Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Charles GrayTable of Contents
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5.137 In the course of his cross-examination, Irving produced another "chain of documents" by way of positive rebuttal of the contention of the Defendants, that his portrayal of the attitude of Hitler to the Jewish question was fundamentally false. It consisted of a selection of documents which, he said, support his contention that Hitler was a friend of the Jews. Included amongst those documents were, firstly, an order dating back to 1935 that isolated actions against Jews were not to take place and would be severely punished; a directive issued in 1936 that there were to be no excesses against the Jews following the assassination of a Swiss named Gustlov; another directive of July 1937 by which Hitler permitted selected non-Aryans to remain in the Nazi party and a 1939 document in which the Czech Foreign Minister reports Hitler saying the Jews were being economically annihilated and talking of deporting them to Madagascar.
5.138Later documents in Irving's "chain" include a note made by the Nazi ambassador to France in August 1940 recording Hitler's wish to include in peace treaties with nations defeated by the Nazis a condition that they should deport their Jews out of Europe. Another document relied on by Irving is a query raised in November 1941 by the Reichskommssar for the Ostland asking whether all Jews in his area are to be liquidating since he can find no directive to that effect. Irving claimed that this indicates that there was no such directive. Irving also relied on the instruction given by Himmler in November 1941 (which is considered above) that there is to be no liquidation of Jews from Berlin. Next in the "chain" relied on by Irving is a note by Rosenberg of a conversation he had with Hitler in December 1941 (shortly after war was declared on America) which records Hitler as having approved Rosenberg's policy of not talking about the extirpation of Jewry. According to the note, Hitler had said that Jews had brought about the war and had thereby brought about their own destruction. Rosenberg did not record Hitler as favouring a policy of exterminating the Jews.
5.139As to Himmler's note of his discussion with Hitler on 18 December 1941 about the Jewish question, which records that the decision that Jews were to be extirpated as partisans (auszurotten als Partisane), Irving interpreted this note as meaning that the Jews were to be executed as partisans because that is what they were. Irving made reference to the recollection over twenty years afterwards of one of the authors of Hitler's Table Talk that Hitler had in December 1941 said that all he was asking of the Jews was that they should perform hard labour somewhere. In the same vein Irving referred to a document dated 6 July 1942 recording Hitler's decision that Jews in specific occupations should be protected from persecution. Then Irving cited Hitler's Table Talk for 24 July 1942 for Hitler's comment about getting rid of the Jews to Madagascar.
5.140The last documents in Irving's "chain" is the letter from Himmler to General Berger dated 28 July 1942 in which he writes that the Fuhrer has placed on his shoulders the burdensome task of rendering the eastern territories free of Jews. Irving interpreted this to mean that Hitler has ordered Himmler to remove the Jews from those territories (whereas Evans said it plainly means they were to be killed).
5.141Irving relies also upon extracts from the agenda for two discussions between Hitler and Himmler on 17 or 22 July and 10 December 1942 respectively. The former includes the words "Judenauswanderung (Jewish emigration) - how to proceed further". The latter has the word abschaffen (abolished) written beside a reference to 600-700,00 Jews supposedly in France. It is followed by a memorandum from Himmler that these Jews are to be abtransportiert (deported). Irving maintains that the terms used in these documents all suggest that deportation was the policy towards Jews. Irving's chain ends there because, with effect from October 1943, he accepts Hitler knew of the policy of exterminating the Jews.
5.142Evans's response to the series of documents was that they do not amount to much. He did not accept that they justified or excused the way Irving portrays Hitler's position on the Jewish question. Evans agreed that Hitler undoubtedly in specific occasions did intervene on behalf of identified Jews or groups of Jews. He accepted that until the latter part of 1941 Hitler's preferred solution to the Jewish problem was deportation. Thereafter Evans contended that Hitler approved their extermination even though he did not say so in terms. That is the interpretation which he puts on Rosenberg's note of December 1941. The reference to deportation to Madagascar in Hitler's Table Talk for 24 July 1942 is camouflage, according to Evans, since the Madagascar plan had been abandoned in February 1942. Bearing in mind what was going on in mid-July 1942 Evans takes the view that Judenauswanderung and abtraansportiert are plainly euphemisms for extermination. Evans asserted that Irving's selection of documents ignores the vastly greater number of documents which evidence Hitler's murderous intentions towards Jews of all nationalities.
5.143Dealing with the specific passages in his books which the Defendants highlighted, Irving excused the inaccuracies in his version of Hitler's reported comments made in October 1941 about parking Jews in the marshier parts of Russia by saying, correctly, that at the time in the 1970s when he wrote the first edition of Hitler's War the only version which was available to him was the English translation of those comments made for Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 1953. Irving followed that translation. Irving conceded, however, that even after the German original became available to him, he repeated the translation errors in the second edition of Hitler's War and retained some of them in Goebbels. This he excused on the basis that the Weidenfeld's translation is not a serious deviation from the original and has the virtue that it is not a "wooden" version. Irving totally disagreed with the suggestion put to him that he was deliberately using a mistranslation in order to exculpate Hitler.
