The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/07/25

MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That is common ground too, is it not?
A.  Yes.  They were primarily used for the killing of Polish
  inmates of these institutions.
MR IRVING:  Was any plan made to build these gas vans before
  the beginning of Barbarossa, or was it a kind of ad hoc
  killing method that was developed during the Barbarossa
A.  Sorry?
Q.  An interim experimental method of killing people that was
  developed in the Barbarossa campaign?
A.  The gas vans actually exist since 1940, so they were used
  in the Warthegau and by Sonderkommando Langer to kill the
  Polish inmates of institutions for disabled persons in
  1940.  Then in late summer of 1941 they actually
  transferred this technology to the East.
Q.  Are there any documents that actually show Sonderkommando
  Langer operating at Chelmno?
A.  Yes, there are.
Q.  Documents as opposed to eyewitnesses?
MR RAMPTON:  Again I have to say I thought this was common

. P-136

MR IRVING:  I am sorry, I am not going to question that.
MR RAMPTON:  I did not think there was any dispute at all about
  the slaughter of 97,000 people between December and
  whenever it was, May.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, and indeed that is true also, I think,
  of Treblinka and Sobibor, is it not?
MR RAMPTON:  I think so too.
MR IRVING:  There is dispute about the scale.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Well, up to a point that is true.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  But there is no future in challenging
  Sonderkommando Langer's recollection, is there?
MR IRVING:  There is only point in disputing what
  Sonderkommando Langer was up to.  Are you familiar with
  the fact that it was also apparently flown, according to
  Brightman, to take part in operations, I think Novgarod?
A.  Yes.  This is the link between the Warthegau killings and
  the killings in Russia because we know from actually, it
  is the intercepts I think, we know that Himmler summoned
  the Sonderkommando to Novgarod where they killed the
  inmates of a local home for disabled people.  This is an
  essential part of the history of the Chelmno extermination
  camp.  This is the link.
Q.  Does not the document show that the Sonderkommando was
  flown to Novgarod?

. P-137

A.  Yes.
Q.  How could they have put their van in a plane?
A.  I did not say that they used a van.  They killed the
  people obviously with bottles.
Q.  By some other means?
A.  No, with bottles, gas in bottles.
Q.  They did not only use gas vans then.  Page 51 paragraphs,
  10 to 11.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Paragraph 10 are you going to now, did you
  say?  10.  We can start with paragraph 10.
MR IRVING:  You refer on line 4 to 600 Soviet prisoners of war
  being gassed.  Is that right?
A.  Yes.
Q.  At Auschwitz?
A.  Yes.
Q.  Can I ask you just to have a look at one page from the
  book by the witness Professor van Pelt which I have
  included in the little bundle at page 12 this morning.
  The second paragraph is describing, the paragraph
  beginning with the words, "A major reason for the slow
  progress", it is describing the high mortality rate which
  has resulted from hygienic conditions in Auschwitz and
  Birkenhau.  There it says in the month of October 1,255
  Soviets, meaning Soviet prisoners, had died from these
  hygienic conditions.  He does not refer to gassings.  What

. P-138

  is the reason for this discrepancy, do you think?
A.  I think if you read the book carefully, you will find a
  reference to the killing.  In the same chapter you will
  find a reference to the killing of 600.
Q.  Indeed.  I wrote to him in Mat 1996 asking for an
  explanation for the discrepancy, that on one part he
  describes them as being gassed and here on this page he
  refers to them clearly as ----
A.  There is no discrepancy.
MR RAMPTON:  This is a nonsense.  I am sorry to have to keep
  standing up, but this is really such a waste of time.
  There is no inconsistency in this.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No, I can see that people were being gassed
  and people were dying for other reasons.
MR RAMPTON:  Of course and van Pelt's evidence ----
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I am just looking it up.
MR RAMPTON:  --- I say it in his absence and from memory was
  that either in August or September 1941 there was an
  experimental gassing with Zyklon-B of 600 Soviet prisoners
  and others at Auschwitz (i).  There is no inconsistency in that.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Just pause a moment.
MR RAMPTON:  I am afraid I have not got his report here.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I have and I am just looking.
MR RAMPTON:  My Lord, he gives ----
MR IRVING:  My Lord, I am sorry, but I am going to have to

. P-139

  stick with what I said, notwithstanding this renewed
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Well, you have just I think challenged what
  Dr Longerich says about the first ----
MR IRVING:  600 who were gassed which is the standard story.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  --- gassing, well, actually 850, but leave
  that on one side, as having taken place in September or
  December 1941.  You put to him something that Professor
  van Pelt wrote, I think, in order to support your
  challenge and I am just trying to find it but I cannot.
MR IRVING:  Page 272 of his book, my Lord.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I know, but I am looking at his report which
  is possibly more complete, but I cannot immediately.  We
  will have to move on.  Perhaps somebody might be able to
  find the reference.
MR RAMPTON:  My Lord, try page 105 of van Pelt's report.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Thank you very much.  I would like to track
  it down whilst we are on this point.  105.
MR RAMPTON:  Yes, 104, 105.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That is in the area where I was looking.
  Yes. "It is important to note that after the war various
  witnesses confirmed that in early September the Germans
  had used block 11, the same block, as an experimental gas chamber".
MR RAMPTON:  That was the execution block until the crematorium
  at Auschwitz (i) was converted into a gas chamber.

