The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit//transcripts//day032.08

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day032.08
Last-Modified: 2000/07/25

                  An example of this test is the wrong weight
        which I gave to the contents of the 1.20 am telegram
        issued by SS-Gruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich on
        Kristallnacht. I think Mr Rampton referred to that this
        morning. It is a famous telegram, printed in the Nuremberg
        volumes, five pages long or so. Would such an error have
        been committed wilfully by me, given the risk that it
        would inevitably be exposed? Is it not far more likely on
        the balance of probabilities that in the process of

.          P-82

        writing and rewriting, and of cutting and of cutting and
        condensing, the Goebbels manuscript, the author, that is
        me, gradually over the eight years lost sight of the full
        content and the thrust of the original document?  Your
        Lordship should know, if not then I say so now, that that
        book witness through five successive drafts and retypes
        over eight years, filling eventually four archives boxes,
        a total of eight cubic feet of manuscript, all of which I
        disclosed to the Defendants by way of discovery.  St
        Martin's Press, my American publishers, particularly asked
        that these early chapters of the book should be trimmed
        back in length.

                  These general considerations disposed of the
        defence arguments on the "Policeman Hoffman" evidence as
        rendered in the 1924 Hitler treason trial.  For the
        limited purposes of writing a biography of -- my Lord,
        these are points you have asked me to address specifically
        in your list of issues. I say that because those who
        listen to Mr Rampton's speech will not have heard them
        referred to and may be puzzled as to why I am addressing
        them. For the limited purposes of writing a biography of
        Hermann Goring -- not of Hitler -- I relied on the
        thousands of typescript microfilmed pages of the
        transcript of this trial.  So far as I know, nobody had
        ever used them before me at that time.  Now the handy,
        printed, bound, indexed, cross-referenced edition, which

.          P-83

        Professor Evans drew upon had not appeared at that time.
        The printed edition appeared in 1988, two years ago.
        Eleven years after my Goring biography was published.  In
        other words, even more years after I wrote it by Macmillan
        Limited. I extracted -- with difficulty -- from the
        microfilmed pages of the original transcript the material
        I needed relating to Hitler and Goring and I was not
        otherwise interested in that man Hofmann at all.  I do not
        consider the printed volume on the trial which is now
        available shows that I made meaningful errors, if so, they
        certainly were not deliberate.

                  The Kristallnacht in November 1938 is a more
        difficult episode in every way.  I do not mean in that
        sense, my Lord, that it is difficult for me personally.
        It is a difficult episode to reconstruct from the material
        available to us.  As said, I clearly made an error over
        the content (and reference number) of the 1.20 a.m.
        telegram from Heydrich.  It was an innocent error.  It was
        a glitch of the kind that occurs in the process of
        redrafting a manuscript several times over the years. The
        Court must not overlook that by the time was completed in
        1994 and 1995 and as I described in the introduction to
        that book, Goebbels, the Mastermind of the Third Reich, by
        that time I had been forcefully severed from both my own
        collection of documents in German institutions and from
        the German Federal archives in Koblenz.  On July 1st 1993,

.          P-84

        my Lord when I attended the latter archives in Koblenz
        explicitly for the purpose of tidying up loose ends on the
        Goebbels manuscript, I was formally banned from the
        building in the interests of the German people I was told,
        for ever on orders of the minister of the interior -- that
        is one of the gravest blows that has been struck at me in
        my submission by this international endeavour to which
        I shall shortly refer.

                  The allegation of the Defendants in connection
        with the Kristallnacht is that in order to "exonerate
        Hitler" I effectively concocted or invented, a false
        version of events on that night, namely that Adolf Hitler
        intervened between 1 and 2 a.m. in order to halt the
        madness.  I think that is a fair summary of the charge
        against me.  I submit that their refusal to accept this,
        my version, is ingrained in their own political
        attitudes.  There is evidence both in the archives and in
        the reliable contemporary records like Ulrich von Hassell,
        the diaries of von Hassell, Alfred Rosenberg and Hellmuth
        Groscurth, and in the independent testimonies. By which I
        mean independent from each other, testimonies of those
        participants whom I myself carefully questioned, or whose
        private papers I obtained -- I mention here Nicolaus von
        Below, Hitler's adjutant.  Another adjutant, Bruckner,
        Julius Schaub, Karl Wolff and others -- which the Court
        has seen, to justify the versions which I rendered.  It

