What is meant by the term "Holocaust denier"
8.1 The threshold question is whether Irving has denied the Holocaust and, if so, in what terms and how comprehensively? Irving has at no time sought to controvert the following facts:
Irving did, however, challenge the proposition that there was a systematic programme, ordained at a high level, to exterminate European Jewry. He denied that there was mass killing of hundreds of thousands of Jews in gas chambers at Auschwitz.
8.2 That being in broad terms Irving's stance, it is necessary, in order to decide whether he is justifiably described by Lipstadt as a "Holocaust denier" to define precisely what is by that term. There has been some debate between the parties as to its meaning. In ordinary usage the word "holocaust" connotes complete destruction, especially of a large number of persons and usually by fire. Irving claimed that the term can be applied to the events of World War II as a whole. But I did not understand him to dispute that it is generally understood to have a narrower significance and that it is perceived to be specifically linked to the fate of Jews during the Third Reich (and not just during the war years).
8.3 Evans argued that the term is generally understood to denote "the attempt by Nazi Germany, led by Hitler, to exterminate the Jewish population in Europe, which attempt succeeded to the extent of murdering between 5 and 6 million Jews in a variety of ways, including mass gassings in camps built for the purpose". It follows that a "Holocaust denier" is someone who, for one reason or another or for a combination of reasons, repudiates the notion that the above definition of the Holocaust is apt to describe what was sought to be done to the European Jews by the Nazis during World War 2. Evans testified that a characteristic of Holocaust denial is that it involves a politically motivated falsification of history.
8.4 In the opinion of Evans, the views expressed by Holocaust deniers include the following:
8.5 According to Evans, whilst the expression of those views is typical, Holocaust deniers do not necessarily subscribe to all of them and the views of some deniers may be more extreme than others. Irving made the point that it would be absurd to label a person a Holocaust denier merely because he or she questions the number of Jews killed under the Nazi regime.
The question whether the statements made by Irving qualify him as a "Holocaust denier" in the above sense
The case for the Defendants
8.6 Evans considered that Irving's view of the Holocaust underwent a sea-change at or about the time he read and was converted by the Leuchter report on Auschitz. Evans noted (and Irving accepted) that in the 1991 edition of Hitler's War most of the references to the extermination of the Jews, which had found a place in the 1977 edition, had been excised. In the 1991 edition the liquidation programme is referred to as "a notion".
8.7 The Defendants' case is that Irving is one of a small group of writers who can properly be described as Holocaust deniers. The group includes Paul Rassinier; Arthur Butz; Thies Christophersen; Wilhelm Staglich; Ernst Zundel and Robert Faurisson. (I shall have to return to a number of these individuals when I deal in Section X below with the allegation that associates with right-wing extremists).
8.8 The way in which the Defendants seek to make good Lipstadt's allegation that Irving is a Holocaust denier (and a dangerous one at that) and that he fits well into the galere to which I have referred in paragraph 8.7 above, is by citing what Irving has said and written on the subject, principally from 1988 onwards. The Defendants contend that Irving stands condemned at a denier out of his own mouth. It is their case that on numerous occasions Irving has made statements which fall within each of Evans's categories which are listed at paragraph 8.4 above.
8.9 Amongst the assertions made by Irving which mark him out as a Holocaust denier, Evans noted in particular the following: his claim that the number who "died" in Auschwitz, "most of them from epidemics", was 100,000; his claim made expressly or by implication that the Jews had brought the Holocaust upon themselves; his assertion that that the conduct of the Nazis in exterminating Jews could be excused by the fact that they or their families had suffered in the Allied bombing raids; the manner in which he dismissed the totality of the evidence of eye-witnesses from Auschwitz as unreliable because it is the product of mass hysteria; his claim, often repeated as will be seen, that the gas chambers at Auschwitz are a lie invented by British intelligence; his denunciation the diary of Ann Frank as a forgery or as a novel like Gone With the Wind; his claim that the myth of the Holocaust is the product of a well-financed campaign by Jewry to legitimise the substantial payments made by Germany to the state of Israel since the war. This claim has been made by Irving on several occasions including the launch of the English edition of the Leuchter report. The Defendants contend that Irving qualifies as a Holocaust denier and that his denial flies in the face of the totality of the evidence.
Irving's denial that he is a Holocaust denier
8.10 In paragraph 6(i) of his Reply Irving answered the claim that he is a Holocaust denier in the following terms:
"It is denied that the (Claimant) has denied the Holocaust; it is denied that the (Claimant) has denied that gas chambers were used by the Nazis as the principal means of carrying out that extermination; they may have used them on occasion on an experimental basis, which fact he does not deny".
Irving made clear that he is unaware of any authentic archival evidence that Jews were systematically exterminated in any of the camps identified by the Defendants in the particulars of justification. As has already appeared, Irving has substantially modified his position since appeared pleaded his statement of case.
8.11 Irving expressed his resentment of the passage in Evans's report which described his alleged links with the Holocaust deniers mentioned at paragraph 8.7 above. He dismissed that as guilt by association. Irving testified that there was no truth in Evans's assertion that his views about the Holocaust derive from Rassinier, described by Evans as one of the earliest and most important Holocaust deniers. Although he agreed he had contributed an Afterword to one of Rassinier's books, Irving maintained that he had not read that book or any other by Rassinier.
8.12 Irving asserted that, at least until he came to prepare for this case, he was not a Holocaust historian. He claimed that the topic bores him. He submitted that his comments about the Holocaust should be judged in the light of his lack of expertise. He did, however, agree that, when appearing as an expert witness in the Canadian prosecution of Zundel, he had answered questions about the Holocaust. He also accepted Moreover he had to agree that he had told an audience in Toronto in 1988 that he had been going round as many as forty archives relating to Auschwitz. He accepted he had said that he was writing a book about Auschwitz.
