Irving v. Lipstadt
Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Charles GrayTable of Contents
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5.65Irving denied that in his account of the events of Kristallnacht he had misrepresented the attitude Hitler adopted towards the violence directed at the Jews and their property. He maintained that the violence was initiated and promoted by Goebbels, who was acting without the authority of Hitler. He argued that, once Hitler became aware of the scale of the anti-Jewish rioting, he did his best to limit the violence.
5.66Irving justified his translation of the account given by Goebbels in his diary of the remarks made by Hitler when he was told about the demonstrations as an attempt on his part to convey to his readers in the vernacular the flavour of Goebbels's style of writing in his diary. He denied that his version contains any mistranslation of the entry. As to the significance of what Hitler ordered at that early stage of the evening's events, Irving at one stage in his evidence suggested that what Goebbels had reported to Hitler was the death of van Rath rather than that demonstrations against Jews had broken out. But he later conceded that Hitler would have been told about the demonstrations against Jews. He emphasised that, at the point when Hitler gave his order for the police to be pulled back, the scale of the anti-Jewish demonstrations was modest. So it could not be said, claimed Irving, that Hitler was sanctioning excessive violence. It was not until later that night, towards midnight, that the demonstrations got out of hand and turned into a full-scale pogrom against the Jews.
5.67Irving accepted that his account of Hitler's reaction on hearing in the early hours of the morning of 10 November about the outrages which were taking place is heavily reliant on the testimony of Hitler's adjutants provided many years after the event. Irving said that he was scrupulously careful not to put words into the mouths of those whom he interviewed. Irving testified that he spoke to von Below on no less than ten occasions. He claimed that what von Below then said is more worthy of belief than what he wrote in his memoirs. Irving pointed out there is no evidence which directly contradicts the accounts of the adjutants on which he has placed reliance. Their accounts converge and so may be said to corroborate one another. Irving did not accept that, in accepting the evidence of the adjutants about Kristallnacht but rejecting for example the evidence of survivors about events at Auschwitz, he has been guilty of applying double standards.
5.68As to Muller's telegram, Irving agreed that he was aware of it but made no mention of it in Goebbels. He testified that he did not regard it as adding much. Moreover Irving did not accept that the evidence shows that Hitler authorised or even knew of Muller's order. Muller was in Berlin whereas Hitler was in Munich. Nor, said Irving, does Bohmcker's message add anything to what is already known from other sources. He pointed out that he did refer to Bohmcker in a footnote.
5.69Irving denied having misrepresented Heydrich's telex of 1.26am. The reference given in the footnote in Goebbels for this message is ND:3052-PS. In cross-examination the message with reference number ND:3051-PS, which the Defendants claim is Heydrich's 1.20am message, was put to Irving. He said that he was quoting from a different message sent by Heydrich, namely ND:3052-PS, which is the reference given in Goebbels. He disagreed with the suggestion that it was unlikely that Heydrich would have sent another telex at about the same time. His answer to the Defendants' accusation of misrepresentation was therefore that he was summarising the content of a different message sent by Heydrich at about the same time (which he was unfortunately unable to produce). However, when confronted with the text of message ND:3052-PS which the Defendants had obtained overnight, Irving accepted that it cannot have been the source for what he wrote. When reminded that on his own website he had admitted muddling 3051 and 3052, Irving conceded that there had been no other source for what he wrote about Heydrich's telex. In the end, as I understood him, Irving answered the criticism made by the Defendants of his account in Goebbels of Heydrich's telex by saying that, if he misinterpreted it, it was an innocent error or glitch which occurred in the redrafting process. He maintained that the error is in the context of the book as a whole a trivial one. In any event Irving reiterated that at this stage in the evening (1.20am), the full-scale pogrom had still not developed.
5.70As regards Eberstein's telephone message at 2.10am, Irving gave various reasons why he attached no importance to it. He claimed that the original message would have gone out earlier. It is, he argued, a mere repetition of the instruction to the police not to interfere. Irving put to Evans various suggestions about the message: that Eberstein might not have been present when it was sent; that Eberstein might have been with Hitler when it went out; that it was an "igniting" document. In any event, said Irving, the message was overtaken by events. For these reasons Irving said that he saw no need to refer to it in Hitler's War. Evans accepted none of these suggestions. Whether or not it is likely that Eberstein would have sent that message after seeing Hitler's reaction to the news of the night's events, Irving stated that two eye-witnesses, namely adjutants von Below and Futkammer, had confirmed Hitler's angry reaction to the news. In regard to Hederich, Irving justified his reliance upon his evidence. He contended that there was no reason for doubting what Hederich was quoted as having said. Despite having written in Goebbels that what Goebbels said "conflicted with the tenor of Hitler's speech", Irving denied that Hederich had meant that Hitler made a speech at the Old Town Hall: he was referring to what he understood Hitler to have been saying about the violence. Irving did not accept the criticisms advanced by Evans of his reliance on these witnesses (summarised above).
5.71Irving disagreed totally with the interpretation placed by the Defendants upon Rudolf Hess's message sent at 2.56am. He pointed out that it was he who had discovered the message and first brought it to the notice of historians. Whilst he accepted that there might have been reasons for singling out Jewish businesses for protection, such as the danger of damage being done to adjacent non-Jewish property or the likelihood that the Jewish property was insured with non-Jewish insurance companies, he was adamant that the order was intended to confer blanket protection on all Jewish property. He read the words und dergleichen as qualifying acts of arson, so that his interpretation of the message is that it covers acts of arson and all other forms of violence. He did not accept that the order of words in the message indicates that und dergleichen qualifies shops, so extending the order to shops and the like. It was Irving's case that the order sent at 2.56am emanated from Hitler and it was a direction that all actions against the Jews must stop forthwith. Accordingly his description of the message as conveying an order from Hitler "to halt the madness" was appropriate and justified. Furthermore, in his response to the Defendants' closing submission, Irving also drew attention to a telegram sent out at 3.45am by Gestapo Section II signed "p.p. Bartz" which required the immediate execution of Heydrich's order that all kinds of arson were to be hindered.
5.72Given the passage of time since he had tried to decipher the handwriting of Wiedemann, Irving felt unable to respond the criticism that he had misrepresented his account. He did agree that he may have made a mistake. Irving agreed that at the time when he was writing Goebbels he was aware of the diary entry of Hassell recording the comments made about Kristallnacht by Rudolf Hess. Irving argued that, when Hess said he had reported his views in an energetic manner to Hitler and begged him to drop "the matter", Hess was obviously referring to the action subsequently taken by the Nazi party to fine the Jews. Hess was not begging Hitler to drop the anti-Jewish actions when they were in progress that night. Evans dismissed that as a blatant misconstruction of the diary entry which was plainly referring to the violence. Irving commented that he did not in any event consider that the entry adds much to what is already known.
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