The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day016.06

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day016.06
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   Q.   Professor Browning, just one more question on this
        particular avenue:  if you were to apply for a position of
        Director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, do you think
        you would be in the running there or would there be an
        obstacle there too?
   A.   My guess is in this generation it would be considered not
        likely to happen, but that within another generation this
        would be very different.
   Q.   Changing the theme somewhat now, how long has there been
        talk of Holocaust, not necessarily that word, but just of
        this particular -- it appears to come to the fore again in
        the 1970s, the campaign, would you agree?
   A.   When I started work in the early '70s, very, very few
        people were working on it.  By the end of the '70s there
        were academic conferences on it.  So that was the decade
        in which I think there was a shift to a greater
        consciousness of the Holocaust as an important historical topic.
   Q.   Were you here in the courtroom earlier when we examined a
        book published by the Memorial Museum, a passage written
        by Aberhard Jackel?
   A.   I was here, and yes.
   Q.   Aberhard Jackel, would you agree in that passage, or as it
        was rendered here in the court, suggested that until my
        book 'Hitler's War' was published, there had been no real

.          P-39

        investigation of the Holocaust apart from the Reitlinger
        and the Hilberg books?
   A.   Yes, I think I would not agree with that statement.
        I would say that there had been substantial study of the
        Holocaust; the Trunk book, in terms of the Jewish
        Council's, Hilberg in terms of the apparatus, Schloenus in
        terms of the preHolocaust bureaucratic process.  What had
        not been studied before you published was a particular
        focus on decision-making process and Hitler's role.  That
        is one part and, in so far as we can confine ourselves to
        that, indeed, your publication of 'Hitler's War' was the
        impetus for the research in that area.
   Q.   What was the reason for this 20 year, 22 year, lack of
        interest in examining whether the decision had been given
        or how the decision had been given for the Holocaust?
   A.   I think probably several things.  One, the person who had
        focused mainly in the German documents, Raul Hilberg, was
        very interested in the bureaucratic structure, but not
        terribly interested in dating decisions.  This happened to
        be his focus.
   Q.   Have you discussed this matter personally with Raul
   A.   Yes and he is more interested in bureaucratic structure
        than he is in linear or chronological decision-making
        process.  I am more interested in chronological process
        than bureaucratic structure.

.          P-40

   Q.   Do you know what his opinion is on whether Adolf Hitler
        actually issued an order or not?
   A.   I think his feeling is if you are looking for an order in
        a formal sense, that such a thing probably was not given.
        If you are looking at it in the way that you described
        earlier, calling it the Richard Nixon complex, that Hitler
        made very clear to Himmler and Heydrich what he expected
        and they understood what was expected of them, that he --
        I cannot speak for him, but I believe he would not have
        been uncomfortable with that formulation.
   Q.   The kind of "don't let me find out what you are up to"?
   A.   Well, but also, "this is what I want but don't let me find
         -- don't bother me the with details".  He often said to
        several people on record, "Take care of this.  In 10 years
        report back that it was done and I will not ask you how it
        was accomplished".
   Q.   In connection with what topics would that kind of decision
        have been made, not in connection with the Holocaust?
   A.   I think in terms of the ethnic cleansing from the annexed
        territories from Poland, he used that expression, to the
        Gauleiter along with Warthegau and Schlesier and whatever  ----
   Q.   Gauleiter Dreiser or someone like that?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   He say he did not want to have interim reports, "Just tell
        me when it has been done"?

.          P-41

   A.   That he indicated he did not want to be bothered with the
        details.  He wanted it accomplished ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Are we still -- I am so sorry -- talking
        about Raul Hilberg's view or are we sliding into your own view?
   MR IRVING:  No.  We are now talking about his own expertise.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  It is quite important to know whose opinions
        I am hearing.
   MR IRVING:  I believe this is Professor Browning's opinion. (To
        the witness):  Am I right?
   A.   Well, we started talking about what Hilberg and
        I explained what I thought he would be comfortable with,
        and then I believe we kind of shifted into how we would
        understand this kind of decision making process would be
        done that was not attributed to Raul Hilberg specifically
        but a general discussion.
   Q.   My Lord, it may be helpful ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  What I want to have clear is what you have
        just said, which was very clear, if I may say so.  Was
        that your view, namely, he effectively made clear what he
        wanted done and then said, "You get on with it and I do
        not want to know the details"?  Is that your view?
   A.   Yes.  We have documented cases where, in terms of ethnic
        cleansing, he made that statement, and so I would say this
        is a way in which Hitler conveys or makes decisions or
        gives orders that we would not consider a formal order in

