The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/07/25

Q.  Just going back briefly to page 40, this general
  statement, you said in the middle of the third paragraph
  that, "In the fall of 1941 the Nazi regime began to deport
  the Jews from central Europe to the Eastern European
  ghettoes.  From statements by leading representatives of
  the regime it becomes clear that at this point the
  intention was to deport the people further to the East
  upon a victory over the Soviet Union rather than
  exterminating them where they were".
A.  The fact that I said to deport them does not of course
  exclude that at the next step they were going to liquidate them.
Q.  Yes.  Do you mean, by saying that, that at this time there
  were only orders for the deportation, there were no orders
  for extermination at that time, German government orders?
A.  When you refer to orders, then the orders were clear about
  the deportation.  But of course it has to be seen in the
  context of a wider policy, and I think the aim of this
  policy was in the end to bring about a physical end of the
  life of these human beings.
Q.  You are familiar with the fact that your colleagues, for
  example Professor Browning, suggest that the German

. P-123

  government had decided on extermination by the autumn of
  1941 and that deportation was for the purpose of extermination?
A.  There is a certain kind of disagreement among historians
  about this.  We are in a research process and there is an
  agreement.  Some historians would suggest summer 1941.
  Christopher Browning among others would say autumn 1941.
  I have a different theory about this decision making
  process.  I think some of the decisions were made, but not
  all decisions were made at this stage.
Q.  Do you reject the judgment in the Eichmann trial in
  Jerusalem which said that the deportation of the central
  European Jews to Riga and Minsk which began around this
  time was specifically for the purpose of extermination?
A.  I think if I should comment on the wording of the Eichmann
  trial, I should have the text of the wording in front of
  me.  But, in general, it was not the intention, according
  to my research, to kill these people immediately after
  arrival.  There is of course a difference.  Of course, in
  the long term the intention was to let these people, let
  us say it this way, perish in these areas, but there was
  no policy, according to my research, at this relatively
  early stage to kill them immediately after arrival.  We
  discussed yesterday the case of the six trains and
  Himmler's reactions to that.
Q.  To pick up something you said a few seconds ago, you said

. P-124

  there is still something of a dispute, quite a genuine
  dispute, between historians of one school and historians
  of the other school, and it would be quite improper, would
  it not, to call the people who disagree with you a
  Holocaust denier?
A.  Absolutely.  There is a certain kind of disagreement but,
  on the other hand, we all respect each other's views.
  I would not call anybody, any of my colleagues like
  Christopher Browning, a Holocaust denier.  It would be absurd.
Q.  You save that phrase for somebody whose views you do not respect?
A.  No.  That is for somebody who just makes general sweeping
  statements, just not accepting historical facts, not
  basing his expertise on thoroughly reading and analysis of
  documents.  One has to make a strong point here.  There is
  a strong difference between a discussion among colleagues,
  among historians, and between historians and Holocaust
  deniers, if you want to say so.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Dr Longerich, am I right in understanding you
  to be saying that the disagreement between historians is
  as to when there was an transition from deportation to extermination?
A.  Yes.
Q.  Not whether there was?
A.  No.

. P-125

Q.  Is that correct?
A.  The question is that the dispute is about whether it is
  possible to establish a certain day when Hitler made the
  decision, is it possible and, if it is possible, when was
  this specific decision.
Q.  It is the timing?
A.  Yes, the timing.  Nobody in our profession would dispute,
  come to this absurdity to dispute actually that the
  Holocaust happened.
MR IRVING:  My Lord, it may help your Lordship if I say that
  during the course of the afternoon I will occasionally ask
  that question, does this dispute constitute a Holocaust denial?
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, that is a perfectly proper question.
MR IRVING:  If you think it is not proper, then of course
  I would not do so.  It is a piecemeal approach but it may
  be helpful.  Paragraph 1 at the bottom of page 40 -- well,
  it is not any particular paragraph.  What I am asking is
  this.  Do you agree that all the German government actions
  that you describe in this following section, the beginning
  of the deportations, that is section A, all the actions
  and statements of Himmler and Heydrich and Eichmann, were
  pursuant to a programme of deportation and not a programme
  of extermination?  That is the first question.  I am only
  referring to section A, the beginning of the deportation.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Up to page 48.

. P-126

MR IRVING:  Everything in that section was pursuant to a
  programme of deportation and not extermination?
A.  (After a pause) I have to look through the section.
Q.  I do not want an ill considered reply.  Just take your
  time.  It is not a trick question.
A.  No.  I think as a summary of this paragraph of this
  section on page 46, paragraph 16 where I said, the state
  of contemporary research does not give sufficient evidence
  for the conclusion that at this time the deportation was
  already a matter for the planned murder and extermination camps.
Q.  Yes.
A.  I think this is my view.
Q.  To put it another way, you agree that all the evidence you
  introduce in that section A does not prove a programme of
A.  I think I have answered this question.
Q.  Yes.  The answer is yes?
A.  Well ----
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I think the answer is yes?
A.  The answer is yes.
MR IRVING:  Thank you.  Paragraph 2, we are now looking at a
  man called Uebelhoer, who is the head of the
  administration of the district of Lodz.  Are you aware
  that, in addition to Uebelhoer, there were other local
  German authorities like Lohse who also protested about the

