The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day011.12

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day011.12
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   Q.   Yes, who advised him to rewrite what he had written.
   A.   -- Mr Vrba had no document when he came out of Auschwitz.
        He did not carry with him a document.  There was no
   Q.   He prepared a report for them and then they rewrote it
        with him?
   A.   I do not exactly know how he was interviewed there, and on
        the basis of these interviews they made a report.  I do
        not know exactly who wrote and who rewrote.  I know that

.          P-100

        the papal nuncio in Bratislava was very closely involved.
   Q.   Have you read the records of the War Refugee Record in the
        Roosevelt archives?
   A.   Which ones?  I have read the records as they were printed
        in --
   Q.   You have not read the original telegrams that came from
        McClelland in Bern?
   A.   From McClelland, I think a number of them I have quoted in
        my expert report, yes.  So I mean they were reprinted in
        facsimile by David Wyman (?) in his book, Serious About
        American Reaction to the Holocaust, his documentary
        collection.  So I have looked at those, yes.
   Q.   -- and you did not notice that the telegrams from
        McClelland make quite plain that the Vrba Report had been
        heavily edited or altered by this external committee of
        Slovakian Jews, for whatever reason?  You did not notice that?
   A.   I remember -- I mean I do not dispute the fact that this
        report, that this report, the origin of this report, is in
        Bratislava in 1944 and that members of the Jewish
        community were involved in that.  I do not exactly know
        what Mr McClelland said again.  We can look at the document.
   Q.   We are in a slightly difficult position with Vrba, are we
        not, because you rely on him to a certain extent; is that right?

.          P-101

   A.   In extent to what?
   Q.   As an eyewitness, one of the most important, he was one of
        the first one?
   A.   Vrba is very important.  Vrba is very important because he
        is the first one who brings a substantial account of the
        use of Auschwitz as a place where Jews are being killed
        en masse.
   Q.   He is now Professor at a university in Vancouver, is he not?
   A.   I think he is retired now.
   Q.   Would it be fair to say that great harm was done to his
        testimony under cross-examination during the Zundel trial?
   A.   I do not think that great harm was done.  I think that
        Christie got under his skin all right. But I think the
        attorney for Mr Zundel got under the skin of many people.
   Q.   I hope I am not getting under your skin if I continue this
        line of investigation and say would it be fair to say that
        Vrba finally admitted that he had never been inside one of
        these gas chamber buildings?
   A.   Yes, I think that he had never been inside. He relied on
        reports of others.
   Q.   So in this respect of course his eyewitness testimony is
        worthless, then, is it not?
   A.   It is you know at a certain moment to me, you work as the
        best you can, and, of course, I know that there was a --
        that one of the major challenges during the Zundel trial

.          P-102

        was actually on the diagrams being produced of the -- he
        produces a diagram of a crematorium, with the gas chamber,
        and unlike the diagrams of the camp site itself, which are
        quite correct, in the archeological sense, there are some
        problems with the diagram he has of the crematorium and he
        assumes that crematoria 2, 3, 4 and 5 in some way, he
        collapses then into one proposition.
                  However, if you want to understand -- I can draw
        the diagram by heart if your Lordship wants that, but if
        you understand actually how information which had been
        transmitted to him from people again who are not
        experienced in describing buildings and I today needed,
        you know, all the blueprints and all these reconstructions
        in order to make some points.  So now we have some
        "sondercommando" who in one way or another get
        information to him, and he sees these building at a
        distance and he knows something is going on there and he
        knows about an underground space and tries to put this
        together at a certain moment in Bratislava.  I think that
        ultimately while it is not ideologically correct, as
        Mr Song also noticed, it is understandable how the
        mistakes were generated.
   Q.   Yes.
   A.   In the actual plan.  So I must say that Vrba, while
        I would not say that he is like Olare in this case, a
        perfect kind of -- visually perfect kind of eyewitness,

.          P-103

        I think that he, given the situation he had been in, did a
        job which was as good as one can expect at the moment.
   Q.   You mentioned Olare.  My Lord, Olare was the artist, you
        will remember.
                  (To the witness) You will remember, Professor,
        will you not, that I asked you the length that the flame
        has to travel from the furnace to the mouth of the
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   We reached a figure of 90 feet or so, did we not?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Have you ever seen flames that are 90 feet long?
   A.   No.
   Q.   Will you take it from me that any furnace engineer would
        say that you never get flames from a chimney that is as
        long as that, or route that is as long as that?
   A.   I am happy to accept what your engineer says.  I am happy
        also to accept what another engineer has said. I have not
        consulted engineers on this.
   Q.   Regardless of what is being burned, even if it was trash
        from the incinerator or whatever they would not have
        flames emerging from the mouth of the chimney.
                  Will you also accept that the Germans, being
        very good design engineers, have also made adequate
        provision to ensure that no smoke would have come from the
        chimney either?

