Why I ... feel entirely vindicated by the outcome of David Irving's libel case

April 14, 2000

This week David Irving lost his libel action against Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher Penguin Books. He had sued over claims in Lipstadt's book, Denying the Holocaust, that he was a "Hitler partisan" who denied the existence of the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

I feel vindicated because not only did the judge find that everything of substance that I wrote in my book was correct and that David Irving is a Hitler partisan, a Nazi apologist, a Holocaust denier and a falsifier of history through his manipulation and distortion of historical records, but because he went on to call him an anti-Semite and racist.

The judge was far stronger in his judgment than I was in my book because he had more material on which to base his opinion and that is as a result of David Irving bringing the libel case. I was grabbed into the arena against my will. I did not want to be there, but once Irving confronted me and tried to pull my book from circulation I had to fight back. But it was Irving's (libel) action that got us access to his records and files. We were able to find out much more about him than I ever knew before and that was reflected in the judgment. I was surprised by the degree to which the judge was willing to throw traditional British judicial restraints to the wind and speak so forcefully and unequivocally.

I think winning the case will do a lot of good because it has exploded Holocaust denial for the fraud that it is and has shown the intimate connection between Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism and racism.

We may not have won the entire war - you never win the war against hate - so, of course, it will not stop people who are prejudiced and motivated by a commitment to distort and rewrite history. They will always have some followers. But many others will now realise what such people are about.

I do not believe the verdict will have a major impact on the way we write about the Holocaust because the trial was not about the history of the Holocaust; it was about whether David Irving was a legitimate historian.

Good historians will go on reporting, discussing, analysing and exploring the Holocaust in a perfectly proper way and this will not make them any more circumspect. What it has done is to nullify - not forever but for the near future - an extremist group that paraded as historians, confused historical records and played with the work of legitimate historians. Their voices will now be diminished and this will make the writing of real history much easier.

* Interview by Anne Sebba Should the ruling on this week's case be taught as part of history degree courses in British universities? Email us on soapbox@thes.co.uk

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