I believe the first time I heard David Irving speak was in 2011, probably, in the meeting room of a little motel in a suburb of Nashville. At the time I was two or three years into my personal political and philosophical awakening, and I’d probably read Hitler’s War (in PDF on Kindle, which inexplicably obscured all the dates – try that one for a challenge!), and I knew I was having a chance to hear the first honest historian I’d ever encountered speak on a subject he and I both had been consumed with – the true history of what happened during WWII in Europe. My “consumption” was no more than a foreshadowing of unexplained fascination in my Jr. High days followed by the realization that had hit me (like a ton of lead), in about 2008 listening to Saga sing “Ode to a Dying People”, that everything I’d been told about the most significant events of the twentieth century, was a lie. His, on the other hand, was a body of work that had in fact consumed his lifetime and his life as well.
That first meeting had a few rows of people on folding chairs. I’ve seen him and met with him, in increasingly “intimate” circumstances three times since – I say “intimate” because our last meeting was in that same suburb in a different hotel in which Mr. Irving met with a total of four of us in a room/suite with a meeting area. At the first couple of meetings, Mr. Irving traveled with an assistant. The last couple of time, I believe, he was alone. Every time, he had brought with him in a car boxes of his books, beautifully constructed, to sell at a discount. Although everything he had ever written is available free in PDF on his website, we buy the books. We support his work.
During those same years, and most recently, we’ve seen David Irving attacked from the “right” and from the Left. There was outrage a couple of years ago over Mr. Irving’s statements that a large number of Jews had been killed by the Germans during the final stages of WWII; as if this were some new “cucking” or apologia that he had endeavored late in life, at the hands of those same Jews. In fact his story has not changed, only been modified according to futher facts he finds The whole matter of David Irving and the “Holocaust” is saturated with irony. He was imprisoned in 2005, I believe, in Austria, as a “Holocaust Denier” – and we live in an age of infamy when such a thing, a question of mandated historical doctrine can be a crime, reminiscent of the burning of Bruno – when he has never been any such thing. He has merely tried to sort out the facts.
And then there’s that recent horrid movie which I refuse to see. I won’t promote it here, even negatively, by mentioning it.
David Irving may be in fact the last and most honest historian most of us will ever have a chance to encounter. He was born in 1938 and grew up during the War, in Britain. He evidently had a talent for languages and a fascination with Germany, and since he decided to become a writer and write history, he has done nothing else. David Irving has spent his life with the mad idea that the best way to do history is not to read and quote other historians – who are in fact reading and quoting other historians, in a circle jerk ad infinitum, following the spoken and unspoken dictate of the master of the Lie – but, god forbid, to look at the original documents and speak to the people who saw the events in question.
How many people have read Shirer’s foul tome, written by a man who was an outspoken enemy of Germany, about Germany – a journalist who was admittedly there – or Speer’s book, written by a man who was always ambivalent and who was transparently turned? If you have, you’ve read everything that has since been regurgitated by all the other “mainstream historians”, who are not historians at all, but rewriters – popularizers, no more historians than Bill Nye or Neil deGrasse Tyson are scientists.
David Irving wrote (has written, is writing) his books by talking with Hitler’s entourage, the survivors of the actual Holocaust that was visited on Germany after the War. And by spending hours, days, weeks, months, years, pouring through documents no one else ever took the trouble to examine. In thanks for his discoveries, he has often been banned from those same archives.
David Irving has paid the price for his devotion to the truth. He does not adhere to anyone’s agenda. He didn’t start out as an “anti-Semite”. He will, and always has in my recollection, stated that four or five million Jews were killed by the Germans in the last years of the War. He has only insisted that it occurred, not in manufactured Hollywood sets like Auschwitz (where there may have been some murders, but certainly no gassing) but in the eastern camps – and mostly by gunfire. In other words, he just wanted to get the facts straight.
I think David Irving admires Adolf Hitler but despises the top Nazis, actually, if he were to put it so plainly. But he’s an older sort of British which is too polite for that. I think that he thinks that most of the killing which was done, was done with Hitler’s awareness but without his intent – that Hitler wanted to put off the Jewish problem til after the War, and would have preferred to do it by deportation. But I don’t want to put words into his mouth; you can read his books and maybe if you’re lucky you can speak with him yourself.
What concerns me is the portrait of a man whose life has been undone by search for the truth and his adherence to it. He says now, or said last year or the year before, wistfully, that he could have gone a different way. He doesn’t regret seeking and speaking the Truth. He has stated that he should not have testified for Ernst Zündel – maybe he feels that his testimony was too unnecessary and too peripheral to help, and that the fire he drew for it was out of proportion to any good he may have done. Maybe he’s not too happy with the association with Fred Leuchter.
Mr. Irving has been banned from Germany, and then let back in.. and when I spoke to him last (before this time) he was even being expelled from the US on a technical INS violation, which obviously seems to have cleared. He has had his assets and housing targeted in Britain. I don’t know the details of his personal situation, but it does hurt my heart to see this old man forced to travel alone with his books in a suitcase like the Fuller Brush man, when he is the greatest historian of the most important era in modern history.
Oh, he hates the Jews now. I’ll let him tell you what they did to torment him during the Lipstadt trial.
This last time we spoke, there were as I said only four of us in attendance – one old fan and friend of his, two young upstarts, one of them foreign – Indian? and myself. I mentioned I had been a lawyer and we talked about the trial. He made us coffee. I bought a copy of the first volume of Churchill’s War; my bookcase is full of Irving books, and I’ve finished them all, some repeatedly, except the new (to me) Churchhill volume and the Virus House. I’ve actually gotten a little jaded on WWII and Hitler. I think the effort was valiant, but it failed and we need to move on. – through or out. That’s mostly what I’ve been working on and reading and will be writing about.
There’s another caution I’d give about David Irving’s books. He is an obsessive collector of facts – as was, I think, Hitler himself. Yet you can finish one of his books feeling as if you’ve read a catalog and not reached the heart of the matter. You will not find Hitler’s soul or that of any of his subjects in his books. That’s best done in fiction. Sometimes I think he may even have been misled by the facts he finds. But that’s my personal conjecture.
My father was sixteen years older than David Irving and he fought in the War that Irving writes about. Possibly on the wrong side, although it was the winning one. I only mention that because I was born latish in my parent’s lives for those times, and I’m not young now, and soon there will be no one left to speak with who actually remembers those times. David Irving does, although from a child’s point of view. and has spoken with those who made and lived them. He has sat in their homes and spoken with them, and their sons and daughters. He has read their diaries and their records. You will never do any of those things. You owe it to yourself to read Mr. Irving’s books, at the least, and try to use your mind. Maybe for a bit you can look at real history, and decide for yourself, while you still can. If that possibility still exists.
You can find Mr. Irving’s work here.