8.13 Irving complained that anyone who analyses or questions the evidence relating to the so-called Holocaust is automatically decried as a Holocaust denier. That, he claimed, is all that he has ever done. He tendered in evidence, as being a useful guide to what Holocaust denial should mean, a somewhat polemical paper by Barabara Kulaszka, who was one of the lawyers who represented Zundel at his trial in Canada in 1988.
8.14 Irving made the complaint that the passages relied on by the Defendants in support of their contention that he is a Holocaust denier omit the context, which often puts an entirely different complexion on what he said. Irving argued that he cannot be termed a Holocaust denier since he has always accepted that a very large number of Jews were shot and killed by the Einsatzgruppen. Merely to question the accuracy of their reports as to the numbers shot does not make him a Holocaust denier. Irving pointed out that on one occasion in July 1995 he put the number of deaths of Jews in the Holocaust as high as 4 million (although he claimed that most of these deaths were due to epidemics). He argued that he cannot therefore be described as a Holocaust denier. Irving cited his biography of Goering as further evidence that he is not a Holocaust denier. The index contains several references to the extermination of the Jews which, argued Irving, indicates that the topic is comprehensively dealt with.
The oral and written statements made by Irving which are relied on by the Defendants for their contention that he is a Holocaust denier and the evidence relied on by the Defendants for their assertion that Irving's denials are false.
8.15 In order to evaluate the arguments which I have summarised above in relation to the issue whether Irving is correctly described as a Holocaust denier, it is necessary that I set out those extracts which the Defendants have selected. But it is necessary also to consider whether and, if so, to what extent what Irving has said and written is consistent with or borne out by the available historical evidence. For, as the Defendants accept, there can be no valid criticism of Irving for denying that a particular event occurred unless it is shown that a competent and conscientious historian would appreciate that such a denial is to a greater or lesser extent contrary to the available historical evidence.
8.16 The categories of publications and statements which, according to the Defendants, establish Irving as a Holocaust denier are those relating to:
(i) the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz or elsewhere;
The existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz or elsewhere
Claims made by Irving
8. 17 The extracts relied on by the Defendants are as follows:
(i) Christchurch, New Zealand – 26 March 1986
Irving's stated position as at 1986 before he read the Leuchter report.
'Q: What is the proof about the gas chamber and how many Jews had been killed?
Irving: I don't want to get into that argument..it's really an unnecessary question. [P refers to Dachau and the dismantled gas chamber..] ..which were just an invention of the American army. That is the only gas chamber that was ever upon German soil. The gas chambers which we all know about supposed to have existed on Polish soil, I haven't investigated them, I don't intend to investigate them, I am too valuable for that' (p40).
'Irving: I have carried out no investigation in-depth in equivalent depth of the Holocaust.
Q:But your mind changed?
Irving: My mind has now changed.
Q: You no longer believe it?
Irving: I have now begun to challenge that. I understand it is now a subject open to debate.
Q: But your belief changed even though you didn't do any research, is that what you are saying?
Irving: My belief has now changed because I understand that the whole of the Holocaust mythology is, after all, open to doubt and certainly in the course of what I have read in the last few days, in fact, in this trial, I am now becoming more and more hardened in this view.
Q: As a result of what you've read in the last few days? [That is, Leuchter]
[on the Vrba/Wetzlar report] '...The report that was issued, is a report that may be familiar to some of you, allegedly written by two Slovak Jews who'd been in Auschwitz, for two years, they'd escaped – how is not related, they'd fled across the lines and been picked up by the Slovak resistance movement and the Slovak resistance movement had then obtained from them this very detailed report running to 25 or 30 pages of life at Auschwitz' (p 13).
'... So it is very interesting to try and find out where the report came from. It's a report by two Slovak Jews and yet in the records of the War Refugee Board there are only two versions of it. One in English, translated from a version in German. There's no Slovak report there at all, in the Czechoslovakian language..... (page 14) ... And the interesting thing that occurred to me was that when this report came out published by the War Refugee Board in 1944, in November, five months after it came out of Europe, two newspapers immediately challenged its authenticity and refused to publish it. The New York Times and the Washington Post. Not just any two newspapers, but the two most prestigious newspapers in the United States. Initially refused to publish this report or to comment on it because it looked too phoney to them...(page 15)...A diabolical piece of propaganda issued by the Nazi Propaganda Ministry itself.... And the other hypothesis that I advance is even more insidious - that we British did it. We concocted that report ourselves. Through one of our exiled Governments in London, the Benes regime or the Slovaks. And this is, again, not just a wild hypothesis that I toss at you after jut doing one month's work in the archives, this is in fact the result of work done by Paul Norris one of Zündel's men' (p 15).
[on Marie Claude Vaillant Courturier] '... And here Judge Biddle writes in brackets in his diary "all this I doubt". Why didn't he say it at the time for heaven sake? But he just sat there with his face motionless, because he's an American Judge, but in his private diary he writes "All this I doubt". And so it goes on. The women being gassed, the children being torn apart, their legs being torn of by SS officers and a touching account of one baby, one child saying "Mummy how can I walk now this man has torn my leg off"? [Laughter/comments] I mean how can you accept this kind of thing' (p 18).
Letter from Irving to Zitelmann 21 May 1989: 'It is clear to me that no serious historian can now believe that Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek were Todesfabriken. All the expert and scientific (forensic) evidence is to the contrary'.
Letter from Irving to Hugh Dykes MP 30 June 1989: '...if you persist in believing in gas chambers, you are on a loser'.
