"Holocaust denier" Irving's books freely available in Czech Republic

David Irving, photo: CTK

Controversial British historian David Irving has featured heavily in the world's media this week after being convicted in Austria for denying the Holocaust. The trial was based on Mr Irving's book "Hitler's War", in which the author claims that Hitler knew nothing of the Holocaust and Auschwitz was not an extermination camp. But Czech translations of David Irving's books are also widely available in this country - where Holocaust denial is a crime.

David Irving,  photo: CTK
Readers in Prague don't have to go far to find David Irving's books. A trip to the Neoluxor bookshop, a large store in Prague's Novy Smichov shopping centre, yielded Irving's "Goebbels - Mastermind of the Third Reich". Neoluxor stocks a total of three David Irving titles, including "Hitler's War". The controversial volume was actually sold out - not, apparently, because of the furore over Irving's trial, but since October.

Several years ago Neoluxor also stocked Mein Kampf, but withdrew Hitler's autobiography after the publisher who produced the new Czech edition was convicted of propagating fascism. So far Neoluxor and other large bookshops such as Kanzelsberger - which has 30 shops across the country - have said they are considering withdrawing Irving's books. So far, however, they remain on shelves.

Prague's City Library, meanwhile, stocks translations of eight of David Irving's books - including Hitler's War. Again, the library is considering withdrawing his books, although a spokesman was quoted as saying in the papers as saying the library doesn't want to act as censor.

Deciding whether by offering Hitler's War bookshops and libraries are committing a crime is a fine legal issue. But another issue - indeed some say the real issue - is that the trial of David Irving and the debate over "Hitler's War" - is earning huge amounts of free publicity for an author who obviously thrives on it.