Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day007.06 Last-Modified: 2000/07/20 MR IRVING: "I found it unimaginable", yes, why not, "I found it unimaginable that he could proceed on so vast an enterprise without obtaining his master's approval". To put it the other way round, you imagined that he did obtain his master's approval, Professor Watt? Is that so? Is that what you are saying? You imagined that he must have obtained Hitler's approval? A. I assumed that, given his character, he would have at least thought he had Hitler's approval. Q. Yes. A. The difficulty in dealing with Hitler is that he himself defines secrecy in four different categories, the top one being ideas that I have not myself finally resolved, and the next one being ideas that I do not communicate to anybody. Then there is the James bond like category, for . P-45 your eyes only, or, as Germans say, between four eyes, and then there is the normal category. It is in that area where the absence of evidence to my mind, it is a historical challenge but I do not think that it is conclusive in the way other people have assumed it is. Q. Professor Watt, I do not to labour the point too much because, of course, it is well known that in my biographies of Hitler I have accepted that after October 1943, after Himmler's famous speech at Posun, the way I put it is that Hitler had no excuse for not knowing. Would this be a perverse reading of the situation, that he had no excuse for not knowing from that time on? He could not really get away with saying, I did not know what was going on? Am I wrong in suggesting that? A. The difficulty is that Hitler's theory of the state, anything that was done in the state was done in his name. He would justify it retrospectively if he did not know about it. This is an area, I am talking here not having done the kind of detailed work which is in front of the court on this, and I am simply producing a judgment based on the work I have done on Hitler ---- Q. Professor Watt, if I was William Showler writing a book about the rise and fall of the Third Reich, then quite clearly this was Hitler's fault, this was Hitler's responsibility. But, if you have a student who is writing an examination of Adolf Hitler's personal responsibility, . P-46 which is germane to the issues before the court, then you do come up against a bit of brick wall as far as acceptable evidence goes. You really have to start using what you yourself call your imagination. You imagine that Hitler probably, you cannot imagine that he did not, and this kind of thing, and that is very dangerous, would you not agree? It is a dangerous kind of basis. Imagination is a picking on a particular word I used here because I was trying very hard to present a review of your book, which did not descend into denouncing it as being contrary to what everybody knows. Q. Mr Rampton, do you wish me to read any more of that paragraph? MR RAMPTON: Yes. It would save me from doing so. MR IRVING: "For myself, I found it initially not unpersuasive until I reflected on the character of Himmler"- this is yourself writing, Professor Watt. "I found it unimaginable that he could proceed on so vast an enterprise without obtaining his master's approval. Heydrich would have been another matter. There are very large areas in which we have only the slenderest of indications as to what was going on in Hitler's mind. Like Roosevelt, he said different things to different audiences but, like Roosevelt, he committed nothing of his own thoughts to paper. In such circumstances inference is a legitimate historical method." Is that enough, Mr Rampton? . P-47 A. Then I go on to say "But to infer Hitler's ignorance, to assume that Himmler and his minions went beyond the limits of what Hitler had approved, seems to assume something inherently improbable and out of keeping with all we know of Himmler's relationship to Hitler". What I am getting at there is that again, as in so much of this biographical approach, there is a kind of build your own Hitler, build your own Roosevelt, build your own Himmler, out of kits which are supplied. Q. There are different images. There is the Madison Avenue image. A. My feeling about Himmler was that he was a man who was almost incapable of originating anything himself unless he had what he thought was approval from above, that he was a man who was dependent on approval of those whom he idolised. Q. Professor Watt, Himmler's brother actually told me the same. He said, I cannot imagine Heinny would have done this on his own. He said he was a bit of a coward. I think I mentioned this also in my books. A. Towards the end, he began to lose confidence in Hitler and he became open to the sort of arguments that were advanced by senior SS officers, the belief that the Allies would make a separate peace with him and so on, and he reached a point where Hitler believed that he was being betrayed, and there is an expression of his disbelief at this. . P-48 Q. But that is another story, as they say. Can I draw attention to the fact that the passages we read out were written by you in June 1977, in view of the fact that 23 years have passed and still no document has come to light to shake the notion which you considered at that time inherently improbable, would you consider that my notion has become slightly more sustainable? A. I think I would be reluctant to change my mind about that. What I should say, however, is that the challenge that you then raise to the historical profession. Q. The thousand pound offer? A. I was not thinking of money. I was thinking simply of the challenge of putting forward the sort of views you did and basing them on historical research, rather than ideological conviction, or at least seemingly so, has directly resulted in an enormous outburst of research into the ---- Q. Holocaust? A. - into the massacres of the Jews, into the Holocaust