Irving v. Lipstadt
Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Charles GrayTable of Contents
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5.84By way of explanation of his reference to Goebbels having felt apprehensive when he went to see Hitler on 10am November 1938, Irving stressed that his paraphrase "what to do next" is an accurate rendition of the German :According to Irving, those words mean that Goebbels discussed with Hitler the measures which need to be taken "now more than ever". The reason why he wrote that Goebbels was apprehensive was that he had been summoned to see Hitler at a time when Germany was going up in flames. Goebbels had believed that he had acted in accordance with Hitler's wishes but to his consternation he had discovered that he had been doing the exact opposite of what Hitler wished. Irving did, however, agree that Goebbels's diary entry indicates that he was discussing with Hitler whether to let the actions against the Jews continue or to call a halt. He claimed (and Evans agreed) that the probability is that in the course of a telephone conversation on the morning of 10 November Hitler instructed Goebbels to draw up an order calling a halt to the violence.
"Ich uberlege mit dem Fuhrer unsere nunmehrigen Massnahmen".
5.85But Irving did not accept the rest of Evans's reconstruction of the sequence of events on 10 November. In regard to Goebbels's account in his diary of his meeting with Hitler at the Osteria restaurant, Irving argued that the claim that Hitler endorsed what Goebbels had done was false, that is, Goebbels was lying in that diary entry. Goebbels was prone, said Irving, to claiming that Hitler had approved his actions when in truth he had done nothing of the kind. Goebbels was being denounced on all sides so he needed to claim he had the approval of Hitler. Irving did, however, agree that Hitler did express the intention that Jewish businesses should be expropriated. Irving suggested, on the basis of information said to have been uncovered by Ingrid Wechert (to whom I have already referred), that an instruction to halt the demonstrations and actions was broadcast as early as 10am on 10 November. Evans doubted the timing claimed by Wechert and Irving: the only record of the content of the broadcast gives the time of transmission as the afternoon. It is accepted that the order calling a halt to the violence was issued at 4pm. Evans considered it to be unlikely that there would have been a delay of six hours between the broadcast and the promulgation of the order.
5.86Irving justified the doubt which he cast in Goebbels on the diary entry in which Goebbels recorded Hitler's visit on 15 November and claimed that Hitler had indicated that he approved totally "my and our policy". According to Irving, it was obvious from the handwritten diary entry that "my" was inserted by accident and Goebbels then added "and our" as an afterthought because it would have been, as Irving put it, a bit of a giveaway if he had crossed out "my". Evans refused to accept that interpretation of the entry.
5.87Similarly in relation to the message sent by Goebbels to the Nazi party chief in Munich-Upper Bavaria that "the Fuhrer sanctions the measure taken so far and declares that he does not disapprove of them", Irving argued that it cannot be taken at face value. The reason, according to Irving, is the double negative in the second part of the sentence, which indicates that Goebbels was providing an alibi for himself by claiming that he had Hitler's authority when in fact he did not.
5.88Irving did not accept that in his account in Goebbels he had falsely given the impression that firm action was taken against those involved in the violence on Kristallnacht. He defended his reference in Goebbels to "turning the culprits over to the public prosecutors" by claiming that there were a large number of prosecutions and that many were sent to gaol. He did, however, accept that it was inappropriate to refer to the party court as the public prosecutor. He also agreed that there would have been many who had committed grave crimes against the Jews who were let off. Irving sought to justify this lenient treatment on the basis that their acts of violence had been authorised by the state. Irving made reference to a passage in the report of the Party Court which was in the following terms:Irving took this to be saying by implication that the perpetrators knew they were not acting on the order of Hitler. Evans claimed in reply that that is the exact opposite of what the report says: the perpetrators were acting in accordance with the wishes of the leadership. That is the basis on which those who compiled the report concluded that the perpetrators should not be punished.
"The individual perpetrators [of the acts of violence etc] had put into action, not merely the supposed will of the leadership, but the to be sure vaguely expressed but correctly recognised view of the leadership".
5.89Whilst Irving accepted that only two of the sixteen suspects referred to in the report of the Party Court were handed over to the criminal courts, he claimed that many others were prosecuted. Space reasons prevented him from telling his readers how many escaped virtually scot-free. He did not accept that it was the intention of the Nazi party that all but a tiny minority should get off.
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