Newsgroups: alt.revisionism Reply-to: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Irving v. Penguin & Lipstadt: Judgment VI-02 Organization: The Nizkor Project Keywords: David Irving libel action Deborah Lipstadt Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/judgment-06.02 Last-Modified: 2000/04/11 Hitler's knowledge 6.23 Was Hitler aware what was going on and did he approve of it? Although (as I have already indicated) Irving was prepared at one stage of the trial to agree that in broad terms the answer to this question is in the affirmative, he later shifted his ground. In these circumstances it is necessary for me to rehearse the rival arguments on this issue. 6.24 The Defendants' answer to this question is, firstly, that the scale of the killing was so immense and its effect on the war effort so great, that it is difficult to conceive that Hitler was not consulted and his authority sought. The Defendants adopted the evidence of Sir John Keegan, summoned to give evidence by Irving, that it was perverse to suggest that Hitler was unaware until October 1943 what was happening to the Jewish population: it defies common sense. But the Defendants assert that there was what Browning described as incremental decision-making process. Browning gave evidence that in his view Hitler had made clear to Himmler and to Heydrich what he wanted done in terms of ethnic cleansing and then left it to his subordinates to carry out his wishes. I shall summarise the stages by which on the Defendants' case the programme was set in place. 6.25 According to Himmler, Hitler commented that a memorandum which Himmler had presented to him on 25 May 1940 was "very good and correct". The memorandum had expressed the hope that by means of a large emigration of all Jews to an African colony, "the concept of the Jew will be fully extinguished". Although the memorandum described the physical extirpation of the Jews as "un-German and impossible", Browning pointed out that this exchange took place at a time when the ethnic cleansing of the Jews (as he described it) had slowed down markedly at the instigation of Goering and Frank, who were concerned to give priority to the war effort. Browning asserted that, with a Nazi victory in France apparently assured, the memorandum indicates that Himmler approached Hitler to obtain his approval for the revalidation of the programme of ethnic cleansing. He needed Hitler's approval in order to counter any moves by Goering or Frank to block the programme. 6.26 In the spring of 1941, whilst preparations were under way for Barbarossa (the invasion of Russia), Hitler made clear his view that a war of destruction was about to start and called for the destruction of the Judaeo-Bolshevik intelligentsia. This sentiment generated proposals for the establishment of the Einsatzgruppen and the programme of mass shootings as I have already described. That programme was not, as Browning put it, "micro-managed" by Hitler. But he claimed that it was Hitler whose vision and expectation created a genocidal atmosphere which brought forth concrete proposals for its implementation. Browning argued that Hitler wanted his generals to see the war against Russia as embracing a very strong ideological dimension and not just a conventional war. Having been effectively invited to do so by Hitler, the SS together with the military planners produced concrete plans to turn Hitler's vision into reality. 6.27 The Defendants recognise that the documentary evidence for implicating Hitler in any policy for the systematic shooting of Jews is sparse. There is no "smoking gun". A large number of documents were destroyed, many of them on the orders of Heydrich, so the documentary picture is a partial one. However, the Defendants do highlight a number of documents which, they contend, point, albeit not unambiguously, to Hitler's complicity. 6.28 The starting point for the documentary pointers towards Hitler's complicity is the record of the instructions given by Hitler to General Jodl, Chief of the Army Leadership Staff, on 3 March 1941 in relation to revised guidelines to be followed in the areas of Russia expected to be conquered. Hitler ordained: "This coming campaign is more than a struggle of arms; it will also lead to the confrontation of two world views. In order to end this war it will not suffice merely to defeat the enemy army ... The Jewish- Bolshevik intelligentsia, the hitherto oppressor of the people must be eliminated (beseitigt)" These instructions, together with other similar utterances by Hitler at this time, evidence the central role which, according to the Defendants, Hitler played when it came to converting Nazi ideological thought into concrete action. According to Browning, it is discernible that Hitler was talking not only of military, but also ideological, necessity. As Longerich put it, Hitler was laying the ground for a racist war of extermination. 