The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

David Irving, Holocaust denial, and his connections to right-wing extremists and Neo-National Socialism (Neo-Nazism) In Germany

David Irving & the right-wing extremist German People's Union

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3. David Irving and the right-wing extremist German People's Union [Deutsche Volksunion - DVU <21>), the German National Newspaper [Deutsche Nationalzeitung - DNZ); Dr. Gerhard Frey.

3.1. Irving's earlier activities in Germany, 1978 -1981.

3.1.1. Based on his publishing (particularly his biographies of Hitler and Field Marshall Erwin Rommel) Irving's earlier tours in Germany and Austria had involved such bodies and organisations as banks, bookshops, student fraternities [Burschenschaften], US-Army Corps stationed in Germany, and so on. At the same 'time Irving became increasingly feted by national-conservative and right-wing individuals and organisations in Germany, some of them RWE.

3.1.2. Foremost was Dr. Gert Sudholt, head of the Druffel Verlag, and his Society for free Communication [Gesellschaft für freie Publizistik - GfP].<22> Sudholt was at the time a member of the NPD in Munich and owner of the Druffel Verlag, that in turn

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specialised in publishing important NS figures.<23> The GfP had been set up in 1960 by the former Reich deputy-spokesman of the NSDAP, Helmut Siindermann. Although ostensibly a cultural organisation to allow former NS authors an open forum, the GfP vehemently combated what it saw as the `untrue descriptions of the causes and backgrounds to both world wars and the defamation of German soldiery'.<24>

3.1.3. Irving also spoke to other organisations with connections to the GfP, such as the `Collegium Humanum' in Vlotho,'<25> the `Deutsches Kulturwerk Europäischen Geistes',<26> the `Bund Heimattreüer Jügend',<27> the `Verein für Kultur and Zeitgeschichte', and Dietmar Munier of the Arndt-Verlag and his group `Sturmwind'.<28> All these groups and individuals can be counted likewise as right-wing and/or with links to the right-wing extremist circles. Some of them were to remain loyal supporters of Irving in the 1990s.<29>

3.2 Irving's activities for the DVU, 1981-1987.

3.2.1. After the SRP was banned in 1952, RWE had fallen into disarray until in the early 1960s a new collective organisation, the NPD, was formed. The NPD had appointed a moderate leader, Friedrich Thielen, so as to appeal more to national conservatives, although the cadre itself was in fact far more right-wing. Subsequently in state elections they made relative gains (in the mid 1960s up to 9.8 % of the votes). However in 1969 they failed to take any seats in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament. After this defeat the NPD faltered despite a change of leadership.<30>

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3.2.2. As a result of the NPD's defeat in 1969 the DVU was formed in 1971, with the aim of gathering together the splinter group's alienated from the NPD and in an attempt to galvinize a fragmented RWE. The DVU thus constituted a collecting tank for the remnants of the NPD, particularly the so-called `ewig Gestrigen', the national conservatives and old Nazis who partially or fully still identified with the ideals, ideas, and even practices of NS. Thus this organization led by Dr. Gerhard Frey had within it far right-wingers, and since the 1980s has been considered to constitute the hardcore of old RWE in Germany

3.2.3. The DVU's effectiveness lay in organizing their members through subscription to Frey's newspapers, especially the German National Newspaper [Die Deutsche Nationalzeitung - DNZ] which by 1980 had 10;000 subscribers: Another effective organizational instrument was their annual rally, normally in Passau.

3.2.4. In 1986 the DVU and NPD formulated a common election strategy,and put forth..a. joint list for the Bavarian state election and the federal election in 1987. It then became known as the DVU - Liste D [List Germany]. The OPC described this list as having an anti-constitutional goal because the organizations concerned and Dr. Gerhard Frey's magazines were considered RWE. According to the office, Frey, through his publications, incited anti-Semitism and hatred against foreigners, distorted historical truths about NS, glorified the leading persons of the NS-system, and defamed the present day representatives of democratic parties. In their opinion the party merely paid lip service to its declared belief in democracy and in the constitutional and free democratic basis of the Federal German [`freiheitlich demokratische Grundordnung'] for tactical reasons.<31>

3.2.5. This should be matched against Irving's statement that the DVU is a long standing democratic party. Neither the OPC nor academic social-science research would accept this opinion. The DVU as well Dr. Gerhard Frey's DNZ has for decades been declared

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RWE (or radical right wing) by the OPC.<32> As early as 1971 the OPC stated in a report that Dr. Gerhard Frey's DNZ had maintained a leading position in radical right-wing journalism. For example the 1985 VSB of Lower Saxony outlined the party platform and its profile as `Hatred against foreigners, anti-Semitism, playing down of the national socialist terror regime and disparagement of democratic institutions and persons.<33>

3.2.6. The contents of the DNZ can be described as a `secondary anti-Semitism', designed to address the `ewig Gestrigen' mind-set.<34> For instance Jewish representatives are held responsible not only for the widespread stories about alleged atrocities committed against the Jews, but also for the fact that the Germans have to continually pay a financial, moral, and political price for the Holocaust.<35> This variant of anti-Semitism is often fused with the `old' one.

