The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day010.23

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day010.23
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

.          P-197

   A.   Yes.
   Q.   So where is this getting us?  He was careless in the old
        days.  That is the worst that can be said.
   MR IRVING:  Careless in the old days?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Before his report.  His report takes account
        of the integration of Rudolf Hirst.
   MR IRVING:  But it also addresses the point of what attempts
        did I make to get further information.  Here I have
        written a letter to one of the world's leading historians
        on Auschwitz and the Holocaust, inviting comments, asking
        his assistance, drawing his attention to documents, in the
        way that colleages do, and Professor van Pelt says he
        never received the letter.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I can see that your sending the letter may
        have some limited relevance, but his response to it seems
        to be me absolutely irrelevant.
   MR IRVING:  I must admit, my Lord, that in asking these
        questions I was totally unprepared for the response that
        he had not received the letter.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Even if he said he had I do not think that it
        really matters what he did or did not do.  Your point is,
        as I understand it, you wrote the letter, that shows that
        you were taking trouble to get your facts right.
   MR IRVING:  There is one residual point, my Lord, and this that
        your Lordship will remember from the expert evidence
        I think of Professor Evans, or possibly even from the

.          P-198

        expert evidence of this witness, that I am accused of
        having concealed the Altemeyer report until the solicitors
        for the Defendants went and investigated, and once I knew
        that they were on the trail I therefore blurted out the
        fact that I had it, which is of course an imputation that
        I find repugnant and I wish to try to investigate that
        allegation in view of the fact that I drew his attention
        to the Altemeyer report in this letter back in May 1997.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Then you ought to produce a copy of it.
   MR IRVING:  Of the letter?  My Lord, it was in the little
        bundle I gave your Lordship yesterday or the day before.
   MR RAMPTON:  I think it is in J11 of your Lordship's bundle.
   MR RAMPTON:  Yes.  I do not have a J so I cannot help.
   MR IRVING:  I think your Lordship is going to have the
        advantage on me.  I can only rely on the letter as a fact
        because I do not have a copy here with me.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, it is in J11.  I am just going to find
        the reference to Altemeyer.  I have flipped through it and
        I have missed it.
   A.   I think Mr Irving is right.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I am sure he is right.
   A.   I think he is right.  Actually again I will only say after
        I actually see it, but I think that indeed I remember him,
        when I finally read the letter, since I wrote something of
        a response to it, I think he actually mentioned Altemeyer,

.          P-199

        but I do not see it either in this copy.
   MR IRVING:  Will you now withdrawn the suggestion that I only
        made it known to people once it became known that the
        solicitors to the Defendants were on the trail.
   MR GRAY:  That contains within it a number of assumptions, one
        of which is the assumption they were not on the trail as
        of May 1997.  You are probably right.
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, the imputation is that I was going to sit
        on that document and look at the wall and whistle until
        I realized that Mishcon de Reya had got on the trail of
        that document.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, I understand what the allegation is, but
        when did they get on the trail of Altemeyer?
   MR IRVING:  As a result of the evidence they found out about Altemeyer.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  So long after May 1997?
   MR IRVING:  Presumably, my Lord, yes.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I cannot find Altemeyer.
   A.   I found it.  It is not numbered, but it is page 1.  I do
        not know if we have the same format, 8:  "Had you after
        visiting Washington", the eighth page, second paragraph.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think I must have a different version.
   MR IRVING:  It is the same version.
   A.   I can read it to you.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Could you.
   A.   This is basically about all the things I did not do, but

.          P-200

        it says:  "Had you after visiting Washington flown on to
        London, England you could have used the many versions of
        the handwritten written memoirs of Hirst's erstwhile stand
        in Deputy Court Altemeyer written under similar conditions
        of duress.  He too was no doubt deservedly hanged by the
        Poles.  These pencil papers are held at the Public Record
        office, but Altemeyer does not even figure in your
        history.  Is not such an original document
        written ... (reading to the words) ... rights for payment
        for profit-driven publishers."
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Thank you.  I want to track this down.
        I just want to see what the allegation is.  It is in the
        Defendant's Summary of Case presumably?
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, I believe it is in this witness's
        evidence, am I right, that you made the allegation that
        I did not reveal the existence of the Altemeyer document
        until I realized that Mishcon de Reya were on the trail?
   A.   From the discovery, and I think we can ----
   Q.   That being so, my Lord, it was entirely proper for me to
        mention this document.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Entirely proper.  I am just tracking down
        what the allegation was so I can see whether you are right
        in saying that it is completely unfounded.  Altemeyer is
        dealt with at 657 of your report.
   A.   657?
   Q.   That is one of the places.

