Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day020.06 Last-Modified: 2000/07/24 MR RAMPTON: Yes. Nothing to do with Jews so far as I can . P-47 tell. MR IRVING: Are Jews Poles? Is there some distinction there, Mr Rampton? MR JUSTICE GRAY: Anyway, I see the point. We have now at any rate seen the whole document. MR IRVING: My Lord, now I see that I have your Lordship's ear, may I now ---- A. Could I just make a couple of points here? These documents emerged during the formulation of a joint British/American declaration on German crimes in Poland, which is released at the request of the Polish government in exile, so it is focusing on Poles. MR IRVING: Do you agree that the statement concerned is on the facing page 147, and that the sentence causing problem is the allegation on the authority of His Majesty the king that Poles are "now being put systematically to death in gas chambers", and the word "systematically" figures in that? A. Yes. That is the first thing. The context of this is negotiations involving the Polish government in exile about German atrocities in Poland. The second point is that of course Cavendish-Bentinck's position is not necessarily to be accepted as a correct one. He was extremely sceptical, and indeed has been criticised by historians for his negative attitude towards reports. As he says, the Poles and, to a far greater extent, the Jews . P-48 tend to exaggerate German atrocities in order to stoke us up. MR IRVING: Are you saying that he was anti-semitic? A. Thirdly, and the really crucial point here is that this is not the same as saying that these stories about gas chambers have been invented, deliberately invented. What he says is: "As regards putting Poles to death in gas chambers I do not believe there is any evidence that this has been done." I am bound to say that is probably correct. He goes on to say: "There may have been stories to this effect and we have played them up in PWE rumours without believing that they had any foundation". MR IRVING: What is PWE? A. Political Warfare Executive. "At any rate", he says, "there is far less evidence than exists for the mass murder of Polish officers by the Russians at Katyn. On the other hand we do know that the Germans are out to destroy the Jews of any age unless they are fit for manual labour". So what he is saying is this. He is not saying we have deliberately cooked up these atrocity stories. He is saying we have received stories which we are using. That is quite a different matter from what say. You say they are invented by the PWE. Secondly, he is saying it is about Poles, and he is making a distinction, saying explicitly that the Germans are out to destroy the Jews of any age unless they are fit for manual labour. That is . P-49 really the context of the quote that you originally gave. Q. Very interesting. Will you now tell the court who Victor Cavendish-Bentinck was? A. He was a Foreign Office official, I think. Q. He was Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, was he not? A. Right, yes. Q. Did he therefore have access to every single scrap of intelligence evidence that came into the British community's hands? A. I doubt very much whether he had that. He would have received more general reports, I imagine, but I am not an expert on British intelligence in the Second World War. Q. As Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee he received all the police decodes, all the other decodes, all the intercepts, all the agents reports, all the prisoner of war messages, is that not right? A. I do not know, to be quite honest. I am not an expert on British intelligence. That sounds an awful lot for one man to master by himself. As I said, I would imagine that he would have received summaries of some description. Q. The fact remains that he states in August 1943, when requested to authorize a government statement signed by Churchill and Roosevelt, that Poles were being systematically put to death in gas chambers on the facing page. He specifically issues a minute to the Foreign . P-50 Office officials, saying, "We weaken our case by publicly giving credence to atrocity stories for which we have no evidence". He then goes on to say, "These mass executions in gas chambers", in other words the story of the mass executions in gas chambers, "remind me of the story of the employment of human corpses during the last war for the manufacture of fat, which was a grotesque lie and led to true stores of German enormities being brushed aside as mere propaganda". He is not pussy footing around with the way he is describing the state of British knowledge on gas chambers in August 1943, and yet you have accepted that during 1942 the BBC and the Americans repeatedly broadcast in German these stories of gas chambers, which must therefore have been invented. A. I do not think that last statement follows at all. Q. He says we have no evidence, so where else could it have come from? A. He is talking about mass executions of Poles in gas chambers. He says: "We do know that the Germans are out to destroy the Jews of any rage unless they are fit for manual labour." I think this is a good example, which you have just quoted, of the scepticism which unfortunately was engendered by the belief in many Foreign Office and other officials that a lot of the atrocity stories in the First World War were mere inventions of allied propaganda. MR IRVING: My Lord, this now goes back to the reason for this, . P-51 which is page 141, where the allegation is that I said this with no justification. MR JUSTICE GRAY: You have to grapple at some stage, and I think you are inviting my comment, with this, that, whatever may have been the state of knowledge within British Intelligence in 1942 or even 1943, the Defendants say that you have been alleging that the Holocaust is an invention by British Intelligence after all that we now think we know about