HNN Poll: Jail David Irving?

Note You do not have to register to participate in this poll. Just click below where indicated and post your comment. If you don't register we still ask that you identify yourself so readers know who you are. We do ask all readers to abide by our civility guidelines whether they register or not.

News Headlines

Austria Imposes 3-Year Sentence on Notorious Holocaust Denier

David Irving pleads guilty, says Holocaust views have changed

David Irving says he has no choice but to admit charges of Holocaust denial

Irving Case tests Europe's free speech

Deborah Lipstadt wants him set free

Articles & Excerpts

Peter Kirstein: Respectable Historians Attend and Speak at Conferences Hosted by David Irving?

Deborah Lipstadt: C-Span's Mistake

Deborah Lipstadt: Holocaust Denial Is Alive and Well in the Middle East


News Story (Guardian)

Last night Irving's partner Bente Hogh said he had brought his imprisonment on himself by going to Austria despite the ban. She said:"He was not jailed just for his views but because he's banned from Austria and still went. David doesn't take advice from anyone. He thought it was a bit of fun, to provoke a little bit."
Jesse Lemisch

An Austrian court has sentenced historian David Irving to three years in prison for Holocaust denial. This constitutes a moment of crisis for historians and in particular for the American Historical Association. How should historians react?

Irving's doctrines and his history are obnoxious. I suppose it's premature to reach a conclusion about yesterday's event this soon, but my first reaction is that it is simply horrifying to see a historian locked up for a bad, wrong, dishonest or evil interpretation or misuse of sources, and that this should be opposed.

Deborah Lipstadt

After having a long conversation with a reporter who was in the courtroom, I have learned that it seemed to him -- quite clearly so -- that the judge was really angry about Irving's claims to have" changed his views" as of the 1990s.

"The judge had read every page of every transcript of your trial. He knew the judgment. He knew the experts' findings," this reporter said to me.

The judge knew that in 2000 Irving was in court suing you. He knew that Irving's claims to have seen the light and to no longer be a denier as of the 1990s was rot and that Irving was playing with the court.

Once again, as he did at my trial, Irving seemed to behave in a way that said:"I can do whatever I want, say whatever I want and get away with it."

The problem is, he can't. While I may disagree with Holocaust denial laws, while I may be disturbed by the sentence, David Irving cannot seem to grasp that there are consequences to his actions.

The Austrian court thought otherwise.

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

To send a writer to jail for three years for writing a book in the great realm of Freedom of Speech is extremely telling of the absurd hold of Zionism on Europe.
The logical sequel to Holocaust denial laws would be laws sending historians to jail if they fail to write books confirming the Holocaust!
Horrible, horendous and utterly criminal as it is , the Holocaust, have been shamelessly exploited for base political objectives , to muzzle free speech and to blackmail the oppostion in a manner that threatens to debase its memory.
In as much as the idiotic reaction to the Elders of Zion helped promote the book these moronic laws will promote anti Holocaust efforts.That would be a sad, bad day.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


What you "suspect" here (and in your earlier comment above (Unwise Law #80530): "This is Austrian law. As far as I know, it dates back from the aftermath of WWII") is at odds with historical fact.

At least according to the "Institute for Jewish Policy Research" whose "honorary president is "Lord Rothschild":

( see
http://www.jpr.org.uk/Reports/CS_Reports/no_3_2000/main.htm )

Austria 1992
Denial, gross trivialization, approval or justification, in a public manner accessible to many people, of National Socialist genocide and crimes against humanity
Penalty: 1 to 20 years in prison, which is life in Austria

Belgium 1995
Denial, trivialization, justification or approval of genocide committed under National Socialism during the Second World War
Penalty: 8 days to 1 year in prison

France 1990
Incitement, denial, approval of Nazism. Questioning the existence of crimes against humanity which were committed either by members of an organization declared criminal or by a person found guilty of such crimes by a French or international court
Penalty:1 month to 1 year in prison, a fine of 2,000 to 300,000 French francs or both

Germany 1985, 1994
1994 amendment: Holocaust denial becomes a criminal offence under anti-incitement law. Incitement, denial, approval of Nazism. Denial, trivialization or approval, in public or in an assembly, of actions of the National Socialist regime
Penalty: up to 5 years in prison or a fine.

Incitement, denial, approval of Nazism. Denial or justification of crimes of genocide or the advocating of regimes or institutions which favour genocidal crimes
Penalty: 1 to 2 years in prison and between 100,000 and 1,000,000 pesetas fine


Criminal offence punishing Holocaust denial as a breach of human dignity. Incitement, denial, approval of Nazism .Public denial, trivialization and disputation of genocide or other crimes against humanity

Penalty: Maximum of 3 years in prison

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Right, exactly 6 Mil all gassed has been a popular distortion, not one of historians. Mainstream historians are guilty of having failed to debunk such distortions, leaving the field open for grandstanding counterdistortions of Irving, et. al. A sin of ommission is not as bad as one of commission. But it is still something better rectified as soon as possible

Tiit from Estonia - 4/19/2006

It,s 60 years from war.What are they fread for.Irwing must be free

Tiit from Estonia - 4/19/2006

10 points to Mike

Tiit from Estonia - 4/19/2006

It,s 60 years from war.What are they fread for.Irwing must be free.

Guillermo - 3/15/2006

Por cuanto tiempo tendra que ser castigada la conciencia y la libertad de expresion en Europa.

Irving es ahora victima por tener otro punto de vista y lo condenan por hablar. Estamos en un mundo convertido en una especie de gran carcel con barrotes invisibles, pero que para la libertad de expresión si son de hierro.

Barry James Sullivan - 3/8/2006

David Irving is not alone. Others who investigated and disputed holocaust claims have been physically attacked, imprisoned, slandered, or had their careers destroyed. The veracity of those disputes is never addressed.
Should falsification of genocide claims be a crime. We saw it in the campaign against Serbia with Elie Weisel's outrageous slanders. Turns out no mass graves existed and Serbia was defending itself against foreign AlQueda terrorists controlled by the United States and Britain. Yet Milosevich is still imprisoned even after making fools of his accusers.
Given the duplicity emanating from all intelligence agencies nothing should be closed to investigation. Let the chips fall.

chip thornton - 3/7/2006

I personally don't want to see Irving jailed for his comments, no matter how ridiculous. Have to keep in mind though, European nations, even England, do not give as much credence to the concept of free speech as we do.

Chip Thornton

Jon Holm - 3/6/2006

As most people know, we here in Denmark are defending the freedom of speach, with most muslims in the world at our throat. Therefore it is apalling to learn how a fellow non-muslim country in Europe is treating David Irving for exercising his right, whether we like him or not.
As I remember Enoch Powell express it:
"Freedom of speach is the freedom to say something others don´t want to hear." The minute you deviate from that, you'll find you have no freedom of speach at all. Fortunately, we don't have thought police in Denmark, yet.

Jon Holm - 3/6/2006

As most people know, we here in Denmark are defending the freedom of speach, with most muslims in the world at our throat. Therefore it is apalling to learn how a fellow non-muslim country in Europe is treating David Irving for exercising his right, whether we like him or not.
As I remember Enoch Powell express it:
"Freedom of speach is the freedom to say something others don´t want to hear." The minute you deviate from that, you'll find you have no freedom of speach at all. Fortunately, we don't have thought police in Denmark, yet.

Lars Nielsen - 3/4/2006

See my answer to Andrew. I am afraid, You don´t have the stomach to ackniwledge, that if you endanger other people, You cannot hide under the banner of "Academic freedom".

Lars Nielsen - 3/4/2006

See my answer to Andrew. I am afraid, You don´t have the stomach to ackniwledge, that if you endanger other people, You cannot hide under the banner og "Academic freedom".

lbhnielsen - 3/4/2006

See my answer to Andrew

Lars Nielsen - 3/4/2006

The fact, that You don´t like Israel is no excuse for islamists attacking jews outside Israel. And You don´t comment on my argument, that a historian, who endangers other people by a false theory, should be punished, if he had reason to believe, that such danger might be caused by his theory.

Lisa Kazmier - 3/1/2006

I like it. It'd be nice anyway if the guy got pies or eggs or tomatoes rather than cheering crowds (he might get both and an ensuing riot -- who knows). I have said several times already what you said about Lipstadt's comments: Irving was jailed because the judge knew Irving was trying to snow him and he wasn't amused. If Irving said something opposite of what he asserted in his 2000 trial, the judge concluded it was a lie. Not a hard conclusion.

Kenneth Judson Kirkland - 3/1/2006

Whatever happened to "I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it" (or words to that effect). David Irving is not the first nor will he be the last self-proclaimed historian to deliberately lie about the past for his own agenda, but sending people to jail for their opinions -- no matter how obnoxious -- seems to be reverting to pre-Enlightenment modes of thought.

Edward Furey - 3/1/2006

Jail seems a bit much for this kind of offense, although to judge from Deborah Lipstadt's comments, it appears Irving is being jailed as much for contempt of court -- an undisputably jailable offense -- as for Holocaust denial.

Perhaps the punishment for such crimes should be public indignity. Offenders like Irving would taken to the place of public punishment and then pelted with custard pies (or perhaps shaving cream pies to meet Hollywood standards). Jeering from the crowd witnessing punishment would be not only permitted, but encouraged.

