The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day011.16

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day011.16
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   MR IRVING:  I will not press the matter further, my Lord.  On
        that issue I will abandon (and I am sure the Defence will
        be grateful) the question of the holes in the roof which
        are central to my case.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  How do you mean, you are going to abandon them?
   MR IRVING:  I will abandon the discussion on the holes in the
        roof point, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I see.  Bring it to an end.
   MR RAMPTON:  Can I understand what Mr Irving means when he says
        the holes in the roof were central to his case?  I ask the
        question rhetorically, what case?  This is a case about
        Mr Irving's state of mind at the time when he made certain
        utterances s.  If the roofs are a new feature of the case
        in the last five or 10 days, they have really got very
        little to do with the case which your Lordship is trying

.          P-138

        which is not the question, were these gas chambers?
   MR IRVING:  So suddenly once again the Defence is shifting its
        ground and suddenly what actually happened is of less moment.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No, I think you are not doing justice to the
        point Mr Rampton is making.  He is really making what is,
        I suppose, in a way an historical point.  The case against
        you is that, historically, you have not approached the
        issue of the gas chambers in an honest, conscientious way
        as an historian.  That is either right or wrong, looking
        at the history, but this holes in the roof point seems to
        have cropped up terribly recently and, although I might be
        entitled to draw inferences perhaps ----
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, it has not cropped up recently.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  --- about your approach from the way you are
        dealing with it, Mr Rampton is right, is he not?
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, the Defence has been aware of this
        particular difficulty, shall I put it, with this story for
        many, many years ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  But if you were not ----
   MR IRVING:  --- that there were no holes in that roof.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  If you were not, it cannot have coloured your
   MR IRVING:  I have long been familiar with this particular
        argument, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Oh, have you?

.          P-139

   MR IRVING:  The fact that I only raised it five or six days
        into the case during the cross-examination of this witness
        does not mean to say that I did not have a reason for
        delaying it.  It is plain that I have been aware of this
        holes in the roof problem for a very long time.
                  If I can just summarize in two lines what my
        position was and always has been?  I have never argued
        that there were probably gassings at Auschwitz -- I have
        never disputed that, rather, that there were probably
        gassings on some scale or other, probably a limited scale
        at Auschwitz.  What ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  A limited experimental basis, I think.
   MR IRVING:  Well, I hesitate to use those words.  I was going
        to concede to the second part of the sentence which is to
        say that what I have disputed is that there were factories
        of death, that it was a factory of death and that we heard
        at the beginning of this witness's evidence that, in his
        view, most of the killing -- today he said half the
        killing which was a reduction -- 500,000 people in this
        one room; and my contention would be that if I can knock
        holes in that, then I do not really have to look at the
        rest of the allegations because I have never disputed the
        rest, my Lord, although we will very briefly look at
        Auschwitz 1 this afternoon before I cease this
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Just so that again I am clear because my

.          P-140

        recollection is that you said something a little bit
        different maybe earlier on, you accept that there were
        gassings of humans ----
   MR IRVING:  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  --- at Auschwitz ----
   MR IRVING:  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  --- on a limited basis and not involving gas
        vans or anything of that kind?
   MR IRVING:  Not involving gas vans, no, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Right.  That is clear.  Thank you very much.
   MR IRVING:  I do not think that it can be said that I have
        disputed that within any material time that is material to
        this action, but what I have most strenuously disputed is
        the notion that Auschwitz was a factory of death which we
        have narrowed down, as far as I am concerned, to this one
        building because this witness, as the outstanding expert
        on Auschwitz and the Holocaust, has said that most of it
        happened in this one building, 500,000 people.  This is
        the Holiest of Holy sites.  This is the geocentre of the
        atlas of the atrocities.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That is all a bit of an incursion into the
        cross-examination.  It has not done any harm, I think,
        but  ----
   MR IRVING:  Well, we have Mr Rampton to thank for that disloquy
        on my part.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No, no, I am not blaming anybody.  I think it

.          P-141

        is quite helpful to have had it, but I think, perhaps, we
        ought to resume with Professor van Pelt.
   MR IRVING:  Now we continue very briefly with a few remaining
        matters.  To what degree have you relied on the Soviet
        Commission Report, the USSR 008?
   A.   For my book or for my expert report?
   Q.   For your expert report.
   A.   In my expert report, I have just given the Soviet Report
        as an instance again of the emergence of knowledge about
        Auschwitz.  So it is ----
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, it is on page 162 of the expert report of
        this witness onwards, beginning at page 162.
   A.   So it is for me not so important as a basis for my own
        investigations to come to a conclusion about the use and
        design and transformation of crematorium (ii) to (v).
   Q.   My Lord, you will have observed I am not attacking the
        integrity of all his eyewitnesses and all his sources
        because that would take us from here until next
        Christmas.  I am just picking on certain elements.  This
        is one of the reports.  Is it not true ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think, if I may say so, that is an entirely
        reasonable attitude to adopt.  I think it would just
        prolong this case absurdly if we are going through every
        individual account.
   MR IRVING:  That is also why I am not going to look at every
        single building, unless your Lordship would wish it

.          P-142

        otherwise, on the basis of what I said previously about
        what my contention was.  (To the witness):  Is it not so
        that the Soviet Report is the source of the original 4
        million figure?
   A.   I think it is the first time, yes, that it is in an
        official report, yes.
   Q.   Four million people gassed or killed at Auschwitz?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Which figure, of course, is inaccurate now, is no longer
        believed in?
   A.   That you are right, yes.
   Q.   I have only one other question on this particular report.
        Do you know the names of any of the signatures on the
        Soviet Report, any of the experts who signed it?
   A.   I know that, I think that Dawidowski that was actually
        involved in, he was actually included at some time at the
        one, at the thing.  I think the major signatory is that of
        the chief prosecutor of the, whatever, 2nd Ukrainian or
        Yellow Russian Army who actually commissioned report.
   Q.   Are you familiar with the name Bordenko?
   A.   No, I am not.
   Q.   Nikolai?
   A.   No, I am not.
   Q.   As two of the signatures of that Report?
   A.   It is in my file.  The whole report is in my file, so I am
        happy to look at it, but...