.          P-85

        therefore was not an invented story.  It may well be that
        my critics were unfamiliar with the sources that I used
        before they made their criticisms.  The dishonesty lies
        not with me, for printing the "inside" story of Hitler's
        actions that night, as far as we can reconstruct them
        using these and other sources; but with those scholars who
        have studiously ignored them, and in particular the Rudolf
        Hess "stop arson" telegram of 2.56 am, which was
        issued "on orders from the highest level", which the
        Defendants' scholars are agreed or testified is a
        reference to Hitler.

                  Your Lordship may well have marvelled to hear
        the Defendants' witnesses dismiss this message from Rudolf
        Hess -- like the Schlegelberger Document, referred to
        later -- as being of no consequence.

                  The Kristallnacht diaries of Dr Goebbels, which
        I obtained in Moscow in 1992, some years after I first
        drafted the episode for my biography, substantially bore
        out my version of events, in my submission, namely that he
        and not Hitler was the prime instigator, and that Hitler
        was largely unaware and displeased by what came about, or
        by the scale of what came about, would be a fairer way to
        put that.  Your Lordship will recall that Professor
        Phillippe Burrin, a Swiss Holocaust historian for whom all
        the witnesses expressed respect when questioned by me,
        comes to the same conclusion independently of me.  Now he

.          P-86

        (and I have given the quotation at the foot of page).
        Now, he is manifestly not a "Holocaust denier" either.
        The Court will also recall that the witness Professor
        Evans admitted that unlike myself he had not read all
        through the available Goebbels Diaries.  It is a massive
        task.  A mammoth task.  He had not had the time, he said,
        and we must confess a certain sympathy with that
        position -- for an academic, time is certainly at a
        premium.  But reading all of the available Goebbels
        Diaries is however necessary, in order to establish and
        recognize the subterfuges which this Nazi minister used
        throughout his career as diarist, in order to conceal when
        he was creating what I call alibis for his own wayward and
        evil behaviour.

                  I drew attention to this historiographical
        conundrum several times in the book, my Goebbels
        biography, the fact that Goebbels Diaries were not
        trustworthy.  I discussed both in my scientific annotated
        German language edition of the 1938 diaries and in my full
        Goebbels biography which your Lordship has read, a
        characteristic example from this same year, 1938, although
        the one episode which most deeply harrowed and unsettled
        him that year was his affair with the Czech actress, Lida
        Baarova, an affair which drove him to the brink of
        resignation, divorce, and even suicide, neither her name
        nor any of those events figures explicitly in the diary at

.          P-87

        all, unless the pages be read particularly closely, when
        certain clues can be seen.  That is an example ...

                  The Goebbels diary is sometimes a very deceitful
        document; it must be recognized as such and treated very
        gingerly indeed.  It is the diary of a liar, a
        propagandist. The fact that it was evidently written up
        not one, but two or even three days later, after the
        Kristallnacht episode, calls for additional caution in
        relying on it for chronology and content.

                  My Lord, your Lordship will notice that I have
        not dealt specifically with the number of the issues you
        put in your list.  I hope your Lordship does not take
        umbrage with that, but I felt that I dealt with them
        adequately in my cross-examination.

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  It is entirely a matter for you.

   MR IRVING:   If this was wrong of me then all I can say is
        culpa mea (sic) but I now continue with the various
        narratives of the Nazi shooting of the Jews in the East.

                  There is little dispute between the parties on
        what actually happened in my view.  This is the shootings
        of the Jews in the East by the Nazis and their
        collaborators.  There is little dispute between the
        parties on what actually happened in my view, and your
        Lordship is aware that I have given these atrocities due
        and proper attention in the various biographies I have
        written; I however add the one caveat, that they are not

.          P-88

        intended to be reference works on the Holocaust, but just
        orthodox biographies.