After being hit with 100 pies the offender would be given the opportunity to make a statement. Civered with pie, it unlikely that the they would say anything,but whatever they said would produce a sound bite not neccessarily to their advantage. They would then taken home in a special police vehicle that would proceed slowly through the steets in the manner of the Popemobile, so the offender is visible to all passersby. Police would indulge those who might wish to toss a tomato or two.

The offender is denied the dignity of any sort or martyrdom and still punished for offensive behavior.

Peter Clarke - 3/1/2006

I basically agree with your Iraq diagnosis (if not the prescription), but don't think it makes a good analogy to Austria's muzzle on free speech. Bush's botched Iraq occupation constitutes not just an asinine and hypocritical blunder, but a recklessly radical departure from American tradition. Never before has an American president been so lame as to START a major war. Every other significant U.S. war, from 1812 to Kosovo was either raging before we intervened, or was precipitated by at least a credible semblance of an act of aggression against us. Only one of the very most pitiful U.S. presidents of all time could manage not to win hands down a popularity contest against the likes of Saddam.

In sharp contrast, severe and dubiously motivated restrictions on free speech in Europe go back far further than 1992 or 1947. Indeed, the concept of "inalienable rights," such as free speech, is a peculiarly American notion than has never been transplanted in its pure form back to the Old World. The Holocaust denial laws represent no radical departure at all, they are simply more overtly (and now more dangerously) stupid than most other forms of clumsy and hypocritical governmental infringements of recent decades.

- 3/1/2006

Peter, what can I say? You are a tough buyer... (You must drive salespersons nuts when you buy a car, right?)

On a more serious note, I bet you $100.00 that these laws will not be repealed. Actually, you might see the passing of new laws of the same nature in the near future. You might describe them as counterproductive, cop-out, hypocritical laws but Austrians seem to follow the same motto that Bush does in his handling of the war in Iraq: Stay the course.

Actually I think that Austria's government is in the same predicament than President Bush. Iraq is falling apart. The invasion of a sovereign country under false pretensions wasn't after all a good idea. Leaving the country right now is the best plan. Even 72% of US troops serving there think that the US should exit within the next year! http://www.boston.com/news/world/articles/2006/03/01/bush_loses_support_on_war_polls_say/ But Bush won't do it. Not because Iraq will fall apart if the US troops leave immediately. (Apparently they decided to fall apart without consulting with Bush or waiting for the US military to leave the country! These ungrateful bastards!) Bush won't leave Iraq because of the political price Republicans will pay. What president would like to be remembered as the one who lost the White House and both Houses of Congress in one single election?

The same argumentation could be applied to the situation in Austria. Since 1947 --not just since 1992-- they have had laws that seriously infringe upon people's rights to freedom of expression. Reading the sobering reports I posted above, this approach might have helped curb partially and sporadically the resurfacing of radical right-wing ideologies, but 60 years later they have proven to be insufficient to say the least. In 1992 Austrians realized that the strategy wasn't working but instead of switching gears they decided to add more items to the list of prosecutable deeds. Now a judge decided to send someone to prison for breaking one of these laws.

See the similarity? Austrians are staying the course. Not only they won't repeal these laws but they will expand the criminalization of free speech. They don't want to pay the political price that the repeal would entail.

So what can they do? I think that the problem Austria has is institutionalized unacknowledged racism, the worst type of racism. Racism is like alcoholism: it has no cure. "Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic," preaches AA and they are right. I also argue that there are two types of people: racists in recovery and racists in denial. It's like attending an AA meeting but in this case your problem isn't booze but racism. "Hi, my name is Julian, and I'm a racist..."

Wait! My sermon hasn't yet ended!

In conclusion, what Austrians need to do is to focus on their "healthy" population and figure out their role in allowing racism and xenophobia to raise their ugly heads in their midst. Yes, I certainly believe that they are working on the wrong patient. Sometimes we just need a mirror to find out who it is.

So brothers and sisters now you can go back to the world and preach my message of objective truth, pure love and neverending hope.

PS: Screw the neo-Nazis skinheads... but do it out of love.


Jed Weber - 3/1/2006

This argument is full of contradictions. It's also a straw man. A Holocaust revisionist or denier is not necessarily a Nazi. (Irving himself was not accused of being a Nazi!) Is one guilty merely for challenging the prevailing view? What if I claim that only 4.5 million were killed, or that Zyklon-B gas wasn't used but other methods of killing were? At what point do my ideas become criminal?

You "don't recognize a Nazi's right to anything...There is no right to be a Nazi." Who decides this? Couldn't this be applied to any unpopular minority group by claiming it threatens society? If there really is a "societal compact" as you say, then such groups could not really pose a threat. Any attempts to ENACT a philosophy that violates the compact would be prevented by laws and social disapproval.

Your final straw man is the claim that since "the Nazi party and movement" is a "criminal enterprise," seeking to "reactivate" it should be a crime. Fine. You've now described an ACTION that can be criminalized. It in no way justifies punishing someone for their ideas alone.

Jed Weber - 3/1/2006

Who are the "mainstream" historians that promote a "cartoon mythology" of "exactly 6 million all killed in gas chambers and cremated in ovens?" I doubt any historian has ever claimed more than a rough estimate of the final death toll. And no one claims they were "all" gassed and cremated in camps... In Eastern Europe and Russia, for example, hundreds of thousands of Jews and other victims were shot or gassed in vans and dumped in mass graves by the Einsatzgrupen...

Peter Clarke - 3/1/2006

I don't buy your formulation of option (c). There are dozens of ways to fight Nazi skinheads more vigorously than before which don't involve lame counterproductive cop-out laws that are clearly now strengthening not weakening the appeal of the deniers. Repeal the laws and "send the message" that truth does not need hypocrisy as an ally.

- 2/28/2006


Irving isn’t going to prison for his speech but for breaking an Austrian law that limits the right to expression of speech. It’s not quite the same. When a country decides, unwisely, to combat racism and xenophobia through criminal legislation that curbs free speech, the options are very limited.

(a) You apply the law. If someone breaks the Holocaust Denial law, he/she should be prosecuted and go to jail if found guilty. (re the use of he/she, why is that males are generally the ones who create pandemonium in this shitty world of ours?) Back in 1992 some genius thought that if Holocaust denial was criminalized, Austrian Jews and neo-Nazis skinheads would put hatred, bigotry, bad feelings, and mistrust behind and create a tolerant and loving society in which both groups would hold hands while blissfully smiling at each other. Well, apparently the plan didn’t work. So now we have two situations. First, neo-Nazis skinheads are well and alive and doing their thing. Second, the Order of Knights of Holy Freedom of Speech are up in arms and tearing their garments in anguish and rage, asking, actually ordering Austrians to, in the name of democracy (by the way, the same product that we want to sell to Middle Eastern countries with not much luck) to strike down these obscene laws.

(b) You don’t apply the law. You look the other way when someone like Irving breaks the law. If Austria decides to go this way, all judges need to be on the same page and all of them without exception should refrain from prosecuting this crime (because it would continue to be a crime). Maybe that was the arrangement until this nationalistic, anti-British, footbal-crazed judge decided to go after poor Mr. Irving! (I stand by answer e. to the above multiple-choice test despite Peter’s assurance that it won’t make the cut in a history text.)

(c) You strike down the law. But what kind of message are you sending to the neo-Nazis skinheads? This will surely embolden them because they would interpret this legal development as a green light to acting out further their bigoted agenda.

Conclusion: Damn if you do, damned if you don’t! Poor Austrians! Poor us!


Lisa Kazmier - 2/28/2006

I was ready to vote for d) myself and given the banning being flouted and Irving as holocaust denier and you got a prison term.

I did mention Haider also. According to someone I knew who wanted to inteview him, Haider was trying to promote the party's reputation by stepping down and working behind the scenes. The Freedom Party is still around, I believe. I also think Haider inherited one of those properties that was taken from Austrian Jews. I seem to recall via Claudia Koontz's book that locals might seize Jewish property for themselves and after the war, even when those people returned and said "isn't that my stuff?" they were given no restitution or return of belongings whatsoever.

Nicole Feied - 2/28/2006

Irving must be mad, but since when do we condone jailing people for their speech?

Peter Clarke - 2/28/2006

I agree re euthenasia of the thread, Julian. Fat chance, though.

Meanwhile, one minor drawback of History is that it requires relatively adroit phrasing to work humor in. Your remark about the irreconciable differences between tarnished Gemütlichkeit and drunken euphoria over a ball being kicked once an hour or so into a net is refreshingly irreverent, for example, but might not make the cut, even in an adapated formulation, in a history text.

Styrian beer is pretty fine, by the way, and Irving will have plenty of time now to work on his next book about how Nazis are really victims.


J. Feuerbach - 2/28/2006


A couple of issues before someone out of mercy kills this entire thread.

First, you stated that no one here can explain how Irving was convicted under a 1992 law for a 1988 speech. Well, Peter let me tell you… I don’t have a clue either. However, I propose the following multiple-choice test as an attempt to respond to your question.

a) Austria’s laws can be applied retroactively.
b) The judge who convicted Irving flunked the bar exam and knows jack shit about the law.
c) The judge convicted Irving under the provisions of the National-Socialist Prohibition Act (NS-Verbotsgesetz) that was passed in 1947.
d) The judge hates Irving’s guts so he doesn’t give a shit about Austrian laws and jurisprudence.
e) The judge hates all English people because Austria’s national squad can’t beat them at football.
f) Irving needs a lawyer who didn’t flunk the bar exam

I personally think it’s e)

Second, you condemn the “stinking hypocrisy of jailing a man for a 16 year old speech that only indirectly insults a major religion while doing nothing whatsoever against publications which now, today, and without recant, DIRECTLY insult a much bigger and more volatile religion.”

