Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day009.13 Last-Modified: 2000/07/20 Q. If they had found a smoking gun, if they had found evidence of a system establishing the link between Himmler and Hitler, anything like that, they would have caught the next plane back to Washington and held a press conference. A. Actually, I disagree with you on this, because now you assume that the issue which is so important to you, or the issue which is so important to maybe Mr Montonia, is also central to other people. I admit that, when Mr Pressac started his work on Auschwitz, he was very much inspired, so to speak, by the research agenda set by Robert Faurisson. For example, my own research agenda has been . P-111 completely independent of the issues raised by Holocaust deniers, revisionists or whatever name we want to give to these people who look with a very particular perspective into the files to find, as you call it, a smoking gun. Q. Do you not agree that it is quite an important element of the Holocaust story whether this was a series of arbitrary actions committed by individual gangsters and Nazi criminals, or whether there was an overall scheme or system directed by Adolf Hitler himself? A. I think that it is an important question in so far as you think this is an open question. I think that, if as an historian you have come to the conclusion, on the convergence of evidence and the work of many eminent historians, that it is not any more a great historical question, or a historical question at all, then I do not think that you are going to waste your energy researching that issue. Q. Is "convergence of evidence" another way of saying "reading between the lines"? A. No. "Convergence of evidence" is exactly what it says. That is, at a certain moment, for example, I will give just the example of the morgue number 1 in crematorium 2, that is a convergence between what sonderkommandos say about it, what Germans say about it and what the blue prints tell us, and what the ruins tell us. Q. This is the building where you say 500,000 people were . P-112 killed in round figures? A. Yes. Q. In the mortuary number 1 of crematorium number 2 in Auschwitz, Birkenhau. Can I ask you, please, in your report to turn to page 352? My Lord it is 352 of the van Pelt report. MR JUSTICE GRAY: Thank you very much. MR IRVING: Just going briefly back to the question of priority, which is not entirely unrelated to this, Professor van Pelt, do you recognize this as what you might call the verboder document? A. Yes. Q. January 29th 1943? A. Yes, I do. Q. We have not read this document in court, my Lord. MR JUSTICE GRAY: I know I have read this but I am afraid it has gone out of my mind what exactly it is. MR IRVING: It is a conference held on January 29 1943 between the central construction office at Auschwitz and the local AEG branch at Kattowitz, the nearest town. "AEG informs this is the record made and signed by the two participants in the conference that it has not received valid iron and metal certificates in response to its iron and metal request, which were partly already filed in November 1942". Has your Lordship found it? MR JUSTICE GRAY: No. There are an awful lot of pictures . P-113 around this section. MR IRVING: Page 352. MR JUSTICE GRAY: It is more difficult than it would appear. I have it now. MR IRVING: Page 352. It is a conference held on January 29th 1943, concerning electricity supply and installation of the concentrationslager, the concentration camp and the prison camp, at Birkenhau. The conference was held between the Auschwitz construction office and the local AEG office, the electric company, and I start at five lines downs: "AEG informs that it has not yet received valid iron and metal certificates in response to its iron and metal request which were partly already filed in November 1942. Therefore it was not possible for this firm to begin construction of the ordered parts of the installation. There is a great likelihood that, due to the continued delay in the allotment of these requests, delivery will take much longer. As a result of this it is not possible to complete the installation and electricity supply of crematorium 2 (that is the building we are talking about) in Birkenhau by January 31st 1943. " I jump the next sentence: "This operation can only involve a limited use of the available machines whereby it is made possible burning with simultaneous special treatment". Overlooking this, the overview of this document . P-114 is that the defence relies on this document, I think I am right in saying, as another pointer to the existence of something called "special treatment" in crematorium 2, sonderbehandlung. I am relying on the document for a totally different reason, saying that even Auschwitz, Birkenhau, had difficulty getting priorities. The purpose of this document -- am I right, Professor van Pelt -- is saying that they have difficulty running the electric equipment with the existing power supply? They cannot do this and that simultaneously because they do not have adequate power supply. It will blow the fuses or whatever? A. Yes. Q. Is this not an extraordinary document, Professor van Pelt? Does that not indicate that they had difficulty obtaining priorities even for an extra 100 or 200 yards of copper cable or whatever it took? A. I think it is not an extraordinary document at all, because the history of Auschwitz, or one of the histories of Auschwitz, is the history of the building department being unable to get anything done. Q. Because of lack of priorities? A. No. I think we have to go back to one of the fundamental problems that the SS faced in the German wartime economy. That is that the SS at this moment does not have yet Wehrhoheit. This means that it is not yet recognized as a . P-115 part of the armed forces. The armed forces can get supplies relatively easily in the wartime economy because they are given this priority status and the SS is not. On top of that, the crematorium we are talking about, the building which we are talking about, is a building which was commissioned, the original design had been created and all the paperwork had been done in early 1942, for