Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day017.08 Last-Modified: 2000/07/20 MR IRVING: I would be very happy to make available a copy to the Defence and I will leave this copy with them overnight and they can make a copy if they wish. MR JUSTICE GRAY: That is fair. I think Mr Rampton is happy you should make the point that you make on these two pages. MR IRVING: I just wish to put this to the witness. I just draw your attention, witness, to page handwritten 14 . P-65 which is page 122 of the book. A. 122. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Can you give us the context, Mr Irving? MR IRVING: The killing of the Russian prisoners in 1941 I think he is talking about. This is by Rudolf Hoess. MR JUSTICE GRAY: And he had been ordered to carry it out, is that right? He, Hoess, had ---- MR IRVING: "It was ordered that I had to carry it out", writes Hoess, "but I have to say openly that this gassing had a calming effect on me, as in the near future we had to begin with the mass destruction of the Jews too, and neither Eichmann nor I was clear about how we were to deal with these masses", is that roughly the sense of that final sentence on page ---- A. Roughly, yes. Q. And underneath it in his appalling handwriting Adolf Eichmann has written -- can you read the words: "Ich war gar nichts zustandig"? A. Yes. Q. What does that mean? A. I was not at all competent, this was not at all my jurisdiction. Q. And in the margin next to the footnote he was written just one word "falsch"? A. Correct. Q. In other words, Eichmann, who ought to have known, if . P-66 I can use one of the phrases Mr Rampton likes, disputes the version given by Rudolf Hoess. In private, he does not know that David Irving is going to come into possession of that years later, so can we assume therefore that there is some conflict in the evidence that Hoess writes? A. Yes. This is the major case where Eichmann contests vigorously the evidence the Israelis bring to him and present this before him. For instance, in the handwritten notes to his attorney, he says: "Hoess is the arch liar. I have nothing to do with Hoess, with his death camp or his gas chambers". That is in Eichmann's handwriting and Serwateus' notes. He disputes having anything to do with Hoess's gas chambers. He does not deny the existence of gas chambers but confirms Auschwitz, but he says that was not my thing. MR JUSTICE GRAY: The falsehood is his own involvement, Eichmann's own involvement. A. Yes. He is saying that Hoess is laying responsibility on him for playing a part in the selection of the gas chamber site, and the selection of the type of gas at Auschwitz, and in this regard I think Eichmann is correct and that Hoess is utterly wrong. MR JUSTICE GRAY: That is the means, not the end, in other words. MR IRVING: You use the interesting phrase, of course, "Hoess's . P-67 gas chambers" and that Eichmann ---- A. This is Eichmann's phrase; what I quoted to you from memory is what Eichmann wrote to Serwateus in the Serwateus papers. Q. Serwateus was his lawyer in Israel? A. Yes. Q. Is there any hint there, therefore, that people like Hoess and the other concentration camp commandants were loose canons, and that they were doing things their own way without -- ? A. I do not think that there is a hint of that at all. The hint is that Hoess is trying to shift blame elsewhere and that Hoess has a very bad memory. Q. Or a conveniently bad memory perhaps? A. Well, Hoess has many self-incriminating things. Where Hoess's testimony is particularly unreliable is anything related to dating. Q. Dating and numbers? A. Numbers as well, and to, in this issue certainly, Eichmann's role in all of this. Q. Is it not correct that Hoess, in fact, fluctuates between 2.8 million and 1 million, and then back to 2.7 million, as late as March 1947? Before his execution, he is back to 2.7 million again killed in Auschwitz. A. I do not remember the exact figures but I believe he does give fluctuating figures. . P-68 Q. Can any kind of credence be attached to figures like that when they vary by such enormous amounts? A. This would be a case where you would look at the testimony and say that, when Hoess is talking about dates and figures, one would not use it as reliable. When he is talking about experiences that he recalls with great vividness, one would say this is more likely to be something that one at least must look at, can we corroborate this? It would not mean that everything Hoess says is wrong, but it would mean that, in the areas of dating and where he is trying to share responsibilities with others, one must use it with great caution. MR JUSTICE GRAY: You do not know this, Professor Browning. We looked at the 2.8 million figure in some detail and it is quite clear that that is actually not his own account but it is what he has been told by others. MR IRVING: It did actually creep up again, the 2.8 just before he was hanged. He appeared to be readily flexible and this is what I am getting at; I suppose "suggestible" is what I am aiming at, the word that these witnesses -- you yourself have said that you had to pick and choose what they wrote, effectively? A. You had to make judgments about it. "Pick and choose" sounds as if one was picking and choosing for my convenience rather than my ability to explain in terms of ---- . P-69 Q. We will come to that in a minute, Professor Browning, when we come to Gerstein. A. We will get there but, in terms of ability to bring reasons as to why you think parts of it are more reliable than others. Q. Yes. Is there any reason why, when somebody is in captivity on trial for one's life, one might write things, either deliberately or inadvertently, that were not true, do you think? A. This is a possibility but, again, one looks at it and judges. If one is already sentenced to be hanged and there is, in a sense, nothing further they can threaten you with, then wonders one why would one go through the business of writing out a long handwritten document. Q. Have you not read large numbers of