The leader of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a hate group descended from the segregationist White Citizens Councils, says that his group did not host an infamous Holocaust denier’s speech in Alabama, although one of its officials promoted it. Hatewatch had reported on Sept. 2 that the CCC hosted the Aug. 26 event in the Montgomery area.
“The Council of Conservative Citizens has never hosted, held, sponsored or promoted any event or meeting at which David Irving has been the speaker,” wrote CCC head Gordon Lee Baum in a letter to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Nonetheless, Larry Darby, chairman of the Alabama Capital Region chapter of the CCC, promoted Irving’s lecture. While there, Darby handed out copies of the CCC’s racist publication, the Citizens Informer.
It wasn’t the first time that Darby — a Montgomery lawyer who has stated publicly that the Holocaust “never happened” — attended an event with the world’s most notorious Holocaust denier. Darby hosted Irving’s 2005 appearance at a Holiday Inn just north of Montgomery. (That was back before Darby, the father of two biracial girls, began hanging around with neo-Nazi leaders and assorted other white supremacists.)
Irving’s most recent appearance in Prattville, Ala., was part of a U.S. speaking tour that includes stops in 60-plus cities nationwide. For $20 at the door ($15 advance registration online), those in the know could attend the private after-dinner talk at the same hotel where Irving spoke three years ago.
The 19 people who showed up at the Holiday Inn heard Irving’s rambling remarks on the theme of his persecution, including the dramatic tale of his arrest in Austria in 2005 on charges related to disputing the Holocaust. The British citizen, who famously sued American Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt for calling him a Holocaust denier (he lost), also repeated his familiar refrain that Hitler wasn’t to blame for whatever happened to the Jews during World War II. “Hitler was being deliberately kept out of the loop,” he told the all-white, mostly male audience.
During an intermission, Irving signed his books to the soundtrack of a Nazi rally. (Leni Riefenstahl’s 1933 propaganda film “Victory of Faith,” depicting a huge rally in Nuremburg, was playing on a TV screen.) Those who hadn’t yet acquired a collection of Irving’s oeuvres could purchase his books for a $10 dollar discount.
“History’s amazing when you hear a little truth,” said a clean-cut, blond-haired man as he approached the book table. “Not the government-censored version like we’ve been brainwashed with since childhood.”
But attendees hoping to hear Irving’s version of what happened to the Jews during World War II may have come away disappointed. Irving, who once said that more people died in the backseat of Sen. Edward Kennedy’s car at Chappaquiddick than in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, generally stayed away from hard-core Holocaust denial. “I’m not going to talk about that,” Irving brusquely told a man seeking validation for his belief that “the Holocaust was not possible to have taken place the way they make it sound.”
Still, no one left the talk unsure of Irving’s feelings toward Jews.
When the same man asked whether there was “a major conspiracy against the common people of the world” and gave Irving’s treatment in Austria as an example, Irving offered the following anecdote:
“I think that just proves they’re under the sway of a certain group of people,” he said. “In fact, as I was being conveyed from the court of appeal after our victory back to the prison to pick up my possessions [the Austrian court released Irving before he had completed his three-year sentence for Holocaust denial], the police officers in the van with me, no longer handcuffed to me, they said: ‘Mr. Irving, you do realize of course that you’ve been a victim of a certain religious group here in Austria.’ I didn’t say a thing. I thought when you’re in this position about to be set free, you don’t start talking about that kind of subject. But they knew.”