'There was no equipment there for killing people en masse' (and hydrogen cyanide is wonderful for killing lice, but not so good for killing people, unless in colossal concentrations; the 'gas chambers' were 'routine designed crematoria') (p 15).
'I'm quite happy to nail my colours to the mast .. and say that to the best of my knowledge, there is not one shower block in any of the concentration or slave labour camps that turns out to have been some kind of gas chamber ... My testimony is that the forensic evidence suggests that they [Jews] can't have been killed in gas chambers at Auschwitz...' (p 34).
' The eye witness testimonies of the survivors of Auschwitz first of all have been dismissed by eminent Jewish historians now as being largely worthless.' (p 8)
(Irving was asked whether he accepted that there were death camps at Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor and Chelmno.) 'Sadly, we're not in a position to carry out forensic tests on those sites' (p 13).
Irving: 'Read the expertise which is in the Leuchter Report in your hands. The expertise on how difficult it is to kill someone by cyanide. More difficult than you and the Holocaust historians think' (p 14).
'I'm prepared to accept that local Nazis tried bizarre methods of liquidating Jews, I'm quite prepared to accept that, and that they may have experimented using gas trucks because I've seen one or two documents in the archives implying that there was a rollover from the use of those methods of killing...the same people who created the euthanasia programme, and they may have tried to [unin] of killing Jews, but it's a very inefficient way of killing people. The Germans themselves had discovered this and there are much easier ways of killing people' (pp 32-33).
(In answer to a question about Sobibor and Treblinka.)
'I think prima facie if they turned out to have been faked at Auschwitz then it's equally likely that they'd turn out to be fake at the other placed behind the Iron Curtain too' (p 35).
(Questioner points out there were no factories round Sobibor and Treblinka, they were entirely death camps.)
Irving: 'No, have you never heard of internment camps?'
Q: 'Yes, but 300,000 people don't get interned and die of natural causes in Treblinka as happened in summer 1943, I mean, it's not really plausible.'
Irving: 'Well, I'd like to see your evidence for it....'
'..the holocaust of Germans in Dresden really happened. That of the Jews in the gas chambers of Auschwitz is an invention. I am ashamed to be an Englishman.'
'it is being shouted to the heavens that these things in Auschwitz and probably in Majdanek, Treblinka too, and the other extermination camps, so-called, in the East, are all only mock-ups' (p9).
'....there is one statement, one protocol about a man who maintained that there was a one-man gas chamber. Incidentally, she sees that, this man was, he had a very good imagination, he said, there is a one-man gas chamber. So that is, just big enough to gas one single victim. And it was transported around the countryside by two peasants, like a sedan chair. And of course, there are problems with it: how, if you please, do you get the victim to go into this one-man gas chamber? Quite clearly: if I'm a victim wandering, around the Polish countryside, and then suddenly I turn around and there's a one- man gas chamber behind me, I'm going to get suspicious. Well, it was disguised as a telephone box. That's what it says, in the witness statement. So it's a one-man gas chamber, disguised as a telephone box – well, I'm still suspicious. Here I am, I turn around, and suddenly there's a telephone box where there wasn't one before. How are you going to get me to climb into it? There is probably a telephone in it, which rings, and the man [incomprehensible] waves and says "It's for you". It's laughable, isn't it? It's well, you could describe it as a "free trip to the other side". But it's in the archives. We can all laugh about it, in this little intimate circle, but the other witness statements are equally ridiculous. So, the witness statements are a case for the psychiatrists' (p 16).
'..more people died on the back seat of Senator Edward Kennedy's motor car at Chappaquiddick than died in the gas chamber at Auschwitz [applause]' (16).
'..until 1988, I believed that there had been something like a Holocaust. I believed that millions of people had been killed in factories of death. I believed in the gas chamber. I believed in all the paraphernalia of the modern Holocaust. But 1988, when I came to Canada and gave evidence in the trial of Ernst Zündel, as an historian, I met people who knew differently and could prove to me that that story was just a legend. I changed my mind and I've now revised the Hitler book so that all reference to Auschwitz and the gas chamber and the factories of death have now been totally removed and eradicated' (p4).
'So they want to know who else have we invited, these journalists. And I said, "Well, I'll tell you another class of people we are inviting, we're inviting all the chemistry teachers at every public school in Britain." "Chemistry teachers?" they say. And I say, "Yes, there's no point inviting the history teachers or the politics teachers because they're blinkered and closed minded. They all know about the Holocaust because they've read about it and they seen War and Remembrance with Robert Mitchum on television. They know it happened." But the chemistry teachers are coming to hear Fred Leuchter speak and they'll see the laboratory tests because we'll hand them out to them and the chemistry teachers will go back to their Masters' Common Rooms and they will tell the history teachers, and they'll be believed. So you can imagine that this is causing, this has really set the cat among the pigeons in Britain. And all the old stories are coming about, out again, about the eye-witnesses and all the vilification is starting again. And how do you explain the hundreds of thousands of eye-witnesses in Auschwitz? And I say, "Well, the existence of hundred of thousands of eye-witnesses from Auschwitz is in itself proof that there was no dedicated programme to kill them all." And anyway, as for eye-witnesses I'm inclined to go along with the Russian proverb, recently quoted by Julian Barnes, the novelist in a novel that he published called 'Talking it Over'. And he quotes the Russian proverb which is, "He lies like an eye-witness, he lies like an eye-witness' (pp13-14).
