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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day018.19

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day018.19
Last-Modified: 2000/07/24

   MR IRVING:  I am also trying not to lead evidence.  I have
        tried to restrict it to asking questions in difficult
                  When you say in the fifth line of that page 33
        that there are hundreds of historians, so that you rather
        imply that my criticism is a bit overreaching, that
        I imply that I am the only one with a thorough knowledge,
        and of course there are hundreds of historians, would you
        accept that that applies to the situation now at the end
        of the 20th century, the beginning of the 21st century,

.          P-163

        rather than back in the 1970s when there were relatively
        few who had this knowledge of the archives.  Is that correct?
   A.   Well, the point I am making there is that, to quote the
        previous sentence, that simply to concentrate on
        biographies of Hitler is to deliver a completely
        misleading account of the state of research in the field
        in which you work.  As I say, somewhere in the report,
        I think research in the archival material really began in
        a serious way in the 1960s and the 1970s, but of course we
        are concerned here not just with the 1977 edition of your
        book but also with the 1991 edition of your book, in which
        you make the same sweeping condemnations of professional
        historians as you did in 1977.  If you think that the
        situation has change in the intervening period, then
        I think you should have said so.
   Q.   I draw attention, witness, purely to the fact that you
        talking about there are hundreds, and that this report
        written now of course and not in the 1970s, and would
        in the 1970s or 1960s have said there are hundreds of
        historians who were equally capable?  Would you have
        written that sentence back at the time that I wrote
   A.   In the 60s I would probably have said scores, by the
        probably hundreds.  If you take the Institut fur
        Zeitgeschichte in Munich alone, they have a very

.          P-164

        substantial staff, and there are many other
        the Institute of Contemporary History in London, Yad
        Vashim and many other institutes which were around in
        1970s which did employ professional historians who did
        archival work on Germany in the second world war.
   Q.   Witness, what is your opinion of the Nuremberg
        the printed Nuremberg volumes, the blue series and the
        American dream series, the Nazi conspiracy and
        would you consider them to be a source that you would
        recommend to students to use as source books?
   A.   Yes.  You use them yourself.
   Q.   In what respect do you suggest that I use them myself?
        I use them as a reference to go to, to check up on
        something, or do I use them as the basic quarry in
        I mine for the original sources on which to write
   A.   You use them in your work.  You use them in this
   Q.   Are you not familiar with these strictures that I
place on
        the use of the transcripts of the Nuremberg trials?
        you not familiar with the fact that I allege that
        are discrepancies?
   A.   Would you give me an example?
   Q.   I can only ask you questions.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No.  Do not feel inhibited to that sort
   MR IRVING:  I will give an example in this direction, but

.          P-165

        of all I will ask a question, if I may.  Witness, have
        ever listened to the wire or tape recordings of the
        proceedings at Nuremberg and compared them with the
        volumes, the printed text?
   A.   No, I have not.
   Q.   Now I will answer your question.  I have done
        that for one entire day and compared the blue volumes
        the testimony given by a man whose biography I wrote,
        Field Marshal Milsch, and that was sufficient to put
        off those transcripts for life.
   A.   Well, first of all, I think I would like to see an
        accurate transcript and the inaccurate transcript, and
        secondly, Mr Irving, you have just criticised me for
        making sweeping statements about your work on the
basis of
        reading a selection of it, and here you are, having
        one day's transcript of the Nuremberg trials, and
        condemning the lot.
   Q.   Yes, if you find one source is polluted, would you not
        tend to go to a different well spring and drink from
        somewhere else, put it like that?  You would not just
        well, just this one cupful of water had the strichnine
        it but the rest is probably OK?  Would you put it like
   A.   I do not think that is a very happy comparison.
   Q.   Are you familiar with the bound volumes, the American
        printed volumes, of the documents that were used at

.          P-166

   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Have you noticed one distinguishing feature about the
        selection of documents that is made?  Would I be right
        saying that the documents that are printed are purely
        documents used for the prosecution and that not one
        Defence document has been printed in those 46 volumes?
   A.   I think that is right, yes.
   Q.   You think that is right?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Does this suggest to you that this might possibly lead
        a skewed or distorted version of history if one was to
        write history relying extensively or partly or to any
        significant extent on a corpus of evidence where only
        prosecution case was in print and the Defence case was
        represented at all?
   A.   No.
   Q.   As far as exhibits are concerned?
   A.   I think you are quite right in saying, if you relied
        the Nuremberg documents exclusively, and you did read
        anything else, then of course that would be very
   Q.   I refer you back to your paragraph 2.3.7 where you
        admonishingly (if the word exists) to the major
        documentary collections that have been generally
        to historians for decades, tons of captured German

