General Antisemitism

Should Holocaust denier David Irving be barred from Auschwitz?

This is cross posted from the blog, Jhate

Should Holocaust denier David Irving be permitted to conduct a “tour” of Auschwitz with a group of “revisionist” supporters, as he intends?  As of now, the Auschwitz Museum (which controls the site) appears to be saying that Irving will not be stopped from entering the grounds, but that the museum staff will be “closely watching” his visit.  ”If his speech will have signs of Holocaust denial, we will take appropriate action,” said museum spokesman Bartosz Bartyzel.  ”We cannot allow for statements that defame the memory of the victims.”

I agree that to the extent that it is possible to do so, Irving should be prevented from making a public and highly offensive spectacle of himself at Auschwitz.  And I understand that the Auschwitz Museum — an institution that administers and protects what is essentially the largest Jewish cemetery in history — would be exercised first and foremost by its mission to sustain and venerate the memory of the dead.  But on a tactical level, I think that Irving should probably not be allowed onto the grounds at all.  And defaming the memory of the dead should not be the principle that guides our reaction to Irving’s latest quest for publicity.

Tactics first. Posit that every step Irving takes on Auschwitz grounds is a desecration of the memory of the dead, and every moment his visit is followed by a news crew is a triumph for Holocaust denial.  So let’s cut the spectacle short.  Bar him from entering.  He will strike a dramatic pose at the gates, mutter something about the “traditional enemies of free speech” and the “global vendetta” against him and, unless he is even crazier than I think he is, he will then turn around and leave.  End of story.  The Auschwitz Museum will have done its job of protecting the memory of the dead, Irving will get his latest ten minutes of fame, and (sigh) the whole sorry state of affairs will be repeated at Treblinka.

What is the alternative? To let Irving enter the grounds at the head of his merry band of Holocaust deniers, trailing camera crews, no doubt, with museum staff hovering to monitor his every word? What will they do when he says something objectionable? Enter into a debate with him? Forcibly eject him from the grounds? Either response prolongs the agony, gives Irving even greater media attention, and transforms the image of the museum from that of a noble custodian of the site’s sanctity and into a petty enforcer of historical orthodoxy and a censor of free speech.  In this case, the high road is to just stop the whole thing from starting.

But I think there is a larger issue here: The big problem with Irving’s visit to Auschwitz is not merely that he will defame the memory of the dead, desecrate the grounds, or hurt and offend Holocaust survivors, their children, and all who fought to oppose the Nazis. (Yes, I realize how bizarre that last sentence sounds.)  The problem is that Irving — and Holocaust denial in general — disseminates a malicious narrative about World War II and its aftermath that inflames anti-Jewish sentiment around the world and actually resurrects many of the anti-Semitic tropes that led to the Holocaust in the first place.

Holocaust denial is an immense anti-Jewish conspiracy theory.  It posits that somehow, amid the chaos and destruction of World War II, opportunistic Jews decided to profit from the whole affair by creating a myth of some phony genocide. It then further posits that those Jews, by dint of their power to influence/control the media, Hollywood, academia, and world governments, successfully imposed this hoax on virtually the entire world. I have written more about this elsewhere, and one day I’ll do an extensive post showing in their own words how individual deniers make this claim. But for now let me just point out that these beliefs — the myth of the world Jewish conspiracy and the widespread belief that Jews cannot be trusted; that Jews lie and cheat to advance their own interests; that they pull the strings behind political and social movements that are antithetical to the interests of the non-Jewish population around them — all these are the same beliefs that attained widespread acceptance in the years leading up to Hitler’s “solution” to this problem.

I grant that this is not 1939, and that no Western government is now on the brink of implementing legislation that penalizes or discriminates against Jews based on this set of beliefs.  But I think it’s fair to say that European Jews are in a more precarious situation now than they have been in decades.  Anti-Semitic beliefs are at disturbing levels, street violence against Jews is up, and in the name of anti-Zionism, Jews are being demonized, often with these very same stereotypes.  I think it’s also fair to say that these stereotypes about Jews and/or Zionists are already well-entrenched in Arab and Muslim societies. The dual loyalty charge, which is also a component of the Holocaust denier’s conspiracy theory, has also been resurrected and more openly promoted than it has in decades, especially in the United States.

