VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuanian officials on Wednesday said they have blacklisted British Holocaust denier David Irving to prevent him from entering the Baltic EU state later this year, in a move hailed by the local Jewish community.
“Irving has been banned from entering Lithuania until April 2024, after we received a request from the foreign ministry,” migration department chief Evelina Gudzinskaite told AFP.
The foreign ministry called for a ban because “Irving’s views and his efforts to trivialize the Holocaust are unacceptable and constitute a crime in Lithuania,” according to spokeswoman Rasa Jakilaitiene.
The controversial 81-year-old British historian, who was jailed in Austria in 2006 for denying the Nazi genocide of six million Jews during World War II, said he planned to visit Poland this year.
Officials said he may also come to neighboring Lithuania and its fellow Baltic state Latvia during the tour.
“We welcome the ban. It is a drastic but necessary measure to prevent Holocaust denial,” Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman of the national Jewish association, told AFP.
In 2010, Irving led a controversial tour of World War II sites in Poland, including the former Treblinka death camp, drawing outrage and condemnation from Holocaust survivors and anti-racism groups.
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said in March that this time around, Irving “will not be accepted in Poland” where Holocaust denial is also outlawed.
Irving is the author of “Hitler’s War,” a book that attempts to minimize both Nazi atrocities and Hitler’s responsibility for them.
Under Lithuanian law, anyone found guilty of denying or “grossly trivializing” the Holocaust faces a penalty of up to two years behind bars.
Before World War II, Lithuania’s vibrant Jewish community numbered around 200,000 people.
Over 90 percent of them died between 1941-1944 during the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis and their local collaborators.