Newsgroups: alt.revisionism Reply-to: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Irving v. Penguin & Lipstadt: Judgment VI-04 Organization: The Nizkor Project Keywords: David Irving libel action Deborah Lipstadt Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/judgment-06.04 Last-Modified: 2000/04/11 6.85 As noted above, on 18 December 1941 Himmler met Hitler, who, according to Himmler's note, agreed that the Jews were to be annihilated as if partisans. The Defendants accept that Hitler expressed that sentiment in the context of the programme of shooting Jews in the East, but it is, according to them, indicative of his murderous intentions towards the Jews at this time. In January 1942 Hitler again confirmed in his New Year's address that it would be the Jews rather than the Aryan peoples of Europe would be ausgerottet (exterminated). He spoke in similar terms at the Reichstag on 30 January 1942 and thereafter on 14, 22 and 24 February 1942.. 6.86 As Frank had told his audience it would be, a meeting was convened in Berlin and took place in Berlin on 20 January 1942 under the chairmanship of Heydrich. It is known as the Wannsee conference. The invitations to the conference were accompanied by an authorisation, signed by Goering, to prepare a European-wide Final Solution to the Jewish problem. State Secretaries, ranking just below Cabinet ministers, attended, as did amongst others Muller, Hofmann and Eichmann. According to the Defendants, it marks an important milestone in the evolution of the policy of extermination. Irving totally rejected the significance which the Defendants attach to this conference. 6.87 Heydrich told those present: "A further possible solution [of the Jewish question] instead of emigration has come up. After appropriate approval by the Fuhrer, the evacuation of the Jews to the East has stepped into its place. These actions, however, must be regarded as only as an alternative solution. But already the practical experience (praktischen Ehrfahrungen) is being gathered which is of great importance to the coming Final Solution of the Jewish question. Under the appropriate direction the Jews shall now be put to work in the course of the Final Solution. Organised into large work gangs and segregated according to sex, those Jews fit for work will be led into these areas as road builders, whereby no doubt a large part will fall out by natural elimination. The remainder who will survive - and they will certainly be those who have the greatest power of endurance - will have to be dealt with accordingly. For, if released, they would, according to the natural selection of the fittest, form the seed of a new Jewish regeneration". Longerich noted the reference made by Heydrich to the approval of the Fuhrer. He asserted that "to be dealt with accordingly" is a typical SS expression for liquidation. So the Jews who survived the labour regime (if any did) were to be liquidated. Moreover the Defendants draw attention to what they regard as a notable and sinister omission from those words: what was to happen to those Jews who were already unable to work (as most were)? The answer, according to the Defendants, is that, having been judged unfit for work, they were condemned to be killed. The Defendants give, as a further reason for saying that Wannsee had the significance for which they contend, the fact that shortly after Wannsee the construction of the death camps at Sobibor and Treblinka started and gas chambers were built at Auschwitz. The enormous task of killing the Jews then began in earnest, say the Defendants. The Defendants' case is that Wannsee was what Browning described as an "implementation conference" at which the participants were concerned to set up a ministerial bureaucracy, under the leadership of Heydrich, for the extermination of the Jews. It was not a theoretical discussion. 6.88 It is the Defendants' case that the scale of the gassing programme escalated in March 1942. On 3 March 1942 the Prime Minister of Slovakia announced that agreement had been reached with the Nazis for the deportation to Auschwitz of the 70,000 remaining Slovakian Jews. 6.89 Himmler's Dienstkalendar reveals that, following dinner with Hitler on 10 March 1942, Himmler spoke by telephone to Heydrich on 11 March when they discussed the Judenfrage (Jewish question). On 13 March Himmler travelled to Cracow (where he met Frank and Kruger) and thence on 14 March to Lublin (where he met Kruger and Globocnik). On his return to Berlin, Himmler on 17 March had lunch and dinner with Hitler at the Wolfschanze (Wolf's Lair). Goebbels's diary entry for 20 March records that on the previous day Hitler had displayed a merciless attitude towards the Jews and had stated that the Jews must be got out of Europe, if necessary by the most brutal means. 