Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day007.04 Last-Modified: 2000/07/20 Q. In your knowledge, in your time going through the German diplomatic documents, and I appreciate you did not read the entire 400 tonnes -- nor can I claim to have read the 400 tonnes of German documents -- were any documents there which came to your attention which showed a Hitler order for what we can call the Holocaust in the sense of the extermination of the Jews? A. I would not come across them because my work was confined, where the original documents were concerned, to the years 1933/1937, and where the editorial work was concerned, to the documents from 1939 to 1940. I never had occasion to go in and look individually at the later documents. We worked with the Nuremberg files and, of course, I was familiar with the evidence that was produced at Nuremberg . P-27 which dealt with war crimes and I have been consulted about this from time to time. Q. Did you have discussions with your colleagues at the Research Department about the progress of their work when they were working on different periods? A. No, because the whole project was concerned in the years I was attached to it to completing series D of the documents which ended with Pearl Harbour, and to completing or doing the whole of the work on the years 1933, 1937, which were published as Series C in the documents. I never had any direct dealings with documents dealing with the ---- Q. War years? A. --- war years beyond that, no. Q. You never heard from one of your colleagues there that they had found, stumbled across, a document of the sort that I mentioned, that Hitler had given some extraordinary orders about killing the Jews or any other ethnic minority or persecuted people directly involving Hitler? A. No, but I cannot think, see why that would have arisen in our discussions. We were working eight to nine hours a day on the very large quantities of documents. Each document was read by members of two countries. I collaborated mainly with the Frenchmen. Q. You are familiar, Professor, also with some of the other document collections outside your own area of expertise . P-28 because of research at that time for the Foreign Office because, of course, you have written a number of distinguished works where you have had to draw on collections outside the Waddon Hall collection? A. Oh, I have worked in the archives, in the American archives, for the '30s. I worked in the Public Record Office. I have worked in British private collections and I have worked on published documents from all those European countries I had direct access to and those which were translated into languages I could read. Q. Professor Watt, from your knowledge of these archives that you worked in, the Public Record Office in London, the national archives in the United States, the Foreign Office collection in this country and elsewhere, would you say that the records of the Third Reich, one way and another, either in original ribbon copy or in carbon copy, are largely intact, give or take a few holes of what the Russians took? A. No, there are very substantial gaps in the later period. Q. In the later period? A. From 1941 onwards. Q. In specific departments, like the SS or the Army or the Air Force? A. I think that the gaps are consistent with the files not ending up in an archive and where they did to destruction by one means or another, and to their falling into hands . P-29 of people who wanted to hang on them. Q. For example, when the Germany archives at Potsdam was burned down in an air raid, that kind of thing? A. That kind of thing and, in fact, some of the, one of the worst accidents was when a couple of trucks carrying German Foreign Ministry records in the Secret classification collided with one another and caught fire, and we had only fragments, burnt fragments, and the more you touched them, the more they disintegrated. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Professor Watt, may I ask you, you may not know the answer, but was there evidence that documents had systematically had gone missing in the sense that somebody had said, "We must take out a particular category of documents" or not? A. Not in the Foreign Ministry, sir, because, my Lord, the German Foreign Ministry practice, as we found out when we were looking at the documents dealing with the origins of the First World War, was either to deny the existence of files which were relevant or, in a number of cases, to unstitch the backs of them and to remove the documents so that the researcher was presented with what he understood to be a complete file but was not. Since in no case were the researchers allowed access to the registries where all these documents were and that one had noted, this kind of gap misled a number of very prominent American scholars. MR IRVING: Professor Watt, can I ask, when was this . P-30 unstitching done? Are you suggesting after the war or during the war? A. No, no. It was done by the political archive in the late 20s and 30s. Q. But not relating to the Third Reich records? A. No, because the issue of anybody looking at them from outside would not have arisen at that stage. Q. Thank you. So, by and large, the records of entire departments are there, but sometimes there are gaps where individual accidents happen, trucks colliding, buildings burned down, but then there would have been copies elsewhere? A. Not necessarily, no. We were helped by the gentleman called Leursche who had filmed a great many of the important documents before the originals were destroyed and, indeed, there was a great deal of dispute over the genuineness of the text of the Nazis in 1939 discovered that this