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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day013.17

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day013.17
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   Q.   Thank you.  "They are not too sweeping because, despite
        what I wrote in The Times, I do not think too much
        importance can be attached to the figures given in the new
        German documents.  On the other hand, they cannot be
        ignored.  I have marked a copy of the Corgy edition of the
        book and I am sending it to you separately.  I do not
        think it is necessary to print my letter to The Times as
        an appendix, as this would call unnecessary attention to
        the new documents.  If you have any urgent comments, I am
        at the following address in Spain, yours sincerely".  What
        does that letter mean, Mr Irving?  You tell me.  I know
        what I think it means, but you tell me.
   A.   I have no idea.  This letter was written 34 years ago.

.          P-149

        Would you run your own hypothesis past me?
   Q.   My hypothesis is a suggestion which you will need to deal
        with.  You had written to The Times.  You had withdrawn,
        and you had accepted, on the basis of those two documents,
        that the original figures were pie in the sky.  But now
        you do not want to draw attention to them.  Why not?
   A.   I will tell you what puzzles me, Mr Rampton, and that is
        why you have not included in this bundle the actual
        changes that I made, so his Lordship can judge whether
        they were apposite or not.  I have them here and they are
        in the little bundle I gave your Lordship this morning.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think we ought to look at them.
   MR RAMPTON:  It is quite right.  We should look at page 63, Mr
        Irving, which is in fact Montadori, the publisher, writing
        to you.  She says on 15th July 1966:  "Dear Mr Irving,
        I have seen your letter to the editor of The Times on the
        figures of the bombing of Dresden in 1945 and I wonder
        whether you would like us to publish it as an appendix to
        a possible reprint of a populicia Dresda".
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Your response was, I had better keep off that, I do not
        want too much attention to be drawn to these two new
        documents.  Now why?
   A.   Why do we not just look and see the changes I sent to
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think, if you want to and I see why you

.          P-150

        want to, I think we should.  The difficulty I have is that
        I do not quite know where they are.
   A.   Pages 6 and 7 of the little bundle, the one with the
        photograph in the front.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Has Mr Rampton got this?
   A.   Yes.  Everyone has it.
   MR RAMPTON:  I hope so.
   A.   It is page 6, right at the back, my Lord, the last two
        pages.  Unfortunately, my secretary has stapled in inverse
        order.  That kind of thing happens.  Alterations in the
        text of destruction of Dresden resulting from -- I draw
        your attention, my Lord, to the very last item on page 2
        of the last but one.  Delete this appendix, the order of
        the day, No. 47, so that was out.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Wait a minute.
   A.   I am beginning to understand why this document is not
        before the court until I brought it this morning.
   Q.   Are you referring to the English edition page numbers?
   A.   This was the Corgi edition, but the same document went to
        all the publishers.  It is dated August 28th, as can you
        see.  It is the same date as my reply to the Italians.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Have we got the Corgi edition?
   MR RAMPTON:  S of it.  I have not got the whole.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  This exercise is not going to achieve much
        unless we know what is actually in the Corgi edition.
   A.   Except, my Lord, if you look at the long paragraph I am

.          P-151

        saying to insert on the second half of the first page ----
   Q.   Page 226?
   A.   Yes.  That is my treatment of the new evidence.
   MR RAMPTON:  Yes.  I am reading it.
   A.   That was my take on the new documents as of that day.
   Q.   Yes.  It is the paragraph underneath the big paragraph
        which is going, you are suggesting, to go on to page 226,
        which starts "These figures must be regarded with extreme
   A.   Yes.  That is still my position to this very day, in fact.
   Q.   Oh, is it?  I see.
   A.   I am curious that this was not included in your bundle.
   Q.   Do not worry, it was not deliberate.  Miss Rogers could
        not find it.
   A.   It was not suppressed in any way, was it?
   Q.   No, of course not.  It is in the bundle anyway, Mr Irving,
        if you bothered to read the papers. This is a bundle
        prepared by us.  Suppress, my foot!
   A.   It is in now.
   Q.   My Lord, can we put it in this bundle?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I was thinking exactly the same thing.
   Q.   It should go behind the letter to Miss Calabi, should it
        not, so it should be 65A and B.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Where is this going?
   A.   It should be behind the next one actually, behind 65A.  It
        should become 65B perhaps.

.          P-152

   MR RAMPTON:  65B and C.  You have written in similar terms to
        Miss Amy Howlett, I see, on 28th August?
   A.   I wrote to all the publishers who at that time had the
        book under licence.
   Q.   Right, Mr Irving, let us get to grips with it.  What are
        your reasons for being suspicious of the new figures which
        suggest a maximum of, say, 30,000?
   A.   Well, it was not a maximum of 30,000.  He mentions of
        course all the numbers of those missing, and so on.
   Q.   Yes, 35,000 missing.  A whole lot of people fled the city,
        did they not, after the bombing?
   A.   Yes.  The reasons for my being suspicious, even of those
        figures, are, firstly, the statements by Mehnert and
        Fetsher as quoted by Funfach.  Secondly, comparison of the
        disaster that had befallen Dresden with the disasters that
        had befallen similar cities under similar conditions.
        Thirdly, the statements by large numbers of Dresden
        civilians that they considered those figures to be far too
   Q.   This is hard documentary evidence dating from the period
        by the Nazis themselves.
   A.   Fourthly, that the man who drew up the report dated March
        10th 1945, the police chief of Dresden, was ipso facto
        also in charge of civil defence precautions for Dresden,
        the air raid shelters and so on, and so, if there had been
        a huge casualty resulting from inadequate provision of air

