Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day002.10 Last-Modified: 2000/07/20 Q. Do you sometimes in your books make comparisons between the number of deaths caused by Allied bombing raids with the number of deaths caused by Nazi bombing raids? A. I think the word "comparison" would be wrong, my Lord, but I have done it in a way that possibly a journalist would, I have mentioned the facts in successive sentences. In my very first book "The Destruction of Dresden", if your Lordship were to turn to the very last page of that book, which I have with me, and it is in the bundles I distributed this morning, of "The Destruction of Dresden", the very last page says: "That this was undoubtedly a terrible crime. It was a crime committed against a city in Germany, a country which had carried out the most appalling massacres against helpless citizens." I forget the actual wording I used, but it is in that book. There was that kind of comparison. I do not consider it to be offensive to say too colloquially "you did it too" and when airmen say, as I asked them at the time, I would ask the Bomber Command airmen who pressed the button and dropped the bombs, I would say to them what were your feelings? They said they had no feeling because they could not see their victims. I consider this is not . P-183 an adequate justification but I do not think this goes to the issues in this case. Q. Yes. The next section is the allegation that is made by the Defendants that you consort and associate with some pretty unsavoury characters in North America and elsewhere; that is to say very right-wing extremists? A. My Lord, can I deal with this in summary in general terms? Q. Yes. A. At this stage, undoubtedly if they want to go through it piece by piece and name by name and phrase by phrase. MR RAMPTON: My Lord, I am sorry to intervene, particularly to correct a judge, but your Lordship might have missed a couple of sections, I think. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Have I? MR RAMPTON: After Dresden comes -- it may be because the way the file is arranged. MR JUSTICE GRAY: There is Hitler's Adjutants. MR RAMPTON: Yes, Hitler's Adjutants. MR JUSTICE GRAY: That does not belong in Dresden. MR RAMPTON: No. MR JUSTICE GRAY: That is rather why I skipped it. MR RAMPTON: Another route to the exoneration. But your Lordship went straight from Dresden to right wing extremism. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes. . P-184 MR RAMPTON: Along the way jumping over Hitler's Adjutants. MR JUSTICE GRAY: And Nazi anti-Semitism. MR RAMPTON: Yes. MR JUSTICE GRAY: You are quite right. MR RAMPTON: Hitler Adjutants is quite an important section, certainly. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Thank you for that, Mr Rampton. Can I therefore invite you to comment on the -- you will find this as page 7. A. Page 7. Q. The allegation that you really ignored the evidence when you claim -- A. Shall we go through 1 to 6 in detail, my Lord, now? Q. -- yes, if you would like to because Mr Rampton is quite right -- A. The allegation is that I ignored the most basic cautions in interviewing members of Hitler's staff. Well, jealousy place a part in this. Adolf Hitler's personal staff at the end of World War II, so far as they survived, were very bruised people. He had four female secretaries, they were all locked up for periods of several years by the Allies. I remember my friend, Ralph Hoffmann, who I invited to lunch just to see what it would be like to having a liberal playwright lunching with Hitler's secretary. When he heard that the Americans had locked her up for two years he said but why did they put you in . P-185 prison? She said I typed for the Fuhrer. I typed for the Fuhrer. He said, but millions carried guns for the Fuhrer. They were very bruised people. They did not want to speak to their own historians and they certainly did not want to speak to the former enemy. It took me many years to win their confidence by methods that might be found odious. I would become very friendly. In the case Christa Schroeder particularly, I would just invite her out to lunch and say Frau Schroeder we will not talk about the War, knowing very well that she would want eventually to mention something that happened. But at the moment I took out a pen she would clam up. She would not say anything, so I had to write a note afterwards. It was this kind of situation. Very delicate, drawing them out and then eventually after five or ten years Christa Schroeder revealed that she had written private letters to a woman friend throughout her time with Hitler and she got all those letters back. She produced the letters and gave them to me. The allegation is -- I think allegation No. 2 that I would use documents like that in injudiciously. Q. -- just one more question on the first criticism; you say that you accept that you did not approach the matter in what you regard as the ideal way, but you say there was no all alternative because that was the only way of getting these people to talk? . P-186 A. A historian is accustomed to going to archives or my reproof to the historians, particularly of the Defendants' historians, is that they sit if their book lined caves taking books out of shelves, taking a sentence and working it into their own fabric and at the end of the day not cricking anything to the sum total of human knowledge. I did the exact opposite. I ignored the book lined caves. I did not reads their books, which they regarded as a personal slight. I went to the very fountainhead of the information, the people who had worked at Hitler's side for twelve years. By then I aver and I submit and I strongly resent in this court on oath at no time was I not aware of the fact that I had to treat what they said to me with the utmost caution, and it was only when I was satisfied they were being completely frank with me, that I added weight to the evidence they gave me and I will give two examples of that, my Lord. One of them was Walter Frentz. He was the personal film camera man attached to Hitler's staff and he took the colour photographs of Hitler's staff which figure in a lot of my books. One day Heinrich Himmler said to Walter Frentz in August 1941, which he told me and this