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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day004.19

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day004.19
Last-Modified: 2000/08/01

   Q.   You may be ready for me in some sense or another,
        Mr Irving; first can I ask you this; this is intended to
        suggest to the reader, is it not, (a) that there is no
        actual extermination planned at this point, it is only a
        matter of public rumour; and (b) that to do anything like
        that at this time would be to add to one's difficulties,
        or do you say "yes" simply adding to one's difficulties at
        a time like this?
   A.   Postpone it to the war is over, yes.
   Q.   Pardon?
   A.   To postpone it until the war is over to quote
   Q.   Have you read this passage in Professor Evans' report?
   A.   No -- yes, I have, but that is not the translation I used.
   Q.   What is not?
   A.   Professor Evans has his own clever translation of that
   Q.   Of course, he has, because he has done it correctly.
   A.   You are implying I used a deliberately perverse and

.          P-170

        distorted translation?
   Q.   Oh, yes, indeed so.  For one thing there is no reference
        in what Hitler says to the marshier parts of Russia, is
        there, actually says?
   A.   What did he say?
   Q.   He said: (German spoken).
   A.   So you are accusing me of having mistranslated?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Well, added words.
   MR RAMPTON:  You have added in some words, a small point.
   A.   My Lord, I will have a statement to make about this in a
   Q.   Pardon?
   A.   Shall I make the statement now?  You will be familiar with
        the facts that Weidenfeld & Nicholson published the
        edition of Hitler's table talk back in about 1949, with an
        introduction by Hugh Trevor-Roper, a very good volume, it
        is almost unobtainable now.  I read that when I was about
        14 from cover to cover, and that is the translation I have
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, I remember that.
   A.   The official translation.  I have not changed one dot or
        comma of the official translation as published by Hugh
   Q.   You mean the Weidenfeld translation?
   A.   Yes.
   MR RAMPTON:  This book is published in 1996, "Goebbels"?

.          P-171

   A.   Yes.
   Q.   That is what I read from, page 377.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   The German edition, which I am sure you have used at
other times and for other purposes of the monologue, has
been available since 1980.
   A.   The original German text of that was available to me since
        much earlier than that, because I had the original Martin
        Bormann typescript text.
   Q.   So you had it, as you wrote these words you had the
        original German available?
   A.   But I used official translation by --
   Q.   I hear what you say, the question is not whether you did,
        but why.  You had the original German available to you at
        the time?
   A.   -- let me be more specific.  When I wrote the Hitler's War
        in the 1970s, I had the English text in front of me, when
        I reissued it in Germany I contacted the Swiss owner of
        the original Martin Bormann files, who had the original
        German texts and I obtained from him on that occasion
        German texts of these passages.  But I did not translate
        it, Mr Rampton.  The translation was done by either
        Trevor-Roper or by Weidenfeld and I have used the exact
   Q.   Why?
   A.   Why?

.          P-172

   Q.   Yes.  I thought you were somebody who did not read
        people books, if you have original document why did
        not refer to that?
   A.   That was the publication of the original document,
        was a published edition of Hitler's Table Talk and at
        time that was the only edition that was available.
   Q.   What in --
   A.   I beg your pardon?
   Q.   -- sure, but this Goebbels book is published in 1996.
   A.   Yes and I have used exactly the same translation.
   Q.   Why?
   A.   I find it an adequate translation.
   Q.   But it is a terrible translation, Mr Irving.
   A.   By whom?
   Q.   By whoever did it.  For one thing it has got its
        all wrong.  It has added words.  Look at the top of
        324 of the Professor Evans' report.
   A.   300 and?
   Q.   24.  The German is set out in footnote 18, I think.
        time I do ask that you just read the two one after the
        after in whichever order you like.
   A.   Which is the part you are saying is the bad
   Q.   Well, for example, he pointed out, however, well,
        are several appalling translations.  There is no
        in the German to a plan to exterminate the Jews.  "The
        fear precedes us that we are exterminating".

.          P-173

   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Correct?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   It is a much closer and uglier thing in the original
        German than in this rather namby-pamby translation
        includes references to public rumours and plans?
   A.   I do not think so.  "Schreiken" is a spook.  It is a
   Q.   A spook.  It is a word of fright and fear, is it not?
   A.   Yes.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Which is it, because they are quite
        in this context?
   A.   My Lord, the imputation is that I have deliberately
        mistranslated or distorted.
   Q.   Well, adopted what you should have appreciated was a
        mistranslation, I think is the way it is put.
   A.   At the time I wrote Hitler's War I only had the
        English text.
   Q.   Yes, but by the 1991 edition you had the German
   A.   And I still accept that my translation is not a
        deviation from that.
   Q.   You would translate "schreiken" as a spectre or a
        rather than as a fear?
   A.   Yes, schreiken is the idea of a childish kind of
        the idea of a goblin.

