imprison someone due to the lack of factual accuracy or unpopularity of their opinions. It has also been argued that by imprisoning Irving the Austrian courts made a martyr out of Irving and did more damage than good, and that it would have been better to simply "let him go home and let him continue talking to six people in a basement," and "let him fade into obscurity where he belongs".
Irving appeared in Hungary in 2007, where on 15 March he took part in and gave a speech for a far-right nationalist rally.
On 18 May 2007, he was expelled from the 52nd Warsaw International Book Fair in Poland because books he brought there were deemed by the organizers as promoting Nazism and antisemitism, which is in violation of Polish law.
Irving and BNP leader Nick Griffin were invited to speak at a forum on free speech at the Oxford Union on 26 November 2007, along with Anne Atkins and Evan Harris. The debate took place after Oxford Union members voted in favour of it, but was disrupted by protesters.
Snubbed by Norwegian arts festival
In October 2008 a controversy erupted in Norway over David Irving's invitation to The Norwegian Festival of Literature taking place between 26 - 31 May 2009 in Lillehammer. The festival is the largest literature festival in the Nordic countries. Several of the country's most distinguished authors protested the invitation. (see article on Festival for details)
In a matter of days after the controversy had started, the invitation was withdrawn. This led author Stig Sæterbakken, who had invited Irving, to resign from his position as director of program content for the festival in protest of the decision. The head of the festival, Randi Skeie, deplored what had taken place, stating "Everything is fine as long as everyone agrees, but things get more difficult when one doesn't like the views being put forward."
Involvement in Williamson Controversy
As Bishop Richard Williamson came under pressure from the Vatican to retract his statements denying the Holocaust as genocide and support revisions, he contacted Irving for guidance. Irving advised Williamson to admit to "mass killings" at Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzec from the spring of 1942 to October 1943. Irving further argued that the issue had been played up to distract public attention from Israel's actions against Hamas in Gaza and the resulting loss of civilian Palestinian life. Irving indicated that, "There is much dispute over numbers and methods of killing,” but he “should not dispute that there were such killings."
- The Destruction of Dresden (1963) ISBN 0-7057-0030-5
- The Mare's Nest (1964)
- The Virus House (1967)
- The Destruction of Convoy PQ17 (1967)
- Accident — The Death of General Sikorski (1967) ISBN 0-7183-0420-9
- Breach of Security (1968) ISBN 0-7183-0101-3
- The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe (1973), a biography of Erhard Milch ISBN 0-316-43238-5
- Hitler's War (1977)
- The Trail of the Fox (1977), a biography of Erwin Rommel ISBN 0-525-22200-6
- The War Path (1978) ISBN 0-670-74971-0
- The War Between the Generals (1981)
- Uprising! (1981), ISBN 0-949667-91-9
- The Secret Diaries of Hitler’s Doctor (1983) ISBN 0-02-558250-X
- The German Atomic Bomb: The History of Nuclear Research in Nazi Germany (1983) ISBN 0-306-80198-1
- Der Morgenthau Plan 1944-45 (in German only) (1986)
- War Between the Generals (1986) ISBN 0-86553-069-6
- Hess, the Missing Years (1987) Macmillan, ISBN 0-333-45179-1
- Churchill's War (1987) ISBN 0-947117-56-3
- Destruction of Convoy PQ-17 (1968), reprint (1989) ISBN 0-312-91152-1
- Göring (1989), biography of Hermann Göring ISBN 0-688-06606-2
- Das Reich hört mit (in German only) (1989)
- Hitler's War (1991), revised edition, incorporating The War Path
- Apocalypse 1945, The Destruction of Dresden, updated and revised edition, (1995)
- Der unbekannte Dr. Goebbels (in German only) (1995)
- Goebbels — Mastermind of the Third Reich (1996) ISBN 1-872197-13-2
- Nuremberg: The Last Battle (1996) ISBN 1-872197-16-7
- Churchill's War Volume II: Triumph in Adversity (1997) ISBN 1-872197-15-9
- Rommel: The Trail of the Fox, Wordsworth Military Library; Limited edition (1999) ISBN 1-84022-205-0
- Hitler's War and the War Path (2002) ISBN 1-872197-10-8
- The Memoirs of Field-Marshal Keitel (1965)
- The Memoirs of General Gehlen (1972)
- The Night the Dams Burst (1973)
- Von Guernica bis Vietnam (in German only) (1982)
- Die deutsche Ostgrenze (in German only) (1990)
Collected articles in German
- Und Deutschlands Städte starben nicht (1963)
- Nürnberg: Die letzte Schlacht (1979)
- Wie krank war Hitler wirklich? (1980)
- Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory by Deborah E. Lipstadt, New York: Free Press; Toronto: Maxwell Macmillan Canada; New York; Oxford: Maxwell Macmillan International, 1993, ISBN 0-02-919235-8.
- "The Devil in the Details" by Gordon A. Craig pages 8-14 from New York Review of Books, 19 September 1996
- Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial by Richard J. Evans, New York: Basic Books, 2001, ISBN 0-465-02152-2: The author was a major expert witness at the trial, and this book presents both his view of the trial, and much of his expert witness report, including his research on the Dresden death count.
