The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day032.07


Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day032.07
Last-Modified: 2000/07/25

                  I differ too from others, in making copies -- and
        I am going to emphasise this quite a lot- of the original
        documents which I unearth freely available to others
        as soon as my own works are complete, and in fact often
        before that time, as the panne, the accident, the mishap
        which Professor Harold Deutsch's book showed.  Your
        Lordship will remember that Harold Deutsch got there first
        and used it before me, and I was accused of plageurising
        his book, because I gave him the materials before I used
        them.  As page 14 of Hitler's War shows, I donate these
        records regularly to publicly accessible archives and
        I also make them available on microfilm.  There are nearly
        200 such microfilms in my records, nearly half a million
        pages.  I also devote time to corresponding with and

.          P-71

        assisting other historians and researchers.  If,
        therefore -- this is the important point -- some of my
        interpretations are controversial, I also do all that is
        possible to let other people judge for themselves.  This
        speaks strongly against the accusation, levelled against
        me again today by Mr Rampton, that I distort, manipulate
        and falsify history.

                  On Hitler and the Holocaust I wrote these words,
        and this is in the 1991 edition, after the time when
        I supposedly became a denier obsessed with Hitler and with
        exonerating him.

                  Page 2: My conclusions ... startled even me.
        Hitler was a far less omnipotent Fuhrer than had been
        believed, his methods and tactics were profoundly
        opportunistic.

                  Page 4:  ... the more hermetically Hitler locked
        himself away behind the barbed wire and mine fields of his
        remote military headquarters, the more his Germany became
        a Fuhrer Staat without a Fuhrer.  Domestic policy was
        controlled by whoever was most powerful in each sector -
        by Goring, Lammers, Bormann, Himmler.

                  Page 17:  If this biography were simply a
        history of the rise and fall of Hitler's Reich, it would
        be legitimate to conclude "Hitler killed the Jews".  He
        had after all created the atmosphere of hatred with his
        speeches in the 1930s; he and Himmler had created the SS;

.          P-72

        his speeches, though never explicit, left the clear
        impression that "liquidate" what was he meant.

                  At pages 17 to 18:  For a full length war
        biography, I wrote, I felt that a more analytical approach
        to the key questions of initiative, complicity and
        execution would be necessary.  Remarkably, I found that
        Hitler's own role in the "Final Solution", whatever that
        was, had never been examined.

                  At page 38:  Every document actually linking
        Hitler with the treatment of the Jews invariably takes the
        form of an embargo, and I maintain that position, despite
        everything we have heard for the last two months.

                  This is the famous "chain of documents", of
        course, notwithstanding everything we have heard in court,
        I still adhere to this position.

                  At page 19 it is plausible to impute to him, to
        Hitler, that not uncommon characteristic of heads of
        state, a conscious desire "not to know", what the
        Americans now call, I believe, plausible deniability.  But
        the proof of this of course is beyond the powers of a historian.

                  At page 21 I write:  ... dictatorships are
        fundamentally weak ... I concluded, the burden of guilt
        for the bloody and mindless massacres of the Jews rests on
        a large number of Germans (and non-Germans), many of them
        alive today and not just on one "mad dictator", whose

.          P-73

        order had to be obeyed without question.

                  The similarity with the thesis propagated by
        Dr Daniel Goldhagen of the University of Harvard in his
        worldwide best seller book, "Hitler's Willing
        Executioners", will surely strike everybody in this
        court.  I am saying the burden falls on a large number of
        Germans and not just on that one madman's.  Note the word
        "just".  I do not say "not on the madman", I say not just on him.

                  Allow me to rub this point in:  What I actually
        wrote and printed and published in my flagship study
        Hitler's War was that Hitler was clearly responsible for
        the Holocaust both by virtue of being head of state and by
        having done so much by his speeches and organisation to start it off.

                  Where I differed from many historians was in
        denying that there was any documentary proof of detailed
        direction and initiation of the mass murders by Hitler,
        and I am glad to say two months in that respect has not
        brought us any closer.  The view was considered to be
        heretical at the time.  But this lack of wartime
        documentary evidence for Hitler's involvement is now
        widely accepted.  Indeed, on the narrower matter of the
        lack of wartime documentary evidence on the gas chambers,
        your Lordship was already good enough to grant as follows
        in an exchange between your Lordship and myself and

.          P-74

        Professor Evans.

