Irving v. Lipstadt
Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Charles GrayTable of Contents
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The case for the Defendants
5.173In Hitler's War (1977 edition) Irving claims that Hitler was kept in the dark about the policy of exterminating Jews in the East. He wrote at p392:Irving wrote in similar terms in the 1991 edition. After quoting the references in Goebbels's diary to the brutal methods being employed against the Jews, he continued:
"The ghastly secrets of Auschwitz and Treblinka were well kept. Goebbels wrote a frank summary of them in his diary on March 27 1942, but evidently held his tongue when he met Hitler two days later, for he quotes only Hitler's remark: 'The Jews must get out of Europe. If need be, we must resort to the most brutal methods' ".
" 'The Jews have nothing to laugh about now', commented Goebbels. But he evidently never discussed these realities with Hitler. Thus this two-faced Minister dictated, after a further visit to Hitler on April 26, 'I have once again talked over the Jewish question with the Fuhrer. His position on this problem is merciless. He wants to force the Jews right out of Europe...' ".
5.174The Defendants' case is that Irving's claim that Goebbels deceived Hitler when (according to Irving) they met on 29 March is wrong: they accuse Irving of manipulating the diary entry for 27 March and ignoring other documents and sources which demonstrate that Hitler was well aware what was happening to the Jews in the East. The full diary entry (quoted at p400 of Evans's report) included the following passages:
"The Jews are now being pushed out of the General Government, beginning near Lublin, to the East. A pretty barbaric procedure is being applied here, and it is not to be described in any more detail, and not much is left of the Jews themselves. In general one may conclude that 60% of them must be liquidated, while only 40% can be put to work. The former Gauleiter of Vienna [Globocnik], who is carrying out this action, is doing it pretty prudently and with a procedure that doesn't work too conspicuously. The Jews are being punished barbarically, to be sure, but they have fully deserved it. The prophesy that the Fuhrer issued to them on the way, for the eventuality that they started a new world war, is beginning to realise itself in the most terrible manner. One must not allow any sentimentalities to rule in these matters. If we did not defend ourselves against them, the Jews would annihilate us. It is a struggle for life and death between the Aryan race and the Jewish bacillus. No other government and no other regime could muster the strength for a general solution of the question. Here too the Fuhrer is the persistent pioneer and spokesman of a radical solution, which is demanded by the way things are and thus appears to be unavoidable. Thank God during the war we have a whole lot of possibilities which were barred to us in peacetime. We must exploit them. The ghettos which are becoming available in the General Government are now being filled with the Jews who are being pushed out of the Reich, and after a certain time the process is then to renew itself here. Jewry has nothing to laugh about ... ".
5.175Evans argued that the references to Globocnik and to killings to the east of Lublin make clear that Goebbels was writing about Belzec and not about Auschwitz or Treblinka, as Irving claimed in his text. But the key omission in Hitler's War, according to Evans, is Goebbel's description of Hitler as "the persistent pioneer and spokesman of a radical solution". The radical solution cannot in the context be taken to refer to the policy of deporting Jews to the East. It must indicate that Hitler was aware what was going on in the extermination camps in the East. By deliberately omitting of that reference, Evans alleges that Irving perverts the true significance of the entry. There is absolutely no evidence that Goebbels "held his tongue". The overwhelming likelihood that the pair of them would have discussed enthusiastically what treatment was being meted out to the Jews in the General Government.
5.176The Defendants claim that, when Hitler is recorded as having spoken at this time of the annihilation (vernichtung) or extirpation (ausrottung) of the Jews he was indeed using the terms in a genocidal sense. Moreover the stance attributed to Hitler by Goebbels accords with sentiments previously expressed by Hitler, notably in his speech to the Gauleiter on 12 December 1941 (to which I have already referred) when Hitler spoke of the Jews "experiencing their own annihilation" if they should once more bring about a world war. It also accords with two of Goebbels's diary entries from this period. The entry for 20 March 1942 records Hitler as having remarked:The entry for 30 March 1942 includes the following passage:
"We speak in conclusion about the Jewish question. Here the Fuhrer remains now as before unrelenting. The Jews must get out of Europe, if necessary, with the application of the most brutal means".
"Thus I plead once again for a more radical Jewish policy, whereby I am just pushing at an open door with the Fuhrer".
5.177In both editions of Hitler's War, Irving asserts that Hitler was speaking of deporting the Jews from Europe and so must be taken to have been ignorant of the programme of extermination. But Evans, having analysed the quotations given by Irving together with other reports of statements made by Hitler on the topic, concluded that they show that, when Hitler talked of pushing the Jews out of Europe to the East, he was well aware of the genocidal fate which awaited them. Evans expressed the opinion that this was the radical solution which Hitler was advocating, in full knowledge of what it entailed. Hitler knew that Jews were being systematically killed in the East. Hitler spoke frequently of the murderous fate awaiting the Jews, using such terms as "annihilation" and "extermination" although he took care not to go into the detail of the programmes. Irving, so it is alleged, was at pains to suppress this body of evidence.
5.178Evans on behalf of the Defendants concluded that Irving's treatment of Goebbels's diary entry for 27 March 1942 wholly misrepresents Hitler's state of knowledge.
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