Irving’s publicity, and any opportunity he has to hold forth on how Zionists and/or Jews have spun their web of deceit over the world, confirms and reinforces these pernicious stereotypes in the minds of all those susceptible to its influence. His pronouncements subtly — maybe even not so subtly — undermine the security and wellbeing of Jews everywhere.

It would be best if Irving had no platform at all. But we already know that the media will be following this closely. So again: Whether your concern is for the honor of dead Jews or (what appears to me more important) the safety and security of living ones, let’s cut this tour short. Irving should not be allowed into Auschwitz.

38 replies »

  1. HairShirt……….why?

    Out of interest.

    I had a debate with myself and thought he shouldn’t. Why would he want to see something he denies?

  2. What is the matter with us? How come this wretch is allowed to pollute the memory of the dead of Auschwitz at all, regardless of how closely he might be watched?

    But, silly me, I forgot! We are living in an age where black is white and lies have become accepted and acceptable truths and permission has been given by a Jewish mayor for Islamist supporters to build a triumphalist mosque within walking distance of the scene of the worst terror attack ever committed in the name of Islam! All these being the case why should not this egregious thief of truth parade himself at the scene of the greatest mass slaughter of innocents in living memory!

    Perhaps the Messiah is coming. As Rabbi Lewis said, “Er kumt” – the beast has awoken and is upon us.

  3. Shirl, why would he want to visit Auschwitz?

    A publicity stunt for his latest attempt to deny the infamy perpetrated there?

    Or have I missed his sincere atonement for the hatred he has supported and fed?

    Why should this piece of excrement be given the chance to get publicity at all for his hate-filled views and bed in the holocaust minimisation and denial which is rampant in the Arab world?

    What precisely entitles him to the chance to do that?

    SilveTrees, well said.

  4. SilverTrees

    AMEN !!!!

    With you all the way. We are too bloody PC (excuse the language)

    I just don’t get why he would want to visit Auschwitz .

    My son-in-law’s parents are both Holocaust survivors from Auschwitz, I think they’d be more than upset if they knew this

  5. Shirl, his balloon burst here after the Lipstadt case which he brought and lost. It bankrupted him.

  6. He should be permitted to tour w/absolute restrictions, No camera’s no journalists, no cell phones, no electronic equipment of any type whatsoever, no pencil no paper. He should be allowed to carry nothing with him, anything found other than his ID(maybe we tatoo his arm with a number?) should be confiscated. With no audience, there is no show……odds on he would suddenly lose interest.

  7. Like someone above suggested tattoo the bastard.With a Star Of David on his forehead.And a number underneath.

  8. Why should he want to visit a place that memorialises something that doesn’t exist according to him?

  9. The man is irrelevant; due process through the UK legal system has bankrupted him once already.
    A full report (from the maligned Guardian!) is here:-

    The evident facts of the enormity of the crimes perpetrated in the holocaust will in no way be diminished if Irving makes a fool of himself once more.

  10. Over here in Austria he was convicted and locked up but unfortunately they forgot to lose the keys to his cell and let him out again. But only after he retracted his views, we can see that he meant it cant we.

  11. Richard Tebboth

    The evident facts of the enormity of the crimes perpetrated in the holocaust will in no way be diminished if Irving makes a fool of himself once more.

    Maybe you should say this to Ahmanidejad, to the other millions of Muslims who are brainwashed with the “anti-Zionist” propaganda (that the Holocaust didn’t happen – that the Zionists helped the Nazis to implement it) and to European and US leftist and neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers.

    FYI everyone who compares Gaza to Auschwitz and to the Warsaw Ghetto is a full fledged card-carrying Holocaust denier too.

  12. Peter how right you are

    To be quite honest it’s a wonder no one has tried to bump him off.

    When you think about people like Geert Wilders and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who live in fear for their lives, and scum like Irving are free to roam………. it makes me quite ill

  13. Alan, that visit to Austria was appalling. He went there knowing there was an arrest warrant for him – and what publicity that arrest brought him. But at least after all his crying in his cell we heard very little of him.

    Until now.

  14. I’m not an expert on Polish law, but I imagine the museum checked with their attorneys the moment Irving made his plans public.

    I suspect that Polish law does not allow the government to bar Irving entry to Auschwitz (or Poland)– this does not change the moral reprehensiblity of his actions and aims: it’s simply that Polish laws regarding Holocaust denial cannot be invoked until he actually denies the Holocaust while on Polish soil.

