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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit//transcripts/day021.06

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day021.06
Last-Modified: 2000/07/24

   Q.   "Please find out.  I have to know what the game is".
        that a fair translation, admittedly it is ----
   A.   Yes -- no, it is fine.
   Q.   --- obviously not a verbatim recollection, but that was
        his impression.
   A.   That is fine.
   Q.   "It was my impression that we all and even Hitler himself
        were totally in the dark".  I assume that is what he means
        by "musspot".  "Nobody knew anything about anything.
        I can only say", and then he continues with his own
        impression:  "Form my many years with Hitler and on his
        staff, if that had been organized by Hitler and with
        Hitler's knowledge, a charade on that scale would have
        been impossible.  I would not put it past Goebbels,

.          P-48

        absolutely not".  And then what does he say?  "Then Hitler
        became angry and raised his voice quite loudly to
        Aberstein and said:  'I demand that order is restored at
        once'."  Is this now another source saying the same thing
        that Schaub said?
   A.   It seems to be, yes.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Would you like to read the next sentence?
   MR IRVING: "That was, however, limited just to Munich.
        I overheard that because the conversation took place as
        I was on the way out".  In other words, von Below was
        returning to his own quarters -- [German] as they say in
        German.  Then he quite frankly admits what happened with
        regard to the "directive to Goebbels or to Himmler for the
        rest of the Reichs territory, that, I do not know".  Then
        comes a bit of hearsay:  "I spoke once more with Aberstein
        about this business in Nuremberg prison in 1948 and
        I asked him:  'Did you know anything about it before you
        came to Hitler's?'  He described it to me just as I had it
        in my own recollection".  Is that significant?  Do we
        derive from that that it came as a surprise to Aberstein too?
   A.   It is unclear what time he is talking about here, and
        I find that difficult to accept.
   Q.   Is it significant, in other words?
   A.   I mean, this is 30 years after the event, Mr Irving.  He
        has had an enormous amount of time to concoct a story

.          P-49

        which will exculpate himself from involvement in these
        events which is in his clear interests to do.
   Q.   How could von Below had been implicated in any way
   A.   Because he was with Hitler.
   Q.   But how would that in any way have made him into an
   A.   Because Hitler ordered this pogrom.
   Q.   Why would he have invented this conversation with
        Aberstein in Nuremberg prison where Aberstein confirms 10
        years after the event, "It was surprise to me too"?  Was
        there any reason?  Does it not look like a piece of
        verisimilitude again then?  A random scrap of something
        that stuck in his memory over the years that he then
        repeats to me 20 years later on as something that always  ----
   A.   It is extraordinary, is it not, Mr Irving?  All these old,
        all these police officers and SS men have been with Hitler
        during the appalling violence against the Jews in 1938,
        many years afterwards when it has become clear that
        society and the world disapprove very strongly of these
        events, all tell each other, "Well, I did not know
        anything about it.  I had not heard about it"?
   Q.   Can we just look finally on the von Below and if we just
        on the final page, at the end of the first paragraph on
        that page, there is just one little passage that I am

.          P-50

        doing to draw your attention to:  "For a long time Hitler
        did not really place much trust in him", that is Goebbels,
         "but then after a while he began to on matters of
        importance, because Goebbels had the knack of putting
        things forward, putting forward his things in a very
        logical and penetrating manner, Hitler was in some way a
        sucker for this whole kind of act.  There is no doubt
        about that."
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Is that an unusual picture of Hitler, that he could be
        taken in by members of his staff, do you think, or taken
        advantage of from your expertise as an ----
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   --- historian on the Third Reich?
   A.   Yes, it is somewhat unusual, yes.
   Q.   Have you heard it before by other authors, that Hitler was
        not such a strong man after all, that he was taken
        advantage of?
   A.   I do not think "taken advantage of" is a phrase that other
        authors would use.  I mean, there is sort of glimmering of
         -- I mean, this is not to be dismissed entirely, as it
        were.  It is clear, I think, it is general agreement, that
        the Reichskristallnacht was initially Goebbels' idea.
   Q.   And, overall, looking at the von Below interview, now that
        they are in front of you completely transcribed and
        translated, in general, is it a proper interview or has it

.          P-51

        been deliberately skewed in some way by the man asking the
   A.   Well, as has been remarked several times now, the initial
        question there is very much a leading question.
   Q.   Or picking up on something previously said during that
   A.   You would have to show me that before I could accept
        that.  In any case, it is a leading question.
   Q.   So I do not want to go over that because we have been over that.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Subject to that, it is an account which bears
        out what Mr Irving writes in Goebbels?
   A.   No, I am not -- not entirely, no, my Lord.
   MR IRVING:  Can I ask you to have a look at the Aberstein
        telegram of the previous evening?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Pause a moment.  It is really the top of page
        277, I suppose?
   A.   Of Goebbels?
   Q.   Of Goebbels.  I mean, I will read it to you.  It is two
        lines.  "According to Luftwaffe adjutant Nicolaus von
        Below, Hitler phoned Goebbels, 'What's going on?' he
        snapped, and, 'Find out'".
   A.   Yes, now, in his memoirs von Below says something rather
        different, that he conducted his phone conversation with
        Goebbels on his own from his living room, so that
        contradicts what he says in the interview.  In other

