The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day024.06

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day024.06
Last-Modified: 2000/07/24

   Q.   Just one more question on that.  Would it not be a
        parallel if Tony Blair said he wanted to rid of the House
        of Lords, wipe out the House of Lords, would he not say
        "ausrotten" there and would that mean that he wanted to
        stand them against a wall?
   A.   That is a hypothetical question.  How can I answer this
   Q.   But it is that kind of word and that kind of situation, is
        it not?  "This is a body which is bothering me.  I wish
        I could, "Out, out, damn spot"?
   A.   If you ask me as an historian, I should make a historical
        comparison, then you have to include in this picture that
        Tony Blair just killed 91 Conservative Member of
        Parliament.  So this would give you a kind of -- and then
        if he would use at the same time, at the next day the term
        "ausrotten", I would look at it and say, "Well, a
        dangerous man".
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Mr Irving, let us move on because really this
        is not, I think, a very helpful exercise.
   A.   It is difficult for me to make such comparisons.
   MR IRVING:  I did not drag in the 90 deaths and I am going to
        have to ask a question.  Did Hitler order the Jews killed

.          P-47

        that night?
   A.   Did Hitler?
   Q.   Or did Hitler order the Jews killed in
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I do not think that bears on the issue we are
        considering at the moment.
   MR IRVING:  It bears on the questions of intent behind the word
   A.   Well, I think that Hitler played a centre role in the
        launching of the Kristallnacht.
   Q.   We know your views on that.
   A.   Pardon?
   Q.   Can you now go to document No. 8, please?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  You did ask the question, Mr Irving.
   MR IRVING:  He then answered a totally different question
        whether Hitler played a central role or not.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Let us move on if we have to do this
        exercise, let us do it quite quickly.
   MR IRVING:  Page 8.
   A.   I could not complete my answer, sorry.
   Q.   This is a 1941 document, a book again in German [German -
        document not provided]
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Was Hungary exterminating the ethnic minorities?
   A.   Well, you see, give me the chance, you know, to read the
        book.  Maybe the book, it might be a pamphlet from

.          P-48

        somebody who said, well, actually the Hungarians are
        killing, literally killing, the minorities.  I do not know
        the order.  I do not know whether Paclisanu is a reliable
        author.  I have not seen the book and I do not know
        whether the book says -- I do not know whether you have
        read the book -- if the book says that the Hungarians are
        killing the minorities.  There might be somebody ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think that is a fair answer.  Without that
        further information, I do not think that particular cover
        page really helps.
   MR IRVING:  Well, if this expert witness can answer the
        question whether Hungary was killing ethnic minorities,
        that would clarify what the title meant.
   A.   No, I do not -- that is in 41.  I am a bit hesitating here
        because, well, they actually were quite rude with
        the minorities after that, but I cannot comment on that
        without actually looking at the content of the book.
   Q.   Dr Longerich, at this stage in our discussion, therefore,
        we can agree that the word "ausrotten" can mean just about
        whatever you want it to mean?
   A.   No, clearly not.  You have to look at the context and the
        context will help you to establish a meaning of the word, I think.
   Q.   If you turn the page now to page 9, this is my summary of
        a telegram which I found in the Roosevelt library.
   A.   Yes, I would suggest that I should comment not on your

.          P-49

        summary but on the original, given the experience we have before.
   Q.   That is one way out of answering the question, is it not?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No, Mr Irving, that is not fair.  Do you
        refer to this yourself, Dr Longerich?
   MR IRVING:  No, he does not.
   A.   No.  Sorry for interrupting you.
   MR IRVING:  Are you suggesting, therefore, that I have
        deliberately copied faked quotations from a telegram from
        my own files?
   A.   No, but I have the experience and that quite upset me that
        you left out here half a sentence of a sentence without
        actually ----
   Q.   Which repeated the precisely the same four words that were
        earlier in the sentence, right?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  We have left that document.  Let us look at
        this one.
   A.   I am just saying, I am not just -- I am not happy, you
        know, just to comment on your summary of a report I have
        not seen in the original.  I think it would be
        inappropriate for me, as an historian, to comment on
        that.  I should see the original and I should not draw
        conclusions from your summary.
   MR IRVING:  Shall we try, unless his Lordship says that
        I should not ask the question about this?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  This appears to be -- is it Swiss?

.          P-50

   MR IRVING:  It is an American diplomatic despatch in the
        Roosevelt Library.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Commenting on whether a word in a report
        which we do not have has been correctly translated.
   MR IRVING:  It appears that this report may be based on
        mistranslation of the words ausrottung and entjudung.  Is
        it possible therefore to mistranslate the words ausrottung
        and entjudung?
   A.   I have to fully digest, just one second.
   Q.   It is a bit of problem if you always have to produce the
        whole document or the original report, you do appreciate that.
   A.   So your question is what, sorry?
   Q.   The question, if you are prepared to answer a question on
        this summary, or extracts from an American diplomatic
        despatch, is it possible to mistranslate the word
        ausrottung and entjudung in a way which might go one way
        or might go the other.  Even in 1944, in other words,
        there is no firm and fixed definition or translation?
   A.   Well, somebody speculates about the issue whether the
        words ausrottung and entjudung were mistranslated.
   Q.   Yes.
   A.   And how shall I comment on that?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I find this frankly an absurd document
        because the report appears to refer to the extermination
        of European Jews at camps in Silesia?

