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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit//transcripts/day002.12


Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day002.12
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   Q.   Yes.  The last one?
   A.   "In full knowledge of the historical detail, the Plaintiff
        subjectively filtered, bent and manipulated his sources to
        his own political and ideological desire to exculpate
        Mr Hitler."  Well, that is a bit of a polemical question,
        I suppose, in which the sting is in the question
rather
        than in the answer.
   Q.   Not really.  Anyway, answer it.
   A.   Well, the answer is under oath, no.  My Lord, I have
never
        consciously done any of those things in order to
exculpate
        Hitler.  In fact, I have bent over backwards to
include
        what I knew from reliable sources which met my
criteria,
        and in the very introduction to my book "Hitler's War"
        which is included in the bundle which I provided this
        morning, my Lord, I gave a short list, a check list,
of
        the crimes he did commit:  "He issued the commisart
order
        for the liquidation of the Soviet commisarts and
signed
        it.  He issued the euthanasia order for the killing of
the

.                                      P-201



        mentally disabled and signed it, back-dated it to
        September 1st 1939.  He ordered the killing of British
        commandos who fell into German captivity.  He ordered
the
        liquidation of the male population of Stalingrad and
        Leningrad..." and so on.  There is a long list of
these
        crimes which I gave as a kind of check list form in
the
        introduction of the book specifically to avoid the
kind of
        accusation that I apprehended would one day be made.
   Q.   I suppose, to be balanced, you would accept that you
would
        not only need that short list, but also a list of what
one
        might call the opposite points where you say ----
   A.   Said nice things about him.
   Q.   --- said commendatory things about him which, I think
it
        is right to say, you do from time to time in "Hitler's
        War"?
   A.   I have obviously said commendatory things about him.
        There was a time when he was on the right course and
then
        he went off the rails.  That is roughly what I have
said.
        But, of course, he was not on the right rails in every
        respect.  You cannot praise his racial programmes.
You
        cannot praise his penal methods.  But, on the other
hand,
        he did pick his nation up from out of the mire after
World
        War II and reunify it and gave it a sense of direction
and
        a sense of pride again which, from the German point of
        view, though not from the English point of view, was
        something commendable.  I say those things which need
to

.                                      P-202



        be said and it would be wrong to suppress them.
   Q.   May I just ask you one thing that struck me when I was
        reading "Hitler's War" which is that I think you say
in
        the Forward that you are writing it, as it were, from
his
        perspective?
   A.   Well, my Lord ----
   Q.   Is that a usual way to approach an historical
biography?
   A.   No.  It is my trademark way of writing, the books
which
        I have written.  If you collect enough original
primary
        sources, first of all, you are confronted with many
        problems.  First of all, a super abundance of material
and
        you have to decide which way you slice that particular
        cake.  The easy way that I decided to slice the cake
was
        to say let us imagine we are sitting in his swivel
chair
        and that confronting us, as writer, are only the
documents
        that passed across his desk.  It is, in theory, a nice
        idea; in practice, it is more difficult to put into
        effect.  But this is the first criterion you apply,
and
        you then tell the story as seen from his viewpoint and
in
        the sequence in which it came to him.
                  I give one example:  The July 20th 1944 bomb
        blot.  Every other writer would describe the planning
of
        the bomb plot and the conspiratorial meetings and the
        arrangement and the provision of the explosives and
the
        comings together and the various failed attempts.  In
my
        book, your Lordship will have noticed the first we
know

.                                      P-203



        about the bomb plot is when the bomb goes off under
your
        table.  Then, retrospectively, you see the Gestapo
reports
        and the enquiries and the investigations, and you find
out
        this was not the first time they tried do it and so
on.
        You may say it is a literary trick as a literary
advice,
        which is why my books are probably more readable than
        their books, but I do not think it is something
        necessarily derogatory.
   Q.   Now, I think, unless you want to add anything on the
topic
        of Hitler's adjutants, the next section or the next
part
        of this section is the question of Nazi anti-Semitism.
        What is said against you is that you tried to blame
what
        was done during the Third Reich against Jews upon the
Jews
        themselves.
   A.   That is a gross oversimplification.  I do not level
that
        accusation at your Lordship, of course, but I think it
        would be a gross oversimplification to put my
conclusions
        in that way.  I have said on a number of occasions,
for
        example, most recently to Daniel Goldhagen who wrote a
        book on Hitler and his executioners.  If I was a Jew,
        I would be far more concerned, not by the question of
who
        pulled the trigger, but why; and I do not think that
has
        ever been properly investigated.  Anti-Semitism is a
        recurring malaise in society.  It recurs not just in
        Germany, not just in Europe, but it keeps on coming
back.
        If I had enough spare time, one day I would like to
sit

