The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/judgment-05.08

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Irving v. Penguin & Lipstadt: Judgment V-08
Organization: The Nizkor Project
Keywords: David Irving libel action Deborah Lipstadt

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/judgment-05.08
Last-Modified: 2000/04/11

The Defendants' case

5.188 The Defendants' case is that this note, despite its camouflaged
language, raises the strong suspicion that Himmler proposed to discuss
with Hitler at their meeting the mass annihilation of Jews. The
background to the note is that the killing of Jews had (on the
Defendants' case) commenced in November 1941 at Chelmno and some months
later at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. During the summer of 1942 there
was a wish to accelerate the extermination process but it met with
resistance. Himmler, who was in overall charge of the programme, needed
the support of Hitler.

5.189 Evans interpreted the agenda note made by Himmler as meaning that
he intended to discuss with Hitler the extermination of Jews (for which
auswanderung or "emigration" was a euphemism). Evans interpreted the
note in the following way: "Globus" was the nickname of Globocnik, the
Lublin Chief of Police to whom, according to the Defendants, was
delegated the executive responsibility for both deportation and
extermination in the General Government area. Two months earlier, just
before the mass killings started at Treblinka, Globocnik had welcomed
the order recently issued by Himmler saying that with it "all our most
secret wishes are to be fulfilled". Evans interpreted Himmler's agenda
note as contemplating the repopulation of Lublin with Lorrainers,
Germans and Bessarabians. The Jews were to be deported to make way for
them and then executed. That was Globocnik's "most secret wish". The
significance of Himmler's note, so the Defendants contend, is that it
implicates Hitler in the extermination policy.

5.190 The Defendants allege that Irving glosses over this significant
note and perverts its true sense. Indeed at p467 of the 1991 edition of
Hitler's War Irving uses it to support his thesis that Himmler did not
enlighten Hitler about the true fate of the Jews. He prefaced his
reference to Himmler's note of 17 September with these words: "Himmler
meanwhile continued to pull the wool over Hitler's eyes". According to
the Defendants, there is no evidence that Himmler did any such thing.
Evans argued that the euphemistic reference in the note to "emigration
of Jews" is not indicative of a wish to keep Hitler in the dark but
rather a reflection of the common Nazi practice of camouflaging
references to the policy of exterminating Jews. The Defendants contend
that it is inconceivable that Himmler should have prepared an agenda for
a discussion with Hitler about these matters in the knowledge that
Hitler knew nothing about them and with the intention of concealing them
from him.

Irving's response

5.191 In his evidence Irving accepted that there was possibly something
sinister under discussion between Himmler and Hitler. But he argued that
there is no reason to suppose that Himmler went into any detail about
it. Irving maintained that in Hitler's War he quoted what Himmler's note
said and let the readers draw their own conclusions.

5.192 However, when cross-examining Evans, Irving advanced the
contention that what Himmler was discussing with Hitler was the
resettlement of Lublin with ethnic Germans and the removal of the Jews
then in Lublin to make way for them. Irving claimed that resettlement of
those Jews, rather than their extermination, was the topic under
discussion. He contended that Evans's interpretation of the note is
speculative and over-adventurous. He agreed that the note proposed the
evacuation and repopulation of Lublin. But he maintained that there is
no warrant for reading into it that any discussion was intended by
Himmler to take place with Hitler about killing the displaced Jewish
Lubliners. Indeed, he argued, it was the resettlement of Lublin which
was Globocnik's "most secret wish". Evans responded that the deportation
of the Lubliner Jews and their execution are so intimately connected
that it is impossible to draw a distinction between them.

5.193 Irving defended the use of the phrase "pulling the wool over
Hitler's eyes" by pointing out that there is no reference on the face of
Himmler's the note to any of the sinister things which (as Irving
agreed) were by then in train.

(xi) Himmler's note for his meeting with Hitler on 10 December 1942


5.194 In accordance with his usual practice, Himmler listed in
manuscript the points which he proposed to raise with Hitler at their
meeting on 10 December 1942. One of them reads: "Jews in France 600-
700,000". Alongside those words there appears a tick. Himmler has also
added in manuscript the word "abschaffen". Longerich translated this as
"to liquidate". After his meeting with Hitler, Himmler sent a note to
Muller, the head of the Gestapo, to the effect that the French Jews
should be arrested and deported to a special camp (Sonderlager). At the
same time Himmler secured the agreement of Hitler that a camp should be
set up for 10,000 well-to-do Jews from France, Hungary and Romania, in
conditions "whereby they remain healthy and alive".

Case for the Defendants

5.195 The significance of Himmler's agenda, according to the Defendants,
when considered in the light of the note to Muller and the setting up of
a camp for well-to-do Jews, is that it reveals him discussing with
Hitler the liquidation or extermination of large number of French Jews.
The contrast between the fate of the French Jews who are to kept healthy
and alive and the remainder is obvious, say the Defendants.

