Holocaust denier David Irving is reportedly dead.
Some were surprised to hear that he was dead. Because, really, David Irving had been dead inside for a long time.
He claimed to be a historian, but he wasn’t one. He had no training as a historian. Early in his career he wrote books about historical events, and enjoyed some success at that.
But, about 30 years ago, Irving started to pilot alone through some dark waters. And in particular, he started to deny the Holocaust.
He said there was no proof.
Despite the fact that the Holocaust was – and is – the most well-documented mass murder in human history, Irving became a denier. He wanted proof.
He said that those who survived the Holocaust were “liars.” He said there was no “Reich policy to kill the Jews.” He said “there is only one salvation for Germany, and that is Hitler.”
One evening in March 1989, while I was a reporter at the Ottawa Citizen, I learned that Irving – who called himself “a moderate fascist” – was scheduled to give a speech at Canada’s most storied hotel, the Château Laurier. I contacted I the hotel’s management, to ask if they were aware that Irving was a Holocaust denier and a promoter of Nazism – and would they cancel his event, as they occasionally cancelled other controversial events.
The hotel’s management said they wouldn’t. In fact, they gave every impression that they didn’t care.
So, on that night, “moderate fascist” David Irving came to Ottawa. There he stood, beaming, beneath the glittering chandeliers at the posh old local hotel. Talking about the need for “proof” of the death of six million Jews.
He was dressed in a tailored suit and protected by about a dozen neo-Nazi skinheads. Irving stood before his audience and said there was no proof, and declared himself a “hardcore disbeliever” in the gas chambers used to exterminate Jews at Auschwitz.
On that night in March 1989, more than 300 people were in the Chateau Laurier’s ballroom. They weren’t worried about being spotted there. In fact, Irving’s event was sold out. Dozens were turned away.
Hia audience was mainly comprised of older white men and women from the Ottawa area. Many stood and applauded his hateful words about the gas chambers, and virtually every bigoted word he uttered along the way. They wanted proof, too.
The neo-Nazi skinheads slouched at the ballroom’s doors, and handed out copies of a self-published magazine. It called for “death to race mixers,” contained tributes to Adolf Hitler, and called for “race revolution.”
It was an astonishing scene: hundreds of people paying to listen to a notorious Holocaust denier – and knowing in advance that the media would be there to document their presence. They don’t care. They came anyway.
And they weren’t nobodies.
There was an Ottawa school trustee, a former ranking diplomat, a Department of Justice lawyer, dozens of public servants, and plenty of school teachers. All of them were there, notwithstanding the risk of media exposure, to hear their St. George, the one whose best-selling books would slay the twin-headed dragon of International Jewry and Communism.
They gave him ovation after ovation. Irving beamed.
Seven months following that wildly successful visit to Ottawa, David Irving flew to Austria and spoke to some banned neo-Nazi groups. In Vienna and Leoben, Irving stated that “the gas chambers in Auschwitz never existed.”
Later on, when not sharing stages with former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke or one-time American Nazi Party leader William Pierce, Irving would call survivors of the Auschwitz death camp “assholes,” and claim that “more women were killed in the back seat of Edward Kennedy’s car in Chappaquiddick than in the gas chambers at Auschwitz.”
Then, he made a big mistake. When renowned Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt accurateky characterized some of Irving’s views in her writing, he sued for libel. This writer – full disclosure – was a witness for Lipstadt. But in the end, she didn’t need me. She destroyed David Irving in court, and his reputation and career never recovered.
And now, he’s said to be dead. Now, the “moderate fascist” David Irving is gone, and Hell is a little bit more crowded as a result.
So, really, there’s only one thing left to be said about the reported death of this Holocaust denier.
We want proof.