.          P-201

   A.   This is 1992.  What I say here:  "The discovery of the
        Altemeyer material brought Irving in a very difficult
        position.  While publication of it would once more
        demonstrate his ability to find interesting new archival,
        publication would discredit him as an analytical
        historian.  Faced with this dilemma, Irving decided to do
        nothing. Suppressing his discovery, he buried a reference
        to it in a footnote of his book on Nuremberg", which is in 1996.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Where are you reading from, what page?
   A.   Page 657.
   MR IRVING:  There is another reference.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I have it.
   A.   So in my report I say that the first time he actually
        brings this one out is in 1996.
   Q.   Which is four years on?
   A.   Four years on.
   MR IRVING:  Then is must be in Professor Evans' report, my
        Lord, that the allegation is made.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  So far as we have got, let us be clear about
        it, your letter in May 1997 to Professor van Pelt does not
        in any way detract from the point he makes, I am not
        saying it is a good point, that you sat on this Altemeyer
        evidence between 1992 and 1996.
   MR IRVING:  That is not true, my Lord.  In fact I drew it to
        the attention of other people like Professor Gerald

.          P-202

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That is a different point.
   MR IRVING:  Yes, but this is not the allegation I am trying to
        shoot down here. The allegation I am trying to shoot down
        here is the allegation that I did not move until
        Mishcon de Reya got on the trail and of course they did
        that thanks to my discover.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Let us track that one down.
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, that would be an appropriate point to
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No, I think we have got to track this one
        down.  If somebody can give me Altemeyer in Evans.
   A.   Maybe I should go to ----
   Q.   You cannot do this, Professor van Pelt, because it is not
        your report.
   A.   No, I am thinking maybe I am looking in my own report
        right now.  If I come back to this.
   Q.   It is a point that is made in Evans, but I do not think it
        makes it in quite the way that Mr Irving suggests.
   A.   It could actually have been me, but at a different thing.
   MR IRVING:  It would not be very difficult for me to track this
        down at home, my Lord, because I can do it on my computer.
   MR RAMPTON:  My Lord, I have read paragraph ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  We are trying to help you.
   MR RAMPTON:  My Lord, I have read paragraphs 37 to 40 on pages
        160 to 163 of Evans, and it is not what Mr Irving is on

.          P-203

        about, that is for sure.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  It is not what Mr Irving says, no.
   MR IRVING:  It will be when I bring the chapter and verse, my
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  We have tracked it down as far as we are
        able.  I think we had better move on to the next general
        question, Mr Irving.
   MR IRVING:  I think I have come to the end of my general
        questions.  I will have a quick look at my cheat sheet.
        Are you familiar with the evidence of Kasmir Smolen?
   A.   Which evidence?
   Q.   The various statements he has made to the effect that when
        working in the administration of the Auschwitz camp
        deliberate falsification of the records went on?
   A.   I find it very difficult to -- deliberate falsification.
        I remember something but I do not really know exactly.
        I would not want to comment right now, because I do not
        know what records we are talking about and what utterance
        by Kasmir Smolen, but again I am happy to comment when I
        have it in front of me.
   Q.   To your knowledge did prisoners not only arrive at
        Auschwitz but did they also leave Auschwitz?
   A.   There is one particular group of prisoners who left
        Auschwitz, yes.
   Q.   But on a regular basis they went on to other camps?

.          P-204

   A.   Certainly that, yes.  This is why there are survivors.
        Most of the Jews who survived Auschwitz who were not in
        the final evacuation actually were sent on from Auschwitz
        in 1944, when the decision was withdrawn that no Jews
        could be in the Reich so that they could work in
        concentration camps attached to factories in the Reich.
        This is one of the reasons, and I have explained that in
        our book in some detail, why Hungarian Jews were parked in
        Auschwitz.  They arrived in Auschwitz.  They survived the
        selection but were not numbered, were not actually
        admitted officially to the camp, and they were there for
        sometime before they were sent on to concentration camps
        in the Reich.
   Q.   But would I be right in saying that to a certain degree
        Auschwitz was in fact a transit camp?
   A.   During the Hungarian action it took one of its many
        functions.  It took on the function of a transit camp, but
        it only applied to a relatively small number of the total
        people who ever arrived there.
   Q.   The Hungarian action involved how many people originally?
        How many people were deported from Hungary to Auschwitz?
   A.   About 450,000.
   Q.   450,000?
   A.   Yes.  That is a German figure.
   Q.   What actually happened to those 450,000?  Were they all
        gassed in some way or did some get sent somewhere else?

.          P-205

   A.   No.  All these people, not even all the Hungarian Jews
        arrived in Auschwitz, the large majority, the great
        majority of them came to Auschwitz, I think the number of
        Hungarian Jews deported is even larger, but at Auschwitz
        we are talking about that number.  These people were
        submitted to selection on arrival in Auschwitz.  Then
        there were really three possibilities at that moment that
        could happen.  Either one could be selected to die in the
        gas chambers or one could be selected to be admitted to
        the camp and given a number.  There was a new numbering
        system created at the time to accommodate this and became
        a regular inmate of the camp or one of the satellite camps
        in Auschwitz.  Or one could become durkhanstudent where
        one was housed temporarily in the camp without actually
        being officially admitted to the camp before being sent on
        to other concentration camps.

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