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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day008.39

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day008.39
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   Q.   That includes eyewitness testimony from other people with
        whom the particular witness has not had any contact, does
        it not?
   A.   Yes, except indirectly of course through the interrogator.
   Q.   Yes.  If the Brits and the Poles put their heads together
        and produce what we might call a joint questionnaire which
        is uniformly put to all eyewitnesses, I quite agree with
        you. Have you any evidence of that?

.          P-164

   A.   I did not say that.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Is the answer no?
   MR RAMPTON:  The answer is no, is it not?
   A.   No, but if the same British interrogator questions two
        people in a row, then there will be a certain amount of
        cross-pollination between the two reports.
   Q.   But if somebody is being questioned in London and somebody
        else is being questioned in Norway and somebody else is
        being questioned in Poland, then unless the interrogators
        have put their heads together, there is no chance that the
        witnesses's testimony may be mistaken?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   But there is no chance that it is going to be deliberately
        fabricated in that way, is there?
   A.   No, not in that way.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Can you tell, me and it may be that this is
        too general a question to be capable of being answered,
        what you say the motivation of the eyewitnesses who
        painted a false picture of what had been going on in
        Auschwitz was?
   A.   I would say it varies, my Lord.  It would be partly fear,
        partly the promise of alleviated punishment, partly
        torture, partly pecuniary.  It depends on when we are
        talking about, whether it was done recently in connection
        a Hollywood film or back in 1945 to assist the Polish

.          P-165

   Q.   You sound from that answer as if you are really talking
        about camp officials?
   A.   I am talking about camp officials.
   Q.   Rather than survivors.  What about the motivation of the
   A.   To my knowledge none of the survivors who are not camp
        officials claimed to have been in gas chambers, inside
   Q.   No, but they give what admittedly would be circumstantial
        evidence, but nevertheless quite vivid circumstantial
        evidence ----
   A.   They give a lot circumstantial evidence.
   Q.   --- about what they infer must have been happening, do
        they not?
   A.   I really hesitate to set traps for myself by generalizing,
        my Lord.  I prefer to see precisely who we are talking
        about.  When we are dealing with camp officials we have
        the odd phenomenon that people who would normally be
        candidates for the gallows somehow survive, and almost
        entirely coincidentally give statements that undoubtedly
        Mr Rampton will be relying on.
   MR RAMPTON:  You see, if you read Professor van Pelt's report,
        Mr Irving, which I think you probably have done, you find
        evidence from what he calls perpetrators, camp officials,
        Rudolf Hess, Broad, Altemeyer, Gravno, people like that,
        which is broadly consistent, is it not, in every detail?

.          P-166

        But that is the nature of eyewitness testimony,
        Mr Irving.  You would agree, would you not, eyewitness
        testimony which is consistent in every detail is highly
        suspicious, would you agree?
   A.   It prompts the word "collusion" to mind.
   Q.   Yes, exactly, collusion.  But eyewitness testimony, which
        is broadly consistent but which has differences of detail,
        is, unless there is reason to think that the person is
        lying, reliable as an honest account even if it be a
        mistaken one.  Do you agree?
   A.   It depends what you call difficulties of detail.  If they
        are really scandalously large differences, discrepancies,
        then you have to a ask yourself how and why the
        discrepancy exists.  I am thinking, for example, of the
        memoirs of Hirst [sic - Hoess].
   Q.   Yes.  Hirst's own various accounts are not consistent
        amongst themselves, are they?
   A.   Which suggests that one should straightaway, if one is a
        reasonable historian, discard him as a source completely.
   Q.   No. This would be grossly improper as a reasonable
        historian, Mr Irving, may I suggest. The right approach to
        such evidence is to treat it with all caution and to ask
        oneself, where can I check it against other evidence to
        see whether it is accurate or not?
   A.   I agree.
   Q.   One can could do that with Commander Hirst.

.          P-167

   A.   It is a yellow light, proceed with caution.
   Q.   Yes, proceed with caution.  One can do that with Commander
        Hirst and one can find, unless he has been fed his lines
        by the polls, corroboration for almost all the important
        things that he says in his various statements, do you
   A.   I think Hirst and Eichmann are two pitiful characters --
        Eichmann is another eyewitness -- where we need to know a
        great deal almost as psychologists about their mentality
        of this servile eager to please kind of mentality that we
        are feeling with.  That is why I hate using eyewitness
        evidence because you have intangible subjective factors
        coming in, where all your instincts as a historian, as
        I say, will close to cover on that file because this file
        is trouble, let us look for something that is more
        concrete.  Altemeyer is another case in mind.
   Q.   I cannot accept that, Mr Irving.  You will take as an
        historian, if you have an open mind that is, such evidence
        as there is, give it such weight as it may deserve and you
        will then make a decision whether or not to discard it.
   A.   That is an alternative approach.
   Q.   You do not discard a piece of evidence just because it is
        rocky in some area.
   A.   In the case of Hirst, you see, you have the following
        problem.  He undoubtedly deserved it.  He was brutally
        treated when he was taken prisoner by the by British in

