The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day001.11


Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day001.11
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20


        I mention these facts, my Lord, to show that it
        was not just one single action that has destroyed my
        career, but a cumulative, self-perpetuating, rolling
        onslaught from every side engineered by the same people
        who have propagated the book which is at the centre of the
        dispute, which is the subject of this action, my Lord.

.          P-86



   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Thank you very much, Mr Irving.  Can I
before
        I ask Mr Rampton to open the Defendants' case just ask
you
        to go back, if you would, to page 18 which is where
you
        are dealing with what I think you accept is at the
heart
        of the action, namely the accusation that you are a
        "Holocaust denier".
   MR IRVING:  Yes.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Towards the end of page 18, in fact
perhaps
        one can pick it up at the beginning of that last
        paragraph, you say this: "This trial is not really
about
        what happened in the Holocaust or how many Jews and
other
        persecuted minorities were tortured and put to death".
        Certainly as I see it, and I believe as he Defendants
see
        it, that is right.  This trial is not concerned with
        making findings of historical fact.  But you then go
on to
        set out what you say the Defendants need to establish
for
        the purposes of their plea of justification, and you
say
        that they need to establish, first, that a particular
        thing happened or existed; secondly that you were
aware of
        that particular thing as it happened or existed at the
        time that you wrote about it from the records then
before
        me, and then that you wilfully manipulated the text.
                  There was just one thing I wanted to put to
you
        so that one is clear about it.  You are saying, are
you,
        that it has to be shown that you had actual knowledge
of
        the particular fact or event?

.          P-87



   MR IRVING:  My Lord, I do not have an astute legal brain,
but
        I am trying to make it easy for the court by
establishing
        very early on what the ground rules are going to be.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, that is why I am raising this with
        because I think it is a very fundamental question.
   MR IRVING:  It is a very fundamental point, my Lord, and I
am
        indebted to you for having appeared to have grasped
        precisely the point I am trying to make.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Can I just put to you this and then
complete
        your answer.  The Defendants may be saying that
whether or
        not they can actually prove that you specifically knew
of
        the particular fact, it was there available in the
        historical records.  They may be saying, and I believe
        they are saying, that you shut your eyes to it.
   MR IRVING:  That is a different allegation, I would
        respectfully submit, my Lord, by saying that what they
are
        saying there is that I am a rotten historian or a lazy
        historian or an indolent historian or that I am
        lethargic.  That is not the words they have used.
They
        have said that I manipulated, that I distorted.  That
is
        why I think I am entitled to press for my narrower
        definition, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes.  That puts it very clearly. Thank
you
        very much indeed.  That completes your opening?
   MR IRVING:  That completes my opening statement, my Lord.
   MR RAMPTON:  My Lord, before I read what everybody has
anyway,

.          P-88



        I might just respond to what your Lordship has just
said
        to Mr Irving in this way, by saying your Lordship has
it
        right.  It is not that he is indolent.  It is not that
he
        falls into error.  It is that he deliberately perverts
the
        course of this particular episode in European history,
        including what happened at Auschwitz.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  So you are putting the case that Mr
Irving
        not only ought to have known but did in fact know what
the
        historic records showed?
   MR RAMPTON:  I do not know whether he did or whether he did
        not, but what is certain is that he leapt on to the
sink
        of the Auschwitz battleship campaign without even
opening
        the front of the fire.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes.
   MR RAMPTON:  My Lord, Mr Irving calls himself an historian.
        The truth is, however, that he is not an historian at
all
        but a falsifier of history.  To put it bluntly, he is
a
        liar.  Lies may take various forms and may as often
        consist of suppression or omission as a direct
falsehood
        or invention, but in the end all forms of lying
converge
        into a single definition, wilful, deliberate
misstatement
        of the facts.
                  Mr Irving has used many different means to
        falsify history, invention, misquotation, suppression,
        distortion, manipulation and not least mistranslation,
but
        those all these techniques have the same ultimate
effect,

.          P-89



        falsification of the truth.  Moreover, the lies which
the
        Defendants in this case will show that Mr Irving has
told,
        concern an area of history in which perhaps it behoves
any
        writer or researcher to be particularly careful of the
        truth, the destruction of the Jews by the Nazis during
        World War II, the Holocaust, and Adolf Hitler's role
in
        that human catastrophy, or, as Mr Irving would have
it,
        alleged catastrophe, for Mr Irving is nowadays a
Holocaust
        denier.  By this I mean that he denies that the Nazis
        planned and carried out the systematic murder of
millions
        Jews, in particular, though by no means exclusively,
by
        the use of homicidal gas chambers, and in particular,
        though by no means exclusively, at Auschwitz in
Southern
        Poland.
                  This was not, however, always so.  In 1977
the
        first edition of Mr Irving's book Hitler's War was
        published.  In that edition Mr Irving accepted that
the
        Holocaust, as generally understood, had occurred.  He
was
        not willing, however, to accept that Adolf Hitler had
any
        real or direct responsibility for what happened or
that he
        knew anything very much about it until it was too
late.
                  Mr Irving went to considerable lengths to
        achieve his exoneration of Hitler.  At this stage I
take
        but one example of many to illustrate Mr Irving's
        disreputable methods.  In late November 1941 a train
load
        of about a thousand Jews was deported from Berlin to
Riga

