The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit//transcripts/day020.06


Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day020.06
Last-Modified: 2000/07/24

   MR RAMPTON:  Yes.  Nothing to do with Jews so far as I can

.          P-47


        tell.
   MR IRVING:  Are Jews Poles?  Is there some distinction
there,
        Mr Rampton?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Anyway, I see the point.  We have now at
any
        rate seen the whole document.
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, now I see that I have your Lordship's
ear,
        may I now ----
   A.   Could I just make a couple of points here?  These
        documents emerged during the formulation of a joint
        British/American declaration on German crimes in
Poland,
        which is released at the request of the Polish
government
        in exile, so it is focusing on Poles.
   MR IRVING:  Do you agree that the statement concerned is on
the
        facing page 147, and that the sentence causing problem
is
        the allegation on the authority of His Majesty the
king
        that Poles are "now being put systematically to death
in
        gas chambers", and the word "systematically" figures
in
        that?
   A.   Yes. That is the first thing.  The context of this is
        negotiations involving the Polish government in exile
        about German atrocities in Poland.  The second point
is
        that of course Cavendish-Bentinck's position is not
        necessarily to be accepted as a correct one.  He was
        extremely sceptical, and indeed has been criticised by
        historians for his negative attitude towards reports.
As
        he says, the Poles and, to a far greater extent, the
Jews

.          P-48



        tend to exaggerate German atrocities in order to stoke
us
        up.
   MR IRVING:  Are you saying that he was anti-semitic?
   A.   Thirdly, and the really crucial point here is that
this is
        not the same as saying that these stories about gas
        chambers have been invented, deliberately invented.
What
        he says is: "As regards putting Poles to death in gas
        chambers I do not believe there is any evidence that
this
        has been done."  I am bound to say that is probably
        correct.  He goes on to say: "There may have been
stories
        to this effect and we have played them up in PWE
rumours
        without believing that they had any foundation".
   MR IRVING:  What is PWE?
   A.   Political Warfare Executive.  "At any rate", he says,
        "there is far less evidence than exists for the mass
        murder of Polish officers by the Russians at Katyn.
On
        the other hand we do know that the Germans are out to
        destroy the Jews of any age unless they are fit for
manual
        labour".  So what he is saying is this.  He is not
saying
        we have deliberately cooked up these atrocity stories.
He
        is saying we have received stories which we are using.
        That is quite a different matter from what say.  You
say
        they are invented by the PWE.  Secondly, he is saying
it
        is about Poles, and he is making a distinction, saying
        explicitly that the Germans are out to destroy the
Jews of
        any age unless they are fit for manual labour.  That
is

.          P-49



        really the context of the quote that you originally
gave.
   Q.   Very interesting.  Will you now tell the court who
Victor
        Cavendish-Bentinck was?
   A.   He was a Foreign Office official, I think.
   Q.   He was Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee,
was
        he not?
   A.   Right, yes.
   Q.   Did he therefore have access to every single scrap of
        intelligence evidence that came into the British
        community's hands?
   A.   I doubt very much whether he had that.  He would have
        received more general reports, I imagine, but I am not
an
        expert on British intelligence in the Second World
War.
   Q.   As Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee he
        received all the police decodes, all the other
decodes,
        all the intercepts, all the agents reports, all the
        prisoner of war messages, is that not right?
   A.   I do not know, to be quite honest.  I am not an expert
on
        British intelligence.  That sounds an awful lot for
one
        man to master by himself.  As I said, I would imagine
that
        he would have received summaries of some description.
   Q.   The fact remains that he states in August 1943, when
        requested to authorize a government statement signed
by
        Churchill and Roosevelt, that Poles were being
        systematically put to death in gas chambers on the
facing
        page.  He specifically issues a minute to the Foreign

.          P-50



        Office officials, saying, "We weaken our case by
publicly
        giving credence to atrocity stories for which we have
no
        evidence".  He then goes on to say, "These mass
executions
        in gas chambers", in other words the story of the mass
        executions in gas chambers, "remind me of the story of
the
        employment of human corpses during the last war for
the
        manufacture of fat, which was a grotesque lie and led
to
        true stores of German enormities being brushed aside
as
        mere propaganda".   He is not pussy footing around
with
        the way he is describing the state of British
knowledge on
        gas chambers in August 1943, and yet you have accepted
        that during 1942 the BBC and the Americans repeatedly
        broadcast in German these stories of gas chambers,
which
        must therefore have been invented.
   A.   I do not think that last statement follows at all.
   Q.   He says we have no evidence, so where else could it
have
        come from?
   A.   He is talking about mass executions of Poles in gas
        chambers.  He says: "We do know that the Germans are
out
        to destroy the Jews of any rage unless they are fit
for
        manual labour."  I think this is a good example, which
you
        have just quoted, of the scepticism which
unfortunately
        was engendered by the belief in many Foreign Office
and
        other officials that a lot of the atrocity stories in
the
        First World War were mere inventions of allied
propaganda.
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, this now goes back to the reason for
this,

