The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/07/25

                  Third, in the event, as was no doubt intended,
        the proceedings of the Party Court were a farce.  Of 16
        cases dealt with in the report of February 1939, 14 were
        disposed of with little more than a rap on the knuckles
        for the culprits, including 13 cases of murder involving
        the deaths of 21 Jews.  The two cases which were referred
        to the criminal courts were sexual offences against Jewish
        women - not because of their gravity, however, but because
        the offenders had been guilty of "racial defilement" (Rassenschande)!

                  Finally, the reason the Party Court gave for its
        leniency in the other 14 cases was that the criminals were
        in fact "only carrying out the unclearly expressed but

.          P-12

        properly recognized will of the leadership" - that is, Hitler.

                  Mr Irving knows all of this, but suppresses it entirely in his book.

                  The second striking example, amongst many, of
        Mr Irving's shocking falsification of history relates to 1943.

                  By the beginning of 1943, many of Europe's Jews
        had already been murdered.  Hungarian Jews, however, of
        whom there were perhaps 600 to 700,000, had, so far,
        escaped the destruction.  The reason was that the ruler of
        Hungary, Admiral Horthy, although Hitler's ally, had
        steadfastly refused to deliver up Hungary's Jews.  There
        was much agitation about this in Berlin.  Eventually, on
        16th and 17th April 1943, Hitler and his Foreign Minister,
        Ribbentrop, summoned Admiral Horthy to Klessheim, near
        Salzburg, in order to put pressure on him to surrender the
        Hungarian Jews into Nazi hands.  The notes of the meetings
        were taken by a man called Paul Schmidt and are agreed by
        Mr Irving, who used them for his own accounts of these
        meetings, to be very reliable.

                  According to Schmidt's notes at the first
        meeting on 16th April, Horthy protested at the Nazi
        leader's demands.  "But they" (the Jews) "can hardly be
        murdered or otherwise eliminated", he said.  Hitler's
        response was palliative:  "There is no need for that", he

.          P-13

        said, and added that they could be sent to remote work
        camps or down the mines."

                  The next day, 17th April 1943, Hitler's and
        Ribbentrop's demands became a good deal cruder.  Horthy
        again protested that he "surely couldn't beat the Jews to
        death".  Ribbentrop replied that they "must either be
        annihilated or taken to concentration camps.  There is no
        other way".  Hitler then followed up with this:

                  "Where the Jews are were left to themselves, as
        for example in Poland, gruesome poverty and degeneracy had
        ruled.  There were just pure parasites.  One had
        fundamentally cleared up this state of affairs in Poland.
        If the Jews there 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 could be infected.  That was not cruel", said Hitler,
         "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 once more?  Nations who did not rid
        themselves of Jews perished".

                  Mr Irving's account of this exchange in his 1977
        edition of "Hitler's War" (at page 509) is extraordinary.
        First, as an invented pretext for Hitler's remarks, he
        introduces the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, which did not in
        fact begin until two days later.  Then, immediately

.          P-14

        following Hitler's brutal assertion of the need to kill
        the Jewish "beasts", Mr Irving adds this:

                  "Horthy apologetically noted that he had done
        all he decently could against the Jews:  'But they can
        hardly be murdered or otherwise eliminated', he
        protested.   Hitler reassured him:  'There is no need for
        that'.  But just as in Slovakia, they ought to be isolated
        in remote camps where they could no longer affect the
        healthy body of the public; or they could be put to work
        in the mines, for example.  He himself did not mind being
        temporarily excoriated for his Jewish policies, if they
        brought him tranquillity.  Horthy left unconvinced."

                  As, my Lord, will immediately be apparent, this
        was a quite brazen piece of manipulation:  as Mr Irving
        knew perfectly well, because he was familiar with
        Schmidt's notes, this exchange had, in fact, occurred on
        the previous day (16th April), not 17th.  It is apparent,
        therefore, that Mr Irving quite deliberately transferred
        it to 17th April in order to mitigate the chilling impact
        of Hitler's stark observation about the need to kill the
        Jewish "beasts".

                  The account given in the 1991 edition of
        "Hitler's War" (at pages 541 to 542) is no better.  True,
        the spurious reference to the Warsaw uprising has been
        removed.  But so, too, has Hitler's repellant analogy
        between the need to kill animals which cause damage and

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        the need to kill the Jewish "beasts".  And the brazen
        transfer that Hitler's palliative remark on 16th April to
        this meeting on 17th is perpetuated.

                  My Lord, these two examples are but the tip of a
        large iceberg imposed of numbers of other equally
        egregious falsifications by Mr Irving in his written work
        and in his public utterances.

                  I conclude here, my Lord, with this, that the
        Defendants say, on this part of the case:  "Case proved:
        Mr Irving is, as was proposed at the outset of this trial, a liar".

                  My Lord, it might be thought that that would be
        enough to dispose of Mr Irving's claim, given the emphasis
        he places on the damage to his reputation as an historian
        which he says was caused by Professor Lipstadt's book.
        But the evidence in the case has covered a lot of other
        topics as well, and I shall, therefore, briefly mention
        them too.

