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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit//transcripts//day017.12


Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day017.12
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   Q.   You finish that paragraph by saying:  "What follows is my
        interpretation concerning the emergence" of what you call
         "the Final Solution" by which you are referring to the

.          P-103



        murder of the Jews, are you not?
   A.   Correct.
   Q.   "It is not shared in every aspect by other able and
        learned historians of the Holocaust".
   A.   Correct.
   Q.   But it would be wrong to call them Holocaust deniers,
        would it not, just because they disagree with the
        established view?
   A.   As I have said, there is a large body of
interpretation on
        a number of issues, including the issue of whether
Hitler
        gave an order or not, that is within the historical
        debate.
   Q.   What is permissible, in your view, and his Lordship
may
        interrupt this discussion, to debate and what is
        impermissible to debate?  Where is the line drawn?
   A.   Where we draw the line?  I would say ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  In relation to these death camps, do you
        mean, or more generally?
   MR IRVING:  The Final Solution -- the mass murder of the
Jews.
   A.   I would say if interpretations are based upon evidence
        such as you invented yesterday when you added the
lines to
        the Himmler notation, and that becomes the basis of an
        interpretation, that would be one that we could say,
"This
        is flawed".
   Q.   Over the line?
   A.   "This is over the line".

.          P-104



   Q.   Yes, we are talking about December 18th 1941 note?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   We put things in square brackets saying, if you
remember,
        Jewish problem to be treated as partisans or to be
wiped
        out as partisans ----
   A.   And when you added "that they were" ----
   Q.   Yes, in square brackets?
   A.   --- I said that was invention, and if one is using
        invented evidence, this would be one example of where
we
        would say, "This person is no longer taking part in
the
        debate.  He is fantasizing evidence".
   Q.   That is a very good example.  Suppose the person who
did
        the inventing put the invented words in square
brackets,
        which is the accepted connotation for his assistance
to
        the reader, and if he also then gave the German
original,
        if there was any doubt, would that be over the line or
        within the line?
   A.   I would have to see the particular case to get a sense
of
        whether it was clearly intending to help the reader or
to
        mislead the reader.  I mean, this would be a border
line
        case and one would have to look at the individual
        circumstances.
   Q.   So the criterion then is if something has been changed
or
        included with the intention of misleading, then that
would
        be over the line?
   A.   Certainly when the intention is clear, then we are --
it

.          P-105



        is easier to decide.  I, myself, would feel that if
one
        has a pattern of distortion, even if it is not
intended,
        but is so much of the personality of the person that
they
        are so identified with this that they no longer in a
sense
        can see the evidence except by kind of default
position,
        one gets a consistent pattern of distortion even if it
is
        not a calculated and wilful distortion.
   Q.   This is a very useful concept.  In other words, if an
        historian is so imbued with the notion that, "Surely,
        Adolf Hitler gave the order and, even we cannot find
it,
        it must be there somewhere and I am going to disregard
any
        evidence to the contrary", that would fit within that
        concept, would it, or are you only looking at the
people
        on the other side of the mirror when you say that?
   A.   I think it is a general rule and the is, as you have
        brought it up, obviously, one can reverse these
things,
        and if every piece of evidence one gets, the first
thing
        is, "Does this implicate Hitler?  Is there Hitler in
it?
        Well, it does not implicate Hitler, we can deal were
this
        document; but if Hitler is in there, then we have to
do
        something with it".
   Q.   Suppose there was a document which suggested that
Hitler
        had repeated the order that he wanted the Final
Solution
        postponed until the war was over and all the
historians
        ignored that, would they be being perverse or would
they
        be entitled to act like that?

.          P-106



   A.   In the circumstances, which I am sure we will discuss
in
        detail, I will explain why, I do not think it would be
        perverse not to discuss that document.
   Q.   We do not discuss the document today.  I just wanted
to
        know would it be right to ignore it and pretend it did
not
        exist or would that be perverse?
   A.   I do not think one is obligated to footnote all the
        documents they do not use.
   Q.   Yes.  In other words ----
   A.   And that they have made a judgment they do not find
        helpful.
   Q.   You put it under the carpet and you do not even put a
        footnote about it, and that is OK, is it?  That is
what
        you are saying?
   A.   Again, it would depend very much on the circumstances.
   Q.   So I am trying to help you here because the picture
you
        are giving is that a person is considered to be a
        respectable historian provided he has views that are
        respectable, if I can put it like that, but as soon as
he
        starts having disrespectable views, then -- if he has
        politically incorrect views, then this makes him
        disreputable and beyond the pail?
   A.   It not said that at all.
   Q.   But there are certain views which one has no problem
with
        at all?
   A.   There is a range of views which involve a looking at
the

