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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day013.11

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day013.11
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   Q.   Mr Irving, in your earlier correspondence ----
   A.   The document also mentions enormous damage to buildings

.          P-93

        which, if you have been to Dresden you will know precisely
        which buildings we British were responsible for destroying
        that day ----
   Q.   What has that got to do with casualties?
   A.   I heard laughter in court and I thought I should make
        plain that this document did not ----
   Q.   Because your answer was absurd, no doubt, Mr Irving.  You
        have just been telling us that, we have been through it,
        how you had lingering and then disappeared doubts about
        the authenticity of the document ----
   A.   Of the figure.
   Q.   You were satisfied of the authenticity of the document,
        but had doubts about the reliability of the figure?
   A.   That is correct.
   Q.   Those doubts about the reliability of the figures have now
        disappeared.  Why?
   A.   I have told him that I am in no doubt at all as to the
        reliability of the document, The authenticity of the
        document because of where it came from.
   Q.   You are asking the Provost of the Cathedral of Coventry to
        plaster these figures, the casualties it mentions which
        have a shattering affect, impact all over his exhibition.
        Why, if you do not believe that the figures are reliable?
   A.   Are you suggesting that at this time I had any reason to
        doubt that the figures were inaccurate?
   Q.   You have said so a dozen times.

.          P-94

   A.   I said I am investigating the figures and I am going to
        great lengths at this time, through the various archives
        and governments, to find out what I can about the people
        who signed the document.
   Q.   You have known from the beginning that the figures were
        suspicious, have you not?
   A.   Suspicion inasmuch as I have not seen them substantiated
        by other documents, for example, on the Eastern Front, we
        have seen some of the major figures of the killings of the
        Jews substantiated by the lower-level documents on which
        those totals are based, and I would have liked to have
        seen similar documents reflecting these totals, as indeed
        subsequently turned up in 1966 when the West German
        Government and the East German Government simultaneously
        provided me with corroborating documents for their document.
   Q.   A month before this document was sent to the gullible
        Provost of Coventry Cathedral, you wrote a long memorandum
        which had as part of its introduction (my Lord, it is page
        27 of tab 2), in paragraph 4, you wrote this, Mr Irving --
        Has your Lordship got it?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, I think.
   MR RAMPTON:  Obviously, it is of some importance to determine,
        one, whether the document is genuine, i.e. was really
        written by the person claiming to have signed it and on
        the date specified; and two, if the document is genuine,

.          P-95

        whether the 202,040 figure is itself an accurate and true
        detail or whether it was deliberately falsified at this
        time.  By the time you write to the Provost of Coventry on
        6th December 1964, that last enquiry, that last doubt,
        equivocation seems to have disappeared, am I right?
   A.   Have I specifically said to the Provost of Coventry there
        is no doubt that these figures are accurate?
   Q.   No, but, Mr Irving, bear with me; you could hardly invite
        the Provost of Coventry to include, with maximum impact,
        in his exhibition these figures, if you did not think that
        they were reliable -- if you were an honest man, I mean?
   A.   But you are familiar with the fact that the document does
        not just refer to death or casualties; it refers to the
        entire damage which was inflicted on that city.
   Q.   "Casualties", Mr Irving, is your word, the casualties, it
        mentions, have a shattering impact.  Of course they will
        do if they are authentic and reliable.  But, Mr Irving,
        what if they are not?
   A.   Are you suggesting that the people of Coventry would have
        been any less dismayed or shocked if the figure had been
        35,000?  I do not think so.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  You are saying in your letter to the Provost,
        you are saying this figure of 200,000 plus is going to
        have a shattering impact.  That is the very point you are
        making, is it not?
   A.   Well, my Lord, we have not been shown the order of the day

.          P-96

        No. 47 which in everything that it contains, part of which
        is the death roll, is the document, and the nonchalance of
        the document to which I am referring saying this is going
        to have a shattering impact on people who visit your
        exhibition, and I have no reason at this time to doubt the
        overall authenticity of the document, although I was
        making enquiries to investigate that actual figure because
        I obviously wanted to make very much more of the figure
        when the time comes.  But before I went ahead, I wanted
        to know who had signed the document could I speak to him,
        for example.  This is 1964 and there was every chance that
        the man who signed the document, Colonel Groesse, was
        still alive.  In fact, I eventually tracked down his widow.
   MR RAMPTON:  Yes, Mr Irving.  Could we now turn ----
   A.   And if I can also refer to that memorandum you were
        dealing with on page 27.  In paragraph 3 I gave reasons
        why the figure did not seem outlandish.  I looked at the
        death rolls in Hiroshima and the other major air-raid
        disasters of World War II, so there was less reason than
        might now seem apparent, to question the final
        authenticity of the figure.  But you did not read out that
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I am reading it now.
   A.   It is probably also appropriate here to mention that the
        figure of 200,000 by no means orphaned very many people