interrogations and pretrial interrogations yourself, where you have marvelled at some of the statements that these people have made? A. Can you give me a context? Q. For example, self-incriminating statements which, as you said in the case of Eichmann, nobody knew what he was admitting there. Have you never wondered why people would make these statements? A. I think in cases I have used he is telling the truth. I think he is relating---- Q. Obviously. Otherwise you would not have used them. But does it not occur to you that sometimes people make . P-70 astonishing statements, self-incriminatory statements? The most extraordinary examples are, for example, in the Soviet show trials. It is a psychological problem. I am just trying to assail the credibility of eyewitness evidence basically. That is what I am getting at. A. Certainly in Soviet trials where part of the protocol, in a sense, is to have a signed statement at the end. I would not put great weight on something collected in 1937 and 38 in which a witness said, "Oh yes, I was part of the Trotskyite conspiracy", or whatever. Q. Or American agent. Do not the same kind of duresses prevail when you are in a cell in a bleak prison in Nuremberg and the Americans come to you and say, well, we can guarantee you will not get the death sentence if you sign this affidavit which we have taken from your testimony? A. I would not accept that Americans came and said, "Sign this or we are going to kill you". Q. Are you familiar with the case of Dr Friedrich Gauss, who was Ribbentrop's legal adviser? A. No, I am not. Q. Are you familiar with Dr Robert Kempton, who said, "If you do not sign this we are going to turn you over to the Russians"? A. No, I am not familiar with that. Q. Obviously I cannot develop that particular line. If you . P-71 are not familiar with that case I cannot develop it. In later trials in Germany we have another problem, do we not, and this is the passage of years? 20 or 30 years pass. You have referenced in your own very interesting expert report a number of German war crimes trials conducted quite properly by the German government in the 1960s and even in the 1970s? A. Yes. Q. How reliable is that kind of evidence being given by Germans who have been taken out of their little bedsits somewhere in Ingoldstadt or somewhere and they find themselves on trial, they are going to be locked away for 20 years, and they are being asked to remember something that happened 30 years before? A. I think that much of it is very reliable. They did not have to give testimony. They had counsel, they did not have to, under German law, give self-incriminating testimony. They could remained silent. Q. how many did remain silent? A. Virtually none. A few. The document that we see in the Chelmno gas vans, the villager who signs that refused to talk and nothing happened to him. He is one who did not get brought to trial. Q. So the man who signed the famous memorandum about the 97,000 killed, is this the document you are referring to? A. This is the document and this is the case where someone . P-72 refusing to talk ---- Q. Nothing happened to him? A. They said, we have not enough evidence to contest that he contributed in a causal way to the killing, even if he knew of it, and therefore we have no grounds. In fact, there was a case where the one who did not talk did much better than his colleagues in the motor pool who did talk, incriminated themselves and were tried. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Mr Irving, I do not want to interrupt you unduly. I am not finding this terribly helpful because we all know that eyewitness evidence has to be looked at very carefully. Everyone agrees on that. MR IRVING: If you think I have laboured the point too strongly then I shall not bring it up again. MR JUSTICE GRAY: It is not really that, but illusive references which are not really followed up do not help me very much, besides which it appears to me we are straying perhaps a little bit from what I think is the intended structure of your cross-examination, which really goes to the case for saying that Hitler knew about the extermination. I am not keeping you to any tramlines. MR IRVING: I was trying to undermine the quality of his sources by referring to the fact that a very large number of the sources which he refers to in his report in the footnotes appear to be ---- MR JUSTICE GRAY: Not in relation to Hitler's knowledge. I do . P-73 not think eyewitnesses come into that at all, do they? MR IRVING: It is certainly in connection with the numbers and I was just about to get on to the 97,000 figure again, when your Lordship intervened. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes. Develop that, but can you help me by giving me a little bit more information about which figure you are talking about, given by whom, in what context? MR IRVING: This is one of two letters. One is the Greiser letter of May 1st 1942, Greiser to Himmler. Are you familiar with that document? A. Yes. MR RAMPTON: Page 38 of Professor Browning's report, my Lord. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Thank you. MR IRVING: In that letter Greiser says that we shall have within, I believe, two to three months killed 100,000 effectively. That is what he is saying, is he not? A. Yes. Q. Has he already started by then? A. Yes. Chelmno has opened in early December 1941. Q. Does he actually refer to Chelmno in that document? A. He does not refer to Chelmno in that document. Q. We do not know whether he is actually referring to the document or actually to Chelmno, and whether even one of those 100,000 has died at that time or not. A. He does not say explicitly but Chelmno is the operating death camp in the region to which he is referring, the . P-74 Warthegau. Q. There is a reasonable inference? A. Yes. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Do not assume too much. You have been, as you say, for 34 years on this topic. MR IRVING: Not on the Holocaust.
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