Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day017.19 Last-Modified: 2000/07/20 Q. It clearly is an exaggeration, but you left it out because of space reasons, or was there some other reason why it got left out? A. It was not a matter of left out, it is a decision of putting something in. I had said in the original working draft that there were many exaggerations and I felt we had better be specific about what they were. Q. Then over the page, my Lord, page 51 of the new version, with bold face on the third line, you say: "Approximately 750 Jews were driven into each of four gas chambers, measuring 5 metres by 5 metres each." Is that a . P-168 reasonable kind of estimate of the number of people? Why did you leave out the phrase "measuring by 5 by 5 metres each or apiece"? A. As I said, it was question of putting it in when I felt I had to be more specific about what I meant in terms of Gerstein's exaggerations. Q. Would it be perverse to believe that, if that measurement, the dimensions had been left in, that would have tended to undermine the credibility of that sentence? A. Well, given that later I have 200 Jews per gas chamber and in another the 750 figure was already considerably out of line with other stuff that I put, I make clear in this from beginning to end that there are exaggerations and that Gerstein does exaggerate. Q. But he does not exaggerate just on an amateur scale, does he? He exaggerates on a Munchhausen scale. A. There are some extraordinary exaggerations, yes. Q. Can I draw your attention to the next paragraph, 184.108.40.206? This is one you left in, I believe? A. This was there. Q. "The following day Gerstein drove to Treblinka where the gassing facilities were larger and he saw, you quote, veritable mounds of clothing and underwear 115 to 130 feet high". A. Yes, which I would suggest was that I was putting in already in the first draft considerable materials that . P-169 were demonstrating my conclusion that much of his report was exaggerated. I added further material. Certainly in the working draft there was no attempt to hide that fact. Q. But would you agree ---- A. You suggest that there was some sort of cover up or sinister attempt to sanitize Gerstein, I do not think that is borne out by looking at either first and second draft. Q. I am not trying to suggest that you tried to cover up or sanitize, but merely to make passages you wanted to rely on seem more plausible. I put it to you that, if you had left these passages in, it would have totally demolished the veracity of this witness, and no responsible historian would have dreamed of using Gerstein as a source. A. They are in, and I use him, and others have used him, and we use him with caution. Q. They are in now, of course, because you subsequently amended your report to include them. A. Well, "amend" is not the right word. As I have said, it was a mistake by Mishcon de Reya to have turned over what was not the final draft. Q. In other words, in your first draft? A. Do you write one book in one sitting, or do you revise things as you go, and do you reflect about what you are writing? I have things in a number of drafts. Q. I quote Mr Rampton and say you are not allowed to ask me questions. I am the one who asks the questions. . P-170 A. Then let me phrase it this way. I write in many drafts. I would expect any careful author would write a number of drafts, the second and third drafts would not be identical, or one would not write numerous drafts. Q. Out of your own mouth, Professor, you are condemning yourself. That implies that in your first draft you chose to leave all these passages out, and only later did you decide to put them back in again for whatever reason. A. It is not a matter of having decided to leave out, I was constructing it. I said in the initial draft there were many exaggerations. Looking at it, I said let us spell that out more clearly. Q. Does it not indicate in fact, if you read these monstrous exaggerations by Gerstein, that he was a man with a severely disordered mind, which finally crashed when he committed suicide in prison? A. I think he was a man that was utter traumatised and unstable. Q. Yes. In other words, totally unreliable and undependable and it was responsible to base an important piece of history just on the eyewitness testimony of this man because -- is there any other eyewitness testimony of equal colour? A. Two things wrong. To say he is unstable is not identical to saying unreliable. To say that it is the only testimony is false because we have lots of other . P-171 testimony. Q. Are you referring to Pfannenstiel? A. We certainly are. Q. Are you referring to what Gerstein is alleged to have said to a Swedish diplomat? A. Yes. Q. When did this conversation with a Swedish diplomat take place? A. August 21, 22, coming back from Warsaw. Q. In 1942? A. Yes. Q. What date is the Swedish diplomatic memorandum on that conversation? Was it contemporary or was it written years later? A. The one that is in the file of the Swedish Foreign Office was written after the war. Q. Three years later. Was there any opportunity for that Swedish Foreign Office gentlemen to have cross- pollinated his knowledge with what he had read in the Allied and Swedish newspapers about what had been discovered? A. I have no idea on that. Q. No, but you agree that, if this Swedish diplomat had written a contemporary memorandum dated August 1942, that would have very strong evidentiary value? A. That would have been much stronger. Q. Something written after the war in 1945, for various . P-172 reasons, is less dependable? A. It is evidence of less strength than one written at the time. Q. Why did this man Pfannenstiel accompany Gerstein on his visits to these