    That said, his past behavior has given him grounds to closely monitor him on his tour.

  15. I doubt that Poland doesn’t have a law that can ban undesiraables from entering the country.

    Mind you, you have all that EU nonsense there..don’t you? They probably can’t

    He was banned from coming to Australia

  16. A London local paper:

    In a quick look at what’s being said by Irving’s supporters – by no means all British – or at least those who don’t oppose him: he isn’t denying the Holocaust. He is arguing for debate on the number of victims!

    That may circumvent Holocaust denial laws in countries that have them. But in essence, when Yad Vashem has more than 3.5 million named victims and there are still 16 miles of archive to go, the numbers “debate” is still an attempt at denial in spite of the tons of evidence any researcher can find.

  17. “…unfortunately they forgot to lose the keys to his cell and let him out again. But only after he retracted his views, …”

    Another al-taqiyya merchant! No wonder Nazis and Islamists had such close ties in WW2.

    What precisely did he “retract”, Alan? Can you post a link here?

  18. Despicable beast. Should not be admitted into Poland nor permitted anywhere near the massive gravesite of our loved ones, known to us or not known to us. They are fellow Jews, tortured and massacred. I am a Jew who happens to believe that “Never again” also means “Never Forget.” And, by extension, “Never forget the truth of what happened here.” No monsters allowed at our cemetery.

  19. I love free speech as much as the next person. But, when someone’s (Irving) irresponsible free speech could lead our progeny to commit the same genocide that we despise now, something has to give.

    Captured German war records prove that millions of innocent Jews (and tens of thousands of others) were systematically exterminated by Nazi Germany – mostly in gas chambers. These facts have been proven repeatedly through countless thesis and dissertation research papers. Virtually every PhD in the world will stake their career on these known Holocaust FACTS. Despite this knowledge, Holocaust deniers ply their mendacious poison everywhere, especially with young people on the Internet. The deniers have only one agenda – to distort the truth in a way that promotes antagonism against the object of their hatred (Jews), or to deny the culpability of their ancestors and heroes.

    Museums and mandatory public education are appropriate tools to dispel bigotry, especially racial and ethnic hatred. Books and films can also establish the veracity of genocides, such as recent Holocaust films. They help to tell the true story of the perpetrators of genocide; and they reveal the abject terror, humiliation and degradation resulting from such blind loathing and prejudice. We must disclose the cruelty and horror of genocide to combat the deniers’ virulent and inaccurate historical revision. By doing this, we protect vulnerable future generations from making the same mistakes.

    Whenever we stand up to those who deny or minimize genocide we send a critical message to the world. As we continue to live in an age of genocide and ethnic cleansing, we must repel the broken ethics of our ancestors, or risk a dreadful repeat of past transgressions. A world that continues to allow genocide requires ethical remediation. We must show the world that religious, racial, ethnic and gender persecution is wrong; and that tolerance is our progeny’s only hope. Only through such efforts can we reveal the true horror of genocide and promote the triumphant spirit of humankind.

    Charles Weinblatt
    Author, Jacob’s Courage

  20. Let’s not forget the other 6 million who were exterminated too.

    Where does he stand on that ?

  21. Definitely be barred. The presence of this monster would only add insult to injury and vindicate the Jew-haters in their belief that they can spew their boundless evil unimpeded.

  22. This is one of those dreadful dilemmas that people like Irving are expert at creating. It doesn’t matter to him whether he is permitted or prohibited, he gets his publicity either way. Perhaps a solution to the problem is for the curators to permit him and his party entry on condition, not that they are monitored, but that they are led by an official guide who will conduct them round the grounds and then politely show them out; making it a further condition that Irving is not to try to address his party and that no questions will be permitted (because they wouldn’t from this lot be questions, they would be harangues). Having made those conditions clear, then any attempt by any of the party to breach them would see the party escorted out before the tour is completed.

