ONE of the world’s most notorious Holocaust deniers and Nazi sympathisers has been condemned for giving a secret talk in Glasgow on Friday about his vile career.
David Irving made a series of “disgusting” remarks about Jews at the event in the city’s DoubleTree by Hilton hotel. He also said that he liked living in the north of Scotland because it reminded him of the England he was born into, when “England was white”.
The event, which the Sunday Herald secretly obtained access to, took place as Glasgow’s Lord Provost Sadie Docherty held her annual Burns Supper at the same venue downstairs.
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Jackson Carlaw, the deputy leader of the Scottish Tories whose constituency has a sizeable Jewish population, said: “He [Irving] is a disgrace and the peddler of a deeply hateful message which Scotland and the world can well do without.”
Irving, an English historian who has written more than 20 books, is reviled for his sympathetic view of Hitler and for disputing the official, accepted account of the Holocaust.
He sued author Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher for libel after she wrote that he was a Holocaust denier, but he lost the case in 2000 and was made bankrupt.
Irving was then jailed in 2006 in Austria - where Holocaust denial is a criminal offence - after describing the gas chambers as a “fairytale”. He had pled guilty. A film on the subject called Denial, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Wilkinson and charting Lipstadt’s victory and Irving’s disgrace, was released earlier this month.
The 78-year-old is now living near Nairn and is in the middle of a tour to discuss his life and books. The locations are not advertised amid fears of protests and cancellations.
On Friday evening, the great and good of Glasgow arrived at the DoubleTree in the centre of the city for the Lord Provost’s gala Burns Supper. Pipers greeted the black tie guests, who included city council leader Frank McAveety and a host of other prominent names in the worlds of politics and business. A Scottish Government event was also listed as having taken place earlier in the day.
But a very different gathering had assembled in the hotel’s discreet Clyde Suite on the eighth floor, for an event in the name of a firm linked to the author, rather than in Irving's own name.
Dressed in a scruffy blue jumper with a hole in it, the convicted Holocaust denier delivered a speech about his life that was heavy on self-pity and vile comments.
Speaking to an audience of all age groups, which included a child, Irving praised prominent Nazis and criticised Winston Churchill. On Rudolf Hess, a member of Hitler’s cabinet who tried to broker a “peace” deal with the UK after flying to Scotland, he said: “It was as though the Lord had wanted Rudolf Hess’s magnificent achievement to be blessed with success. He had come on a peace mission. He had wanted to put an end to this crazy war.” Irving also claimed Hess did not commit suicide, but had been killed by a black American soldier.
On Hitler, he recalled travelling to Germany decades ago and speaking to some of the individuals who had known him: “They all say they admire him immensely. Admiration for him is super abundant.”
However, his obsession with Jews came to the fore during an appalling two hours. On Martin Gilbert, a historian who wrote a multi-volume work on Churchill, Irving said the books were “very good, but he’s Jewish. Everything negative towards the Jews has been cut out. That’s what happens”.
He also moaned about negative reviews of his own books: “I remember we got a four-page review in the Sunday Times from Arthur Koestler. He didn’t like the book. [There was] another Jew, what was his name, Rosenthal… something like that. He called it a ‘bucketful of slime’.”
As a boy, Irving said he watched films about British heroism, but lamented: “Now of course the same schoolboys go down the High Street or to the Odeon cinema to see Schindler’s List, all about hatred of one people to another people. Nothing to do with Britain.”
After signing books at the mid-way point of the event, Irving appeared to relax and stepped up his hateful comments: “I am very conscious of the fact that we are not being disturbed here this evening. I am wondering whether this means that the Jews now have given me carte blanche and said, ‘Lay off him, he’s getting old’.”
In another rant, he said that after 1938, “we allowed in hundreds of thousands of Jews who have taken over the country”.
A woman in the front row, who seemed to have a Liverpudlian accent, hollered: “And the judiciary”.
He continued: “When you look at the way these people for the last 50 years have spent 50 years trying to destroy me and my family, as Jews, they have done this as Jews, I criticise them and they accuse me of anti-Semitism.”
One of the most disturbing aspects of the evening was the interaction with members of the audience.
A man asked: “Was there not about 50 million dead in the Second World War? The Jews were not the only ones who suffered.”
A woman asked whether the Denial film would have the opposite effect of what “they” think. Another individual suggested the victims of the Belsen death camp had starved.
At one point, Irving said there had been a plan during the Second World War to round up and ship Jews to Madagascar, which prompted a man to say: “Certainly improve the banking industry.”
Irving also defended Hitler, saying: “Hitler was uninterested in the Jews and was constantly applying the brakes on all these anti-Jewish operations.”
Asked about President Trump, he said: “It’s very interesting to see the problems he is already having with the judiciary and the Jews.”
Of his current living arrangements, he mused: “When I was born England was white, like Inverness,” adding, “That’s why I like living [there] because it is England as I remember it.”
At the end of the event, Irving received a standing ovation by a group of men at the back of the room.
In his damning ruling in the 2000 libel case, Mr Justice Gray wrote of Irving: “Not only has he denied the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz and asserted that no Jew was gassed there, he has done so on frequent occasions and sometimes in the most offensive terms.”
He added: “He is content to mix with neo-fascists and appears to share many of their racist and anti-Semitic prejudices. The picture of Irving which emerges from the evidence of his extra-curricular activities reveals him to be a right-wing pro-Nazi polemicist.”
The DoubleTree by Hilton is a 300-room hotel that was rebranded last year and took Hilton’s Scottish portfolio to 16 properties. It is operated under a franchise agreement with Hilton.
A spokesperson for the DoubleTree by Hilton Glasgow Central hotel said: “We can confirm that an event took place at the hotel on 10 February that was attended by approximately 40 people. The hotel management does not adopt, share or promote the views of the individuals or groups to which we provide accommodations and services.”
Carlaw said: “David Irving, a minor and discredited historian, has spent a lifetime maliciously and notoriously seeking to deny The Holocaust. No platform should be offered to this man by anyone who cares about either the truth or wider humanity.”
Labour MSP James Kelly said: “These views are disgusting and have no place in modern Scotland. It underlines why we must continue to challenge intolerance and bigotry, not let it fester behind closed doors.”