'And I'm in deep trouble for saying this around the world, that the eye-witnesses in Auschwitz who claim, like Eli Wiesel to have seen the gassings going on and the subsequent cremations, that they are liars... [page 14/15]...He's a liar. And so are the other eye-witnesses in Auschwitz who claim they saw gassings going on because there were no gas chambers in Auschwitz, as the forensic tests show. And I've got into a lot of trouble saying this. There's an arrest warrant out against me in Austria for using those very words. I said, in Austria, which is the criminal offence, when I was asked about the eye-witnesses, I said "Well, I've been waiting for somebody to ask me about the eye-witnesses, and to my mind the eye-witnesses to the gassings in Auschwitz are an interesting case for the psychiatrists." I'm not implying that they've got a mental problem, I'm implying that it's an interesting psychological phenomenon that people over a period of years begin kidding themselves that they have seen something. And the more they come to have taken part in a traumatic experience themselves, the more they are persuaded that they were right centre stage. They are the bride at every funeral and the corpse at every wedding, I think somebody once said' (pp14-15).
'And there are so many survivors of Auschwitz now, in fact, that I get very tasteless about all of this. I don't see any reason to be tasteful about Auschwitz. It's baloney, it's a legend. Once we admit the fact that it was a brutal slave labour camp and large numbers of people did die, as large numbers of innocent people died elsewhere in the War, why believe the rest of the baloney? I say quite tastelessly, in fact, that more women died on the back seat of Edward Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than ever died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz.[Laughter] Oh, you think that's tasteless, how about this? There are so many Auschwitz survivors going around, in fact the number increases as the years go past, which is biologically very odd to say the least. Because I'm going to form an Association of Auschwitz survivors, survivors of the Holocaust and other liars, or the A-S-S-H-O-L-S. [Laughter] Gorbachev....'
'...you've got to be tasteless because these people deserve all our contempt' (p 17).
'The biggest lie of the lot, the 'blood libel on the German people' as I call it, is the lie that the Germans had factories of death with gas chambers in which they liquidated millions of their opponents.' (p2)
'...Leuchter Report...shows quite clearly that according to chemical analysis, which is an exact science...And if these samples yielded no significant trace of cyanide whatsoever, then there has to be a scientific reason for it. .. So Fred Leuchter is poison for the whole of the Holocaust legend' (p4).
'...after Fred Leuchter did his truly epoch-making investigation of the gas chambers at Auschwitz, the forensic laboratory tests which yielded the extraordinary result which converted me, made me into a hard-core disbeliever, the forensic laboratory tests which showed no significant trace whatsoever of cyanide in rooms where apparently millions of people had been gassed with cyanide....' (p6).
'.. any historian can now confirm that nowhere in all the archives of the world has yet been found one wartime document referring to a Führer's order to destroy the Jews, or for that matter, one wartime document referring to gas chambers or gassings... If there's no wartime document that says there was a Führer order, if no wartime document talks of gas chambers, then there has to be some explanation for that' (p21).
'Where did the Holocaust legend come from? You note I don't say Holocaust lie because to say that it's a lie implies first of all you don't believe any of it, and parts of it have to be believed. To say it's a lie also implies that it's a malicious lie, that people know it's a lie and they've been spreading it knowingly as a lie for the last 50 years. I call it a Holocaust legend because then it has something like the quality of a religion almost. You believe things because you've been told it by people who seem reliable....It's a long chain of gullible people who over the last 50 years have been told it and have believed it because they had no reason not to believe it, and this is why the Holocaust legend has survived until now because nobody has come forward really with any kind of credibility and has rattled at the foundations of that legend and said OK, prove it' (p 18).
'...The Holocaust legend is fizzling out. I said two years ago, it probably only had two years left to survive. Probably I was wrong, it probably has about another six months even now, but then it is finally dead. World wide it is played out....' (p 27).
'I think probably the most significant piece of evidence is what we British ourselves did in the war, we actually broke the code of the SS and we began reading in 1942 the coded top secret messages of the Commandant of Auschwitz reporting back to Berlin.... Nearly all the deaths in Auschwitz said Hinsley were from epidemics and disease and I quote Hinsley verbatim he said "there is no reference in the intercepts to any gassing". Remember these are the top secret signals written in the top secret code of the SS, so there can be no question of Höss writing something for the benefit of historians after the war' (p21).
'you can work out for yourselves, ladies and gentlemen, how many thousand tons of coke one needs for that. But we have the aerial photographs, where one can't see a single mound of coke. And not only that, but no railway, no railway siding leads to the crematorium, to bring theses masses of coke, these huge masses of coke, thousands of tons per day. No lorry convoys are to be seen, where the coke, under circumstances, might have been delivered by lorry' (p 22).
'Now, I said that the eye witnesses are in fact a matter for psychological examination I think. Psychiatric examination even. ...but I don't mean that in an offensive way. I wouldn't mind it if somebody said about me that some of my statements need to be psychiatrically analysed because the human being, the psyche, is a very complex instrument' (p 22-3).
'[an Auschwitz survivor] has probably been questioned by her friends and neighbours and relatives for the last 50 years about Auschwitz and she can't very well describe her everyday life as centring around the peeling of potatoes or some other menial task. She knows that the people who are questioning her about Auschwitz want to hear about the crematoria and the gas chambers and after a time she describes the crematoria and the gas chambers, because human pride demands that she not have been in one of the other barracks, perhaps five miles away from the crematorium but right next door to it. It's a matter of human pride and we can't really begrudge these people for placing themselves and their recollections so close to the event, so close to the heart of the particular trauma. They're not dissimulating, they're not being consciously mendacious' (p 23).
'The eye witness survivor testimony is very shaky. It's far too shaky on which to base the condemnation of an entire nation, namely the German nation, in my view, and I think probably any sober and independent Judge would probably back me up on that' (p 24).
'The pictures have been analysed by independent aerial picture analysts. They found nothing. These are the scientific methods. We have truth on our side' (p 27).