First, the law is the law. Irving broke a law and he is being prosecuted for it. Maybe Austrians should have a law that prosecutes publications that directly insult Islam or Jehovah's Witnesses but currently I think they don’t. (Unfortunately they are dangerously moving in that direction. They have decided to combat racism and xenophobia through criminal legislation, not a good idea.) But if the judicial system in Austria is truly independent, you can't affix the label of hypocrites on their foreheads. They are just doing their job and couldn't care less about political ramifications or international public opinion.
According to The Times, Austria's Banning Law is often applied - charges were brought against 724 people in 2004 – but rarely produces a prison term. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-2049360,00.html Well, apparently Irving isn’t a lucky guy and he will have to serve time.

Going back to my point. Listen to what Irving’s partner said:

Last night Irving's partner Bente Hogh said he had brought his imprisonment on himself by going to Austria despite the ban. She said: "He was not jailed just for his views but because he's banned from Austria and still went. David doesn't take advice from anyone. He thought it was a bit of fun, to provoke a little bit."

If Irving wasn’t aware that he was banned from Austria and that Holocaust denial was a crime in Austria that could send him to jail if prosecuted and found guilty, Irving could be characterized as a bigoted uninformed idiot.

I just hope two things. (1) That at least he takes advice from the prison guards. (2) That he doesn’t lose his British sense of humour while serving time. It can come in handy.

- 2/27/2006

The effectiveness of these denial laws not only is minimal but it's backfiring. But what can Austrians do instead? Nothing?

Steve Broce - 2/27/2006

Exactly right. Where is the evidence of the effectiveness of these "holocaust denial" laws.

I would think that a high standard of evidence of effectiveness would be required before basic liberty was abridged.

Alan Vance Bickley - 2/27/2006

The U.S. Supreme Court has defined fighting words as those words “which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. I defy the writer to connect David Irving's speech in 1989 or in 2005 to the infliction of physical injury - which is what the court meant - or with the tendency to incite an immediate breach of the peace. The fact that there was no injury and no breach of the peace in 1989 owing to Irving's remarks proves that they were not fighting words in the sense of the court in the Chaplinsky case.

Peter Clarke - 2/27/2006

...but not if you discard common sense, while going from denigration to worship, Julian.

I appreciate your digging into the general crackdown on Nazi speech which preceeded the guilt-ridden PC cop-out of the holocaust denial laws, and also appreciate your discovery of Jörg Haider. He peaked quite some years ago, however, and I would be hard-pressed to think of a better way of reviving his, and the neo-Nazis (and by the way, Moslem anti-Semites') fortunes, than the stinking hypocrisy of jailing a man for a 16 year old speech that only indirectly insults a major religion while doing nothing
whatsoever against publications which now, today, and without recant, DIRECTLY insult a much bigger and more volatile religion. The compelling argument against the Holocaust denial laws, today in 2006, is based on practicalities more than on ideals (just as the reasons for those laws in the first place had more to do with backside covering than with sensitive, caring idealism).

Alan Vance Bickley - 2/27/2006

How does the jailing of historians for crimes of utterance prevent "any possible resurgence of Nazism?"

Alan Vance Bickley - 2/27/2006

In a United States court the judge's familiarity with facts not in evidence would play no part in making a finding of guilt or innocence. The rules in Austrian courts may be different, but it seems to me that the rule in this country is fair, and any deviation from it is unfair to the extent of the deviation.

J. Feuerbach - 2/27/2006

Yes, I wrote it.

- 2/27/2006

Austria has been criminalizing and censoring certain types of political speech and activities since 1947! It’s true that laws that criminalize Holocaust denial passed in 1992. However, open support of National Socialism and advocacy of Nazi objectives are prohibited by Danish legislation dating from 1947 (NS-Verbotsgesetz). Amendments to the laws approved in February 1992 simply widened the scope of prohibited activity to include denial of the Holocaust or "trivialization" of Nazi genocide. It seems that no one in the world bothered about this until Mr. Irving appeared on stage.

The document entitled “Combating Racism and Xenophobia Through Criminal Legislation: The Situation in the EU Member States” published by the “E.U. Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights” states the following:

The National-Socialist Prohibition Act (NS-Verbotsgesetz) provides for general and quite far-reaching constitutional restrictions on the freedom of expression as regards the dissemination of national-socialist ideas. In a judgment of 29 November 1985 the Constitutional Court made it clear that the constitutional provisions of the Prohibition Act were directly applicable not only in criminal proceedings but to be taken into account and to be executed by every court and administrative authority within their respective competences. As a consequence all legal acts which directly or indirectly aim at revitalising national-socialist ideas are to be considered null and void, i.e. as if they did not exist. Complaints against convictions under the Prohibition Act have always been declared inadmissible by the European Court of Human Rights when examining their compliance with Article 10 ECHR as being necessary in a democratic society. In this context the European Court regularly refers to Article 17 ECHR which prohibits the abusive exercise of the Convention rights by enemies of a free and democratic legal order.

I did some research and I concluded that they should definitely stick to censoring and criminalize neo-Nazi political speech. Here are two sobering reports. (On touchy topics like these I'm always biased. I tend to pay more attention to the victim's side and disregard the other side.)


If Austrians think that criminalizing and censoring speech and activities conducted by extreme right-wing elements in Austria is the way to go, they have my full support. I personally think it's ineffective. Austrians already introduced an amendment to NS-Verbotsgesetz in 1992. My message for them would be that you can’t just keep adding amendments ad infinitum. It won’t work in the long term. But I don't live there and I don't have to deal with their past and present demons.) However, reading the two reports I posted above, it gives me the creeps.

So, and in the best tradition of Mr. Irving and in the light of new evidence: I FULLY RECANT! Screw the right to freedom of expression! Screw Irving! Screw the neo-Nazis! And, on behalf of Austrians, screw all the opinionated and righteous critics of these laws who don't live in Austria!

Two final thoughts: (1) Let’s not be too critical on how Austrians are dealing with the dangerous resurfacing of neo-Nazism. (Did it ever go away?) We all have serious problems of the same or similar nature in our own countries to be concerned about the pros and cons of laws in other countries. (2) If this last argument didn't convince you regarding the need for Austrians to deal with these guys effectively, remember the following: Austria already gave us Hitler and Arnold. Oh, now you are freaked out!

Steve Broce - 2/26/2006

Here, Here, Peter.

Andrew's comments are moral relativism at it's worst.

Lisa Kazmier - 2/26/2006

Yeah, because to me that's a basic kind of justice. I wonder if the judge had a lesser sentence in mind at first. I'd love to know but could understand the judge's reluctance to comment.

Lisa Kazmier - 2/26/2006

You ask a good question. If Irving had been unrepetent, I don't know what the judge would have done. Maybe there was a lesser penalty in mind until then. I'd love to know what the judge was thinking though I could understand why the judge wouldn't want to say.

This is an armchair interest but I have a fairly dispassionate view of the appropriateness of the law. I just think it's kinda much to object to Irving going to jail. I did follow the London libel trail faily closely (I lived in England at the time), so I guess I am not all that upset that Irving finds himself in jail. I thought his suit was ridiculous and it was easy to see why Irving sued Penguin/Lipstadt in London, where they actually had to prove he was what she had he was. This PhD history student (English) I knew in Durham basically thought Irving would win because of the burden on the defendants. The judge was a student of history, too, I guess.

You're trying to nail down a doctrine I don't really have. I'd love to see a more detailed history of the law. I could find some reference to the ban of Mein Kampf being imposed after WWII (as I figured) but no discussion of the history of holocaust denial laws with the exception of a variety of European countries enacting them at some point (at least sometimes within a short time after joining the EU; I think the French case among others was different -- which may or may not have to do with immigration). I'm just not prepared to say with absolute certainty that all such laws are unjustifiable or bad. It'd be nice to say that but I have grave doubts that it's practicable. I always thought the anti-Nazi laws in Central Europe would die out in the long run but it seems not to have happened yet. I'm not sure why. I'd like to see them pronounced obsolete. I'm just not sure Austria is "there" yet.Perhaps the only way they will get "there" is by cases such as this.

I am flexible because I think I can be convinced to go either way depending on the particularities of the circumstances in Austria. I just don't feel any sympathy for Irving so I don't care if he rots in jail or not. Seems like karma to me.

Andrew - 2/26/2006

The notion that denying the Holocaust "endangers" jewish people is based upon nothing, it's ridiculous. Then we can say the Jews denying Christ as the Messiah endangers Christians. Why why why do some people think it is a fair thing to put a man in jail for his opinion? You people need to get off the notion that this is fair because your protecting jews. You sound like a child whining because someone stuck their tongue out at them. Shame. Think about your position...very very arrogant. The facts of the matter is that Israel was created on the Holocaust account! No one cared that Palestinians were killed and displaced by the creation of a jewish state. Israel has successfully painted the Palestinians as another group of anti-Semites or jew haters...shame! The victimhood claim has grown very old concerning the jews...time to get up and move on with life and stop believing that a jew being persecuted is worse than a non-jew being persecuted. And they do! I think thats the true basis behind making the Holocaust a religion.
I have never heard anyone dispute the "Expert Report" by Germar Rudolph- "Dissecting the Holocaust" is his book look it up.

