50 years on: David Irving, Apartheid and ULU

dsc_0348Today’s politically active students today may spend their time occupying lecture theatres over Israel’s actions in Gaza, but 50 years ago the hottest issue was South Africa’s apartheid system.

The University of London Union determined to do something about it. Its annual carnival would be used to raise funds to bring Black South African students to attend universities in the British capital.

But the man they took on to edit the carnival’s magazine, a major part of the fundraising drive, had other ideas. An article he intended to include in the publication unequivocally stated: “apartheid is a good thing.”

David Irving, has since become rather more famous for his right-wing views than he was back then.

Irving was a student at Imperial college (although he never graduated) and came to the attention of then ULU Vice-President David Jacques through his work on the Imperial College publication ‘Phoenix’. Mr Jacques says he knew of Irving as a capable pair of hands in putting a magazine together.

“He clearly had great expertise as an Editor and writer and was Editor of the Imperial College newsletter. So I asked him to edit our newsletter for the Carnival. But I told him I knew of his neo-fascist views and I wanted them out of it.”

Having been taken on to edit ‘Carnival Times’, Irving took to the task with gusto. The one shilling and sixpence magazine (which guaranteed free entry to the carnival fete) was full of witty snippets from other UL publications, student cartoons, and details of the University’s plans for expansion.

But even at the beginning, tensions were apparent between Irving and the rest of the carnival team. Correspondence between David Jacques and Irving reveals arguments over whether a piece about Imperial’s internal politics should be included.

“Firstly,” wrote Mr Jacques, “whilst appreciating that you are the Editor and that your dismissal from the Editorship of Phoenix may not have been completely justified, I do think it would be very unwise to publish again articles and quotations which have already roused the wrath and indignation of the powers that be.

“They will serve little or no purpose as the vast majority of the readers of Carnival will have no idea who the Rector is, and as you yourself said, the object of Carnival is to entertain the student.”

Suspicious that Irving might try to sneak something even more controversial through, Mr Jacques told Irving that he wanted to see everything before it was printed.

But on the evening it was supposed to be put together, he received a panicked phone call from the editor of Sennet (London Student’s predecessor) to say that the printer had found an insert in the magazine with articles entitled ‘Apartheid – the facts’ and ‘Battle for Europe’.

“I had a late call from Doug Smith, and he said ‘I think he’s done the dirty on you and had this insert printed which has already been put in,” recalls Mr Jacques.

The apartheid article argued “seldom has there ever been a concept so confused, a cause so lost, as that of Racial Integration.”

It claimed that apartheid as then practised in South Africa had not gone far enough: “If… apartheid is the total separation of the black and coloured populations, with each people being given separate territories and separate states within the same Continent and in which each people is free to develop its political, social and cultural life to the full without interference from outside then it is a distinct advance on past conditions.”

Stereotyping black South Africans as inherently violent, it suggested expanding apartheid to the whole African continent, so that “the white man live in the temperate uplands, which are suited to him, and the blacks live in the tropical coastlands and the West of Africa, where they can also thrive.”

A photograph of a fight at a meeting in Notting Hill was captioned “Can white and coloured folk live peacefully together? Yes, say the multi-racialists. And yet this photograph, taken within the last two months in London, England, would appear to show the opposite. Not only are the coloured folk fighting the white, but they are causing whites to fight each other too. This need never have happened.”

Irving’s editorial on Europe, however, is the most revealing piece. He wrote: “Great Britain has often been in the wrong. Somehow we found ourselves lined up with the Bolsheviks in a fight against the first great unifying force Europe had known in six hundred years, and we barely scraped a victory, a Pyrrhic victory.”

A section titled ‘Herr Hitler’ glorified the Nazi leader’s role in the Second World War. The whole piece was unashamedly anti-Semitic: “The formation of a European Union is interpreted at building a group of superior peoples, and the Jews have always viewed with suspicion the emergence of any ‘master-race’ (other than their own, of course).”

When he became aware of the situation, Mr Jacques went straight to the printers.