.          P-97

        referred to that death roll for Dresden, including members
        of Hitler's private staff, including Hermann Goring's
        personal Liaison Officer Budenschatz who visited Dresden
        and came back and spoke of that figure.
   MR RAMPTON:  It was a jolly good propaganda figure, was it not?
   A.   They used it for propaganda, yes.
   Q.   Of course they did, and it was totally false, was it not?
   A.   It is easy to say in retrospect that that document is
        fake.  But I am looking at this in 1964.  The document has
        been given to me by Dresden's Deputy Chief Medical
        Officer.  The document itself is authentic as we now know,
        but this figure has been inserted for propaganda reasons.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  What I am not really clear about is when you
        first saw this document, whether your reaction was that
        the figure does look amazing high; I really am rather
        suspicious about it?
   A.   My reaction on seeing a figure as high as that was to say,
        if true, this is sensational.  Clearly one has to carry
        out proper enquiries which I then began with the archives
        and trying to track down the people who signed the
        document and through whose hands it passed in 1945.  In
        the meantime, I began making cautious use of it on the
        assumption it was genuine, for example showing it to the
        Provost of Coventry, mentioning it to newspaper editors,
        contacting my publishers, saying we may have to put this
        in as an appendix and so on.  One does not know how long

.          P-98

        it is going to take to make the enquiries.  The German
        archives might have responded a week later and said yes,
        Colonel Grosser is now living in Cologne at such and such
        an address.
   Q.   Well now, it was not exactly moderate or reserved and in
        accordance with the need to make careful enquiries to
        place these figures before the public in Coventry, and no
        doubt for other parts of this country and abroad, so that
        they shall have a shattering impact, was it, Mr Irving?
   A.   I did not hear the adjective.  It was not what?
   Q.   It was not in accordance with what one might call the need
        to make careful enquiries, and to take stock of this
        figure, to place it with shattering impact before the
        public in Coventry the rest of this country and perhaps
        other parts of Europe?
   A.   I think it was a proper usage of that telegram for the
        purposes of the charitable fund raising of the Coventry
        Cathedral, yes.
   Q.   Tell a lie if it raises money, is that it?
   A.   I do not think I said that.  It would have been a lie
        if -- if I had known that the figure was untrue then it
        would have been a lie.
   Q.   You had no idea whether it was untrue or not, back in 1963
        you told your publisher Mr Kimber that you thought it was
        probably a piece of Nazi propaganda, did you not?
   A.   I did not have it in 1963.

.          P-99

   Q.   Now I want to turn a year on to early 1965.
   A.   Do you wish to dwell on that statement?  Do you want to
        find the actual reference?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I do not think that is right.
   MR RAMPTON:  It is right.
   MR RAMPTON:  Yes.
   A.   Can we look at the actual reference.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Page 39.
   MR RAMPTON:  No, it is page 2 of the table.
   A.   Page 2 of?
   Q.   April 1963, it is in the Kimber edition of the Destruction
        of Dresden.  What is written here is:  "In the 1963 Kimber
        edition", second box, my Lord, "edition of Destruction of
        Dresden" ----
   A.   Can I halt you there and point out that at this time I did
        not have this document.  So we cannot possibly be
        referring to this document.
   Q.   Let me read on, will you, Mr Irving?
   A.   I know the reasons why you want to read this out, because
        you want to confuse the court and confuse members in the
        public gallery.
   Q.   No, I do not at all.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  It is a bit confusing to me.  Can we
        understand the sequence?
   MR RAMPTON:  This is before he has been supplied with a copy of

.          P-100

        a copy, as a matter of fact, was it not, Mr Irving?  It
        was not an original copy?
   A.   It was the fourth or fifth carbon copy, yes.
   Q.   But it was typed out by Frau Grosse?
   A.   If we are going to look at a letter as prejudicial as this
        I think we should see the entire letter and not just the
        sentences that Miss Rogers has picked out.  Your Lordship
        will remember that at this time, I said in my opening
        speech at this time Mr Kimber was knee deep in the
        Auschwitz trial, the Dr Dering trial, and he was in a very
        sensitive and raw state.
   Q.   Let us see what was published in your William Kimber book
        first of all, Mr Irving.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Tab 3, page 1, is that right?
   MR RAMPTON:  Yes.  I take it you take responsibility for what
        appears in your books, do you?  Or are you going to tell
        me this was put in by some sub-editor?
   A.   You probably know what I am going to say then, do you not?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Can you let me in on this?
   MR RAMPTON:  I am just going to read out what you wrote.
   A.   What I wrote or what was published?
   Q.   Mr Irving, come on, let us have a nice gentle read of it
        together:  "Now if a trifle belatedly in the weeks after
        the American and British destruction of Dresden, Dr
        Goebbels was also discovering the use to which bombing

.          P-101

        propaganda ..."
   A.   I do not know where are.  What are we looking at?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  L1, tab 3, page 1.
   A.   Yes.

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