The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day016.22

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Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   Q.   Yes, but our problem is and our problem has been for some
        weeks in this courtroom, Professor, to try to establish
        the exact chain of command from the very highest level
        downwards.  We are all agreed at the complicity of Himmler
        and Heydrich and Stahlecker and Jaeger and all the others,
        but there is a final bridge that we cannot build yet and
        it is a very difficult bridge to build.
                  I am going to ask you to go back to page 14 now,
        if I may, to paragraph 4.2.4.  This is another document
        which I am sure you are very familiar with, August 12th,
        1941, the order to drive the Jewish women into the swamps
        apparently issued by Himmler.  Driving people into the

.          P-160

        swamps, is that a familiar kind of phrase at this time?
   A.   I have seen it in three documents.  This is the first one
        and then there is the Hitler table talk, and then there is
        the citation by Jackelm saying that Himmler used the
        phrase with him after the early December meetings.
        I have come across that phrase now three times in
        stretch of five or six months.
   Q.   Is it just a turn of
phrase or do they mean it literally,
        do you think?
   A.   Well, I think the
indication here ----
   Q.   Is it a dangerous turn of
   A.   It is used in ways I think
that have a very, to use your
        term, a lethal connotation, that it seems to have
        one of the slang words for making sure that Jews
die.  In
        the first one we see clearly by the response that
        Jews in the swamps meant that they were supposed
to drown,
        because the man replies back: "Driving women and
        into the swamps did not have the intended success
        the swamps were not so deep that a sinking under
        occur".  So at least to the recipient it was clear
        driving Jews into the swamps was a way in which
they would
   Q.   This is the Magill
   A.   This is the Magill
   Q.   Footnote No. 40.
   A.   Yes.

.          P-161

   Q.   That document, of course,
comes from a different archive,
        does it not, somewhere in Czechoslovakia?
   A.   That I believe is the
Prague military archive.
   Q.   The Prague military
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Do you have that document
in front of you, please?  It is
        footnote 40.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Page 23.
   MR IRVING:  Page 23.  It is only a minor point I
am going to
        make on that.  In the second paragraph of that it
        evident that the local Ukrainian and white Russian
        population were helping the Nazi invaders by
telling them
        where the partisans were hiding.  Is that correct?
        Reporting that there was bandits around and
helping them
        to find them so that they could be shot?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   So this was partisan
   A.   Well, of course they use
the term Banden and it may or may
        not mean a real partisan unit at this stage of the
        It most likely means strengthening Russian
soldiers that
        are, as they say, room driven, they are wandering
        the swamp because they have been cut off.
   Q.   What period does this
report cover?
   A.   This is early August 1941.
   Q.   How many days?
   A.   Well, that would be less
than two months into Barbarossa.

.          P-162

        Oh, I am sorry, it covers July 27th to 11th August
   Q.   Two weeks then, is it not?
How big was this
        reitenabteilung, a mounted, what, brigade, mounted
        detachment literally?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   How many men?
   A.   I believe this is one
regiment within the brigade.
        I think there were two cavalry regiments and this
is the
   Q.   Well, it says that it is
the mounted ----
   A.   Mounted police of the
cavalry regiment two, you are
        right.  So this is a group, yes, a mounted group.
   Q.   It is a brigade.
   A.   What the size of an
abteilung is.  I do not know.
   Q.   It varies, does it not,
from unit to unit?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Would you turn to the
final page, please, page 4, the
        third paragraph from the end.  Does it give a
figure there
        for the gesamtzahl, the overall total?
   A.   It says 6,526 of
   Q.   Plunderers have been shot
by this unit?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   In that two-week period.
Do you consider that to be a
        plausible figure for a relatively small unit?  I
am just
   A.   Yes.

.          P-163

   Q.   Still on paragraph 4.2.5 -
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Before we leave that document,
which is four
        pages of rather dense German text, is there
        presumably there is somewhere, a reference to all
        being shot, sorry, the intended result or the
        success not having been achieved?
   MR RAMPTON:  The top of the last page, my Lord.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  The top of the last page.
   A.   That is the non-success.
   MR RAMPTON:  Failure.
   A.   Yes.  Was your question,
is there another document that
        says what happened?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No.  I expressed it rather
badly.  I have
        been told that there was somewhere in this
document a
        passage which says, "We did not have the success
we had
        hoped with driving the women into the swamp", and
        Mr Rampton has identified it.  It is the top of
page 26 of
        this clip.  Yes.  Thank you.
   MR IRVING:  Which does appear to be a direct
response to the
        telegram, does it not, the order?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   A remarkable -- it does
not often happen in the archives,
        does it, two archives?
   A.   That you will have a
meeting of documents from two
        different archives, yes.
   Q.   If you would now go back
to 4.2.5, please, the only reason