5.196 The Defendants criticise Irving for his treatment of the note in
Hitler's War (1977 edition) where Irving translates abschaffen as "to
remove", which the Defendants allege misrepresents the true significance
of the note. In the 1991 edition abschaffen is translated as "to
extract" and the reference to setting up a camp for well-to-do French
Jews has disappeared in order, claim the Defendants, to remove the
highly significant contrast between their treatment and that awaiting
the deported French Jews.

Irving's response

5.197 Irving asserted that there were nowhere near 600,000 Jews in
France. He argued that his translation of abschaffen is correct and is
consistent with the word abtransportieren which is to be found in the
typed version of the note. Irving did not accept the suggestion put to
him that abtransportieren was euphemistic language adopted for the
official record of the meeting. He argued that his interpretation of the
note is borne out by what in the event happened to the French Jews: they
were transported to camps in Germany, where large numbers  of them were
put to work in the armaments industry.

5.198 Irving claimed that his account in the 1977 edition of Hitler's
War is accurate. He explained that the reference to the note was deleted
from the 1991 edition because it was an abridged edition and part of the
text had to be deleted.

(xii) Hitler's meetings with Antonescu and Horthy in April 1943


5.199 On 12/13 April 1943, Hitler met the military dictator of Romania,
Antonescu in order to discuss Romania's position in the war. In the
course of their discussion the question of the Jews in Romania was

5.200 In 1943 there were in Hungary some 750,000 Jews if not more. The
Hungarian government, under the leadership of Admiral Horthy, deported
many non-Hungarian Jews over the border into Nazi-controlled territory
where most of them were murdered. The Nazis brought pressure to bear on
the Hungarians to identify and deport in a similar manner the very
considerable number of Jews who remained in Hungary. But the Hungarians
were reluctant to comply, preferring to solve their own Jewish question
in their own way. A meeting was arranged between Hitler and Horthy: it
took place on two separate days, namely16 and 17 April 1943, shortly
after Hitler's meeting with Antonescu. The object was to resolve the

5.201 In the result the Hungarian refused to hand over Hungary's Jews.
Hungary was subsequently invaded and occupied by the Nazis. Eichmann
thereupon organised the forcible deportation of the Jews from Hungary to
the General Government. According to the Defendants in June 1944 450,000
Hungarian Jews were murdered at Auschwitz. Irving alleges that the
number killed is smaller.

Case for the Defendants

5.202 In relation to Hitler's meeting with Antonescu, the Defendants
reproach Irving for his omission to mention in either edition of
Hitler's War the uncompromising and anti-semitic words used by Hitler on
13 April in reference to the Jews. The minutes record him as having

     "Therefore, in contrast to Marshal Antonescu, the Fuhrer took the
     view that one must proceed against the Jews, the more radically the
     better. He . would rather burn all his bridges behind him because
     the Jewish hatred is so enormously great anyway. In Germany, as a
     consequence of the clearing up of the Jewish question, one had a
     united people without opposition at one's disposal . however, once
     the way had been embarked on, there was no turning back".

This, say the Defendants, evidences Hitler placing pressure on Antonescu
to effect a radical "removal" of Romania's Jews. Yet Irving ignores it
altogether in his account of the meeting.

5.203 As to the meeting which started three days later between Hitler
and Horthy, the Defendants' contention is that the evidence indicates
that at the first session, which took place on 16 April and which was
attended by amongst others Hitler and Ribbentrop as well as Horthy,
Hitler sought to persuade Horthy to agree to the expulsion of the
Hungarian Jews. He reassured Horthy that there would be no need to kill
them. But Horthy remained unpersuaded.

5.204 Accordingly, say the Defendants, at the next session on 17 April
Hitler and Ribbentrop expressed themselves more explicitly. The
Defendants contend that the language used by Hitler on the second day
points unequivocally to Hitler's knowledge of the extermination of Jews
in Poland, as does the language used by Ribbentrop in Hitler's presence
on that occasion. Minutes of the meeting on 17 April were taken by Dr
Paul-Otto Schmidt. They record Ribbentrop saying in the presence of

     "On Horthy's retort, what should he do with the Jews then, after he
     had taken pretty well all means of living from them - he surely
     couldn't beat them to death - the Reich Foreign Minister replied
     that the Jews must either be annihilated or taken to concentration
     camps. There was no other way".

Shortly afterwards Hitler himself is recorded as having said:

     "If the Jews [in Poland] didn't want to work, they were shot. If
     they couldn't work, they had to perish. They had to be treated like
     tuberculosis bacilli, from which a healthy body can be infected.
     That was not cruel; if one remembered that even innocent natural
     creatures like hares and deer had to be killed so that no harm was
     caused. Why should one spare the beasts who wanted to bring us
     bolshevism? Nations who did not rid themselves of Jews perished".