.          P-42

        the sense of a signed document, and I would say that is my
        opinion, not attributed to Raul Hilberg.
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, I should also have given you a kind of
        topic paragraph of what I intend doing today.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I have made that clear before; it does help me.
   MR IRVING:  Yes.  I intend having this general discussion to
        start with and then we will revert to his report, and I
        hope that we will cover the first 25 pages of the report
        during the day which is covering very much ground level
        operations of the Einsatzgruppen on the Eastern Front.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes.  At the moment it is a sort of bird's
        eye view which is very helpful to start off with.
   MR IRVING:  Indeed, my Lord.  This kind of discussion is
        helpful because I do not know Professor Browning, we have
        never met, and we have never had the pleasure and I am,
        frankly, interested in finding out what he knows.
   MR RAMPTON:  I have something to say, if I may since, we have
        now been told what the plan is.  (A) I am not interested,
        I mean as an advocate appearing for clients, in having
        this court used as what one might call an historical forum
        an I dare say your Lordship is not either unless it goes
        to an issue in the action.
                  I heard with some alarm Mr Irving threatening to
        spend the rest of the day cross-examining about the
        Einsatzgruppen shootings in the East.  Your Lordship may

.          P-43

        recall that Mr Irving has made a very clear concession
        that those shootings happened on a massive scale, that
        they were systematic and that Hitler authorized them.  So
        where ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, but, well, I do not know what the
        questions are going to be yet, but this is your -- I am
        just going to say something to Mr Rampton -- expert.  He
        is saying what he says.  He is making various historical
        assertions.  Obviously, Mr Irving cannot resile from what
        he has already conceded, but he is entitled to go through
        it.  I do not know exactly what he is going to ask.
   MR RAMPTON:  I do not know either.  If there is some area of
        Professor Browning's report which Mr Irving disputes which
        is still relevant to the case, then, of course, and it may
        be that there are other areas of the report which he can,
        as it were, try to use to undermine Professor Browning's
        credibility.  That I cannot object to either.  What he
        cannot do in cross-examination -- I am only putting down a
        marker -- now is to try, as it were, to go back behind the
        concession that he has made.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think it is helpful to be reminded of the
        concession.  I do not suppose Mr Irving will
        but I certainly do not see any reason why he should not
        follow the path.
   MR IRVING:  I do not think that was a helpful interruption at
        all from Mr Rampton.  Normally Mr Rampton's interruptions

.          P-44

        are welcome and very helpful but, if he had only
waited, I
        have written in large letters here on my notes,
"We do not
        contest the shootings".
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think so far, if I may say
so, you have
        been perfectly consistent in the way you have put
        case, but Mr Rampton was putting down what may
turn out to
        be an unnecessary marker.
   MR RAMPTON:  It may well do.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Let us press on.
   MR IRVING:  You were talking about the ethnic cleansing of
        these Polish regions.  What would have been meant by that?
        If Hitler had said, carry out the ethnic cleansing but do
        not tell me for the next ten years, just come back in ten
        years to tell me it has been done, would the ethnic
        cleansing have actually involved the mass extermination of
        any category of people?
   A.   That involved the mass expulsion of Jews, gypsies and what
        they said was other undesirable people, in these areas to
        be repopulated with ethnic Germans brought back from the
        regions of Eastern European conceded to Stalin in the non
        aggression pact.
   Q.   We have a bit of a problem, do we not, with the fact that
        parts of Eastern Europe had been conceded to Stalin?  Do
        we have any clear figures as to how many thousands or
        hundreds of thousands of Jews had been dumped across the
        demarcation line by the Nazis into the Soviet controlled

.          P-45

   A.   We do not have exact figures on either those that were
        dumped or those that fled, but the estimate that I have
        seen ranged between 200 and 300 thousand that escaped from
        the German occupied side of Poland to the Soviet occupied
        side.  But those are estimates because obviously no one is
        keeping track in any systematic way.

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