.          P-51

   A.   Yes.
   Q.   It refers to a cyanide process and to German executions
        and then Mr Harrison, whoever he may be, thinks that
        ausrottung has been mistranslated.  It is an absolute nonsense.
   MR IRVING:  I am only relying on the mistranslation, the fact
        that it is possible to mistranslate the word ausrottung.
        That is all I can do with that particular document.
   A.   If you want me to comment on it, I should be able to know
        more about the facts than Mr Harrison did, shall I put it
        this way?  At the moment I do not know what I should do
        with this document.
   Q.   The final sentence, of course, "I spoke yesterday with one
        of the men who planted the report with the newspaper
        agencies".  Did this kind of thing go on during the war
        years, that documents were planted with newspaper agencies?
   A.   During the war documents were planted with newspaper
        agencies, yes.  That happened.
   Q.   You always want to see original documents.  If you turn
        the page to the next one which is unnumbered, is this the
        kind of document you are familiar with from Himmler's
        files?  You may actually know it, in fact, because it is
        addressed to your subject Martin Bormann, is it not?
   A.   Yes.  I became quite familiar with him, that is true.
   Q.   It is dated 21st February or thereabouts, 1944?

.          P-52

   A.   Yes.  It says that the misstande, what is misstande in English?
   Q.   Bad conditions?
   A.   Yes something like that.
   Q.   Naff, as they say in America.
   A.   Can I ask the interpreter something?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, of course.
   THE INTERPRETER:  Things which are not right, things which need
        putting right.
   A.   So he is not referring to people.  He is referring to
        things which are not going right.  He is saying that these
        misstande, these things which are not right, will be
        ausgerotet, so of course the term ausgerotet, you could
        give me thousands of documents which would show me that
        misstande ausgerotet were meant, ausgerotet, everything,
        every possible context.
   MR IRVING:  It has been dictated by Himmler, has it not?
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Himmler's use of the word ausrottung in a non homicidal
        sense, that is all I am relying on this document for.
   A.   You can prove from this document so far that Himmler used
        the term ausrottung once, not referring to human beings
        but to misstande in a non-homicidal sense, yes, that is true.
   Q.   Dr Longerich, all I am trying to establish here in the
        beginning of the 21st century is that back in the 1940s

.          P-53

        the word ausrottung did not have necessarily the meaning
        that we now give it, with our knowledge of all the
        atrocities that happened.  Do you accept that?
   A.   I myself in my report made a little reservation here and
        I said, well, not every time the word ausrotten means
        killing, but if it refers to people, or to a group of
        people, in the historical context of the Nazi period,
        I did not find a single document in which one would not
        translate the word ausrotten to kill in large numbers or
        to kill all as far as possible.  This is my provisional conclusion.
   Q.   Wipe out?
   A.   I think wipe out is a possible translation.  Exterminate
        is another one.  Kill off, or extirpate, which is the one
        I preferred.  But I think for the German living at this
        time the term from a leading Nazi or national socialist,
        the term ausrotten applying to people means quite clearly,
        I mean for the average German at this time means quite
        clearly to kill in large numbers.  It is a very cruel
        expression and of course there is a lot of violence in
        this word.
   Q.   Yes.  Can you not put yourself back in the mind set of the
        1940 when the word possibly had a different meaning?
   A.   I think particularly at this time, because at this time
        people lived in the time when people were killed on a
        massive basis, they were quite aware that the use of this

.          P-54

        vocabulary by leading Nazis referred to mass killing.  Why
        should I speculate in a general way?  One could look at
        the individual documents and establish the meaning.  It
        does not help us, I think, to look at documents which are
        outside the context.
   MR IRVING:  You have to have some kind of guiding star to look
        at, do we not?
   A.   That is fine.
   Q.   Go to the next page, page 11, which is a 1944 military
        dictionary.  We are getting pretty close to the actual
        meaning of 1944 if we accept that the dictionary was
        probably printed a year or two earlier.  No, it was
        actually printed in 1944.  That is what page 10 shows us.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Military dictionary?
   MR IRVING:  Military dictionary, yes.
   A.   Yes.
   Q.   Which is a dictionary produced just for the use of the
        armies.  It contains all sorts of things, too.  There you
        have the meaning of the word ausrotten given in the
        following sequence:  Wipe out, crush, annihilate.  Wipe
        out is probably right.
   A.   I again am not a linguist but, if I look at the other
        terms on this page, it is obviously that this is a
        dictionary for military terminology, so it refers I think
        particularly to the military sphere.  But again I am quite
        convinced that you can present more dictionaries which

.          P-55

        actually do not have the meaning of extermination.
        I could probably show you dictionaries which have the
        meaning of ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I am really finding this all pretty
        unilluminating really, because in the end we have to look
        at the documents which actually do relate allegedly to
        extermination, and decide whether ausrotten in that
        context means extirpate.
   MR IRVING:  My Lord, it is an uphill task because we are
        looking backwards, down through the telescope so to speak,
        to the events of the 1940s and trying to work out what a
        word meant when in common usage at the time, when we find
        the common meaning of the word was quite different from
        the way every German, and every Englishman, now
        understands what you mean by it, because we know of the
        atrocities that happened.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  One has to make allowance for that fact, I accept.

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.