Andrew - 2/26/2006

Nice remarks! You have a very fair and honest position. Yes indeed many people have turned this "holocaust" into a religious event that canot be questioned at all or revenge is in order. Shame on them. The thing I do not understand is why people do not invite revisionism to the table. I would be eager for hope that maybe the holocaust story is not completely accurate. If it means, for example, that the numbers are 3 million vs 6 million, is that not good news? I think we need to pursue hope rather than be hung on an accusation that I do not think has been fairly given.

Peter Clarke - 2/26/2006

1. Of all the outrageous things Irving and other cruder and more typical Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis have said and done, I have never heard one of them "state" that their "purpose" is to kill Americans. Paranoia taken to such an extreme becomes sheer nonsense.

2. The asinine notion that there are no differences between atrocities -that Hitler was no worse or no better than Wilhelm II, Bismarck, Frederick Barbarossa, Andrew Jackson, or Ariel Sharon- is worse than a travesty of history, it is a self-serving myth concocted and circulated by arrogant and ignorant people trying to supress a guilty conscience. Fortunately, this is not a majority view in any modern European country today.

Andrew - 2/26/2006

I think there is a blurred view of history. To many people think the Nazi state in WW2 was the most horrible act of evil in history. How ridiculous. What happened in WW2 is nothing new to the human race. The U.S. did the same thing to the Indians, Serbs to the Albanians, Persians to the Jews, and Jews[Israel] to the Palestinians. Is it right? NO! But please stop trying to make the Nazi's something they're not and the U.S.(others) something were not...which is perfect. God sees all people as violators of His law-every day. And speaking of the Nazi ideology of being a superior race? The Jews think they are Gods chosen people!!! Who thinks who is the greatest? I think a lot of the rage aimed at Germany for the persecution of Jews during WW2 is one from a self riteous position;who is the Nazi party to persecute us the "chosen?" How arrogant.

- 2/26/2006

I thought nations that start-up ovens and commit genocide did not allow freedom of speech? We cannot escape it with the policy of throwing people in jail for thought. Sounds like the Catholic Church during Galileo.

Andrew Perovich - 2/26/2006

Let me get this right. If Mr. Irving denies the Holocaust he is a liar but if "HE" sais it's true, then that's proof that it did happen??? Self denial is the worst

Andrew Perovich - 2/26/2006

I think to assume that the only intention of a Holocaust Revisionist is to create pain for Jews is a goofy and disshonest conclusion. It's also self riteous slander. If that's true then I think Jews refuse to accept Jesus as the Messiah because they want to hurt Christians. Not true. If anything more people should greet the revisionist with some hope in that maybe this event did not occour as we have been told! What would be the problem with finding out that 6,000,000 people did not die? If half that number did? Is that not good news? I think the people who promote the Holocaust are more interested in keeping the accusation alive rather than exploring the possibibility of Germany's innocence.

- 2/26/2006

I will edit my post, the Wikipedia way.

Previous version: “Listen guys, when your elders passed this legislation they did it out of shame and fear."

Current version: "Listen guys, when your legislators passed this law in 1992 they did it out of fear."

I just hope that this public acknowledgment of blatant and insufferable ignorance will appease the gods and atone for my gross intellectual sin. I also hope that the high priests of the Temple of Truth will welcome me back so I can resume worshipping Goddess Truth in the company of my brothers and sisters.

Steve Broce - 2/26/2006

“…but I really don't have an opinion on if their call is right or wrong.”

Liza, you’re assuming the rigidity of Jell-O. Is it really so hard to make a judgment. If you really have NO opinion on the issue, do you have anything to offer to the discussion?

“I'm more comfortable talking about speed limits on various highways where I've driven.”

You may never have been hit by a drunk driver, before, either, but do you have an opinion on the wisdom of driving under the influence?

As for the “free market of ideas”, you are certainly correct that some have more influence than others. People who buy ink by the barrel and paper by the truckload have always had more influence than others. That, however, is changing. Just ask Dan Rather if mainstream media has ever enjoyed less influence, or has been subject to more scrutiny, than it does now.

In any event, that the market place of ideas is not a totally level market place is a very poor argument for Government “intervention” to level the market. The government has never been very good at that.

One thing, Liza, you have attempted several times to press the argument that Irving was jailed for lying to the judge about a change of heart he had with respect to the holocaust.
I’m still trying to understand your argument. Do you suggest that had Irving stood up at sentencing and professed a continued belief that the Holocaust had not occurred, the judge would have let him go?

Andrew Perovich - 2/26/2006

Does anyone remember a man named Galileo? He believed something and received punishment from a very arrogant and self riteous institution. Anyone who thinks Mr. Irving committed an act that deserves prison time needs to take a look at their own life and ask if they really beleive what they are saying. People all too often confuse emotionalism with rational thinking. Why don't we start start putting Jews in prison because they do not believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah as Christians believe? It's the same reasoning. No groups' history is so sacred it cannot be questioned. A true crime he did not commit. He is merely saying something no one wants to hear. Yes maybe some people are "offended" but that's their choice to be offended. You see, I believe that no human being on this planet is so PURE that they can claim to be "offended" by anything because we all offend God on an hourly basis in this world. So people who take offence at a mans opinion about history and think he deserves punishment need to think about their level of arrogance and stop acting like the Pharisees and the Middle Age Catholic Church did. Thats is offensive to God!

Peter Clarke - 2/26/2006

CORRECTION to my post above:

...repeated parrot-like this contradictory juxtaposition WITHOUT EXPLAINING IT.

Peter K. Clarke - 2/26/2006

I never claimed that knowing the history of holocaust denial laws would bring instant paradise on earth, or even that it would somehow mean that "we'll somehow get our act together."

I never thought I'd have to defend the importance of history on this website (even if it is not in reality a history website). But, since it has been questioned here, let me point out that the value of knowing history (for people who don't celebrate blissful ignorance as a central ideal) is that it gives them an alterntaive to meekly putting up unquestioningly with the BS of people who do worship ignorance. In this particular instance, the notion that laws passed in the 1990s were done so out of a well-founded fear of a resurgence of political ideologies that were swept away in 1945 is given much more credibility than it deserves if one chooses to believe ignorantly that such laws were passed in 1945.

I confess to ignorance myself as to (a) why no one here can explain how Irving was convicted under a 1992 law for a 1988 speech, and (b) why every newspaper article I could google (from New York Times to UK Guardian) repeated parrot-like this contradictory juxtaposition. But, I don't assert that this ignorance is preferable to knowing the actual facts of what happened.

J. Feuerbach - 2/26/2006

Peter raised a relevant question: “What is the history of these laws in Austria, Germany and other European countries? Who pushed for them, who enacted them, when, how and why?” His question prompted these reflections.

The value of history and insight is overrated when it comes to effective theories of personal and societal change. There’s an assumption that if (a) we take a good look at our personal or collective past, (2) we then interpret current behavior in the light of past events, (3) and we finally single out connective causes or factors, our present behavior will change and we’ll somehow get our act together. Psychoanalysis, for instance, relies heavily on history and insight as theories of change.

I’ve already shared my partial answer to Peter’s question. European countries, especially Austria and Germany, passed this legislation out of collective guilt and shame, but most importantly, out of fear of allowing a new Hitler to take the reins of their countries and implementing another “final solution.” Let’s say that I thoroughly researched this topic and I could support the above hypothesis with hard data. We would know why legislation was introduced, but would that have any impact on doing away with these undemocratic laws? How would the governments of Austria and Germany react if I met with them and told them the following: “Listen guys, when your elders passed this legislation they did it out of shame and fear. Their intellectual and emotional processes were fused. They weren’t thinking clearly. So now that you know this, please strike out the law that criminalizes Holocaust denial so people in your countries can exercise the right to freedom of speech without limitations.”? Yes, I agree: there’s a strong possibility that they would tell me to have sex with myself.

History might help us understand what people did and why they did it but the value of such insight ends there. George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Some individuals still believe in this myth. If developing insight into past blunders would guarantee that people wouldn’t repeat them, Isaiah’s prophecies about universal peace (chapter 2) would have been a reality a long time ago and, on a personal note, I would have stopped making the same mistakes over and over. My great great-grandfather Sigmund was right: any claims that human beings are rational creatures are exaggerated.

Christopher Hayden - 2/26/2006

David Irving is an obnoxious neo-fascist who's opinions and 'research' are designed less to inform and more to upset and horrify. No one with any true sense of history gives this man's theories any real credence. But for modern democratic governments to jail him for what he ostensibly believes is tantamount to turning back the clock to the days when Nazi desenters were thrown into concentration camps for deviating from the party line. He must be thrilled by this chance to prove that democracy and the liberties entailed therein are illussions even in the new millenium.

Ken Wagner - 2/26/2006

Jailing a man for his ideas is imprudent and a violation of (even) his basic rights. It is an outrage, Shame on Austria.

Steve Jones - 2/25/2006

We will have to agree to respectfully disagree. My view, I admit, is a minority view, but I believe it has legitimacy.

Jefferson and the other founding fathers didn't have to deal with a 20th century totalitarian ideology such as Nazism. I am not so sure that the founding fathers would support the absolutist interpretation of the First Amendment we basically take as a given today. These men lived in a world where only white male property holders could vote.

I don't happen to believe we are obligated to hold the lamp of liberty for those whose stated purpose is to kill us.

