Newsgroups: alt.revisionism Reply-to: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Irving v. Penguin & Lipstadt: Judgment V-03 Organization: The Nizkor Project Keywords: David Irving libel action Deborah Lipstadt Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/judgment-05.03 Last-Modified: 2000/04/11 5.61 Evans alleged that Irving is guilty of further manipulation of evidence in relation to the account given by Hitler's adjutant, Wiedemann, which Irving uses to support his thesis that Hitler ordered Goebbels to stop the attacks when he heard about them. In Goebbels Irving writes: "Fritz Wiedemann, another of Hitler's adjutants, saw Goebbels spending much of that night, 9th/10th, telephoning . to halt the most violent excesses". Evans claimed that there are good reasons to doubt the reliability of Wiedemann and that in any event Irving has distorted or at least exaggerated his evidence. What in fact Wiedemann wrote was that "it is reliably reported that" Goebbels had been seen making these telephone calls. There was therefore no justification for Irving's claim that Wiedemann "saw" Goebbels making these calls. It was mere hearsay. In any event, said Evans, the picture conveyed by Irving is wholly inconsistent with other evidence of what Goebbels was doing that night. 5. 62 Irving is further criticised by the Defendants for ignoring evidence, which according to Evans is inherently more reliable, namely the evidence contained in the report of the Supreme Party Tribunal report of 13 February 1939. That report includes a finding that when, at about 2am on 10 November, Goebbels was informed of the first death of the Jew in the progrom, he reacted by saying it would be the first of many. This reaction accords, say the Defendants, with the diary entry made by Goebbels that morning rejoicing in the violence ("Bravo!"). 5.63 Lastly in relation to the events of Kristallnacht, Irving at p281 of Goebbels quotes from the diary of a diplomat named van Hassell recording the reaction of Rudolf Hess to the violent actions directed at the Jews. It reads: "[Hess] had left [the Bruckmanns] in no doubt that he completely disapproved the action against the Jews; he had also reported his views in an energetic manner to the Fuhrer and begged him to drop the matter, but unfortunately completely in vain. Hess pointed to Goebbels as the actual 'originator' ". In Goebbels Irving refers only to Hess's view that Goebbels was the originator of Kristallnacht. Whilst no objection was taken by him to the use of that part of the quotation, Evans did criticise Irving' for his failure to refer to what Evans regarded as the far more significant aspect of Hess's account, namely that Hitler had ignored his plea to halt the progrom. That omission amounts, according to Evans, to a blatant misrepresentation of the diary entry. Evans also criticised Irving for his failure to mention the immediately following passage from the same diary which recounts a conversation Hassell had with the Prussian Finance Minister, Popitz, who is recorded as having said that Goering considered Hitler responsible for the events of Kristallnacht. 5.64 Evans concluded that Irving's claim that during the night of 9/10 November Hitler did everything he could to prevent violence towards the Jews and their property is based upon a tissue of inventions, manipulations, suppressions and omissions. Irving's response 5.65 Irving denied that in his account of the events of Kristallnacht he had misrepresented the attitude Hitler adopted towards the violence directed at the Jews and their property. He maintained that the violence was initiated and promoted by Goebbels, who was acting without the authority of Hitler. He argued that, once Hitler became aware of the scale of the anti-Jewish rioting, he did his best to limit the violence. 5.66 Irving justified his translation of the account given by Goebbels in his diary of the remarks made by Hitler when he was told about the demonstrations as an attempt on his part to convey to his readers in the vernacular the flavour of Goebbels's style of writing in his diary. He denied that his version contains any mistranslation of the entry. As to the significance of what Hitler ordered at that early stage of the evening's events, Irving at one stage in his evidence suggested that what Goebbels had reported to Hitler was the death of van Rath rather than that demonstrations against Jews had broken out. But he later conceded that Hitler would have been told about the demonstrations against Jews. He emphasised that, at the point when Hitler gave his order for the police to be pulled back, the scale of the anti-Jewish demonstrations was modest. So it could not be said, claimed Irving, that Hitler was sanctioning excessive violence. It was not until later that night, towards midnight, that the demonstrations got out of hand and turned into a full-scale pogrom against the Jews. 5.67 Irving accepted that his account of Hitler's reaction on hearing in the early hours of the morning of 10 November about the outrages which were taking place is heavily reliant on the testimony of Hitler's adjutants provided many years after the event. Irving said that he was scrupulously careful not to put words into the mouths of those whom he interviewed. Irving testified that he spoke to von Below on no less than ten occasions. He claimed that what von Below then said is more worthy of belief than what he wrote in his memoirs. Irving pointed out there is no evidence which directly contradicts the accounts of the adjutants on which he has placed reliance. Their accounts converge and so may be said to corroborate one another. Irving did not accept that, in accepting the evidence of the adjutants about Kristallnacht but rejecting for example the evidence of survivors about events at Auschwitz, he has been guilty of applying double standards. 