    And how can I say that Irving doesn’t care one way or the other? Not only because the logic of the situation is that he gets the publicity he wants whichever alternative is chosen, but also because he brought the libel action in London against Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt, a case which he conducted himself, and which exposed through expert testimony the ways in which he has fabricated, misused and in some cases even destroyed evidence in respect of all the books he has written, shows that he is a man of great duplicity and arrogance whom nothing will convince or shame into accpeting that he is wrong. The verdict handed down at the trial, especially those aspects of it which found against him in respect of his tampering with evidence (including books that do not deal with the Holocaust), should be sufficient enough for the curators at Auschwitz to insist on an official guide – and of he refuses that he is of course then refused entry and the curators publicise their refusal making explicit reference to the trial judgment about his major deficiencies as an historian, getting their publicity in first. Why should someone who is exposed as a manipulator and destroyer of evidence be given the chance to pontificate at an historical site? And further more, Irving never tried to appeal that verdict! So he also stands self-condemned!

  23. Mark Rogers

    Irving’s ego seems boundless. He did indeed appeal the verdict and was childishly disbelieving concerning Professor Evans’s evidence against him. The appeal judges upheld the original verdict. Irving then exhausted English law by having a review – I think that is what it’s called and the – and the panel of three judges also found the original verdict sound.

  24. Should he be “barred from Auschwitz?” Are you kidding? He should be barred from every potential form of publicity. This man represents the vast and mendacious intolerance that created the Holocaust. If he is allowed to teach our progeny to deny the obvious facts of the Holocaust, then they will repeat the same mistakes of our ancestors. And, another generation of Jews will be murdered.

    Hatred of Jews has vacillated from endemic and latent to overt and malignant for two thousand years. Irving is just one more Gentile who despises Jews. We need to stop his venom now, before he can pollute the minds of our grandchildren.

    Irving is intolerant, incapable of comprehending veracity and in a position to continue the endemic hatred of Jews. He must be stopped, by any means.

  25. Ariadne

    Thanks for correcting me on the appeal. I had a slight doubt that I may have been wrong on this only after I had posted my comment. You are quite right, his vanity is immense. It was truly astonishing that he decided to sue for libel; he must have been thinking that the fact that it would probably go against him would simply show he was “right” about the conspiracy out to get him – though it bankrupted him! And how vain do you have to be not to let the implications of thatb sink in!!

  26. Mark, it was a good thing that he went so far. He is a figure of ridicule and worse now in this country except among the thickest neo-Nazis.

    You are correct that for Irving Auschwitz is win-win. Publicity whether he can go ahead or not.

    cweinblatt, Irving can’t live forever and how far he has had to go from home for this round of publicity. And the last. He has no name at all now here even among military historians. That hurts him, happily!

  27. Can’t he be barred from entering the country, or does this EU nonsense mean he can go anywhere within the EU without a visa ?

  28. Shirl In Oz

    I just don’t get why he would want to visit Auschwitz.

    Reasons sadly abound.
    a) It would provide him with the ultimate platform from which to spew forth his filth.
    b) Barring him would provide him with further ammunition to further his conspiracy theories.

    A complete mainstream media lockdown would IMO help either way.

  29. Shirl In Oz: Can’t he be barred from entering the country, or does this EU nonsense mean he can go anywhere within the EU without a visa ?

    I’m not sure but he was able to travel to Austria and only an existing arrest warrant there stopped him from inciting hatred.

    As far as I know Farrakhan is still banned from Britain but I think under English law. And he isn’t an EU citizen, of course.

  30. Ariadne, I might have a look around later to see what the law is.

    The worst day of my life was when I renewed my British passport and it came back as an EU one.

    Though the “old country” sure ain’t what it used to be !!!! I had enough the last time I was there and won’t go again.

  31. Ariadne, I think you’re right in saying that it was a good thing he went so far. In his early books, even though what he had to say about Churchill rankled, he did win friends on the left (why am I not surprised?!) with his attacks on Bomber Command. Serious historians who had anything to do with him parted company pretty rapidly. I think many people who had not followed Irving’s career were disgusted by his views as exposed in the libel trial and, certainly among professional historians, the way in which he humiliated two respected historians, finally put the lid on his ever being indulged again.

    And then there was the incontrovertible evidence from the Soviet archives that he had tampered with and destroyed microfilms. But the real killer in the trial as recounted in Prof. Evans’s book, was that his life’s work was subjected to intense scrutiny, thus resulting in his methods of evidence manipulation being established as his normal modus operandi from the very beginning; he lost any credibility that had ever attached to his early books – and from then on it was down hill all the way.