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British Historian Jailed for Denying Holocaust

21 February 2006 at 04:05 | 999 views

British historian David Irving was sentenced in Austria to three years in prison after pleading guilty on Monday to charges of denying the Holocaust, saying he erred in contending there were no Nazi gas chambers during the Second World War.

Irving could have received a 10-year prison term. Under Austrian law, it is a crime to publicly diminish, deny or justify the Holocaust.

Handcuffed and wearing a dark suit, Irving arrived at the courthouse in Vienna carrying one of his books, Hitler’s War, which challenges the extent of the Holocaust.

"I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," Irving, 68, told the court.

Before entering the courtroom, Irving told reporters he now believes the Nazis slaughtered Jews during the war.

"History is like a constantly changing tree," said Irving. "The more you know, the more documents become available, the more you learn, and I have learned a lot since 1989."

Irving has written close to 30 books.

He was arrested in November 1989 after giving speeches in Austria in which he denied the Nazis killed six million Jews.

Irving had contended most of the Jews who died during the war succumbed to diseases such as typhus.

The Austrian law, enacted in 1992, also forbids the formation of any neo-Nazi party, handing out a 10- to 20-year prison sentence for those convicted. Austria’s Justice Ministry says there have been 158 convictions under the law between 1999 and 2004.

Photo: David Irving