Newsgroups: alt.revisionism Reply-to: email@example.com Subject: Irving v. Penguin & Lipstadt: Judgment V-05 Organization: The Nizkor Project Keywords: David Irving libel action Deborah Lipstadt Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/judgment-05.05 Last-Modified: 2000/04/11 (vi) Shooting of Jews in Riga Introduction 5.111 It is common ground between the Defendants and Irving that, from about the summer of 1941 onwards until the end of 1942, a large number of Jews in the area of the General Government (as a large part of occupied Poland was called) were shot and killed by Nazi Einsatzgruppen. There are issues between the parties as to the scale of the executions which took place and as to whether Hitler approved or knew of the executions. I shall revert to these issues when I come to deal later in the judgment with the extent of Hitler's knowledge of and responsibility for the mass extermination of the Jews. 5.112 The immediate issue relates to the manner in which Irving deals in his published works with the circumstances under which the Berlin Jews who, as I have just described, were deported to Riga came to be executed by Jeckeln and his henchmen. Case for the Defendants 5.113 The Defendants also cite Irving's treatment of the shooting of these Jews as another instance of his misrepresentation of events and his determination to exculpate Hitler from responsibility for their fate. In particular the Defendants criticise Irving for his omission to record what Bruns had to say about the shooting of Berlin Jews. In 1941 Bruns had been a colonel stationed in Riga. Later in 1945, when in captivity, he spoke about the shooting to fellow prisoners. His words were surreptitiously recorded so (say the Defendants) there is no reason to suppose he was not telling the truth. The transcript records him as saying that a junior officer named Altemeyer had told him that the Berlin Jews were to be shot "in accordance with the Fuhrer's orders". According to the same transcript, after Hitler had been informed of the shooting Altemeyer showed Bruns another order and said: "Here is an order just issued, prohibiting mass-shootings on that scale from taking place in future. They are to be carried out more discreetly". The Defendants contend that Bruns's words represent important and credible evidence from a reliable witness, firstly, that Hitler personally ordered the Riga executions and, secondly, that once informed of the shooting Hitler, far from prohibiting such conduct in the future, ordered that shootings of this kind it should continue but on a more discreet basis. 5.114 Despite the crucial importance of Bruns's evidence, of which Irving was aware, there is no reference in any of Irving's books to his claim as to the apparent role of Hitler in regard to the deaths of the Berlin Jews in Riga. Reference is made to Bruns in the introduction to the American edition of Hitler's War, where Irving refers to Hitler's "renewed orders that such mass murders were to stop forthwith". The Defendants contend that this reference wholly perverts the sense of Bruns's account. 5.115 In the text of Goebbels at p645 Irving writes that 1000 Berlin Jews and 4000 Riga Jews were shot on 30 November. According to Evans and Browning, the true figure was found in later reports to be at least twice that number and higher estimates of 13-15,000 were given in post- war trials. The Defendants are critical of Irving for minimising the number of those killed. They accept that he refers, albeit tucked away in a footnote, to a claim that 27,800 Jews were murdered but he there describes that claim as exaggerated. Evans testified that the figure of 27,800, which was reported by Einsatzgruppe A was probably justified. 5.116 In relation to Hitler's attitude towards the shooting of the German Jews in Riga, the Defendants also criticise Irving for making no mention whatever of the evidence of Schultz-Dubois. This young Nazi officer was entrusted with the task of conveying to Admiral Canaris a report prepared by another officer based in Riga protesting at the shooting. The intention was that Canaris should raise the matter with Hitler. According to a letter from the widow of Schultz-Dubois, which is quoted in a book by Professor Gerald Fleming, Canaris did so but was met with the response: "You want to show weakness, do you mein Herr! I have to do that, for after me there not be another one to do it". This, say the Defendants, is clear evidence that Hitler approved the shooting the Jews yet Irving suppressed it. Case for Mr Irving 5.117 Irving in his evidence adopted an equivocal attitude towards the covertly recorded words of General Bruns about events in Riga. He accepted that in general Bruns is reliable and credible, partly because he did not know his words were being recorded. Nevertheless, noting that Bruns at his trial had denied even having been present at the Riga shootings, there were parts of Bruns's recorded account which Irving discounted. In relation to Bruns's account of Altemeyer having said to him: "Here's an order that's come, saying that mass shootings of this kind may no longer take place in future. That is to be done more cautiously now" Irving claimed that the first part means that Hitler had ordered that the mass killings had got to stop. But Irving dismissed the second part, that is, the instruction that the shooting should be done more cautiously in future as nothing more than a sneering aside by Altemeyer. 