More on David Irving
On why David Irving went to Austria, even though he knew there was a warrant for his arrest there:
Before leaving London for Austria, he left behind 60 blank checks and packed eight shirts, even though the trip was only scheduled to take two days. He is always prepared for anything, says Irving, meaninfully raising his bushy eyebrows. "Be prepared," the motto of the Boy Scouts, is apparently also his motto.
He knew that there was a warrant for his arrest in Austria. In 1989, then Chancellor Franz Vranitzky personally threatened Irving with immediate arrest if he ever showed his face in Austria again. But the stubborn Hitler apologist saw Vranitzky's threat as an invitation to return to Austria as quickly as possible. "I come from a family of officers," he growls from behind the plate glass, "we march towards cannon fire." But he did make a mistake when it came to picking suitable shoes. Prisoners are allowed to walk in the prison yard every day, but Irving has, "unfortunately, only one pair of very expensive shoes," and they're slowly falling apart.
British historian Paul Addison described Irving as "normally a giant when it comes to research, but often a schoolboy when it comes to judgment." As horrific as it sounds, there is reason to believe that he is not just driven by the lucrative business of the Holocaust denial industry, but also by a scurrilous and ultimately banal delight in provocation.
This delight is not uncommon among the upper classes in England, as Prince Harry's recent appearance at a party wearing a swastika armband demonstrates. Irving takes advantage of the considerable tolerance of his countrymen, whose regard for freedom of opinion protects even the most tasteless pronouncements of an eccentric.
It is no coincidence that a man like Irving comes from a country where "Führer" jokes are still part of the standard repertoire of the tabloid press, and where delight in provocation is considered acceptable even in polite society. Irving undoubtedly has as many detractors in Britain as anywhere else. But statements such as "more people were killed in the back seat of Edward Kennedy's car in Chappaquiddick than in the gas chambers at Auschwitz," with their blend of sexual innuendo and deliberate affront, are a reflection of the trivial ignorance with which many a product of the British boarding school system tries to show the world belongs to him. "He is a megalomaniacal class tyrant," says Holocaust expert Deborah Lipstadt, against whom Irving filed a spectacular lawsuit six years ago, at the end of which, however, the judge in the case declared him an anti-Semite, a racist and a liar.
"Yes, I did many silly things", says Irving simply, noting that the British way of doing things isn't always polite.
Irving, who grew up without a father, started rebelling against the established order when he was a schoolboy. When he won a book award at school, he asked for Hitler's "Mein Kampf" as his prize. It was the same impetus that prompted him to drape a Soviet flag over the gate of his school. He had merely intended to shock people, Irving told Britain's Observer newspaper in 1992. "It was all in good fun, and when I write, I try to introduce a bit of fun onto each page." In 1993, he told another interviewer that he had no political agenda apart from enjoying seeing "other historians make fools of themselves."Finally, the writer speculates that Irving's admiration for Hitler comes from his yearning for empire and his view of history as a panorama of "eating or being eaten":
Irving is unaware of moral or even human contradictions. He is too amoral to even understand that jokes such as the one about Kennedy's car are an affront to the survivors of the Holocaust. Irving's understanding of history is not unlike that of the Nazis. History is a panorama of eating or being eaten. Only the strong can win, and Irving reserves his unabashed admiration exclusively for the strong.
One of those people is "Bomber" Harris. In his first book, Irving turned the world's attention to the horrors of the bombing of Dresden. Nevertheless, he insists that Air Marshall Sir Arthur Harris was a great man. "I'm talking about a commander. Like Dönitz," he explains, his eyes flashing. "Someone who can send 20,000 young people to their deaths each day is a great commander." Given these views, Irving's admiration for Hitler comes as no great surprise.