- The Holocaust on Trial by D. D. Guttenplan, New York: Norton, 2001, ISBN 0-393-02044-4.
- David Irving's Hitler: a faulty history dissected, two essays by Eberhard Jäckel; translation and comments by H. David Kirk; with a foreword by Robert Fulford, Port Angeles, Wash. : Ben-Simon Publications, 1993. ISBN 0-914539-08-6
- The Case for Auschwitz: Evidence from the Irving Trial by Robert Jan Van Pelt, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-253-34016-0: Van Pelt was another expert witness at the trial, focussing on Auschwitz.
- Selling Hitler: The Story Of The Hitler Diaries by Robert Harris, London: Faber and Faber, 1986 ISBN 0-571-14726-7.
- “Hitler’s Ghost” by Christopher Hitchens pages 72-74 from Vanity Fair, June 1996.
- Denying History: Who Says Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It by Michael Shermer & Alex Grobman; foreword by Arthur Hertzberg, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000, ISBN 0-520-21612-1.
- “Two Alibies for the Inhumanities: A. R. Butz, "The Hoax of the Twentieth Century" and David Irving, "Hitler's War"” by Bradley Smith pages 327-335 from German Studies Review, Volume 1, Issue # 3. October 1978.
- The Hitler of History by John Lukacs, New York: A. A. Knopf, 1997, ISBN 0-679-44649-4.
- History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving by Deborah E. Lipstadt, New York: Ecco, 2005, ISBN 0-06-059376-8.
- "David Irving: The Big Oops" pages 221-236 from Explaining Hitler: the search for the origins of his evil by Ron Rosenbaum New York: Random House, 1998. ISBN 0-679-43151-9
- "Hitler and the Genesis of the 'Final Solution': An Assessment of David Irving's Theses" pages 73-125 from Yad Vashem Studies by Martin Broszat, Volume 13, 1979; reprinted pages 390-429 in Aspects of the Third Reich edited by H.W. Koch, London: Macmillan, 1985, ISBN 0-333-35272-6; originally published as "Hitler und die Genesis der "Endlösung". Aus Anlaß der Thesen von David Irving", pages 739-775 from Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Volume 25, 1977.
- "The Selling of Adolf Hitler: David Irving's Hitler's War" pages 169-99 from Central European History by Charles W. Sydnor, Jr, Issue # 2, Volume 12, June 1979.
- "David Irving and the 1956 Revolution" by András Mink pages 117-128 from Hungarian Quarterly, Volume 41, Issue #160, 2000.
- Felix Müller - Das Verbotsgesetz im Spannungsverhältnis zur Meinungsfreiheit. Eine verfassungsrechtliche Untersuchung; Verlag Österreich, 2005, 238 Seiten, br., ISBN 3-7046-4685-7
- Schiedel, Heribert. Irving sitzt in Österreich in Jungle World, 23 November 2005. ISSN 1613-0766
- Historical revisionism
- Freedom of speech
- Holocaust denial
- Faurisson affair
- Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (documentary by Errol Morris)
- David Irving's web site
- David Irving Archive from codoh.com
- Collection of Irving materials from nizkor.org
- Collection of Irving materials from holocaust-history.org
- David Irving file (from the Anti-Defamation League)
- Guilty of Falsifying History Ann Tusa review of Irving's Nurenburg: The last Battle"
- From Revisionism to Holocaust Denial - David Irving as a Case Study by Roni Stauber
- David Irving & Revisionism
- "The World According to David Irving" by Gerald Posner, The Sunday Observer (London), 19 March 2000
- David Irving The Libel Trial Re-examined by Robert Fulford
- Holocaust Denial in England
- Irving Awaits Trial in Jail (25 November 2005)
- Nazi historian Irving finds his books in Austrian jail library 2 December 2005
- "This Wicked Man Hitler" Dawidowicz on David Irving by Lucy Dawidowicz
- Holocaust denier: 3-year jail term
- Felix Mueller - The Nazi Prohibition Act in Relation to Freedom of Speech - Legal Background to the Irving Trial in Austria - February/March 2006
- 'Irving? Let the guy go home' by Deborah Lipstadt
- David Irving and Holocaust Denial by Robert Fulford
- David Irving Jailed In Austria by J.R. Dunn
- "Springtime for Hitler—and the History Channel" - about the History Channel hiring Irving as historian for a documentary about World War II, by Mark Greif in The American Prospect, (6 November 1999)
- "Pity for this Man is Out of Place" by Hans-Ulrich Wehler
- David Irving: 'Hitler appointed me his biographer' 17 January 2009 The Independent news article
Irving v. Penguin Books Limited and Deborah E. Lipstadt trial
- Judgement by the Hon. Mr. Justice Gray in Irving v. Penguin Books Limited, Deborah E. Lipstadt  EWHC QB 115 (11 April 2000), published as The Irving Judgment by Penguin, ISBN 0-14-029899-1
- David Irving vs Penguin & Deborah Lipstadt Trial - a collection of materials at Irving's web site
- Holocaust Denial on Trial by Emory University
- Expert Witness Report by Richard J. Evans Complete text of Professor Evans' lengthy report on Irving's work in a number of areas
- The Irving-Lipstadt case, special report from the Guardian newspaper
- International Herald Tribune Article