5.68 As to Muller's telegram, Irving agreed that he was aware of it but made no mention of it in Goebbels. He testified that he did not regard it as adding much. Moreover Irving did not accept that the evidence shows that Hitler authorised or even knew of Muller's order. Muller was in Berlin whereas Hitler was in Munich. Nor, said Irving, does Bohmcker's message add anything to what is already known from other sources. He pointed out that he did refer to Bohmcker in a footnote. 5.69 Irving denied having misrepresented Heydrich's telex of 1.26am. The reference given in the footnote in Goebbels for this message is ND:3052- PS. In cross-examination the message with reference number ND:3051-PS, which the Defendants claim is Heydrich's 1.20am message, was put to Irving. He said that he was quoting from a different message sent by Heydrich, namely ND:3052-PS, which is the reference given in Goebbels. He disagreed with the suggestion that it was unlikely that Heydrich would have sent another telex at about the same time. His answer to the Defendants' accusation of misrepresentation was therefore that he was summarising the content of a different message sent by Heydrich at about the same time (which he was unfortunately unable to produce). However, when confronted with the text of message ND:3052-PS which the Defendants had obtained overnight, Irving accepted that it cannot have been the source for what he wrote. When reminded that on his own website he had admitted muddling 3051 and 3052, Irving conceded that there had been no other source for what he wrote about Heydrich's telex. In the end, as I understood him, Irving answered the criticism made by the Defendants of his account in Goebbels of Heydrich's telex by saying that, if he misinterpreted it, it was an innocent error or glitch which occurred in the redrafting process. He maintained that the error is in the context of the book as a whole a trivial one. In any event Irving reiterated that at this stage in the evening (1.20am), the full-scale pogrom had still not developed. 5.70 As regards Eberstein's telephone message at 2.10am, Irving gave various reasons why he attached no importance to it. He claimed that the original message would have gone out earlier. It is, he argued, a mere repetition of the instruction to the police not to interfere. Irving put to Evans various suggestions about the message: that Eberstein might not have been present when it was sent; that Eberstein might have been with Hitler when it went out; that it was an "igniting" document. In any event, said Irving, the message was overtaken by events. For these reasons Irving said that he saw no need to refer to it in Hitler's War. Evans accepted none of these suggestions. Whether or not it is likely that Eberstein would have sent that message after seeing Hitler's reaction to the news of the night's events, Irving stated that two eye-witnesses, namely adjutants von Below and Futkammer, had confirmed Hitler's angry reaction to the news. In regard to Hederich, Irving justified his reliance upon his evidence. He contended that there was no reason for doubting what Hederich was quoted as having said. Despite having written in Goebbels that what Goebbels said "conflicted with the tenor of Hitler's speech", Irving denied that Hederich had meant that Hitler made a speech at the Old Town Hall: he was referring to what he understood Hitler to have been saying about the violence. Irving did not accept the criticisms advanced by Evans of his reliance on these witnesses (summarised above). 5.71 Irving disagreed totally with the interpretation placed by the Defendants upon Rudolf Hess's message sent at 2.56am. He pointed out that it was he who had discovered the message and first brought it to the notice of historians. Whilst he accepted that there might have been reasons for singling out Jewish businesses for protection, such as the danger of damage being done to adjacent non-Jewish property or the likelihood that the Jewish property was insured with non-Jewish insurance companies, he was adamant that the order was intended to confer blanket protection on all Jewish property. He read the words und dergleichen as qualifying acts of arson, so that his interpretation of the message is that it covers acts of arson and all other forms of violence. He did not accept that the order of words in the message indicates that und dergleichen qualifies shops, so extending the order to shops and the like. It was Irving's case that the order sent at 2.56am emanated from Hitler and it was a direction that all actions against the Jews must stop forthwith. Accordingly his description of the message as conveying an order from Hitler "to halt the madness" was appropriate and justified. Furthermore, in his response to the Defendants' closing submission, Irving also drew attention to a telegram sent out at 3.45am by Gestapo Section II signed "p.p. Bartz" which required the immediate execution of Heydrich's order that all kinds of arson were to be hindered. 