5.144Irving rejected the criticism of his account of Goebbels's diary entry for 22 November 1991 which gives an account of his meeting with Hitler the previous day. He admitted that he omitted the word "energetic" but contended that it was legitimate to leave the matter "neutral" because the account had been filtered through the evil brain of Goebbels who was given to claiming falsely to have the Fuhrer's authority for what he had done.
5.145In regard to Hitler's speech to the Gauleiter on 12 December 1941, Irving claimed that the account given by Goebbels of what Hitler said was mendacious. He argued that the extermination (vernichtung) of Jews was not a quotation of what Hitler had said (although Hitler had used that word in relation to the Jews in his famous speech to the Reichstag in 1939) but rather Goebbels expressing his own view and intention. If he had been quoting Hitler, said Irving, Goebbels would have used the subjunctive tense. He did, however, agree that it is impossible to say which part of the diary is recording Goebbels's own thoughts and which parts are recording what Hitler said. Irving was reluctant to accept the translation of vernichtung as extermination. He claimed that what the reference was to the annihilation of Judaism as opposed to the extermination of Jewry.
5.146Irving agreed that there is no reference in his biography Goebbels to this part of Hitler's speech to the Gauleiter on 12 December 1941. The reason, according to Irving, is that at the time of publication he had not seen the microfiche containing those words. Irving offered the explanation that, when he went to Moscow to inspect the microfiches of the Goebbels diaries there, he was looking for entries relating to Pearl Harbour. He claimed that, when he came to the entry for 13 December 1941 (in which entry Hitler's remarks of the previous day are recorded) he did not read as far as the passage relating to what Hitler said to the Gauleiter about the Jews. The Defendants do not accept the veracity of Irving's answer: they assert that Irving, when in Moscow, started reading the entry for 13 December. The Defendants refuse to accept that Irving would have stopped reading the entry mid-way through and before the highly significant passage relating to the Jews which is contained in Goebbels's account of Hitler's speech to the Gauleiter. Irving responded that he was under pressure of time when in Moscow. He firmly denied having read that passage, adding that, even if he had read it, he would not have regarded Hitler's remarks it as significant since it is "the old Adolph Hitler gramophone record".
5.147As to General Governor Frank's account on 16 December 1941 of what he had been told in Berlin, Irving claimed in cross-examination that the logical interpretation was that he (Frank) had told the authorities in Berlin to liquidate the Jews themselves and not the other way round. It was put to Irving that this was not how he had interpreted Frank's words at p427 of Hitler's War (1991 edition). Irving refused to accept that the "large scale measures" of which Frank spoke in his diary meant that Jews were to be exterminated. Asked why, in that passage in Hitler's War, he had taken pains to claim out that Hitler was not in Berlin at the time, Irving conceded that he was indicating to readers that Hitler had not been in Berlin when Heydrich's agencies were giving the instruction to liquidate the Jews. Irving accepted that there was no indication in Goebbels's diary or in Frank's account that it was Heydrich or his agencies which had issued that instruction.
5.148Irving gave evidence that did not see the note of Hitler's conversation with Himmler on 16 December 1941 until the summer of 1999 and so could not be criticised for not referring to it in the 1991 edition of Hitler's War. But he accepted, with some reluctance, that it does establish that Hitler authorised the liquidation of Jews in the East as if they were partisans.
5.149In answer to the criticism that he omitted from his account of Hitler's Table Talk for 25 January 1942 Hitler's reference to exterminating the Jews, Irving responds that he gave the reader "the meat" of what Hitler said by recording that he repeated the prophecy made in the Reichstag in 1939. Irving dismissed the criticism of his account of Hitler's attitude towards the Jewish problem in March 1942. Nowhere is there any sheet of paper recording Hitler as having said "liquidate the Jews". Irving asserted that he has faithfully reflected what Goebbels reported. Hitler was still talking of deportation. Even in the reports Hitler's Table Talk (when Hitler was amongst friends and so, according to Irving likely to be candid and unlikely to resort to camouflage), he is recorded as speaking of the plan to deport the Jews to Madagascar at the end of the war. Irving repudiated the suggestion that this was a euphemism. When asked how he reconciled the notion that Hitler was thinking in terms of deportation with his acceptance that Hitler knew about and approved the mass shootings of Jews on the Eastern front, Irving responded that he believes Hitler drew a distinction between European Jews (for whom he planned deportation) and the Jews in the East (whom he regarded as vermin fit only to be shot).
5.150Irving regarded Goebbels's diary entry for 30 May 1942 as constituting "acres of sludge" not worth including in his book. He maintained that he is right to treat the reference to Madagascar in Hitler's Table Talk of 24 July 1942 as Hitler talking of resuming the Madagascar plan after the war. Irving insisted that his portrayal of Hitler's views about the Jews over this period was fair, objective and warranted by the available evidence.
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