                  Until 1988, Mr Irving had accepted the
        historical reality of Holocaust, but denied that Hitler
        authorized it or, until late on in the War, knew anything
        much about it.  This position, for an historian, was
        described by Sir John Keegan, the well-known military
        historian, who was called on subpoena to give evidence in
        this court by Mr Irving, it was described as "perverse"
        and as "defying reason."  Dr Peter Longerich, a

.          P-16

        distinguished historian of the period, who gave expert
        evidence for the Defendants, called it "absolutely absurd".

                  And so it was, for reasons which can be stated
        quite shortly.

                  The Holocaust - that is the systematic mass
        murder of millions of Jews, gypsies and others - took
        place in stages.

                  The first stage, beginning in the autumn of
        1941, after Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union,
        consisted of mass shootings carried out specially-formed
        SS groups and their local allies.  This continued through
        into 1942 and resulted in the deaths of up to 1.5 million
        Jews living in Russia and the Baltic states.

                  The second stage, which began in December 1941
        and continued through into 1943 or later, consisted of the
        gassing of the Jews of the Warthegau and Poland.  This
        resulted in the deaths of probably as many as 2.6 million
        Jews (300,000 in the Warthegau and 2.3 million in

                  The third stage, beginning with mass
        deportations to the East in the autumn of 1941, culminated
        in the deaths by gassing, mostly at Auschwitz, of Jews
        from Central, Western and Southern Europe.  This stage
        lasted until late 1944.  Reliable recent estimates of the
        numbers gassed at Auschwitz/Birkenhau give a figure of

.          P-17

        about 1.12 million.

                  Thus the total achievement of this horrendous
        exercise in systematic mass murder was probably somewhere
        between five and six million innocent lives.

                  The whole of this gigantic operation was
        orchestrated by Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsfuhrer SS, and
        his able subordinates, such as Heydrich, Globocnik and Eichmann.

                  As Dr Longerich explained in court, Hitler and
        Himmler were long-time intimate associates.  Himmler had
        been with Hitler during the 1923 putsch and Hitler
        appointed him Reichsfuhrer SS in 1929.  Throughout the
        War, and certainly while the Holocaust was underway, they
        met frequently, sometimes two or three times a week, often
        for hours at a time and often alone together.  It is,
        therefore, wholly inconceivable that during the whole
        three and a half years for which the killing lasted,
        Himmler could, or indeed would, have concealed from Hitler
        the enormous, systematic operation that he was directing.

                  This becomes all the less credible when it is
        remembered, as the documents show, that Hitler was the
        mainspring and driving force of Nazi anti-Jewish policy
        from 1923 onwards and that his anti-Semitism became
        noticeably more radical, if that were possible, from the
        date that he declared war on America (11th December 1941).

                  Thus, leaving aside all the specific evidence to

.          P-18

        be found in the contemporary documents, including
        documents written by Himmler himself, which, fairly read
        by an open-minded, careful historian, plainly implicate
        Hitler, the overall picture is compelling:  the Holocaust
        could not possibly have happened without Hitler's
        knowledge and authority.  It takes only a moment's light
        reflection to realize that the contrary idea is both
        absurd and perverse:  suppose, say, in July 1942, when
        Himmler went to Lublin and Auschwitz to review and advance
        the mass killing in Poland, and on his return had lunch
        with Hitler (as he did) that Hitler, previously in a state
        of complete ignorance, and in any case opposed to any
        Final Solution that involved any more than deportation of
        the Jews to Siberia or Central Africa after the War, had
        suddenly found out what Himmler was doing.  What, one
        wonders, would have happened to Himmler?  Well, of course,
        it didn't, not then or at any time thereafter.

                  In 1988 Mr Irving's position changed
        dramatically.  Not only did Hitler not know about the
        Holocaust, the Holocaust did not happen (which is why, of
        course, Hitler did not know about it).

                  The question is why?  Why this change in
        Mr Irving's position?  The one-word answer is: Leuchter.
        In April 1988, Mr Irving went to Canada, for reasons best
        known to himself, to give expert evidence at the trial in
        Toronto of a man called Ernst Zundel, a dedicated

.          P-19

        Holocaust denier, and since 1988, one of Mr Irving's
        staunchest allies and promoters.  While he was in Toronto,
        he met a man called Fred Leuchter, also proffered by
        Zundel, but rejected by the Canadian court, as an expert
        witness.  Leuchter was, it seems, some kind
        of consultant on execution facilities in the USA.  He'd
        been to Auschwitz and Birkenau to seek "scientific"
        evidence of the existence of homicidal gas chambers.  He
        made a report on his findings.

                  Mr Irving gave this report a cursory reading.
        His conversion was instantaneous.  Even as he gave
        evidence to the Canadian court, the Holocaust had suddenly
        never happened.

