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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day011.11

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day011.11
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   MR IRVING:  Try us.
   A.   OK, my speculation will be the following:  that
        "Vorsontercommander" for inmates before these buildings
        had been brought into operation.  There would have been
        little reason for them at that moment necessarily to want
        to steal these plans.  We know that the camp resistance
        actually stole a set of these plans in 1944. There was a
        Czech woman, who was able -- ultimately working in the
        Bauleitung.  She stole the set of plans in order to warn
        the outside world.
   Q.   Which crematorium are we talking about?
   A.   Crematorium 2 and I think crematorium 4.
   Q.   Of the factory --
   A.   A set of plans, which are smuggled outside of the camp.
        There is eyewitness testimony about that, about
        everything.  So my speculation would be -- and it is not
        more than speculation -- that once these buildings had
        been committed to genocidal use somebody must have said
        "we must prevent any information of these buildings
        getting to the outside world.  We want these plans to be

.          P-91

        under lock and key".
   Q.   -- can I interrupt you at this point and say, was the
        genocide of the Jews or of the other minorities being
        liquidated by the Nazis in some way a contribution to
        German's war economy?  I am putting it in your language,
        it was just part of the Nazi programme, or was it a
        fundamental contribution to the German war economy?  My
        Lord, you will appreciate why I am asking the question. It
        is from the document.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think so.  I am just wondering in what
        sense the contribution, you mean mouths to feed, something
        like that?
   MR IRVING:  I am reading the words from the document, my Lord,
        that is before us.
   A.   Certainly, many trains with valuables of the deportees
        which had been -- we gathered in Canada one -- and then
        later in Canada two also were sent back to the Reich.
        I do not think -- and, of course, we know from Operation
        Reinhardt that an incredible amount of loot was
        ultimately --
   Q.   Precisely.
   A.   -- sent back --
   Q.   Can I draw your attention to the first sentence of the
        third paragraph: "furthermore, it must be pointed out we
        are concerned here with works that are connected with the
        war economy and to be kept secret"; the genocide was not

.          P-92

        connected with the war economy, but the looting of the
        corpses was, was it not?
   A.   -- it was not the looting of the corpses, because the
        looting of the corpses themselves was almost
        insignificant; what was important, ultimately, was when
        people were taken off the trains their luggage remained in
        the trains.  Now ultimately that luggage, that stuff, was
        the important stuff which was being transferred to Canada
        No. 1.  It was the vast bulk of the stuff.  Not the stuff
        which was actually found on the corpses.
   Q.   Do you not rely on the witness, Dr Bendel, as an
   A.   No, no, this is --
   Q.   Will you answer my question, please.
   A.   -- no, I am not.
   Q.   You have not relied --
   A.   For this particular statement?
   Q.   -- no.  You will understand the reason why I ask this
        question: have you relied on the witness, Dr Bendel?
   A.   In my book Bendel is only mentioned one, with a
        description of bunker No. 2.
   Q.   Are you aware that Dr Bendel has testified under oath that
        the Nazis extracted 17 tonnes of gold in teeth from their
        victims?  Whatever you make of that figure, would that not
        be a contribution to the war economy?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  What happened to it?

.          P-93

   MR IRVING:  My Lord, I respectfully submit that is not material
        to this issue, the whole point is we are trying to work
        out what the Germans were ashamed of and what they did not
        want the outside world to know.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Well --
   MR IRVING:  And if it is something that is a contribution - -
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:   I am not sure I agree with that; was it
        still there when the Russians arrived?
   MR IRVING:  No, of course, not, my Lord.  Whatever the quantity
        was, it went initially to the SS, as part of operation
        Reinhardt, and we will be introducing the documents to
        substantiate that along with all the other pathetic,
        personal effects of the victims; the watches, the fountain
        pens the spectacles.  Everything else was recycled and
        turned into a mass cash spinning operation by Heinreich
        Himmler. The gold was a major part of it. Hence that room
        set aside which you, yourself, showed us drawn on the maps
        that they want to keep secret, showing a gold working room
        with the smelting furnace in the corner.
   A.   If this is a question, my Lord, I am happy to answer.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, it is a question.
   A.   I think that given the amount of investment being done in
        building the crematoria and the labour being expended and
        money being expended and especially the material in the
        war, in a war economy and a possible yield of that in
        terms of dental gold, I think that the Germans were, to

.          P-94

        say the least, not very smart in economic sense.
   MR IRVING:  I have only one final question on this document
        then; in that case, Professor, will you please tell the
        court what were the jobs connected with the war economy
        which had to be kept secret which were connected with the
        crematorium then?  If it was not the genocide and it was
        not the gold?
   A.   I mean the question of course we have to face here is, if
        he means -- if they mean literally war economy.  If they
        mean literally war economy, in 1943 the SS wanted -- they
        were building a plant right next to Auschwitz No. 1.
   Q.   That was not in the crematorium, was it?
   A.   That was not in the crematorium.
   Q.   This paragraph is purely concerned with the plans of the
        crematorium, which they are trying to keep away from
        prying eyes for some reason which they indicate, in my
        submission, by the use of words "vital to the war economy"
        or "important to the war economy".  My Lord, I have no
        further questions on this document.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  The only question I was going to ask you,
        I think you may in a way have answered; it is the dating
        of it is slightly odd, is it not, in a way if this sort of
        instruction is going to go out, you rather expect it to go
        out when they are deciding they are going to convert
        crematorium No. 2 to genocidal use?
   A.   No, I would say that -- you see I do not think they think