extermination camps? A. I do not know why he went. Q. What was his position? A. He was a Professor. Q. Was he a Professor at the Institute of Hygiene in Berlin? Yes, not in Berlin, Mabuch on the Lan. Q. And why did he accompany Gerstein? A. I do not know. Q. Was that the kind of position where a Professor would accompany an SS officer in connection with controlling epidemics? A. It could well be that he would be invited along as an expert or someone who wanted to learn, or that the SS was trying to bring in, I do not know. There are a number of possible explanations. Q. Pfannenstiel, of course, after the war, am I right, testified broadly in accordance with what Gerstein had stated? A. Yes. Q. He confirmed that he had seen these things happening? A. Yes. Q. What did Gerstein testify that he had seen happening in . P-173 two or three sentences? He had seen gassings? A. Gerstein testified that he went to both Belzec and Treblinka and saw gassings at each. I am not sure -- yes, I think he said he saw them at each. Pfannenstiel said that he only went to Belzec, that he did not go to Treblinka, it could well be that Gerstein went on and he did not. Pfannenstiel only confirms being with Gerstein in Belzec and seeing the Belzec gassing. Q. Take these two people separately. Gerstein went to these two camps, carrying with him a hundred kilograms of Zyklon or some fumigating agent and his story is that, after he had delivered the goods, which was for fumigation of clothing -- and he himself states that am I right? A. Yes. Q. That the local SS people then gave him a treat and let him watch a gassing on the following day. Is that plausible in your view? A. Well, I think they said they did some of the work in Lublin and then they took him up, and of course, by his account, he had gotten into the SS to find out what he could. So he would have taken this opportunity. Q. Is there any reason why they should have shown him something that was top secret? A. To people in Lublin this was not top secret, and he was a member of the SS. Q. What about Pfannenstiel? Why should they have shown to . P-174 this Professor of Hygiene one of the most secret and deadly operations going on, namely the Final Solution and operation? Why should they have done that? A. I do not know why they should have done that. Q. Can you think of any reason why Pfannenstiel, testifying in a West German court after the war, would have said that he had seen these things? A. It led to a lot more interrogations. If he had denied it entirely, I think nothing would have happened, and, when he said this, nothing happened either, because witnessing it was not committing a crime. Q. You are absolutely right. Witnessing was not committing a crime and Mr Gerstein, was he still alive at that time? A. No. Q. He was dead. So, by saying that Gerstein had witnessed it and was involved bringing Zyklon and so on, that did not hurt Gerstein either, did it? A. Gerstein was dead. Q. There was no skin off Pfannenstiel's nose to accept whatever was put to him? A. I think it led to a series of interrogations and, if it had not happened, he would have said it. He had no reason to incriminate, not incriminate but to involve himself in supporting Gerstein's account if it had not occurred. To me, it would have been much more likely that he would, even if it happened, have denied it than vice versa. . P-175 Q. Surely, if he had denied it, then he would have been subjected to even more intensive interrogations until finally he came round. Is that not more likely? A. These are German interrogations in the 1950s and, from my looking through a number of court cases, the notion that he would have been subjected to ongoing pressures and whatever, I see no evidence of that in the Belzec trial or other trials of this sort. Q. Gerstein has however been pretty comprehensively discredited as an eyewitness, has he not? A. Gerstein, as I think most would agree, was a very traumatized and, they decided, unstable individual, but what he witnessed, in terms of having been in Belzec, that he knows the names of several of these people, he gets them slightly wrong but close enough, whatever, he could have come up with those names in his cell in 1945 when the Allies had absolutely no knowledge of the names of the personnel in these camps. How could he have known that there were Galetian transports in August? This was not knowledge in 1945. He knows a number of things that could not have been known if he had not been there. In that case, in those areas, I think one can say that this is a witness that is telling what he saw, even if it is in a highly excited and exaggerated mode. Q. So his visit is plausible but one is entitled to disbelieve large parts of what he claims to have seen? . P-176 A. If this was the only witness for all of Operation Reinhardt, we would say that this is a very contested one. What he did say in fact, there is very good plausibility in the details of which he tells us about some things that he could not have known if he had not been there, and in turn it is confirmed by a number of other witnesses. Q. Does it not tell us something about the integrity of historians who have relied so wholeheartedly on Gerstein and have suppressed the details which you omitted from your original report. I am not pointing a finger at you, Professor, I am just talking about a number of other historians. I am not going to mention any names. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Why does it matter for our purposes, what other historians may have made of Gerstein? I do not understand. MR IRVING: It does not matter at all. MR JUSTICE GRAY: I do not think it really does if one thinks about it.
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