The Defendants' case is that these passages are significant in that they
afford powerful evidence that Hitler knew of and approved the
extermination of Jews. The flavour of Hitler's remarks points towards an
intention to exterminate the Hungarian Jews. It is difficult, say the
Defendants, to visualise any other reason why the Nazis were so
insistent to get their hands on the Hungarian Jews.

5.205 The Defendants contend that Irving in Hitler's War uses a variety
of discreditable devices to obscure the significance of the minutes and
to twist their meaning. They allege that the passage at p509-10 of the
1977 edition of Hitler's War is a "shocking manipulation" of Schmidt's
note of the meeting. In the first place, Irving gives as the pretext for
the pressure being brought to bear on Horthy by Hitler and Ribbentrop
the Warsaw ghetto uprising. But there is no mention of that uprising in
the note of the meeting, which, say the Defendants, is unsurprising
because it did not take place until three days later (19 April). Irving
marginalises the significance of Ribbentrop's remarks in the presence of
Hitler by tucking away what he said in a footnote (where Irving seeks to
cast doubt on the accuracy of Schmidt's note by quoting Horthy's later
draft letter to Hitler of May 7 which refers to the "stamping out"
(Ausrottung) of Jewry). Further Irving depicts Hitler as having used the
devastation wreaked by Allied bombing to justify a harsher policy
towards the Jews, whereas the contemporaneous evidence shows that Hitler
regarded the bombing as "irritating but wholly trivial".

5.206 But the major criticism directed by the Defendants at Irving's
account arises out of the transposition by Irving to the 17 April of a
remark made by Hitler in the course of the meeting on 16 April. The
Defendants allege that in a similar manner Irving minimises the
significance of what Hitler said. After quoting the statement made by
Hitler on 17 April which is set out above, Irving adds the following

     "But they can hardly be murdered or otherwise eliminated", [Horthy]
     protested. Hitler reassured him: "There is no need for that".

Hitler had indeed used those words but not on 17 April. He spoke those
words at the earlier
session on 16 April. By the following day the Nazi attitude had
hardened. By transposing to 17 April remarks which Hitler had in fact
made on 16 April, so the Defendants say, Irving diluted the
uncompromising and brutal language Hitler used on 17 April when
exhorting Horthy to kill all Hungary's Jews. Irving was, as he accepted,
warned in 1977 that he had made an error about the date when Hitler made
this remark. But took no action to correct the error in the 1991

5.207 The Defendants are further critical of Irving for watering down
what Hitler did say on 17 April when it came to the 1991 edition of
Hitler's War. Irving omitted Hitler statement about having to kill hares
and deer; he omitted the question why the "beasts" (ie the Jews) should
be spared and he omitted his reference to nations who did not get rid of
the Jews perishing. According to the Defendants Irving was guilty of
atrocious manipulation of what Hitler said.

Irving's reponse

5.208 Irving agreed that in his account in Hitler's War of the meeting
which took place between Hitler and Antonescu, he omitted to refer to
Hitler's anti-semitic outburst which included the remark that "one must
proceed against the Jews, the more radically the better". Irving
justified the omission by saying that it adds not one iota to what is
already known.

5.209 In this connection Irving, in order to rebut the claim that Hitler
displayed a vindictive attitude towards the Jews on this (or any other)
occasion, drew attention to the willingness of Hitler on occasion to
approve some merciful disposal for individual Jews or groups of Jews.
Irving instanced the permission given by Hitler for 70,000 Jewish
children to leave Romania and travel to Palestine. Longerich agreed that
there were times when Hitler exempted certain Jews from deportation or

5.210 In regard to the meeting between Hitler and Horthy, Irving in his
response laid stress on what Hitler said at the first session on 16
April, namely that the Jews would not need to be killed. He argued that
it was throughout Hitler's position that there was no need to murder the
Hungarian Jews, since they could be accommodated in concentration camps
as had happened in the case of the Slovakian Jews. Irving argued that,
when Hitler is recorded in the minutes of the meeting taken by Hilgruber
as having referred to Jews having "vanished" to the East, he was
referring to their deportation. Evans's answer to this was that on 16
April Hitler was setting up a smoke-screen and seeking to conceal from
Horthy what his true intentions were. Longerich concurred, adding that
Hitler's reference to the Slovakian Jews is significant because (as
Hitler must by this time have known) they had been put to death in
extermination camps.