                  I believe that I was the first historian
        anywhere in the world to discover and make use of the
        CSDIC reports relating further details to these killings,
        particularly the Bruns Report, and I made these reports
        available to many other historians.  I should explain to
        the people who are not familiar with them that these CSDIC
        reports are eavesdropping reports on Nazi prisoners that
        we British made using hidden microphones.  It took -- it
        takes many days to read them.  There are thousands and
        thousands of pages in these files.  Over the last twenty
        years I have read these horrifying narratives out
        repeatedly to public audiences, they describe the killings
        of the Jews in the most horrifying detail, including
        "right-wing" audiences.  This fact alone entitles me to
        express my contempt at those who would describe me as a
        "Holocaust denier".

                  We have seen the Defendants scrabbling around at
        the end of the Bruns Report for its seizing on its
        third-hand reference by this SS murderer and braggart in
        Riga, Altemeyer, to an "order" that he claimed to have
        received to carry out such mass shootings more
        circumspectly in future.  But we know from the late 1941
        police decodes -- we British were reading the SS and
        police messages passing between Berlin and the front.  We

.          P-89

        know from the late 1941 police decodes, which is a much
        firmer source-document in my view than a snatch of
        conversation remembered years later, in April 1945, we
        know precisely what orders had gone from Hitler's
        headquarters, radioed by Himmler himself to the SS mass
        murderer, SS Obergruppenfuhrer Friedrich Jeckeln, stating
        explicitly that these killings exceeded the authority that
        had been given by himself, Himmler, and by the
        Reichsssicherheitshauptamp (the RSHA).  We know that the
        killing of all German Jews stopped at once, for many
        months upon the receipt of that message.  When I first
        translated the word "Judentransport" a word which I
        emphasise again can mean "transportation of the Jews", as
        "transports of Jews", in the plural, in the 1970s, being
        unaware of the surrounding context of data which helps now
        to narrow down the purport to the one Riga-bound trainload
        from Berlin.  I was thus inadvertently coming closer to
        the truth, not further from it; because the liquidation of
        all the trainloads from Germany was halted next day,
        December 1st 1941, by the order radioed from Hitler's
        headquarters (whether initiated by Himmler or Hitler seems
        hair-splitting in this context).

                  As I stated under cross-examination, I did not
        see the Schulz-Dubois document when I wrote my books and
        I have not seen it since; having now read Professor Gerald
        Fleming tells us about it, I confess that I would be

.          P-90

        unlikely to attach the same importance as does learned
        counsel for the Defendants, to what the famously anti-Nazi
        Abwehr Chief Wilhelm Canaris allegedly told Lieutenant
        Schulz-Dubois of Hitler's reaction. The British decodes of
        the SS signals, to which I introduced the Court, and the
        subsequent events (the actual cessation for many months of
        the liquidation of German Jews) in my submission speak louder.

                  Your Lordship asked in your list of questions
        for my comments on the reference in Hitler's table talk of
        October 25th 1941.  Well, your Lordship is familiar with
        the Defendants' argument and with mine.  My extract from
        this document which I used was based originally on the
        original Weidenfeld translation, in fact, I used the
        original Weidenfeld translation into English, as is well
        known, in disagreement with the Defendants' experts I
        still maintain and others have followed me in this
        (notably Professor Phillippe Burrin, who translates
        Schrecken as "the ominous reputation") in that context,
        that the appropriate translation here for the word
        "schrecken" is indeed "rumour" and not "terror", a word
        which makes for a wooden and uncouth translation anyway.

                  Ladies and gentlemen, it will make no sense,
        unfortunately, this passage, unless you see the document.
        A relevant passage from the SS Event Report from
        activities in the rear of the eastern front, dated

.          P-91

        September 11, 1941 front (provided by the Defendants),
        shows that this is precisely what was meant: "The rumour
        that all Jews are being shot by the Germans had a salutary
        effect".  The Jews were now fleeing before the Germans
        arrived.  The rumour!  To accuse me of wilful
        mistranslation and even worse distortion when (a) I used
        the original (sic) Weidenfeld translation, not at that
        time having received the original German from Switzerland,
        and (b) the word "rumour" gives precisely the nuance, the
        correct nuance that the surrounding history shows the word
        was meant to have, this accusation seems to me an
        excessively harsh judgment on my expertise.

                  The next in line is the Goebbels diary entry for
        November 22nd, 194:  Again, I just pick out what seems to
        matter to me in that particular entry here, for the
        purposes of today's submissions.

