Former historian David Irving was released from jail in Austria early, on December 21. Irving claims that he no longer denies the Holocaust.
Details are in the Daily Telegraph from England.
In several European nations, including Austria, denial of the Holocaust not only is historical error, it’s also against criminal law.
He was arrested in November 2005 on charges related to two speeches and a newspaper interview he gave in Austria in 1989 in which he called the gas chambers a “fairy tale” and claimed that Hitler had no role in the Holocaust, even “offering his hand to protect the Jews”.
The charges covered statements he had made, such as questioning the accepted version of the Holocaust. He argued that “millions of people were led to believe” an “absolute absurdity”. A jury found him guilty of denying the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes.
Irving had appealed his 3-year sentence as too long. He serves the rest on probation.
Irving earlier sued U.S. historian Deborah Lipstadt for libel, in London, after she had called him a Holocaust denier. In a long and famous trial, she was found not to have libeled Irving, though under British law, truth is not a defense as it is in the U.S.
While it offends my First Amendment sensibilities to criminalize the making of such claims, one wonders about the intelligence or goals of people who deny the Holocaust.
Under California law, judicial note has been taken that the Holocaust occurred. It is a fact of history. U.S. law allows more robust, and offensive, discussion of the topic.
But in the end, the Holocaust is a fact. It’s an ugly, brutal and regrettable fact. Denying it occurred at all, or to the scope and degree it occurred, is only an odd form of denial of reality.
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