Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Holocaust denier jailed for 3 years

A very silly man but he shouldn't be in jail One of the big stories right now concerns British 'historian' David Irving who has been found guilty in Vienna of denying the Holocaust of European Jewry and who has been sentenced to three years in prison.

He had pleaded guilty to the charge, based on a speech and interview he gave in Austria in 1989.

"I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," he told the court in the Austrian capital.

Irving appeared stunned by the sentence, and told reporters: "I'm very shocked and I'm going to appeal."

Irving's lawyer said he considered the verdict "a little too stringent".

"I would say it's a bit of a message trial," said Elmar Kresbach.

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the UK's Holocaust Educational Trust welcomed the verdict. "Holocaust denial is anti-Semitism dressed up as intellectual debate. It should be regarded as such and treated as such," Ms Pollock told the BBC News website.

But the author and academic Deborah Lipstadt, who Irving unsuccessfully sued for libel in the UK in 2000 over claims that he was a Holocaust denier, said she was dismayed.

"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," she told the BBC News website.

In the past, Irving had claimed that Adolf Hitler knew little, if anything, about the Holocaust, and that the gas chambers were a hoax.

The judge in his 2000 libel trial declared him "an active Holocaust denier... anti-Semitic and racist".

On Monday, before the trial began, he told reporters: "I'm not a Holocaust denier. Obviously, I've changed my views.

"History is a constantly growing tree - the more you know, the more documents become available, the more you learn, and I have learned a lot since 1989."

Irving added that it was "ridiculous" that he was being tried for expressing an opinion.

"Of course it's a question of freedom of speech... I think within 12 months this law will have vanished from the Austrian statute book," he said.

I happened to watch Newsnight on BBC last night which covered this issue in alot of detail. It is clear that Irving is playing dumb as he was in fact heavily involved with neo-Nazi types for many years and wasn't so much a historian as a Nazi propagandist.

Despite all this though, I have to agree with Deborah Lipstadt. Censorship was the only winner in this case.

In my opinion, even though the views Irving expressed are disgusting and completely untrue, he shouldn't have been locked up for expressing them. He should be entitled to say what he likes even if what he says is totally inaccurate.

From what I heard on the BBC, apparently Britain considered making it illegal to deny the Holocaust in 1997 but the idea was defeated. I think that's sensible and the same situation applies here in the Irish Republic as far as I know.

This is a difficult issue without a doubt and apparently it has caused alot of controversy in Austria but my own take on it is that Mr Irving should not have been made a martyr for his foolish views when more educated people could have quite easily rubbished his nonsense.

What are your thoughts?


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

© 2008 United Irelander.