                  This diary entry, my Lord, includes a fair
        example of how dishonest the reporting by Goebbels was
        when it comes to his meetings with Hitler.  He records
        "the exceptional praise" of Hitler for the weekly
        newsreel produced by his ministry, the propaganda
        ministry; in fact Hitler was forever criticising this very
        product of the Goebbels ministry, as the diary of
        Rosenberg shows. Goebbels then continues, here is the
        quote: "With regard to the Jewish problem too the Fuhrer
        completely agrees with my views. He wants an energetic

.          P-92

        policy against the Jews, but one however that does not
        cause us needless difficulties."  Goebbels diary entry
        continues: "The evacuation of the Jews is to be done city
        by city".  So it is still not fixed when Berlin's turn
        comes; but when it does, "the evacuation should be carried
        out as fast as possible".  In other words, he had not got
        his way.  He had been agitating once again that the
        evacuation should start but Hitler had not come into line.
        "Still not fixed when Berlin's time comes".  Hitler then
        expressed the need for "a somewhat reserved approach" in
        question of mixed marriages -- that is marriages between
        Jews and non-Jews. What do you do with them? Are you going
        to keep them in Germany or deport them?  Hitler's view was
        the marriages would die out anyway by and by, and they
        should not go grey worrying about it.

                  Now I have suggested that on the balance of
        probabilities Hitler was alluding to the public unrest
        when he said he wanted a policy that does not cause us
        needless difficulties. I have suggested on a balance of
        probabilities Hitler was alluding to the public unrest
        caused by the suicide a few days earlier of the popular
        actor Joachim Gottschalk and his family.  Apart from
        "needless" becoming "endless", in an irritating typo
        which hardly amounts to manipulation, in other words, in
        the original German, the original translation started off
        as "causing us needless difficulties", which is correct,

.          P-93

        and somehow it became "endless difficulties" is an
        irritating typo which hardly amounts to "manipulation".
        This passage bears out what I have always said of Hitler.
        While Goebbels was the eternal agitator, as witness his
        anti-Semitic leading article published in Das Reich only a
        few days before, November 16th 1941, Hitler was (even by
        Goebbels own account) for a reserved approach towards the
        Jewish problems; and he was doing so, even as the
        trainloads of Jews were heading eastwards from Bremen and
        Berlin, for example to the conquered Russian territories
        and the Baltic states.  Your Lordship will not need
        reminding of the curious British decodes, which revealed
        the provisioning of the deportation trains with tonnes of
        foods for the journey.  These are messages which we
        British decoded, which reveal the provisioning of the
        deportation trainloads of Jews with tonnes of food for the
        journey, stocks of many weeks food for after they arrived
        and even deportees' appliances, "Gerat", appliances.  So
        the evacuation at this time evidently meant just that to
        very many Reich officials, and no more.

                  My Lord ----

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Press on.  Let us get as far as the
        Schlegelberger document, shall we, on the next page.

   MR IRVING:  Jolly good, yes, good point.

                  Mr Rampton went to some effort and expense to
        suggest that I suppressed vital information from the newly

.          P-94

        discovered Goebbels diary, December 13th 1941.  In this
        day's entry Goebbels reported on various things and he
        reported on Hitler's rhetoric to the Gauleiters, speaking
        on December 12th 1941 in Berlin, the Nazi governors.
        Anybody who is as familiar as I am with Hitler's speeches,
        and with Goebbels' diary entries relating to be them will
        effortlessly recognize this entire passage as being usual
        the Hitler gramophone record about his famous 1939
        "prophecy".  It was part of his stock repertoire when
        speaking to the Party old guard -- they had carried him
        into power, the Party old guard had carried him into power
        and they expected to hear from him that he had not
        abandoned the hallowed Party programme.  I can understand
        the temptation for the younger generation of scholars,
        unfamiliar with Hitler's rhetoric, to fall greedily upon
        such freshly discovered morsels as though they were the
        answer to the great Holocaust mystery:  None of the
        witnesses to whom this item was put by myself, or by
        counsel for the Defendants, was able to identify any part
        of this passage which was out of the ordinary for Hitler.

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.