Lisa Kazmier - 2/25/2006

Yeah, I saw that comment and questioned the certainty of that. It doesn't make sense that Irving would be held for a view expressed before there was a law. I chalked up Austria's situation as being like Germany's ban of "Mein Kampf," which I don't believe is that recent. But I'd be curious as to when that ban went into effect (I've only heard about attempts to circumvent the law via internet purchase).

Lisa Kazmier - 2/25/2006


It's not my call. You can call me on it but I really don't have an opinion on if their call is right or wrong. I don't know enough about to say. I'm more comfortable talking about speed limits on various highways where I've driven.

I like the Mill "free market" of ideas. His argument is most convincing. Yet, several years ago, a student of mine quite eloquently said something about the naivite' of there being a level playing field where ideas can compete. He's right. I don't have the same forum as CNN or FOX though I have a forum (classes) that others lack. My voice is louder than my students, that's for sure. In the contest for tenure track and tenure, institutions make decision and sometimes it's to let go someone who's controversial.

I think I'm enough of a realist to admit that there are situations where intervention is appropriate. Is this law in Austria one of those circumstances? Maybe. Maybe not. I cannot think of a type of speech warranting this type of law in this country presently, though I wouldn't be surprised if some argue otherwise (say about how one criticizes this president being "off limits"). Fortunately, a lot of people disagree and no one has dared to propose a law on this.

I'm just saying I don't think there is an absolute here because I think that student's point about there being a "fair" market was totally right.

J. Feuerbach - 2/25/2006

Give Irving a break!

Any discussion of Mr. Iriving’s merits or lack of merits as a historian is a distraction from the main issue: so-called democratic countries have sanctioned an undemocratic law that curtails a basic human right.

Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights states:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

It’s interesting to compare the articles in both documents that deal with the right to freedom of expression. The first section is pretty similar. However, Europeans felt the need to add a sub-article. This tweaking of article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is what supports the criminalization of Holocaust denial.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights got it right. The right of freedom to expression is an absolute right that shouldn’t be qualified. On the other hand, the duties and responsibilities bullshit the European Convention on Human Rights talks about is just the vaseline they use to stick some pieces of legislation (like the Holocaust denial) up your ass. Let's give them some credit: At least they want to mitigate your pain...

The day Europeans do away with sub-article 2, they will experience again full-fledged democracy. In the meantime, FREE IRVING!

Lisa Kazmier - 2/25/2006

Are you sure the '92 statue didn't replace something preexisting? What you describe makes no sense, since Irving's status, I thought, a problem since '89.

Peter K. Clarke - 2/25/2006

What you have espoused is a very Nazi-like and unAmerican idea. Go one step back from the Bill of Rights to the American Declaration of Independence if you are confused on this. The "self evident" truths discussed there apply to "all men." That is why the American Civil Liberties Union (a controversial organization, perhaps, but not one filled with self-hating holocaust deniers) has defended in court, and successfully, the first amendment rights of Nazis. It is also one reason why we don't have criminal laws against holocaust denial in America.

Steve Broce - 2/25/2006

Actually, Zundel was an illegal alien, who came here on a tourist visa good for six months, then stayed for three years. He was arrested and deported to Canada (from whence he had come). Canada then deported him to his native Germany.

Zundel had the incredible bad timing to have become an illegal alien after 9/11, after which the INS began taking such matters seriously.

Zundel, who apparently is a white supremacist and has billed himself as “the Gandhi of the right” and the “white Martin Luther King” apparently had run afoul of German law , hence extradited to Germany from Canada.

I refuse to feel bad because someone at the INS finally decided it was time to take out the trash.

Steve Jones - 2/25/2006

After some considerable thought, I reached the conclusion that I don't recognize the right of Nazis to have free speech. I don't recognize a Nazi's right to anything. There is no right to be a Nazi.

Fundamental rights like free speech arise from a societal compact. They are reserved for those who are prepared to recognize the human and civil rights of all other members of the society. This is the antithesis of the Hitlerian theory of racial superiority.

Be it the the US Bill of Rights, the UN Charter, the Declaration of the Rights of Man; the Nazi recognizes none of this.

But it goes deeper than mere philosophy. The Nazi party and movement was declared and found to be a criminal enterprise. Those that seek to reactivate is are to my mind engaged in a criminal enterprise.

bob klinck - 2/25/2006

The United States doesn't jail holocaust deniers? Sorry, but the U.S.A. has become a land of hypocrisy where the government has others do its dirty work for it through rendition. This applies to all the suspected terrorists (most of whom are probably innocent people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time)who are tortured on behalf of American so the latter can produce ever longer lists of suspects, as well as to, for example, Ernst Zundel, who is about as close to being a 'holocaust denier' as you are likely to find and for this 'crime' is about to be jailed in Germany. The U.S. sent him to be tried in secret in Canada, whence he was rendered to Germany. Take your blinkers off!

Maz - 2/25/2006

This just in, from the Different Strokes department:

The Coburns in Dangerous Liaison [Stoddart: Toronto, 1991, pp. 299-300] report that after John Vorster left Israel, "The old Nazi sympathizer came away with bilateral agreements for commercial, military, and nuclear cooperation that would become the basis for future relations between the two countries."

Mossad turncoat Victor Ostrovsky [By Way of Deception, Stoddart: Toronto, 1990, p. 151] reports that the Jewish state "helped South Africa with its nuclear program. We [i.e., the Israelis] supplied them with most of their military equipment. We trained their special units. We worked hand in hand with them for years."

"[H]and in hand": The phrase resounds.

Steve Jones - 2/25/2006

Yes Todd, I am an indeed.

Steve Jones - 2/25/2006

Yes Todd, I am an indeed.

Steve Broce - 2/24/2006

Todd, medical literature describes a condition first identified by Hans Asperger that is known as “Asperger’s syndrome”. Sufferers of this syndrome exhibit marked impairment in social skills. They have severe difficulty with any sense of appropriateness. They say and do incredibly obnoxious and insensitive things. They cannot understand why others take offense, because the part of their brain that would allow them to understand doesn’t function properly. Sufferers of Asperger’s Syndrome are simply referred to as “Aspergers”(pronounced “ass burgers”). I know this sounds incredible, but it's true and can be verified.

Todd, I explain all this to you so that in the future, if I should refer to you as an “Asperger”, you’ll understand that I mean Asperger, the medical condition and not “ass burger”, the term of derision.

Steve Broce - 2/24/2006

Liza, you keep pressing the argument that the judge jailed Irving because Irving lied about having a change of heart about whether the holocaust occurred or not.

I’m trying to understand your argument. Do you suggest that if Irving had stood before the judge and insisted that he still believed that the holocaust had not occurred, the judge would have released him?

Steve Broce - 2/24/2006

Points well made, Johannes (?????)

Steve Broce - 2/24/2006

.”.Ideally, I support you but in practical terms I see reasons that Mill's perfect market doesn't exist, creating needs to intervene at times.”

Come on, Lisa, don’t crawfish. You made the statement that sometimes there is a “need to intervene”. I called you on it.

When is there a “need to intervene” and who gets to decide when the need arises and what the nature of the “intervention” is?

George - 2/24/2006

The language of this website is English. The grammatically correct way of expressing a past event in English is to use the English past tense, not to translate literally from German, as a poorly educated German Holocaust denier might do, and thereby (at least evidently in this example) use present tense.

Note, however, that in this country, unlike Germany or Austria, we do not imprison Holocaust deniers. We, or at least most of us, prefer to expose their deceitful ignorance instead.

Mike - 2/24/2006

Let's put this in context: If David Irving robbed a liquor store in Austria in 1989, he could travel to Austria freely today. The stupid law Irving supposedly broke in 1989 was passed in 1992! Not "only" does Austria violate basic human rights of free thought, it also passes ex post facto laws. It only goes to show that when governments try to enforce bad laws, they either have to give up or repeal due process. Good job, thought police.

Todd - 2/24/2006

Jones is obviously a kike

J. Feuerbach - 2/24/2006

For some reason my name didn't show in the last post. Maybe someone is trying to protect me by hiding my identity!


- 2/24/2006

First, I don't think we should personify the Holocaust. However, you may have a point.

The basic problem with criminalizing Holocaust denial is that it insults people's intelligence.

This the message that it could convey:

(Adolescent version -sorry for the swearing)

"Hello everybody. We did the research on behalf of all of you on the Holocaust. Outcome? Yep, it indeed happened. No doubts whatsover. The good news is that you don't need to research the topic any further. The truth has been revealed.

What??? You don't trust us??? Fuck you!!! How on earth you dare to challenge our foolproof research methods and conclusions? You know what buddy? If you don't back off right now and state that the Holocaust really happened, we'll send your sorry ass to jail. Are we clear?

You should be ashamed of yourself! On top of all the hell Nazis have given to Jews, they now have to put up with agnostic wise guys like you and this Holocaust denial bullshit! Jeeeeezzzzz!"

Lisa Kazmier - 2/24/2006


Read Deborah Lipstadt's comments. The judge was apparently familiar with Irving's testimony in London and his claim of convertion was not taken to be truthful given that 2000 testimony. Lipstadt apparently doesn't like Irving's sentence any more than you do. I have no problem with it. I think it's worthwhile to examine the merits of the law but in this case I think Irving violated the law in his 1989 speech then compounded it by lying to the judge. Even if the law were changed yesterday, Irving still violated it in 1989.