6.29 There followed what Longerich described as a package of measures, with which Hitler was intimately involved, for the implementation of that war. Following on the heels of Hitler's instructions to Jodl, on 13 March 1941 Jodl issued a directive which stated: "In the operation area of the Army, the Reichsfuhrer SS is granted special responsibilities by order of the Fuhrer for the preparation of the political administration; these special responsibilities arise from the ultimate decisive struggle between two opposing political systems. In the context of these responsibilities, the Reichsfuhrer SS will act independently and at his own risk". Longerich infers that the reason why Himmler was being given these undefined special responsibilities was that the Army was not willing to be radical enough in carrying out the policing and security operations. 6.30 Hitler made a similar statement, albeit one not explicitly directed at the Jews, to senior army officers on 17 March 1941 when he said: "The intelligentsia installed by Stalin must be destroyed (vernichtet). The leadership machine of the Russian empire must be defeated. In the Greater Russian area the use of the most brutal force is necessary" He spoke in similar vein to a meeting of generals on 30 March 1941, when, according to the abbreviated record of General Halder, Hitler said: "Communism unbelievable danger for the future . The Communist is not a comrade, neither before nor after. We are talking about a war of extermination . We are not waging war in order to conserve the enemy . war against Russia: extermination of the Bolshevik Commissars and the Communist intelligentsia". 6.31 On 16 July 1941 a conference took place which was attended by amongst others Hitler and Rosenberg. According to a memorandum by Bormann, Hitler said: "The giant area must naturally be pacified as quickly as possible; this will happen at best if anyone who just looks funny" (or in an alternative translation preferred by Irving "anyone who looks askance at us") "should be shot". Longerich asserted that Hitler was thereby demonstratively endorsing the brutal massacres which were taking place and in effect authorising execution on suspicion alone. As Browning put it, it was an open shooting licence. 6.32 The Defendants attach considerable importance, in connection with the issue of Hitler's knowledge of the shootings, to an instruction issued on 1 August 1941 to the Einsatzgruppen by Muller, the head of the Gestapo within Heydrich's Security Police, in which he stipulated: "The Fuhrer is to be kept informed continually from here about the work of the Einsatzgruppen in the East" The Defendants' case is that this document (to which I have already made refernce in the preceding section) shows that the reports from the Einsatzgruppen providing information about the executions carried out by them would at least be available on a continuous basis to Hitler. The distribution lists demonstrate how widely these reports were circulated. Copies went to the Reich Chancellery. According to Longerich, there is evidence that a copy of at least one such report went to Bormann. He concluded that it is inconceivable that Hitler did not see the reports. Muller's instruction coincided with the escalation of the shootings from selected groups to indiscriminate killing of Jews including women and children. The Defendants contend that Hitler's apparent wish to be kept informed will have meant that he would have received regular reports of the shooting of the Jews over the following months. 6.33 As I have already mentioned in section V(viii), on 25 October 1941, according to his table talk Hitler said: "This criminal race [the Jews] has the two million dead from the World War on its conscience, now again hundreds of thousands. Noone can say to me: we cannot send them in the morass! Who then cares about our people? It is good if the terror (Schrecken) we are exterminating Jewry goes before us". The Defendants say it is to be inferred from these words that Hitler was indeed receiving reports from the Einsatzgruppen as contemplated in Muller's instruction of 1 August. 6.34 On 30 November 1941 Himmler visited the Wolf's Lair. At 13.30, before meeting Hitler for lunch, he telephoned Heydrich in Prague about a transport of Jews from Berlin. Himmler's note contains the entry "Keine Liquidierung" that is in contention between the parties. I have set out the rival arguments in section V(vI) above. On the Defendants' interpretation of that note, the likelihood is that Himmler discussed with Hitler the particular transport from Berlin to Riga. Although Himmler ordered that there should be no killing of the Jews aboard that transport, it is reasonable to infer that Hitler knew about and approved the shooting of other Jews in the East. 6.35 At paragraphs 5.127 to 131 above I have made reference to Goebbels's diary entry relating to his meeting with Hitler on 21 November 1941; the speech made by Hitler to the Gauleiter on 12 December 1941 and Frank's report of that speech on 16 December 1941. I shall not repeat myself, save to say that the Defendants these are relied on by the Defendants in support of their contention that Hitler was aware of and approved the policy of executing Jews and others in the East by shooting. 