A British author considered to be among the most prominent Holocaust deniers in the world is scheduled to speak in Kalispell May 4, and in Billings two days later.
Tickets are available on the website of David Irving to an event at a private location in Kalispell where he will give a speech titled, “The Life and Death of Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s lieutenant. 44 years in 44 minutes,” followed by a question-and-answer session. Those who purchase a $15-ticket will have the event’s location emailed to them, according to the site for his company, Focal Point Publications.
Irving’s Montana stops are part of a wide-ranging tour through the West and Midwest. Before arriving in the Flathead, Irving is scheduled to speak in Seattle and Spokane. After his May 6 speech in Billings, he heads to Bismarck and Fargo, N.D.
Though Irving’s initial military history books on World War II, published during the 1960s and 1970s, were highly regarded by fellow historians, over ensuing decades his work grew increasingly anti-Semitic and sympathetic to the Third Reich.
Presently, Irving is perhaps best known for the libel case he lost in 2000 in British Court against Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt, who described Irving as a Holocaust denier, a bigot, and charged that he manipulated historical documents in her book, “Denying the Holocaust.” According to accounts of the case, Irving sued Lipstadt and her publisher Penguin Books, for libeling him, on the grounds that since there was no Holocaust, he could not be a denier of it.
The result was a trial where the key issues were essentially whether the Holocaust – a term which refers to the genocide of 6 million Jews by the Nazis during World War II – actually occurred, and the accuracy of Irving’s books based on that conflict, in some of which he characterizes Adolf Hitler as largely unaware of the systematic killings.
In his April 2000 ruling, High Court Judge Charles Gray described Irving as a Holocaust denier and anti-Semite.
“Irving has made claims that the Jews deserve to be disliked; that they brought the Holocaust on themselves,” Gray wrote, according to excerpts from his ruling published in the Guardian newspaper. “The content of his speeches and interviews often displays a distinctly pro-Nazi and anti-Jewish bias. He makes surprising and often unfounded assertions about the Nazi regime which tend to exonerate the Nazis for the appalling atrocities which they inflicted on the Jews. He is content to mix with neo-fascists and appears to share many of their racist and anti-Semitic prejudices.”
“The charges which I have found to be substantially true include the charges that Irving has for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence,” Gray also wrote, “that for the same reasons he has portrayed Hitler in an unwarrantedly favorable 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.”
In 2004, Irving was banned from entering New Zealand for a speaking engagement, according to his Wikipedia entry. He was arrested in Austria in 2005, where Holocaust denial is a crime. After his release from prison in 2006, Irving was banned from ever reentering Austria.
In recent years, several of Irving’s speeches have been disrupted by protesters and descended into violence. At one of his speaking events in Florida in Oct. 2009, a stabbing occurred between two men in rival skinhead groups. A Nov. 2009 appearance by Irving at a restaurant outside Chicago was broken up my masked protesters, resulting in injuries to several in attendance.
Already, several websites dedicated to confronting neo-Nazis have posted Irving’s tour schedule, urging readers to disrupt his events. A posting on the website of a group calling itself the Anti-Racist Action Network says Irving’s speaking events, “must be met with organized militant resistance and shut down everywhere he attempts to make an appearance.”
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