David Irving in 2012 over himself speaking in 1955 overlayed with question marks

StepanPopov/Shutterstock Allan Warren/Wikipedia Generalstaben/Wikipedia (Licensed)

‘I’m not convinced’: Ambiguous reporting about death of infamous Holocaust denier leads to memes questioning his existence

Reports of Irving's death were questioned after he spent a lifetime questioning Holocaust deaths.

 

Marlon Ettinger

Tech

Posted on Feb 22, 2024   Updated on Feb 25, 2024, 5:54 am CST

The week, confusion rang online over whether David Irving was dead, leaing to posts trolling the reports for their lack of “proof.”

Irving is a British historian who spent much of his career denying and downplaying the Holocaust through exculpatory biographies of leading figures in the Third Reich like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbls.

In this case, much like Irving’s views on the Holocaust, the reports he died turned out to be false.

The Daily Dot couldn’t independently confirm whether Irving is still in the land of the living but spoke to one source who said Irving’s grandson, who allegedly runs an X account representing Irving, confirmed that Irving is still around.

A tweet from the @irving_books account also made a post saying that Irving is still alive, though is “facing health challenges.”

Irving remains popular with both neo-Nazis and fascists due to his efforts to provide academic talking points for Holocaust denial, and they initially shared reports and commiserations about his passing, fueling the belief that he had died.

But nevertheless, posts went viral mocking reports about Irving’s death, going as far as questioning his very existence.

“Any serious scholar would question this claim that David Irving has ‘died’ with the meager evidence proferred,” posted @DemocraticLuntz.

“I’m not even convinced David Irving exists,” he wrote in a followup tweet. “sounds like a Jewish lady calling out to her sons in the south Bronx in the 1920s ‘David! Irving! Be careful you don’t want you should catch a cold.’”

“Time to be honest, David Irving didn’t exist, or at best was wildly exaggerated,” concurred @TPGRoberts in another post. “A lot of evidence for his wretched existence is circumstantial, and doesn’t actually confirm that such a cunt existed, or at least wasn’t planned.”

Those tweets were mocking Irving’s contortions over the years about the Holocaust. Irving would frequently claim that archival sources painted a different picture of Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust than mainstream historians, who documented the intentional extermination of Jews and other minorities during Hitler’s reign.

When his claims were engaged with by historians with expertise in the subject matter though, they found that Irving often distorted, mistranslated, or fabricated what the archives reflected. 

In later years, Irving walked back some of his more maximalist claims, acknowledging that there were some mass killings of Jews under the Third Reich, while still distorting the numbers and downplaying the intentionality of the genocide.

That “walk back” led some neo-Nazi groups to criticize Irving for engaging with the reality of the Holocaust.

Initially a popular historian whose book on Allied air raids on the German city of Dresden (later revealed to be inflated and flawed) was quoted in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five, Irving’s trajectory of apologia for Hitler and Germany during the Second World War led him to open Holocaust denial.

That chronology was documented in Lying About Hitler, a book by the historian Richard Evans dissecting a libel case Irving brought against the American historian Deborah Lipstadt after she called Irving a Holocaust denier.

The news about Irving’s death also led to anecdotes about his behavior and claims over the years going viral. The libel case Irving brought against Lipstadt, dramatized in the 2016 film Denial was fodder for many of these stories.

“My husband was in court, watching the libel trial Irving disastrously pursued against Penguin and Deborah Lipstadt, when, in one of the greatest Freudian slips of all time, he accidentally addressed the judge as Mein Fuehrer,” recalled @DinahGLRoseKC in one tweet.

Irving would end up losing that case but earned the admiration of fascists trying to change the narrative about the Nazis worldwide.

For the rest of the world though, Lipstadt and her publisher Penguin’s lawyer Richard Rampton had a good summary of Irving.

“Mr Irving calls himself a historian. The truth is, however, that he is not a historian at all, but a falsifier of history.”

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*First Published: Feb 22, 2024, 8:20 am CST