6.36 An entry in Himmler's appointment book for 18 December 1941 recorded that one of the proposed topics for discussion between himself and Hitler at their forthcoming meeting was the Judenfrage (the Jewish question). Against that entry, apparently (say the Defendants) following the discussion with Hitler, Himmler has noted "als Partisanane auszurotten" (to be annihilated as if partisans). According to the Defendants this shows that Hitler, expressly consulted, approved the killing of the Jews under cover of killing partisans as the solution to the Jewish question. 6.37 The Defendants argue that this interpretation of Himmler's note is confirmed by and consistent with a report no. 51 dated 26 December 1942 on the campaign against partisans in the Ukraine, Southern Russia and Bialystok, which was retyped three days later in larger type, in order, so the Defendants say, that Hitler with his poor eyesight could read it. In its retyped form it is headed: "Reports to the Fuhrer on combating partisans". It is endorsed on the front page "vorgelegt (laid before or submitted) 31.12.42". It reports the numbers killed over the preceding four months. The number of Jews executed is given as 363,211. Browning infers that this is but one of a series of reports which Hitler received in accordance with the instruction issued by Muller on 12 August 1941 that Hitler was to be kept well informed of the shootings being carried out by the Einsatzgruppen. 6.38 Longerich was clear in his conclusion that, if one takes account of the scale of policy of extermination and what it entailed in terms of logistics and expense, it is wholly inconceivable that Hitler was unaware of not only of the fact of the shootings but also of their scale. Such contemporaneous evidence as has survived confirms, according to the Defendants, that Hitler knew and approved. Browning rejected as being absurd the notion that Himmler, who was always anxious to do his master's bidding, would not have discussed regularly with Hitler the wholesale executions of Jews and others by SS units. Irving's response Evidence of system and the scale of the shootings 6.39 I have already drawn attention to the number of those who, as Irving eventually admitted, were killed in the East. Irving acknowledged that the evidence shows that there was an appalling massacre of Jews on the Eastern front but he argued that, at least in their initial stages, the shootings were selective, confined to the intelligentsia and served a military purpose. He disputed that the shootings took place on the massive scale alleged by the Defendants. He suggested that many of the figures cited by the Defendants' experts and in the documents on which they relied were "fantasy figures". 6.40 Irving argued that the "ruthless, energetic and drastic measures" against the Jews ordained in the guidelines issued on 19 May 1941 did not mean that they should be shot but rather than they should be arrested and imprisoned. If the guidelines had meant that the Jews were to be killed, they would have said so. Longerich rejected this contention. 6.41 Irving pointed out that Heydrich's instructions of 2 July 1941 strictly limited the Jews who were to be executed to those in state or party positions. He did not accept that it was legitimate to infer that the instructions were intended to be construed more widely simply because the executions thereafter carried out extended far beyond these limited categories. Irving submitted that no evidence has come to light of any order which authorises the execution of broader categories of Jews. 6.42 Irving devoted a considerable amount of time in his cross- examination of Longerich to the details of the killings by Einsatzgruppen A, B, C and D which he derived for the most part from the reports submitted by them. Irving suggested, for example, that some of those reports were compiled by those who, like General Bach-Zelewski, were mass murderers and whose reporting is on that account unreliable. Irving did not accept that the reports of the Einsatzgruppen should be taken at face value. He argued that the leaders of the Einsatzkommandos, which made up the Einsatzgruppen, would have been anxious to impress their superiors with the numbers killed and so would have exaggerated the figures. Browning and Longerich both accepted that some kommandos may have been anxious to avoid appearing to lack zeal and so may have exaggerated their achievements. But Browning considered the figures to be accurate as "ballpark figures". He added (and Irving agreed) that the numbers, even if not precisely accurate, are on any view huge. Longerich concurred. He added that the numbers do not derive solely from the reports of the Einsatzgruppen: there are other sources. 