'The aerial photographs don't only show how we have right, truth on our side, but how the enemies have faked the pictures. Because you know the American or Canadian or South African plane which took these pictures [in] 1944 or 1945. [They] took not only the one picture, but a whole set of pictures, every five seconds a picture. One sees how the buildings, the people, the lorries etcetera, have moved in the five seconds. But one also sees how the one picture published fifteen years ago by the CIA at the behest of world Jewry, with the supposed holes in the roof of the gas chamber where the cyanide was poured in, with the supposed lines of people who queue to be gassed. If one looks at the surrounding pictures then one suddenly notices that on these surrounding pictures the holes are not present. And that the lines of people are not present. One sees conclusively that the CIA has faked these photos, retouched them to the benefit of world Jewry, who somehow wanted prove that the gas chambers had existed' (p 28).
'Eli Wiesel and the rest of them come up with these legends. The basic part of the legend is 65,000 of these people were being cremated every day...But by their greed they exposed themselves as liars. Because to cremate 65,000 bodies a day you are going to need 30 or 40 kilograms of coke for each cadaver. There is no way around that figure. It is a basic law of the rather macabre thermodynamics of the crematorium business that it takes 35 or 40 kilograms of coke or an equivalent amount of other fuels available to cremate a cadaver' (p 11).
'I used to think that the world was full of a thousand survivors. I was wrong. It is full of hundreds of thousands of survivors of the Holocaust if not, in fact, millions by now. The numbers of survivors seems to grow these passing years, it defies all laws of natural deceased and all laws, now the number of survivors is growing. And I said isn't the existence of so many survivors in itself an indicator, something doesn't, it doesn't fit. If the Nazis had this dedicated programme to exterminate the Jews, how come so many of you have survived, were the Nazis sloppy or what? They let you out, they let you escape? It's a basic question' (p 17).
'But tell me one thing", and this is why I'm going to get tasteless with her, because you've got to get tasteless, "Mrs Altman, how much money have you made out of that tattoo since 1945? [Laughter] How much money have you coined for that bit of ink on your arm, which may indeed be real tattooed ink? And I'll say this, "half a million dollars, three quarters of a million for you alone." It must be in that order of magnitude because think of the billions of dollars that have been sent that way, billions' (p 17).
'..that's what converted me, when I read that in the report, in the court room in Toronto, I became a hard core disbeliever. I thought, well, whatever the Nazis are doing to the Jews, they were not killing them on a conveyor belt system in gas chambers in Auschwitz, against which has to be said that I've read the manuscript memoirs of two commandants of Auschwitz.. [Höss...and Almeyer (sic)]...and they both refer to people being gassed in Auschwitz, and this is a methodological problem for a historian then. You have to look at that and say: well, there's no trace of cyanide in the building, but you've got these confessions by these Germans. How do you explain that? That is where you enter a grey area; you don't know what the explanation is...I don't know what the answer is...' (p9/51 - 10/19).
Evidence of the truth/falsity of Irving's claims
8.18 I have set out in detail in sections VI and VII above the parties' arguments in relation to the evidence of the existence of gas chambers at the Reinhard death camps and at Auschwitz respectively. It is unnecessary for me to repeat those arguments here.
The existence of a systematic programme or policy for killing Jews
Claims made by Irving
8.19 The extracts relied on by the Defendants include the following:
'millions or hundreds of thousands liquidated in WW2 by Germans (or Latvians or Ukrainians) were victims of large number of nameless criminals into whose hands they fell on the Eastern front..acted on their own impulse, their own initiative within the general atmosphere of brutality' (p10-11).
'individual excesses and atrocities and pogroms in places like Minsk and Kiev and Riga' [were] 'crimes conducted for the most ordinary and repugnant motives of greed and thievery. Whatever happened, were the crimes of individual gangsters and criminals who deserved to be individually and separately punished (p 23).
'Now you probably know that I'm a Revisionist to a degree, but I'm not a Revisionist to the extent that I say that there were no murders of Jews. I think we have to accept that there were My Lai-type massacres where SS officers – the Einsatzkommandos – did machine-gun hundreds if not thousands of Jews into pits. On the Eastern Front, at Riga, at Minsk, and at other locations, this kind of thing did happen' (p21-22).
'Most of these SS officers – the gangsters that carried out the mass shootings – were, I think, acting from the meanest of motives. ...[refers to Bruns..] And two days later the order comes back from Hitler, "These mass shootings have got to stop at once." So Hitler intervened to stop it. Which again fits in which my theory that Hitler was in the dark that this kind of mass crime was going on. I suspect that the SS officer concerned [Altemeyer] was only 23 or 24. That was the age of the gangs that were carrying out these kinds of crimes. Rather like [US Army] Lt. Calley in My Lai. I don't know why people do that kind of thing' (p24).
'Here I want to mention something that I'm always very adamant about. Although we revisionists say that gas chambers didn't exist, and that the 'factories of death' didn't exist, there is no doubt in my mind that on the Eastern front large numbers of Jews were massacred by criminals with guns – SS men, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, whatever – to get rid of them. They were made to line up next to pits or ditches, and then shot. The eyewitness accounts I've seen of this are genuine and reliable' (p15-16).
'The people who were pulling the triggers were on one level and the people who were taking the top level decisions were on the highest level and there wasn't necessarily perfect communication between them and anyway who cares because it's only the Jews and nobody liked them. This is the kind of atmosphere in which the decisions would have been taken' (p 26).
Evidence of the truth/falsity of Irving's claims
The arguments of Irving and the Defendants in relation to this issue are also to be found in sections VI and VII of this judgment, so I do not repeat them here.
