Holocaust denier Irving in Poland for death camp tour

21st September 2010, Comments 0 comments

British historian David Irving, who was jailed in Austria for denying the Holocaust, said on Tuesday he was in Poland to lead a tour of World War II sites, including the former Treblinka death camp.

Holocaust survivors and anti-racism groups have slammed Irving's plans, even calling on Polish authorities to ban his visit which is also scheduled to take in a visit to the former local headquarters of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

But Irving confirmed to AFP that he was now in the Polish capital and planned to remain in the country until September 29.

"I am now in Warsaw and I am not at liberty to discuss my itinerary as I am sure you understand for security reasons," he said in a telephone call.

"I will be in Poland for the next nine days," Irving added.

In a brochure published on his Focal Point Publications website, Irving calls the tour an "unforgettable journey" and a chance to see "real history".

It includes a visit to the former Treblinka death camp, in eastern Poland, where more than 800,000 people, mostly Jews, were murdered.

A trip to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's "Wolf's Lair" headquarters at Ketrzyn in north-eastern Poland and to the base of SS commander Heinrich Himmler were also on the itinerary, according to Irving's travel brochure.

Although it was not immediately known how many people have signed up, Irving recently said that the trip -- which costs 2,650 dollars (2,000 euros) excluding flights -- was so popular he had to turn people away.

Irving refused to specify whether he planned to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Oswiecim, southern Poland.

He recently accused Polish authorities of turning Auschwitz into a "Disney-style" tourist site complete with fake watchtowers.

"I have been a historian for 40 years, I know a fake when I see it, when you look at old photographs of Auschwitz, those towers aren't on the photographs,' he told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, adding the camp had a "Disney" atmosphere.

Irving, the author of "Hitler's War", a book which attempts to minimise both Nazi atrocities and Hitler's responsibility for them, has rejected the label of "Holocaust denier".

"There is no question that the Nazis killed millions of people in these camps. When people call me a Holocaust denier I get quite hot under the collar," he told the newspaper.

But the historian was sentenced in 2006 by an Austrian court to three years in jail for denying the Holocaust and later released and deported to Britain after serving only one year.

At the epicentre of Hitler's plan of genocide against European Jews during World War II, Poland has enacted strict laws against both Holocaust denial and the public propagation of anti-Semitism or fascism.

In Poland, anyone found guilty of denying the Holocaust or publicly propagating anti-Semitism, fascism or other totalitarian ideologies faces a penalty of up to three years behind bars.

According to Poland's Institute of National Remembrance, between 5.47 million and 5.67 million Polish citizens died at the hands of the Nazis.

Polish Jews represented around half of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

© 2010 AFP

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