6.43 Irving expressed doubts about the logistical feasibility of the Einsatzgruppen having been able to carry out executions on the reported scale, given their limited numbers and equipment and the other tasks which they were charged with carrying out. The Einsatzgruppen consisted of only 3,000 men. But Browning pointed out that the army was called on to provide support. Longerich calculated that, if allowance is made for the auxiliary manpower available, the total number of those involved in the shootings would have been around 30,000. 6.44 Another argument canvassed by Irving is that the reports may have been inaccurate in their statements of the numbers of Jews shot because the SS auxiliaries would not always have known whether or not those they were executing were Jews. He suggested that this must have been the reaction of British intelligence when they intercepted reports of the numbers killed. Browning responded that the Jager report is illustrative of the care taken to classify Jewish men, women and children. He explained the passive British response to the intercepts probably reflected an inability on their part to comprehend the notion that the Nazis would devote resources sorely required for their war effort to killing vast numbers of Jewish men, women and children whilst there was a war on. 6.45 Irving also argued that there will have been many who, becoming aware of the wholesale murders taking place at the hands of the SS, will have fled eastwards into Russia (there to be met, no doubt, with the same fate). A report dated 12 September 1941 refers to the "gratuitous evacuation" of hundreds of thousands of Jews by inference across the Urals representing an indirect success for the security forces. According to Irving, in calculating the scale of the shootings, allowance should be made for the Jews who fled eastwards to avoid being shot. Irving also suggested that many of the murdered Jews died at the hands of local anti-Jewish populations as opposed being executed by the Einsatzgruppen. Browning's evidence was that such pogroms did occur but for a limited period only in the opening days of the war. Hitler's knowledge 6.46 As I have already said, Irving's stance on this issue fluctuated as the trial proceeded. In course of his own evidence, having advanced a number of reasons for doubting Hitler's knowledge of any systematic programme for the killing of Jews in Russia or elsewhere in the eastern territories, Irving conceded under cross-examination that it was a legitimate conclusion that the shootings in the east were carried out with the knowledge and approval not only of Heydrich but also of Himmler and Hitler himself. He accepted that the reports of numbers killed were sent by the Einsatzgruppen to Berlin on a regular basis. Irving said that he had been unaware until the summer of 1999 of the Muller document of August 1941, according to which Hitler asked for reports from the Einsatzgruppen to be supplied to him. But he conceded that the evidence now available points to there having been a coordinated and systematic direction by Berlin of the killings on the eastern front. In particular Irving accepted in the light of the note in Himmler's appointment book for 18 December 1941 that the massacre of Jews in the Ostland was carried out on the authority of Hitler. He also accepted that there had been a systematic programme for the shooting of Jews and others of which Hitler was aware and which he approved. 6.47 But in the course of his cross-examination of Longerich, Irving put to him a large number of questions which appeared to suggest that it was his case Hitler had no such knowledge and that he did not authorise any such programme or policy. He pointed out that no document has come to light indicating that Hitler expressly authorised the shootings. In the course of his cross-examination Irving advanced various arguments why it would be wrong to suppose that Hitler was complicit in the shooting of Jews and others in the period 1941-2. Irving contended (and Longerich agreed) that prior to the middle of 1941 there is no directive emanating from Hitler that Jews are to be exterminated. Thus there is no indication in the in the instructions or guidelines issued by Hitler to General Jodl and to the High Command Operations staff on 3 March 1941 that Jews are to be executed when the Russian campaign begins. Irving argued that these instructions, as well as the guidelines issued in October 1941, should be seen as purely military measures. Hitler was addressing the issue of military discipline and not authorising or condoning ideological extermination. He was in effect saying that that the Reich was facing a Judaeo-Bolshevik enemy which must be destroyed as a matter of military necessity. No order was issued by Hitler which explicitly said that the Jews must be killed systematically. Moreover, contended Irving the initiative for the orders came from the Nazi High Command rather than from Hitler. 