Holocaust Denier David Irving Spurs Outrage Over Concentration Camp Tours
Holocaust denier David Irving is causing yet another serious stir in relation to the Nazis — this time by leading exclusive tours of concentration camps.
The controversial historian is charging participants around $3,000 each for a sweeping tour of Poland and Latvia, visiting major Holocaust sites and museums along the way.
Irving has touted his trip as an opportunity to “make up your own mind about the truth” during an “unforgettable journey of a lifetime,” touring sites like the Treblinka and Sobibor extermination camps and Adolf Hitler’s “Wolf’s Lair.”
After taking the group to the “Wolf’s Lair” and Heinrich Himmler’s headquarters, Irving will also deliver a lecture on the former SS commander.
The promotional material for the tour also pokes fun at Poland’s thriving Holocaust tourism industry (pointing, for example, to the fact that the Auschwitz museum recently told travelers to book their tours months in advance, to guarantee a spot). One line reads: “Forget the phony allures, mass-tourism and ‘reconstructions’ of modern-day Auschwitz — the erstwhile slave-labour camp turned into a tourist attraction, complete with hot-dog vendors and souvenir stands!”
Irving’s downplaying of the horrors of the Holocaust fully came to light in 1996, when he sued historian Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin Books, for libeling him in her book, Denying the Holocaust. But Irving lost, when the U.K. court determined he was indeed an antisemitic Holocaust denier who distorted historical evidence to back up his ideology.
Lipstadt told The Algemeiner this week that this is not the first time Irving has run such tours, and said she could envision a scenario in which Irving is banned from some of his intended tourist destinations — something that would cause a media frenzy and boost his notoriety. Ultimately, she contended, Irving would “proclaim himself the victim,” and receive “invitations to speak at universities about the need for free speech and removal of censorship.”
Lipstadt said Iriving has already lectured on these very issues at the Oxford Union, and there “are lots of other venues for him.”
While Holocaust denial is illegal in many European countries, such as France, Poland and Germany, free speech laws in the U.K. protect Irving’s right to espouse his beliefs. He would likely be in better company beyond Europe’s borders, however, judging by an Anti-Defamation League poll conducted in 2014, which revealed that the greatest prevalence of Holocaust doubters — those who have heard of it, but believe its history is distorted — are in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Many nongovernmental organizations have called for banning Irving’s tours, condemning his lack of respect for the memory of the millions of victims who perished at the hands of the Nazis in WWII. These groups include the Campaign Against Antisemitism, the Holocaust Educational Trust, the Never Again Association and the Anti-Defamation League, which lambasted Irving’s profiteering from Holocaust denial, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.