Lisa Kazmier - 2/24/2006

Galileo also recanted as the Inquisition told him to do. Irving probably tried to do that and the judge deemed (as per his testimony in London) that he lied. Lying to a judge land you in jail. I have yet to see a case where it doesn't, have you?

Curious - 2/24/2006

Even the INQUISITION(!) COURT has let it's opponent Galileo Galilei go free!

Johannes Pfaeffle - 2/24/2006

David Irving is an arrogant Englishman.In 1989 he had wished it was his idea to send a forensic team to Auschwitz to prove or disprove the alleged gas chambers. Two other teams proved the lack of evidence to support the claim of gaS CHAMBERS. The "memorial" tablets the late pope stood in front of in 1979, were bare by 1991. As a result six million minus 3 million still equals six million. What are the Jews trying to hide?

Monia - 2/24/2006

Why the holocaust is afraid of research??? May be there is something to hide?

Monia - 2/24/2006

Why the holocaust is afraid of research??? May be there is something to hide?

Peter K. Clarke - 2/24/2006

Israel and South Africa had a lot in common at the time, and political correctness was not as highly developed then.

J. Feuerbach - 2/24/2006

I think you are missing the point.

Holocaust denial isn't a Jewish issue. Holocaust denial is mainly a problem of the countries that actively or passively participated in the genocide that, thanks to Mr. Irving's recantation, we now know for sure it took place. (Man! It's amazing what people do in order to avoid serving time...) Again, if Jews want to host a Nazi figure, they have all the right to do it. I don't think that means they are unaware of his/her resume. Maybe inviting Mr. Vorster was was a conscious political decision made because of his Nazi leanings. But even if they chose to be in denial, I think they earned that right. Don't you think so?

However, I really don't understand why Israel itself criminalized Holocaust denial. Here are two dubious hypotheses. First, it has to do with the fact that Israel is one of the few democratic countries (the only one?)in the Middle East, and that Jews have already learned from the West that although democracy might be a cool concept, overdosing on it should be avoided at any cost. Second, maybe it has to do with the fact that the younger generations of Jews are having short-term memory problems. My 2 cents!

Craig J. Bolton - 2/24/2006

Interesting. Ever hear of "prosecutorial discretion," particularly in dealing with a visiting head of state? Apparently not.

Lisa Kazmier - 2/24/2006

Sounds like a case worthy of a lot of study, some of which you cite. Are you saying that there is a reason why the Israelis would host a collaborator? What is it?

I thought you were going to make a different sort of comment about how well the Israelis or other Jewish-based groups do or don't acknowledge other targets of Hitler, such as gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, mentally ill.

Lisa Kazmier - 2/24/2006

How are you not arguing for the free market of ideas? You response is the one that seems overly defensive and frankly "idiotic."

Don't try pushing me around with your insults. I responded to your comment. Get over it if you don't like it.

Lisa Kazmier, PhD

Mike - 2/23/2006

How does anyone but David Irving know if Irving "lied to the judge"? Are you God? The question of "lying" about historical reasoning, political opinions, and personal conscience is not one for a government or a court to determine. It is impossible for any judge or HNN.org commentator to read the mind of David Irving the was O'Brien reads the mind of the hapless Winston Smith. It is, at root, idiotic to criminalize any mere opinion.

Mike - 2/23/2006

It is idiotic to counter "fascism" (however conceived) with more tyranny. Just as it was never acceptable for the West to persecute Marxists during the Cold War, it is outrageous now for "free" nations to attack peaceful historians and advocates! If you don't like Irving, leave him alone! Hey people: did any of you educated people ever read Thomas Jefferson or J.S. Mill?

Lars Nielsen - 2/23/2006

I am so sorry, but I have completely changed my mind.
The reason is, that I have recently learned, that islamists use holocaustdenial to agitate against jews all over the world.
Their argument is, that jews invented holocaust to get sympathy from world society, so they might steel Palestine and erect a jewish state. They further hold all jews responsible and attack them all over the world.
As it is our duty to protect our jewish citizens against physical attacks and defamation, certainly holocaustdenial should be punished, unless the denier can prove his denial.
Now mr. Irving has admitted, that holocaust did occur. He is therefore by his own admission guilty in false accusations against the jews for inventing holocaust. Now, he must have known, that such accusations would stir up antisemitic feelings and endanger jewish lives. It is therefore only just, that he may now pay the consequenses.

Orest Slepokura - 2/23/2006

When the South African prime minister John Vorster made a state visit to Israel in April 1976, it began with a tour of Yad Vashem, Israel's great
Holocaust memorial, where the late Yitzhak Rabin invited the old Nazi collaborator, unabashed racist and white supremacist to pay homage to Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

As an old Nazi collaborator, Vorster should, of course, have been put on trial after he set foot on Israeli soil; instead he was graciously welcomed by his Jewish hosts.

Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi reports that [The Israeli Connection, Random House: Toronto, 1987, p.x] "For most Israelis, the Vorster visit was just another state visit by a foreign leader. It did not draw much attention. Most Israelis did not even
remember his name, and did not see anything unusual, much less surreal in the scene [a Nazi diehard invited to debauch the memory of the Holocaust]: Vorster was just another visiting dignitary being treated to the usual routine."

Lisa Kazmier - 2/23/2006

I'd like to hear about the history of the laws. I suspect they were part of the reconstitution of basic laws after the war, that is, something done before any outside troops withdraw. It makes sense that allies would not wish to leave until sure that Nazism would not return to Austria or Germany. It seems to me a number of people posting here lack a sense of why these laws exist where they do, as if "we" all (all the Westernized countries) have them.

Given the recent hand-wringing over the rise of Jorg Haider and the Freedom Party, I think there are residual concerns, though perhaps no more in other places skinheads/neo-Nazis gather (not my bailiwick).

I totally endorse your sense of contempt over Irving's "change of heart" and furthermore I don't think the judge bought a shed of it. IMO lying to a judge = jail sentence; the only question was how pissed was he. Three years suggests he was more than mildly upset and if he went the full 10 years, I'd say he went, um, "postal."

Steve Jones - 2/23/2006

The main purpose of the Holocaust Denier is to inflict emotional pain on Jews. Most of these people really know the Holocaust occurred.

David Irving knows there was a Holocaust. He knows there were gas chambers and that 6 million died. He is happy that the Holocaust happened.

Holocaust Denial is a form of sadism. Holocaust Deniers should be locked up for the same reason we lock up stalkers and people who torture animals.

Denis Sinor - 2/23/2006

He was banned from Austria > he entered Austria > he should bear the consequences. Anyhow, sooner or later they will let him go.
If all the so-called historians and other "experts" would be jailed for their mistaken and/or dishonest views, they would fill the jails of the world.

Edwin Moise - 2/23/2006

Your response has very little connection with what I wrote. I made no idealistic claims about a free market in ideas. I simply wrote that as a practical matter, I believed this particular intervention in the marketplace of ideas was counterproductive, strengthening the Holocaust deniers rather than weakening them.

If you have an argument against what I actually wrote, I would be interested in seeing it.

To bring it down to the particular case now in question, I think the three-year prison sentence that has been given to David Irving will surely increase the sales of his books, and probably increase the number of people who believe that his books are valid history. This seems to me undesirable.

Peter K. Clarke - 2/23/2006

"Jail David Irving?", the title of this comment board, is by far and away not the most historically relevant question to be asking here and now with regard to World War II history and the laws in Europe governing discussions of that history. The fact that most of the 30+ posters who have commented here so far are talking about other issues is just one indication of this.

Irving is a clever guy, has obviously learned well from his mistakes in the Lipstadt lawsuit, and has played his cards adroitly this time. HNN and many posters here have been led straight into the deflecting quagmire of debate over the Holocaust denial laws, rather than a debate on Irving's scholarship.

Ultimately, defenders of these laws are forced (as is becoming apparent here as well) to rely on hypocritical prejudice to defend them. If the "ends" of preventing a Nazi resurgence justify censorship of Holocaust denial as "means", then how can one object to Turkey censoring NON-DENIAL of the Armenian genocide? Or, for that matter, the Nazis themselves burning "decadent" or "dangerous" books?

Defenders of the law which Irving has chosen to attack are ultimately forced to resort to a rather silly relative victimhood kind of argument: Intellectuals in 1930s Germany were victims of evil Nazism, therefore burning books there and then was bad. Armenians were victims in 1915 Turkey, therefore banning exposure of those atrocities afterwards is also bad. But Nazis were not victims, therefore censoring their latter-day apologists is okay. Irving's latest ploy blows away the (usually) well-intentioned BS of these feeble rationalizations and exposes their underlying hypocrisy. There is no way that a GOVERNMENT that jails a non-citizen for making a speech ten years previously can credibly claim that IT, or people it represents, are the victim of the speechmaker and not vice versa.

Why can't we talk about substantive historical issues, instead of chasing our collective tails with these sort of kindergarten logic exercises?

1. What is the history of these laws in Austria, Germany and other European countries? Who pushed for them, who enacted them, when, how and why?

2. Do they not have unsavory origins related to prior restrictive laws including those under fascism?

3. What about the long history of official and semi-official SUPPORT for various forms of implicit but defacto World War II and Holocaust denial (particularly in Austria but also elsewhere), before this became politically incorrect?

4. How many backsides of "alive-and-well" Nazis, their sympathizers, and their cover-uppers in these countries are being indirectly protected by laws which divert attention to trivial "speech crimes" of the present and thus away from the murder, extortion, thievery, and official lying to hide it, committed in the 1950s, '60's, 70's and '80’s, across many European countries?