5.118 Irving's reason for discounting these words is that Altemeyer was at the time a young officer in his early 20s and so likely to have fobbed off criticism by a senior officer of what he was doing by referring to "the Fuhrer's orders". It was, according to Irving "a throwaway line". Irving argued that his interpretation of Altemeyer's words is consistent with the intercepted message from Himmler to Jeckeln of 1 December 1941 requiring him to comply with the guidelines for dealing with deported German Jews. 5.119 In contrast to his initial assessment of Bruns's reliability, Irving went so far in his cross-examination of Evans as to suggest that his account was third hand and, having been provided four years after the event, could not be treated as hard evidence. 5.120 As to the number of casualties in Riga on 30 November 1941, Irving sought to justify the figure he gave in the text of Goebbels, namely 5,000, by a calculation of the number of corpses which could have been fitted into the pits which General Bruns described in his account of the shootings. If those pits measured 25metres long by 3 metres wide and 2 metres deep, Irving worked out that, assuming 10 bodies per cubic metre, the pits would have accommodated in the region of 7,000 bodies. Evans expressed the view that such a calculation was meaningless because it contained so many assumptions, not least the assumption that the pits were only 2 metres deep. Irving added that he had not concealed the claim that there were over 28,000 deaths: the claim was in the footnote to which readers could refer. 5.121 Irving rejected the Defendants' criticism of him for ignoring altogether in his writing about the Riga shootings the evidence of the widow of Schultz-Dubois, who had been responsible for transmitting a report by a young army officer protesting about the shootings to Admiral Canaris in order that the Admiral might bring it to the attention of Hitler. I understood Irving to say that, although the letter of Mrs Schultz-Dubois which contains this information is to be found on his website, he had not at the material time read it. Irving testified that, whilst he had in 1982 looked at parts of the book by Professor Fleming in which the letter of Frau Schultz-Dubois is quoted, he had not read that passage which at page 98 contains the quotation from her letter. It was put to Irving in cross-examination that the markings in his copy of Fleming's book indicate that he read as far as page 104 and so would have read the contents of the letter at page 98. Irving denied that allegation. 5.122 Irving did, however, agree that Hitler's reaction as recounted in the letter of Frau Schultz-Dubois is some evidence that Hitler considered it to be his task to kill the Jews. That, Irving agreed, must be what meant by Hitler's phrase "after me there will not be another one to do it [carry out the shooings]". But Canaris was known to be anti- Nazi and so, argued Irving, his report of Hitler's reaction to the report has to be discounted. (vii) Hitler's views on the Jewish question Introduction 5.123 This is another topic to which I shall need to revert at greater length when I come to deal with the criticisms levelled by the Defendants against Irving for his denial that Hitler was complicit in the genocidal policy of deporting and subsequently killing by the use of gas vast numbers of Jews from all over Europe. At this point I shall confine myself to a summary of the criticisms advanced by the Defendants of Irving's portrayal, in selected passages from his books, of Hitler's stance on the Jewish question, together with Irving's answers to those criticisms. The Defendants' case 5.124 The case for the Defendants is that at every opportunity Irving portrays Hitler as adopting a non-confrontational posture towards the Jews and being kept in ignorance, at least until the autumn of 1943, of the wholesale liquidation which was under way. This picture is a wholly false one, say the Defendants. It will suffice if I give a selection of the statements made by Hitler on the subject of the Jews on which the defendants place reliance. 5.125 The Defendants accuse Irving of perverse and selective quotation and deliberate mistranslation in a passage at p377 of Goebbels which purports to give an account of an occasion described in Hitler's Table Talk for 25 October 1941. Irving describes how Hitler soliloquised to Himmler and Heydrich in the following terms: "Hitler was neither consulted nor informed [about the mass deportation of Jews from Berlin]. Ten days after the forced exodus began, he referred, soliloquising over supper to Himmler and Heydrich, to the way the Jews had started the war.' Let nobody tell me', Hitler added, 'that despite that we can't park them in the marshier parts of Russia! By the way', he added, 'its not a bad thing that public rumour attributes to us a plan to exterminate the Jews'. He pointed out, however, that he had no intention of starting anything at present. 