Irving is a highly controversial writer who has been jailed, fined and banned from entering several countries because of his claims that the gas chambers in Auschwitz were fake and that the Nazi extermination of the Jews never took place.
The Festival board withdrew its invitation to Irving to hold a lecture on the theme of Truth. As a result the Stig Sæterbakken, who has been in charge of the artistic content of the Festival handed in his resignation. It was Sæterbakken who thought that it would be good for the Festival if Irving took part.
There were strong reactions when it became known that Irving had been invited to next year’s festival at Lillehammer. Many authors warned that they would pull out if Irving was left on the program, writes daily newspaper Aftenposten.
The free speech organization Fritt Ord was among the critics. It wanted its logo removed from the Festival's advertising.
Festival chief Randi Skeie, says that Irving was invited precisely because he denies the truth and falsifies history.
"Initially we wanted to expose Irving as a liar and swindler, but then the issue became a question of free speech. Everything is fine as long as everyone agrees, but things get more difficult when one doesn’t like the views being put forward," says Skeie.