this building, that is before there were plans to bring the Final Solution to Auschwitz. So one of the reasons that happened exactly at crematorium number 2 and not any of the other crematoria is because crematorium 2 is quite literally, both in its design and in its whole administrative history, a holdover of an earlier history of the camp, that is an history which is not connected to Final Solution because the Final Solution only comes in Auschwitz in 1919, the paperwork is not the right paperwork. So you do not find a document like that for crematorium 3 or crematorium 4 or crematorium 5. Q. It says here: "Because of this, it is absolutely impossible to supply crematorium 3 with electricity". They are referring again to the shortage of metal to build the extra copper cable to keep these things going. A. Yes, but crematorium 3 is an appendix to crematorium number 2. I was maybe a little too hasty on that thing. The problem is that, throughout the form, we are faced . P-116 with a situation in Auschwitz in which, in some way, this building in August 1942, there is a switch in the kind of design office after the Himmler visit of July 1942 which suddenly they will have to start to accommodate the Final Solution one way or another. There was a meeting on 19th August where these problems are discussed. Q. 1942? A. 1942, and crematoria 4 and 5 are then in some way brought up as a solution to that particular problem. Then, for a number of months, crematoria 2 and 3 remain in limbo in some way. It is not exactly clear, for a number of months, if these buildings will be fully committed to the Final Solution or not. Then what you see is that it is only by December that the final papers are drawn up for the transformation of the basement. Again, I think that we are dealing in this document with requests which have been made in November. It is the end document of a long history of problems. There continued to be problems in 1943 and 1944 with getting anything to Auschwitz. I am not surprised by it. This is basically the nature of getting things done in Auschwitz at the time. Q. But all this implies, certainly to any objective observer, does it not, that here you have a document dealing with sonderbehandlung, which either means liquidating people or it does not. If it does mean liquidating, then it is part . P-117 of the Final Solution which this court is told was ordered by Adolf Hitler, or by the system, or by Himmler at the very least, yet they cannot get the priority for 200 yards of copper cable. A. It seems also that what we hear from the historical record is that trains with Jews were parked on sites for days and days while other trains went by because the trains did not get priority to send the Jews to the extermination camps. Q. Would I be right in inferring from that remark and from this document that whatever sonderbehandlung was, or whatever these trains were going towards, was not being done in the highest priority ordered by Adolf Hitler or by the system? A. I do not think you can draw that conclusion. I think the only conclusion you probably can do is that administratively, and I am only talking administratively and maybe even technically, the Final Solution was piggybacked on some other larger infrastructure, technical infrastructure, something like that, which was already in place, and which of course makes sense because the Final Solution, by its very nature, is a short-term process. I mean already by the end of 1943 the Germans had been able to kill more or less all the Jews they had been able to lay their hands on. Only Hungarian Jewry were still there intact because they had been able to go to Hungary yet. So in that sense there is no need to make this - --- . P-118 Q. Professor, that is rather an exaggerated statement to say the Germans had been able to kill all the Jews they had been able to lay their hands on. Do you wish to reconsider that statement? A. No, I do not. I think that this is a very fair description of the historical situation. Q. There were very large numbers of Jews in Germany still alive at that time and performing useful tasks in the munitions factories. A. If you provide the evidence for all this very large number of Jews, I am happy to consider it, but at the moment ---- Q. Very large numbers of German Jews actually survived in Germany for one reason or another. A. If you give me the evidence, if you mention ---- Q. Is it not so that in some cities like Berlin or Stuttgart the round up was pursued with great energy and verve and in other cities it was not pursued with much energy or verve at all? A. My Lord, I am not a specialist on round-ups in Berlin and I prefer not to ---- MR JUSTICE GRAY: May I ask you a question and it is this. Do you accept that when, or shortly after, Himmler visited Auschwitz in July 1942, a decision was taken to accelerate the extermination programme, what you call bringing the Final Solution to Auschwitz? A. No, I do not agree with the way you formulate it right . P-119 now. Q. You do not? A. No. I think a distinction we made in the book, and which maybe I should make right now, is that there was a practice of killing Jews in Auschwitz before 4th July 1942, that from 4th July to 19th July, 18th July 1942, a kind of inbetween situation emerged, it is only a 14 day period, and that after 18th July, the Himmler visit, Auschwitz was really directed to become a place where a policy of extermination exists, so we move from practice to policy, and where the practice of killing Jews in Auschwitz before 4th July 1942, and maybe in a more larger sense before 19th or 18th July 1942, is the result of a number of contingent situations that the SS in general and particularly the SS in Auschwitz sees itself confronted with when certain groups of Jews arrived. Q. So it becomes policy but it does not become urgent policy? Is that what you are saying? A. It is certainly very urgent for the people on the ground in Auschwitz. They tried to get things done. Q. I meant for those directing the policy. A. I wonder what your Lordship means by "urgent for the people who are directing the policy"?
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