6.90 Browning referred to evidence that in mid-March 1942 it was agreed that deported Jews arriving at Lublin should be divided into those capable of work and those not so capable. The latter were to be sent to Belzec, where gassing commenced on 17 March. Large-scale gassing continued at Belzec in the following months. In the same month construction of Sobibor began and bunker 1 at Auschwitz started operation as a gas chamber. Gassing had started at Sobibor by May 1942. Construction of the death camp at Treblikna commenced at about this time. In the first six months of 1942 some 10,000 Jews had been gassed at Chelmno. Vast numbers of Jews in the General Government and in the Warthegau were, according to the Defendants, killed by the use of gas. 6.91 The Defendants also rely on a letter dated 11 April 1942 which Dr Turner, whose rank was equivalent to that of a Privy Councillor, wrote from Serbia to Karl Wolff, Himmler's adjutant and sometime liaison officer to Hitler. The letter was marked "AR" for Action Reinhard. It referred in rather unsubtle code to the use of gassing trucks at Semlin on a scale which Irving agreed could not be described as limited or experimental. Irving conceded that the document is a sinister one. 6.92 On 1 May 1942 Greiser wrote to Himmler, following a meeting with Globocnik in May 1942, that "the special treatment" (Sonderbehandlung) of around 100,000 Jews in his district, which had been authorised by Himmler in agreement with Heydrich, could be completed in the next 2-3 months. Irving accepted that, in the light of what subsequently emerged (although not, he said, on the face of this document) "special treatment" meant killing. He was critical of Longerich for, as he put it, "extrapolating backwards" from what subsequently happened at the camps, that it had throughout been the plan that the killings should occur. Longerich answered this criticism by saying that, in the nature of things, historians must frequently have resort to this method, which is in any event wholly unobjectionable. The document did not spell out where the special treatment was being meted out but in the opinion of Browning it is a reasonable inference that it was at Chelmno, which was operating at the time. Irving makes the point that this letter does not say that it was written on the instructions of the Fuhrer. 6.93 Browning gave evidence that contemporaneous documents show that from the summer of 1942 trainloads of Jews were being transported westwards from the occupied eastern territories to Belzec and to Treblinka. The significance of this westward movement of Jews, according to both Browning and Longerich, is that it demonstrates that the policy was no longer to keep deporting the Jews further and further to the East but rather to exterminate them. 6.94 On 17 and 18 July 1942 Himmler visited Auschwitz. He had met Hitler over a meal on two occasions in the preceding ten days. At Auschwitz he met the Commandant, Hoss. He then travelled to Lublin, where he met Kruger, Globocnik and Pohl. On 19 July Himmler, according to the evidence of Browning who was basing himself on contemporaneous documents, laid down a schedule for the extermination of the entire Jewish population of the General Government by the end of the year (save only for certain Jews employed in ghettos on war work). The Defendants assert that with effect from 22 July 1942 there were massive deportations from Warsaw and northern Lublin district to Treblinka and from Przemsyl to Belzec. On 23 July 1942 gassing started at Treblinka. On 24 and 27 July 1942 Himmler lunched with Hitler. Three days later Himmler wrote to Berger, a senior officer at the SS Headquarters, a letter which on the Defendants' case is highly revealing. He wrote that the occupied Eastern territories were to be free of Jews by the end of the year. Himmler added that the "carrying out of this very hard order had been placed on his shoulders by the Fuhrer". The extermination of Jews on a massive scale in the death camps commenced at this time. 6.95 Browning relied also on the protocol of a meeting in Berlin on September 26-8 1942 as showing that train transports to the death camps had been proposed by Brunner, whose immediate superior was Himmler. Browning pointed out that on 28 July 1942 Ganzenmuller, a senior official in the Ministry of Transport, reported to Wolff, an SS officer who Irving accepted was close to Hitler, that trains were regularly transporting Jews in large numbers to both Treblinka and Belzec. On 13 August Wolff, writing from Hitler's headquarters, wrote to Ganzenmuller expressing his joy at the assurance that for the next two weeks there would be a daily train carrying 5,000 of the "chosen people" to Treblinka. 6.96 The Defendants rely in addition on what they claim to be an explicit mention of the policy of extermination which is contained in the so-called Kinna report, written by an SS corporal dated 16 December 1942 from Zamosk in Poland about the transport of 644 Poles to Auschwitz. This report records SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Aumeier as having explained that only Poles fit for labour should be delivered to Auschwitz and that, in order to relieve the camp, "limited people, idiots, cripples and sick people must be removed from the same by liquidation". The report continues that "in contrast to the measures applied to the Jews, the Poles must die a natural death". This, say the Defendants, points unequivocally to a policy of exterminating the Jews being in place at Auschwitz and inferentially elsewhere. 