David Irving sparks row over Holocaust 'propaganda'

Controversial historian causes outrage by calling the Nazis' mass murder a 'commercial phenomenon'

Eminent historians have condemned a Spanish newspaper's decision to interview the controversial historian David Irving as part of its coverage to mark the 70th anniversary of the Second World War.

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."

How come, the interviewer persisted, you are the only historian to deny that the concentration camp at Auschwitz contributed to the Holocaust? "Because they all copy each other. To jump off the rails would condemn them to jail and poverty, which is what happened to me."

Mr Irving served 11 months in an Austrian jail in 2006 for denying that the Nazis killed six million Jews.

He insisted yesterday that Hitler was not responsible, being merely the dupe of smarter collaborators. "Hitler was a simple man constantly deceived by his subordinates." The allegation that the Nazi leader sought to exterminate the Jews was, he said, "a propaganda lie. In Hitler's speeches there is only one anti-Semitic sentence. Something about 'when the war begins, I want the Jews to suffer'. But that's just a stereotypical expression."

Goebbels and Himmler were more to blame, he said, but Churchill – "a corrupt politician" – was responsible for the war: "He pushed the UK into the war and destroyed the British empire. Churchill was in the hands of the Jews, and if he'd surrendered he'd have gone down in history as a failure. People would have laughed at him." So should he have made a pact with Hitler? "Of course. We were very close to ending the war in 1940."

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Development Manager (District Heating)

£55000 Per Annum plus company car and bonus scheme: The Green Recruitment Comp...

Lead Hand - QC

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Hand - QCProgressive are recruiting...

Chemical Engineer/Project Coordinator

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Chemical Eng...

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn