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David Irving
Irving in 2012
Irving in 2012
Born (1938-03-24) 24 March 1938 (age 86)
Hutton, Essex, England
  • Author
  • English
  • German
Education Brentwood School, Essex
Alma mater
Years active 1962–present
María del Pilar Stuyck
(m. 1961; div. 1981)
Partner Bente Hogh (since 1992)
Children 5

David John Cawdell Irving (born 24 March 1938) is an English author who has written on the military and political history of World War II, especially Nazi Germany. He was found to be a Holocaust denier in a UK court in 2000 as a result of a failed libel case. In addition, the court found that Irving's books had distorted the history of Hitler's role in the Holocaust to depict Hitler in a favourable light.

Irving's works include The Destruction of Dresden (1963), Hitler's War (1977), Churchill's War (1987) and Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich (1996). In his works, he argued that Adolf Hitler did not know of the extermination of Jews, or, if he did, he opposed it.

Early life

David Irving and his twin brother Nicholas were born in Hutton, near Brentwood, Essex, England. They had a brother, John, and a sister, Jennifer. Their father, John James Cawdell Irving (1898–1967), was a career naval officer and a commander in the Royal Navy. Their mother, Beryl Irving (née Newington), was an illustrator and a writer of children's books.

During World War II, Irving's father was an officer aboard the light cruiser HMS Edinburgh. On 30 April 1942, while escorting Convoy QP 11 in the Barents Sea, the ship was badly damaged by the German submarine U-456. Two days later, the ship was attacked by a surface craft, and now beyond recovery was abandoned and scuttled by a torpedo from HMS Foresight. Irving's father survived but severed all links with his wife and children after the incident.

Irving described his childhood in an interview with the American writer Ron Rosenbaum as: "Unlike the Americans, we English suffered great deprivations ... we went through childhood with no toys. We had no kind of childhood at all. We were living on an island that was crowded with other people's armies". According to his brother, Nicholas, David has been a provocateur and prankster since his youth. Nicholas Irving has said that "David used to run toward bombed out houses shouting 'Heil Hitler!'", a statement which Irving denies.

Irving went on to say to Rosenbaum that his negationist views about World War II dated to his childhood, particularly due to his objections to the way Adolf Hitler was portrayed in the British media during the war. Irving asserted that his sceptical views about the Third Reich were rooted in his doubts about the cartoonist caricatures of Hitler and the other Nazi leaders published in the British wartime press.

Student years

David Irving at Brentwood 1955
Irving in 1955

After completing A levels at Brentwood School, Irving studied for a physics degree at Imperial College London, leaving after the first year. He did not complete the course because of financial constraints.

Irving later studied for two years toward a degree in Economics in the department of Political Economy at University College London. He again had to drop out due to lack of funds. During this period at university, he participated in a debate on Commonwealth immigration, seconding British Union of Fascists founder Sir Oswald Mosley.

The Destruction of Dresden

Irving tried to join the Royal Air Force but was deemed to be medically unfit.

After serving in 1959 as editor of the University of London Carnival Committee's journal, instead of doing national service, Irving left for West Germany, where he worked as a steelworker in a Thyssen AG steel works in the Ruhr area and learned the German language. He then moved to Spain, where he worked as a clerk at an air base.

By 1962 he was engaged in writing a series of 37 articles on the Allied bombing campaign, Und Deutschlands Städte starben nicht ("And Germany's Cities Did Not Die"), for the German boulevard journal Neue Illustrierte. These were the basis for his first book, The Destruction of Dresden (1963), in which he examined the Allied bombing of Dresden in February 1945. By the 1960s, a debate about the morality of the carpet bombing of German cities and civilian population had already begun, especially in the United Kingdom. There was consequently considerable interest in Irving's book, which was illustrated with graphic pictures, and it became an international best-seller.

In the first edition, Irving's estimates for deaths in Dresden were between 100,000 and 250,000 – notably higher than most previously published figures. These figures became widely accepted in many standard reference works. In later editions of the book over the next three decades, he gradually adjusted the figure downwards to 50,000–100,000.

Irving had based his numbers on what purported to be Tagesbefehl 47 ("Daily Order 47", TB 47), a document promulgated by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, and on claims made after the war by a former Dresden Nazi functionary, Hans Voigt, without verifying them against official sources available in Dresden. Irving's estimates and sources were first disputed by Walter Weidauer, Mayor of Dresden 1946–1958, in his own account of the Dresden bombing. When it was later confirmed that the TB 47 used was a forgery, Irving published a letter to the editor in The Times on 7 July 1966 retracting his estimates, writing that he had "no interest in promoting or perpetuating false legends". In 1977, the real document TB 47 was located in Dresden by Götz Bergander.

Despite acknowledging that the copy of "TB 47" he had used was inaccurate, Irving argued during the late 1980s and 1990s that the death toll at Dresden was much higher than the accepted estimates.

Subsequent works

After the success of the Dresden book, Irving continued writing, including some works of negationist history, although his 1964 work The Mare's Nest – an account of the German V-weapons programme and the Allied intelligence countermeasures against it – was widely praised when published and continues to be well regarded. Michael J. Neufeld of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum has described The Mare's Nest as "the most complete account on both Allied and German sides of the V-weapons campaign in the last two years of the war."

Bundesarchiv Bild 102-13774, Adolf Hitler
Irving once said he works to remove the "slime" applied to the reputation of Adolf Hitler (pictured).

Irving translated the Memoirs of Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel in 1965 (edited by Walter Görlitz) and in 1967 published Accident: The Death of General Sikorski. In the latter book, Irving claimed that the plane crash which killed Polish government in exile leader General Władysław Sikorski in 1943 was really an assassination ordered by Winston Churchill, so as to enable Churchill to betray Poland to the Soviet Union.

Also in 1967, Irving published two more works: The Virus House, an account of the German nuclear energy project for which Irving conducted many interviews, and The Destruction of Convoy PQ-17, in which he blamed British escort group commander Commander Jack Broome for the catastrophic losses of the Convoy PQ 17. Amid much publicity, Broome sued Irving for libel in October 1968, and in February 1970, after a 17-day-trial before London's High Court, Broome won. Irving was forced to pay £40,000 in damages, and the book was withdrawn from circulation.

After PQ-17, Irving largely shifted to writing biographies. In 1968, he published Breach of Security, an account of German reading of messages to and from the British Embassy in Berlin before 1939 with an introduction by the British historian Donald Cameron Watt. As a result of Irving's success with Dresden, members of Germany's extreme right wing assisted him in contacting surviving members of Hitler's inner circle.

In 1971, Irving translated the memoirs of General Reinhard Gehlen, and in 1973 published The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe, a biography of Field Marshal Milch. He spent the remainder of the 1970s working on Hitler's War and The War Path, his two-part biography of Adolf Hitler; The Trail of the Fox, a biography of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel; and a series in the Sunday Express describing the Royal Air Force's famous Dam Busters raid.

By the mid-1980s, Irving had not had a successful book for some years and was behind schedule in writing the first volume of his Churchill series, the research for which had strained his finances. He finished the manuscript in 1985, and the book was published in 1987, as Churchill's War, The Struggle for Power.

In 1989, Irving published his biography of Hermann Göring.

Personal life

In 1961, while living in Spain, Irving met and married a Spaniard, María del Pilar Stuyck. They have four children. They divorced in 1981. In 1992, Irving began a relationship with a Danish model, Bente Hogh. They have a daughter, born in 1994.

Irving's daughter Josephine died in September 1999, at the age of 32.



  • The Destruction of Dresden (1963) ISBN: 0-7057-0030-5, updated and revised 1995 as Apocalypse 1945, The Destruction of Dresden, further revised for 2007
  • The Mare's Nest (1964)
  • The Virus House (1967)
  • The Destruction of Convoy PQ17 (1968), reprinted (1980) ISBN: 0-312-91152-1, updated in 2009.
  • Accident – The Death of General Sikorski (1967) ISBN: 0-7183-0420-9
  • Breach of Security (1968) ISBN: 0-7183-0101-3
  • The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe (1973), a biography of Erhard Milch ISBN: 0-316-43238-5
  • The Night the Dams Burst (1973): (in 3 parts).
  • Hitler's War (1977), updated in 2000 as a millennium edition
  • The Trail of the Fox (1977), a biography of Erwin Rommel ISBN: 0-525-22200-6, reissued 1999 in Wordsworth Military Library, ISBN: 1-84022-205-0
  • The War Path (1978) ISBN: 0-670-74971-0
  • The War Between the Generals (1981)
  • Uprising! (1981), ISBN: 0-949667-91-9
  • The Secret Diaries of Hitler's Doctor (1983) ISBN: 0-02-558250-X
  • The German Atomic Bomb: The History of Nuclear Research in Nazi Germany (1968) ISBN: 0-671-28163-1
  • Der Morgenthau Plan 1944–45 (in German only) (1986)
  • War between the Generals (1986) ISBN: 0-86553-069-6, updated in 2010.
  • Hess, the Missing Years (1987) Macmillan, ISBN: 0-333-45179-1
  • Churchill's War (1987) ISBN: 0-947117-56-3: (in 4 parts).
  • Göring (1989), biography of Hermann Göring ISBN: 0-688-06606-2, updated in 2010.
  • Das Reich hört mit (in German only) (1989)
  • Hitler's War (1991), revised edition, incorporating The War Path
  • Der unbekannte Dr. Goebbels (in German only) (1995)
  • Goebbels – Mastermind of the Third Reich biography of Joseph Goebbels (1996) ISBN: 1-872197-13-2, cleaned-up and corrected in 2014
  • Nuremberg: The Last Battle (1996) ISBN: 1-872197-16-7
  • Churchill's War Volume II: Triumph in Adversity (1997) ISBN: 1-872197-15-9: (in 3 parts)
  • Hitler's War and the War Path (2002) ISBN: 1-872197-10-8
  • True Himmler (2020) ISBN: 1-872197-83-3


  • The Memoirs of Field-Marshal Keitel (1965)
  • The Memoirs of General Gehlen (1972)


  • The Night the Dams Burst (1973)
  • Von Guernica bis Vietnam (in German only) (1982)
  • Die deutsche Ostgrenze (in German only) (1990)
  • Banged Up (2008)

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: David Irving para niños

  • Arthur Butz
  • Faurisson affair
  • Historical revisionism
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