6.97 Apart from these sparse documentary references, the Defendants rely upon what might be described as circumstantial evidence that extermination on a massive scale took place. In relation to the fact and scale of the extermination, they commend as accurate the figures given in the report of Dr Korherr, who was the statistician working for Himmler. He gave as the number of those deported from the Warthegau for Sonderbehandlung (special treatment) a total of 1,419,467. 6.98 Browning advanced what is in effect a demographic argument in support of the Defendants' contention that Jews were exterminated in the gas chambers at the death camps in vast numbers. He calculated the approximate number who were deported from western European countries and removed from the ghettos of Poland; he asserted that contemporanous evidence proves that many of them were transported to Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka; since they were never heard of again, Browning considers it reasonable to infer that they were put to death in the camps. It is the Defendants' case that between 750,000 and 950,000 Jews were killed by gas at Treblinka; 550,000 at Belzec; 200,000 at Sobibor and 150- 200,000 at Chelmno. Those were the estimates based on expert German witnesses and accepted in the German criminal prosecutions in the 1960s. 6.99 Longerich supported Browning's estimate for the number killed at Belzec. Basing himself on the evidence given at the trial of those involved in the camp, he put the figure at between 500,000 and 600,000. He agreed that estimates given by the historian, Michael Tregenza, were unreliable but said that he had not relied on him in that connection. Longerich testified that Belzec was initially employed in gassing Jews from the areas of Lublin and Galicia. 6.100 In addition to the circumstantial evidence, the Defendants rely on the evidence of eye-witnesses in support of their case that gas chambers were used at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka to kill hundreds of thousands of Jews. Browning divided these witnesses into five categories: (i) German visitors to these camps; (ii) German personnel stationed there; (iii) Ukrainian guards assigned to the camps; (iv) Poles living in the vicinity of the camps and (v) Jews who escaped. In view of the position adopted by Irving on the question of gassing at these camps (to which I shall refer in due course), it is unnecessary for me to set out at length who all of these witnesses were or what they were able to describe. According to Browning, there are over one hundred of them. 6.101 Within category (i) comes Eichmann, who is regarded by Browning as being in general a credible witness. His testimony takes various forms: an interview with a journalist in South America before his apprehension; memoirs and evidence at his trial. (During the course of the present trial evidence was released by the Israeli government of what Eichmann said under interrrogation by Israeli prosecutors. Since, however, this evidence was not available to Irving at any material time, no reliance was placed on it by the Defendants in support of their plea of justification). Eichmann stated that he was sent by Heydrich to discuss with Globocnik the implementation of what he was told was Hitler's order to kill the Jews. In the autumn of 1941 he was shown a building under construction at Belzec, which he was told would be used as a gas chamber to kill Jews with carbon monoxide gas. The following summer he saw Jews about to enter the gas chamber at Treblinka. He also witnessed the gassing of Jews at Chelmno. 6.102 Another German visitor was Kurt Gerstein. He described how he was deputed to take 100 kilos of prussic acid to Lublin in August 1942. Accompanied by a chemistry professor named Pfannenstiel, he travelled to Belzec where he claimed that he witnessed about 750 Jews being driven naked into four gas chambers. After a delay because the motor would not start, the Jews were gassed. The process took 32 minutes. The bodies were then thrown into trenches. The next day Gerstein went to Treblinka, where he saw mounds of clothing. On his return to Berlin, he told a Swedish diplomat what he had seen. His account was written in about April 1945. He died shortly afterwards. Browning accepted that many aspects of Gerstein's testimony are problematic and that he was prone to exaggeration but concluded that on vital matters of which he was able to speak from his own knowledge he is reliable. His evidence is largely corroborated by that of Pfannenstiel. 