The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day024.03

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day024.03
Last-Modified: 2000/07/24

   Q.   I do not want a lengthy answer at this time.  I just want
        a brief overview.  Is it right that opinions differ as to
        the importance of the Wannsee conference in the history of
        the Final Solution?
   A.   I do not think, generally speaking, the short answer,
        I would not say that there is so much difference about the
        significance of the Wannsee conference.  It was basically
        a conference on the implementation of what is called the

.          P-19

        Final Solution.  I think a statement like this could be
        accepted by most of the historians.  Of course, if you go
        into the interpretation of the text, you will find differences.
   Q.   Opinions differ?
   A.   Opinions differ among historians.
   Q.   Yehuda Bauer has said one thing, Eberhard Jaeckel has said
        another, and so on?
   A.   I would be very careful to make a general comment.  One
        could look at the writings of Yehuda Bauer and Eberhard
        Jaeckel and then I am prepared to comment on it.
   Q.   My Lord, the next question is purely pre-emptive in case
        another matter comes up.  This is still on that page,
        three paragraphs from the bottom.  You edited something
        called "Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland", a book on German unity?
   A.   Yes.  That is a collection of documents.  Actually
        I issued this in 1990 when this was actually called, as
        you see here, documents about the question of German unity
        so that, when the book came out, the question was solved.
   Q.   Would you tell the court please, during the 1960s, 1970s,
        and 1980s, or certainly during the 1960s and 1970s, what
        was the official designation in west German circles of the
        Soviet zone or the German Democratic Republic?
   A.   The official name?
   Q.   The official name, Sprachledlung.

.          P-20

   A.   I do not think there was a Sprachledlung but I think in
        the 1950s the generally preferred term was Soviet zone of
        Occupation.  This changed, then in the 1960s, at the end
        of the 1960s, when it became more common to speak of the
        German Democratic Republic, but I am certainly not an
        expert on, you know, on this issue ----
   Q.   Have you ever heard of the word Middle Deutschland.
   A.   Yes, of course.
   Q.   Was that also an official designation?
   A.   This was also common, yes.
   Q.   No kind of revanches sentiment was attached to that word?
   A.   I would be very careful to make such a general statement.
        It is a complex issue.
   Q.   Professor Longerich, I think I can say quite evidently
        that you harbour no personal dislike or animosity towards
        me at this stage?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No, I am sure not.  Mr Irving, shall we move
        towards one of the substantive questions that you are
        going to have to ask about?  Let us move on, in other words.
   MR IRVING:  On page 8, three paragraphs from the bottom, you
        lecture the German Historical Institute ----
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   --- on the policy of destruction, vernichtung?
   A.   Yes, that is the title you prefer.  I cannot recall the
        exact English title of this lecture.

.          P-21

   Q.   Politik der Vernichtung.  Was I present in the audience on
        that occasion?
   A.   I think I remember you, yes.
   Q.   Did you invite questions at the end of that function?
   A.   The Director of the Institute invited question, yes.
   Q.   Did I ask a question?
   A.   Yes, you asked a question.
   Q.   What did the Director of the Institute say?
   A.   The Director said, "Dr Longerich does not want to answer
        your question".
   Q.   He said, "Dr Longerich has informed me in advance he will
        not answer any questions from Mr David Irving"?
   A.   That is correct, yes.
   Q.   Thank you very much.  Was there any specific reason for
        your refusal?
   A.   I think there was a discussion in the Institute whether
        you should be actually asked to leave the building, and,
        well, at this stage I actually know, I actually knew that
        I would be called into the witness stand here, and
        I thought it was better not to answer this question, not
        to have a kind rehearsal of this.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Sorry, you did or you did not know you were
        going to be a witness?
   A.   I was quite aware, I think, that I would be.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Oh, you were, even back in 1988?
   A.   Yes.

.          P-22

   MR IRVING:  Did you state that at the time?
   A.   Pardon?
   Q.   Did you state that to the Chairman at the time as the
        reason why?
   A.   No.  I did not give a reason.
   Q.   What was the question I asked?  Do you remember?  What
        document was I asking about?
   A.   I think you were asking about the Schlegelberger, what you
        called the Schlegelberger document.
   Q.   I read out the Schlegelberger document and invited you to
        reconcile it with what you had said in your lecture?
   A.   I think this was the moment when you called me a
        "coward"?  Isn't this this incident?
   Q.   That is right, yes.
   A.   Yes.  I can recall this, yes.
   Q.   Just a brief answer this time, do you consider the
        Schlegelberger document to be a key document in the
        history of the Final Solution?
   A.   No, absolutely not.
   Q.   Totally unimportant?
   A.   It is unimportant, yes.
   Q.   Have you mentioned it in any of your books?
   A.   No, I do not think so.
   Q.   A book, in other words, a document which says the Fuhrer
        has asked repeatedly for the solution of the Jewish
        problem postponed until the war is over, in your view, was