.          P-143

   Q.   Will you accept it from me that these two people were also
        signatories of the Soviet investigation of Kateen, the
        Kateen forest massacre, which resulted in the execution of
        a number of German officers for their role in that
   A.   If you say so, I am perfectly happy to accept it.
   Q.   Are you familiar with the name "Lysenko"?
   A.   No, I am not.
   Q.   As one of the signatures of the Soviet report,
   A.   I am not, no.
   Q.   You are not, no.  If I described him as being a biological
        charlatan or "quack" who has long since been disowned by
        his peers, would that surprise you?
   A.   Since I only heard this name right now, it does not
        surprise me one way or another way.
   Q.   When you read a report or a source of this importance, do
        you bother to consider who has written it or what their
        political motivations might be?
   A.   I think we come back to the other Bimko argument.  I have
        never used this report in order to write my history of
        Auschwitz.  This report I have just mentioned as a bit of
        the history of our knowledge of Auschwitz was brought into
        the world.  That is the purpose of ----
   Q.   About four pages of your report are based on the Soviet

.          P-144

   A.   And because the Soviet Report made an impression at the
        time, but I also argue very clearly in the report that the
        important investigations which were done in 1945 were not
        done by the Soviets, but by the Poles.  It was only after
        the publication of the Soviet Report that Jan Sehn really
        got working on this, interviewed the sonderkommandos and
        so on.  So that if we want to look at -- and I spent an
        incredible amount of space, time and energy to actually
        reconstruct what the Poles did.  I have given significant
        parts of that Dawidowski's argument in the Polish report.
        So, I mean, I am happy to answer further questions about a
        Soviet report, but, in general, I do not think that the
        Soviet Report is historiographically so important, except
        the fact that it was issued with the endorsement of the
        Soviet Embassy in Washington and London, and so on.
   Q.   But do you not recognize a pattern developing here,
        Professor, that every time I bring up a source or an
        eyewitness and we, I will not say demolish that man's
        integrity or reliability, but we chip away at it, you say,
         "Well, he was not important either" and "he was not
        important either", and here is the entire Soviet Union
        Report and you saying, "That is not important either".
        There is a pattern developing here of a reckless attitude
        towards the use of sources.
   A.   But I think that I have given this morning, I think, a
        quite clear presentation of the kind of sources I use and

.          P-145

        the kind of approach I use to those sources.
   Q.   Yes, that is the drawings we are talking at present about
        the eyewitnesses or about source material based on
        eyewitnesses which, effectively, the Soviet Report was.
   A.   But the Soviet Report does not give any eyewitness
        testimony.  It gives a certain amount of the declaration
        by a number of inmates in Auschwitz who make a declaration
        that this should never happen again, but there is no way
        any more to establish how the Soviet Report was done.  As
        far as I know, no draft exists of it.  We do not have the
        interrogations the Soviets did in February 1945 of the
        inmates they found when they liberated the camp.  So that
        is one of the reasons that the Soviet Report for historian
        is only interested in so far as it allows us to
        reconstruct the historiography of our knowledge about
        Auschwitz after the war.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  But the Soviets placed themselves, did they
        not, on, for example, Dragon and Tauber?
   A.   I think Dragon at the last thing he came in, I think, he
        probably was one of the sources of the 4 million.
   Q.   Yes, and Tauber also?
   A.   But in the systematic investigation -- I think maybe
        Tauber, yes or no, I am not sure -- but the systematic
        investigation or the systematic examination of these
        people only took place later.  In the Soviet Report
        itself, there is, I think, except maybe for the figure of

.          P-146

        4 million which was maintained by the sonderkommando,
        there is no discussion of either Dragon or Tauber or their
   MR IRVING:  But the Soviet Report talks about things like
        electrocutions, is that right?
   A.   That is, I think -- I probably would have it...
   Q.   Let us move on from there rather than waste the court's
        time.  I just say, in general, how many survivors were
        there from Auschwitz or from Birkenhau -- from the entire
        complex at the end of war?
   A.   May I consult my book?
   Q.   Just in round figures.  Are you talking about hundreds or
   A.   No less than 10,000.  So there were some ----
   Q.   10,000 people had been within the barbed wired encampment
        of this site, yet it is always the same names who crop up
        as the sources, is it not?  It is always Pery Broad,
        Philip Millar, Vurvah, Vetzler, Ada Bimko; it is always
        the same old gang who come forward and give the evidence.
        Nobody goes to the other, 10,000 do, they really?  Why is
   A.   I adjust the figure -- may I just correct my last
        statement?  We are talking about 6,000, 1200 people in
        Auschwitz and 5,80 in Birkenhau.

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