and so on, which is now so large an area of historical research that it can support journals, it can support conferences. I see that there are three scheduled in Britain this coming year and that I myself am appearing in one in America in March. This, I think, is a direct result of the challenge which Mr Irving's work and the consistency and the effort which he has put into maintaining it in . P-49 public, has resulted in somewhat similar ---- Q. Would you describe my notion as being perverse? Would you use that kind of word to describe it? A. This is an argument about nominalism. I think that it is perverse in relation to the values of western society, as I understand them. I do not think it is perverse, speaking as a historian. I have seen more perverse arguments put forward, for example the gentleman who maintained that Stalin hardly killed anybody, who held an academic post of some importance in an American university. I gather that he has now changed his mind as a result of being shown the KGB records and is editing a book which is hastily changing his position. I think to maintain that America entered the Second World War as a result of the machinations of British security authorities in New York is perverse. I think that the views that Stalin was about to attack Hitler when Hitler attacked Stalin, which is a view that apparently commands a certain amount of support in America and Germany and Israel, is perverse. There are areas of perversity and indeed the late Alan Clark's support for an eminent British historian's views that Chamberlain could have made peace with Hitler in 1937, and that somebody else besides Churchill have made piece with Hitler in 1940, I regard these as perverse. There is a lot of perversity about, if . P-50 one is to use that word in historical terms. Q. I hasten to say that those are not the issues that are before the court, Professor Watt? A. I know, but one has to put this kind of argument, it seems to me, in the general context of what historians, I think Professor Evans and I share views on the responsibilities of historians to tell the truth as we see it, and to be extremely careful and professional in our use of evidence, but I cannot say that the evidence that we both confront in the writing of history generally altogether lives up to those expectations. Q. Professor Watt, from what you know of my writings, do you believe that, if a document were now to be presented to me tomorrow morning in one of your plain brown envelopes, utterly confounding me in the issues that are before the court, I would hesitate for one moment to bring them to the attention my readers and that I would in some way suppress them, or do you believe, on the contrary, that in fact I would make them known immediately? A. I have no knowledge myself of times when you have suppressed evidence. But then our paths have not lain together very often. Q. We are nearly at the end of this examination-in-chief, Professor. You wrote a review, you may remember, some years ago of my biography of Herman Goring for the Sunday Times? . P-51 A. Yes. Q. It was the principal review in the review section that week as indeed most of my books were reviewed very prominently in my hey day. You began the review with the words which I shall never forget, "David Irving is one of Britain's most disliked historians but ..." Do you remember writing those words? A. I have not looked at that cutting recently, but I find it quite likely that I wrote it. Q. Quite likely that you wrote it! You did not of course stand in Oxford Street with a clip board asking the passers-by who their most disliked historian was, so this was just a subjective value judgment? A. I think so. That would be fair comment. Q. It is not, of course, a historian's job to be liked, is it? A. I do not regard the public's general view of historical facts as something against which one cannot appeal. Q. Professor Watt, would I be wrong in suggesting that the reason you used that sentence was because, on balance, you proposed to write a very favourable review of the book, which in fact it was, but you needed to purchase the right to so by saying something wicked? MR JUSTICE GRAY: We have the review. I think it will speak for itself. I do not think that is a helpful question. MR IRVING: It is in connection with the next point, which is . P-52 why I have had to issue a witness summons. I see your Lordship wagging your Lordship's head. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Professor Watt was not anxious to come voluntarily. That must be the reason. There is so much we have to deal with, I just wonder whether those points are worth struggling with. MR IRVING: In that case I will end the examination at that point. Professor Watt, thank you very much indeed. MR RAMPTON: I have no questions. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Professor Watt, thank you very much indeed for coming. < (The witness withdrew) MR JUSTICE GRAY: Do you want to pause to collect your thoughts, Mr Irving? If you did, I would understand. MR IRVING: I think a five-minute pause might be acceptable. MR JUSTICE GRAY: I think the transcriber would welcome that. MR IRVING: Then how are we going to proceed, my Lord? With the argument or continue with the cross-examination? I would propose, if I may be so humble as to submit, that we should have the argument after lunch. MR JUSTICE GRAY: I am prepared to fit in with whatever you would prefer, unless Mr Rampton tells me that is going to be very inconvenient. MR RAMPTON: I have only one more evidence point that I want to deal with before I start on Auschwitz. I was going to start on Auschwitz today, not unless your Lordship tells . P-53 me I must, on the technical stuff, but on Mr Irving's own utterances about it. MR JUSTICE GRAY: So Holocaust denial rather than Auschwitz.
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