5.72 Given the passage of time since he had tried to decipher the handwriting of Wiedemann, Irving felt unable to respond the criticism that he had misrepresented his account. He did agree that he may have made a mistake. Irving agreed that at the time when he was writing Goebbels he was aware of the diary entry of Hassell recording the comments made about Kristallnacht by Rudolf Hess. Irving argued that, when Hess said he had reported his views in an energetic manner to Hitler and begged him to drop "the matter", Hess was obviously referring to the action subsequently taken by the Nazi party to fine the Jews. Hess was not begging Hitler to drop the anti-Jewish actions when they were in progress that night. Evans dismissed that as a blatant misconstruction of the diary entry which was plainly referring to the violence. Irving commented that he did not in any event consider that the entry adds much to what is already known. (i) The aftermath of Kristallnacht Introduction 5.73 Once the killing, rape and wholesale destruction of property which marked Kristallnacht came to an end, questions arose how these actions against the Jews had come about and what should be done with the perpetrators. Discussions took place between Hitler and Goebbels. In due course the Oberste Parteigericht, a party court which formed no part of the criminal justice system, conducted an investigation and compiled a report about the affair. The Defendants' case 5.74 In relation to Irving's portrayal of the events immediately following Kristallnacht, Evans again made criticisms of the manner in which he manipulated, misquoted and discounted reliable evidence. Evans contended that, contrary to the impression conveyed by passages in Goebbels at pp277-8, the diary entries made by Goebbels, as well as statements made by him at the time, provide convincing proof that Hitler wholeheartedly approved the pogrom and himself afterwards proposed economic measures to be taken against Jews. 5.75 Page 277 of Goebbels includes the following paraphrase of Goebbels's diary entry: "As more ugly bulletins rained down on him the next morning, 10 November 1938, Goebbels went to see Hitler to discuss 'what to do next' - there is surely an involuntary hint of apprehension in the phrase". The vice which the Defendants perceive is that Irving's account suggests that Goebbels knew he was to blame for the pogrom and was apprehensive that Hitler would be angry with him. The Defendants contend that Irving had no basis whatever for adding the gloss that Goebbels was apprehensive since there is no such indication to be found in the diary. Far from being apprehensive, Goebbels's diary entry for 11 November shows how delighted he was at the success of the pogrom. Irving claimed that this entry is mendacious. 5.76 Goebbels's diary entry continues: 'I report to the Fuhrer in the Osteria. He agrees with everything. His views are totally radical and aggressive. The action itself has taken place without any problems. 17 dead. But no German property damaged. The Fuhrer approves my decree concerning the ending of the actions with small amendments. I announce it via the press and radio. The Fuhrer wants to take very sharp measures against the Jews. They must themselves put their businesses in order again. The insurance will not pay them a thing. Then the Fuhrer wants a gradual expropriation of Jewish businesses'. The Defendants contend that this passage from Goebbels's diary makes crystal clear that, far from condemning Goebbels for what had occurred during Kristallnacht, Hitler in fact approved what had happened. The Defendants add that this is borne out by the fact that Goebbels that same afternoon told the local party chief that the Fuhrer had sanctioned the measures taken thus far and had declared that he did not disapprove of them. 5.77 Yet at page 278 of Goebbels Irving described the meeting at the Osteria in the following terms: "[Goebbels] made his report [on 'what to do next'] to Hitler in the Osteria . and was careful to record this - perhaps slanted - note in his diary which stands alone, and in direct contradiction to the evidence of Hitler's entire immediate entourage. 'He is in agreement with everything. His views are quite aggressive and radical. The action itself went off without a hitch. 100 dead. But no German property damaged. Each of these five sentences was untrue as will be seen". The Defendants cite this as an instance of Irving perverting what Goebbels recorded in his diary and distorting what actually happened in order to exculpate Hitler. 5.78 Evans deduced that the probable sequence of events was that during the morning of 10 November Hitler and Goebbels discussed what to do next. Hitler told Goebbels to draft an order calling a halt to the violence because, in effect, the objective had by that stage been achieved. They then met for lunch at the Osteria and Hitler approved the order Goebbels had drafted. The terms of the order were broadcast at some stage during the afternoon and the order was formally promulgated at 4pm. The significance of the timing, according to Evans, is that the violence was in effect permitted to continue for most of 10 November. (In Vienna the violence against the Jews did not begin until 10 o'clock that morning). 