Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Charles Gray

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Case for Mr Irving

5.117Irving in his evidence adopted an equivocal attitude towards the covertly recorded words of General Bruns about events in Riga. He accepted that in general Bruns is reliable and credible, partly because he did not know his words were being recorded. Nevertheless, noting that Bruns at his trial had denied even having been present at the Riga shootings, there were parts of Bruns's recorded account which Irving discounted. In relation to Bruns's account of Altemeyer having said to him:
"Here's an order that's come, saying that mass shootings of this kind may no longer take place in future. That is to be done more cautiously now"
Irving claimed that the first part means that Hitler had ordered that the mass killings had got to stop. But Irving dismissed the second part, that is, the instruction that the shooting should be done more cautiously in future as nothing more than a sneering aside by Altemeyer.
5.118Irving's reason for discounting these words is that Altemeyer was at the time a young officer in his early 20s and so likely to have fobbed off criticism by a senior officer of what he was doing by referring to "the Fuhrer's orders". It was, according to Irving "a throwaway line". Irving argued that his interpretation of Altemeyer's words is consistent with the intercepted message from Himmler to Jeckeln of 1 December 1941 requiring him to comply with the guidelines for dealing with deported German Jews.
5.119In contrast to his initial assessment of Bruns's reliability, Irving went so far in his cross-examination of Evans as to suggest that his account was third hand and, having been provided four years after the event, could not be treated as hard evidence.
5.120As to the number of casualties in Riga on 30 November 1941, Irving sought to justify the figure he gave in the text of Goebbels, namely 5,000, by   a calculation of the number of corpses which could have been fitted into the pits which General Bruns described in his account of the shootings. If those pits measured 25 metres long by 3 metres wide and 2 metres deep, Irving worked out that, assuming 10 bodies per cubic metre, the pits would have accommodated in the region of 7,000 bodies. Evans expressed the view that such a calculation was meaningless because it contained so many assumptions, not least the assumption that the pits were only 2 metres deep. Irving added that he had not concealed the claim that there were over 28,000 deaths: the claim was in the footnote to which readers could refer.
5.121Irving rejected the Defendants' criticism of him for ignoring altogether in his writing about the Riga shootings the evidence of the widow of Schultz-Dubois, who had been responsible for transmitting a report by a young army officer protesting about the shootings to Admiral Canaris in order that the Admiral might bring it to the attention of Hitler. I understood Irving to say that, although the letter of Mrs Schultz-Dubois which contains this information is to be found on his website, he had not at the material time read it. Irving testified that, whilst he had in 1982 looked at parts of the book by Professor Fleming in which the letter of Frau Schultz-Dubois is quoted, he had not read that passage which at page 98 contains the quotation from her letter. It was put to Irving in cross-examination that the markings in his copy of Flening's book indicate that he read as far as page 104 and so would have read the contents of the letter at page 98. Irving denied that allegation.
5.122Irving did, however, agree that Hitler's reaction as recounted in the letter of Frau Schultz-Dubois is some evidence that Hitler considered it to be his task to kill the Jews. That, Irving agreed, must be what meant by Hitler's phrase "after me there will not be another one to do it [carry out the shooings]". But Canaris was known to be anti-Nazi and so, argued Irving, his report of Hitler's reaction to the report has to be discounted.
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