Poland is likely to ban British Holocaust denier David Irving from entering the country, ahead of his planned tour of Nazi camps.
Last week, the Israeli government called on the country to deny him entry, with minister Naftali Bennett writing to the Polish ambassador making the plea.
This comes after it became apparent that the disgraced historian was to run a ‘Nazi-history tour’, including to infamous camps such as Treblinka, Sobibór, Belzec and Majdanek.
Reuters reported on Sunday that Warsaw is likely to refuse him entry, with the foreign ministry citing Holocaust denial laws.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Jacek Czaputowicz said in a press conference: “Negation of the Holocaust is not allowed by Polish law, therefore he will not be welcome here in Poland if he wants to come and present his opinions”.
A spokesman for Minister Naftali Bennett said: “We are greatly encouraged by the Polish Foreign Minister’s comments. We have prevented the spread of hatred and lies against the Jewish people and against the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.”
In his letter to Poland’s Ambassador to Israel last week, Bennett wrote: “Given Irving’s record of abhorrent statements and outright lies about the history of Holocaust, it is quite clear that he intends to use this opportunity to spread further falsehoods and vitriolic narrative. In so doing, he will doubtless cause deep offence to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and to all the Jewish people, as well as stoke the already raging fire of hatred and antisemitism we are witnessing around the world today.”
He added: “I therefore respectfully request that the Government of Poland make it quite clear that Irving and his party will not be granted access to your country, and certainly not to the Camps and other sites of memorial to the millions of my people who were murdered in that dark period of history.”
Social media users reacted in horror to the news that Irving is currently taking deposits for the tour via his website, and even offering discounts, in what would be his first tour of Holocaust sites since 2011.
The tour of camps, located in modern day Poland, is set to take place in September, and the tour brochure calls the death camps “controversial” and bizarrely states that no refunds will be given “where participants are denied entry to Europe under anti-terrorism laws or other political restrictions, especially anti-Muslim or anti-Israeli”.
Irving is described as a “Hitler expert” for the tour, from 1-9 September 2019, which will include a visit to Hitler’s wartime bunker as well as that of SS chief and Holocaust architect Heinrich Himmler.
The website said it would also include the Operation Reinhardt sites of Treblinka, Sobibór, Belzec and Majdanek, with an optional tour of Latvia at the end of August.
Karen Pollock , Chief Executive, Holocaust Educational Trust said: “David Irving is a proven Holocaust denier. His forthcoming “tour” can serve no purpose other than to insult the memory of Holocaust victims and survivors. Holocaust denial is simply antisemitism dressed up as academic debate. This cannot be allowed to happen, and we will be working with our partners across Europe to assess appropriate next steps”.
The Auschwitz Memorial Museum said: “Holocaust denial is a mendacious conspiracy theory. Although it is factually similar to flat Earth claims, it is in fact a dangerous & hideous carrier of antisemitism & hatred. Denier’s presence at sites of genocide insults memory of the victims. We hope the visit won’t happen.”
In 2011 Irving, who denies that he is a Holocaust denier, visited Majdanek, describing the crematorium building as “a fake, put up in post-war years”. He said he had told visiting schoolgirls that “scepticism” was needed while they were being taught about the gas chambers by their teacher.
He added: “To suggest that a modicum of fakery and exaggeration has been done is not to deny the atrocities, merely to question their true scale and the methods used.”