The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit//transcripts/day002.16


Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day002.16
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   A.   I deny -- I use that word, it might be more proper to use
        the word "contest" or "question", but certainly for your
        purposes I will use the word "deny", that it was possible
        to liquidate millions of people in the gas chambers that
        had been presented us by historians so far.

   Q.   I follow that.  Are you retreating from your earlier
        answer that your use of the words "factories", plural, "of
        death" was confined to Birkenhau?
   A.   What, in this particular speech?
   Q.   Yes.
   A.   Do you wish me to read the speech so that I can answer
        that question?
   Q.   No, no.  I would rather you gave me an answer now; if you
        want to change it tomorrow, by all means do so.  That
is
        perfectly legitimate?
   A.   No, unless the Judge so orders, I think it would be
        improper for me to answer from memory about the
content of
        a speech I made nine years ago.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think that is probably a fair point.
It
        does mean that time is going to have to be taken up
with

.                                      P-237



        it, and I am concerned we do not spend too long on it,
but
        glance through.  I do not think it will take that
long?
   A.   I am anxious to be responsive, my Lord, but I do not
want
        to ----
   Q.   No, I think that is fair, as I already said.  Just
glance
        through and see whether you can get any help one way
or
        the other from the rest of it.
   A.   Whereabouts was it?
   MR RAMPTON:  It is on page 2, tab 11.
   A.   My Lord, with respect, I do not see why I should be
        required to amplify a statement that I made nine years
ago
        in any respect whatsoever or I should be required to
add
        geographical locations on which I did not specify at
the
        time.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  You were not, with respect, being asked
        that.  When you use that phrase "factories of death" -
---
   A.   Well, I can certainly be helpful here and say that I
think
        I am prepared to deny the possibility that the Nazis
        liquidated millions of people in gas chambers at any
of
        their locations during the Third Reich.
   MR RAMPTON:  That is very helpful.
   A.   But do not then start just taking elements of that
        sentence saying, "Oh, but you said this, the gas
chambers"
        or "You said the millions" or "You said anywhere".
The
        whole sentence in its totality is correct, and that is
        what I am testifying to.

.                                      P-238



   Q.   Do you accept that the Nazis killed, by one means or
        another, and I am not talking about hard labour or
        exposing people to typhus, shot, murdered, gassed,
kicked
        to death millions of Jews during World War II or not?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   You do?
   A.   Yes, whether it was of the order of millions or not,
        I would hesitate to specify, but I would say it was
        certainly more than one million, certainly less than
four
        million.  But that is not a very useful answer to you,
the
        limitation I put on that.  I do not want you to say,
"You
        said millions, therefore, it is more than two
million",
        for example.  I do not want you to ...
   Q.   So tell me what it was then that was the Holocaust
that
        you removed from the 1991 edition and announced to the
        world that you had done so?
   A.   The word "Holocaust" has gone.
   Q.   Yes, but why?
   A.   Because I find the word "Holocaust" misleading,
offensive
        and unhelpful.
   Q.   Why?
   A.   For precisely the reasons that I said 10 minutes ago,
that
        it is too vague, it is imprecise, it is unscientific
and
        it should be avoided like the plague, because the word
        "Holocaust" could be understood to mean one thing when
        somebody is referring to it meaning something else.  I
try

.                                      P-239



        to avoid words like that.
                  I shall be calling -- I shall be asking one
of
        my experts on precisely this matter who is an expert
on
        the use of the word "Holocaust".  He also takes the
        strongest exception to it.
   Q.   So you removed it because you found it imprecise for
one
        reason?
   A.   Yes, as a part of the general tidying up process --
when
        you take a book after 10 years and you revise it and
you
        work over it with a red pencil, you do a lot of
tidying up
        and tightening up, and we did that with the new
edition.
        We cut a lot of material out anyway because the book
was
        the one-third too long and we wanted to bring a new
        material that we had obtained, the diaries of Hitler's
        doctor and Goring, and so on.  So there was a lot of
        editorial work that went on.
   Q.   I want to take it slowly because it may be important
in
        the end.  You removed it because it was imprecise, but
you
        accept, you now tell me, that the Germans deliberately
        murdered perhaps something between one and two million
        Jews during the course of the War.
   A.   A criminally large number of Jews, yes.
   Q.   Where, in your opinion, did this happen, broadly
speaking?
   A.   Well, we could take it sector by sector, but I am not
sure
        if it is a meaningful exercise.  If I am a Jew and I
take
        it from Amsterdam and I am living a peaceful life and
I

.                                      P-240



        find myself thrown into a stinking concentration camp
        where I die of disease, I considered myself to have
been
        murdered.
   Q.   I excluded them, as you know perfectly well.  I talked
        about shooting, gassing, hanging, kicking, what you
like,
        but I excluded the people who died of disease or
overwork
        or starvation.
   A.   Very well.  On the Eastern front, particularly in the
        Baltic States, particularly in the Ukraine, I would
        estimate that up to one million Jews were murdered,
using
        that word in a way that is completely
incontrovertible.
        They were stood on the edge of pits and shot into the
        pits, clubbed to death.
   Q.   Just so that we get it straight:  in the second
edition of
        "Hitler's War" -- start at the beginning.  In the
first
        edition you accepted that Auschwitz was an
extermination
        centre, did you not?
   A.   Yes, a lazy acceptance which I now regret.
   Q.   That is as may be.  By the time of the second edition
you
        had recanted that acceptance, had you not?
   A.   That Auschwitz was an extermination centre, a
dedicated
        extermination centre.
   Q.   Yes.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   You said, for example, I am paraphrasing, perhaps you
will
        accept it, that the Hungarian Jews were sent to
Auschwitz