'There's no point in adding to our difficulties at a time like this' ". Evans asserted that the claim that Hitler was neither consulted nor informed about the deportations is pure invention. He contended that a true translation of that extract from the Table Talk is as follows: "Nobody can tell me: but we can't send them into the morass! For who bothers about our people? Its good if the terror (schrecken) that we are exterminating Jewry goes before us .. I'm forced to pile up an enormous amount of things myself; but that doesn't mean that what I take cognisance of without reacting to it immediately, just disappears. It goes into an account; one day the book is taken out. I had to remain inactive for a long time against the Jews too. There's no sense in artificially making extra difficulties for one self; the more cleverly one operates, the better ..". 5.126 A series of cumulative criticisms are made of Irving's version of this extract from Hitler's Table Talk. The original text does not refer to "parking" nor to Russia. By rendering schrecken as "rumour" Irving waters down the original. Besides there is no reference in the original to "attributing": the extermination is presented as a fact. The German original makes clear that Hitler regarded the period of inaction vis-…- vis the Jews to be over. The moment has come to strike. The Defendants argue that the net result of Irving's version of Hitler's remarks is wholly to misrepresent the thrust of Hitler's remarks. 5.127 In his diary Goebbels recorded a meeting with Hitler on 21 November 1941 in terms which included the following: "The Fuhrer also completely agrees with my views with reference to the Jewish question. He wants an energetic policy against the Jews, which, however, does not cause us unnecessary difficulties". Yet at p379 of Goebbels Irving writes that Goebbels displayed a far more uncompromising face than Hitler's towards the Jews. That is followed by a passage quoting the extract from Goebbels's diary just cited in the following terms: " .[Hitler] again instructed Goebbels to pursue a policy against the Jews that does not cause us endless difficulties .". The Defendants claim that Irving distorts the sense of the diary entry by omitting the reference to Hitler wanting an energetic policy towards the Jews and by omitting the first sentence recording Hitler's agreement with his (Goebbels's) views about the Jewish question. 5.128 The Defendants rely also upon Irving's account of a speech made by Hitler to the Gauleiter on 12 December 1941, when, according to Goebbels's diary (in Longerich's translation): "As concerns the Jewish question, the Fuhrer is determined to make a clean sweep. He had prophesied to the Jews that if they once again brought about a world war they would experience their own extermination (vernichtung). This was not just an empty phrase. The World War is there, the extermination of Jewry (Judentum) must be the necessary consequence. This question must be seen without sentimentality. We are not here in order to have sympathy with the Jews, rather we sympathise with our own German people. If the German people have now once again sacrificed as many as 16,000 dead in the Eastern campaign, then the authors of this bloody conflict must pay with their lives". The Defendants' case is that, according to Goebbels's account, Hitler was expressly contemplating the extermination of Jews generally. The Defendants argue that his passage, which followed one day after the outbreak of war between Nazi Germany and the United States, echoes what Goebbels had earlier written in an article in Das Reich and that it demonstrates that Hitler was determined to act no less brutally towards the Jews than was Goebbels. It marks, say the Defendants, the reaction of Hitler to the outbreak of world war, which was that the Jews must be annihilated. 5.129 According to the Defendants, confirmation for this proposition is to be found in the account of General Governor Hans Frank (who Irving accepts was in Berlin when Hitler spoke to the Gauleiter), which states: "In Berlin we were told 'why all this trouble? We cannot use them in the Ostland or the Reichscommissariat either. Liquidate them yourselves! We must destroy the Jews wherever we encounter them and wherever it is possible in order to preserve the entire structure of the Third Reich". Frank's diary contains the following further passage: ". we cannot shoot these 3.5 million Jews. We can't poison them. But we will, however, be able to undertake interventions which in some way lead to a successful annihilation, and indeed in connection with the large scale measures to be undertaken from the Reich and to be discussed. The General Government must become just as free of Jews as the Reich is. Where and how that happens is a matter for the institutions which we must put into action and create here and the effectiveness I will report on to you in good time". The Defendants contend that Frank was there recording what had in effect been a direction to the General Government from Berlin to liquidate the Jews. The Defendants assert that the latter