6.103 Category (ii) consists of twenty-nine German camp officials all of whom confirm that the camps were equipped with gas chambers in which thousands of Jews were put to death. This category includes witnesses who provided signed and sworn statements, which gave detailed and gruesome evidence of the procedures followed at each of the camps in administering the gas and disposing of the corpses afterwards. Category (iii) included the Poles who lived in the neighbourhood of the camps and so witnessed the endless flow of transports to the camps, smelled the deathly smells from the camps and heard rumours what was going on there. Category (iv) consisted of those Jews who were able to make their escape. There were breakouts from Sobibor and Treblika. Some of the fifty survivors of these camps gave evidence of their experiences. In relation to Belzec, a Jew named Reder provided a detailed of the gas chambers, even though it did not in all respects accord with other testimony. 6.104 Finally the Defendants rely in support of their case that Hitler knew of the Holocaust upon a letter written in 1977 to a journalist named Gita Sereny by Christa Schroeder, formerly personal secretary to Hitler and, say the Defendants, well placed to know the state of his knowledge. Frau Schroeder wrote: "As far as the Judenfrage, I consider it improbably that Hitler knew nothing. He had frequent conversations with Himmler which took place tete-a-tete". What Irving disputed, however, is the Defendants' contention that the extermination of the Jews in the death camps was carried out pursuant to some official Nazi policy sanctioned by Hitler. 6.105 The Defendants, on the basis of the evidence which I have summarised above, contend that from October 1941 Himmler was embarked upon a gigantic homicidal gassing programme, first of the Jews of the Warthegau and Poland and, from late spring 1942, of the Jews from the rest of Europe, at camps specially designed for the purpose. The Defendants accept that there is no explicit evidence that Himmler discussed with Hitler the extermination of the Jews by gassing. But in the light of the evidence recited above, including the scale of the programme; the fact that it was overseen by Himmler; the frequency with which Himmler and Hitler met and spoke together at this time and the evidence of Hitler's thoughts and public statements about the Jews, the Defendants argue it is inconceivable that Hitler did not know and authorise the mass extermination of Jews by gassing. Irving's response: the scale of the killings by gassing 6.106 As I have already pointed out, Irving accepted that the object of Operation Reinhard was broadly that contended for by the Defendants. What he disputed are the Defendants' contentions as to scale of the operation and Hitler's knowledge and approval of it. As to the scale of the extermination programme, Irving's stance in regard to the question whether gas chambers were employed at the Reinhard camps for the killing of Jews and, if so, on what scale appeared to evolve during the course of the hearing. He produced documents which show that various poisonous gasses were employed by the Nazis for non-lethal purposes, in particular for the fumigation of clothing. Indeed the Nazis trained people in the use of gas for fumigation purposes. He spent some time in his own evidence and during the course of his cross-examination of Browning stressing the marked absence of documentary evidence of the gassing in contrast with the ample documentation which has survived of the execution of Jews by shooting. He pointed out that, of the many thousands of messages intercepted by the British at Bletchley elsewhere, none mentions gassing. Browning accepted that, with the exception of a few documents referring to the use of gas vans by the Einsatzgruppen and their use at Chelmno, documents do not now exist. His explanation was that Operation Reinhard was centralised and so required little communication, whereas the shooting was carried out by means of numerous local operations. He added that most of the Reinhard documents had in any event been systematically destroyed. 6.107 Irving was critical of the reliance placed by the Defendants on such documents as are said by them to cast light on the allegedly genocidal use to which the camps were put. Much time was spent in evidence and argument on discussing the meaning and true significance of a number of German words to be found in the speeches of Hitler and others and in contemporaneous documents generally. There was prolonged cross-examination of Longerich by Irving as to the meaning of certain German words which he listed in a glossary prepared for the purpose of these proceedings. Those words include ausrotten, vernichten, liquidieren, evakuieren, umsiedeln and abschieben. A considerable number of documents were scrutinised in an attempt to ascertain whether the words in question were being used or understood in a genocidal sense. Irving contended that most of these words are properly to be understood in a non-genocidal sense. Longerich's agreed that most, if not all, of these words are capable of being used in a non-genocidal sense. For example ausrotten can bear such anodyne meanings as "get rid of" or "wipe out" without connoting physical extermination. But he asserted that its usual and primary meaning is "exterminate" or "kill off", especially when applied to people or to a group of people as opposed to, for example a religion. He contended that all depends on the context in which the words are used. Another example is Umsiedlung, which can mean no more than resettlement in a ghetto but more often embraces a homicidal meaning as well. Whilst Longerich was prepared to concede that some of the words in question may be used in a non-genocidal sense in the years leading up to 1941, he argued that from about that date onwards the words are invariably used in a sinister sense to connote killing of a major scale. For instance he contends that when, in a document dated 20 February 1942 the Reichsicherheitshauptamt (RHSA) use the term Evakuierung in connection with the issuing of guidelines for the implementation of the evacuation of Jews to Auschwitz, the word is being used in a genocidal sense. 