The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day024.08

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day024.08
Last-Modified: 2000/07/24

   Q.   We will come to them.
   A.   So we have documents from 42, where Himmler said, "the

.          P-65

        occupied Eastern territories have to be made free of Jews,
        this is a burden on my shoulders, it was laid as a burden
        on my shoulders".  We have more documents like this, which
        gave us a kind of insight into the relationship.  They
        actually were discussing the issue of the Holocaust among them.
   MR IRVING:  Is it not a danger you refer to the December 18th
        1941 document.  That of course only turned up two years
        ago.  Does that mean to say that for 53 years people were
        really reaching these conclusion without such a document,
        finally like a drowning man they found a straw?
   A.   No.  The other documents are not known, and it added to
        our picture.  As you suggested yourself, it is luck that
        we actually opened, that we have access now to Eastern
        European archives, but they were not in the dark before
        that.  It adds to our knowledge.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Just so I am clear, you say that the informed
        speculator would draw the conclusion that Hitler and
        Himmler were discussing the Holocaust.  By the Holocaust
        in that connection you do not just mean the shootings by
        the Einsatzgruppen?
   A.   No, I mean the systematic killing of European Jews.
   Q.   By whatever means?
   A.   By whatever means, yes.
   MR IRVING:  What would you say to the historian who says that
        such speculation is without foundation if one looks at it

.          P-66

   A.   I would reject this view.
   Q.   Yes.  Would you say that one's personal political
        viewpoint come into it, that the extreme right-winger
        would adopt one view and the cautious German historian,
        aware of the laws in Germany, would adopt a different
   A.   I do not know to which laws are you referring.  I publish
        all my books in Germany.  I never felt any restrictions on
        publishing books.
   Q.   I am sure.
   A.   As far as the own political viewpoint is concerned, the
        ideology, I think we have to rely on our professional
        work.  So we have to just try to exclude this fact as far
        as it is possible.  We have some rules how to interpret
        sources, how to deal with material, and I think what we do
        is, generally speaking, reliable.  You can rely on that.
   Q.   Would you classify the great body of German historians as
        being diligent and applying themselves to the task?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Why did they wait for 25 years before looking at Heinrich
        Himmler's handwritten notes of his telephone conversations
        with Hitler?
   A.   Which ones are you referring to?
   Q.   The notes in Himmler's handwriting which were in the
        National Archives in America and available on microfilm

.          P-67

        since the 1950s and I was first person to use?
   A.   If you give me a specific reference to one quote, and you
        can go through the works of my colleagues and find out
        whether they left something out, I think that -- well,
        stop here.
   Q.   Yes.  Let me put the question this way round.  I do not
        want to go too far down this avenue, but are you aware of
        any other German historian who, before 1975, made any use
        of Heinrich Himmler's handwritten notes on his telephone
        conversations or meetings with Hitler?
   A.   Before 1975?
   Q.   Approximately, when my book Hitler's War was published.
   A.   Actually, I cannot recall that.
   Q.   Yes.
   A.   I cannot actually answer this question because I cannot
        recall every word which was published before 1975.  But,
        if you are making the point that you were one of the
        first, or probably the first, who was using the documents, I agree.
   Q.   That is not the point I am trying to make.  I am
        suggesting that, if an historian has not shown proper
        diligence in turning up and using the sources, then how he
        cares to speculate is not worth the paper he writes his
        speculations on.
   A.   I am reluctant to make a general statement about the
        historians.  If you talk about a certain person, a certain

.          P-68

        author, you can discuss his books, whether the sources are
        available or not, but I am really hesitant to make a
        general sweeping statement about all my colleagues in Germany.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  The answer you gave me just now about what
        the informed speculator would infer was based on all the
        now available evidence including the Himmler diaries?
   A.   One would try to include these documents into one's own
        interpretation, yes.
   MR IRVING:  It is right that we are learning the whole time,
        are we not, that more and more documents become available,
        particularly from the Moscow archives and from your own
        work, for example, on the Martin Bormann papers?  We are
        constantly adding to our information, so we are correcting
        misinterpretations, we are correcting even mistranslations
        sometimes, or misreadings?
   A.   Yes.  It is a research process, that is true.
   Q.   You rightly point out the fact that Muller in January 1942
        said the word liquidierung was not to be used?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Which is understandable.  If you are familiar with my
        Goebbels biography, do you know that it was Dr Goebbels
        who first issued that order?
   A.   No.
   Q.   Sometime in November or December 1941, Goebbels issued a
        propaganda directive that the word liquidate is only going