. P-140

MR IRVING:  My Lord ----
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  So, I mean, van Pelt appears to be at one
  with Dr Longerich, I think it is fair to say?
MR RAMPTON:  Absolutely, but there is no inconsistency between
  an experimental gassing in early September and deaths from
  something else in October.  None at all.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think this is right, Mr Irving, actually,
  is it not?
MR IRVING:  I refer only to the fact that the evidence for the
  gassings is our familiar source, eyewitnesses, and the
  following sentence in the book which I quoted is -- I will
  read both sentences together -- "This contributed to the
  high mortality rate.  In the month of October 1,255
  Soviets had died.  None of this was welcome news to SS
  headquarters in Berlin where the prisoners, the Russian
  prisoners, were considered an asset."  What are you
  gassing 600 assets for?
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Do you have Professor van Pelt's book in court?
MR IRVING:  I do not have it in court, no, my Lord.
A.  Which page is this in van Pelt's report?
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  105, I think it was.
MR RAMPTON:  104 and 105 of Professor van Pelt's report.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think let us press on.
MR IRVING:  I will just press on and ask one relevant
  question.  (To the witness):  Dr Longerich, the source you

. P-141

  relied on for the 600 prisoners being gassed and for the
  further 900 in December are the sources you have given in
  235, is that right?
A.  Yes.
Q.  All secondary sources?  There is nothing of a primary, no
  documentary source for that, is there?
A.  I think the statement of Brach is probably an eyewitness,
  partially an eyewitness statement.
Q.  Page 50, you say there were six gas vans.  You say in
  paragraph 8, probably a total of six gas vans.  Do you
  disagree with those who say the total was three, only
  three were ever built?
A.  Well, I am quite familiar with the Einsatzgruppen.
  I studied their material and I went through all evidence
  about the Einsatzgruppen, and my calculation is a minimum
  of six.  There is probably, there is probably some
  material here mentioned or used by me which has probably
  not been available to others.
Q.  They did drive around a lot, did they not, from one
  killing area to another?
A.  No.  It is referring here to reports by the
  Einsatzgruppen.  They say, "We have one or we have two
  vans at our disposal at a certain time" and you can easily
  come to the conclusion they had a minimum of six vans
  available.  I did this for all of the four Einsatzgruppen
  and it is a minimum.  They could have -- it could have

. P-142

  been more but this is as far as I came.
Q.  Page 51, please, paragraph 11, we are looking at a visit
  by Adolf Eichmann allegedly to Auschwitz where he had a
  conversation with Rudolf Hoess, the Kommandant?
A.  Where are we?  In 55 in?
Q.  As you comment, they disagree firmly on what the date of
  that visit was.
A.  Yes.
Q.  And, in fact, Eichmann in his own copy of Hoess's memoirs
  dismissed it as fantasy, that there never had been any
  such meeting.  Are you familiar with that?
A.  Well, he also dismissed it -- he was very critical about
  Hoess in his interrogations in Israel.  So we are at the
  moment at page?
Q.  51?
A.  51, sorry.
Q.  So you really have to decide which of these two criminals
  you believe, have you not?
A.  Well, I do not think we have to.  You know, the history of
  the Holocaust is not or the decision-making or systematic
  character is not based on either the evidence of, you
  know, Hoess or Eichmann.
Q.  Paragraph 12, you are talking about the construction of a
  monster crematorium with 32 chambers, furnished chambers.
  Can you confirm that your source for that is just an
  article by Gerlach in Holocaust and Genocide Studies?

. P-143

A.  Yes, it is an excellent piece of work.  He spent about
  eight years to study the Holocaust in White Russia.
  I know him personally, discussed it with him.  I think he
  put, he actually supported his article with a lot of evidence.
Q.  Is there any document, any one document, that proves there
  was a plan to construct an extermination facility there?
A.  No.  This is a conclusion because they built this large
  crematorium with 32, 32 chamber furnished, and I think the
  magnitude of this installation gives you a clear
  indication that they were planning something very sinister in Mogilev.
Q.  Is it possible there is another non-sinister
  interpretation like it was going to become a central
  corpse disposal facility for the whole of the Russian
  Front or the whole of the area or partisan war or something?
A.  Well, in this article Gerlach dealt with the suggestion.
  I did not, I cannot remember the calculation, but the
  calculation, you know, the corpses they wanted to burn
  there is extraordinary.  It exceeds, as far as I am aware,
  of the number of ----
Q.  Was it ever built?
A.  No, it was a plan.
Q.  A plan.  Paragraph 13, I am a bit confused about what you
  are actually saying in this paragraph.  Do you confirm

