Irving v. Lipstadt
Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Charles GrayTable of Contents
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5.101Irving argued that there is what he describes as another "chain of documents" which impels one to the conclusion that Hitler was intent upon protecting the Berlin Jews.
5.102In regard to his claim in Goebbels that Hitler was neither consulted nor informed about the expulsion of Jews from Berlin, Irving accepted on the basis of the evidence now available that the initiative for the expulsions came from Hitler. He denies having suppressed any relevant material of which he was aware at the time. Irving discounted the Wisliceny report with its reference to an order by Hitler for the biological annihilation of the Jews because it was made in 1946 when Wisliceny was facing the gallows. In any case Irving dismissed the report as speculative and made by a man "at janitorial level". Irving did not accept that in this context "vernichtung" connotes extermination. He denied having applied double standards in his reliance on Wisliceny, adopting those parts which suited his case and discarding the rest.
5.103In support of his argument that Hitler was protective towards the Jews, Irving pointed to an entry in Himmler's telephone log for 17 November 1941, which he said imports that Himmler has had his knuckles rapped by Hitler for wanting to get rid of the Jews in the General Government. He also relied, as a "tiny dent" in the public perception that the Jews were transported in cattle trucks in atrocious conditions, on messages which indicate that the trains taking Jews from Berlin to the East were amply provisioned and that Jews were permitted to take with them the tools of their trade. Irving claimed that this is inconsistent with the existence of a policy of systematic extermination.
5.104In relation to the entry in Himmler's log for 30 November 1941 (quoted in in the introduction to this section) which included the phrase "Judentransport aus Berlin - keine liquidierung", Irving accepted that he has no direct evidence that Himmler was "summoned" to see Hitler or that he was "obliged" to issue the order. But he pointed out that Himmler had spent that morning working at Hitler's headquarters and suggested that the probability is that Himmler would have spoken on the telephone to Hitler before the two of them met for lunch at 2.30pm. Irving argued that the likelihood of such a conversation having taken place before Himmler spoke to Heydrich of the telephone, together with the fact that Himmler was at Hitler's headquarters when the call was made, suggest that it was Hitler who originated the order that the Jews were not to be liquidated. He agreed that there is no evidence that Himmler and Hitler met before the call was made to Heydrich at 1.30pm on 30 November 1941. However, he suggested that the reasonable inference "with very strong evidence" is that they spoke on the phone before that time. He maintained this position despite the entry on his own website accepting that his original theory that Himmler had discussed the matter with Hitler before phoning Heydrich had been wrong. Evans replied that there is no evidence that Himmler spoke to Hitler that morning. There were several bunkers at Hitler's headquarters and there was no reason for Himmler to communicate either face to face or by telephone with Hitler before they met for lunch.
5.105Another reason advanced by Irving to justify his contention that the instruction Keine Liquidierung emanated from Hitler is that it was Himmler who telephoned Heydrich and not vice versa. This is not apparent from Himmler's note of the call. But Irving pointed to another instruction issued by Himmler to Heydrich made from Hitler's headquarters months afterwards on 24 April 1942 that there was to be no annihilation of gypsies. Irving inferred that that instruction emanated from Hitler and argued that the same inference is to drawn in relation to the instruction on 30 November 1941. Evans's response was that there is no reason whatever to suppose that there was any connection between Hitler and either of these instructions issued by Himmler.
5.106In relation to the entry in Himmler's log for 1 December 1941, Irving said that he misread Himmler's spidery Sutterlin handwriting: he thought he had written Judentransporte in the plural. It was, he said, a "silly misreading". He firmly denied any deliberate manipulation. He denied that he was lying when he claimed to have made an innocent slip. He was, however, constrained to admit that in a letter to Dr Kabermann written in 1974 he had correctly transcribed the word in the singular. On reflection he claimed that his original explanation that he though the note referred to transports in the plural was a slip of the memory. He explained that he believes he understood transport to mean transportation in the generic sense. He pointed out that no definite article comes before the noun (which Evans says is rare in the case of Himmler's notes). He argued that dictionary definitions of the meaning of that word bear him out but he was unable to produce a contemporaneous (ie 1930s) dictionary which gave the meaning "transportation". He rejected the claim made by Evans that this explanation is equally unconvincing, not least because it omits to take account of the words aus Berlin.
5.107Despite his eventual acceptance that the conversation between Himmler and Heydrich on 30 November related to a single trainload of Jews, Irving continued to suggest in his cross-examination of Evans that the instruction Keine Liquidierung had a wider significance and applied to all European Jews. He relied on a message sent on 1 December 1941 to the local SS commander in Riga, named Jeckeln, summoning him to a meeting with Himmler in Berlin on 4 December. Irving pointed out that this summons had followed rapidly upon a request made from Riga to Berlin by the murderous Jeckeln for ten military pistols for Sonderactionen (special measures). Irving interpreted Himmler's appointments diary for 4 December 1941 as showing that he gave Jeckeln a rap over the knuckles.
5.108Irving relied also on the contents of a telegram sent on the same day to Jeckeln by Himmler, which reads:Irving described this as an incredibly important message because it shows that at headquarters the shooting of the Jews was disapproved. He further asserted that the absence of any reference to Hitler in the message indicates that Hitler had nothing to do with the promulgation of guidelines as to circumstances in which European Jews were to be killed. Irving claims that the consequence of this sequence of events was that the shooting of German Jews stopped for many months. Evans accepted the killing of German Jews was halted for some months after December 1941 but pointed out that the surviving Jews in the ghetto in Riga were murdered on 8 December presumably with the concurrence of Himmler. The massacre of non-German Jews in the Ostland continued unabated.
"The Jews being outplaced to Ostland are to be dealt with only in accordance with the guidelines laid down by myself or the Reichssicherheitshauptamt on my orders. I would punish arbitrary and disobedient acts".
5.109Irving argued that the inference to be drawn from the communications referred to at paragraphs 5.107-8 indicate that there were in existence at the time guidelines which prohibited the killing of European Jews and that the shooting of the Berlin Jews in Riga was a transgression of those guidelines.
5.110In reference to Himmler's telephone log for 1 December 1941 Irving testified that he innocently misread "haben" for "Juden" because the two words appear similar in the Gothic manuscript. He said that Himmler's handwriting at this point is very indistinct. He did not spot that there was no full stop after Verwaltungsfuhrer SS. It was a reasonable mistake to make and certainly not a deliberate misreading. In any event Irving dismissed this entry in the log as totally immaterial. The failure to correct the 1991 edition of Hitler's War was an oversight. Evans disagreed that the misreading of the note was an innocent mistake. He argued that no historian who was not biased could read the words as saying anything other than haben zu bleiben.
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