The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day009.06

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day009.06
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

.          P-47

   Q.   You yourself took one of the stamps and you put it on an
        ink pad and tried it out on one of your note pads?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   You had exactly the same stamp that had been used by
        architects like Dejaco and Ertl and the rest?
   A.   Yes, I made a copy of that stamp.
   Q.   You could have had a lot of fun with one of those stamps,
        could you not, if you had so chosen?
   A.   If one wants to falsify evidence, one could have fun, yes, but...
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I do not think that suggestion is being made, is it?
   MR IRVING:  Well, my Lord ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That was lighthearted or was it not?
   MR IRVING:  --- I wanted to leave that lingering suspicion in
        your Lordship's mind.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No, it is better to come out with it if you
        are going to make that allegation.
   MR IRVING:  We referred to one document yesterday, my Lord, the
        one on cremation rate capacities, and I strongly implied
        that this document is suspect.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  But not originating from Professor van Pelt?
   MR IRVING:  Good Lord, no.  For heaven's sake, no.  I deeply
        regret that that impression should have been given.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No, I just wanted to clarify that.
   MR IRVING:  Of course not.  It is just that if those rubber

.          P-48

        stamps had been in a Polish archive which was Communist
        until quite recently, in the Auschwitz State Museum,
        rattling around in a cardboard box ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Somebody could do it.
   MR IRVING:  --- somebody could have done it.  Rubber stamps
        played a great part in the falsification of the
        Demanuke(?), identity card, and the final revealing of the
        falsification.  (To the witness):  You continue to say at
        the bottom of that paragraph:  "This is like holding the
        weapon of destruction in my hand, the gun that killed the
        victim, except these blue prints did not kill one person.
        They ultimately allowed for the killing of millions." Are
        you saying that several million people were killed in
        Auschwitz or was this just a loose turn of phrase?
   A.   This would be a loose turn of phrase.  I believe that
        Dr Pieper's assessment that round a million people were
        killed in Auschwitz is probably the most probable number.
   Q.   So when you talk about millions, it is not a deliberate
        manipulation or a perverse distortion of figures.  It is
        just a loose approximation because you are speaking
        without a script?
   A.   No.  First of all, I am speaking without a script.
        I mean, you know exactly how Errol Morris interviews
        people because you were interviewed in the same way and
        also appear in the same movie.  I was talking without of
        any of blue prints there.  I was talking in studio for

.          P-49

        three or four days.
                  There is, however, one point which I would like
        to make, and that when I came to the archive and saw for
        the first time these blueprints, I had very clearly in my
        mind a scene from Shawa(?) [sic - "Shoah"] where the great 
        historian Wal Hoeberg holds in his hand at that moment a railway table
        of transports to Treblinka, and he says something to the
        effect that it was looking at these documents that, in
        fact, you were holding the murder weapon in your hand; and
        I certainly, when I was talking to Errol and when I was
        looking at these blue prints, it was really amazing how
        Errol brought back to me that that moment, that first
        moment, of seeing the blue prints, that I was thinking
        this is part of that whole administrative system.  It is
        not only blue prints for Auschwitz, but it is basically
        part of a State sponsored project to kill Jews.  So when
        I used to use the word "millions" here, I would be quite
        happy to ultimately defend it in that larger context of a
        bureaucracy at work to ultimately dispose of people.
   Q.   Professor van Pelt, would you agree that it is the duty of
        historians to remain completely unemotional when he is
        looking at any object or artifact or a document, and
        interpret it as unemotionally and neutrally as he can?
   A.   I think that one's duty is to be unemotional, to be
        objective, but one's duty is also, I think, to remain
        human in the exercise.  I think, and this is what I just

.          P-50

        told you before, my Lord, that I prepared for Auschwitz
        because ultimately I went there as a human being and I was
        frightened to go there and I was frightened for the
                  To actually face great historical questions when
        they concern, as one would say, maybe the alleged murder
        of many people, then I think that, of course, if one is
        completely without emotion as one looks at these
        documents, then one would be a machine and probably not a
        human being and hence not a historian.
   Q.   Very well.  We can establish very clearly that you are an
        historian with feelings (and I think we would all like to
        be that), but do you not agree it is important as an
        historian to be able to put his feelings in one
        compartment and his objectivity in another and not allow
        his objectivity to become coloured by his feelings?
   A.   I agree that when one analyses a document that one should,
        indeed, be objective, that one should forget one's
        feelings, but when one goes home in the evening and goes
        back to a little room in the town to Vochest(?) where
        I had rented a room, then, of course, the feelings will
        come back.
   Q.   I agree.  Now if I can turn just to the last page but one
        of the transcript.  I am afraid they are not numbered, but
        it is the paragraph beginning with the 01, "Van Pelt then says"?