.          P-153

        raid precautions, he was largely to blame himself, so he
        would have every justification to keep his estimates as
        low as possible.
   Q.   Is it not odd?  He has therefore doctored both reports,
        has he, or had them doctored?
   A.   I am not saying he has doctored them, but the police chief
        of a German city was also ex-officio the head of the air
        defence precautions for that city.  He was in charge of
        ensuring the underground air raid shelters, the static
        water tanks and so on.  In the case of the biggest
        disaster in German history like this, he must have been
        deeply conscious of the fingers being pointed at him for
        having provided no air raid shelters and inadequate air
        raid precautions for the city.
   Q.   So, Mr Irving, what is your rational, calm, best estimate
        of the likely death toll at Dresden now?
   A.   In the latest edition of my book, Apocalypse in Dresden,
        which was published two years ago, I think I estimated
        that the best margins for the figures which I would accept
        would be between 60,000 and 100,000, which brings down the
        original figure that I suggested substantially, which
        still puts me in a bracket above that contained by the
        police chief of Dresden.  But I have explained in that
        book the reasons for these calculations.  I have not just
        stated this as being gospel.  They are not carved in
        letters of stone.

.          P-154

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Mr Rampton, this all started with a document
        coming to light and I am trying to find where that is,
        because I do not think we ever looked at it, did we?
   MR RAMPTON:  Which was that, my Lord?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  This particular line of cross-examination all
        started with a particular document coming to light, the report.
   MR RAMPTON:  Two documents, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I am trying to find it in the table and I do
        not think we have looked at it, have we?
   A.   It is almost illegible, my Lord.  It is printed as an
        appendix to the Corgi edition of the book.  It is page 1
        under tab 2, that is, the major police report, and on page
        8 of tab 2 there is the minor one which was found in the
        West German archives.
   Q.   Thank you very much.  That is very helpful.  We have not
        actually even read what Evans says it says.
   MR RAMPTON:  I have given the figures.  They are here.  We will
        look at Evans if your Lordship pleases, 546
        and 547.  There is no dispute about what they say, I do
        not think, and there is no dispute about their
        genuineness, as far as I know.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No, but I need to know, do I not.
   MR RAMPTON:  I did read the figures out, but your Lordship
        should see them.  On page 545 your Lordship should start,
        which is the so-called final report of 15th March 1945,

.          P-155

        and it had all the right signatures on it.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Broadly speaking, they are all saying the
        same thing.
   MR RAMPTON:  Yes.
   A.   The statistics are exactly the same.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  What puzzles me is why you do not accept --
        I suppose the reason why you do not accept these three
        more or less unanimous reports are the reasons you have
        just listed from 1 to 4.  Is that right?
   A.   The underlying reason is that the report specifically
        states that this is the status as of March 10th, at which
        sometime the city was still completely ruined.  The
        cellars had not been cleaned out.  The whole of the centre
        of the city, I am sure your Lordship has seen the
        photographs of what Dresden looked like afterwards.  They
        did not have the manpower to dig out the bodies, whatever
        figure he gave was an estimate.  He said we have done this
        so far.  We have counted these bodies.  The latest book
        published by the East German authority goes into enormous
        detail.  They have now dug out of the archives the
        cemetary registers of how many bodies were delivered to
        the local cemeteries and how many rings were taken off the
        bodies and how many shoes were taken off the bodies and
        shipped off to be recycled elsewhere.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, I see.
   A.   Frankly, truck loads of shoes were taken off the bodies.

.          P-156

   MR RAMPTON:  Do you know how many bodies were discovered under
        the ruins of Dresden between 8th May, that is the day of
        the German surrender, in 1945 until 1966?
   A.   Yes, I have read what the latest book says on that and it
        is very illuminating.  They have done a very thorough
        piece of research on that.
   Q.   1800.  Do you know that between 1990 and 1994 when I have
        no doubt Dresden was being extensively rebuilt after
        reunification, they found no bodies at all?
   A.   Yes. If you see the heaps of ashes, do you think they
        managed to keep account of the heaps of ashes?  You are
        not looking, Mr Rampton, but you will see the photograph
        here, the heaps of ashes in the background.
   Q.   Put your horrid photograph away, please, Mr Irving.
   A.   Two photographs.
   Q.   Tell me how many people.
   A.   You see heaps of ashes and you tell me how they can count them.
   Q.   Tell me how many people you think were incinerated in the
        Altmarkt after the 13th to 15th February 1945?
   A.   Large numbers.
   Q.   Tell me how many.  35,000?
   A.   Large numbers were incinerated.
   Q.   Maximum of 9,000, is it not?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Give us your best estimate, Mr Irving.
   A.   I do not know, my Lord, not off the top of my head without

.          P-157

        looking at the figures.
   MR RAMPTON:  Where did the 35,000 missing people go?  They have
        not been found in the ruins.  You cannot incinerate that
        number in the Altmarkt.  Where did they go, Mr Irving?
   A.   Have you ever read -- I will not put this as a question.
        I have read the report of the police chief of Hamburg on
        the after effects of the British fire storm air raid on
        Hamburg, which described how, in the cellars and bunkers,
        they just found heaps of ashes, because the bodies had
        just self incinerated inside these buildings in the heat.
        Tell me how you can count them.
   Q.   The fact is, Mr Irving, that the scientific, the cold
        objective, clear headed assessment of those who
        investigated this matter in depth cannot get you beyond
        the figure of 30 to 35,000, at the very most, for those
        that died.  Is that not right?
   A.   No, it is not.
   Q.   Well, answer my question, please.
   A.   If you have been to Dresden, I have not been to Auschwitz
        but I have been to Dresden and I have been to the cemetary
        where they buried the bodies, and there is a big monument
        above the mass grave which says in a German poem:  How
        many lie here?  Who knows the number?  Nobody knows.

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