“I made sure everything he had written was shredded. But on the bus back he said, ‘Well, you fell for that, more fool you. I’ve another 500 copies already printed.’”

The incident came to the attention of the national press. Speaking to the Daily Mail later that year (although he later denied the comments) Irving said: “You can call me a mild fascist if you like,” and said he had visited a former home of Hitler’s in Germany, which he regarded “as a shrine”.

Private Eye covered the scandal in 1969 as background to a piece on Irving’s latest misdemeanours. They wrote: “The [Carnival] committee were so shocked by the supplement’s contents that they engaged a number of volunteers to rip out 30,000 of the supplements from the magazine, almost all of which were then burnt.”

The incident wasn’t the last the University of London would see of Irving. He re-enrolled as a student at University College London and in February 1961 took part in a debate on immigration, seconding Sir Oswald Mosley. Private Eye magazine reported that “Mr Irving closed his speech by greeting the audience with a Heil Hitler salute.”

Irving has since been convicted of holocaust denial in Austria, for which he served 400 days in prison.

Mr Jacques says he hasn’t been surprised to see Irving in the news since then.  

He’s even kept a copy of the Guardian of April 12 2000, which, reporting on Irving’s defeat in a libel case against author Deborah Lipstadt who had called him a Holocaust denier, bears the headline: “Irving: consigned to history as a racist liar.”

“He had no scruples,” says Mr Jacques. “He was without principles, and that’s been the story ever since.”

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15 Responses to “50 years on: David Irving, Apartheid and ULU”

  1. Donn

    How interesting that people who condemn the nazis for “burning books” are so proud of burning the writings of David Irving.

    #70830
  2. For the true story, visit my memoirs at

    http://www.fpp.co.uk/biogr06_Pure_Math.pdf
    and read pages 116-19.

    Enjoy, David Irving 
    Windsor SL4 6QS

    #70831
  3. For the true story, visit my memoirs at

    http://www.fpp.co.uk/biogr06/Pure_Math.pdf
    and read pages 116-19.

    Enjoy, David Irving
    Windsor SL4 6QS

    I a
    pologise for the bad link in the previous mail

    #70832
  4. Bob Silentio

    How can you be so purblind as to dismiss the views and erudition of this educated, informed, cultivated man on the grounds that he is
    ‘right wing’? How comforting it must be to be able to be correct in all your dealings because you are ‘of the left’. How sad that so much has been wasted on your ‘education.’

    #70852
  5. Mr Irving has failed to upload the above pdf file. Its likely equivalent may be found at
    http://fpp.co.uk/docs/Irving/RadDi/2002/180602.html .

    #70854
  6. David Stolz

    Oh how wonderful WW2 was to all of the ‘good people’.50 million dead,Europe ruined.Civilization set back.David Irving,was a brilliant young man,who became a writing genious of unmatched courage.A true man of peace,who uncovered the real reasons for WW2.To say he has know scruples,jealousy and stupity.He has lost everything for the truth.It is only the Orwellian laws against speech,enacted by the failed,and phony left/right establishment,which does all it can to silence true talent,and research so it may maintain its corrosive control over humanity……My-My;so-called human rights activists burning books.The French revolution,Bolshivicks,the Allied Occupation of Europe(When they werent burning German and Japanese civilians) dear Mao,Iraq,Vietnam,Gazayour all in such good company.

    #70869
  7. Brian Anderson

    Sorry for being anal, but Imperial’s student newspaper is called ‘Felix’ not ‘Pheonix’… tsk tsk!

    #70876
  8. admin

    Today it is called Felix, quite right, but in 1959 the college publication was Phoenix.

    #70878
  9. John Fox

    IT is very said that a person can not express his views without being put to jail ( 400 days in Jail!). Is it to what western democracy came to? Where is the freedom of expression?

    We are not living in a democratic world, it is only the press that is, while they talk within the norms of the current powers, that is free to rant about all the “incorrect” people, like David Irving.

