Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day009.08 Last-Modified: 2000/07/20 Q. For making the statement that this transport arrived from Theresienstadt, that it was properly housed in Auschwitz and the Theresienstadt camp, and that the reason for that was to prepare camouflage against the Red Cross inspection? A. I have to rely here on the historians of Auschwitz. I have not studied the history of the Theresienstadt Jews myself. I rely here on people like Atler, who has written the definitive history of the Theresienstadt ghetto. I have not done any specific research into the history of Theresienstadt lager. Q. While we are talking about the histories of Auschwitz, do you agree that there is a high degree of politicization of . P-66 the writing of history about camps like Auschwitz. If I can put it like that? A. To be very honest, I have always been surprised how little politicization there has been. In general, I must say that, with the exception of the number of victims, I find Jan Sehn's history still remarkably useful. You know Jan Sehn wrote his history in 1945/46. I have been very impressed in general by the professionalism of the historians at Auschwitz, and in general I must say that for the people who have looked seriously at this camp I do not have too many complaints. Now, it is of course true that new source material has become available and new historical questions have been asked. I think one of the reasons that you were so interested in my book was because I introduced a lot of new kind of evidence about the history of the camp. But in general I must say that I think that most people have acted very responsibly, and with very few kinds of political prejudices in relation to the history of Auschwitz. Q. The site of Auschwitz has not really changed very much since the end of World War II, apart from the barracks being torn down and recycled. Can you explain to the court, please, why it is that in the very earliest references to Auschwitz, published by the Russians after the capture of the camp in January 1945, there is no reference whatsoever to the discovery of gas chambers, but . P-67 any number of references to other atrocities being committed there? A. I would like to comment on the document, but I would like it see it in front of me. Q. Very well. A. I think that, if we are going to interpret in this case an historical source, we should go carefully and slowly. MR JUSTICE GRAY: I think that is fair. MR IRVING: That is quite fair, my Lord, and tomorrow, with your Lordship's permission, I will bring the translation of the appropriate account. Can you explain also why the New York Times, in its account published in April 1945, referred to 5 million people having been exterminated in the camp? This is at the other end of the extreme. A. I would like to see it before I comment. Q. Very well. A. I can do that now if you give it to me or I can do it later. Q. I have another New York Times item here. New York Times, November 25th 1947, I will be happy to show it to you. I will read it out. It is a very brief paragraph: "44 Nazi officials of the notorious Auschwitz extermination camp accused of responsibility for the killing of 300,000 prisoners from a dozen European countries went on trial today before the Supreme National Tribunal." Can you explain the figure of 300,000 in 1947, . P-68 with the Auschwitz officials being put on trial in Krakow in Poland by the Polish authorities? A. My Lord, this is a number which also has come up in a newsreel of the trial which was shown in German cinemas. The 300,000 quite literally is, as it is mentioned here, prisoners from a dozen European countries. It was a number which, until the late 1980s, was also in the Auschwitz museum. It only referred to the actual people who had been imprisoned in the camp. MR JUSTICE GRAY: And registered? A. And registered. It did not refer to the people who had not been registered. MR IRVING: Well,, Professor, would you not agree that the court is entitled to find that a rather extraordinary explanation? On the one hand, we are told that 4 million people had been killed in Auschwitz, and yet these people were being put on trial for the murder of 300,000. There is no mention of the other 4 million in round figures. A. The facts are the facts, Mr Irving. I have studied this issue of the 300,000 where this number came from. It was a number that refers to registered prisoners. I do not know why the Polish court decided at the certain moment to make that issue the issue on which they were going to prosecute the people who were accused in Auschwitz. Q. Without any reference to the larger figure which was being set aside. I can appreciate that, in the case of a . P-69 murderer who has been accused of murdering 20 people, a court may decide to prosecute just on one murder, but at least they would mention the fact that 19 other cases were taken into consideration. A. Yes, but, my Lord, I have made a very careful study of the trial of the architects of Auschwitz. Maybe I can answer by just telling you in short that, during the trial of the architect Dejaco in Vienna in 1972, the prosecution ultimately tried to have him condemned for murder of one inmate on a building site. Now maybe you can explain to us or to someone else why this would be a proper way to proceed, but they ultimately did not want to take him, to actually challenge his statement that he had nothing do with the blue prints, that they had been made in Vienna. They just executed him, but an incredible amount of testimony was heard on this particular incident in which he would have drowned in a large bucket of water, this particular inmate who was not pulling his weight on the building site. Q. Can I interrupt you at this point and say that it is true that both Defendants were acquitted, were they not? A. Ertl was not officially acquitted, but his status remained kind of unclear. Q. I am not an expert on Austrian