5.211 Irving did not in his evidence dispute the accuracy of the record
made by Schmidt of the meeting on 17 April. Irving argued that the
reason why Ribbentrop said what he did is that the Hungarian Jews were
posing a security threat: what Ribbentrop was proposing was that, on
that account, they should be sent to concentration camps; if they
refused (but not otherwise) they would be shot. Evans replied that
Irving is perverting and distorting the clear sense of what Ribbentrop
said. Irving persisted in his claim that the use of the term
"Ausrottung" in Horthy's draft letter to Hitler of 7 May is significant
because it contemplates the Jews being forcibly deported rather than

5.212 Irving agreed that he wrongly reported Hitler as saying on 17
April what he had in fact said on 16 April. He also agreed that his
error had been pointed out to him as long ago as 1977 by the historian
Martin Broszat. But he contended that his error as to the date is a
matter of no consequence. That, he claimed, is why he did not correct
the reference in the 1991 edition of Hitler's War. There was no
deliberate misrepresentation or deliberate suppression. Irving asserted
that he included in the 1977 edition the substance of what Hitler said
about the Jews on 17 April. His explanation for the removal in the 1991
edition of part of what Hitler said is that it was an abridged edition.
In any case he considered that the omitted words do not add much.

5.213 As regards Hitler's language, Irving drew attention to the fact
that the internal record of the meeting kept by the Hungarians (as
opposed to the official Nazi minute) made no mention of the deported
Hungarian Jews being killed. There would have been no reason for the
Hungarians to conceal the fact that they were to be killed, if that had
indeed been stated at the meeting to be the intention. If Hitler had
said that the Nazis were proposing to kill the Hungarian Jews, one would
expect, suggested Irving, the Hungarians' internal record to include a
protest at such barbarism.

5.214 Irving explained that Hitler was distressed and angry about recent
the Allied bombing raids of cities in Germany. That was the reason for
Hitler's outburst to Horthy. Evans pointed out that in the 1977 edition
of Hitler's War Irving gave a different explanation for Hitler's
menacing words, namely the Warsaw uprising. Another explanation offered
by Irving for the words used by Hitler is that he was full of resentment
about the massacre at Katyn. All these explanations and excuses are
bogus, according to Evans.

(xiii) The deportation and murder of the Roman Jews in October 1943


5.215 Although this episode is one of those deployed by Evans in his
report to substantiate the attack upon Irving's historiography, I will
take it shortly because the Defendants did at one stage indicate that
they were not intending to rely on it. Irving nevertheless chose to
cross-examine Evans about it.

5.216 The position in Italy in October 1943 was that Mussolini had been
overthrown three months earlier to be replaced by a new Italian
government which promptly surrendered to the Allies. The Nazis thereupon
invaded Italy. Rome fell to the advancing Nazis. The country in general
and Rome is particular were in a state of some administrative confusion.
The position in the north of Italy was unstable.

5.217 Both the 1977 and 1991 editions of Hitler's War recount how on 6
October 1943 the SS chief in Rome received an order to transfer 12,000
Roman Jews to northern Italy where they would be liquidated. According
to Irving's account, the matter was then referred to Hitler's
headquarters and the order came back that these Jews were to be taken to
a concentration camp in upper Italy named Mauthausen to be held there as
hostages, rather than be liquidated as had been ordered by Himmler.
Irving argued that this episode reveals Hitler again showing concern for
the Jews and striving to ensure that they would be kept alive.

The case for the Defendants

5.218 The Defendants' case is that in his account Irving has again
manipulated the historical record and misrepresented the effect of
Hitler's intervention. According to Evans, Irving achieves this by,
firstly, suppressing documents which demonstrate that the background to
Hitler's intervention was a dispute whether (as Field Marsahll
Kesselring was urging) the Jews should be kept in Rome on fortification
work or whether (as Himmler had ordered) they should be sent to the
Reich and liquidated. There was strong local feeling in Rome that the
Jews should stay there. Evans agreed that the documents show that Hitler
directed via Ribbentrop that the Roman Jews were to be taken to
Mauthausen as hostages. But their fate was then to be left in the hands
of the SS, that is, effectively in the hands of Reichsfuhrer-SS Himmler.
So, Evans contended, far from interceding on behalf of the Jews, the
effect of Hitler's intervention was to place these Jews in the murderous
hands of the SS. The dispute was thus resolved by Hitler against those
like Kesselring who were trying in Rome to save the Jews and in favour
of the SS who had already made clear that they intended to kill the Jews
when they got their hands on them.

5.219 The Roman Jews were transported northwards, not to Mauthausen, but
to Auschwitz where they were in due course murdered. According to Evans,
the claim that the Jews were to be held at Mauthausen "as hostages" was
intended to disguise the fate which the SS had in mind for the Jews in
the hope that it would appease the anxious officials in Rome. Hitler
knew perfectly well what was going to happen to them. It was in reality
no part of Hitler's intention that the Roman Jews should be kept alive.
Mauthausen was a notorious concentration camp, where the inmates were
systematically worked to death.

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