The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/07/25

                  This last line of defence, which emerged at a
        very late stage in Mr Irving's Holocaust denial, is, in
        any case, easily demolished.  In the first place,
        Professor van Pelt, who has subjected the remains of the
        roof of Leichenkeller I at crematorium II to careful
        examination (which Mr Irving has never done), told the
        court that the remains are so fragmentary that they do not
        allow any firm conclusions to be drawn as to the existence
        or non-existence of the holes.  Second, if, as Mr Irving
        accepts, Leichenkeller I was a gas chamber (for whatever
        purpose) it would always have needed apertures for
        inserting the Zyklon-B, since it never had any windows and
        only one gas-tight door.  Third, even if Mr Irving were
        right that it was used for gassing objects and corpses,
        the concentration of hydrogen cyanide required for this
        would have been comparatively high, with the consequence
        that the need for tight fitting apertures which could be
        opened and closed quickly and easily, would, for the

.          P-24

        protection of those throwing in the pellets, have been all
        the greater.  Finally, leaving aside all the mass of
        eyewitness testimony, there is a coincidence between two
        pieces of independent evidence which demonstrates
        conclusively the existence of these holes or apertures.
        In 1945, a former inmate of Auschwitz, David Olere, an
        artist, drew the ground plan of Leichenkeller I in
        crematorium III.  This drawing shows a zigzag alignment of
        the gassing columns in Leichenkeller I.  These are the
        columns which would have ended in the apertures through
        which the gas pellets were inserted.  It happens that that
        zigzag alignment is precisely matched by an aerial
        photograph taken by the Allies in 1944, which was not
        released to the world until 1979.  There can, therefore,
        be no possibility of any cross-contamination
        between Olere's drawing and the aerial photograph.  No
        doubt recognizing this, Mr Irving sought to suggest at
        this trial that the aerial photograph had been faked by
        the CIA.  Professor van Pelt, however, explained to the
        court that he had had the photograph tested by Dr Nevin
        Bryant at NASA and that the result of those tests showed
        conclusively that the photograph was authentic.

                  In the light of Mr Irving's concession that
        Leichenkeller I was indeed a gas chamber and of the fact
        that it is clear that it was never intended for the
        gassing of corpses or other inanimate objects, or for use

.          P-25

        as an air-raid shelter, the stark conclusion can only be
        this:  It must have been used for gassing people, live people.

                  One residual shred of this aspect of Mr Irving's
        Holocaust denial remains.  He disputes the numbers of
        people murdered at Auschwitz/Birkenau.  This last
        barricade of Mr Irving's is based on three
        distinctly unstable legs.

                  The first leg is the so-called "death books"
        released in recent years from the archive in Moscow.
        These are incomplete.  They show a total of some 74,000
        recorded deaths from various causes.  They relate,
        however, and could only ever relate, to the deaths of
        prisoners registered upon arrival at Auschwitz, that is to
        say, those destined to be accommodated in the camps at
        Auschwitz and, more particularly, Birkenau, as workers
        (for a time at least).

                  There was, however, a preliminary process at
        Auschwitz, which involved separating those deemed to be
        fit for work from the rest.  This was called "selection".
        The vast majority, including the old, young children, and
        mothers with small children, were "the rest".  They were
        gassed immediately without ever being registered; their
        deaths were never recorded.

                  There is a great deal of eyewitness evidence
        about this from both sides, perpetrators and surviving

.          P-26

        victims.  This evidence is confirmed by photographs taken
        by the SS during the so-called "Hungarian action" in the
        course of which, over a matter of months, some 400,000
        Hungarian Jews were gassed, in the summer of 1944.  Thus,
        once again, eyewitness evidence is corroborated by
        contemporary documentary evidence.

                  In the result, the fact that the "death books"
        fail to record the deaths of perhaps 1 million people
        killed on arrival is unsurprising and inconsequential.