law, but certainly under English they law they could have then reprosecuted him on any one of the other murders. They could have had him . P-70 back up before the beak but yet they did not. He was set free. Both Defendants were set free and never prosecuted again although they were the architects whose names appear on those blue prints which were in your hands in Auschwitz. Is this not a remarkable comment on the state of the evidence? A. I think it is a remarkable comment on the way the Austrian court operated. I have all the files in my possession. Certainly after I came out of months of studying the files in the courtroom there, I must say that I lost much of my respect at least for Austrian justice. They had all the documentation from Auschwitz. They had all the blue prints. They had all the documents which had been under discussion, for example, in my expert report with two or three exceptions only. They got material from Moscow for this trial. They had the blue prints there and they were never consulted. Q. And yet they were acquitted. So it was a perverse result, in other words? A. It was a very perverse result and I think that, if indeed an expert witness had been brought in to look at those documents carefully, they would not have been acquitted. Q. Very well. You had these documents before you at the time you wrote your book "1270 to the present"? A. Which documents? Q. The Ertl trial document. I had the Ertl trial documents. . P-71 Q. Were you aware of the 1947 figure of 300,000? A. I was aware of that figure. Q. And that the German newsreel in January 1948 again said that in the judgment passed on these 40 men, many of whom were hanged, they were hanged for the murder of 300,000 people in Auschwitz? A. I did not know the newsreel. MR JUSTICE GRAY: The 300,000 were not grassed, presumably, if they were registered prisoners? A. Some of them would have been gassed. Others would have been beaten to death. Some of them would have been killed with phenyl injections. People would have been shot and people maybe would have died from beatings or other causes. MR IRVING: Did you make any reference to these lower figures at all in your book on Auschwitz? A. No, I did not, because I think these figures were irrelevant. Q. Were irrelevant? A. Were irrelevant. The book ultimately presents a cumulative figure of all the deaths in Auschwitz, both of people who have died as a result of murder immediately after their arrival and of people who have died after having been registered in the camp. Q. You are familiar, no doubt, with the book written by Professor Arno Mayer, "Why did the heavens not darken", in . P-72 which this Professor of Princetown University, who was himself Jewish and who cannot be called a Holocaust denier presumably, said that most of the deaths at Auschwitz in his opinion were from what he called natural causes, and that a very small percentage had been criminally killed in the accepted sense. What is your response to that? A. That I am very happy to discuss the exact statement of Professor Mayer if I have the text in front of me. I have referred to him in my expert report. If you are happy to deal with my excerpt in the expert report, I am happy to look for it, but I am not going to comment in general on what Professor Mayer said without having the text. Q. So are you saying in other words that you think Mayer is wrong? He got it wrong? MR JUSTICE GRAY: No. I think he is saying, I cannot comment on a document which is not in front of me. Unfortunately, it is not a document, it is a book. MR IRVING: Do you not agree that I accurately precis-ed what he said? A. I do not think you do that. I do not think this is accurate, what you said. Q. That Arno Mayer said that, in his opinion, most of the deaths in Auschwitz were through natural causes rather than from criminal intent? A. Again, I am not going to comment on this text. The question was, did you appropriately precis Mayer's . P-73 argument? I do not think so. It is a rather long argument. I know it has been taken out of context many times, and Mayer's text has been taken as "in admission" that indeed Auschwitz was not an extermination camp. Q. It is difficult to see how you can take that remark out of context. It seemed to be a very pithy summing up by him, which has been very widely quoted and caused much indignation, I agree, in the Jewish community. He may of course be totally wrong. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Professor van Pelt's position is again, I think, a fair one. If you want him to comment on what Mayer concluded, then he must have the right to look at the document. MR IRVING: Very well, my Lord. I will not delay the court by looking for that document now, but certainly we will refer to it ---- MR JUSTICE GRAY: I am trying to find the reference to it in Professor van Pelt. MR RAMPTON: Page 590, my Lord. MR JUSTICE GRAY: It is not where I would have expected. A. It is at page 629, 620. MR JUSTICE GRAY: I assumed it was at the beginning. A. It a little earlier also. It is actually in 89 that Mayer published his book. And so here, 594 and 592, all Mayer, 590. It starts at 590. MR IRVING: My Lord, I think possibly I shall leave this until . P-74 after the luncheon adjournment and come back with chapter and verse. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Whichever you wish. MR IRVING: Because we are rather drifting away from the actual camp site, which is the way I was hoping to take this cross-examination. If I may produce the photographs again, we had concentrated on crematorium number 2, where you said that 500,000 people (in round figures) had been killed by the Nazis in that one buildings, this you called the geographical centre of any map of atrocities, a very telling phrase. Would you tell the court what this little building is down there? A. Yes. It seems to be a pump building.
Site Map ·
What's New? ·
Home · Site Map · What's New? · Search Nizkor