The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit//transcripts/day019.15


Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day019.15
Last-Modified: 2000/07/24

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No.  You have the emphasis wrong.  "I am not
        familiar with any documentary evidence".  I think that is
        fair, Mr Irving, if you read on.
   MR IRVING:  For the purpose of what I am saying, my Lord, it is
        I am not familiar.  I am not claiming to be a Holocaust expert?
   A.   Mr Irving, here you claim in the witness box in that
        particular trial, "I am not familiar with any documentary
        evidence of any such figure of 6 million, it must have
        been of the order of 100,000 or more but to my mind it was
        certainly less than the figure which is quoted, 6
        million", and so on.  You were giving that testimony as an
        expert.  In August 1988 you told an audience in Toronto,
        "I have now begun over the last few months going around
        the archives with a completely open mind looking for the
        evidence myself because of Auschwitz, just to take that
        one cardinal tent pole of the case, if Auschwitz itself
        was not an extermination factory, what is the evidence
        that it was"?  You claimed that you were looking in 40
        different government and private archives to see what they
        had on Auschwitz.  You were writing a book on
Auschwitz
        according to one of your speeches.
   Q.   Can halt your flood there and say----

.          P-133



   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  He is answering the question.
   A.   I am trying to answer your question.  You said that
this
        final book you claimed you were writing on Auschwitz
would
        pull off a coup even more spectacularly than exposing
the
        Hitler diaries as a fake, and all that seems to me to
be
        evidence that you were proclaiming yourself to be an
        expert on the Holocaust.  You said you had been fined
in a
        German court.  In 1992 you said you had been fined in
a
        German court for uttering an opinion, a sincerely held
        opinion, "an opinion, I would venture to add, which I
hold
        as an expert on the Third Reich", and the opinion was
that
        the gas chambers shown to tourists in Auschwitz was a
        fake.  That seem to me to constitute a claim for
expertise
        on the Holocaust.  You are writing a book about
Auschwitz.
   Q.   I did not say that I am an expert on the Holocaust,
did
        I?  I said I am an expert on the Third Reich, is that
        right?
   A.   You were claiming expertise by saying that you were
doing
        an enormous amount of research on Auschwitz.
   Q.   Excuse me.  Is it not right I did not say I am doing
it, I
        have begun recently visiting the archives, is that
right?
   A.   Indeed, and you have ----
   Q.   Is that immediately?  Does one become an instant
expert by
        visiting the archives?  Is that the inference one is
        giving?
   A.   You said that your opinion that you were fined for in

.          P-134



        Germany you held as an expert on the Third Reich,
which of
        course includes the policy of exterminating the Jews,
        although you may not think so.
   Q.   Proceeding to page 107, paragraph 3, it is your
        contention, am I right in understanding, that somebody
who
        seeks to suggest that the figures have been
exaggerated is
        a Holocaust denier?
   A.   No, that is clearly not true.  It is a matter of
        emphasis.  As you know, estimates of the figures have
        varied between about 5.1 and 6.1 or over 6 million.
   Q.   In the individual operations ----
   A.   So the person who, like Raul Hilberg, whose opinion
        I respect, would say that it is in the sort of low 5
        millions would no doubt think that claims of over 6
        million were exaggerated, but that does not make him a
        Holocaust denier.
   Q.   I am talking about the component atrocities like their
        shootings and so on.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Are these figures absolutely cast in stone or is it
        possible that any of these individual figures have
been
        exaggerated by the officers concerned?
   A.   These are -- we are talking about the Einsatzgruppen
        report, is that right?
   Q.   Yes, the body counts by the Einsatzgruppen.
   A.   My point here is that you are in paragraph 3, page
107, is

.          P-135



        that you are suggesting without any evidence
whatsoever
        that the numbers of Jews killed listed in the
        Einsatzgruppen reports were exaggerated by the task
force
        leaders.  "Statistics like this are meaningless", I
quote
        you as saying.  "It is possible that sometimes an
        overzealous SS officer decided to put in a fictitious
        figure".
                  All this is -- I mean, elsewhere you are
        extremely concerned to have authentic, authenticated
        documentary evidence for what you are saying or for,
let
        us say, Hitler's involvement in the extermination of
the
        Jews, but here you are indulging in what I think is
wild
        speculation unsupported by any documentary evidence at
        all.  That is the point I am making in this paragraph.
   Q.   So when you see a figure referred to in a decode or in
a
        telegram or in a report, you accept that this figure
is
        necessarily accurate and there is no need to analyse
it
        and investigate the feasibility of such a figure?
   A.   No, I did not say that.  I mean, I think obviously one
        looks for documentary evidence which will corroborate
it
        or falsify it, but I think that is rather different
from
        speculating simply that the officers might have
written in
        phoney figures.  There is no evidence for it.
   Q.   Was one of the German Army officers who were put on
trial
        after the War by the British for his part in these
        atrocities Field Marshal Von Manstein?