.          P-23

   A.   Well, that is your interpretation of the document.
   Q.   I am saying what it says.
   A.   Yes, it is third-hand evidence.  It is an undated
        document.  We do not know who actually wrote the
        document.  It is third-hand evidence.  It is about Lammers
        who said that somewhere in the past Hitler had said
        something to him about the solution, not the Final
        Solution, of the Jewish question.  I think we will come to
        the document later in more detail, but I think I could not
        see this and I cannot see this as a major document, let us
        say, for the interpretation of the Holocaust.
   Q.   What would have prevented you saying this to what was
        obviously a friendly audience at the German Institute
        on  ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  He has given his answer.  You may not accept
        it, but he felt inhibited by the fact he had been asked to
        give expert evidence.
   A.   I should mention that I do not want to find myself on
        Mr Irving's website with my answer.  I felt myself ten
        with the full comment, you know, of my behaviour and
        I know that Mr Irving was doing these things, and I do not
        want to get engaged in this kind of argument or debate, so
        I prefer to be silent.
   Q.   You prefer there not to be a debate, is that right?
   A.   Pardon?

.          P-24

   Q.   You prefer there not to be any debate on things like this?
   A.   No, I do not prefer to be involved in this kind of debate
        that you, you know, should be more specific, not to be
        with my comment.  I do not want to find me on your web
        page which is what I said during this discussion or during
        this lecture.  This was the second reason.
   Q.   We are now going to go to the meaning of words, Professor
        Longerich.  Again this is perfectly straightforward
        questioning and answering.  There are no concealed tricks
        involved here.  Would you agree that a lot of the words
        that you have put in your list quite clearly show an
        intention, a homicidal intent, if I can put it like that?
        A lot of the euphemisms used by the Nazis?
   A.   Yes, I think that is true.
   Q.   A lot of them are ambiguous?
   A.   They are in the way they were used they are.  They are
        sometimes ambiguous, yes.
   Q.   It is really a bit of a minefield, is it not?
   A.   Well, I think, I cannot speak about minefields.  I think
        what an historian has to do, he has to look at each
        document and has to look at the context and then try to
        reconstruct from the context what actually the meaning of
        this, of this passage might be.
   Q.   But is not the danger there that you then come back using
        our pre-Ori methods, that you extrapolate backwards from
        your knowledge and assign a meaning to the word rather

.          P-25

        than using the word to help you itself?
   A.   That is the problem with all interpretations.  You have to
        come back.  Of course, you cannot analyse the word
        completely, you know, outside.  You have to look at the
        meaning of the word, but always in a historical context.
        I am not a linguist, so I prefer to actually, as I said,
        to look at the context and to ----
   Q.   You speak English very well, Dr Longerich, if I may say
        so, and I think we are all very impressed by that and I am
        certainly impressed by the arguments you have put forward
        in your glossary.  Would you agree also that the same word
        can have different meanings when uttered by different people?
   A.   Yes.  That is exactly why I think it is important always
        to look at the context because, as you rightly said, the
        same word could have different meanings in different contexts.
   Q.   The same word can also have a different meaning depending
        on when it is uttered?
   A.   Exactly.
   Q.   Even by the same person?
   A.   Exactly.
   Q.   Or in what circumstances it is uttered?
   A.   That is what I call the context.
   Q.   The only two words I am really concerned with (but we will
        certainly look at the other words in your glossary) are

.          P-26

        the words "vernichtung" which is destruction or
   A.   I said, I translate it as, I could accept this
        translation, but I also think in our context, I said
        probably the translation "extermination" is the better one
        or the more appropriate one.
   Q.   Yes, well, "extermination" is a possible one, but you will
        appreciate it is not always proper to go for the third or
        fourth meaning of a word?
   A.   I do not know what you mean by "the third or fourth
        meaning".  If you mean the use of dictionaries, I think
        that is a rather mechanical way, you know, at looking at
        dictionaries.  Of course, a dictionary offers various
        meanings and you have to probably go to the third or
        fourth meaning if the context suggested that, the context
        in which the document stands.  So I do not think a
        translator or an historian would always in a mechanical
        way take the first meaning in the dictionary.
   Q.   Here is a 1935 dictionary that says -- I will just check
        it -- "vernichtung" has only two meanings and that is
        "annihilate; destroy"?
   A.   This looks rather small, your dictionary, if I may say so,
        and you find other dictionaries -- actually, I do not think that.
   Q.   I have any number of other dictionaries going back over the years.

.          P-27

   A.   We can go, if you want, to the dictionaries.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think what the witness is saying is you can
        swap dictionary definitions until the cows come home and
        no-one is at the end of it any the wiser.
   MR IRVING:  The other word I want to look at is "ausrotten" and
        I am going to ask you very quickly, Dr Longerich, to take
        this little bundle of documents which is on the left-hand
        side there which I just gave you.
   A.   I just see this for the first time, I have to say.
   Q.   Is that the little bundle there?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Yes.  I have given it to you for the first time because
        perhaps I can ask an interim question.  When you compiled
        your glossary, Dr Longerich, did you have before you a
        number of documents from a dossier on the word "ausrotten"
        that had been provided by the Defence solicitors?
   A.   Sorry, a glossary of terms of what the word ----
   Q.   When you wrote your glossary ----
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   --- did you before you a number of documents provided to
        you by the Defence solicitors?
   A.   No, I cannot actually -- I cannot recall this.  I wrote
        this in Munich but, of course, it was holidays and when
        I did this, I did not have anything in front of me.

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.