.          P-107



        evidence that historians seeing that evidence would
say,
         "This is within a range of interpretation".  The
example
        I then gave was that if one invents further evidence,
this
        is not within the realm of acceptance as one example
of
        where I would say we could say one has gone over the
line.
   Q.   Yes, but putting something in square brackets to
assist
        the reader is not inventing evidence, is it?  If you
are
        adding an interpretation for the reader and helping
the
        reader to see that -- would that be ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Mr Irving ----
   A.   I think that could be called misleading.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  --- I think that for two reasons we have
had
        enough of this.  (A) it is my province, and (B) I
think
        the questions are too broad.  I think it all depends.
   MR IRVING:  It is, my Lord, and I am going to ask the
witness
        now to turn to 5.1.6 which is on pages 27 to 8.  We
have
        had this before already in another context, my Lord.
In
        fact, it is not irrelevant to the previous matter.
(To
        the witness):  If one has a certain mind set,
Professor,
        is it correct that one might read a document the wrong
        way?
   A.   That is possible.
   Q.   I think we are going to come to one example of this
        straightaway.  You say at the foot of page 27:
         "Rademacher reported:  'Then as soon as the technical
        possibility exists within the framework of the total

.          P-108



        solution to the Jewish question, the Jews will be
deported
        by waterway to the reception camp in the east."
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Now, the fact that they were going to go to a
reception
        camp implies to your mind that they were going to go
to a
        sticky end, to some kind of sinister place where nasty
        things were going to be done to them?
   A.   What I used this for was to show that a reception
camp,
        and we will come to my mistake in terms of the plural
and
        the singular, I am sure, immediately.  As I said
        yesterday, yes, I did make mistakes.
   Q.   Is that an example of the kind of mistake one might
make
        if one had a mind set where you were expecting that we
are
        talking about one of the Operation Reinhardt camps,
one of
        the camps, that they are going to be sent there and
they
        are going to be bumped off; but when we read that the
        actual document says they are going to be sent to
        reception camps, all the sinisterness goes out of this
        particular document?
   A.   On the contrary, I think my interpretation was against
        interest, that I have looked and what, as an
historian,
        I have been concerned with is evidence in the fall of
1941
        of this, as say, a vision between Himmler, Hitler,
        Heydrich and others, that they have now decided on the
        murder of Jews.  For my purposes, in terms of what I
would
        have been predisposed to find, would indeed to have
found

.          P-109



        evidence of a much broader thing and to have
interpreted
        it correctly.  To have it in the singular was against
        interest; an error on my part, but certainly not one
that
        would be one that I would have made willingly or would
        have been disposed to make because of opinions I held
that
        this is a case, in fact, where I made an error that
        limited the importance of the document I had, and the
        correct translation, I think, is very useful to me
because
        it goes towards something that I have been working to
        collect evidence on, hoping to bolster an argument.
So in
        that case, I would say this is not a reflection of a
        predisposed mine set to read the document wrongly.  I
read
        it wrongly despite a prior interpretation that I had
        published.
   Q.   So you do not think that this very minor translation
error
        has in any way damaged the burden of the argument you
are
        making?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I cannot see that it makes a blind bit of
        difference myself.
   A.   I think it limits it.  If my argument has been that
after,
        that the second Hitler decision came in early October
and
        that after that there is an awareness among the
Germans
        they are going to build a series of camps, to put this
in
        the singular instead of the plural, that Eichmann's
        assistant saw travelling with Rademacher is speaking
about
        the creation of, I put it there, within "the technical

.          P-110



        possibility of a framework for a total solution" is
        talking about a series of camps, this is a much
stronger
        document than the way I have interpreted it.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Well, it depends if it is one big camp or
a
        lot of little camps.
   MR IRVING:  Except that one big camp might have been Belzec
or
        Sobibor or Treblinka, whereas a lot of little camps
could
        not have been, my Lord.  It would have been the "new
        life", if I can put it like that?  It would be the
        gettoes, the alternative solution that was being
        propagated.  I fully accept that it was an accidental
        mistranslation on the witness's part.  But the other
point
        I was going to make is do such accidents happen and
are
        they necessarily perverse in translation?
   A.   If they happen, they should at least sort of be 50 per
        cent one way and 50 per cent another, and here the
case we
        have found is one, as I say, against interest.  If
there
        was a consistent pattern where all mistakes tended to
        support the position of the man making the mistakes,
one
        could make a case that (indeed, what we have talked
about)
        a predisposed mind set was contributing.
   Q.   You mean it is like a waiter who always gives the
wrong
        change in his own favour?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   5.1.8, please, which is on page 28 -- I am just going
to
        refer very briefly to Aberhard Wetzel.  We have looked
at

.          P-111



        this document many times.  I am not going to look at
it
        again.  What happened to Aberhard Wetzel, do you know?
        Was he prosecuted or punished in any way?
   A.   I do not know of a Wetzel trial, so I assume he was
not,
        but I do not know that.
   Q.   So this is yet another case of a man who, prima facie,
on
        the basis of the documents on which you rely was
        committing crimes of great enormity or encouraging
them or
        inspiring them, and yet nothing happened to him.
   A.   Well, the problem is, of course, that it is a letter
in
        which they propose something.  It was never done.
        Therefore, the document does not -- the only
documentary
        evidence was to a crime that was not committed
because, in
        fact, this plan was not carried out and, therefore,
they
        had no crime with which to charge Mr Wetzel.
Knowledge of
        the killing does not constitute in German law a
felony.
        It is contributing to the killing and in this case
there
        was no gas van killing in Riga resulting from this
action
        by Wetzel, so there was no crime to charge him with.

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