                  I said:  If his Lordship is led to believe by a
        careless statement of the witnesses that there is a vast
        body of wartime documents, namely about gas chambers, this
        would be unfair, would it not, because you, Professor
        Evans, are not referring to wartime documents, you are
        referring to postwar documents?

                  Professor Evans at this point replies: I am
        referring to all kinds of documents.

                  I insist, this is me:  You are not referring to wartime documents?

                  Evans says:  I am referring to documents
        including wartime documents, the totality of the written
        evidence for the Holocaust which you deny.

                  Irving then says:  Are you saying there is a
        vast quantity of wartime documents?

                  You see, I am a bit persistent on this matter.

                  Evans says:  What I am saying is that there is a
        vast quantity of documents and material for all aspects of the Holocaust.

                  At this point your Lordship was good enough to
        say:  I expect you would accept, Professor Evans, just to
        move on, the number of overtly incriminating documents,
        wartime documents, as regarding gas chambers is actually
        pretty few and far between?

                  That is how it was left.

.          P-75

                  To summarise, in Hitler's War I differed from
        the other historians in suggesting that the actual mass
        murders were not all or mainly initiated by Hitler.
        I pointed out that my sources were consistent with another
        explanation:  A conscious desire "not to know" (a kind of
        Richard Nixon kind of complex) to which I referred, I
        believe, on three occasions during the hearings here.

                  I submit that I have not distorted, manipulated
        and falsified.  I have put all the cards on table; I made
        the documents available to all comers, on microfilm and in
        the archives, and I have pointed to various possible explanations.

                  I further submit that, while certainly "selling"
        my views, I have been much less manipulated that those
        historians, including some whom you heard in this court,
        my Lord, whose argument has an important part been simply
        this -- that I ought not to be heard, because my views are
        too outlandish or extreme.  Disgracefully, these scholars
        cleared from the sidelines as I have outlawed, arrested
        harassed, and all but "vernichtet" destroyed as a
        professional historian; and they have put pressure on
        British publishers to destroy my works.  This is a
        reference to MacMillan Limited, to which we will come later.

                  To assist your Lordship in deciding how
        outlandish and extreme these views of mine are, I allow

.          P-76

        myself to quote from AJP Taylor's The War Lords, published
        by Penguin -- the First Defendants in this action -- in
        London in 1978. Of Adolf Hitler Taylor wrote.

                       "... it was at this time that he became really a 
        recluse, settling down in an underground bunker, running the 
        war from the front.  (at pages 55-57).

                  Precisely same kind of image I generated from my
        own sources.

                       "He was a solitary man, though he sometimes 
        accepted, of course, advice from others, sometimes decisions 
        [my emphasis].  [he accepted decisions from others] It is, I think, 
        true, for instance, that the terrible massacre of the Jews".

                  This is AJP Taylor who "was inspired more by
        Himmler than by Hitler, though Hitler took it up".  (At
        pages 68-70).

                  These quotations are from the foreword of AJP
        Taylor's own flagship work, The Origins of the Second
        World War, published in 1963:

                       "Little can be discovered so long as we
        go on attributing everything that happened to Hitler.  He supplied 
        a powerful dynamic element, but it was fuel to an existing machine... 
        [later on he writes] He have counted for nothing without the 
        support and co-operation of the German people.  It seems to be believed 
        nowadays that Hitler did everything himself, even driving the trains 
        and filling the gas chambers unaided. This

.          P-77

                  was not so.  Hitler was a sounding-board for the German nation.  
        Thousands.  Many hundred thousand, Germans carried out his evil orders 
        without qualm or question."

                  What I wrote, with less felicity of style than
        Professor Taylor, was a reasonable interpretation of the
        information available to me at the time.  I might add that
        my words are often accepted, quoted, and echoed by other
        historians far more eminent than me.  (including the
        government's Official Historians like Professor Frank
        Hinsley, in his volumes on British intelligence) who
        specifically footnotes and references my works.  Some may
        regard my interpretations as not the most probable.  But
        they are never perverse. For the Defendants to describe me
        as one who manipulates, distorts, and falsifies it would
        be necessary for them to satisfy your Lordship that
        I wilfully adopted perverse and ridiculous
        interpretations. But I have not and they have not
        satisfied your Lordship either, I submit.

                  The Defendants' historiographical criticisms

                  I now turn to some of the particular matters
        which exercised your Lordship, in the list of points at issue.

