The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day017.02

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day017.02
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   Q.   All the wealthy Holocaust victims, either at the time they
        were dispatched from their places of residence or upon
        their arrival in the camps, were systematically robbed of
        their valuables by Operation Reinhardt, or as part of
        Operation Reinhardt?  Is that correct?
   A.   Operation Reinhardt, in a sense, is the last stage of a
        long process of dispossession because the Jews in Germany
        were disposed of much of their property for that.  When
        they were put on the trains the last things like rings and
        valuables and jewellery are taken.  These are the small
        personal possessions they would still have been allowed.
        Again in Poland Jews are dispossessed of their property
        and moved into ghettoes and, when they are taken to the
        camps, the last remaining possessions are taken by
        Operation Reinhardt.  Operation Reinhardt, in a sense, is
        the last cleaning up of whatever property had not been

.          P-10

        taken already.
   Q.   Not many more questions on this matter, Professor.
        you be able to make any kind of global estimates on
        kind of data and say, well, therefore, the number of
        victims was not less than a certain figure and it was
        probably not more than a certain figure, on the basis
        of course not everybody had valuable wristwatches or
        valuable fountain pens, but on the other hand not many
        people wear two wristwatches, shall we say, so it was
        probably not less than 100,000 people?  Can you say
   A.   I would say that this would help us with a minimum
        but it would be nowhere close to a maximum figure
        they are presumably skimming the cream and taking the
        best things.  Most Jews would have traded their
        wristwatches for food and whatever else long before
        if they were in desperate straits, which they were.
So it
        does not give us anything approaching a maximum
   MR RAMPTON:  Can I intervene to say that I just have done
        arithmetic? It is not obviously an exhaustive figure
        whatever reason, but the total under A on this page is
        200,000 items.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Which page are you?
   MR RAMPTON:  Page 10, my Lord, at A.  Many of these items
        of course come from the same person, one does not
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That is what I was wondering.  You can
have a
        fountain pen and a watch.

.          P-11

   MR RAMPTON:  Of course you can.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  What was the number?
   MR RAMPTON:  200,000 precisely.
   MR IRVING:  Exactly, but it is giving orders of magnitude,
        my opinion, my Lord.  We are really clutching at
        and trying to arrive at figures.  Is it not right,
        Professor, that our statistical database for arriving
        any kind of conclusions for the numbers of people who
        been killed in the Holocaust by whatever means, we are
        really floundering around in the dark, are we not?  Is
        that correct?
   A.   No.  I would not express it that way.  I would say we
        a very accurate list of the deportation trains from
        Germany.  In many cases we have the entire roster name
        name and we are not floundering.  We can tell you, as
        have seen in the intercepts, 974 on one train.
   Q.   But I interrupt you there and you say in many cases,
        of course, had we got a complete list of all the ----
   A.   Can I finish my answer.
   Q.   --- trains, then ----
   A.   May I finish my answer?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Let him finish.  You have been very good,
        Mr Irving, but let him finish this answer.
   A.   In terms again of France, the Netherlands, the
        from which there were deportations from Western
Europe, we
        can do a very close approximation by trains, the
number of

.          P-12

        people per train.
                  In the area of Poland, there were at least
        statistics in terms of ghetto populations and these
        ghettos were liquidated completely, so we can come to
        fairly good rough figure of Polish Jews.  We also have
        fairly reliable prewar census and postwar calculations
        that one can do a subtraction.  So, in terms of
        victims from Poland westward, we are not floundering.
        are coming fairly close approximation.
                  Where historians differ and where you get
        figure of between 5 and 6 is because we do not have
        figures for the Soviet Union.
   MR IRVING:  Can I halt you at this point ----
   A.   There is where we are -- that the numbers vary
   Q.   But can I halt you at that point and say the fact that
        train load of Jews sets out from Amsterdam or from
        does not, of course, necessarily mean that they end up
        being gassed or killed in some other way, does it?
   A.   If they are sent to camps like Treblinka or Sobibor or
        Chelmno or Belzec, yes, they are virtually all
   Q.   On the basis of eyewitness evidence?
   A.   On the basis of, yes, what I have presented here.  We
        that ----
   Q.   Which we are coming to later on?
   A.   Yes, and they do not come back.

.          P-13

   Q.   Yes.
   A.   They disappear.
   Q.   Well, the Nazis did not want them to come back, but
        you accept that large numbers were also the subject
        shall we say, population movements, particularly in
        1939/1940 period.  You talked about the Jews in
   A.   Yes, this is a move from one area of German control to
        another.  So Jews that are moved from the Warthegau
        the General Government are then included in the ghetto
        population statistics of the various towns in the
        Government and those ghettos are then liquidated and
        count as part of the disappearance ----
   Q.   When you mean "the ghetto is liquidated", you mean the
        ghetto is just wound up?
   A.   The ghetto is empty.  People are put on trains.
   Q.   Emptied, but the word "liquidated" is rather
        that something else is happening?
   A.   Well, that was the German term.  "Ghetto liquidierung"
        their word, and that these liquidation, ghetto
        liquidations, also we know the mode in which they were
        carried out with extraordinary brutality and ----
   Q.   Yes, but come back to Poland for a minute.  You talk
        the fact that we had the prewar population census and
        postwar census.  We are having a major problem with
        because the whole of Poland was shifted westwards as a
        result of the agreements, so what do you mean by

