Polish group lodges Holocaust denial case against historian

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A Polish group on Monday lodged a case before the courts against controversial British historian David Irving for denying the Holocaust as he reportedly began a much criticised visit to Poland.

The Otwarta Rzeczpospolita (Open Republic) organisation on its website accused the historian of committing the offence in his 1977 book "Hitler's War", which attempts to minimise both Nazi atrocities and Hitler's responsibility and which was published in Poland last year.

Irving has rejected the label of "Holocaust denier."

"Let's not wait for the moment when Mr David Irving commits a new crime on in Poland. The evidence indicates clearly that he has already committed this crime," the group said in its complaint addressed to the National Memory Institute responsible for prosecuting Nazi and communist crimes against the Polish.

The Polish PAP news agency said Irving, who had kept details of his visit secret, was on Monday in Krakow, in southern Poland.

Polish and British anti-racism groups last week urged their governments to ban a tour by Irving of the Nazi death camp Treblinka, where more than 800,000 people, mostly Jews, were murdered, and other Holocaust sites in Poland.

Irving, who was jailed in Austria in 2006 for denying the Holocaust, had planned a September 21-29 guided tour of sites in Poland dating back to the World War II Nazi German occupation.

The historian recently told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper that the trip -- which costs 2,650 dollars (2,000 euros) excluding flights -- was so popular he had to turn people away.

"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 paper.

He has also accused the Polish authorities of turning Auschwitz into a "Disney-style" tourist site and a "money-making machine" complete with fake watchtowers.

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.

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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