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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit//transcripts/day021.05

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day021.05
Last-Modified: 2000/07/24

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Please do not interrupt, Mr Irving.
   A.   That is contemporary evidence that Hitler had decided that
        these excesses should continue, they should continue to
        burn synagogues and destroy the dwellings and shops of the
        Jews.  It seems reasonable to suppose that, if Hitler had
        been angry and had not approved of this, if Goebbels was
        making this up, then the consequences for Goebbels would
        have been extremely serious.  I cannot imagine that
        Goebbels would have said that to a mass assembly of senior
        party officials if that was not true.  Indeed, you have
        accepted that what Goebbels said in his speech was what

.          P-38

        Hitler told him at the dinner.  You have also accepted
        that, when Heinrich Muller telexed the police, ordering
        them again not to interfere in the excesses, the burnings
        and the destruction, and to arrest 20,000 Jews at 11.55
        p.m., that is an order that came from Himmler to Muller,
        from Himmler who had had it from Hitler, i.e. that
        Hitler's order was the source of this Muller telegram.
   MR IRVING:  Can we now halt your flow of verbiage and get back
        to the point I am asking about?
   A.   We have a whole series of contemporary----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I am finding this extremely helpful and
        please will you stop interrupting.
   MR IRVING:  This is not the point I am asking about.  I am
        asking about the events in Hitler's home.
   A.   We have a whole series of contemporary documents going on
        to the telex from Heydrich, to the German police again
        saying they are not to interfere unless German property is
        threatened or foreigners are threatened at 1.20 a.m.,
        again which Mr Irving has admitted under cross-examination
        was a result of Hitler and Himmler having discussed this
        issue.  So right through the night -- and this goes on.
        There is a whole string of further documents, a telegram
        from Eberstein, a telegram from Hess at 2.56, which
        indicate all the way through that Hitler was fully
        apprised of the situation, right from the very beginning,
        that he approved of Goebbels' idea and ordered that these

.          P-39

        excesses should be carried out.
                  These are contemporary documents and therefore
        they undermine wholly the credibility of postwar
        ex post facto self-serving justifications by members of
        Hitler's entourage who were heavily involved in these
        events, that Hitler somehow did not know about it, and got
        very angry when he heard about it.
   MR IRVING:  Are you saying ----
   A.   We know from Goebbels' diary, as I quote on pages 257 to
        8, that Schaub himself was involved.  Schaub is completely
        worked up, says Goebbels, his old shock troop past is
        waking up.  So Schaub himself was heavily involved.
        Obviously, all these things are things that Schaub does
        not really want to admit after the war.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That was a very long answer but what are you
        really saying -- and this is condensing it absurdly -- is
        that, when you are approaching the testimony of the
        Adjutants, you have to weigh what they say happened
        against the whole background and consider the likelihoods?
   A.   Yes.  It is not a question of dismissing them totally.
   Q.   No.  I said "weigh against".
   A.   But you have to weigh them up, yes, and particularly the
        circumstances in which these statements were made after
        the war.
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, with respect this witness has laid a

.          P-40

        terrible choking suffocating smoke screen across the
        courtroom and across the points that I was trying to
        arrive at.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Mr Irving, let me explain why I think it is
        helpful.  You say, and I quite understand, and I think
        there are three of them, Schaub, Eberstein and
        Bruckner , as supporting evidence for Hitler's angry
        reaction in the middle of the night.  Now, they may be
        right, they may be wrong.  What Professor Evans was doing,
        and it was a long answer, was summarizing all the
        considerations that should weigh with an objective
        historian in deciding whether to attach credence to what
        the individual witnesses say.  Now, what is wrong with that?
   MR IRVING:  With respect, I should have been permitted to
        conduct the cross-examination my way, which would have
        been to go over those documents, having dealt with this
        central issue, and then looked at those documents which
        were prior to that.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Well, I am afraid I see nothing wrong with
        that answer and I tried to explain why I found it helpful.
   MR IRVING:  Well, we have had all of that.  The whole of that
        little speech -- little is not the right word -- we have
        had several times in this courtroom.  What I am
        introducing here is material going to the issue, which is
        whether I had no basis for writing what I did.

.          P-41

        Unfortunately, the witness, by his smoke screen, has
        interrupted my cross-examination.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No.  What the witness was saying was yes, you
        have records of what these Adjutants told you, but you
        were in dereliction of your duty as a historian in
        forgetting to weigh that evidence against the background,
        the context.
   MR IRVING:  Should he not have waited until he heard the third
        witness and then started off with his little speech?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Go on with your third witness.
   MR IRVING:  Yes.  Would you now turn finally, preferably
        without five-minute speeches, to the translation of the
        tape recorded interview of Colonel Nicholas von Below?
   A.   Could you point me to the original German, please?
   Q.   The original German is here.  Am I right in saying --
        I am trying to save time now -- that Colonel Nicholas von
        Below was Hitler's air force adjutant from 1937 until the
        last day of his life?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   He was an air force professional officer?
   A.   The last day of whose life, Hitler's life, you mean?
   Q.   I beg your pardon?
   A.   Last day of Hitler's life?
   Q.   Yes.  He was a professional German air force officer, he
        was not a Nazi Party member, is that correct?
   A.   I think that is right, yes.