.                                      P-241



        for slave labour?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Instead of purposefully to be killed?
   A.   Definitely.
   Q.   What do you say went on -- perhaps I will ask you this
        first.  Do you accept that there were camps, and we
will
        take them one by one, Chelmo?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Belzec?
   A.   Belzec I am not certain of.
   Q.   Treblinka?
   A.   Treblinka I am becoming uncertain about.
   Q.   Sobibor?
   A.   Sobibor I know nothing of.
   Q.   Chelmo you accept?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   The other two, second two you are uncertain about?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   What happened at Chelmo?
   A.   In 1940 they established a killing centre.  It was in
a
        handy part of Europe.  Hitler had ordered liquidation
in
        the Polish campaign and afterwards the liquidation of
all
        the Polish intellectuals and clergy and intelligentsia
and
        the Jews who were liable to occupy leading positions,
and
        a lot of them found themselves shipped off to Chelmo
where
        they were dispatched.

.                                      P-242



   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  But not by gas?
   A.   Not to the best of my knowledge, my Lord, no, but I
say
        this, and I hesitate to say this, as a non-expert on
the
        Holocaust, this book was not written as a history of
the
        Holocaust.  This was book was written as a biography
of
        Hitler and it would have been neither here nor there
how
        his victims were disposed of.
   MR RAMPTON:  Let us take the other three camps together.
You
        would not accept that they were purpose built
        extermination centres either?
   A.   Not on the basis of the evidence I have seen so far.
   Q.   It follows, does it not, that you do not accept that
        people who were killed there were killed by the use of
        purpose designed gas chambers?
   A.   At which camps are you talking about, Treblinka?
   Q.   To the three East Polish ones.
   A.   There is a lot of debate each way which, in my mind,
is
        unresolved and I have no particular interest in
resolving
        it because, I repeat for the nth time, I am not a
        Holocaust scholar, and taking the Treblinka Miediner
camp
        you have the problem there that they cannot make up
their
        mind what kind of gas was used to kill the victims,
was it
        Zyklone, was it diesel engine exhaust fumes, was it
petrol
        engine exhaust fumes, when that kind of uncertainty
occurs
        in the testimony, frankly I tend to turn my back on
the
        entire story and write something that is safe rather
than

.                                      P-243



        something that is liable to dispute.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Mr Rampton, can I ask this question.
        I thought, Mr Irving, when you were giving your
        evidence-in-chief, I think it was in response to a
        question from, you said you accepted that gassing had
        occurred?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   But to the limited sent that it had been carried out
on an
        experimental basis.
   A.   By experimental ----
   Q.   Let me finish the question.  I had understood that to
be a
        reference to the gas vans being brought after the
        termination of euthanasia programme.  Am I wrong?  Is
it
        wider than that?
   A.   By "experimental" I do not mean that men stood around
in
        white coats with clip boards and stopwatches.  It as
just
        local SS commanders who had been given the job of
        disposing of these people and were looking for other
ways
        of doing it.  Certainly the gas vans were used,
because in
        Adolf Eichmann's papers which I obtained in Argentina
he
        describes having witnessed one such killing, and there
are
        documents which satisfy me, which may be of great
        disinterest to the Defendants but they satisfy me that
        they are authentic that such killing trucks did exist,
        unless there are enormous coincidences in the use of
        language and words.  The gas chambers story is

.                                      P-244



        sufficiently difficult to analyse, because on the one
hand
        you have apparently consistent testimony of people who
        should have known, like the commandants and their
        deputies, testifying to the fact that these killings
were
        carried out in gas chambers, and on the other hand you
        have the logistical and agricultural impossibilities
which
        cannot be overlooked.  I am sure that we will hear a
lot
        more about them later on in the trial.
   MR RAMPTON:  Yes, perhaps.  Then let us return finally to
page
        2 of tab 11 of this file.  I hope you still have it
open,
        have you?
   A.   Page 2, tab 11, yes.
   Q.   Yes.  In the second paragraph timed at 12.13 the last
        sentence reads:
                  "If something didn't happen then you don't
even
        dignify it with a footnote".
                  The "it" you are referring to there is the
        Holocaust whatever that may mean.  Is that right?
   A.   Well, it is the gas chamber Holocaust.
   Q.   Yes.  I am not trying to be unfair, but according to
the
        internal syntax of that statement the "it" is the
        Holocaust, is it not?
   A.   It is the gas chamber Holocaust and I am sure his
Lordship
        is well aware of the fact this is a speech delivered
under
        very strained circumstances without a script.  So one
does
        not put every word on the gold balance, as the Germans

.                                      P-245

        say.  The mere fact it means the gas chamber Holocaust is
        evident from the fact that if you look at the book I am
        talking about, Hitler's War, there is any amount of
        reference to the rest of the Holocaust story, namely the
        shootings on the Eastern Front which are accepted in full
        degree.
   Q.   I said I was not trying to be unfair.  I wanted to take it
        in stages.
   A.   You are being very fair and you are being very patient
        with me, but I have to be very careful with my responses.

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