6.48 As to the "special responsibilites" which Jodl directed were, in accordance with Hitler's order, to be given to Himmler, Irving suggested that this flowed from Himmler's wish to enlarge his area of responibility. He claimed that Hitler's attitude was to give Himmler carte blanche without any requirement to let him (Hitler) know what he was doing. In any event, argued Irving, Hitler was concerned for military as opposed to ideological reasons to ensure the security of the area to the rear of the Nazi army as it advanced into Russia. Longerich disagreed: the military and the ideological goals cannot be differentiated. 6.49 In relation to Hitler's various statements in the spring of 1941 to the forthcoming "war of destruction" and the "extermination of the Jews", Irving pointed out that the Nazis were about to embark on Barbarossa, so that these utterances must be seen in a military, rather than an ideological, light. Moreover Hitler was well aware of the ruthlessness of which the Red Army was capable and was issuing a warning what the war would entail. The response of Browning to this proposition is that the campaign had both a military and an ideological objective. 6.50 Irving cast doubt on the Defendants' contention that the Einstazgruppen were set up as a consequence of the preparations laid down by Hitler. Their existence came about, he suggested, "like an act of spontaneous combustion". 6.51 Irving devoted a considerable amount of time to casting doubt on the authenticity of the document dated 1 August 1941 claimed to evidence an instruction by Muller to furnish Hitler with reports of shootings. He pointed out that the document before the Court is no more than an Abschrift: the original is missing. It bears the modest security classification geheim (secret) which is inappropriate for a document related to the Final Solution. Irving produced a letter from the German Federal archives that the document is not to be found in the file from which it purports to come. The Defendants countered this claim by pointing out that the document has been known about and accepted as authentic for twenty years. Copies of the Abschrift are to be found in the Moscow archive as well as in the Ludswigsberg archive. They were also able to point to several documents of a similar sensitivity which were also classified geheim. The reason why no copy of the Muller document was found in the file referred to in the letter from the German archivist is that the wrong file number was quoted. Longerich is in no doubt that the document is an authentic copy of the original. Ultimately Irving accepted its authenticity, although he continued to express considerable misgivings about it. 6.52 In the end Irving took the position that he did not challenge the authenticity of the Muller document. He submitted, however, that since its existence was unknown to him until he was presented with the document in the course of cross-examination, no criticism could fairly be made of him for not taking it into account. The Defendants were unable to accept this evidence. The reasons are, firstly, that the Muller document is set out at page 86 of Fleming's work Hitler und die Endlosung. Irving's marked copy of that book appears to show that he has read the passage at page 86 (although Irving denied it). The second reason is that Fleming gives a reference to the archive where the document can be found in Munich. The third reason is that, when asked about Fleming's book in 1983, Irving answered that it was "a lie". In his evidence Irving claimed that he was basing what he said on reviews of Fleming's book. 6.53 Irving argued that the Muller document does not in any event have the significance for which the Defendants contend. It did not require the Einstazgruppen to report shootings to Hitler. As its heading and text indicate, it related solely to the procuring of visual materials such as placards and photographs as part of the groups' intelligence- gathering operations. Despite this both Browning and Longerich persisted in their contention that the reporting requirement embraced all the activities of the Einsatzgruppen including shooting. But they agreed that this document is the only one to which he can point as evidence for the proposition that Hitler was kept informed of the shootings. Irving stressed that, apart from Event Report no 51, no report has come to light which has been retyped in the large type which Hitler's eyesight required. 6.54 Further evidence relied on by Irving for Hitler's unawareness of any systematic programme of extermination is the entry in Himmler's telephone log for 30 November 1941 relating to a telephone call made by him for Hitler's bunker to Heydrich in Prague. I have already referred at paragraphs 5.97-8 and 5.104 above to the argument which Irving bases on this entry.
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