"Historian" David Irving goes on trial today before an Austrian court on charges of denying the Holocaust. Rather than denying the charges, Irving is expected to plead guilty and seek a suspended sentance. And it's easy to see why. Looking at what he is alleged to have said, Irving wasn't just denying the Holocaust, but was an outright apologist for the Nazi regime:
[The case] centres on two lectures Irving gave in November 1989. In the first, he told a 300-strong audience in Leoben that Kristallnacht - the night in November 1938 when 1,350 synagogues were destroyed - was carried out by "unknowns" dressed up as members of the SA, that Anne Frank could not have written her diary herself, because the Biro wasn't invented until 1949, and that Hitler never gave an order to exterminate the Jews.
He cited research by the (now discredited) American execution technician, Fred A Leuchter, which concluded that no significant traces of cyanide gas were found at Auschwitz, and accused the Jewish World Congress of spreading the "legend" in 1942 that the Third Reich was preparing its Final Solution.
During the second lecture, a day later, in the back room of a Vienna pub, he went even further. A tape of his speech contains such views as "Auschwitz is a legend, just like the Turin Shroud", and "the existence of witnesses proves that there was no mass extermination".
The Times's version is even nastier:
The authenticity of the Holocaust, [Irving] said, could not be established by documents, but only by the testimonies of survivors who were “psychiatric cases”.
The fate of the six million Jews, he said, was clear. “Seventy-four thousand died of natural causes in the work camps and the rest were hidden in reception camps after the war and later taken to Palestine, where they live today under new identities.” The comments were tape-recorded.
These statements can only be described as poisonous, anti-semitic lies, but Irving shouldn't be facing court or prison for them, any more than Turks should be for facing charges of "insulting Turkishness" for talking about the Armenian genocide, or Danish cartoonists should be for insulting (and in some cases, villifying) Muslims. If freedom of expression extends only to speech the majority agree with or find inoffensive, then it is no freedom at all.