. P-144

  that all the various preparations for mass killings you
  have described were designed for limited regional killing
  actions only?
A.  Well, can I comment on this?  I think you have to put this
  in a context.  What I am trying to say here is that in
  phase, autumn '41 to spring 1942, we have -- the killing
  is extended from the Soviet Union to other regions,
  particularly to the Warthegau, to the district of Lublin,
  to -- it also extended to Serbia and you have in this
  period the large mass killings in Riga and in Minsk.
You can, if you look at the transfers of the gas
  technology, the gas killing technology, to the East, you
  can see that exactly in these areas of the cities they are
  either building gas killing facilities or they are
  planning to build them.
Lodz, for Lodz you have Chelmo, the first wave,
  20,000 Jews deported to Lodz.  They are building Chelmno,
  first of all, for there to kill the local Polish Jews.
Q.  The killing of what?
A.  Building a, well, Chelmno, the ----
Q.  Yes?
A.  --- a station for gas vans.  Yes?  Then we have evidence
  that in October 1941 they started to build Belzec, the
  extermination camp, in the district of Lublin.  At the
  same time they were planning to send German Jews to
  Lublin.  They were planning this to kill the local Jews.

. P-145

  The same applies to Riga.  We have the famous letter, 25th
  October 1941, where actually the Reisigerhauptamt a gas
  van -- a gas killing installations to Osland.  There is
  this plan in Mogilev.
So this I think, in my view, gives a very clear
  picture.  They are sending Jews from Central Europe to
  certain ghettos in the East and they are either making
  preparations for gas killing installation at exactly these
  places, or they have plans to do so.
Q.  This is the confusion because you said that in section A
  there was no indication during that same time span of any
  overall plan for extermination?
A.  Yes, the extermination, I am not sure whether I did not
  say this clearly enough, but the extermination, first of
  all, relates to the local Jews, so the non-German Jews,
  the Jews who lived there, the Jews of Lodz, the Jews of
  the district of Lublin, the Jews of Riga, the Jews of
  Minsk.  They are not at this stage, they are not -- they
  are, obviously, not killing the German Jews on arrival.
  They are making preparations or are about to kill the local Jews.
Q.  To make space for the arrival of the German Jews?
A.  If you want to say it in a cynical way, yes.
Q.  So was this an integral part of the German plan to
  exterminate all Jews, is that what you are saying?
A.  I do not know whether you can call it a plan, but I think

. P-146

  it gives you an idea of the systematic character of the
  operation.  They are -- you have in 1941, autumn 1941, to
  spring 1942, the killing extended to certain areas, and
  these are exactly the areas where actually Jews from
  Germany are deported to or where they are waiting for the
  trains from Germany.  I think if you look at this, if you
  tie the loose ends together, it gives you an idea that
  behind this is a system, an idea, to systematically kill  ----
Q.  So you are going back on your suggestion that section A,
  during the section A period of your report, there was no
  overall plan to exterminate?
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No, because I think -- can I just check
  I understand -- your section A was really talking about
  European Jews?
A.  Central European Jews.
Q.  Central European Jews?
A.  Yes.
Q.  And the beginning of the systemized killing that you have
  described in October or thereabouts of 1941 applied still
  to the local Jews?
A.  Yes.
Q.  I think that is the way he is putting it.  You may not accept it.
MR IRVING:  Right.  Perhaps I can clarify with another
  question.  Are you saying then that all these

. P-147

  preparations, the exporting of the gas technology, is part
  of an overall plan to kill all Jews under German control?
A.  Well, I am not trying to perceive as a kind of preplanned,
  of a kind of blueprint or a plan which actually existed
  in, let us say, 1940, 1941.  I am trying to explain that
  the killing of the European Jews was a process which
  emerged, you know, step by step, and we are now in a phase
  where obviously the killing was extended to other parts of
  Europe than the Soviet Union.
My argumentation, I am simply very cautious.
  I am saying, here are the facts, we know what happened and
  I am really hesitant to say this was the result of a plan
  which existed before the killing actually started.  I am
  just showing you, I am trying to lead you through the
  different phases of this policy.
Q.  Yes.  Are you aware that the judgment in the Eichmann
  trial said that all these preparations were part of a plan
  to exterminate all Jews under German control.
A.  Well, first of all, again I would like to have the verdict
  here, but, you see, the Eichmann trial was held in 1960,
  and we cannot ignore that we have historical research on
  the subject now for four decades and, of course, in some
  areas we have much, much more evidence than the Judges in
  the Eichmann case.

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