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A Night at the Ritz: White Supremacists, a Knife Fight and a Holocaust Denier

Friday, October 30, 2009

By Larry Keller
Hatewatch at SPLC

In what may be the latest sign of simmering tensions in Florida between two prominent racist skinhead groups, two men suffered knife wounds this week during a speech by Holocaust denying historian David Irving at a luxury Palm Beach County hotel.

Irving spoke to about three dozen invited guests in a conference room he booked at the Ritz-Carlton hotel south of Palm Beach. During his talk on “decoding the Nazi message,” two men, Christopher Nachtman and John Kopko, stepped outside to argue and one of them pulled a knife, police say. A fight ensued. Furniture was broken and a carpet was bloodied. Both men were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment of knife wounds. No charges have been filed yet.

Irving is a longtime Holocaust revisionist. In 2000, he sued Emory University professor and Holocaust expert Deborah Lipstadt for libel in his homeland of Britain, after she accused of him of deliberate falsification. A London court declared Irving a pro-Nazi anti-Semite and “active Holocaust denier” and ordered him to pay all court costs. In 2006, he was imprisoned in Austria after pleading guilty to telling audiences that there were no gas chambers in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz. Irving subsequently backed off those claims. Earlier this year, he set up a website selling Nazi memorabilia. His visit to South Florida was the latest on a surreptitious speaking tour in the United States, in which Irving informs attendees of his venue at the last minute so as to thwart protestors.

Irving told Florida television station WPBF that Kopko initiated the attack, and that the fight had nothing to do with his lecture. He said his assistant witnessed the incident. “She said that she saw four people chasing one member of the audience out and beating him to the floor, and she said she thought they were going to kill him, but he pulled a knife from nowhere and stabbed one of these men repeatedly,” he told the TV station. “It was a personal feud, apparently, which goes back over the years, and I gained the impression, or so I was told, that three or four of these people had come in there with the intention of roughing him up,” he said. He doesn’t know Kopko personally, Irving added....(Remainder.)



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