                  The second leg of Mr Irving's last barricade
        consists of German police radio messages decoded by the
        British during the war.  Some of these came from
        Auschwitz, and of course none mentioned gassings.  For
        exactly the same reasons as the death books make no
        reference to those murdered on arrival, it is not
        reasonable to expect that the radio messages from
        Auschwitz would:  people who were not registered on
        arrival at Auschwitz because they were not destined for
        work in the camp but, instead, for immediate death in the
        gas chambers, would obviously not be mentioned in messages
        about recorded deaths.

                  The last leg in the barricade is Mr Irving's
        contention that Auschwitz did not have sufficient
        incineration capacity for all the corpses of those whom it
        is generally held by historians were killed there.  As
        Professor van Pelt convincingly demonstrated, by reference

.          P-27

        to a letter of 28th June 1943, from Karl Bischoff, the
        head of the building programme at Auschwitz, to Berlin,
        the potential incineration capacity at Auschwitz/Birkenau
        at that time far exceeded any possible mortality rate
        amongst the registered inmates from "natural"
        causes, including the possibility of a repeat of the
        typhus epidemic which had struck the camp in 1942.  This
        means that the incineration capacity must have been
        calculated and built, as it was in due course, to
        accommodate the mortal remains of the hundreds of
        thousands of people who were gassed on arrival.

                  Faced with this, Mr Irving's only possible
        response was (as ever) to challenge the authenticity of
        the Bischoff letter.  This challenge, in the end, turned
        out to be based on nothing more than the fact that the
        administrative reference on the letter did not contain the
        year date.  In fact, copies of this document have been
        retained in the archive at Moscow since 1945, when the
        Soviets liberated Auschwitz and acquired the documents
        which the SS had forgotten to destroy.  Moreover, the
        document was used at the trial of the Auschwitz
        commandant, Rudolf Hoess, in 1948, and again at the trial
        of the Auschwitz architects, Dejaco and Ertl, in 1971.
        Not unnaturally, Professor van Pelt saw no reason
        whatsoever to doubt the authenticity of the document.
        Amongst other reasons for rejecting Mr Irving's proposal

.          P-28

        that the document might be a postwar communist forgery, is
        the fact that the incineration capacity shown in the
        document -- that is 4,756 corpses per 24 hours -- is
        very significantly lower than that estimated by the
        Soviets and the Poles (both communist regimes) shortly
        after the War.  It follows that if the document were a
        communist forgery, it would be a very strange one.

                  Mr Irving's last challenge to the incineration
        capacity was that the amount of coke delivered to
        Auschwitz at the relevant time would not, in the ordinary
        way, have been sufficient to meet the required rate of
        incineration.  As Professor van Pelt demonstrated, this
        challenge is demolished by two considerations which
        Mr Irving had evidently ignored:  first, the procedure for
        incineration at Auschwitz involved the simultaneous
        incineration of up to four or five corpses even in every
        muffle of the ovens; and, second, in consequence, the
        corpses themselves served as fuel for the ovens, the more
        particularly so if, as they generally did, they included
        the comparatively well fed corpses of people recently
        arrived on the trains and gassed on arrival.

                  Mr Irving's Holocaust denial is thus exposed as
        a fraud.  It originated with a piece so-called scientific
        research which, on analysis, turns out, if it has any
        value at all, to support the overwhelming historical
        evidence that Auschwitz was indeed a gigantic death

.          P-29

        factory.  Mr Irving's later adornments to his gas chamber
        denial also turn out to be fragile conjectures based on no
        significant research at all:  it should be noted that
        Mr Irving has never himself been to Auschwitz to examine
        the archeological remains or the documentary evidence
        contained in the archive.  It follows that some other
        reason must be sought to explain his devotion, over many
        years, and even in this court, though his case has changed
        and changed back again throughout the trial, to the
        bizarre idea that no significant numbers of people were
        murdered in the homicidal gas chambers at
        Auschwitz/Birkenau.  The reasons are not far to seek.