.          P-51



        which is page 141, where the allegation is that I said
        this with no justification.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  You have to grapple at some stage, and
        I think you are inviting my comment, with this, that,
        whatever may have been the state of knowledge within
        British Intelligence in 1942 or even 1943, the
Defendants
        say that you have been alleging that the Holocaust is
an
        invention by British Intelligence after all that we
now
        think we know about what went on in the concentration
        camps has come to light.  I think that is really the
        thrust of their case.  You have established, I think,
if
        I may say so, Mr Irving, that propaganda use was made
of
        alleged gassing in gas chambers at a time when the
senior
        officials in British Intelligence had no evidence for
it.
        But you have to grapple with the next stage of the
        Defendant's case on this and I am sure you are coming
to
        it.
   MR IRVING:  I appreciate, and this is not the time to do
that,
        but I can only tackle each particular part of the
        allegations against me piecemeal.  I think I have shot
        that one right out of the water, if I may put it like
        that, that the allegation was that I had no foundation
for
        saying that the Political Warfare Executive started
the
        gas chamber stories running long before we had any
proof
        for it.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No.  I think you are failing to
understand

.          P-52



        the Defendants' point.
   MR IRVING:  I appreciate fully what your Lordship is
saying.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No, please listen.  What the Defendants
say,
        and Mr Rampton will correct me if I have this wrong,
is
        that you are saying that the whole Holocaust story is
a
        lie invented by British Intelligence.  You have, as it
        were, part of the way along your line of argument, but
you
        have to grapple, as I say, with the fact that the
        Defendants are contending that you have been making
the
        allegation that the whole thing is a lie invented by
        British Intelligence in the teeth, they say, of all
the
        evidence that it was nothing of the kind.
   MR IRVING:  The gas chamber lie, if I can put it like this,
is
        the story that the Germans gassed to death millions of
        people in factories of death.  I am going to deal with
        that in a separate manner.  We dealt with it partly
with
        the witness van Pelt and I shall deal with it also by
        submissions on documents, and with further questions,
        either through this witness or other witnesses.  But I
can
        only tackle each element of this piece by piece.  It
may
        well be that there are bits of the story that I cannot
        bridge, rather the same as there are bits of the story
in
        this systematic nature of the killing that the defence
        cannot bridge.  The convergence of evidence here is,
if
        I can establish there were no factories of death and
that
        there were no holes in that roof, to put it bluntly,
and

.          P-53



        if I can establish that PWE started the story of the
gas
        chambers running in 1942, then I have got a
substantial
        part of the way towards justifying what I claim, even
if
        there are one or two bricks still left out of the
wall, if
        I can put it like that.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes.
   MR IRVING:  Moving to page 150 please -- we have now dealt
        with that, my Lord -- paragraph 21, witness, do you
take
        exception to my suggestion that witnesses and
survivors,
        by virtue of the ordeal they have been through, have
been
        subjected to some kind of traumatic stress which would
        affect their powers of recollection?
   A.   Let me see what I say here.
   Q.   It is the final sentences on that page, really.
   A.   Yes, where you are asking a question about how you
judge
        the credibility of Holocaust survivors, and you say,
        "I say that psychiatrists should concern themselves
with
        this matter some time.  There are many cases of mass
        hysteria".  So I do take exception to the view which
you
        put there that all the recollections of Holocaust
        survivors are the outcome of mass hysteria.
   Q.   Have I had said all the recollections of Holocaust
        survivors or just a part of them?
   A.   I think that is the clear implication of that.
   Q.   Are you aware, witness, that there is a body of
medical
        expertise assembled over the last 50 years into
precisely

.          P-54



        these matters of the ordeals suffered by concentration
        camp and slave labour camp survivors, what they have
been
        through, the undernourishment, the effect this has on
the
        powers of the brain, the bad nutrition, the post
traumatic
        stress and all the rest of it and there have been very
        many learned disquisitions into this?  The sentence
which
        you have quoted was not intended to be some kind of
slur
        on the character of people, the fact that somebody has
a
        psychiatric disorder is in no way to be interpreted in
a
        derogatory manner.  It is just an attempt to analyse
why
        sometimes they say things that do not exactly fit in
with
        what the documents show.
   A.   I think you are saying it is more than sometimes,
        Mr Irving.  I am not familiar with the literature you
        refer to.
   Q.   So, in analysing all the eyewitnesses and the sources
that
        one is going to use in writing this kind of history,
you
        cast aside the possibilities of medical problems or
        medical objections to relying too heavily on these
        sources?
   A.   I think you would have to look at each case in turn
        individually.
   Q.   Are you familiar with the case of Benjamin
Gilcormesky?
   A.   I am indeed, yes.
   Q.   How you would assess his motivation, shall we say?
        Obviously he went through some kind of wartime ordeal?

.          P-55



   A.   Very difficult to say.  The evidence seems to be that
he
        did not in fact.
   Q.   That he did not?
   A.   Yes.  As I understand from what I have read, this is
        someone who claimed in a book, or wrote a book, called
        I think "Fragments", a Swiss gentleman, which was
        purported to be a story of his incarceration as a
child in
        various concentration camps, and subsequently he was
        revealed to be an imposter.
   Q.   He was totally spurious, was he not?
   A.   He was completely spurious.  He was not in the
        concentration camps.  Indeed, I think he was born
after
        the war and brought up in Switzerland.  He was not
Jewish
        and was not a victim in any sense.
   Q.   He was a spurious survivor of the Holocaust?
   A.   That is indeed correct, yes, as I understood it.
   Q.   He had a tattoo, did he?
   A.   I have no idea.
   Q.   Did he maintain that he had been in Auschwitz?
   A.   He maintained all these things, I have already said that.
   Q.   He described all the grisly horrors that he had seen?

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