David Irving sparks row over Holocaust 'propaganda'Historians in the News
The Hitler specialist Sir Ian Kershaw, whose interview last Monday launched El Mundo’s commemorative series, said he – and most historians – would have pulled out had they known of Mr Irving’s participation.
In the interview published yesterday, Mr Irving once again played down the slaughter of millions of Jews during the Second World War, despite having served time in an Austrian jail for his extremist views.
“The Holocaust is just a slogan, a product like Kleenex or Xerox printers. They’ve turned it into a commercial phenomenon, and succeeded in making money out of it – producing films about it which have made millions,” said the 71-year-old Mr Irving, prompting fury and dismay in Israel.
Israel’s ambassador in Madrid, Raphael Schutz, condemned the interview as an insult to readers, to legitimate historians and to the concept of free speech. Mr Schutz said: “Everyone who knows anything about the issue knows that David Irving is nothing but… a con man.”
El Mundo justified publication on the grounds of freedom of expression and because Mr Irving was at the centre of a wider debate about the criminalisation of opinion.
But Avner Shalev, the director of Israel’s Holocaust Museum, responded in a letter published by El Mundo: “There are subjects about that don’t permit a ‘for’ and ‘against’. The paper gives legitimacy to a man who doesn’t deserve it… It is inconceivable that a serious newspaper should provide a platform for anti-Semitism.”
The notion of the Holocaust was built up decades after the event, Mr Irving argues. “Until the 1970s it was just a speck of dust on the horizon,” he tells El Mundo. “The proof is that it doesn’t appear in any of the biographies of the great leaders of the Second World War. But from then on it became fashionable. The Jews turned it into a brand, using the same technique as Goebbels. They invented a slogan… and repeated it ad nauseam.”
Asked if he continued to believe that the figure of six million Jews exterminated was an exaggeration, Mr Irving replied: “I’m not interested in figures. I don’t count bodies. I’m not all that interested in the Holocaust.”