. P-127

  plan to dump central European Jews in their districts, in
  their areas?
A.  I am not sure that Lohse protested.  Kuger, for instance,
  had some views about that.  I think the best is you give
  me the reference of the document and I comment on the document.
Q.  Well, it is a bit difficult if we have to keep on looking
  at documents.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I am not sure what the relevance of the
  question is at the moment.
MR IRVING:  The relevance of the question is this.  If you are
  in charge of a district like Uebelhoer and you are in
  charge of the administration there, and you are protesting
  about having European Jews dumped in your back garden,
  this clearly presupposes that they are not going to be
  exterminated, does it not, because, if they are going to
  be exterminated, then you do not have the problem of
  housing and feeding them?
A.  This is the beginning of the discussions then which went
  on in the Warthegau, what shall we do with these people?
  It becomes then clear, if you read further the next
  section, that at this stage they made a kind of agreement,
  which meant that they would kill the local Jews in order
  to make room for the Jews who were coming in from Europe.
  I am referring in this paragraph to deportations and I am
  not saying here that at this stage it is clear from the

. P-128

  documentation that deportation meant the killing of those
  who were deported on the spot.  But, if you look into the
  next paragraph, it becomes clear what I mean here is that
  they took the decision to kill the local Jews in order to
  make room for the incoming German Jews.
Q.  I am tackling this problem systematically and logically.
  If Uebelhoer, and as we know from other documents Lohse
  but take just the case of Uebelhoer, if he is protesting
  at having European Jews dumped in his district, it is
  because he assumes that they are going to be kept alive,
  and have to be fed and housed there.  He is not assuming
  they are going to be exterminated, is he, the European Jews?
A.  He is just faced with a task to take in his ghetto 60,000
  at this stage sent to Germany.  This is the task he was
  facing, and he is complaining about that.  Obviously at
  this stage he is not given the order to kill these people
  on the spot.  This is my argument.  It is a transitional phase.
Q.  As you said in this section A, there is no evidence of
  extermination, it is all just deportation measures being discussed?
A.  This deals with deportation.  I speak only about the Jews
  from central Europe.
Q.  Paragraph 6 on page 42, this is at a meeting in Prague on
  October 10th 1941, at which Eichmann was also present.  Do

. P-129

  you agree that, when Heydrich suggested that Nebe and
  Rasch could take Jews into the camps of communist
  prisoners, this was not a veiled suggestion they could be
  exterminated in those camps?
A.  I think he is referring to the next stage of deportations here.
Q.  So it was not a prerequisite to the extermination of those
  prisoners coming in?
A.  I am not sure about this because he was just talking about
  the ghetto in Lodz.  I think this remark about Nebe and
  Rasch is probably the next stage, what will happen in next spring.
Q.  Yes, but it is not camouflage for the extermination of the
  people coming into those camps?
A.  The problem is that we have not identified these camps.
  We do not know actually which camps he is speaking at this
  moment.  Probably he is talking about a plan for a new
  camp which did not exist at this time.  I have no idea how
  to relate this, how to interpret this one sentence.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Mr Irving, it seems to me that you have
  really got the answer from Dr Longerich which you want for
  your purposes.  He said this is all talking of the
  deportation of the European Jews, and it did not go beyond
  that at this stage, according to him.  Different things
  were affecting the Russian Jews at this time, but do you
  need to trawl through it?

. P-130

MR IRVING:  No, except that on each occasion I wanted to ask if
  each of the individual elements constituted a Holocaust denier.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No.  I think you have got what you want.
MR IRVING:  Paragraph 9 on page 44, just to make absolutely
  certain, "The deportation of the Jews from the German
  Reich in the autumn of 1941 and the ensuing winter
  proceeded on the orders of Hitler".  Will you just confirm
  that those orders were only orders for deportation and not
  for extermination, not even in a camouflage sense.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  He has said that already.  We are still in
  section A here.
MR IRVING:  In that case we will zip forwards to page 48.
  Paragraph 2, just as a matter of interest, Tiergarten
  Strasse, after which the action T4 was named, was not part
  of Hitler's headquarters, was it?
A.  The building belonged to Hitler's Chancellery of the Fuhrer.
Q.  Did the Chancellery of the Fuhrer, despite its name, have
  any close contact with Hitler?  Where was it situated?
A.  This Chancellery of the Fuhrer was situated in Berlin.  It
  was first of all during the 30s mainly responsible for
  dealing with petitions and things like that, which were
  addressed to Hitler.  But it became in the course of 1939,
  1940, a clandestine, let us call it, operational centre
  for the killing actions, the euthenasia programme.