.          P-104

   A.   No smoke?
   Q.   No smoke would come from the chimney.  That is the purpose
        of the design of chimney roof.
   A.   Okay, it may be so or it may be not so, I cannot comment --
   Q.   Regardless, if you concentrate just on the flames will you
        agree that Olare in one of his drawings which you
        described as being very good of the outside of the
        crematorium shows flames and smoke luridly belching from
        the -- not just trickling out --
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Well, do not bother, it does.
   MR IRVING:  I am sure you know which picture I am referring to.
   A.   -- yes, it is tab No. 3.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  And it either is or is not intended to be an
        accurate reproduction of what actually was visible.
   MR IRVING:  If you have read Pressac, Professor, do you
        remember the passage where Olare states that the SS turned
        bodies into sausages?
   A.   I do not remember that, I am sorry.
   Q.   I think it is on page 255, I will look for it in the lunch
        break.  My Lord, I will only have about one hour to do
        with this witness after lunch if it is a useful guide.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  It is very helpful to know, but do not feel
        under any pressure, obviously.
   MR IRVING:  We saw in the slides that you showed to us the

.          P-105

        concrete being poured, if I can put it that way, on the
        roof of -- not this building, not the alleged mass gas
        chamber, but the crematorium No. 2, the mortuary No.  2; is
        that right?
   A.   Yes, it is this building, but it is mortuary No. 2.
   Q.   It is the different one?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   I must say that took me back 30 years when I saw concrete
        being poured, because I know what it means.  I know that
        the reinforcing wires and the bars and everything, how
        they are all put in.  There were no drawings made, were
        there, of those bars?  You yourself said that you could
        not produce the drawings of the actual --
   A.   I have not seen the drawings.  I do not know if drawings
        were made. Generally I do not think that actually that
        much of this, as far as I know, runs on more or less kind
        of, you know, accepted kind of procedures.
   Q.   -- rule of thumb, yes.
   A.   Yes.  So that it is unlikely to find -- I have not seen
        any drawings in the Auschwitz archive of any reinforcing
        or any particular concrete construction.
   Q.   When I worked with John Laing the position of every bar
        was drawn on a drawing, but you say there are no such
        drawings and under wartime conditions presumably there were not.
                  We are now switching from the one we saw in the

.          P-106

        picture, to the alleged factory of death, this gas chamber
        here where you say 500,000 people were killed; we are back
        on the question of roof again.  We do not have pictures of
        that roof being poured, but it would be fair to assume
        that there would be the same kind of reinforcing that went
        that room, steel bars?
   A.   Yes, I mean there are fragments when the whole -- the
        pillar No. 2, there are reinforcing bars right there.
   Q.   Yes.
   A.   Which are bent, which have been bent.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Was the thickness the shame on Leichenkeller No. 1?
   A.   The strange thing is we do not have any section of morgue
        No. 2, but we have the section of morgue No. 1 because it
        was such a particular, complex section.  So I assume from
        the ruins it looks that whatever is there that the
        thickness was the same and I also would have assumed that.
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, can I refer to you the little bundle of
        pictures that I provided to you this morning, which is
        numbered Claimant's bundle D, photographs.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, thank you very much, which I have not
        looked at all.
   MR IRVING:  I am sure you have not, my Lord.  This was finally
        finalized at 4 o'clock this morning.  But it is going to
        be useful nonetheless I think, on the sense one picture is
        often worth a thousand words.  This answers many of our

.          P-107

   MR RAMPTON:  Well, my Lord, I have some reservation about
        this.  I am not being technical about this.  This little
        bundle seems to be a mixture of drawings, reconstructions
        by an unknown hand, and commentary by an unknown author.
        It is quite different if the Professor in the witness box
        gives a demonstration and offers his opinion.  I am not
        very impressed, I have to say.
   MR IRVING:  I am sorry, you have commentary.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Where is the commentary, I was wondering
        about that.
   MR IRVING:  On page 18 are you referring?
   MR RAMPTON:  Well, I do not know, I thought I saw some red
        commentary, I have only glanced at it.
   MR IRVING:  I think the red commentary, it is actually linked
        to other pages.
   MR RAMPTON:  Yes, but there is red commentary on page something
        or other.
   MR IRVING:  We can rip that page out.
   MR RAMPTON:  No, it is this; there is a lot of red commentary,
        actually.  Then there are some very pretty drawings like a
        child's picture book in different colours.
   MR IRVING:  We have had some pretty drawings thrown on the
        screen this morning.
   MR RAMPTON:  I know not by whom they were done, Mr Irving might
        perhaps be better off listening to what I have to say than

.          P-108

        interrupting.  The reason I am troubled by this is so far
        as I know the person who made these drawings and that
        commentary is not going to be a witness.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Well, I hear what you say, Mr Rampton, and
        I understand the force of it, but what I think going to
        let Mr Irving do is make what use he wishes of these
        photographs and if we come to a particularly problematic
        one then maybe it is going to be right to stop it.
   MR RAMPTON:  I follow that. I want to be sure that I am right
        though, this is not expert evidence from anybody so far as I know.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  It is not an illegitimate cross-examination
        technique in the end do not I think, so take your course.
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, thank you.  The drawings, of course, that
        we were shown on the screen were made not by the expert
        witness, but by one of his students.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  A slightly different situation.

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