Irving Update: Free Speech Supporters Protest Austria's Jailing of British Historian
Under a grey, grim November sky, a spirited group of free speech supporters from Ottawa, Toronto and Mississauga braved icy winds and  picketed the Austrian Embassy in Ottawa, November 22, to protest the November 11 arrest of WW II historian David Irving by Austrian authorities.       Irving, 65, was arrested on a stale 1989 warrant for controversial statements he made about WW II nearly two decades ago. He could face up to 10 years in prison in Austria for challenging the state approved version of  WW II history.

      "The arrest of David Irving is a disgrace," said CAFE Director Paul Fromm. "Austria is demeaning itself. The nation that gave us the music of Mozart, Wagner and  Schubert and the thriving arts of Vienna should be ashamed of itself. Civilized countries don't throw historians and writers in jail."

      David Irving is renowned for over 30 best selling books on World War II, including Hitler's War and Churchill's War and Dresden, and biographies of Hermann Goering and Field Marhall Erwin Rommel. Irving distinguished himself by his search for memoirs and diaries of major participants and for his interviewing of many of the assistants and private secretaries of key WW II figures, including Adolf Hitler's  surviving staff.

      "Healthy countries don't decree a particular version of history or interfere with ongoing historical inquiry," said Fromm.

      "By arresting David Irving for the conclusions he's drawn from a lifetime of research, Austria has lined itself up with the enemies of free speech and free thought. This behaviour is unworthy of its past and we hope the Austrian Government will reconsider and release Mr. Irving," added Fromm.

      The protesters carried signs reading “Free David Irving”; “Civilized Countries Don’t Jail Historians” and “Shame on Austria.”

      Mr. Fromm delivered a letter of protest to the Ambassador which was politely received by embassy staff.

      “I’ve known David Irving for many years and have found him to be an honest, insightful and objective historian dedicated to exploring and revealing the truth,” said former Canadian diplomat Ian V. Macdonald, who joined the protest. “No one should be punished for revealing the facts,” he added.

      John Morgan, an Oxford graduate, said he doubted that most Austrians agree with their repressive government. Calling Mr. Irving a “political prisoner,” Morgan, a protest organizer from Toronto, argued: “The hangover of World War II propaganda has lasted long enough. It’s time for historians to be able to explore those events without fear of being imprisoned.”

      Karl, a free speech supporter and law student  from Upstate New York, tried to drive to Ottawa to attend the protest. Honest lad that he was, he was denied entry into Canada. “I told them that, and it was my intention [to join the protest], but they told me that I couldn't because somehow meeting you at a protest meant that I was protesting.  I would have made up a sign if I was protesting, and planned to get there at the start of the event instead of after my other class.  Apparently 20 year old White males in suits are always suspect when going to Canada.” Had he been a Jamaican crack dealer or a self-styled homosexual “refugee” from Cuba, no problem!

      Free speech supporters from other countries sent messages of support. Lady Michele Renouf, who has just completed an 8-city Canadian tour sponsored by CAFÉ wrote from London, England: “Please add my support to your firm stand for free speech, open academic and democratic debate in calling for the immediate release by the Austrian authorities of British WW2 historian David Irving.   Mr Irving's present and threatened 20 years' incarceration in an Austrian prison makes a mockery of the Fallen Soldier, especially during last week's World Wars Remembrance commemorations when, by twist-speak, school children everywhere were lied to that our soldiers, in giving their young lives, guaranteed us our democracy and freedom.”

            Mark Weber, Director of the Institute for HistoricaL Review in California, wrote: “At one time it was against the law in north American and throughout Europe to deny God. Now -- in Israel, Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, and several other countries – to is a crime publicly to dispute the official version of Holocaust history.  While [David Irving’s] arrest and continued incarceration have generated international attention, Irving’s case is by no means unique. Three days earlier, the trial in Germany of “Holocaust denier” Ernst Zundel began with a dramatic clash between his attorneys and the presiding judge. And a few days later, Germar Rudolf, a German citizen, was deported from Chicago to his homeland, where he likewise faces years of imprisonment for “denying the Holocaust.”

Over the years, many Europeans have been fined, imprisoned, and forced into exile for “Holocaust denial,” including Robert Faurisson and Roger Garaudy in France, Siegfried Verbeke in Belgium, Juergen Graf and Gaston-Armand Amaudruz in Switzerland, and Guenter Deckert, Hans Schmidt and Fredrick Toben in Germany.

‘Holocaust denial’ laws violate ancient and universal standards of justice. They criminalize even factual or truthful statements that  ‘play down’ or ‘whitewash’  the “Holocaust” – often defined as the systematic killing of six million Jews in Europe during World War II. These laws are selective and one-sided. In the countries where they are on the books, ‘the Holocaust’ is the only chapter of history that may not be freely discussed.

The governments that maintain such laws deserves the scorn and contempt of all those who treasure freedom of speech and freedom of historical inquiry. Along with many others around the world, we call on the Austrian authorities to release Mr. Irving immediately. We further urge Austrians to erase the shameful law that prohibits free and open debate about the wartime fate of Europe’s Jews. Austria should join the rest of the civilized world in protecting free and open discussion of all chapters of history. “

In another development, George Kovac, European correspondent for the American Free Press reports that he tried to see David Irving today, having been told it was approved. On arriving in Vienna from Budapest, he was told by prison authorities that he could not see political prisoner Irving and that Irving is not allowed incoming or outgoing telephone calls. Irving was formally charged in an Austrian court, November 22,  with “denying the holocaust.” He appears Friday for a bail hearing.