. P-131

Q.  Was this because the doctors who carried it out formally
  had to have petitions for clemency for carrying out
  criminal acts?  Was that the connection?
A.  Sorry?
Q.  The doctors who were required to carry out these killings
  of the mentally sick and so on, they had to have clemency
  in advance for car committing a criminal act?
A.  Yes.  They had this famous letter Hitler signed.
Q.  He actually signed an order for the mass killing, did he not?
A.  Yes, he did.
Q.  But this was the only connection between Hitler and the
  Chancellery of the Fuhrer, the fact that it had his name
  on its letter head, but it was geographically situated
  somewhere else.  It was in Berlin and Tiergarten Strasse.
A.  If you take a street plan of Berlin in 1939, you will see
  that the buildings of government were widely spread
  throughout the district of Tiergarten and the district of
  Wilmerstov in Berlin, so the idea that all was situated in
  one complex would be wrong.
Q.  It would be wrong, would it, in your opinion, to draw any
  false conclusion from the fact that this agency was called
  the Chancellery of the Fuhrer?
A.  To draw ----
Q.  Would it be dangerous to draw a wrong conclusion from the
  fact that the Chancellery is called the Chancellery of the

. P-132

  Fuhrer?  Would it be wrong to conclude that therefore it
  was Hitler's own personal instrument?
A.  It was definitely Hitler's, it was one of the five
  Chancelleries which actually reported directly to Hitler.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I thought it was common ground that Hitler
  had initiated the euthanasia programme.
MR IRVING:  Yes.  I am looking at just how closely connected
  because the euthanasia programme, the operatives in the
  programme, as your Lordship is probably familiar, later on
  became involved in selling their expertise, if I can put
  like that, in the gas vans.
MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes.  I am sorry, I thought you were talking
  about the euthenasia programme in your last question.
MR IRVING:  I am trying to break the link between Hitler and
  the Fuhrer's Chancellery, if I can put it like that.
A.  Hitler had five Chancelleries.  This is one of them.  They
  were directly reporting to Hitler.  There was a strong
  direct relationship between -- Hitler had his own Chancellery.
Q.  Have you seen the files of the Chancellery of the Fuhrer?
A.  I have seen some of the files, yes.
Q.  Are they bulging with correspondence between Adolf and
  Philip Buhle or Viktor Brach?
A.  I tried to explain this earlier.  This was originally an
  office which dealt with petitions sent to the Fuhrer and
  things like that.  Then it became, in the course of the

. P-133

  euthanasia programme, a clandestine operation centre to
  carry out the final solution in a way of this question,
  the euthanasia question.
Q.  Would you now answer my question?
A.  The character of the Chancellery in, let us say, 38 and in
  1940, if you compare these two years, is completely
  different.  It became a killing centre, and the fact that
  it was in Tiergarten Strasse 4, it was of course a
  clandestine operation.
Q.  Will you now answer my question?  From your knowledge of
  the files of this Chancellery, are they bulging with
  correspondence between Adolf Hitler and the head of
  Fuhrer's Chancellery, namely Philip Buhle?
A.  We do not have the complete files, particularly all the
  files about the euthanasia programme, except some
  splinters, are lost.  The files do not give us a clear
  view about the whole operation, about the Chancellery.  It
  is basically boring stuff about people who are writing
  petitions to Hitler.  The Chancellery dealt with the
  petition obviously on behalf of Hitler.
Q.  Well, let me go straight to the bottom line -- otherwise
  I am sure his Lordship will ask me to do so -- and say
  that, when the T4 action then moved over into running the
  gas vans, is there any evidence whatsoever of a link
  between Hitler and the Chancellery in this connection?
  Any documentary evidence that Hitler got personally

. P-134

  involved with the gas van programme?
A.  I think there is no such evidence, but the very fact that
  Hitler stopped the euthanasia programme in 1941 and that
  more than 100 people employed in the euthanasia programme
  then went to the district of Lublin and actually were used
  as the key personnel for the killing of the 1.5 million
  Jews, probably more, of the generalgouvernement, this
  gives us a clear idea of the involvement of Hitler.  The
  Party Chancellery did only report to Hitler, so I am
  asking you who actually gave the order to the Party
  Chancellery to move this man from the euthanasia programme.
Q.  I am sorry, you are saying Party Chancellery, you do not
  mean that?
A.  I mean the Chancellery of the Fuhrer.  So actually who
  gave the order to this man to actually take on this new
  task in Poland?
Q.  This is of course pure supposition on your part, is it not?
A.  Based on the fact that this was Hitler's Chancellery, the
  office which worked for Hitler.
Q.  Philip Buhle, who was the head of the Chancellery, what
  was his rank?  Was he Reichsleiter?
A.  Yes.
Q.  Which is one rung down from Reichsminister?
A.  Reichsleiter is the highest rank in the party.

. P-135

Q.  Did he have an SS rank?
A.  I do not remember at the moment.
Q.  These gas vans -- I am now on page 49, my Lord, paragraphs
  5 to 8 -- whose existence we accept, were they only
  killing Jews or were they originally designed for clearing
  out the inmates of the Soviet mental hospitals?

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