.          P-14

        This is the first problem.  Is that not right?
   A.   Well, you are talking about territory, but the Polish
        population in terms of number of Jews left at the end
        really is not changed or altered by a shifting of
        because there were no Jews in either the German or the
        Polish territory.
   Q.   They also have a problem caused by the fact that the
        Soviet Union arbitrarily declared that everybody who
        in the Soviet occupied part of certain parts of Poland
        became Soviet citizens.  After they had entered,
        I believe, on September 19th or September 17th 1939,
        they not arbitrarily declare after that that large
        the citizens who had previously been Polish were now
        Soviet citizens?
   A.   Yes, but those areas ten fall back under the Germans
        they are part of the statistics -- I mean, the prewar
        census we have is pre1939.
   Q.   Are you saying that the Jews who were in the Soviet
        of occupied Poland in 1939 stayed there until the
        invaded two years later?
   A.   I think most did.  Some did manage to get -- those
        were saved, for the most part, were the ones that
        sent on to Siberia.
   Q.   Is it right the figure of those who left and were sent
        to Siberia was of the order of 300,000?
   A.   The total number of Polish Jews in Siberia I do not

.          P-15

        is even close to that.  We know that the estimated
        of Jews that fled or were deported from the German
zone to
        the Soviet zone in 1939/1940 was in the magnitude of
        to 300,000.  How many for 1941 are, in a sense, caught
        the German advance which in these areas, of course, is
        very first territories they overcome, that you do not
        any indication that very large numbers escaped at all.
   Q.   But there is an area of uncertainty, is there not?
   A.   The point at which the German documents start saying
        Jewish populations have managed to flee" is when you
        much deeper into the Soviet Union where it took longer
        the Russian armies to get to and there was more
        The German documents indicate only then are they
        to find that the Jews had managed to flee before they
                  So, while there is certainly a degree of
        uncertainty, to suggest that significant vast numbers
        Jews escaped from these very border territories the
        first days occupied by the German Army, I do not think
         -- it is not one that I can accept.
   Q.   But is not the evidence, in fact, that the Soviet
        had evacuated large parts of their forward territories
        preparation for their attack on Germany, and that when
        Germans advanced into these areas in Operation
        in June 1941 they found the population relatively thin
        because of these evacuations?

.          P-16

   A.   No, I do not think so.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Can we ----
   A.   There were deportations of what they -- there were
        deportations of what they considered political
   MR IRVING:  So, in other words, I am not right in
        there is any area of uncertainty about the figures, in
        your view?
   A.   No.  What I said is the area of greatest uncertainty
        the areas of the Soviet Union and that from that
        westward we come to a fairly close proximation.  After
        that it varies, estimates vary greatly.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Can I just interrupt because I want to go
        back to Operation Reinhardt which is where we started
        we have rather sort of spread out from there.  Can you
        Mr Irving, you are probably going to ask this at some
        stage anyway -- put an estimate on the number of
        you would say were killed by gassing at the smaller
        camps like Treblinka, Sobibor and Chelmno?
   A.   The numbers that the German courts came to in their
        investigations in which they emphasised that they were
        using the minimum estimate so that this would not be a
        controversy between the defence and the prosecution,
        the first Treblinka trial, I believe it was 700 or
        750,000.  By the second Treblinka trial, they had
        that figure to 9 or 950,000.  Belzec is estimated at
        550,000.  Sobibor, I believe they estimated 200,000,

.          P-17

        Chelmno, as a minimum, I think they said 150,000, but
        thought it was more likely in the 250,000 area.
   MR IRVING:  When were these estimates made?
   A.   These were in the various judgments of the 1960s in
   Q.   1960s and 1970s or 1960s?
   A.   These particular trials, I believe, all -- and I think
        last one was in 1968/69, so I think all of those
        before 1970.
   Q.   You say these figures were reached at by agreement
        the parties?
   A.   These were the figures that were put into the judgment
        what the prosecution said -- I mean, let me see if I
        can phrase this right, I want to be very careful on
         -- that this was the figure that in a sense was in
        realm where they had sufficient documentation that it
        not contested.  Then you have the estimate, possible
        additional that they did not want to put into the
        or the indictment because they did not want that to be
        obscuring issue or become a detracting issue, "Well,
        did not kill 250,000, we killed only 200,000".
   Q.   I was going to ask, to put it in common language, was
        any skin off anybody's nose if people added 100,000
        or less?  I mean, was anybody going to get a shorter
        sentence because the numbers were lower or a longer
        sentence because the numbers were higher?  What I am

.          P-18

        getting at is were the figures properly tested in
   A.   The figures were reached in general by historical
        witnesses that submitted these to the court and they
        open to cross-examination by the Defence.
   Q.   And these witnesses were German or?
   A.   The most, the most active witness was Wolfgang
        who was a German historian.
   Q.   A German historian?
   A.   Yes.

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