Irving v. Lipstadt


Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 1: Electronic Edition

Pages 16 - 20 of 103

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    I submit that, harsh though it may seem, the
 1happened over the last 32 years on my writing desk in my
 2apartment off Grosvenor Square. That is what is at stake
 4     To justify her allegations of manipulation and
 5distortion, it will not suffice for Professor Lipstadt to
 6show, if she can, that I misrepresented what happened, but
 7that I knew what happened and that I perversely and
 8deliberately, for whatever purpose, portrayed it
 9differently from how I knew it to have happened.
10     That is what manipulation and distortion means,
11and the other, though fundamental, story of what actually
12happened is neither here nor there. In effect, this
13enquiry should not leave the four walls of my study, my
14Lord. It should look at the papers that lay before me and
15not before some other magnificently funded research or
16scholar, and at the manuscript that I then produced on the
17basis of my own limited sources.
18     My Lord, if we were to seek a title for this
19libel action, I would venture to suggest "Pictures at an
20execution" -- my execution.
21     Your Lordship may or not be aware that I have
22had a reputation as an historian and as an investigative
23writer arising from the 30 or so works which I have
24published in English and other languages over the years
25since 1961. I am the author of many scores of articles in
26serious and respected newspapers, including over the years

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 1in this country, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday
 2Telegraph, the Jewish Chronicle, the Sunday Express, the
 3Evening Standard, Encounter and publications of similar
 4repute in Germany. My articles have appeared in
 5newspapers ranging from Die Welt, Die Welt am Sonntag, and
 6magazines and journals like Stern, Der Spiegel, Neue
 7Illustrierte, Quick.
 8     My books have appeared between hard covers under
 9the imprint of the finest publishing houses. I might
10mention in this country the imprints of William Kimber
11Ltd, Cassell & Company Ltd, Macmillan Limited, Hodder &
12Stoughton, Penguin -- Penguin, the First Defendants in
13this action -- and Allen Lane and others. As the Second
14Defendant is, I understand, an American citizen, it might
15be meritorious for me to add that my works have also been
16published by her country's leading publishing houses too,
17including the Viking Press, Little, Brown, Simon &
18Schuster, Holt, Reinhardt, Winston, St Martin's Press and
19a score of no less reputable paperback publishing houses.
20     Each of those published works by me contained in
21or near the title page a list of my previous publications
22and frequently a sample of the accolades bestowed on my
23works by the leading names of literature and
24historiography on both sides of the Atlantic.
25     This happy situation, namely having my works
26published in the leading publishing houses of the world,

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 1ended a year ago, a year or two ago, under circumstance
 2which I shall venture, if your Lordship permits, to set
 3out later in my remarks. Suffice it to say that this very
 4day, during the night, the Australia/Israel Review has
 5published in Sydney, Australia, a presumably well-informed
 6article (of which I have provided a copy to your Lordship;
 7I have marked the sentence on which I rely) coming as it
 8does from their corner, which provides one missing link in
 9the circumstances under which St Martin's Press finally
10terminated their contract to publish my book, "Goebbels.
11Mastermind of the Third Reich". I quote:
12     "... One of the catalysts for the case was
13Irving's", they are talking about this action today,
14 "experience with American publisher, St Martin's Press,
15which, after being warned by Lipstadt and others about
16Irving's approach to history, then cancelled its agreement
17to publish Irving's book 'Goebbels. Mastermind of the
18Third Reich' in the United States."
19     So these Defendants have done very real damage
20to my professional existence. May I, first of all, set
21out the very real pecuniary damage which can be done to an
22author in general terms, my Lord, by an attack on his
23reputation. It is not merely that he suffers injury and
24hurt to his feelings from unjustified attacks, whatever
25their nature; an author, by virtue of his trade, lives a
26precarious financial existence. A tenured professor or

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 1other scholar can look forward to a brief career, lengthy
 2vacations, high rewards and eventually a pension. Perhaps
 3some members of the legal profession enjoy the same
 4fortunate expectations.
 5     A writer leads a much lonelier and more
 6hazardous existence. When he first embarks on his career
 7he may write a string of works that are never published.
 8I was fortunate in this respect. When I first started
 9advertising in The Times in 1961, inviting British airmen
10who had taken part in the principal operations of Royal
11Air Force Bomber Command to come forward, among those who
12contacted me was Mr William Kimber, a publisher of great
13repute, who himself felt deeply about the ethical
14questions raised by these saturation bombing operations.
15     I , therefore, did not have the usual problem
16that faces most first time authors, namely that of
17crossing the difficult threshold from being an unpublished
18to a published author. My first book, "The Destruction of
19Dresden" was serialised by The Sunday Telegraph and
20attracted much critical acclaim. It was only then that
21I took the perhaps fateful decision to become a writer.
22     If I may now advance rapidly some 20 or 30 years
23(and I sense the court's relief) I would repeat a brief
24conversation I had with my accountant at a time when I was
25earning more than £100,000 a year. My accountant, no
26doubt with his eye on the commission involved, asked what

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 1steps I had taken in anticipation of retirement. My
 2immodest reply was that I did not intend to retire, and
 3when he murmured something about pensions, I replied that
 4my books were my pension fund.
 5     If I may explain that remark? If an author has
 6written a good book, it will be published and republished,
 7and on each occasion a fresh ripple of royalties reaches
 8the author's bank account. Admittedly, the ripples become
 9smaller as the years progress, as the years recede, but if
10he his written enough books in his 30 or 40 years of
11creativity, then the ripples together make waves large
12enough to sustain him into and beyond the years of
13retirement. Indeed, they should also provide something of
14a legacy for his children of whom I still have four.
15     That situation no longer obtains, my Lord. By
16virtue of the activities of the Defendants, in particular
17of the Second Defendant, and of those who funded her and
18guided her hand, I have since 1996 seen one fearful
19publisher after another falling away from me, declining to
20reprint my works, refusing to accept new commissions and
21turning their backs on me when I approach.
22     In private, the senior editors at those
23publishing houses still welcome me warmly as a friend and
24they invite me to lunch in expensive New York restaurants,
25and then lament that if they were to sign a contract with
26me on a new book, there would always be somebody in their

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