Irving v. Lipstadt


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

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Irving's response

5.162Irving acknowledged that the Schlegelberger memorandum is an unsatisfactory document. But he is satisfied that it is authentic. He pointed out reference was made to a complete copy of the memorandum (typed out in full with initials) as early as 1945 in a list compiled by the British Foreign Office of documents found in the files of the Nazi Ministry of Justice. That copy subsequently went missing. Irving has attempted, without success, to obtain the top copy from the US National Archives. He speculated that the copy in the file which was assembled by the prosecutors at Nuremberg file may have been removed by them because they did not want Lammers to be able to use it to exculpate himself. At all events Irving has no doubts about the genuineness of the memorandum. (Evans agreed that the Abschrift is a record of an authentic memorandum, adding the rider that Irving's eagerness to treat this document as genuine contrasts starkly with his scepticism about the integrity of documents which do not fit in with his thesis).
5.163Regardless of its unsatisfactory features, Irving remained firm in his view that the Schlegelberger note is vital document which provides a clear indication of Hitler's wish expressed in the spring of 1942 to postpone a decision on the Jewish question generally until after the end of the war.   During the evidence Irving made reference time and again to the memorandum, which he regards as the linchpin of his case for saying that Hitler sought to protect the Jews.
5.164Irving dismissed the notion that the note dates back to 1941 as a "vanishingly small probability". In support of this conclusion Irving referred to a Staff Evidence Analysis sheet, apparently prepared by the prosecutors at Nuremberg who assembled the file which contained the memorandum. Irving points out that, with one exception, the documents in the file come from the period March to April 1942. So the 1942 date tallies with the dates of most of the documents in the file.
5.165In support of his contention that Schlegelberger was referring to the Jewish question generally, Irving argued firstly that the discussion at the continuation of the Wannsee conference on 6 March 1942 was not confined to the mischlinge problem (although he agreed that the minute of the meeting suggests otherwise). Irving cited in support of this contention the post-war evidence of Ficker and Boley who were both present. (Evans dismissed their evidence as self-exculpatory). Irving went on to point out that the file in which the memorandum was contained is broadly entitled "Treatment of the Jews". Another document in the file is "Overall solution of the Jewish problem". Irving maintained that the immediately preceding document in the file supports his interpretation of the note that it is dealing with the question of Jews generally, not just mischlinge. In that document dated 12 March 1942 Schlegelberger referred to the meeting which had been held on 6 March as having been concerned with the treatment of Jews and mixed races. He expressed the wish that Lammers should consult Hitler about the decisions which would need to be taken which he considered to be completely impossible. Irving argues that this letter also indicates that both the Jews generally and the mixed race issue were under discussion. Following his receipt of that message, it appears that Lammers offered to meet Schlegelberger on the return of the former to Berlin at the end of March. As Evans agreed, the pair probably met in early April. Irving argued that this chronology suggests that the date of the memorandum would be early April by which time Lammers had spoken to Hitler.
5.166Irving relied on the terms of the Schlegelberger memorandum itself. He pointed out that it refers conjunctively to Jews and mixed marriages as if both (separate) topics were under consideration. It is headed "The solution of the Jewish question", which suggests a broad not a narrow subject-matter.   (Were it not so headed he would have considered Evans's interpretation a viable alternative theory). Irving argued that there is nothing in the terms of the memorandum itself to justify the narrow interpretation put on it by the Defendants. Irving argued that in the spring of 1942 Hitler was preoccupied with events on the Eastern front. In that situation his likely reaction, upon being asked about the Jewish question, was that it should be put off until the end of the war. Evans considered that this argument ignores Hitler's obsessive anti-semitism which continued to dominate Hitler's thinking, even at times of military crisis.
5.167Irving produced what he described as an extract from the evidence which Lammers gave at his trial when he testified that Hitler had told him that he had given Himmler an order for the evacuation of the Jews and that he (Hitler) did not want to hear any more about the problem until the end of the war. Evans took the view that that Lammers was seeking to avoid incriminating himself when he claimed that Hitler wanted no more than the deportation of the Jews.
5.168Irving defended his treatment of the note at p 464 of the 1991 edition of Hitler's War by pointing out that he did make mention of the problem of the mischlinge. He explained that pressure of space prevented him from making clear to the reader of the text of Goebbels that the 6 March 1942 conference was confined to the mischlinge issue. There was, he said, no question of his having distorted the evidence.
5.169Irving maintained that the Defendants are trying to devalue what is a "high level diamond document" when they argue that it bears only on the problem of the mischlinge.
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