.          P-168

        March 1946. He was very badly man handled.  At the end of
        the following year, of course, he was then hanged by the
        Poles and I would be the last person to say he did not
        deserve it.  In between those months, the day of his
        arrest and the day of his final hanging, execution and
        hanging, we do not know what went through his tortured
        mind.  We do know that his report is full of the most
        incredible misstatements so that even Adolf Eichmann,
        writing in the margin of the Hirst report, and I have this
        book actually in my hand, because somebody bought it in a
        second hand book shop, with Eichmann's comments on it,
        said this man is talking through his hat.  This is totally
        untrue.  It renders the whole source document so suspect
        that either you can use it indiscriminately and say, hey
        this helps my case and I am going to use every bit I can
        that is of use and pretend the rest does not exist, which
        is what the average historian has done, or in my case you
        say this document is so suspect I do not want to go
        anywhere near it.  That is the way I would treat it.
   Q.   But, you see, the problem is, Mr Irving, that much of what
        Hirst said is corroborated by other people, is it not?
   A.   You say corroborated but, of course, we do not know how
        far it has been cross pollinated by reading the
   Q.   That is a different point.
   A.   By sitting in the same court house and hearing what other

.          P-169

        people are saying, by being told by interrogating
        officers, "If you sign this affidavit we have typed up,
        then we will get you a shorter sentence".  This is the
        kind of thing that went on at Nuremberg, along with a lot
        of uglier things.  These so-called affidavits that these
        people signed were not written out in their own longhand.
        They were dictated to them and they were then obliged to
        sign them.
   Q.   Are you familiar with the testimony which Eric Bauer gave
        at Ludwigsberg in, I do not know what year it was?
   A.   No, I am not, I can read it though.
   Q.   My Lord, I am looking at page 581 of van Pelt.  He is
        recorded by Professor van Pelt to have testified as
        follows about the extermination of Jews in Sobibor.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Let Mr Irving find it.
   MR RAMPTON:  I am sorry.
   A.   Can I say straightaway that I have myself been before the
        courts in Austria.  They do not take verbatim testimony in
        the manner that we take here with court reporters.  The
        report is drawn up by a court official in abbreviated form
        so these are not necessarily ----
   Q.   Well, it is in the first person.  I dare say, I do not
        know, I have not seen the original document.  Maybe it is
        in the file.  He said this, he also used the word
        vergassung as an adjective, he is talking about gassing of
        Jews at Sobibor, "The doors were sealed airtight and

.          P-170

        immediately the gassing procedure
        vergassungsforgang commenced".  Is that after some 20 to
        30 minutes, complete silence in the gas chambers, people
        were vergassed?
   A.   He is probably accurate.  He is probably describing
        something that really happened there.
   Q.   It is the same formation, is it not, vergassungswagen we
        see with Eichmann at the top of the page?  We notice
        Wetzel's vergassungsakavater earlier.
   A.   There is no other way you could describe gassing procedure
        except by the German phrase vergassungsforgang.
   Q.   Then we come to Dayaco and Eiffel, who were tried, I think
        in ----
   A.   1972.  I believe I am right in saying that they were both
        aquitted, oddly enough, were they not?
   Q.   I believe that they were acquitted.
   A.   So obviously the court did not pay much attention to this
        kind of evidence.  They had the chance of cross-examining
        the witnesses.
   Q.   We should take precedent from that, should we, Mr Irving?
   A.   Certainly, if they hear the same witnesses.  We do not
        have the chance of cross-examining these witnesses that
        you are giving to me now, but if the court in Vienna
        acquitted Dayaco and Eiffel, who were the architects of
        Auschwitz, they were acquitted and set free.  They had had
        the chance of cross-examining these witnesses.  Surely

.          P-171

        that should say something to you about the value of the
        testimony they gave.
   Q.   It says nothing to me at all because I do not know the
        reason why they were acquitted.
   A.   They were acquitted because they were innocent.
   Q.   There are all sorts of reasons why people can be
        acquitted. If you are anxious to find out the answer to
        why they were acquitted, you can ask Professor van Pelt.
   A.   I know why they were acquitted.  I know their case quite well.
   Q.   You see, it says both Dayaco and Eiffel, testifying during
        their trial in 1972, used the term "gassing spaces"
        vergassungsraume to denote gas chambers.  You can see that
        that is so if you turn back -- I am sorry it is such a
        long journey -- to page 341 of the same report, my Lord.
        Would your Lordship at the same time find it convenient to
        turn up this document?  It is in the same file.  You might
        do the same, Mr Irving.  In the smaller of the two
        Auschwitz files, the second one, there is a document at
        page 2 to which this part of the text of van Pelt refers.
   A.   The smaller of the two Auschwitz files at page 2?
   Q.   Tab 4, sorry, yes.  Tab 4, page 2.  It is in the same set
        of originals.
   A.   The same document.
   Q.   Just so that, if you want to, you can look at the original German.

.          P-172

   A.   Can I draw attention to the brief number on that document,
        handwritten number?
   Q.   Yes.
   A.   I do not say these things just to be pig headed about
        documents arousing my suspicion.
   Q.   At the top of page 341 of van Pelt we see this: "On August
        19th 1942 Eiffel chaired a meeting in which members of the
        Central Construction Office discussed with engineer Kurt
        Brufer of Topf and sons the creation of four crematoria in
        Birkenhau.  Item 2 mentioned the construction of two
        triple oven incinerators near the bath houses for special
                  If you look over at the other document, the
        original German document, it is in paragraph 2 on the
        first page, first sentence, is it not?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Could you read out what it says in German?
   A.   [German spoken- document not provided].
   Q.   No, I am sorry, I meant translated.
   A.   With regard to the erection of two each three muffle
        furnaces at the bath house for special actions we propose
        Engineer Brufer suggested ----
   Q.   That will do.
   A.   Taking the furnaces ----

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