Irving v. Lipstadt


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

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Irving's response to the eye-witness evidence

7.109 As to the Defendants' reliance on the evidence of eye-witnesses, Irving asserted that, since as many as 6,000 have survived the camp, the   proportion of witnesses confirming the existence of gas chambers is remarkably small. The vast majority have not claimed that there were gas chambers at the camp.
7.110 In any case Irving contended that generically the eye-witnesses, whilst they are not to be discounted altogether, are not reliable or credible. Some can be shown to be inaccurate in their claims (eg Dr Bimko) or inconsistent (eg Hoss). Others gave evidence through fear or in order to curry favour with their captors (eg Aumeier). The evidence of many of them was the result of "cross-pollination" with the recollection of other supposed eye-witnesses or was influenced by their having been shown the blueprints for the alleged gas chambers (eg Tauber). The evidence of a number of such witnesses (eg Kramer) can be explained by the fact that they were describing chambers which were used for fumigation purposes rather then killing. Irving gives as a reason for doubting the reliability of Olere's sketches that he made the absurd claim to the historian Pressac that the SS made sausages in the crematoria. Another reasons for doubting Olere's reliability, according to Irving, is that flame as well as smoke can be seen in one sketch emerging from the top of the main chimney. Van Pelt agreed that no flame would have been visible since the chimney was 90 feet tall. Irving suggested that Olere's drawings may have been based on post-war reports, adding the gratuitous comment that he appears to have taken a prurient interest in naked women.
7.111 Irving also relied on the figures for the numbers of deaths of inmates through illness or from overwork in support of an argument that the purpose, or at least the principal purpose, which the crematoria at Auschwitz served was to incinerate the corpses of those who had died in this way. So, Irving's argument proceeded, the eyewitness evidence of the Sonderkommandos and others of the operation of the crematoria and the stripping of gold from the mouths of the corpses can be explained on the basis that these were the corpses of those who had died from disease or overwork rather than those who had been murdered in the gas chambers.
7.112 For all these reasons, some positive and some negative but all pointing in the same direction, Irving concluded that his initial reaction to the Leuchter report was correct: the evidence does not bear out the claim that gas chambers were operated to liquidate hundreds of thousands of Jews. The evidence relied on by the Defendants is riddled with inconsistencies and remains unpersuasive. He accepted that the cellar at Leichenkeller 1 was used as a gassing cellar but only to fumigate "objects or cadavers". As to the   use of gas to kill humans, the most he was prepared to concede was that there were gassings "on some scale" at Auschwitz.
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