The numbers of Jews killed
Claims made by Irving
8.20 The extracts relied on by the Defendants include the following:
(i) This Week interview - 9 November 1991
'25,000 innocent people executed by one means or another [in Auschwitz] but we killed that many people burning them alive in one night, not in three years, in a city like Pforzheim. We killed five times that number in Dresden in one night.'
'One has to struggle with these problems as a historian in Germany... And that's the problem with Auschwitz. That is the problem which the county court judge in Remscheid hinted at correctly. It seemed quite unbelievable to him that an Englishman should discover the truth, where all the German historians allegedly did not discover this truth. But the explanation is perfectly simple: the Germans simply can't afford to do that,...Not murdered, not gassed – far more than half of the inmates of the concentration camp Auschwitz died of natural causes that means, of diseases, of epidemics, of typhus fever, of typhoid, of hunger, of cold or of being overworked or of various other natural causes , that's what, far more than half of the Auschwitz inmates died of, that means perhaps 30,000 people at most were murdered at Auschwitz. That's bad enough, of course! That none of us want to approve of that in any way. 30,000 people in Auschwitz from beginning to end, that's about as many as we English killed in one night in Hamburg, burnt alive' (p 12).
'Let's be generous and say 40,000 may have been killed in Auschwitz over the three years – that's a bad figure! That's a grave crime, it's almost as many people as we British killed in Hamburg in one night' (p 500).
'Let me draw up a comparison, seventy six thousand people killed in Auschwitz is a crime, there's no doubt at all, except they weren't killed in Auschwitz, they died in Auschwitz. The Totenbucher lists the reasons of the deaths in Auschwitz. Arno Meyer, the Professor in Princeton, a Jewish Professor in fact, who published a book called 'Why Did the Heavens not Darken?', he revealed in his book that of all the people who died in the concentration camps, including Auschwitz, by far the greatest part died of natural causes, whatever one could call 'natural causes' in wartime, I admit, natural causes in wartime are not what you or I would call natural causes today in Victoria. But they weren't executed, they weren't murdered, they weren't gassed. By far the greatest part of those who died in Auschwitz died of natural causes and I'm quoting Arno Meyer' (p 9).
'Forty thousand people killed in Auschwitz in three years, bad enough. Undoubtedly a war crime, a war crime of the same order of magnitude as Hamburg, July, 1943 where we British killed forty thousand people in one night' (p 13).
'Ladies and gentlemen, fifty thousand people were killed in Auschwitz, were killed in Auschwitz from 1942 to 1944. That is a crime, as I said. Fifty thousand innocent people. It's about as many people who died in Auschwitz in those three years as we British killed in Hamburg in one night' [Applause] (p 21).
'To those of you who are new to my talks. Let me summarise the possible reasons why they are using these extraordinary techniques, these extra-governmental techniques to try and silence me. It is because I am probably the most credible voice in the entire revisionist campaign, or what I call the International Campaign for Real History...And my campaign is being met world-wide by these methods. "Okay," I say, "a hundred thousand people did die in Auschwitz."...Around one hundred thousand dead in that brutal slave labour camp...How many were killed in Auschwitz?...how many had died.'
'Twenty-five thousand killed, if we take this grossly inflated figure to be on the safe side: That is a crime; there is no doubt. Killing twenty-five thousand in four years – 1941, 1942, 1943, and 1944 – that is a crime: there is no doubt.'
'Let me show you a picture of twenty-five thousand people being killed in twenty-five minutes. Here it is, in my book HITLER'S WAR, a vivid picture of twenty-five thousand people being killed in twenty-five minutes by us British [in February 1945] in Pforzheim, a little town where they make jewelry and watches in Baden, Germany. Twenty-five thousand people were being burned alive (p 11).
'25,000 people murdered in Auschwitz in three years. If we take that generous figure and I would say that 25,000 people murdered in Auschwitz in three years is still half the number of people that we murdered in Hamburg burning them alive in one night in 1943' (p 25).
'But if we were being liberal and generous and said that of the 100,000 deaths for which we have certificates and evidence, acceptable evidence In Auschwitz, say that three quarters died a natural death, by natural I mean typhus, epidemics, starvation, exhaustion, worked to death, froze to death, can't really call it a natural death but it's not murder. If we say that three quarters died that kind of death then as many as one quarter were executed, you come to a figure of 25,000 people who were murdered in Auschwitz by the Nazis in the entire four years of that camps existence and I am going to show you a picture of not 25,000 people being murdered but of 40,000 people being murdered, not in four years but in the space of 20 minutes in Pforzheim. Not Dresden or Hiroshima or Tokyo but Pforzheim, a little town none of you have heard of. A little town in Germany in Badenburg where they make jewelry and watches. Here's a town photographed from the air by a friend of mine, a British Air Commodore with his Kodachrome film camera during the 20 minutes in which 40,000 are being burned alive. One person in four in that town was killed, burnt alive during that air raid, 10 days after the air raid on Dresden, and nobody has ever heard of it. 40,000 being burnt alive in 20 minutes compared with 25,000 people being murdered at the very outside in Auschwitz in the space of four years. It's a thought provoking comparison and the reason why I think it's proper to make this kind of comparison' (pp 13-14).
(ix) 'Cover Story' - 4 March 1997
Irving: Again, that's not what I say. I say there's no proof that six million did die, it's not quite the same thing. You may find it nit-picking.
Interviewer: So you're saying only 100,000 people died in Auschwitz.
Irving: I didn't say 'only'. You can't say 'only' 100,000 people died. If 100,000 innocent people died this is a crime, it's a war crime (p 6).
The Defendants' evidence of the falsity of Irving's claims
8.21 A formidable obstacle in the way of arriving at an accurate number for those killed by gas is that no records were kept by the Nazis of the numbers put to death in the gas chambers or, if they were, none have survived. Records were kept, as I have mentioned earlier, of the number of deaths amongst those who were registered as inmates of the camp. But, for reasons which are perhaps obvious, none of those deaths is recorded as having been due to gassing.
