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Historian Irving says Auschwitz is like 'Disney': Report

world Updated: Sep 11, 2010 21:19 IST

AFP
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Holocaust-denying British historian David Irving accused Polish authorities on Saturday of turning Auschwitz into a "Disney-style" tourist site, as he defended his own trip to a Nazi death camp.

Irving, who was jailed in Austria in 2006 for denying the Holocaust, told the Daily Mail newspaper that Poland had turned the camp at Auschwitz into a "money-making machine" 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 the paper, adding the camp had a "Disney" atmosphere.

Irving spoke out after criticism over a week-long guided tour he is leading to Poland from September 21-29.

It includes a trip to Hitler's headquarters at Ketrzyn (then Rastenburg), SS commander Heinrich Himmler's headquarters and the Treblinka death camp.

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

"Forget the phoney allures, mass-tourism and 'reconstructions' of modern-day Auschwitz - the erstwhile slave-labour camp turned into a tourist attraction, complete with hot-dog vendors and souvenir stands," he wrote.

Irving told the Daily Mail that the trip - which costs 2,650 dollars (2,000 euros) excluding flights - was so popular he had to turn people away, and he was planning to repeat the journey every two years.

He also 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.

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

The charges stemmed from two speeches he gave in Austria in 1989 where he said most of those who died at Nazi concentration camps were not executed, but instead succumbed to diseases like typhus.