.          P-51

   A.   Sorry, the last 0, yes.
   Q.   I quote:  "Crematorium (ii)", and at this moment when you
        are saying this, you are actually standing on the
        collapsed roof of crematorium (ii)?
   A.   I am standing there?
   Q.   On the roof, yes.  You are crouching on it by a hole.  It
        is visible in the video.
   A.   I do not think I am standing on the roof at this -- it was
        Leuchter who was crouching at the hole, not me.
   Q.   Very well.  You say:  "In any case, crematorium (ii) is
        the most [something] of Auschwitz.  In the 2500 square
        feet of this one room", and you are pointing downwards,
         "more people lost their lives than in any other place on
        this planet.  500,000 people were killed.  If you would
        draw a map of human suffering, if you create a geography
        of atrocities, this would be the absolute centre."
                  That is a reference to crematorium (ii) and you
        are standing on the roof of Leichenkeller No. 1?
   A.   It is a reference to crematorium (ii), but I am actually
        not in the picture.  It is Fred Leuchter standing on the
        roof of Leichenkeller 1.
   Q.   But you are speaking yourself?
   A.   But I am speaking.  This was taped in the studio and there
        is no image of me actually in the whole movie near
        crematorium (ii).  The only -- there are only two parts in
        the movie where I am actually seen in Birkenhau, apart

.          P-52

        from, I think -- no, BW 51 was cut, that is, I look over
        the undressing room of crematorium (iii) at one moment and
        I am seen in the ruins of crematorium (v), and that is it.
   Q.   Professor, just so that we can be completely clear about
        this and the record can be clear, you are describing
        crematorium (ii) as being the place where 500,000 people
        were killed or ----
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   --- give or take a few numbers.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   And that this was the centre of the atrocity?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   So if I am to concentrate a large part of my investigation
        in this cross-examination on that one building and, in
        fact, on Leichenkeller 1, the one arm of the crematorium,
        this is not entirely unjustified if I am trying to
        establish that the factories of death did not exist as
   A.   No.  I think that that the obvious building to challenge
        would be crematorium (ii).
   Q.   My Lord, may I show the witness one or two of these
        photographs so we can identify what we are talking about?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Of course.
   MR IRVING:  It will probably help your Lordship also.  This,
        first of all, is quite a large photograph showing the
        whole Auschwitz region.  If I hold it up, could you point,

.          P-53

        please, to Birkenhau?
   A.   Birkenhau is right here.
   Q.   Birkenhau, so his Lordship can also see it, is the
        oblong.  The witness recognizes the oblong in the centre
        of the map.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Mr Irving, will you pause a second because
        this is quite helpful to me because there is a map
        somewhere in Professor van Pelt's?
   A.   It is in my report, yes.
   Q.   I would quite like to mark it up because the geography is
        not all that clear in my mind.
   MR RAMPTON:  It may be your Lordship will do even better with
        the aerial photographs taken by the Allies in 1944 which
        are at tab 2 of K2.
   MR RAMPTON:  They go everywhere from a bird's eye view, as it
        were, of the whole complex right through to the detail of
        the roof of Leichenkellers 2 and 3.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Thank you very much, Mr Rampton.  That is
        very helpful.
   MR IRVING:  Would you now point to Auschwitz 1, what is
        called the "stammlager"?
   A.   Auschwitz 1 is a kind of more, the stammlager, the
        compound which is surrounded by barbed wired is right
        here, but here we see an extension of the stammlager
        called the "schutzhaftlager erweiterung".  It is under

.          P-54

        construction.  Here are various factories, including
        Canada 1, which belong to the stammlager but which are
        outside the barbed wire compound.
   Q.   Am I holding the map the right way up, Professor?  Which
        way is north, can you remember?
   A.   North is right here, so it should go like that.
   Q.   Right.  Finally, the big IG Monovitz plant?
   A.   It is more or less where your hand -- yes, more or less
        where your hand is.
   Q.   Is that not the IG Monovitz plant here?
   A.   No, no, this is the schutzhaftlager -- where your hand is,
        more or less where your hand is, that is where the
   Q.   So Monovitz is down here somewhere?
   A.   Yes, down there.  Sorry, that will be kind of confusing
        for the record, but there is another photo in the binder
        which actually also shows the plant.
   Q.   In fact, if one looks closely at this photograph, one can
        see a cluster of bombs descending from the American
        aircraft that took the photograph.  We now get much
        closer, if I may?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Mr Rampton, can you give me the reference in
        the Leuchter (sic) report for the aerial photographs?
   MR RAMPTON:  In the Leuchter report?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Sorry, in the van Pelt report.
   MR RAMPTON:  To what, my Lord?

.          P-55

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  The aerial photographs because I have marked
        up one of them and I cannot actually find the -- rather
        than start again with another one.
   MR RAMPTON:  It is towards the end, I think.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, I thought it was.  I am so sorry.  Will
        you forgive me, Mr Irving, just tracking this down?
   MR RAMPTON:  If your Lordship were to start at 370?
   A.   Page 49 does show the plant just referred to.
   MR IRVING:  Very well.  These two buildings down here, the T
        shaped buildings, they are the two crematoria (ii) and
        (iii), is that correct?
   A.   That is correct.  May I make one kind of caveat as far as
        the numbering is concerned?  There are documents where
        these crematoria called (i) and (ii), so sometimes they
        are called (ii) and (iii), sometimes (i) and (ii).  It
        depends if one crematorium (i) in the stammlager is
        included in the numeral.
   Q.   We have here, my Lord, a photograph taken relatively
        recently, within the last few months, from a helicopter
        showing the site as it now is of these two crematoria, the
        ruins of the two crematoria.  You can see the outline of
        the two T shaped buildings like they are mirror images of
        each other.  Crematorium (ii), is that correct?
   A.   Yes, that is correct.
   Q.   Crematorium (iii), and they are largely in ruins.  What is
        this path that has been laid here?  Was that a wartime

.          P-56

        path, Professor?
   A.   No, that is a recent path that has just been created
        because many of the tourists go first to the former
        women's camp and then they go through a new bridge and a
        new opening through the barbed wire fence which surrounds
        crematorium (ii) to crematorium (ii).

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