8.22 The difficulty of arriving at an accurate estimate is compounded by the undoubted fact that many inmates died from disease and above all in the typhus epidemics which from time to time ravaged the camp. Whilst the Defendants do assert that these deaths are the result of deliberate genocidal policy on the part of the Nazis, they must of course be discounted in order to reach a correct estimate of the number of deaths in the gas chambers. Initial estimates, largely based on the capacity of the crematoria, ran as high as 4 million. As has been see the camp commandant, Hoss, gave varying estimates, ranging from 3 million to 1.1 million. However, analysis of the numbers of Jews transported to Auschwitz produced a lower estimate of around 1 million. Research carried out more recently, notably by Raul Hilberg and by Dr Piper of the Auschwitz Museum, has concluded that the true figure for the number of deaths at Auschwitz is in the region of 1.1 million of which the vast majority perished in the gas chambers. This figure has, according to the evidence of van Pelt and Longerich, been endorsed by the majority of serious, professional historians concerned in this field. The only significant exception is Jean-Claude Pressac, a French chemist and amateur historian, whose study concluded that the overall number of deaths was 630-710,000, of which 470-550,000 were gassed on arrival at the camp.
8.23 Longerich estimated that between February 1942 and January 1945 between 900,000 and 1 million Jews died at Auschwitz. But he made clear that those figures included those who died otherwise than by being gassed, for example in epidemics. Deaths outside the gas chambers accounted for about 100,000 deaths, leaving 800,000 to 900,000 murders by gassing. Longerich made clear that he regarded all the deaths as genocidal since the conditions in the camp were deliberately prepared by the Nazis.
8.24 It is the contention both van Pelt and Evans on behalf of the Defendants that Irving has consistently under-estimated the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust and more particularly at Auschwitz. The Defendants assert that the available evidence demonstrates that the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust, both at Auschwitz and more generally, far exceeds Irving's estimates (which themselves vary considerably). They contend that he has paid no proper regard to that evidence and that he has carried no or no adequate research into the numbers killed.
Evidence relied on by Irving in support of his claims
8.25 Irving noted that shortly after the end of the war the Poles, who were in possession of all the records, claimed that altogether nearly 300,000 people of different nationalities died at Auschwitz. That figure gradually increased to four million, which was the number mentioned (unitl 1990) on the monument erected by the Communists in memory of the dead. The figure then came down again. As for the total number of those who died in the Holocaust, Irving claimed that the figure was said by Justice Jackson at Nuremberg to be a back of an envelope calculation. Other estimates were significantly lower. There are real doubts about the figures, concluded Irving. He said he did not want to "play the numbers game".
8.26 He nevertheless put to the Defendants' witnesses in cross-examination that figures for the total number of those killed at Auschwitz are to be found in the camp "death books" and the cipher messages from Auschwitz to Berlin which were decrypted at Bletchley. I have already recorded the contention of the Defendants that these figures take account only of those who were registered at the camp and not those who were murdered in the gas chambers on arrival there. Irving also argued that the incineration capacity of the ovens meant that the number of those killed must have been far lower than Longerich claimed.
8.27 Irving relied on the contents of the Haganah report about the number of Jews who were transported at the end of the war from the displaced persons camps to Israel. This report explains, so Irving maintained, why many Jews could not be traced and so were erroneously thought to have lost their lives in the concentration camps when in truth they started new lives in Israel.
8.28 Irving also sought to justify his claim as to the number of Jews who were killed in the concentration camps by reference to what he said were the 450,000 Jews who had lodged claims for compensation arising out of the Holocaust. If that many survived, said Irving, the number of the dead must be far smaller than claimed. The Defendants did not accept Irving's figure for the number of claimants. In any event they pointed out that the claimants include the children and grandchildren of Holocaust victims for the return of property of which they were dispossessed many years ago and so cast no light on the number of those who lost their lives.
The assertion that the gas chambers were a propaganda lie invented by the British
Claims made by Irving
8.29 The extracts relied on by the Defendants are as follows:
(i) Toronto, - 13th August 1988
'And this is, again, not just a wild hypothesis that I toss at you after just doing one month's work in the archives, this is in fact the result of work done by Paul Norris one of Zündel's men...In the British archives Paul Norris found documents which he showed me in photostat, showing quite clearly that British intelligence deliberately masterminded the gas chamber lie. I am not saying it was the same gas chamber lie that they masterminded, but it was a gas chamber lie. 1942, 1943, 1944 the Joint Intelligence Committee deliberated with the Psychological Warfare Executive which they ran in London, the propaganda agency in London,..on ways of blackening the German name, on ways of enraging allied soldiers so that they would fight even harder. And one of the methods that they hit on in the Psychological Warfare Executive, it's there in the documents, to say let us say that the Germans are using gas chambers to get rid of hundreds of thousands of Jews and other minority groups in Germany. And the minutes go to and fro...In one memorandum, Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, writes a handwritten minute to this effect: 'we have had a good run for our money with this gas chamber story we have been putting about, but don't we run the risk that eventually we are going to be found out and when we are found out the collapse of that lie is going to bring down the whole of our psychological warfare effort with it. So isn't it rather time now to let it drift off by itself and concentrate on other lines that we're running'. 'We had a good run for our money' he writes in 1944 and here we are 44 years later and that hare is still running, bigger and stronger than ever because nobody now dares to stand up and kill it. It has go out of control. The Auschwitz propaganda lie that was starting to run in 1944 is now out of control and it going to take he-men of the kind of stature of Ernst Zündel to kill that particular hare. [Applause]' (p15-16).