                  As the evidence in this court has shown,
        Mr Irving is a right-wing extremist, a racist and, in
        particular, a rabid anti-Semite.

                  Two examples, again, amongst many, will suffice
        to illustrate this proposition.

                  In a speech which he made at Tampa, Florida, on
        6th October 1995 to the National Alliance, a white
        supremacist and profoundly anti-Semitic group, Mr Irving
        said this about the Jews:

                  "You have been disliked for 3,000 years.  You
        have been disliked so much that you have hounded from
        country to country, from pogrom to purge, from purge back
        to pogrom.  And yet you never ask yourselves why you are
        disliked, that's the difference between you and me.  It

.          P-30

        would never occur to you to look in the mirror and say
        "Why am I disliked, what is it the rest of humanity
        doesn't like about the Jewish people, to such an extent
        that they repeatedly put us through the grinder?" And he
        (a heckler whom Mr Irving said he had perceived to be
        Jewish) went beserk, said Mr Irving.  He said (the
        heckler), "Are you trying to say that we are responsible
        for Auschwitz ourselves"?  And I, that is Mr Irving, said,
        "Well, the short answer is yes".  The short answer I have
        to say is yes ... If you (the Jews) had behaved
        differently over the intervening 3,000 years, the Germans
        would have gone about their business and would not have
        found it necessary to go around doing whatever they did to
        you.  Nor would the Russians, nor the Ukranians, nor the
        Lithuanians, Estonians, Latvians, and all the other
        countries where you've had a rough time.  So why have you
        never asked yourselves that question?"  So much for the Jews.

                  As to the blacks (and homosexuals), Mr Irving,
        in an entry in his private diary on 10th November 1987, on
        the occasion of a visit to South Africa, recorded his own thoughts:

                  "God works in mysterious ways, but here (that is
        South Africa) we agree he appears to be working
        remorselessly towards a Final Solution which may cruelly
        wipe out not only blacks and homosexuals, but a large part

.          P-31

        of the drug addicts and sexually promiscuous and
        indiscriminate heterosexual population as well."

                  These examples, again the tip of, I am afraid, a
        very large iceberg, demonstrate, beyond doubt, that
        Mr Irving is a profound racist and a radical anti-Semite.
        But this is not the end of the story.  For many years,
        Mr Irving has travelled about the world giving vent to his
        views at gatherings composed of, and organized by, others
        of similar opinion.

                  Until he was banned in 1993.  Mr Irving's
        energies were particularly devoted to the propagation of
        his ideology in Germany, where pro-Nazi sentiment has not
        only persisted but alas, since reunification, undergone a
        significant revival, particularly in the East.

                  This is chilling exposed by a demonstration of
        neo-Nazi boot boys, waving Nazi flags and chanting racist
        slogans, which was addressed by Mr Irving at Halle in East
        Germany in November 1991.  In his diary Mr Irving
        described his speech at this rally as "rabble rousing", no
        doubt for good reason.  The speech was greeted with
        enthusiasm, not least, perhaps, because he predicted the
        recreation of a greater Germany, by the reconquest,
        through economic power, of the former Third Reich
        territories in the East.  This speech was greeted with
        enthusiasm and, unsurprisingly, shouts of "Sieg Heil!".

                  Holocaust denial is forbidden in Germany

.          P-32

        (notwithstanding which Mr Irving has, from time to time,
        managed to slip in direct statements that there were never
        any gas chambers).  Elsewhere, however, it has been a
        constant theme of Mr Irving's public utterances.  He has
        expressed it, on numerous occasions, in terms which
        variously attribute the blame for the Holocaust on the
        Jews themselves, accuse Holocaust survivors of lying in
        order to extort money from the German Government, and pour
        scorn on the suffering of Holocaust victims, both alive
        and dead.  These utterances are often greeted with warm
        applause and loud laughter by his audiences.