5. What is the bottom line with Irving? Why did it take "mainstream" historians so long to deal with basic questions such as what really happened in the death camps, how many actually died there, and how, instead of acquiescing for so long in the cartoon mythology of exactly 6 million all killed in gas chambers and cremated in ovens? Is there a valid kernel within Irving's work based on exploiting the fact the historians generally have not done their homework properly and have too often indulged the delusion that this topic is somehow "outside" of history? Or that it is somehow more appropriate to concoct convoluted psychological theories, arcane categories, and rhetorical buzzwords than to gather facts, count numbers, and systematically examine step-by-step sequences of tangible policies, actions, events, and outcomes?

6. Irving now claims that he "changed his mind" based on "new evidence" which now convinces him that the Nazis did deliberately kill millions in cold blood after all. Why should this highly dubious statement (clearly designed to reinforce his "martyr" image) not be subject to incisive scrutiny? Can we imagine a historian who had written a dozen books on the U.S. Civil War suddenly "realizing" only later that this war was the bloodiest in American history? Or a lifelong historian of the Soviet Union suddenly "discovering" that Stalin signed a deal with Hitler enabling the invasion of Poland?

Steve Broce - 2/23/2006

There seems to be a lot of support for throwing Irving in jail for denying the holocaust. If it is such a good idea in Austria, maybe we need such a law in this country.

In fact, maybe we should ban the public expression of any unpopular idea.

Patrick Murray - 2/23/2006

David Irving, the twice convicted Holocaust denier, now has three years to work on his Austrian accent. Now he will be able to speak German just like Adolf Hitler.

Siewert H. Ellens - 2/23/2006

If he had admitted and apologized (towards the jewish community in particular)on his own free will and before he was forced to appear in court, I would plead his release. Otherwise, he is to be jailed for the rest of his lifetime.

Lisa Kazmier - 2/22/2006

I don't get to decide. I did not engage in a war against the Axis nor did I become involved in rebuilding Austria or Germany. A number of people seem to assert "we" have this law, as in how can we decry the behavior of protesters on the cartoons. Well, "we" DON'T have this law. This is Austrian law. As far as I know, it dates back from the aftermath of WWII. I am not Austrian. Indeed, on the German ban over "Mein Kampf," I've pointed out the existence of this ban WHILE I explain that an excerpt from this work is on my syllabus. I have students read lots of controversial stuff. In terms of a college class, I agree with Mill, but of course it'd be nice if the students I teach actually do any thinking (heck, I'm lucky they read anything). I point out that the existence of this law is something that has appeared in formerly Nazified countries. That's history. Does it still matter? I don't know for sure. Austrians can debate it. It's their law; if they want to change it, they should. Not my call.

I mostly pointed out that I agree with tossing Irving in jail not simply because of his violation of this law, but for his "story" about changing his mind. I don't buy it. The judge, who according to Deborah Lipstadt, read the trial info in Britain and believed Irving was lying to him. He's not a martyr for denying the holocaust. He's in jail for being an idiot who thought he could scam a judge. If someone tried that on me, I'd throw the book at him. I related to it in terms of the bs stories I got from students in incidents of plagiarism. Nothing makes me more irritated than some kid trying to play me like that. I become their worst nightmare in trying to ensure they get punished. "I'm sorry" goes a lot further with me than "the dog ate my homework." I sense the judge agrees with me, though 3 years is not exactly the worst penalty possible. Perhaps the guilty plea spared Irving a few extra years.

sbroce - 2/22/2006

Sure, Lisa, but who decides when it's time to intervene? You?

You decide you don't like the "spin" that Fox puts on the news. Fair enough. But when you start supporting "intervention" (that's a nice euphemism for a much uglier word, censorship)in free speach, who gets to decide when it's time to intervene? Are you gonna be the censor?

I may decide I don't like the story Rather botched on the "memogate" story. Do I get to "intervene" in CBS's speech?

It is (or should be ) so clear. Once you start decidin that "intervention" in free speach is warranted, you are already half way down the slippery slope.

sbroce - 2/22/2006

Yes, if you lie to a judge, while you are under oath, he may put you in jail--for perjury, not for denying the Holocaust.

Don't get me wrong, Irving is despicable and we all agree about that. But how are we different from the Muslim rioters who can't stand a couple of tastless cartoons if we lock Irving up for denying the Holocaust?

Lisa Kazmier - 2/22/2006

You are citing what John Stuart Mill believed to be so, that is, in a free market of ideas, the best ones will win and we will know they are correct because the erroneous ones will be shown to be so. Of course, in various states where the media is controlled, there is no free market of ideas. Then, you add the distortion of ideas owing to ownership of big media outlets (a nice example could be FOX and their disgusting slant on yesterday to talk about "liberal hypocricy" over the sales of port operations, rather than talking about how many Republicans have questioned the wisdom of this sale). Add to this the history of the perpetrators being often Austrian or German and, in that case, you get allies happy to have seen those laws passed because it made rebuilding peaceful postwar states easier (less fear of reconstituting Nazism as a popular movement).

Ideally, I support you but in practical terms I see reasons that Mill's perfect market doesn't exist, creating needs to intervene at times.

Lisa Kazmier - 2/22/2006

Not to a judge it don't. You lie to a judge, he gets mad and puts you in jail. That's fundamental.

Lisa Kazmier - 2/22/2006

He lied to a judge. That's a jail term right there. I got no outrage over that. He tried to flout the law and he tried to minimize his transgression. The law has its virtue and its idiocy. Nonetheless, he did the crime so I don't feel bad that he'll do his time.

J. Feuerbach - 2/22/2006

I agree.

Professor Deborah Lipstadt is an American Jewish academic who crushed David Irving in the British court.

It is a crime in Austria to minimize the atrocities of the Third Reich and David Irving faces up to 10 years imprisonment if found guilty. Guilty of what? Of killing Jews? No. Of denying that the Holocaust happened. Isn't there a slight difference between both charges?

This is nothing else than institutionalized and legalized censorship in so-called free democracies. Even professor Lipstadt's agrees with this opinion. "Generally, I don't think Holocaust denial should be a crime," she says. "I am a free speech person, I am against censorship."

She illustrates the difference between killing someone and denying that the killing happened. "We don't have laws against other kinds of spoken craziness. If you're a medical quack and you hurt someone, there's a law against that. But if you're a medical quack and you stand on the street corner preaching that you have an elixir that cures cancer and saves lives, no one throws you in jail."

Well, Mr. Irving could be imprisoned for up to 10 years not because he hurt someone (killing Jews) but because he preached something (the killing of Jews didn’t happen.)

Professor Lipstadt is correct when she argues that both Austria and Germany are not so far past the Third Reich. She therefore recognizes a case for laws in the lands that formed the heart of the Third Reich. I personally think that these laws were created for Germans and Austrians to avoid collective denial and forgetfulness from kicking in. This is their underlying message: “The Holocaust took place and Hitler too, and we allowed both to occur. Let’s not ever forget it.” “Austria and Germany are different, but I would not support those laws being instituted elsewhere," Lipstadt argues.

In sum,

(1) People of 9 European countries don’t care question if the Holocaust happened because it's a crime, and they could go to jail if found guilty. High school students living in any of these countries: consider yourselves warned. Sometimes an open and adventurous mind can get you into serious, serious trouble!

(2) Ms. Lipstadt doesn’t want Holocaust deniers to go to jail because she doesn’t want them to become martyrs. Hers is a political agenda. I don’t want them to go to jail because, from my detached perspective, they commited no crime. Even bigots have the right to speak their mind.

(3) Denying that the Holocaust happened is like depicting the image of the Prophet Muhammad: if you do it, someone will hurt or get pissed. You can mess with values and get away with it but not with taboos. Clearly many of us in the West and in the East have given in to the worst type of censorship: self-censorship. But again, who wants to go to jail or be blown into pieces for exercising the right to speak freely? People are principled but not stupid.

Lisa Kazmier - 2/22/2006

Maybe. But maybe not, given the rise of Jorg Haider and his "Freedom" party.

Lisa Kazmier - 2/22/2006

Gimme a break. The laws apply in Germany and Austria because they were the principal Axis powers responsible for the death camps. And MORE people died in them than Jews. Gypies, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, among others. The laws were meant to break any possible resurgence of Nazism. They may or may not be outdated but given how holocaust denial is alive and well in various parts of world, they serve a purpose. It's also against the law to obtain Hitler's "Mein Kampf" in Germany. There are reasons for that ban that go back to the creation of postwar, post-Hitler, peaceful countries.

Lisa Kazmier - 2/22/2006

Thanks for the definition. I forget these things. I'm a British historian, not a German one. I run across the term but I often forget what it means.

Lisa Kazmier - 2/22/2006

Good question. I'm not sure. Maybe it was his statement upon his guilt and entering a lie upon sentencing has gotta make a judge annoyed. I hate that myself, when students try to lie their way out of plagiarism, for example. Makes me wanna nail 'em extra hard.

James Weingartner - 2/22/2006

I am appalled that there needs to be a debate among historians on the Irving case. Erudite fool and knave he may be. Hypocritical traitors to our calling are we if we fail to express outrage at his imprisonment. I am outraged!

