February 20, 2006

Eichmann papers convinced Irving Holocaust happened

By Mark Heinrich

VIENNA (Reuters) - British historian David Irving pleaded
guilty on Monday to charges of denying the Holocaust 17 years
ago, but told an Austrian court that the personal files of Nazi
mastermind Adolf Eichmann had changed his views.

The 68-year-old Irving faces up to 10 years in jail in
Austria in a case based on remarks he made in a 1989 interview
and in speeches when he visited Austria, where denying the Nazi
genocide on Jews is a crime.

"I'm not a holocaust denier. Obviously, I've changed my
views," Irving, a historian who has published many books on the
history of Nazi Germany and World War Two, told reporters on
his way into the Vienna courtroom.

Asked by the presiding judge Peter Liebetreu whether he had
denied in speeches in 1989 that Nazi Germany had killed
millions of Jews, Irving said he had until he had seen the
personal files of Adolf Eichmann, the chief organizer of the

"I said that then based on my knowledge at the time, but by
1991 when I came across the Eichmann papers, I wasn't saying
that anymore and I wouldn't say that now," Irving said.

"The Nazis did murder millions of Jews," said Irving, who
answered the court in fluent German.


Irving's answers failed to impress state prosecutor Michael
Klackl, who called Irving in his opening statement a falsifier
of history who was dressed up as a martyr by right-wing

"The David Irving I heard today in the court was not the
David Irving I got to know in preparing for this trial," Klackl
told Reuters after the court adjourned for lunch.

"The court will have to decide whether Irving has made an
honest confession or is merely engaged in tactics (to reduce
his sentence)," he said.

The historian was detained in November on an arrest warrant
issued in 1989. He faces between one and 10 years in jail, and
prosecutor Klackl said Irving's confession could persuade the
court to go for a less drastic penalty.

Irving's lawyer Elmar Kresbach asked the court for leniency
because Irving had changed his views and was no threat to
Austria's democracy.

However, the prosecutor said Irving remained an icon for
neo-Nazis and revisionist historians worldwide.

A court of eight lay jurors and three judges is expected to
give its verdict on Monday.

Irving was arrested when he was on his way to address
Austrian radical right-wing student fraternity Olympia, and has
attended meetings of Holocaust denying historians even after
the time of his professed insight into the Holocaust's truth.

A British High Court ruling in 2000 rejected Irving's libel
suit against an American professor and her publishers,
declaring Irving "an active Holocaust denier ... anti-Semitic
and racist."

The Viennese court will hear the reporter who interviewed
Irving back in 1989 on Monday as its sole witness, and the
prosecutor said he expected it to issue its verdict later