Writer: Auschwitz Lacked Gas Vents
Jan. 26, 2000
LONDON (AP) _ A British writer disputed historically-accepted witness accounts that thousands were poisoned to death at Auschwitz, saying Wednesday that the crematoriums at the notorious Nazi concentration camp had no openings to introduce gas.
David Irving, 62, is suing American academic Deborah Lipstadt in the High Court over her 1994 book, ``Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory,'' which he says maintains he denies the Holocaust and distorted statistics.
Irving has outraged Jews and other Holocaust survivors by saying the Holocaust has been exaggerated and by challenging the number and manner of Jewish concentration camp deaths under Adolf Hitler's regime. He is the author of several books on the academic fringe, including ``Hitler's War.''
Lipstadt, holder of the Dorot Chair in Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, and the publishers Penguin deny libel.
Under British law, a libel claimant only needs to prove that his reputation has been damaged. Truth is not necessarily a defense.
Irving said researchers who photographed the collapsed roof of Auschwitz's Crematorium Two _ destroyed by the Nazis as Russian troops approached _ found no holes for inserting gas.
But Prof. Robert van Pelt, a historian who gave evidence for Lipstadt and Penguin, cited ``massive amounts'' of witness accounts, photos and the drawings of a sonderkommando, a Jewish inmate selected to work at the crematoria that proved the camp was used for mass murder.
He referred to several photos, including one taken by an SS man in February, 1943 which showed openings on the new roof of Crematorium Two that he said fed deadly Zyklon B pellets into the crematorium.
Irving has addressed neo-Nazi groups in Austria and Germany. In 1992, German authorities fined him for claiming the historically-accepted accounts of German gas chambers was British ``propaganda.'' He is banned from Germany, Canada and Australia.
The case, which began on Jan. 11, is expected to last 12 weeks.