3.2.7. So-called revisionism was also identified by the OPC as playing a strategic part in DVU propaganda. Long before the debate on the 'Auschwitz-lie' was intensified by the Leuchter Report, Frey tactically relativised or even denied major NS crimes. As early as 1977 the radical revisionist Arthur Butz, who denied the existence of gas chambers in his denialist classic `The hoax of the 20th Century' was presented with the DNZ honorary award for political victims of persecution.<36> The book was also serialized in the DNZ in the same year. In 1979 the book was officially labelled as one that invoked racial hatred and played down the atrocities of the Nazi regime.

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3.2.8. Finally Frey partially co-operated with more militant and extremist fringes of the RWE scene, groups whom in public he criticises for tactical reasons, namely the NPD and even RWE terrorists.<37> For example Frey co-operated with the terrorists of the Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann, whom he used as body guards at DVU rallies in 1977. Roland Tabbert, who co-ordinated the DVU's 1987 election campaign, was later president of the anti-Semitic Anti-Zionist Action [Anti-Zionist Action - AZA] within the neo-Nazi movement. Members of the militant neo-Nazi Free German Workers' Party [Freiheitliche Deutsche Arbeiter Partei - FAP, banned in 1995] were present at the DVU annual meeting in Munich in 1986. Violent rightwing attacks against foreigners were also executed by DVU members.

3.2.9. Irving's `soft' revisionist themes of the 1980s (Winston Churchill as a warmonger, 100,000 to 250,000 dead in Dresden, the debunking of the `myth' of Erwin Rommel as a hero of the resistance against Hitler, the stylising of Rudolf Hess as a martyr for freedom etc.<38>) were all themes which exercised the German public mind, but in particular found a resonance in national conservative and RWE circles.. ,This corresponded with the DVU's political attempts to relativise the crimes of NS, particularly the question of Germany's war guilt and the Holocaust, and overlapped with the DVU's latent anti-Semitism. In short Irving was an important spokesman for the DVU to win over to their party.

3.2.10. Irving was first informed that he would be welcome to address DVU meetings in 1981, and by 1982 had managed to win Irving's services as a star speaker for the DVU.<39> In that year Irving spoke for the DVU in 10 German cities on `the unatoned Holocaust - the expulsion of the Germans' ['Der ungesühnte Holocaust - die Vertreibung der Deutschen'].<40> On 9 May 1982 Irving received the DNZ's European Freedom Prize [`Europäischen Freiheitspreises der Deutschen National Zeitung'].<41> By the end of 1982 the DVU had apparently paid Irving somewhere in the region of DM

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100,000 for his speeches and `services' [`Verdienste'].<42> A model of blocks of 10 speeches, initially at a fee of DM 2,000 per speech, later reduced to DM 1,500, was to continue until 1987.<43>

3.2.11. Irving later wrote that he `always spoke as an historian, never as a politician' to the DVU.<44> Although in the strictest sense Irving spoke on `historical' topics, the very platform he spoke on (DVU meetings and rallies) gave them an explicitly political character. Added to this is the convolution between the attractions of Irving and his topics to old RWEs and that these same people constituted the bedrock of DVU support. The topics Irving was requested to talk on were both historically and politically tendentious, in the sense stated by the OPC when they talked of the DVU's playing down of the crimes of National Socialism.

3.2.12. For instance Frey wrote to Irving on 23 July 1983, giving him precise instructions for his forthcoming lectures.

... we agreed during our phone-call yesterday, that you should tackle the topic of the guilt of aerial terror in your September lecture series. You might perhaps take the occasion in the various towns to briefly go into the corresponding attacks. Regarding the topic as a whole there is a general interest everywhere in who began when and where with aerial terror and in what way? Which related planning occurred from what reasons and under what conditions when and where? What aerial attacks were allowed for in international law and which break international law? How are the three main accusations against the Germans since then [World War II], namely Warsaw, Rotterdam and Coventry, to be judged? [...] Why were.attacks preferred on working-class areas to attacks on exclusive residential districts? What was the German answer and how did it correspond to the bombardments of allied planes in terms of the number of bombs dropped, the intensity of detonation, the loss of housing and the death rate? How are the Allied bombardments of 1945 to be classified, for example Dresden, when the war had long been decided? How many deaths did the Allied attacks on concentration camps and ships with concentration camp prisoners cause? Perhaps the lecture should finish with-ait examination-.of-theNuremberg trial and Rudolf Hess. [...] Please leave Hitler and the Jews unmentioned.<45>

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3.2.13. As well as orchestrating the contents of Irving's speeches, Frey carefully controlled their timing in order for the DVU to maximum political impact from them. In 1982 an American drama series entitled `Holocaust' was to be repeated on German television. The first showing in 1979 had been watched by millions of Germans and despite the controversy surrounding it is considered as representing a mile-stone in German public consciousness about the Holocaust.<46> With respect to Irving's forthcoming lectures Frey wrote to Irving,

I suggest the next series of lectures begin on Friday 12 November [1982] and end on Sunday 21 November (10 meetings) on the same conditions. A theme worth considering could be "Who bears responsibility for the unatoned holocaust of the expulsion?" [i.e. of the Germans from former Reich territories which fell to eastern Europe]. I hope we will formulate this more succinctly and impressively. In the enclosed copy you'll find the dates for the repeat of the Hollywood-Holocaust soap on "German" television. During these days you will speak, at a different time, about the expulsion holocaust and provide the true historical accompanying music to the,horror-slush..Please again..leave Hitler.and.the Jews out completely.<47>

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