is the reason I am saying this, because I persuaded him to tell me something against himself. He said that Heinrich Himmler had said to him in August 1941, Herr Frentz it gets very boring here at the wolf's lair, doesn't it? We are going out to . P-187 the Eastern Front for a few days, do you want do come with us? Two or three days later Himmler said to Walter Frentz and Frentz related to me this one evening over a body of wine (he is still alive) at Lake Constance. Himmler said to Frentz, tomorrow we are going to be doing a mass shooting, do you want to come along and have a look? The next morning in the misty hours of dawn Frentz and Himmler and Carl Wolf, and a number of other SS gentlemen, Frentz himself is in the airforce, found themselves standing at one end of a field outside Minsk, at the other end of which, as Frentz described it to me, large pits had been dug out by "backhose" or bulldozers and truck loads of civilians who were being driven up and stood of this pit and being machine gunned in the pit. He described this to me in great deal. I do not have to go into all the detail he gave here, my Lord. His wife was very astonished to hear this. Halfway through this description his wife, Mrs Frentz, said, Walter, I have never heard this before. And Walter went slightly pink because I suppose he was in his cups and he had not realized he had told me so much. Mrs Frentz niggled slightly in the way that wives do and said, Walter, you say these were civilians being shot, were there women and children being shot too? Walter Frentz said, "I cannot remember", but you could tell from the way he said "I cannot remember" that he could. My Lord, I aver that if I get that kind of . P-188 information out for the first time from a man who has not even told it to his own wife, then I have succeeded in extracting information, even from Hitler's Adjutants. There is another episode of exactly the same character. I persuaded a man to talk to me who had been the Adjutant, not of Hitler, but the Adjutant of Hitler's Adjutant, his SS Adjutant. Hitler's SS Adjutant was an SS general named Hermann Fegolein. He subsequently married the sister of Eva Braun. Hermann Fegolein's Adjutant was Johannes Gohler, who lived in Stuttgart. Q. May I interrupt you, it is going to be helpful to the transcriber, who is having a fairly massive task with all these names if you when you mention a fresh name just spell it out. A. I have given her a list of 5,000 names. His Adjutant was a man I am going to speak of SS Colonel Gohler. I will not bother with the accents. Johannes Gohler told me that in the last days of the War, in April 1945, he was present when Heinrich Himmler, the chief of the SS came to see Hitler and reported that there was a concentration camp in Turinier (?), probably the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, about to be captured by the American forces, and what they should they do with the inmates, because they could not evacuate them all in time, Gohler said to me, Mr Irving, Hitler said, Herr Heiss Fuhrer, stay over until the end of the conference. After the conference Gohler said, after . P-189 the conference Hitler sat on the edge of the conference table with his legs dangling and said, "Herr Himmler, those convicts are to be liquidated if they cannot be evacuated in time". I asked Mr Gohler about that episode on three separate occasions, spread over several years just to see if there were discrepancies in the different versions, rather like a stereoscopic picture of the episode. The narrative remained the same. You will find that particular episode in my books on Adolf Hitler. That is an episode recounted to me by an SS officer against the reputation and honour of the SS and against the honour and reputation of Adolf Hitler, yet I extracted it from Hitler's Adjutants, or the person who I would certainly put in this category. This is what entitles me to aver once again that I have not failed in my duty as an historian in so far as the Adjutants are concerned. Q. That conversation, which I am bound to say I do not remember, is in "Hitler's War"? A. Certainly in "Hitler's War". Q. Cited in a way that accepts it did happen? A. Unquestionably, my Lord, yes. Q. I am afraid I have not got that in my mind. Yes. I think you were on the... A. That was number 2. Q. Yes. That is illustrative, is it really, about what you are saying about that criticism? . P-190 A. Well, the plaintiff, that is myself, is tendentious in his choice and interpretation of documents, rejecting out of hand the greater wealth of statements. My Lord, you will have noticed the subtle difference between statements and documents, I am sure. Directly implicating Hitler in the Final Solution and adopting as persuasive the few statements exculpating Hitler without any proper explanation for so doing. My Lord, in your former incarnation as a barrister I am sure you have also had to weigh statements and documents and decide which you attach more importance to. Documents in this connection are anything from a wartime document, a microfilm, a tape recording, an aerial photograph, a deciphered intercept, or even a building as document in this connection; where a statement made by somebody for whatever purpose, usually to exculpate himself and pass the blame on to somebody else, as frequently happened in the war crimes trials, is to be viewed with the utmost suspicion. Statements in my submission are usually relied upon by people who have not got enough documents, they have not got enough documents because they have not gone out and done the fieldwork. They like using the statements because they fit in with their preconceived notions, whereas the documents like the ones I have I mentioned, the Schlegelberger document and the Himmler . P-191 telephone notes are inconvenient. They find no explanation for them. So they prefer their statements to my documents, my Lord. This may seem a trite answer, but it is the answer which I shall give until they come at me with chapter and verse in cross-examination. Q. Yes, I think this is another example of an allegation that is really only capable of being dealt with by looking at the individual cases relied on.
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