6.108 Irving was also critical of the Defendants' experts for their readiness, as he saw it, to dismiss as "euphemistic" German words which on their face are anodyne or imprecise in their connotation. Examples of such words include Sonderbehandlung (special treatment), Evakuierung (evacuation) and Umsiedlung (resettlement). According to the Defendants, such words were often employed where the writer or speaker wished either to be evasive or to speak in a coded language calculated to mislead outsiders. Browning used Event report 21 of 13 July 1941 together with a number of other similar reports to demonstrate that Sonderbehandlung was used to mean liquidation or shooting or execution. He also cited a document which refers to the Umsiedlung (resettlement) in the Kreisgebiet Brest-Litovsk of 20,000 Jews who can be shown to have been killed. Browning and Irving were in agreement that in the case of camouflage documents such as these it is necessary to take careful account of the context when deciding what these terms really signified. According to both of them, it is legitimate and indeed necessary for an historian to have regard not only to the circumstances as they existed at the time when the document came into existence but also to what happened later. 6.109 As regards the mass extermination of Jews, Irving accepted that gas vans were employed to kill Jews at camps in the east. When asked whether he accepted that at Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec Jews were killed with gas, Irving answered that, on the basis of evidence contained in Eichmann's private papers, he accepts that there was gassing in vans at Chelmno. He said, however, that he has not seen evidence of the use of gas vans at the other camps. He maintained the position that this was a very inefficient method of killing. He also pointed out that there was some disagreement as to the way in which the poison was administered and whether it was carbon monoxide or some other form of poison. Irving also queried whether it would have been feasible to have buried so many corpses. 6.110 But in the end Irving's doubts were no more than academic. For, despite his original claim that gassing occurred on a limited basis involving the use of no more that six to eight vans, Irving, in the light of documents he had seen in the past six months, made a number of concessions. He did not quarrel with the assertion of Browning that in a period of about five weeks in 1942 97,000 were killed at Chelmno by the use of gas vans. Irving suggested that figure may be an exaggeration but he agreed that was not limited or experimental but systematic. He further agreed that the evidence established that Jewish women and children were gassed to death in vans in Semlin, near Belgrade, in 1942. 6.111 However, despite his acceptance at an earlier stage of the trial that the gassing at the Reinhard camps had been systematic and on a considerable scale, Irving cross-examined Evans on the basis that the gas vans had been used to kill Jews on a basis which was no more than experimental. Evans's evidence was that, whilst the vans were used in a transitional stage only, they were nevertheless used on a large scale. 6.112 As to the specific documents relied on by the Defendants, Irving agreed that Wetzel's letter of 25 October 1941 was concerned with liquidating Jews but stressed that, as the Defendants accept, no gas chambers were in the event constructed in Riga. Irving also noted that Wetzel was never prosecuted. Browning's explanation is that there is no evidence he did anything more than propose the construction of gas chambers. 6.113 In reliance on the remarks made by Rosenberg at a press conference on 18 November 1941 about six million Jews being "brought across the Urals", Irving argued that the primary Nazi intention was to transport them yet further to the East rather than to exterminate them. Rosenberg specifically referred to the option of expelling them to the eastern side of the Urals, so he should not be taken to have had in mind that the Jews would be killed. Longerich in reply pointed out that Rosenberg had spoken of "the biological eradication of the entirety of Jewry" at a time when 500,000 odd Soviet Jews had already been exterminated. Rosenberg was intent on exterminating the Jews by one means or another, according to Longerich, for he said: "For this it is necessary to push them over the Urals or otherwise (my italics) eradicate them".
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