.          P-42

   Q.   On this occasion, on this night, he was in Hitler's home?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   In Munich?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Is he a source whose recollections have been rightly
        impugned on any other occasion, to your knowledge, of any
        other historical event?
   A.   My memory fails me here, Mr Irving.  They are a source of
        variable quality but it is a valuable source.
   Q.   Professor, you have held yourself out to this court as an
        expert witness on the Third Reich.  You have spent 18
        month in investigating these sources in particular, and
        I am just asking you if you have any impression about
        colonel von Below?
   A.   I think Colonel von Below gave a number of different
        testimonies, parts of which are valuable and parts of
        which are not so valuable, is that enough?
   Q.   Is right that in general you are inclined to criticise my
        interview technique and suggest that I may have asked
        leading questions, or in some way browbeaten my Nazi
   A.   Where do I use the word "browbeating".
   Q.   You know what I am getting at, that in fact I used
        improper techniques?
   A.   I know what you mean by attempts to browbeat, Mr Irving,
        but I do not say that you do that with people cited in

.          P-43

        this report.
   Q.   Browbeating is part of the job of somebody in
        cross-examination, is it not, obtaining information from a
        reluctant witness, shall say?  Is there any sign here ----
   A.   I thought you were complaining I was not reluctant, I gave
        too much information, Mr Irving.
   Q.   Is there any indication from this transcript?  Would you
        agree it is a verbatim transcript?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   From a tape recording?
   A.   Yes, it appears to be such.
   Q.   Is there any indication that I am asking leading
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  The first one is a leading question, but let
        us move on.
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, my interview technique is part of the
        criticism against me, that I have distorted history.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, but you asked whether there were any
        leading questions and the first question is a leading
        question, Mr Irving.  Let us get to his answer.
   A.   "You were with Hitler at his home when the news of the
        Reichskristallnacht arrived there in Munich and he was
        rather surprised by that, can you depict that who else was
        there, suggest to the witness that he was surprised".
        What you should have asked was, "you were with Hitler in
        his home on the eve of Reichskristallnacht, can you say

.          P-44

        what happened", something neutral like that?
   MR IRVING:  Is it not likely----
   A.   You are suggesting things here.
   Q.   Is this an extract from an interview or is it the whole
   A.   It is an extract.  It starts with one question as well.
   Q.   Is it likely that there had been some discussion of this
        before this extract begins therefore?
   A.   You will have to show me documentation of that previous
        discussion if I am to answer that question, Mr Irving.
   Q.   Would you look at the second question from the end,
        please?  Irving asked, "back to the Reichskristallnacht",
        is that a leading question, "back to the
   A.   Sorry, I cannot find it.
   Q.   On the first page.
   A.   First page, yes.
   Q.   At the bottom of the page, Irving asks, "back to the
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Is that a leading question?
   A.   No.
   Q.   And the answer comes, "the first thing that came to us was
        a phone call from the Four Seasons Hotel".  Do you wish to
        follow this in the German original and correct me if I am
        wrong in the translation?

.          P-45

   A.   Yes.
   Q.   "Those of us who were on duty with Hitler always lived at
        that time in the Four Seasons Hotel and on this day we
        were billetted in rooms that were quite high up.  The
        staff phoned to us".  Where was he then at this time?
   A.   In Hitler's residence.
   Q.   "The staff phoned us to say we ought to come right over
        and pack our bags as in a neighbouring building the
        synagogue was on fire and the sparks were flying right
        over the building".  Does this sound like he is recalling
        the actual conversation?
   A.   Yes, sounds like that.
   Q.   It is verisimilitude, is it not?
   A.   Sounds like that.
   Q.  "It was just a matter of security.  Brandt", he is the
        doctor, "always lived in that hotel too.  He said, 'Ought
        we to drive over or not?  Somebody" and this is the
        adjutants speaking to each other, is it not?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   "Somebody said then, 'Well, one of us ought at least to go
        and take a look'.  Whether anybody did drive over, I don't
        know.  Then further reports came.  I don't know on the
        basis of what facts, whether it was Schaub asking or the
        fire brigade or the Gaul headquarters.  Shortly after that
        it became known that the synagogue had not cut fire by
        itself, but had been set on fire and that there was a

.          P-46

        demonstration going on.  Thereupon that was immediately
        passed on by Schaub to Hitler.  Thereupon the Police
        President of Munich, von Aberstein, was immediately sent
        for.  Herr von Aberstein then appeared soon after at the
        Fuhrer's residence.  He was an SS Obergruppenfuhrer.  He
        was now interrogated by Hitler.  Then there was a
        conversation between Hitler and Goebbels by" -- has he
        been led with any of this by me, to your knowledge?
   A.   Yes, by the opening question. "You were with Hitler in his
        home when the news of the Reichskristallnacht arrived
        there in Munich and he was rather surprised by that.  Can
        you depict that?" and that is what he is doing here.
   Q.   Have I mentioned in my opening question Aberstein or
        telephone conversation with Goebbels?
   A.   "Can you depict that, who else was there?" That is your question.
   Q.   Then the we carry on now from the bottom of the page when
        I asked, "What was Hitler' reaction to the first news
        report?"  Is that a leading question?
   A.   Well...
   Q.   And then does he answer?
   A.   Well, it depends.  I mean, it makes the assumption, of
        course, that these were the first news reports.  But if it
        refers just to reports of the synagogue burning in Munich,
        then it is not a leading question.
   Q.   "Then Below admittedly recalling the events 30 years

.          P-47

        later", because it is, it is 1968 this interview with von
        Below, is it not?
   A.   That is right.
   Q.   He records Hitler's reaction as being, "What is going on?
        Please find out.  I have to know what the game is."
   A.   I cannot find this in the German, I am sorry, for the moment.
   Q.   "It was my impression that we all and even Hitler"?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Pause a second, would you mind, mr Irving?
   A.   Yes.
   MR IRVING:  "It was my impression"?
   A.   Yes, "What is going on?"  Yes.

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