.                                      P-204



        down and investigate just that, the root causes of it,
but
        I do not have the qualifications and the training for
it,
        my Lord, and I suppose nobody in this room probably
does.
        One would have it have a great degree of independence,
        independence of mind and independence of means, but
there
        must be some reason why anti-Semitism keeps on
breaking
        out like some kind of epidemic.
                  That is at the root of several of the books
that
        I have recently written, probably most recently in
        Dr Goebbels' biography where we had the phenomenon of
        Dr Goebbels who, on the evidence of his own private
        letters in his earliest youth was the opposite of
        anti-Semitic.  He actually ticked off his girlfriend
for
        writing an anti-Semitic letter to him, saying that
this
        kind of sentiment is very cheap and needless, and yet
he
        later on becomes the worst and most criminal anti-
Semite
        of all times.  One can say facetiously, is it
something in
        the water?  But something must have caused him to
change.
        I do not think it is irresponsible to ask that
question,
        even if one cannot provide a full answer.
   Q.   Can I just be clear what you are meaning when you say
         "something must have caused that change" -- something
        done by the Jews themselves?
   A.   Something which I have not been able to establish and
        something which I am frightened of even investigating,
and
        I do not really have to investigate because it would
not

.                                      P-205



        come within the purview of a biographer to start
getting
        involved in sociological problems, I do not think.
   Q.   Is it not an historical problem as well?
   A.   It is an historical problem but for somebody else to
        investigate because I am in trouble as it is, my Lord,
and
        I do not think that one would earn any great kudos for
        investigating that because, frankly, I do not have the
        qualifications to investigate it.  I am not a
        sociologist.  My findings would not be heeded anyway.
So
        I would prefer to spend the time somewhere else that
was
        put to better use.  But I did what I could in the case
of
        Dr Goebbels, as you will see, trying to develop why he
        became an anti-Semite.
                  I think what is most offensive in my works
is
        the apportionment of blame between Hitler and Goebbels
        which a lot people find offensive.  They find it
        incredible, but I think that it is well-founded in my
        works.
   Q.   Yes, well, I think perhaps we can move on, if you are
        ready to, to the ----
   A.   Extremism.
   Q.   --- penultimate topic, I think, which is your alleged
        association with Neo Nazis and other right-wing
        extremists.
   A.   My Lord, I would make a general comment here, and I
think
        it was in this very building only a few weeks ago that

.                                      P-206



        Moreland J said that there is no such crime in Britain
as
        guilt by association and there never has been, and it
        would be very difficult to define and very difficult
to
        pursue in any way.
                  I suppose it can easily be said (and I am
making
        no great concession here) if I say that probably
everybody
        in this courtroom has acquaintances who they shudder
when
        they ring the door bell.  When you hold a cocktail
party,
        you say you hope that Smith does not come or whoever
it is
        but, on the other hand, he is an agreeable person to
have
        around.  This does not mean to say that you share all
of
        Smith's opinions.
                  Sometimes when the allegation is made, as it
is
        made, I am rather shocked to say, in some of the
expert
        statement, the expert reports, that it is not Smith
that
        I am being accused of being associated with, but
somebody
        who is associated with Smith, then it is beginning to
        become rather like that musical song about "I danced
with
        a man who danced with a girl who danced with the
Prince of
        Wales".  How far down the line does this buck stop?
Does
        it mean that everybody who is in this room is in some
way
        polluted by being in the same room as I am?  It is
        ridiculous.  Which way does this particular flow of
odium
        run?
                  I think it is a very loose kind of argument
when
        people say, "Look who he is in the same room with" or

.                                      P-207



         "Look who comes to hear him speak" which is what a
lot of
        the allegations appear to be.  It is name calling.  It
is
        a waste of the court's time, and I shall answer the
        questions, my Lord, but it is very difficult to come
to
        grips with it.
                  These people are extremists by definition of
        these expert witnesses.  I do not think there is any
        satisfactory definition of "extremist".  In my book,
an
        extremist is somebody who plants bombs under motor
cars,
        somebody who plots the overthrow of governments,
somebody
        who goes around with a gun in his pocket, somebody who
        holds views which are extreme, this is a very
subjective
        concept.  It depends on which viewpoint you view those
        views from.
                  Am I making sense, my Lord?
   Q.   Yes, I understand what you are saying and, indeed, it
may
        well be that this does not turn out to be one of the
most
        important issues in the case.
   A.   My Lord, I have not chosen this.  This is ----
   Q.   No, I appreciate that.  No, that is not said in a way
        critical of you at all.  But, having said that, one
needs
        to break it down a little bit.  I mean, do you accept
that
        you have found yourself on the same platform or at the
        same meeting as a number of people who could be
        legitimately categorized as extreme right-wing
fanatics?
   A.   It is the subsidiary clause there who could be
legitimate

.                                      P-208



        categorized, and you have even put it into the passive
        voice which puts one further removed -- we do not know
who
        is doing the categorising.
   Q.   So you are saying that the people who you found
yourself
        alongside are not, in truth, right-wing extremists or
        fanatics?
   A.   I do not regard them as extremists, by my definition
of
        the word "extremist".  I am prepared to believe there
are
        people at the other extreme who would regard them as
        extreme from their viewpoint because they hold views
that
        are extremely or diametrically opposed to their own.
But
        this is a free society.  They are not extremist in the
        degree that they do not go around espousing violence
or
        practising violence or advocating overthrow of
        governments.  They are people who just hold views with
        which I am not necessarily associated.  As your
Lordship
        will have seen from the correspondence, I frequently
had
        very marked altercations with these people, saying, in
        effect, "You may be a frightfully nice person
privately
        and you have got a good tennis serve but, on the other
        hand, your views on the Holocaust are wrong".
   Q.   So would you say that there is not anyone who you feel, in
        hindsight, you should not have associated with?

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