(ii) P's foreword to the FPP publication of the Leuchter Report: May 1989
'...Too many hundreds of millions of honest, intelligent people have been duped by the well-financed and brilliantly successful postwar publicity campaign which followed on from the original ingenious plan of the British Psychological Warfare Executive (PWE) in 1942 to spread to the world the propaganda story that the Germans were using 'gas chambers' to kill millions of Jews and other 'undesirables'
(iii) Moers – 9th March 1990
'where did this myth come from? And for me as an Englishman, that is the most interesting question: who invented the myth of the gas chambers? Representatives of the victorious powers. We did it. The English. We invented the lie about the gas chambers, just as we invented the lie about the Belgian children with their hands hacked off in the first World War. The department the committee of the British PWE cabinet, Political Warfare Executive, psychological warfare...' (p 17).
(iv) Latvian Hall, Toronto - 8th November 1990
'How has this legend been propagated until now? Well, the legend was originally propagated, I think, by us British back in 1942. And I set out the reasons for believing this in my previous talk, 18 months ago. But since 1945, the legend has marched . And this is a great sad facet of war. In wartime, quite justifiably, the warring factions and powers decide to use propaganda, they lie about each other. They lie, massively...When the Victory Day comes, these Ministries of Lies are not replaced by Ministries of Truth. So the old propaganda continues to march on and nobody really has the job of stopping these lies from flooding out. Particularly when some people find they have a vested interest in keeping the lies spewing forth' (p12-13).
(v) Chelsea Town Hall – 15th November 1991
'And if you ask where these legends come from, the trouble is that it comes in fact from us, the British, and we're very good liars. World War II showed this and the Falklands showed it, the Gulf War showed it, we're very good liars and in wartime we have ministers of propaganda whose job it is to lie and in fact we can show quite clearly how this particular lie started in our own Ministry of Propaganda, the Political Warfare Executive and you can go and get the records from the Public Records Office and you can see how we in September, October and November 1942 created the gas chamber lie as a weapon of war, perfectly justified. But the problem with all this is that after the war is over, the Government doesn't set up a Ministry of Truth whose job it is to go around with a bucket and mop cleaning-up all the lies that the Ministry of Information has been spreading and so the lies continue to soldier on. And if they're lies that are very profitable lies, as this particular lie is of course, and I'm not going to go into detail on that there, because then were treading on very thin ice, but it has become a very profitable lie, a lie in fact on which the financial existence of the State of Israel depends, then the lie is not only soldiering on it becomes reinforced and bolstered in a quite extraordinary way" (p 3).
The Defendants' evidence of the falsity of the claims made by Irving
8.30 The Defendants assert that Irving's claim that the existence of gas chambers was a lie invented by British intelligence can be shown to be false by reference to documents contained in the contemporaneous files of the British Foreign Office.
8.31 In August 1942 the Secretary of the World Jewish Congress based in Geneva received a report from an allegedly reliable source that in Hitler's head-quarters a plan was under discussion for the deportation and extermination by means including the use of prussic acid of all Jews in areas occupied or controlled by the Nazis. This information was relayed to London, where it was considered by Foreign Ofice officials. They also had reports of Jews being transported to the East. But they decided not to make use of the information.
8.32 The same Foreign Office file reveals that about a year later, in August 1943, further reports were received in London of deportation and extermination by means including systematic killing in gas chambers. These reports were more specific, referring to events in Bialystok and Lublin. Even so, the Foreign Office again decided, after discussion, not make use of the information.
8.33 On the basis of these documents the Defendants assert that the claim that Jews were being killed in gas chambers was invented by British Intelligence is unsustainable. The claim originated abroad. In any case, say the Defendants, the contemporaneous evidence shows that, whilst the British had doubts about the wisdom of using the information, they did not disbelieve it. There was no "lie". The Defendants argue that it is equally untrue that the reports of the extermination of Jews in gas chambers featured in propaganda put out by British Intelligence. The decision within the Foreign Office was to make no use of the reports. Moreover, say the Defendants, there is no reason to link British Intelligence with such reports of the gassing of Jews as did appear in the media at that time.
Irving's evidence of the truth of his claims
8.34 When asked in cross-examination whether it is his position that the existence of gas chambers was propaganda devised by British intelligence, Irving replied that British intelligence had repeatedly procured the broadcasting into Nazi Germany of information about the gas chambers at a time when they were not operating. He went to claim that there is any amount of evidence that the gas chambers were invented by British propaganda.
8.35 Invited to accept that the source for the information about the gas chambers was a document sent to London by Riegner of the Geneva office of the World Jewish Congress in August 1942, Irving responded that British intelligence had been making claims about cyanide gas chambers before that document arrived. He did, however, accept that the message from Geneva was authentic. In any event, said Irving, it was clear from associated Foreign Office memoranda that the credibility of the claim in Regnier's message was doubted. Irving added that it has in any event been established that the person who Regnier claimed was the source of the information did not exist or at least was not a credible source. But the principal basis upon which Irving sought to justify his claim that the gas chambers were a mendacious invention by British propaganda was that about one year later, a senior Foreign Office official named Cavendish-Bentinck, commented on a report of Poles being put to death in gas chambers that he did not believe that there is any evidence that this was being done. Despite that, according to Irving British Intelligence put out through the BBC from late 1941 stories about the liquidation of Jews in the gas chambers. Irving was unable to produce transcripts of the broadcasts. He referred to diary entries by Mann and Ringelblum but agreed that he was unable to make the link between those entries referring to BBC broadcasts and British Intelligence.
8.36 Irving persisted in his claim that the gas chambers were a lie invented by British propaganda , "if the word 'invent' means anything at all".
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