Jeff Riggenbach - 2/22/2006

There are *no* times, places, or situations in which *any* exceptions to free speech should be made -- period. "Fighting words" (one of the most asinine concepts ever formulated), "incitement," "wartime" -- all these are merely excuses employed by people who just can't bear hearing ideas, opinions, or factual claims with which they disagree. Let them get a life.

Jeff Riggenbach - 2/22/2006

Yes, free speech, to those capable of understanding it, means the right to lie.

Edwin Moise - 2/22/2006

I have never liked the laws against Holocaust denial. I like them less now that I see them being enforced in this fashion. I think they add to, rather than detract from, the credibility of the Holocaust deniers.

If the people who deny the Holocaust are not permitted to present their arguments in public, the speciousness of those arguments will not be apparent. Many will suppose that the arguments and evidence are much better than they actually are, and that the scholars who believe in the Holocaust fear that they would lose an honest debate if one should occur.

Marcus Epstein - 2/22/2006

1) Why is it that every article, even those by his defenders, start off by saying "Irving, a notorious Holocaust denier..." without even saying what a Holocaust Denier is, and what exactly he said? Are you a holocaust denier if you 5 and a half million jews were killed by the Nazis
2) Many people doubt the sincerity of his recent recantation, and I agree. Yet, I've also heard the same people say that he knew the holocaust happened, but for his own nefarious Nazi reasons, wrote these intentional lies claiming it didn't. Aren't these two concepts at odds with each other?
3) Yes Hitler was an evil man who killed millions, yet so was Stalin, Mao, and dozens of other leaders. Why is this the only privilleged historical event. There are tenured professors at top Universities that claim that Stalin killed ten thousand people. Why aren't they considered more "notorious" than Irving? Jean Marie Le Pen was fined in France for minimizing" the Holocaust when he said something along the lines of "in a history of WWII, the Holocaust would only take a few pages," In fact I can never read an article about him without that quote, yet his socialist opponent refused to denounce or acknowledge the crimes of Stalin and there has been literally no outrage. A final comparison would be to wonder why there are high level Soviet officers operating in the governments of Eastern Europe, yet we still are out hunting for geriatric alleged concentration camp guards.

4) I don't see this as any different than the Muslim's reaction to the Mohammed God. We blasphemed their gods, now Irving blasphemed our gods. As a Jew, I can tell you that to many of my co-religionists the Holocaust has literally become a more important than any biblical event. I also note that almost anyone who supports this decision talks about how offensive this is to survivors. Well if that's the case, then how is this any difference than censoriing the Mohammed cartoons for reasons of sensitivity? Does anyone actually believe that if Irving wasn't jailed, that this would somehow lead to a revival of Nazism in Austria? Of course not, yet that's of course the only pretext semi-rational pretext for the law.

Don Shaffer - 2/22/2006

The danger here is that David Irving will use his imprisonment to paint himself as a martyr for a despicable point-of-view. In other words, the Austrian court may have actually done Irving a favor. All they have accomplished is to call further attention to the man. Let Irving be free to speak his mind, and strangle himself into the obscurity he deserves with his own words. Sometimes it is necessary to challenge people like David Irving, sometimes it is better to let them rant to themselves. Since Deborah Lipstadt dismantled Irving, I think it is time for the latter course of action. The Austrian court decision, as well intentioned as it might be, keeps David Irving in the spotlight--where he wants to be. Free David Irving, and let him fade into the obscurity he so richly deserves.

John D. Beatty - 2/22/2006

By promoting a distorted picture of the European genocide for several years, Irving has made his own situation. If an Austrian wants to throw him in the jug for being a bad historian, denying evidence, deliberately misinterpriting evidence and generally being a bad historian, they should be allowed to.

It stops being "speech" when it becomes pervasive propaganda, and when it enables another generation to repeat the same horrors. If another state were to start up the ovens again, would Irving deny it, as he has in the past? Maybe not now, but some tome sooner than later some apologist for a rampage may point to Irving's awful work and say "See?"

If for no other reason, that should be enough to jail him.

Jonathan Dresner - 2/22/2006

schadenfreude is the (usually guilty) pleasure one gets from witnessing the pain or downfall of another.

I'm not at all supportive of the laws of which he ran afoul, but if all you have to do is avoid one country and it's not the nation of your birth or something.... It's hard to feel too sorry for Irving, given his career and the stupidity of going to Austria.

Given that the maximum possible sentence for the crime was ten years, three is moderate.

Richard Andrew Kane - 2/22/2006

Free speech does not mean the right to lie, especially under the cloak of a historian. I'm sure there are many drunks in bars that say there was no holocast, and they do not deserve three years in jail for that. However, the false claims by a historian who reasonably knows better gives fodder for extremists such as the President of Iran and the Palestinian jihadists who claim: "There never was a holocost, and besides the Jews deserved it!"
Free speech does not apply when falsely crying: "FIRE!." And the republication of this libel can easily ignite the dry tinder where it falls. Today's world counts about 45 dead and millions in damage from the re-publication of a cartoon that caused no trouble in the (slightly) saner world of September 2005.

Robert Smith - 2/22/2006

"Thought crime" is an ugly phrase, but that's clearly what we're talking about here. I don't agree with Irving's political philosophy and as a historian, I think that he's gone off the deep end, but he's being imprisoned for with having "incorrect thoughts". I don't agree with a lot of people: religious fundamentalists, people who like country-western music, soccer fans, etc. but I don't think they should be tossed in jail. I think people have a right to be Nazis if they want to be Nazis. I'm reminded of Jerry Springer, who is often criticized for having white power types on his show. I strongly encourage this. Please expose these people to the light of day, they come across as idiots, as does Irving and most of the fools who attend exents where he speaks. These people marginalize themselves, there is no reason to make them martyrs.

And yes, I've been to Germany and I'm aware there is an undercurrent of anti-semitism there. So what? Been to the Heartland lately? I don't think the Nazis are poised to make a comeback in Europe, but if they do it will be because of anti-muslim sentiments, not Holocaust denial.

J M RIce - 2/21/2006

Speech should, as a general social policy, be free. However, there are times and places and situations where exceptions must be made. Examples are fighting words and incitement and wartime; in the case of Austria, it is history. Someone here has asserted that Nazism is no longer a problem in Austria. This is not correct. There is the matter of Jörg Haider, whose party represents the tip of an iceberg. There is also the continued endemic anti-Semitism of Austrians and the continued refusal of todays Austrians to recognize responisbility, if not guilt, for World War II. Another poster illustrates how alive and well anti-Semitism is, though he attempts to disguise his anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism. It is naive to the point of irresponsibility to believe, in these times, when civilization is being threatened violently by religious fascists, who share many of the characteristics of the Nazis, that Holocaust deniers and their ilk have a benign presence in places like Austria. The law against Holocaust denial in Austria is a prudent one. When vices are problematic in a society, that society has the right to apply sanctions to discourage them. Laws against the promotion of Nazism in Austria is a good example, mindless, dogmatic platitudes about free speech notwithstanding.

David Lieberman - 2/21/2006

Wow. This "logical sequel" skips a step or two, don't you think? And I'm sure you don't really believe that the promotion of "anti Holocaust efforts" would be the dawn of "a sad, bad day" -- but then, since your final paragraph reflects rather more passion than clarity, I'm not really sure what you're trying to say.

Personally, I'm skeptical of the efficacy of criminalizing Holocaust denial, on the grounds that it has the unfortunate effect of fetishizing the Holocaust. I can't see what good can possibly come from making the Holocaust almost irresistably appealing to anyone looking for an effective way to stick it to mainstream society.

On the other hand, as I noted in the earlier thread, if Irving did indeed declare himself to have been "ablehnungrein," if you will, as long as fifteen years ago, a claim that is demonstrably false, and if he was under oath at the time, is he not guilty of a criminal offense quite apart from promoting an unorthodox, repugnant and deeply dishonest ideology?

James Kabala - 2/21/2006

Besides free-speech considerations, giving Irving the opportunity to present himself as a victim is a bad idea.

David Lieberman - 2/21/2006

Judges do tend to become angry with liars. Question: was Irving under oath when he launched this particular prevarication?

Lars Bjorn Nielsen - 2/21/2006

My personal opinion is, that mr Irving is a jerk. I also understand, that Austria has a problem with holocaust denial, because so many austrians were nazis. But that is history. Now adays, Nazism is no threat to austrian democracy, so they should allow academic freedom to launch ridiculous theories.
In stead, mr Irving should be sentenced by his fellow historians by denying his wild theories and proving him wrong.

Lisa Kazmier - 2/21/2006

You need to enlighten me on schadenfreude (the connection). I'm lucky I understand sonderweg and realpolitik. There's only so much, ya know...

I found Deborah Lipstadt's comment very informative, as it sounds like the judge recognizes the difficulty regarding what he has to enforce but given the recent context of the Muslim echoes of holocaust denial and Irving apparently flouting the court with a bogus story, the judge had to do something. My personal take is that judges get very angry when they are lied to and, having seen through Irving trying to hoodwink him in court, he imposed a sentence showing "you and anyone after you will think twice before trying to ---- with me." That ensures his continued effectiveness as a judge, if not the entire system. Very understandable.

Sara Salzman - 2/21/2006

the concept of schadenfreude.

I also believe that Irving's "partner" has it exactly correct. If Irving didn't travel to Austria -- and BRAG about doing so -- he would not be in jail today. He would be happily travelling between London and Key West, boasting about how he hasn't paid back a single cent of the judgment against him.