David Baddiel defends giving airtime to Holocaust denier in new documentary

David Baddiel at The Word, National Centre for the Written Word in South Shields in Tyneside, Newcastle.
David Baddiel presents a new documentary about Holocaust denial (PA)

David Baddiel has defended his decision to give Holocaust deniers a platform in his new documentary - insisting it is important to highlight their “ludicrousness”.

The 55-year-old comedian and writer - whose Jewish mother and grandparents fled Nazi Germany - presents upcoming BBC show Confronting Holocaust Denial which sees him meet and interview staunch denier Dermot Mulqueen.

According to The Guardian Baddiel said at a Q&A following a preview screening of the documentary: “Our culture is being shaped by trolls and the Holocaust deniers are a very extreme example of the trolls. Ignoring them has not worked. It doesn’t mean that confronting them will work completely but I think it’s a debate we have to have.

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“Unfortunately, we no longer live in a culture where what is spoken about and what truths are told and what lies are told are objective any more, so my personal feeling is that you have to try to take them on.”

He added: “I sort of knew I wouldn’t change his mind but I felt it was important for people to see the ludicrousness of this position.”

The documentary sees Baddiel shake hands with Mulqueen on meeting him.

He said: “I didn’t want to. But at some level, a bloke puts his hand out and not to shake it feels weird... so I did.”

During their three-hour meeting, Mulqueen performed anti-Jewish songs while playing the guitar for Baddiel.

The Three Lions singer said: “One of the weirdest moments of my life [was] sitting there listening to those songs. But it’s very important to understand - however mad Dermot seems... People believe this s**t.”

Baddiel admitted: “To some extent I just want[ed] to punch this bloke in the face.”

London, UNITED KINGDOM:  Jewish comedian David Baddiel (R) is shown around the new Anne Frank exhibition in Brick Lane, London, 15 June 2005. The exhibition calls on young people to build a society based on mutual respect and moral courage. Born into a German Jewish family in Frankfurt in 1929, Anne Frank moved with her parents to the Netherlands in 1933 when Hitler came to power. After German forces invaded and anti-Jewish legislation came into effect, she and seven other people hid in an Amsterdam attic for two years until they were denounced and deported to Nazi death camps. Only her father survived. The diary was written between June 1942 and August 1944.   AFP PHOTO/JOHN D MCHUGH  (Photo credit should read JOHN D MCHUGH/AFP via Getty Images)
David Baddiel at an exhibition about Anne Frank in 2005 (Getty Images)

Baddiel also met with Anthony Julius, a lawyer who successfully defended the American historian Deborah Lipstadt in a libel suit brought by Holocaust denier David Irving.

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Julius told Baddiel: “You don’t need to give these people airtime – so don’t.”

The hour-long documentary is one of several BBC shows marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz. Auschwitz was a complex of concentration camps in Poland operated by the Nazis during World War II. At least 1.1million people died there. The genocide of Jewish people in the Holocaust saw an estimated death toll of six million.

Confronting Holocaust Denial with David Baddiel airs on BBC2 at 9pm on Monday 17 February.