was photostat. Q. How safe is it to draw negative conclusions in the way that I sometimes do (if I may ask a leading question) on the basis of the fact that there is in the body of documents now existing 55 years later, after we have access to just about everything, including the Bletchley Park intercepts which are enormous, how safely can one say because there is not a document there, in your expert view, Professor Watt, would it be perverse to say the fact . P-31 that there is no such document after 55 years, it would be perverse to say that, therefore, this document probably did not exist? A. I think there are two problems with that argument. One is that the range of the destruction is something which we cannot know because Nazi principles of registration of documents were, to put it mildly, somewhat amateurish. Secondly, the distribution of documents within the offices over which the Nazi amateurs had taken control was very peculiar; and, thirdly, as with other major leaders of other countries at that time, there are periods in which they did not confide their thoughts to anybody else, or to anybody else who might have recorded them. That was, I think, the reason why the first sight or the first news about the Hitler diaries, alleged Hitler diaries, was for a moment so uplifting a piece of information. I came to hear about it when I had just come back from Finland and I had missed all the previous kerfuffle about it. My first reaction was at last something is going to fill in the gaps, but then, of course, I realized that it was not. Q. Professor Watt, you are familiar with the way the German documents look, Civil Servant documents. They had a kind of standard layout, did they not? A. Those that came from professional offices, yes. Q. How would you classify the SS in this respect? Would the . P-32 documents of the SS that came into Abteilung in Langswei ---- A. I think there it depended very largely whether the SS man concerned was a trained bureaucrat or not. Q. There was actually a Civil Service regulation, a manual, I believe, on how documents had to be laid out, the reference number, the address, the location of the address list, and so on? A. That is true, but there was also a very, the sort of macho SS type who says, "Do not bother me with all this nonsense". So that one cannot, I think, read anything out of this one way or another. Q. Are you familiar with German security classifications? A. Yes, up to Top Secret and so on, yes. Q. If a document is marked "Vertraulich", is that round about the lowest security classification, "Confidential"? A. I suppose so, yes. It is somewhere between "Restricted" and "Confidential" in the British classification. Q. We will stick to the British classification because the American classifications are different, are they not? A. Yes. Q. For example, American "Top Secret" is our Most Secret. If we go up the next rung in the ladder "Geheim"? A. "Geheim" is" Secret. Q. The one above that, we then divide? A. "Streng geheim", "hochts geheim". The problem with that . P-33 kind of document is exactly the same as one has in the British system, that there is a tendency to overclassify simply to emphasise the importance of the individual and of the post that he has occupied. It is not a very good guide. Q. If you were to be shown a document in which the classification "Geheim" had been upgraded manually to "Geheim Kommandosache"? A. Yes. Q. Then that would apply that somebody attached importance to the increased security rating? A. It would certainly imply that somebody did, yes. Whether ---- Q. Conversely, if somebody had crossed out the "Kommandosache" and left it just as "Geheim", that would imply that they thought it was overclassified? A. That is certainly true. Q. And this would indicate that the person who wrote that document did attach importance to security classifications; he was being pernickety? A. Either that or he was engaged in a feud with the person who had first put the original grade on. I do not think you could arrive at any distinct generalization without looking at the document concerned. Q. There is a parting of the ways, is there not, in this top security classification of Geheim Kommandosache on the . P-34 Army documents, roughly speaking, and Geheim Reichsache on the political documents? A. Those were classifications which go back before the Nazi period, yes. Q. But normally you find Geheim Reichsache -- R-E-I-C-H-S-A-C-H-E ---- A. Yes, that would be -- certainly if one found that from the Wehrmacht(?) period, one would regard that as the top classification. Q. Then there another one on top of that which is "Nur durch offizier", "Only by officer's hand"? A. No. That is an instruction as to how the documents should be handled. It is a bit like the -- there are very similar classifications in the British and it has to do with the handling of the document in transition, not with the actual -- I would have expected to find "Nur durch offizierhande" on a document which was already classified as "Geheim" or "Hochstgeheim" or "Sprengheim" or one of the classifications of ... Q. One of the highest -- "hochstgeheim" is H-O-C-H-S-T? A. Yes, that means "Highest Secret". Q. Very rare. I have to admit, I have not seen that. To our surprise, we found another secret classification, Professor Watt, in the last day or two, on some of the documents, "AR". We have come to the conclusion, I think, although this speaks against me, that this is the . P-35 classification "Aktion Reinhard". That is a possible or probable interpretation. A. I never came across anything like that. I had a look at the document.
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