.          P-52

        words, if he conducted the phone conversation on his own
        from his living room, he could not have heard what Hitler
        was saying to Goebbels on the phone.  That is at page 258,
        paragraph 6, of my report.
   MR IRVING:  Will you accept that I have the original typescript
        of von Below's memoirs that he wrote in 1947 and I was
        relying on that and not on a later published work.  When
        were the memoirs published?  In 1980?
   A.   In 1980 in Meinz, yes.
   Q.   So how could I have possibly made use of that in 'The
        Warpath' which was published in 1977?
   A.   Well, I would say that von Below said, for what it is
        worth, I quote him on paragraph 9 of page 260, that he
        objected to your claim that he had provided you with
        unpublished contemporary manuscripts and letters and
        checked through pages of your manuscripts.  He remembered
         "some visits by Irving during which I answered his
        questions.  But I must decidedly reject his more
        far-reaching claims as not corresponding to the truth".
   Q.   So what is von Below saying there, that he did not provide
        me with any manuscripts?
   A.   I assume that is what he is saying, yes.
   Q.   He provided me with no letters, wartime letters?
   A.   If one is to believe him, that is what he is saying.
   Q.   If one is to believe the printed word and that he did not
        revise the manuscript then it was written by me, is that

.          P-53

   A.   That is what he says, I think, yes.
   Q.   Now, Professor, you or your researchers have had access to
        my files in the Institute of History, have you not?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Have you seen in the correspondence file between myself
        and Colonel von Below the covering letters with which I
        sent the chapters to him and which I thanked him for
        having returned the chapters to me, chapters which
        included in the files are all his marginal comments on
        precisely this chapter?
   A.   Provide me with copies and I will look at this again.
   Q.   Your researchers have worked in the archives, is that
        right, on the Irving collection?
   A.   That is right, yes.
   Q.   And you have had my personal files of correspondence with
        people like von Below containing all these matters and you
        prefer to believe what a book published in 1980 says
        rather than the evidence of your eyes, namely the chapters
        amended in his handwriting?
   A.   Provide me with copies of those chapters and I will
        comment on that.  I have not seen them, no.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  You have not?
   MR IRVING:  You have not seen them?
   A.   No.
   Q.   Did you or your researchers bother to look in these files

.          P-54

        of correspondence between myself and Adolf Hitler's
        private staff?
   A.   Can you name the files, give me core numbers of the
   Q.   Will you answer my question?  Did you or your researchers
        bother to look at my files of correspondence?
   A.   Well, I have already said that we did not see them,
        I mean, accepting for the moment your claim that there are
        such files.
   Q.   But you are quite happy to repeat ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  If they are in the discovery ----
   A.   If they are in the discovery, we can see them.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I do not know how difficult it is to dig them
        out.  I know there has been a massive amount of discovery.
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, they are no longer in my discovery, of
        course, because I have given the originals to the Institute.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I thought you were saying you had disclosed
        them in this action, your correspondence with von Below?
   MR IRVING:  No, my Lord, I did not.  With respect, I did not
        say that.  I said that these researchers have had access
        in the Institute at Munich to all my private files in
        which I have correspondence with Hitler's personal staff
        which I donated to the Institute because of its historical
        significance.  It contains voluminous correspondence with
        Colonel von Below, including the chapters which he

.          P-55

        corrected in his own handwriting in the margin with his
        very characteristic handwriting.  Why this passage appears
        in his book is a mystery to me.
                  A final question on this matter of the
        documents:  Professor, have you seen in my discovery now
        one page of extracts typed by me on my large faced
        typewriter from von Below's original typescript manuscript
        memoirs in my discovery?
   A.   Point it to me and I will ----
   Q.   On this particular episode?
   A.   Provide it to me and I will say whether I have seen it or not.
   Q.   Well, I sometimes wonder what the purpose of discovery is,
        if all these documents are made available in numbered
        folders to the defending solicitors and the evidence is
        there, and yet they still write paragraphs like this.
   A.   Sorry, like what?
   Q.   It is insulting, is it not?
   A.   Like what?
   Q.   The allegation that I lied, is that not insulting, the
        allegation that I lied about having had access to von
        Below's private papers and manuscripts?
   A.   That is his allegation.
   Q.   Yes, but you have repeated it.  Is it not insulting for
        you to put that in there, although the evidence in the
        discovery is that I did not lie?

.          P-56

   A.   If the man -- well, first of all, I do say, draw attention
        to the fact, that von Below is not always a very reliable
        witness, so I think anything I say about von Below, it is
        clear that it is with that caution.  But if he does say in
        his published memoirs that he takes strong exception to
        your claims that you have -- that he checked through many
        pages of your manuscript, then I think one is duty bound
        to record that fact.  The only way we can actually verify
        this not desperately important point is, of course, by
        looking at all the correspondence.
   Q.   You say it is not desperately important?
   A.   It is a rather peripheral issue, in my judgment.
   Q.   If a journalist or an expert said,  "Professor Evans has
        claimed to have had access to the private papers of
        Colonel Smith" and Colonel Smith says, "This is a lie", is
        that a peripheral point?  Would you consider that to be a
        peripheral point?
   A.   That is something slightly different.  He also -- that is
        a slightly different point.
   Q.   But do you say that Colonel von Below turns out to be
        unreliable on many points.  You remember that I asked you
        earlier this morning, "Have you any impression about von
        Below's reliability?  Has he ever been demonstrably wrong
        on anything he has written about?"
   A.   It is variable, yes.  It is variable.  He is unreliable on
        some issues.  One has to make a judgment about what he is

.          P-57


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