Irving v. Lipstadt

Defense Documents

David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial: Electronic Edition, by Richard J. Evans

Table of Contents

(B) Bending and misinterpreting reliable sources: The Himmler phone log of 30 November 1941

1. There is no doubt about the authenticity of this phone log. But it provides no evidence for Hitler's involvement at all. All we know is that Himmler spoke to Heydrich at 1:30 p.m.; it is pure surmise on Irving's part to speak of an 'order' by Hitler. There is no evidence at all that Hitler and Himmler even met before the latter's call to Heydrich at 1:30 pm, let alone that they discussed the 'transport of Jews from Berlin'. Hitler's bunker was a large and rambling complex, not a small room in which everyone, including Himmler and Hitler himself, was present at the same time. Once more, Irving manipulates the evidence in order to present Hitler as being opposed to the physical extermination of the Jews.
2. Irving's manipulation of sources is most obvious regarding his claim that Hitler explicitly forbade the murder of 'the Jews'. From the entry in Himmler's phone log it is perfectly clear that the subject of the conversation on 30 November 1941 between Himmler and Heydrich concerned one transport of Jews from Berlin, namely the one which left Berlin on 27 November 1941. There was no general order by anyone to stop the killing of Jews. This meaning is falsely attributed to the source by Irving, a key example of how Irving misrepresents and bends source material to fit his thesis.
3. Irving nowhere gives a motive for Himmler's telephone conversation with Heydrich on 30 November 1941 regarding the fate of the Jews from Berlin, other than Hitler's opposition to the extermination of Jews, a motive which has no basis in historical fact. Himmler's motives in this case are not known for certain. Many historians have put forward convincing explanations for Himmler's opposition to the semi-public killing of the transport of Jews from Berlin on their arrival in Riga. As in so many other cases, Irving pays no attention to these alternative explanations at all, although it is the duty of any serious historian to take account of interpretations put forward by other historians on the basis of documentary evidence that is being used.
4. to begin with, it should be noted onece more that the final decision regarding the fate of the German Jews deported to the East had not necessarily been taken by the Nazi leadership by Nov. 1941. Whilst native Jews living in former Soviet   territory conquered by the German army were already being indiscriminately killed in very large numbers, the fate of Jews deported from the West was not yet clearly marked out: some were killed on arrival, others were initially allowed to live. Some historians have deduced from this that Himmler still expected at this time the German Jews would be deported even further to the east the following year, after the expected victory over the USSR.80
5. Other historians have argued that in late 1941, opposition was being expressed in various parts of the German military and civilian authorities to the deportations of German Jews to the Reichskommissariat Ostland. Leading army officials in the area objected to the use of the railway system, claiming it should concentrate on bringing up supplies behind the front. Civilian officials such as the General Commissioner of Weissrussland, Kube, criticised the 'import' of Western Jews into the area. There was also disquiet in Germany, above all about the inclusion (or otherwise) in the deportations of so-called 'half-Jews', Jews with non-Jewish spouses, children, the infirm, and Jewish army veterans with decorations for gallantry won during the First World War. Foreign journalists in Berlin had also begun to ask awkward questions about where the deported Jews were going.81 The decision by Himmler on 30 November 1941 also has to be seen in the context of the execution of German Jews in   Kovno in late November 1941. On 25 November 1941, some 2,934 Jews from Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt-am-Main were killed by Einsatzkommando 3 in Kovno, as were another 2,000 from Vienna and Breslau on November 29.82
6. Recently available documentary evidence suggests that the decision to include the Jews transported from Berlin in the masscre of the Jews in Riga was taken locally, by Jeckeln. Although Himmler approved of the mass killing of the Baltic Jews, and indeed probably ordered it, he had not yet issued any orders for the extermination of the Jews transported to Riga from Berlin. Thus he called Heydrich on 30 November to prevent the murder of the Berlin Jews on their arrival in Riga, in the light of the killing of Berlin Jews transported to Kovno a few days earlier. It was semi-public and would arouse further attention. However, by the time of this telephone conversation between Himmler and Heydrich, the Jews were already dead. On the day after the massacre, 1 December 1941, Himmler once more spoke to Heydrich about the executions in Riga.83 Then, the same evening, he issued the following message to Jeckeln in Riga: 'The Jews who have been resettled out to the territory of the Ostland are only to be dealt with in accordance with guidelines issued by me or by the Reich Security Head Office on my authority. I would punish individual initiatives and contraventions. Signed H. HIMMLER.'84
7. There can be little doubt, therefore, that Jeckeln was acting on his own initiative on 30 November, and that Himmler not only tried to stop him, but, when he had failed, then made sure that Jeckeln would not repeat his action. Equally, however, Himmler seems to have concerned himself only with preventing the killing of the Jews transported to Riga from the west, and to have sanctioned the mass murer of local Jews in Riga at this time.


79. lrving, Hitler's War, 393; see also ibid., 504, and 'Book a calumny on victims of Hitler', Jewish Chronicle, 17 June 1977.
80. See expert witness report by Dr. Longerich on the persecution of the Jews.
81. Wehrmachtsbefehlshaber Ostland to Reichskommissar für das Ostland, Riga, 20. 11. 1941, cited in Safrian, Eichmann-Männerm 150; Helmut Heiber, 'Aus den Akten des Gauleiters Kube', Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte, 4 (1956), pp. 67-93, here p. 73; Christian Gerlach, 'Die Wannsee-Konference, das Schicksal der deutschen Juden und Hitlers politische Grundsatzentscheidung, alle Juden Europas zu ermorden', Werkstatt Geschichte, 6 (1997, No. 18, pp. 7-45, here pp. 14-16; Gerlach, Krieg, pp. 102-3; Broszat, 'Hitler und die Genesis', p. 761.; G. Aly, S. Heim, Vordenker der Vernichtung (Frankfurt am Main, 1993)m p. 45; R. Breitman, Official Secrets (London, 1999), p. 83.
82. Klee et al. (eds.), Schöne Zeiten, p. 57; Broszat, 'Hitler', p. 761.
83. Broszat, 'Hitler', 761.
84. Himmler to Jeckeln, 1. 12. 1941, 7.30 p.m., in PRO HW 16/32 (document recently discovered by Christoph Dieckmann); also Breitman, Official Secrets, p. 83; also Witte et al. (eds.), p. 278.
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