.          P-167

        documents to prepare their indictments in the
        trials and many of these were printed in the published
        record of the trials.  You do not mention the fact
        the only ones printed are the prosecution documents,
   A.   The point I am trying to make, Mr Irving, in this
        paragraph, is simply that there was an enormous amount
        material available for studying the Third Reich and
        policies in the Second World War.  That is all I am
        to make.  I am not making any statements about how
        reliable any of these documentary recollections might
   Q.   Yes, but just on the basis of the last two or three
        minutes of cross-examination, it does appear that I
        applied a more critical mind to these document
        than you have, and you are the scholar and I am the
        amateur.  You are the gentleman and I am the player.
   A.   That may appear to you.  It certainly does not appear
        me.  It is very, very general.  It is a very general
        paragraph, vast new masses of documents, both official
        private in provenance have become available, widely
        available to scholars.  This is not an area of history
        like the 5th century when historians had to make do
        sparse and obscure source material.  I am simply
trying to
        make the point to help the court reach an assessment
        this case, that this is an area where there is an
        mass of material available.  That is all I am trying

.          P-168

        say.  You know, I am trying to say it as briefly as I
        to keep the report short.  I do not then want to go
into a
        great long disposition about how much is reliable and
        much is not.
   Q.   You are saying that this paragraph is waffle, really,
        it not?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think we have spent enough time on this
        paragraph, Mr Irving, I am going to say just this as
        well.  I have some sympathy with you because, after
        these first 70 to 100 pages are there, and they
        material which I fully understand you regard as
        offensive.  I am not saying you are right to regard
        as being offensive, and that is why you are going
        them, but in the end the bit that matters starts about
        page 106.
   MR IRVING:  The detailed criticisms?
   MR IRVING:  You are absolutely right, my Lord, but I would
        regard this part of the cross-examination as going to
        credibility of the witness.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes.  Well, in parts I think it has, and
        again I cannot absolutely stop you.
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, you can stop me at any time.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I can.  What I mean is that I am not
going to
        stop you because I think some at any rate of these
        questions based on these passages are probably
        legitimate.  If I give you another hint, and it is
only a

.          P-169

        hint at this stage, that I am not really finding this
        any particular value to the task I have to perform,
        perhaps you would pass on through it a bit more
   A.   Perhaps I can help too?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Well ----
   A.   At least one of the questions which Mr Irving has
asked is
        already dealt with in my responses to his written
        questions, so we are going ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  He has not had a chance to look at those.
   A.   I know.  I think that is the problem.
   MR IRVING:  At the risk of testing your Lordship's
        still on page 33, three lines from the bottom:  "This
        not an area of history like the 5th Century when
        historians have to make do with sparse and obscure
        resource material to reconstruct what happened."
                  Is this not precisely what we have been
        struggling to do for the last five weeks in this
   A.   No, I do not think so.
   Q.   We have been struggling to reconstruct what happened
        on the Eastern Front where we agree the documentation
        there, but what happened, for example, to the Jews
   MR RAMPTON:  My Lord, I must intervene again.  I think
        Mr Irving really has a misconception about what this
        is about.  We have not been struggling to reconstruct

.          P-170

        at all.  What we have been struggling to reconstruct
        Mr Irving's state of mind.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That true is, but is he not entitled to
        the point to Professor Evans that one of the problems
        historians have dealing, for example, with the issue
        Hitler's knowledge of a genocidal gas extermination
        programme, that actually the documentary, leave aside
        other material, is very sparse?
   MR RAMPTON:  That is a perfectly fair point, but I do
        Mr Irving is -- that is a completely fair point and
        is what the question I think started out as being ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think it did, yes.
   MR RAMPTON:  But it turned into what I have repeatedly
        perceived to be a misconception of what this case is
        about.  This is not some historical tribunal of
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No.  I think that does need to be said
        often, I agree.
   MR RAMPTON:  It does.
   MR IRVING:  It should not be a tribunal of historical
        my Lord.  On November 4th I did plead with your
        not to allow it to become an enquiry into what
        because my submission was that this was not what that
        was about.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think everybody is agreed about that.
   MR IRVING:  I think that now Mr Rampton realizes that
        particular bear skin has floated away down the river,

.          P-171

        is now trying to get back on to the other track again.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I am sure I follow what is meant by that.
   MR IRVING:  I translated the German.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  What, bear skins in German?
   MR IRVING:  Yes.
   MR RAMPTON:  Yes, but I still do not understand it.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  We will not struggle to.  We will get on.
        Next question.
   MR IRVING:  I only have two more points to make, my Lord,
        that case.  This is at the foot of page 35, near the
        of it, paragraph 2.4.1.  You are talking about
        given after the event in the form of testimony in a
        trial is relatively sound.  Unless Mr Rampton has an
        objection, this is again quite a key issue.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That is a perfectly fair point.
   MR IRVING:  Do you maintain, therefore, that what is stated
        any tribunal, regardless of how long after the war, is
   A.   No.  I have put the word "relatively" in there, and
        of course I add, well, two sentences either side of
        The first is, the greater in distance the time of
        to which they relate the more critically they must be
        examined, I think that is true.
   Q.   This is a secondary source, is it not?
   A.   I mean sources after the event, sources which are
        afterwards and rely on memory or the work of other

.          P-172

        historians, and secondly that this court testimony
must of
        course be assessed by an historian as to the purpose
        purposes with which it was given.  I am saying you
have to
        regard it with caution.
   Q.   Yes.
   A.   As you do all material.  It is, of course, the greater in
        distance in time the events the more critically one has to look.

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