                  Given that Mr Irving has repeatedly falsified
        history in pursuit of his obsessive desire to exonerate
        Hitler of responsibility for the Nazi persecution of the
        Jews and, in particular, of responsibility for the
        Holocaust, and given that he has repeatedly denied the
        Holocaust, without any historical foundation, and in the
        face of overwhelming evidence that the Holocaust took
        place on the scale and in the manner generally described
        by reputable historians, the question now arises why
        Mr Irving should have engaged so actively in the promotion
        of these historical falsehoods.

                  The answers suggested by the evidence are:

        Mr Irving is an anti-Semite; Holocaust denial, in the form
        in which it is purveyed by Mr Irving, is an obvious
        expression of anti-Semitism, and is music to the ears of

.          P-33

        the neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists to whom he
        purveys it; Mr Irving is a Hitler partisan, who has
        falsified history on a staggering scale in order to
        "prove" Hitler's innocence; this, like Holocaust denial,
        is obviously very appealing to his fellow travellers --
        after all, if the Holocaust were a "myth", then,
        obviously, Hitler could have no responsibility for it.

                  How far, if at all, Mr Irving's anti-Semitism is
        a cause of his Hitler apology, or vice versa, is quite
        unimportant.  Whether they are taken together, or
        individually, it is clear that they have led him to
        prostitute his reputation as a serious historian (spurious
        though it can now be seen to have been) for the sake of a
        bogus rehabilitation of Hitler and the dissemination of
        virulent anti-Semitic propaganda.

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Mr Rampton, can I raise with you now the
        points I think I need to clarify?

   MR RAMPTON:  Yes.

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I do not think it will take very long.  There
        is just one point that occurred to me as you were reading
        out the statement, and it relates to paragraph 41, where
        you are dealing with incineration capacity.

   MR RAMPTON:  Yes.

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  The point you are making is that it is
        strange to suggest that the Bischoff document is a
        communist forgery, since it shows a rate of incineration

.          P-34

        lower than was estimated by the Soviets and the Poles.  Am
        I right in thinking that the estimate you are there
        talking about by the Soviets and the Poles is the estimate
        of the total numbers killed, rather than of incineration
        capacity or rate of incineration?

   MR RAMPTON:  No, my Lord.  Well, I think that is partly right,
        if I may say so.  But also on page 207 of Professor van
        Pelt's report, there is rather a dense paragraph.
        I cannot remember now off the top of my head how the
        answers come out.  There is rather dense paragraph from
        which one can certainly work out, and I know Professor van
        Pelt told me what the totals were by but I have forgotten
        them.  One can certainly work out that the 4,756 corpses
        per 24 hours was significantly lower than the Russian and
        Polish estimates for incineration.  I think the Russian
        figure was 50 per cent higher and the Polish figure about
        30 per cent higher.

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Thank you very much.  I did not know that.
        You have given me the reference so that has dealt with
        that.  The other questions are really all rather broader
        ones.  Can I take them in what I hope is the sensible
        order?  The first one relates to deportation, and I will
        ask Mr Irving the same question in due course.  It is not
        really clear to me what, if any, is the issue between the
        parties as to that particular phase.

   MR RAMPTON:  No.  I have never understood that there was.

.          P-35


   MR RAMPTON:  Dr Longerich told your Lordship, and we accept, we
        have to, he knows a lot more about it than we do, that in
        the beginning the transportation of the German and other
        central European, French and Greek, Italian Jews was just
        to the East, where they were put into ghettoes which had
        been vacated by the murder of the Polish Jews.

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  A sort of two phase deportation exercise?

   MR RAMPTON:  Yes.  Then eventually, probably sometime in 1942,
        they started killing the arrivals.  There is a notable
        document your Lordship will remember from the Gestapo at
        Lodz, explaining how they cleared one lot and made room
        for the other lot.

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