    I do not think that the level of freedom that we have now is higher than in such country as China. Very said situation indeed. And that is the directo result of the multicultural and multiracial society. One can not offend people by stating that a large portion of human abilities is inherited, that there is a difference in a mean IQ, etc.
    The lessons of Vietnam, Irak, Iran, Afganistan tell us that there will never be a political structure that until 1945 Western countries enjoyed. And that is why David Irving views can be very close to reality: name one African country that is not corrupt to the core?
    Democracy originated in Islan and other nordic countries, and that is where it existed for a while. Unfortunately with countries such as UK are on the way to become Muslim…with many implications to the freedom of expression, etc…

    #70886
  10. Jack S.

    John Fox writes:

    “One can not offend people by stating that a large portion of human abilities is inherited, that there is a difference in a mean IQ, etc.”

    Perhaps not per se. However, many people who state such things do so in order to provide a scientific basis for their prejudices. If you start writing that blacks have a lower IQ than whites, or that working class people have a lower IQ than “middle class” people, and that this proves the inferiority of one group or another, it would be much more surprising if people weren’t offended.

    Furthermore, you seem to imply that “human abilities” are more than just inherited, but that they have some basis in “race”. My understanding of it is that the overwhelming majority of the human genome is the same in everyone, whilst over 85% of the differences are found within a population. The remaining 15% would also account for differences between say, English and French people, or English and German, as well as between various races. Indeed skin colour is hardly an accurate “scientific” method for determining someone’s race, for example Australian Aborigines and Africans are much more distantly related than would be expected (indeed many scientists in previous centuries included them in the same group).

    It still remains, so far as I am aware, to be proven that this small amount of differentiation between traditionally defined races can actually have an effect on something as complex as intelligence, especially sufficient effect for this difference to have some bearing on the superiority (or otherwise) of a particular group of people. Nor is it a given that this should bring about a restructuring of society so that those inferior groups are treated as inferior. Indeed one could just as easily draw the conclusion that those who were less intelligent should have more time and energy invested in them so that this difference could not manifest itself in any noticeable fashion and could not have a detrimental effect on society as a whole. It speaks volumes about the prejudices or motivation of the people who produce such data that it is invariably the first option which is suggested.

    It should also be pointed out that IQ testing is far from an accurate measure of intelligence, not having originated from some theory of what intelligence actually is. At the end of the day, that intelligence tests frequently place white men at the top is hardly surprising given that the tests are often written by white men, and in this sense are no different to the measurements of brain size, carried out by white men which concluded that white men had larger brains and therefore were more intelligent. Of course such differences in size rapidly disappeared when more objective methods for measuring them were applied.

    “The lessons of Vietnam, Irak, Iran, Afganistan tell us that there will never be a political structure that until 1945 Western countries enjoyed.”

    It is hardly to your credit that you attribute the lack of democracy in these countries to some kind of national, racial or cultural flaw. At worst it demonstrates a thinly veiled racism or, at best, a complete ignorance of the recent history of these countries. Surely the current Islamic regime in Iran has more to do with the fact that Islam was the one of the only allowed (in a very limited sense) forms of resistance to the Shah, than some fundamental irrationality on the part of Iranians? Even more so when we consider that the Shah replaced a democratically elected government.

    #70896
  11. Dan

    How is mathematics racially biased? The reason I ask is that many or even most questions on standardized intelligence tests are spatial reasoning and deductive logic, both math based. Why is it whites are so much more clever than blacks and browns and asians more clever than whites? This is not cultural or racial bias, it’s fact.

    #70960
  12. [...] bed at four a.m., with dawn already gleaming. An online newspaper, London Student, has published the inside story of The Carnival Times ramp of fi…. I post a link online, and draw attention to the relevant chapter of my [...]

    #70966
  13. [...] bed at four a.m., with dawn already gleaming. An online newspaper, London Student, has published the inside story of The Carnival Times ramp of fi…. I post a link online, and draw attention to the relevant chapter of my [...]

    #70967

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