what went on in the concentration camps has come to light. I think that is really the thrust of their case. You have established, I think, if I may say so, Mr Irving, that propaganda use was made of alleged gassing in gas chambers at a time when the senior officials in British Intelligence had no evidence for it. But you have to grapple with the next stage of the Defendant's case on this and I am sure you are coming to it. MR IRVING: I appreciate, and this is not the time to do that, but I can only tackle each particular part of the allegations against me piecemeal. I think I have shot that one right out of the water, if I may put it like that, that the allegation was that I had no foundation for saying that the Political Warfare Executive started the gas chamber stories running long before we had any proof for it. MR JUSTICE GRAY: No. I think you are failing to understand . P-52 the Defendants' point. MR IRVING: I appreciate fully what your Lordship is saying. MR JUSTICE GRAY: No, please listen. What the Defendants say, and Mr Rampton will correct me if I have this wrong, is that you are saying that the whole Holocaust story is a lie invented by British Intelligence. You have, as it were, part of the way along your line of argument, but you have to grapple, as I say, with the fact that the Defendants are contending that you have been making the allegation that the whole thing is a lie invented by British Intelligence in the teeth, they say, of all the evidence that it was nothing of the kind. MR IRVING: The gas chamber lie, if I can put it like this, is the story that the Germans gassed to death millions of people in factories of death. I am going to deal with that in a separate manner. We dealt with it partly with the witness van Pelt and I shall deal with it also by submissions on documents, and with further questions, either through this witness or other witnesses. But I can only tackle each element of this piece by piece. It may well be that there are bits of the story that I cannot bridge, rather the same as there are bits of the story in this systematic nature of the killing that the defence cannot bridge. The convergence of evidence here is, if I can establish there were no factories of death and that there were no holes in that roof, to put it bluntly, and . P-53 if I can establish that PWE started the story of the gas chambers running in 1942, then I have got a substantial part of the way towards justifying what I claim, even if there are one or two bricks still left out of the wall, if I can put it like that. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes. MR IRVING: Moving to page 150 please -- we have now dealt with that, my Lord -- paragraph 21, witness, do you take exception to my suggestion that witnesses and survivors, by virtue of the ordeal they have been through, have been subjected to some kind of traumatic stress which would affect their powers of recollection? A. Let me see what I say here. Q. It is the final sentences on that page, really. A. Yes, where you are asking a question about how you judge the credibility of Holocaust survivors, and you say, "I say that psychiatrists should concern themselves with this matter some time. There are many cases of mass hysteria". So I do take exception to the view which you put there that all the recollections of Holocaust survivors are the outcome of mass hysteria. Q. Have I had said all the recollections of Holocaust survivors or just a part of them? A. I think that is the clear implication of that. Q. Are you aware, witness, that there is a body of medical expertise assembled over the last 50 years into precisely . P-54 these matters of the ordeals suffered by concentration camp and slave labour camp survivors, what they have been through, the undernourishment, the effect this has on the powers of the brain, the bad nutrition, the post traumatic stress and all the rest of it and there have been very many learned disquisitions into this? The sentence which you have quoted was not intended to be some kind of slur on the character of people, the fact that somebody has a psychiatric disorder is in no way to be interpreted in a derogatory manner. It is just an attempt to analyse why sometimes they say things that do not exactly fit in with what the documents show. A. I think you are saying it is more than sometimes, Mr Irving. I am not familiar with the literature you refer to. Q. So, in analysing all the eyewitnesses and the sources that one is going to use in writing this kind of history, you cast aside the possibilities of medical problems or medical objections to relying too heavily on these sources? A. I think you would have to look at each case in turn individually. Q. Are you familiar with the case of Benjamin Gilcormesky? A. I am indeed, yes. Q. How you would assess his motivation, shall we say? Obviously he went through some kind of wartime ordeal? . P-55 A. Very difficult to say. The evidence seems to be that he did not in fact. Q. That he did not? A. Yes. As I understand from what I have read, this is someone who claimed in a book, or wrote a book, called I think "Fragments", a Swiss gentleman, which was purported to be a story of his incarceration as a child in various concentration camps, and subsequently he was revealed to be an imposter. Q. He was totally spurious, was he not? A. He was completely spurious. He was not in the concentration camps. Indeed, I think he was born after the war and brought up in Switzerland. He was not Jewish and was not a victim in any sense. Q. He was a spurious survivor of the Holocaust? A. That is indeed correct, yes, as I understood it. Q. He had a tattoo, did he? A. I have no idea. Q. Did he maintain that he had been in Auschwitz? A. He maintained all these things, I have already said that. Q. He described all the grisly horrors that he had seen?
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