5.78 At a meeting held on 12 November, attended by amongst others Goering and Goebbels, the decision was taken that the Jews should, irrespective of any insurance cover, bear the cost of the pogrom; that Jewish property should be "aryanised" and that Jews should be forbidden to run shops or businesses. Evans criticised Irving for omitting to mention, in his account of this meeting at p281 of Goebbels, that these decisions reflected the wishes expressed by Hitler on 10 November and, according to Goering, were taken in response to Hitler's express request. Nor does Irving mention that, according again to Goering and to an official of the Four Year Plan named Kehrl, Hitler had expressly endorsed the action taken against the Jews. 5.79 At p281 of Goebbels, Irving writes: "Hess ordered the Gestapo and the party's courts to delve into the origins of the night's violence and turn the culprits over to the public prosecutors". The Defendants assert that, since the court in question was a party and not a criminal court, there was no warrant for Irving to write that the culprits were to be handed over to the public prosecutors. Further Evans pointed out that the document cited in support of this passage, an order of 19 December 1938, made clear that referrals to the prosecution service were to take place only in cases arising out of "personal and base motives". The Ministry of Justice had already ordained that no action was to be taken in those cases where Jewish property was set on fire or blown up. None of this is mentioned by Irving. On the Defendants' case, the intent and effect of Hess's order is thus completely misrepresented by Irving, whose wording suggested to his readers that the Nazis determined to take firm disciplinary action against party members who had been guilty of unlawful violence during Kristallnacht and that anyone guilty of any misdemeanour would be handed over to be dealt with in the criminal courts. 5.80 In the event, according to the Defendants, the proceedings of the Party Court were a farce. According to its report of 13 February 1939, it investigated only sixteen cases of alleged unlawful activity. In only two of those cases were the suspects handed over to the criminal courts. Those two cases involved sexual offences against Jewish women: the reason for their referral was that the offences involved 'racial defilement'. In the other fourteen cases (which included allegations that twenty-one Jews had been murdered), the punishments were trivial, apparently because the Party Court took the view that the culprits were carrying out Hitler's orders. Hitler was asked to quash the proceedings against those fourteen. The criticism of Irving is that he makes no reference to what the Defendants describe as a scandalous manipulation of the justice system. The disciplinary action instituted by the Nazi party was virtually non-existent. 5.81 Irving suggested in Goebbels that following Kristallnacht Hitler distanced himself from Goebbels because he disapproved what he had done. But Evans contended that the record, including Goebbels's diary, suggests otherwise. For instance Goebbels reported in his diary that, when Hitler visited him on 15 November , Hitler "was in a good mood. Sharply against the Jews. Approves my and our policy totally". Evans asserted that there is no justification whatever for supposing that, as Irving implies at p282 of his book, that that was an invention on the part of Goebbels. 5.82 Evans also disputed Irving's claim that the memoirs of Ribbentrop are further evidence that of Hitler's disapprobation of Goebbels. According to Evans, the documents cited by Irving do not upon examination support his claim that Goebbels was a pariah in Berlin and even less popular than Ribbentrop and Himmler. Evans noted Irving makes several references to an author named I Weckert, without giving the reader any indication that she is a well-known anti-semitic Nazi sympathiser, who in Evans's opinion is discredited as an historian. 5.83 The final criticism made by Evans is that at p276 of Goebbels and elsewhere Irving seriously understates the suffering inflicted upon the Jews in the pogrom. The number of synagogues destroyed far exceeded Irving's figure of 191. The extent of the damage to Jewish shops is also downplayed by Irving. The number of Jews killed was many more than the thirty-six claimed by Irving, even if those who died en route to concentration camps are left out of account. Irving's response 5.84 By way of explanation of his reference to Goebbels having felt apprehensive when he went to see Hitler on 10am November 1938, Irving stressed that his paraphrase "what to do next" is an accurate rendition of the German : "Ich uberlege mit dem Fuhrer unsere nunmehrigen Massnahmen". According to Irving, those words mean that Goebbels discussed with Hitler the measures which need to be taken "now more than ever". The reason why he wrote that Goebbels was apprehensive was that he had been summoned to see Hitler at a time when Germany was going up in flames. Goebbels had believed that he had acted in accordance with Hitler's wishes but to his consternation he had discovered that he had been doing the exact opposite of what Hitler wished. Irving did, however, agree that Goebbels's diary entry indicates that he was discussing with Hitler whether to let the actions against the Jews continue or to call a halt. He claimed (and Evans agreed) that the probability is that in the course of a telephone conversation on the morning of 10 November Hitler instructed Goebbels to draw up an order calling a halt to the violence.
Site Map ·
What's New? ·
© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012
Home · Site Map · What's New? · Search Nizkor