.          P-136



   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Have you read the account of his case by Paget QC who
was
        his Defence counsel?
   A.   I have to say I have not, no.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That does not stop you asking the next
        question if you want to, although I am not necessarily
        encouraging you.
   MR IRVING:  I cannot lead evidence.  We have had this same
        problem before.  I should really bring along the pages
and
        put the pages to the witness.  That is the only way to
do
        it, my Lord, I think.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I do not think anyone would mind if you
put
        the next question and just see if you can get an
answer
        from Professor Evans.
   MR IRVING:  Very well.  If Manstein's Defence counsel in
this
        British Army court in Hamburg put it to the
prosecutors
        that the Einsatzgruppen did not have the logistical
means,
        in terms of manpower and truck space, to carry out the
        killings they claimed to have carried out, would that
not
        be justification for casting doubt on the integrity of
        some of the figures?
   A.   No, not of itself.  I mean, I think one would have to
look
        at the evidence which was presented of the logistical
        means and weigh it against the evidence for the
numbers
        killed.
   Q.   To your knowledge, had any of the historians on the

.          P-137



        Einsatzgruppen carried out this kind of exercise,
carried
        out feasibility studies on the numbers?
   A.   I cannot answer that in reference to what the Defence
said
        in the Manstein trial, but certainly there is a great
deal
        of writing about the Einsatzgruppen which goes into
        enormous detail about what they did.
   Q.   There is.  Do you accept that SS officers would have
had a
        motive to try to inflate their achievements in order
to
        compare their prowess as opposed to the neighbouring
        Einsatzgruppen, if I can put it like that?
   A.   I do not really know of any evidence for that.
   Q.   Was there a similar phenomenon in the Vietnam War that
you
        are familiar with?
   A.   I really do not know.
   Q.   Moving on to the famous December 1942 document, the
report
        to Hitler with the 300,000 figure in it, are you
roughly
        familiar, in vague terms, with that document?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   I do not think there is any need to look at it.  You
        comment on the fact that I said that I was unhappy
about
        it because it is an unusual, isolated document.  We
are
        now at the top of page 108, my Lord.
   A.   Yes, I have that.
   Q.   Is a responsible historian not entitled to be unhappy
        about a document if it appears to stick out slightly
from
        the rest of the body of documentation?

.          P-138



   A.   Well, I think what you -- firstly, this is a habit
that
        you have, Mr Irving, of labelling documents that you
do
        not like as being orphan documents.  In the course of
this
        trial in your work you have accumulated enough orphan
        documents to fill half an orphanage.  There are many
of
        these documents -- I have counted at least half a
dozen --
        and the problem is ----
   Q.   I do accept the document is genuine.
   A.   --- when you encounter, when an historian encounters a
        document that runs counter to the thesis that he or
she is
        trying to put forward, then you have to take it
        seriously.  You do not try to find every possible
means
        you can of discrediting it and doing away with it.
You
        have to look at it and try to deal with it.  That may
be
        it that it means you have to revise the views that you
        came to the document with.
   Q.   Are there not certain questions that a responsible
        historian should put when he is facing a document like
        that look which is egregious, that he should say to
        himself (a) is the document genuine -- well, we have
        decided that it is -- but (b) what about the content
of
        the document?  Is it serving a particular purpose
which is
        not what might at first appear.  Should he not ask
himself
        questions like that?
   A.   I think you ask all the questions on all documents.
You
        ask the question, who wrote it?  What for?  Who was it

.          P-139



        addressed to?  Is it authentic?  And so on.
   Q.   And the more remarkable the document, the more unhappy
you
        should be, if I can put it like that?
   A.   I think you look at all documents -- one should look
at
        all documents in roughly the same way.
   Q.   Yes.  You comment on the fact that my books do not
publish
        photographs of concentration camp victims.  I am now
on
        paragraph 5, 109.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Page 109, paragraph 5:  "By contrast", you write,
"there
        re no pictures of concentration camp or extermination
camp
        inmates or victims".  Is this a serious criticism of
my
        works?
   A.   Yes, I think you have an illustration section in the
1991
        edition of Hitler's War where you include three
        photographs, but over two entire pages, of the victims
of
        allied bombings of German towns, but you have no
pictures
        of concentration or extermination camps' inmates or
        victims nor of any of the shootings, and so I add.  So
        that does seem to be me to be evidence of imbalance.
   Q.   Yes.  Are you suggesting that I should have included
the
        drawings by David Olaire which have been figured in
this
        case, for example?
   A.   I do not want to go into any particular ones,
particular
        photographs.
   Q.   Would you accept ----

.          P-140



   A.   But there are well-known attested photographs of the
        shootings, for example, which you could have included.
        There is a selection of photographs you could well
have
        included.
   Q.   Would you accept that as a publisher of books where we
        attach importance to high quality photographs, we are
        faced with the problem when it comes to finding
        photographs of concentration camp or extermination
camp
        victims or mass shootings?
   A.   I do not think that that was your motive for not
including
        them.
   Q.   Will you accept that there are problems, that the
archives
        do not hold such photographs?
   A.   No.  I will not accept that.  I think there are such
        photographs of photographs.
   Q.   Are there photographs of unimpeachable quality and
        integrity?
   A.   Quality, some of them, obviously, are not of very high
        quality, but it is still, I think, incumbent on anyone
who
        wishes to give a balanced view of who were the victims
of
        the Second World War and wants to include photographs
of
        them, to try to give a balanced selection of
photographs
        on both sides, and not just put the German victims of
        allied bombing raids, and having the only photograph
of
        the Nazis' Jewish victims is of a train at Riga, a
series
        of passenger carriages, and people handing luggage out
of

.          P-141



        the windows.
   Q.   We will come back to that picture in a minute.  But
can I
        ask you, are you familiar with the scandal surrounding
the
        German photographic exhibition of atrocity photographs
        recently?
   A.   The Vermacht Exhibition, yes.
   Q.   Yes, what was the complaint about most of those
        photographs?
   A.   It was, well, this is a complex issue because there
are
        allegations and counter allegations on both sides.

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