passage is "an evolutionary document", presaging the extermination of Jews by gassing. Criticism was levelled at Irving for his claim at p428 of the 1991 edition of Hitler's War that Hitler was in East Prussia when the instruction to liquidate the Jews was issued. The probability is that Hitler was in Berlin at the material time, since he did not leave Berlin for the East until 16 December. This, according to the Defendants, is an instance of Irving manipulating the record and telling "a fib" in order to distance Hitler from the instruction to liquidate the Jews. 5.130 Next the Defendants rely on a manuscript note made by Himmler of a conversation he had with Hitler on 16 December 1941 which includes the words: "Jewish question / to be extirpated (auszurotten) as partisans". Longerich regarded this note as confirmation of Hitler's intention to continue and intensify the mass murders of Soviet Jews. It is consistent with the way in which the killing of 363,211 Jews was treated in report by the Einsatzgruppen of 26 December 1942 (to which I shall refer again later): in that report the number of Jews killed was included as a separate category under the heading of partisan accomplices. This report is endorsed in manuscript "laid before [vorgelegt] Hitler". 5.131 The Defendants criticise the account given by Irving at p465 of Hitler's War (1991 edition) of Hitler's attitude towards the Jews in March 1942. The reader is given to understand that the concern of Hitler was to procure the deportation of Jews out of Europe. Irving refers to Hitler's wish, repeatedly stated, to postpone dealing with the Jewish problem until after the war is over. He claims that Goebbels never discussed with Hitler the realities of what was happening to the Jews in the General Government. That account, say the Defendants, takes no account of the statements repeatedly made by Hitler from 1941 onwards that the Jews must be eliminated and that they were a "bacillus" which needed to be eliminated. Examples are to be found in the entries made by Goebbels in his diary on 15 February and 20 March 1942 and in Hitler's Table Talk on 22 February 1942). Also omitted by Irving is the reference made by Goebbels to Hitler as a protagonist for and champion of the radical solution to the Jewish question necessitated by the "way things are". There is, according to the Defendants, no justification for Irving's claim that Goebbels discussed with Hitler "the realities" of the situation. What Irving is unwarrantably seeking to do, say the Defendants, is to distance Hitler from the policy of killing the Jews. 5.132 Next the Defendants accuse Irving of suppressing several references made by Hitler in January and February 1942 to the extermination (ausrottung) of Jews, for example in his Table Talk on 25 January 1942. Hitler is there recorded as having said on that occasion: "The Jew has to get out of Europe . If he collapses in the course of it, I can't help there. I can see only one thing: absolute extermination, if they don't go of their own accord ..". The latter sentence is omitted at p464 of Hitler's War (1991 edition) in order, so the Defendants say, to exculpate Hitler. 5.133 Similarly the Defendants point to the omission by Irving of any reference to Hitler's statements in the Table Talk for 22 February 1942: "We will get well when we eliminate the Jew", They rely also on the omission of a similar remark by Hitler to NSDAP party members on 24 February 1942 when Hitler again talked of extermination and removing parasites. 5.134 Evans in his report criticises the omission from Irving's account of Goebbels's diary entry for 30 May 1942 but the Defendants no longer rely on this criticism. Similarly the Defendants no longer pursue Evans's criticism of Irving for not recognising that the reference in the Hitler Table Talk of July 1942 to Jews emigrating to Madagascar was euphemistic. 5.135 However the Defendants rely further in this connection on the following: the reaction of Hitler to the shooting of the Jews I Riga in November 1941, as reported by the widow of Schultz-Dubois (referred to at (vii) above); Himmler's minute of 22 September 1942; Himmler's note of 10 December 1942; Hitler's meetings with Antonescu and Horthy in April 1943 and Ribbentrop's statements made at Nuremberg (all of which will be referred to later in this section). 5.136 The Defendants contend that, individually and collectively, the misinterpretations, partial quotations and omissions which I have summarised amount to a serious misrepresentation of Hitler's attitude towards the Jewish question. As further evidence of the uncompromisingly harsh and active role in the persecution of the Jews the Defendants rely also on his role in such events as the expulsion and shooting of the Berlin Jews in Riga (with which I have already dealt); his role in the deportation of European Jews to the East; his attitude towards the Jews in France; his determination to procure the extermination of the Hungarian Jews and Ribbentrop's assessment of Hitler's responsibility for the fate which befell the Jews (to all of which issues I will shortly come).
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