.          P-69

        to be used in connection with the Soviet killings?
   A.   Interesting.  I am not aware of that, no.
   Q.   But liquidierung is quite plain.  We do not have to argue
        about the meaning of that word of course.
   A.   No, definitely not.
   Q.   But on paragraph 2 we now come to Umsiedlung and the
        various other words with this settlement route.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   It is correct to say that these words are used in both
        homicidal and non-homicidal senses throughout the
        documentation.  Sometimes Umgesiedlung means they are
        going to be literally, as we saw in one document, in the
        same paragraph concerning Brestitovsk Jews in October
        1942, we saw one document where at the beginning of the
        paragraph it referred to, I think, 15,000 Brestitovsk Jews
        had been Umgesiedelt, which is shot, and then at the end
        of the same paragraph it said, "The village of A, half the
        Jews had been shot and the rest had been Umgesiedelt to a
        neighbouring village", and that is a typical case of the
        problem facing us, is it not, with this particular word?
   A.   I do not have this document in front of me but in general
        I could agree.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Assume it is true because we have been
        through it more than once.
   A.   That makes it so important to look at the context.
   MR IRVING:  Sometimes we just do not have the context to judge,

.          P-70

        is that right?
   A.   We try our best to establish the context.
   Q.   Sometimes when the Jews were sent just to ghettoes, that
        is where the word "umgesiedelt" is used, is it not?
   A.   Give me please some kind of reference and I will comment
        on it, because it is a very difficult subject because the
        meaning, as you rightly said, changes and can change in
        the same document.  So I should refer, I should in my
        answer refer to single documents.
   Q.   Yes, in paragraph 2.2, you refer to a Wehrmacht report.
        It is not even an SS report, is it?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   So the German Army was also involved in the camouflage.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   They replaced the word "shooting" with the handwritten
        word "resettlement"?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Which is a rather pointless kind of change if it is
        possible for us years later to see both words written
   A.   Yes. Obviously, this man was not very intelligent who did this.
   Q.   In paragraph 2.4 you quite clearly give an example here
        where "Umsiedlung" is unambiguously used in its homicidal
        sense:  "There are two pits there and groups of 10 leaders
        and men working at each pit relieving each other every two

.          P-71

   A.   Yes, and ----
   Q.   So that is what you are talking about when you are talking
        about the context, in context like that there is
        undoubtedly no question?
   A.   Yes, exactly.
   Q.   The clarity is beyond dispute, and it would take a lunatic
        to say or to continue to argue that the word "Umsiedlung"
        there does not mean that, it does not mean killing?
   A.   I agree.
   Q.   But in the case of the key documents that we are looking
        at with Adolf Hitler, which is all that interests me
        really, we do not have that degree of clarity, do we?
   A.   I think I would like to suggest we should look at the
        documents and then we could ---- I think I should not make
        these general statements, I think I should always refer to ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think particularly in the light of that
        question, if there is a document, and I do not have one in
        mind, where Hitler uses the word "umsiedeln" ----
   MR IRVING:  With that degree of clarity.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  --- Then it would be helpful to put it to the
        witness.  I do not recollect if there is one or there is not.
   MR IRVING:  What I am suggesting is that there is no such
        document with that degree of clarity.

.          P-72

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Is there a Hitler document using the word "umsiedeln"?
   MR IRVING:  I do not believe there is, my Lord, in which case ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Then the point is academic.
   MR IRVING:  Your Lordship will know that I do not attach much
        important for my purposes.  I attach more importance to
        the words "Vernichtung" and "Ausrottung".
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Let us move on to Vernichtung; we have done
   A.   My list is not complete; it is just what I found.
   MR IRVING:  In paragraph 3, page 3, we are dealing with section
        3 now, Evakuieren.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   You do incidentally accept that the word "Umsiedlung"
        referred equally sometimes to the westward movement of
        ethnic Germans?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   And similarly "Besiedlung" can be the resettlement, for
        example, we have a September 1942 document where Lublin is
        being besiedelt with Volksdeutschen?
   A.   I will always say that I would like to prefer to see the
        document and not to speculate about this, but you may be right.
   Q.   "Evakuierung" does not always mean the killing, does it?
        It does not always have homicidal context either, does it?

.          P-73

   A.   It always depends on the context.
   Q.   Yes.  It usually means deportation under rough conditions
        or sometimes?
   A.   Sometimes, yes, it also, you know, there was a scheme for,
        what is the expression, Luftkriegsevakuierung ----
   THE INTERPRETER:    The evacuation from air raids.
   A.   In the context of air war, this was also the official
        term.  So it could be used in a different context.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think you are really agreed about
        Evakuierung, that ----
   MR IRVING:  On paragraph 3.2, we come to the 6th March 1942
        meeting where Eichmann is talking about the evacuation of
        the Jews to the East.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   The second and third line it says:  "Further evacuation of
        55,000 Jews", and you conclude that they are being sent to
        Auschwitz, and they should, you quote a document there,
        the Reich's security.
   A.   No, I do not conclude that these Jews on 26th were sent to
        Auschwitz.  One should, to make it clear, it would have
        been better to start on 20th with a new paragraph.  This
        is a completely different issue.
   Q.   On 20th February, the Reich's Security Head Office issued
        guidelines on implementation of the evacuation of Jews to
        the East, Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
   A.   Yes.

.          P-74

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.