                  In June 1989, Mr Irving gave a press conference
        in London, triumphantly announcing the English publication
        of the Leuchter Report, with a foreword written by
        himself.  In his foreword, Mr Irving trumpeted the virtues
        of the Report, with particular emphasis on the chemical
        analysis of the samples which Leuchter had brought back
        from Auschwitz/Birkenau.  "Forensic chemistry" proclaimed
        Mr Irving, "is an exact science".

                  And, my Lord, indeed so it is.  Fred Leuchter
        had taken samples from the remains of the gas chambers and
        one sample from the delousing facility in the women's camp
        at Birkenau.  The samples from the gas chambers showed
        small, but significant, traces of cyanide, the active

.          P-20

        element in the Zyklon-B pellets used for the gassings, the
        sample from the delousing facility, relatively high
        traces.  Therefore, concluded Leuchter, the "gas chambers"
        could never have been gas chambers, because, according to
        Leuchter, the concentration of hydrogen cyanide needed to
        kill humans was higher than that needed to kill lice.

                  The Leuchter report (as Mr Irving has accepted
        during this trial) was riddled with numerous errors of
        various kinds, but this error was colossal.  As the
        material contained in the Leuchter report itself showed,
        the concentration of hydrogen cyanide required to kill
        humans is, in fact, some 22 times lower than that required
        to kill lice.  Thus, so far from disproving the existence
        of homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz, the Leuchter
        Report actually succeeded in proving the opposite.

                  Despite this, Mr Irving continued to cling, and
        still clings, to Leuchter's "forensic chemistry" as the
        flagship of his Holocaust denial.  In consequence,
        Mr Irving has, ever since 1988, used the Leuchter Report
        as the foundation not only for his denial of the existence
        of any homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz, but also,
        quite illogically, for the existence of any gas chambers

                  In the end, at the trial of this action,
        Mr Irving has been driven, in the face of overwhelming
        evidence presented by Professor Robert Jan van Pelt,

.          P-21

        Professor Christopher Browning and Dr Longerich, to
        concede that there were indeed mass murders on a huge
        scale by means of gassing at Chelmno in the Warthegau and
        at the Reinhardt camps of Belzec, Treblinka and Sobibor;
        and even that there were "some gassings" at Auschwitz.

                  His last remaining defence against the evidence
        showing that the crematoria at Birkenau were used to
        murder vast numbers of Jews by means of Zyklon B was to
        make the slippery concession that the gas chambers --
        known as Leichenkeller I at crematoria II and III at
        Birkenau -- were, indeed, gas chambers, but for gassing
        only (I quote Mr Irving's words) "objects and cadavers".

                  This last proposition is ludicrous.  If this
        were not such a serious matter, it would be hilarious.
        For the evidence, clearly explained by Professor van Pelt,
        is that the gas-tight doors in Leichenkeller I at both
        those crematoria were equipped with thick glass spyholes,
        protected by metal grilles.  Why, it was asked of
        Mr Irving, should these be required for the observation of
        the gassing of lice-infested "objects" and corpses?  Faced
        with this, Mr Irving retreated to the position that
        Leichenkeller I had been intended to serve an alternative
        purpose as an air-raid shelter.  This last refuge will be
        dealt with shortly below.  Meanwhile, Professor van Pelt
        also explained that when the plans of crematoria II and
        III were redesigned in late 1942 and early 1943, the

.          P-22

        corpse-slides or chutes appearing on the original plans
        were removed, and the entrance to the basement moved to
        the other side of the building.  Thus, if the re-design
        was intended to facilitate the gassing of corpses, people
        who are already dead, it had only succeeded in compelling
        those who were carrying the corpses to negotiate a series
        of small rooms, narrow passages, and staircases to reach
        the gassing-space.  Moreover, the plans were re-designed
        at that time so as to change the way in which the doors of
        the gassing-space opened from inwards to outwards, thus
        further impeding the carrying of corpses into the space.

                  Mr Irving's air-raid shelter proposal is equally
        absurd.  It is obvious that the Leichenkellers could never
        have served as air-raid shelters for an inmate population
        of 100,000 or more, even if it thought likely that the SS
        should have wanted to protect the inmates against
        air-raids.  Therefore, if the Leichenkellers were ever
        intended to be used as air-raid shelters, they must have
        been intended for the SS.  In fact, crematoria II and III
        are about one and a half miles from the nearest SS
        barracks.  The picture of SS personnel running from their
        barracks, round the perimeter wire, in full gear, one and
        a half miles to the crematoria, under a hail of bombs, is
        just plain daft.

                  Mr Irving's concession that Leichenkeller I was
        indeed a gas chamber is, of course, entirely inconsistent

.          P-23

        with his continued adherence to Leuchter's chemical
        analysis as being conclusive evidence that Leichenkeller I
        never was a gas chamber.  It is also wholly inconsistent
        with his final line of defence, which is
        that Leichenkeller I could never have been a gas chamber
        because the remains of the roof that can be seen at
        Birkenau do not show the holes through which the gas
        pellets were thrown.

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