                  As a preamble I would say that I trust your
        Lordship will be bear in mind that the task facing an
        historian of my type -- what I refer to as a "shirtsleeve
        historian", a shirtsleeve historian working in the field,

.          P-78

        from original records -- is very different from the task
        facing the scholar or academic who sits in a book-lined
        study, plucking handy works of reference from his shelves,
        printed in large type, translated into English, provided
        with easy indices and often with nice illustrations too.

                  Your Lordship will recall that while researching
        the Goebbels Diaries in Moscow for the first week in June
        1992 I had to read those wartime Nazi glass microfiches
        plates through a magnifier the size of a nailclipper, with
        a lens smaller than a pea.  The Court will appreciate that
        reading even post-war microfilm of often poorly reproduced
        original documents on a mechanical reader is tedious, time
        consuming, and an unrewarding business.  Your Lordship
        will be familiar with the reason why I saying this.  There
        were certain matters which we dealt with. Notes have to be
        taken in handwriting when are you sitting at a reader.
        There are no "pages" to be xeroxed. In the 1960s xerox
        copies were nothing like as good as they are now, as your
        Lordship will have noticed from the blue-bound volumes
        brought in here from my own document archives.  Mistakes
        undoubtedly occur:  the mis-transcription of difficult
        German words pencilled in Gothic or Sutterlin-style
        handwriting, a script which most modern German scholars
        find unreadable anyway; mistakes of copying are made;
        mistakes of omission (i.e. a passage is not transcribed
        when you are sitting at the screen because at the time it

.          P-79

        appears of no moment).  These are innocent mistakes, and
        with a book the size of Hitler's War which currently runs
        to 393,000 words, they are not surprising.

                  Your Lordship may recall another exchange I had
        with Professor Evans:  may I emphasise here that there is
        no personal animus from me towards Professor Evans at all.
        I thought he gave his evidence admirably.

                  IRVING:   Professor Evans, when your researchers
        were researching in my files at the Institute of History
        in Munich, did they come across a file there which was
        about 1,000 pages long, consisting of the original
        annotated footnotes of Hitler's War which were referenced
        by a number to a every single sentence in that book?

                  ANSWER:  No.

                  IRVING:  It was not part of the original corpus,
        it was part of the original manuscript, but it was chopped
        out because of the length.

                  EVANS:   No, we did not see that.

                  IRVING:  Have you seen isolated pages of that in
        my diary (sic) in so far as it relates to episodes which
        were of interest, like the Reichskristallnacht?

                  EVANS:  No, I do not to be honest, recall, but
        that does not mean to say that we have not seen them.

                  IRVING:   You say my footnotes are opaque
        because they do not always give the page reference. Do you
        agree that, on a page which we are going to come across in

.          P-80

        the course of this morning, of your own expert report, you
        put a footnote in just saying "see Van Pelt's report", and
        that expert report is 769 pages long, is it not?

                  So from this exchange it is plain that I was not
        just a conjurer producing quotations in my books,
        producing quotations and documents out of a hat; I made my
        sources and references available in their totality to
        historians, even when they were not printed in the book.

                  The allegation that the mistakes are
        deliberate -- that they are manipulations, or
        distortions --  is a foul one to make, and easily disposed
        of by general considerations, which I ask your Lordship to
        pay particular attention to.  If I intended deliberately
        to mistranscribe a handwritten word or text on which the
        defence places such reliance, I would hardly on the
        deliberate nature of the mistranscription, I would hardly
        have furnished copies of the original text to my critics,
        or published the text of the handwritten document as a
        facsimile in the same work (for example, the famous
        November 30th 1941 note, which is illustrated as a
        facsimile in all editions of Hitler's War); nor would
        I have placed the entire collection of such documents
        without restriction in archives commonly frequented by my criticism.

                  If I intended to mistranslate a document, would
        I have encouraged the publication of the resulting book,

.          P-81

        with the correct original quotation in the German
        language, where my perversion of the text would easily
        have been discovered?  Yet like all my other works both,
        Hitler and Goebbels have appeared in German language
        editions with a full and correct transcription of the
        controversial texts. Is that the action of a deliberate mistranslator.

                  As for the general allegation that the errors of
        exaggeration or distortions that were made were "all" of a
        common alignment, designed to exonerate or exculpate Adolf
        Hitler, the test which I submit your Lordship must apply
        should surely be this: if the sentence that is complained
        of be removed from the surrounding paragraph or text (and
        in each book there are only one or two such sentences of
        which this wounding claim is made) does this in any way
        alter the book's general thrust, or the weight of the
        argument that is made?


Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.