.          P-174

   MR RAMPTON:  Do you think this is a reliable dictionary?
   A.   It helped us a lot with the word "vernichtung", did it
   Q.   OK.  "Schreik", fright, shock, terror, alarm, panic,
        consternation, dismay, fear, horror?
   A.   What were the first two?
   Q.   Fright, shock, which is the word I used.
   A.   Yes, fright or shock, you see, once again your expert
        taken the tertiary or fourth meaning of the word
        he prefers to manipulate it in that way.
   Q.   I do not mind which of those words you want me to use,
        I am certainly not going to use "spook", still less am
        I going to use "public rumour".  Not even you would
        "public rumour" deliberately, would you, Mr Irving?
   A.   I think that Hugh Trevor-Roper is perfectly adequate
        he translates like documents like this or the
        employed by George Weidenfeld who was a Jew certainly,
        could certainly not be accused of having wanted to
        exonerate Adolf Hitler.
   Q.   In your pleadings, Mr Irving, my Lord, this is, I do
        know but it will probably be in the reply somewhere,
        will find it -- my Lord, this is page 27 of the reply,
        paragraph number at that stage.  It is (i) and
        on from page 26.  You tell us this, Mr Irving, and you
        talking about this particular issue and you mention
        Trevor-Roper translation, you say this:

.          P-175

                  "When the plaintiff", that is you,
        prepared the German edition and subsequently revised
        book, he was the only historian in world to whom the
        original German texts were made available by their
        physical owner, namely in October 1977."
   A.   That is probably from the date stamp on the documents
        I received, yes.
   Q.   I do not know.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   These are your words.  I cannot tell you whether that
        right or not.
   A.   Well, if I have written that, then it is right.
   Q.   So you have had the original in your possession since
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   You could not have used it for the first edition of
        Hitler's War?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   But thereafter, knowing you, am I wrong to assume that
        would ordinarily go back to the original when you come
        back to this table talk in later books?
   A.   If this had been a delinquent translation I would
        certainly have done so, but the translation was not so
        delinquent that I would have wanted to interfere with
        this.  I should explain that one of the reasons the
        Professor Boischott attacked me very bitterly, as you

.          P-176

        familiar, in a 50-page attack on the book in 1977 was
        because he could not recognize my table talk
        and for this reason I decided it was important not to
        interfere with the original English if it was in the
        Trevor-Roper and Weidenfeld edition because I did not
        to be subjected to more unfair attacks like that.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  But really public rumour is not a correct
        even arguably correct translation of "schreiken".  It
        fairly elementary that, is it not? It is a common
   A.   It is not so widely deviant that I would have wanted
        tamper with the original quotation and risk exposure
        criticism from other historians who were familiar with
        Weidenfeld text which was the only one then available.
        the German edition of course we used the original
   MR RAMPTON:  In fact you did concede, or point out perhaps
        I should say, in a speech to the International
        Conference in 1983 that, "the German original 'is
        completely different from the published English
   A.   Of this particular one?
   Q.   Yes.  Do you remember saying that?
   A.   I notice that the English translator had actually
        himself to put in an entire sentence that was not in
   Q.   "Terror is a salutary thing" he put in?
   A.   That is right.

.          P-177

   Q.   And it is not there at all?
   A.   That is not there at all.
   Q.   Nor is the word "plan" in the German, is it?
   A.   Well, I think that this is a literary translation
        You are faced with the problems of doing a literary
        than a wooden translation.
   Q.   Mr Irving, really.  It is a question of absolutely
        substance.  "There is a public rumour that we are
        to exterminate the Jews".  That is nasty enough, but
        consider this sentence: "The public are terrified
        we are exterminating the Jews"?
   A.   Does he say that?  I do not think he says that.  I
        that the point I am about to make when you have
        chasing this particular hare is to point out that what
        matters in this quotation is not whether the
        word "schreiken" is translated as "public rumour" or
        "fright" or "shock", but the fact that once again this
        document shows quite clearly that Hitler had something
        completely different in mind, and he is telling it to
        people who are actually doing it.  How do we explain
        kind of discrepancy?  That is what matters in this
        document, not whether one word had been mistranslated
        Hugh Trevor-Roper or not.
   Q.   It is good if the terror, fright, shock, fear, panic
        before "that we are exterminating Jewry"?
   A.   This is the least important part of the document.  Are

.          P-178

        saying that if that sentence was taken out then that
        paragraph collapses?  On the contrary what matters ---
   Q.   I am not saying that.
   A.   Excuse me, let me finish.  What matters in this
        is Hitler saying:  "Let nobody tell us we cannot push
        out into the marshy parts of Russia", that is the
        part.  The second part which matters is him saying:
        "Anyway, let's leave the whole thing until the whole
        is over, we have enough problems".
   Q.   I am coming to that.
   A.   That is what matters.
   Q.   Because that is not what it says either.  You see, it
        matter.  It is not that it would have mattered if that
        part had been left out.  It is that you wilfully used
        1991, if it is in Hitler's War, in that edition, I do
        know, but in 1996 in Goebbels where it certainly is,
        wilfully used a translation you knew to be rubbish,
        because it is softer in its effect than the original
   A.   No, on the contrary.  When I was writing the Goebbels
        I would have taken Hitler's War in English as my
   Q.   Well, that is only to repeat your earlier error.
   A.   No, not my earlier error, but to reuse the translation of

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