Irving v. Lipstadt
Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Charles GrayTable of Contents
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5.179Irving suggested (and Evans agreed) that it is apparent from Goebbels's diary entry for 27 March 1942 that he is there summarising information which has been provided to him. There is no evidence that Hitler was provided with that information. Irving advanced the somewhat technical argument that Goebbels's diary entry might be evidence against him as to his state of knowledge but could not be evidence of the state of knowledge of Hitler because as against him it is hearsay. As Evans pointed out, historians, including Irving, perforce use hearsay evidence all the time. But Irving persisted in his assertion that the entry is at worst evidence of Goebbels's knowledge of the gassing and does not touch upon the question of Hitler's knowledge. Irving claimed that Hitler and Goebbels did not see each other in private more than about ten times in 1942.
5.180Moreover, according to Irving, the entry does not establish that even Goebbels knew what was happening in the death camps: he is just speculating when he writes that 60% of the Jews must be liquidated. Evans pointed out that this contention is difficult to reconcile with Irving's claim that on 27 March 1942 Goebbels was summarising in his diary "the ghastly secrets of Auschwitz and Treblinka". Irving criticised Evans's translation of "Im grossen kann man wohl feststellen..." as "In general one may conclude that ..." because it omits the word wohl which is indicative of the speculative nature of this part of the diary entry.
5.181A further argument advanced by Irving is that, in several of the diary entries relied on by the Defendants, Goebbels falsely claims to be acting with the knowledge and authority of Hitler so as to provide himself with an alibi or excuse in case of later blame or criticism.
5.182Irving claimed that there are many other contemporaneous documents which show Hitler displaying an attitude towards the Jews which is anything but homicidal. One example which Irving cites is Goebbels's diary entry for 30 May 1942 on which Evans also placed reliance. Irving drew particular attention to the following;Irving argued that this passage demonstrates that Hitler was still thinking in terms of deportation and resettlement. Hitler was "talking tough" about the loss of life which the Jews might suffer in the course of deportation but he was not contemplating genocide. Irving argued that, when Hitler uses such terms as ausrotten in relation to the Jews, he is talking of them being uprooted and transported elsewhere not of their being liquidated. Irving cited other instances where Hitler is recorded as having used at about this time such terms as Auswanderung and Evakuierung. Hitler talked also of resettling the Jews in Siberia of Lapland or even Madagascar. Evans rejected that argument. Hitler's references to resettlement of the Jews at this time are euphemistic. It would have been impractical, Evans suggested, to carry out a programme of extermination by the use of coded language. Hitler's reference to deporting the Jews to Madgascar must be camouflage because Hitler himself had earlier in the year called a halt to that plan and ordered that the Jews be sent to the East.
"Therefore the Fuhrer does also not wish at all for the Jews to be evacuated to Siberia. There, under the harshest living conditions, they would undoubtedly for an element of vitality once more. His preferred solution would be to settle them in central Africa. There they live in a climate which would surely not render them strong and capable of resistance. In any case it is the Fuhrer's wish to make west Europe completely Jew-free. Here they will not be allowed to have any home anymore".
5.183As to the entry in Goebbels's diary for 30 March 1942, it is, according to Evans, clear from the earlier section that, in his confidential meeting with Goebbels, Hitler told him he favoured a radical solution of the Jewish problem. The latter part of the entry, relied on by Irving, corresponds very closely with Hitler's Table Talk on 29 May 1942. Evans considered that Goebbels in the latter part of the entry was recording in his diary what he had heard Hitler say in the course of a general discussion on 29 May rather than continuing with his account of their private meeting. That, according to Evans, explains why camouflage language is to be found in the latter part of the diary entry. Evans contended that Hitler habitually resorted to camouflage when others were present. According to Picker (one of those who recorded Hitler's Table Talk) Hitler never spoke over the table of the concentration camps. Evans concluded that the reference in the diary entry to sending the Jews to central Africa is therefore not to be taken seriously.
5.184Similarly the record of Hitler's reference on 24 July 1942 to the emigration of Jews to Madagascar cannot, according to the Defendants, sensibly be taken at face value: the "Madagascar plan" had, on Hitler's own orders, been abandoned long since. Hitler was pretending to be ignorant about the killing of Jews.
5.185Another reason relied on by Irving for his contention that Hitler was unaware of deliberate extermination of Jews being carried out on a massive scale in 1942 is that none of his adjutants or stenographers recalls any mention being made by Hitler of anything of the kind. Irving described the time and trouble he has devoted to tracking down and interviewing those who remain alive and to obtain the papers of those who have not survived. Irving claimed that none of them had any recollection of Hitler discussing concentration camps either generally or individually. The Holocaust was not mentioned.
5.186Evans does not accept that the evidence of the adjutants and secretaries is of any real value. In the first place, Hitler when in company deliberately refrained from talking of the concentration camps and used euphemistic language when talking of the Jews. Moreover Hitler's personal staff had good reason to be cautious in making public statements about what Hitler said in their presence. Moreover, claimed Evans, several of them expressed the view that Hitler was aware of the genocide which was being perpetrated. He named Major (later Lieutenant General) Engel, who recorded in his diaries that Himmler reported to Hitler about the shooting of Jews in Riga and Minsk; von Puttkamer, who impliedly suggested that Hitler kept from his press spokesman the fact that Jews were being exterminated; von Bruckner, who suggested that discussion about the extermination of the Jews was kept by Hitler within a limited circle; Krieger, one of Hitler's stenographers, who was undecided whether Hitler issued orders to exterminate the Jews or gave general orders to others to that effect and Buchholz, who considered that it was possible Hitler had issued such an order and was convinced that the matter was discussed between Himmler and Hitler. Others mentioned by Evans as coming within this category were Linge; Brautigam; Sonnleithner and Schroeder. Evans readily accepted that many of these former Hitler aides are unreliable for one reason or another. The point he sought to make was that, whatever weight is to be attached to the evidence of the adjutants and stenographers, they do not support Irving's claim that Hitler was ignorant of the extermination programme.
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