.          P-90



        in Latvia, as part of a process which had been
initiated
        earlier that year in accordance with Hitler's wishes
to
        empty the Reich of its Jews.
                  On 30th November 1941, as his daily log
records,
        Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, was at the
Wolf's
        lair, Hitler's headquarters in East Prussia.  Mr
Irving's
        account of this visit, so far as it concerns the fait
of
        the Jews, is as follows.  This is in Hitler's War 1977
at
        page 332:
                  "On November 30th 1941 Himmler was summoned
to
        the Wolf's lair for a secret conference with Hitler at
        which fait of Berlin's Jews was clearly raised.  At
1.30
        p.m. Himmler was obliged to telephone from Hitler's
bunker
        to Heydrich the explicit order that Jews were", and
this
        is in the author's italics, "not to be liquidated".
The
        next day Himmler telephoned SS overall General Oswald
        Pohl, overall chief of the concentration camp system
with
        the order: "Jews are to stay where they are".  That is
        what Mr Irving wrote.
                  In the introduction to that edition of the
book
        at page 14, anticipating what the reader would find in
the
        text, Mr Irving wrote this:
                  "The incontrovertible evidence is that
Hitler
        ordered on November 30th 1941 that there was to be "no
        liquidation" of the Jews (without much difficulty I",
that
        is Mr Irving "found in Himmler's private files his own

.          P-91



        handwriting note on this)".
                  Thus the reader was led to believe, first,
that
        as early as 30th November 1941 Hitler had issued an
order,
        faithfully passed on by Himmler to the relevant
        authorities, that there was to be no liquidation of
any
        Jews, and that all Jews were to stay wherever they
happen
        to be; and second that there was incontrovertible
evidence
        of this in handwritten notes by Himmler which Mr
Irving
        had found in Himmler's private files.  Mr Irving had
        evidently read Himmler's notes, and Mr Irving's German
was
        then, as it is now, very good.  So what did the notes
        actually say?
                  The relevant part of the note for 30th
November
        1941 reads as follows:
                  "Judentranport aus Berlin. Keine
Liquidierung".
        That is the German entry by Himmler.  The unambiguous
        meaning of those words in English is:  "Jew transport"
the
        word is singular, "Jew transport from Berlin no
        liquidation".
                  Thus so far from being a general prohibition
        against the liquidation of the Jews, it was merely an
        order from Himmler to Heydrich that the particular
train
        load of Berlin Jews in question was not to be killed
on
        arrival in Riga.
                  The matter gets worse.  What was the
evidence
        that Himmler's order to Heydrich was derived from

.          P-92



        instructions given to him by Hitler at a secret
conference
        at which the fait of Berlin's Jews was clearly raised?
        The answer is none.  This was pure invention by
        Mr Irving.  Indeed, the fact is, as Mr Irving later
        discovered, that Himmler did not meet Hitler until an
hour
        after he telephoned this order to Heydrich.
                  Thus the matter gets worse still.  I repeat
        Mr Irving's words:
                  "And the next day Himmler telephoned SS
General
        Oswald Pohl, overall chief of the concentration camp
        system, with the order 'Jews are to stay where they
are'."
                  What does Himmler's note of his telephone
call
        to General Pohl on 1st November 1941 actually say?  It
        says this:
                  "Verwaltungsfuhrer des SS haben zu bleiben".
                  Does this mean, as Mr Irving told his
English
        readers, Jews are to stay where they are?  No, it does
        not.  It means administratively leaders of the SS are
to
        stay where they are.  Nor is there in this day's entry
in
        the Himmler log any reference to the Jews whatsoever.
        I repeat, Mr Irving had, as he proudly announced, read
the
        Himmler log and he has very good German.
                  One asks the question: Does not this single
        example condemn Mr Irving as a liar, whose utterances
        about this awful episode in European history can never
be
        taken seriously?  In fairness it should be pointed out

.          P-93



        that in the 1991 edition of Hitler's War Mr Irving
        corrected, though by implication only, the assertion
that
        Himmler's order to Heydrich of 30th November 1941 "no
        liquidation" applied to Jews generally, and accepted
that
        it applied only to a single trailer of Jews from
Berlin.
        But did he withdraw his imaginative assertion that
        Himmler's instruction to Heydrich was derived from an
        order given to him by Hitler, or that Himmler's log
for
        1st December 1941 read, "Jews are to stay where they
        are"?  No he did not.  He wrote on page 427:
                  "On November 30th 1941 Himmler was summoned
to
        the Wolf's lair for a secret conference with Hitler at
        which the fate of a train load of Berlin Jews was
clearly
        raised.  At 1.30 p.m. Himmler was obliged to telephone
        from Hitler's bunker to Heydrich the explicit order
that
        these Jews were not to be liquidated, and the next day
        Himmler telephoned SS General Oswald Pohl, overall
chief
        of the concentration camp system, with the order,
'Jews
        are to stay where they are'."
                  Thus was repeated and preserved a monstrous
        distortion of the evidence in Mr Irving's own hands.
It
        is true that he printed a facsimile of Himmler's log
for
        30th November 1941 in both editions of the book, but
he
        never printed the entry for 1st December 1941,
        "administrative leaders of the SS are to stay where
they
        are."  One wonders rhetorically why not?

.          P-94



                  So, my Lord, I pass on to Mr Irving and
        Holocaust denial.  Between the publication of the
first
        edition of Hitler's War in 1977 and its second edition
in
        1991, Mr Irving's views about the Holocaust underwent
a
        sea change.  In the 1977 edition he accepted it as an
        historical truth in all its essentials, systematic
mass
        murder of Jews in purpose built extermination
factories,
        but in the 1991 edition all trace of the Holocaust in
this
        sense has disappeared.  Auschwitz, for example, has
been
        transformed from a monstrous killing machine into a
mere
        slave labour camp.

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