.          P-95

        of everything in advance.  What happens is that in March
        you get the first, the first trial gassing in crematorium
        No. 2; by May 1943 all of the buildings except crematorium
        3 are in operation.  I think it is quite likely that
        somebody -- that at that moment somebody said "we have a
        problem".  I think that the whole history of (German
        spoken) and the history of architecture in Auschwitz,
        construction of Auschwitz, the Germans do not think of
        everything ahead.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, Mr Irving.
   MR RAMPTON:  My Lord, could I -- it might save my having to
        come back to it in re-examination -- just draw your
        Lordship's attention to the first paragraph of that
        letter, which I think has escaped your Lordship and the
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Well, even that date is a bit odd too if you
        think about it, because Himmler was not there until July.
   MR RAMPTON:  That is why I thought your Lordship might want to
        pursue the enquiry by reference to 19th June 1942.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No, but that is a little earlier than you
        would expect.
   MR RAMPTON:  Exactly.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  So it is double edged, really.
   MR IRVING:  Well, I am indebted to Mr Rampton for pointing that
        out then.
                  (To the witness) Just one more question in that

.          P-96

        relationship, and that is; have you seen documents under
        which any SS member involved in operation Reinhardt, or in
        whatever was happening at Auschwitz, was obliged to keep
        secret, under pain of death, a number of matters,
        including -- have you seen such a document?
   A.   I have not seen a document.  I know it from testimony,
        from... who was it?  Was it Hans Stark?  I think Hans
        Stark gave testimony that he had to sign such a document
        when he came to Auschwitz and that the first thing he did
        was he was brought to the Political Department and asked
        to sign such a document, the general rule to remain
        completely secret. It also came up in the Jacob Ertl
        trial, when Ertl started talking in mid-1942, he got in
        trouble over that. He mentioned it.
   Q.   Will you take it from me, Professor, that there is such a
        document in Berlin documents relating to a man called
        Weiss (?).  I believe he is a low ranking SS NCO.  I have
        seen this document, and that he was required to sign such
        a security undertaking.
   A.   I trust you on that matter.
   Q.   In that case I cannot ask you details as to what they were
        obliged to keep secret because if you have not seen the
        document you cannot tell the court.  But I will ask the
        other witnesses when they come.
                  Having, I think, disposed of this document, my
        Lord, we can now resume questioning based on the pictures

.          P-97

        that we have seen.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Well, dealt with it, anyway.
   MR IRVING:  Well, not -- I would have said "disposed" actually.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  You can say that at the end of the case.
   MR IRVING:  Yes.  In my famous closing speech.
                  (To the witness) How often did Himmler visit
        Auschwitz?  Did he visit Auschwitz again after July 19th
        or whenever it was, 1942?
   A.   Now, there is an account by Vrba that he did.
   Q.   By Vrba, who is one of the eyewitnesses on whom you rely?
   A.   On Rudolf Vrba.  I have used Rudolf Vrba in the book
        twice, yes.  He is, of course, very important in the
        history of Auschwitz, because he was one of two escapees,
        three escapees, however, you want to count it, who brought
        news of the killing of the Hungarian Jews to the outside
        world in the spring of 1944.
   Q.   When did Vrba suggest that Himmler visited Auschwitz on a
        second or further occasion?
   A.   The third one.
   Q.   The third occasion; was this 1943 or 1942?
   A.   No, he talked about it in his account I Cannot Forgive.
   Q.   This would be 1943?
   A.   That is --
   Q.   The visit?
   A.   -- yes, there is a visit.  He says 1943.  He actually
        says -- he remembers it as January 1943 and then says that

.          P-98

        he -- Himmler came to the opening of the crematorium and
        he said would have been January 1943.  In any case, we
        know he was confused on the date because it would have
        been March 1943.
   Q.   Vrba, in fact, am I right in saying this; concertinaed a
        number of different events and different buildings into
        one event and one building, did he not, when he wrote his
        report up from memory?
   A.   We are talking about the Vrba-Wetzlar Report right now?
   Q.   No, the original one that he wrote when he came out and he
        dealt I think with a Slovakian Jewish organization who
        then reedited the report for consumption and a lot of
        details got concertinaed, did they not?
   A.   Now, the question is I want to know exactly what your
        question with the verb "concertinaed" because it is a word
        I normally do not use, so I want to know exactly what you mean.
   Q.   Sometimes when a person visits a place two or three times
        in later memory it becomes just either one or two visits
        and the events of three visits are then concertinaed into
        one or two.  But Vrba was not very precise about dates and
        times and places, was he?
   A.   I mean Vrba wrote, certainly his first report, under
        incredible stress. The Hungarian action was going on.  Tens
        of thousands of Jews per week were shipped to Auschwitz,
        and he wanted to warn the Hungarian Jewish community that

.          P-99

        what was happening in Auschwitz, what was awaiting them,
        he had escaped from having been an inmate in Auschwitz for
        two years, a little over two years, and was recalling from
        memory his -- you know, tried to make a case that this was
        a very serious thing and tried to describe the camp as
        good as he could.  Also even tried to describe the
   Q.   But his report is flawed, is it not?  A lot of it is bunk?
   A.   No, I would like -- I mean, if you make a challenge like
        that I will be willing to go with you over the report in
        detail.  Certainly, the report is not more flawed, and in
        general terms I would want to say that if I had been Vrba
        coming out of the situation I am, going to then at a
        certain moment be, as you said, he was interviewed.  He
        was interviewed by people in Bratislava.
   Q.   A Jewish community, was it not?
   A.   These were people of the Jewish community --

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