.          P-164

        to look at this is because on line 5 of that
paragraph you
        mention the higher SS and police leader von dem
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Von dem Bach-Zelewski.  He
was one of the major war
        criminals, am I right?
   A.   He is the counterpart of
Jackelm in the North,
        Bach-Zelewski in the middle, and he was certainly
        considered by many to be a war criminal.
   Q.   How many scalps did he
have, do you think, by the time the
        war ended, tens of thousands on his belt?  I mean
how many
        lives did he have on his conscious, that man, when
the war
        ended as a mass murderer?
   A.   My guess is that it was
quite a few.
   Q.   Quite few tens of
thousands, hundreds of thousands?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   What happened to him after
the war?  Was he executed?
   A.   No.  He was tried in a
court in Munich and as I ----
   Q.   When?
   A.   In the 1960s I believe.
   Q.   In the 1960s?  So he
survived 15 years in relative comfort
        being used in any way by the Allies as a witness?
   A.   He appeared as a witness I
believe in the Wolff trial.
        I do not know what other trials he may have
appeared as a
   Q.   Is this not an
extraordinary state of affairs, in your

.          P-165

   A.   It would not be the first
miscarriage of justice in
        Germany in which people should have been tried and
   Q.   This is, in my view, or
would you agree, a particular
        egregious example of somebody who should have been
        relatively early on who somehow escaped the
        noose, would you agree?
   A.   I think he certainly
should have been brought to trial
        much earlier, and his verdict should have been
much more
   Q.   He made a number of
witness statements on behalf of the
        Americans and the British and the other Allies
after the
        war, did he?
   A.   I am not sure on that.  I
could not answer that.
   Q.   Well, you say he testified
at Nuremberg?
   A.   He testified at the Karl
Wolff trial and also in Bavaria.
   Q.   How much credence do you
think you could attach to the
        evidence of a witness like that?
   A.   It would depend upon
looking at what he was saying and in
        what context and what corroboration.  I would not
make a
        blanket statement.  Here again it would be a case
        there is a witness and you would want to look very
        carefully at the particular testimony in question,
        this would be one to be approached with caution.
He did
        send apparently his doctored and sanitized diary
to the

.          P-166

        Bundesarchiv all nicely typed up and all
references to
        things that you have referred to, that he probably
        many hundreds of thousands on his conscious nicely
   Q.   Does this kind of happen
in the archives, that documents
        turn up in the archives that have been sanitized
in some
   A.   If they are submitted by
the private party himself, as in
        this case, I suppose it is not necessarily
        I think there was a feeling that maybe Sper had
done the
        same thing.
   Q.   I know Sper did the same
thing.  Would you not agree that
        in a case of a man like Bach-Zelewski who you know
        I know and the world knew was a mass murderer who
        somehow managed to survive like Scheherezade by
singing or
        by telling tales, that is the kind of evidence
that you
        should drive a very wide circle around and not
under any
        circumstances use?
   A.   I would not say not to use
under any circumstances.  It
        would depend upon what he was saying and whether
it had
        other kinds of corroboration.  He might be saying
        something that other witnesses would confirm.
   Q.   I mention this just as a
particularly gross example,
        because are there any other names that would occur
to you
        of witnesses where you think, well, it is funny
that he
        got off so lightly?  Are there any other names in

.          P-167

        connection with the Holocaust where witnesses have
        been ----
   A.   I think Wolff got off
fairly lightly.
   Q.   Karl Wolff?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Because he was an
accomplice or he was -- what would his
        particular crime have been, to your knowledge?
   A.   Certainly in facilitating
of the procuring of trains for
        Operation Reinhard, that was one key document.
   Q.   Yes.  He survived, but are
you familiar that in the case
        of Karl Wolff -- no, I cannot lead evidence on
        obviously.  What about Wilheim Hoertel, Eichmann's
        in the Balkans, shall we say?
   A.   I am not aware that
Hoertel was involved in the
        deportation the way Sedonika or someone else.  I
do not
        know of any situation in which Hoertel knew
Eichmann, but
        I do not believe he worked for him or was
instrumental in
        the Final Solution.
   Q.   I will put to you to two
facts in connection with
        Hoertel.  Is he one of the sources for our overall
        of the total on the Holocaust, the total number of
   A.   He is the person who gave
such a figure.  I do not think
        that that is why historians come to the numbers
that they
   Q.   Where did he get his
figure from?

.          P-168

   A.   He claimed he got it from Eichmann.

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