Irving v. Lipstadt


Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 1: Electronic Edition

Pages 31 - 35 of 103

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    So what are the issues that are pleaded and how
 1I am being forced into positions that I have not
 2previously adopted. I have never claimed to be a
 3Holocaust historian. As I have said, I have no written no
 4book about the Holocaust. I have written no article about
 5it. If I have spoken about it, it is usually because
 6somebody has asked me a question, I have been questioned
 7about it. On such occasions I have emphasised my lack of
 8expertise and I have expatiated only upon those areas with
 9which I am familiar. In doing so I have offended many of
10my friends who wish that history was different, but you
11cannot wish documents away, and it is in documents that
12I have always specialized as a writer.
13     Your Lordship will find upon reviewing my
14various printed works that I have very seldom used other
15people's books as sources. I found it otiose and tedious,
16not only because they are ill-written but because in
17reading other people's books you are liable to imbibe the
18errors and prejudices with which those books are beset.
19If, however, you go to he original documents you will
20often find to your joy that the weight of documents you
21have to read is pound for pound, or indeed ton for ton,
22less than the weight of books hat you might otherwise have
23to read upon the same subject, and you are kilometres
24closer to the original real history.
25     As for the nature of documents, I remember that
26in 1969 I visited Professor Hugh Trevor Roper (now Lord

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 1Dacre who I am glad to say is still with us). He very
 2kindly made available to me his considerable collection of
 3several thousand original intelligence documents for my
 4biography of Adolf Hitler, and in doing so he advised me
 5as follows: When considering new documents you should ask
 6yourself three questions. If I remember correctly, my
 7Lord, those tree criteria were as follows.
 8     1) Is the document genuine? (Possibly in the
 9light of the "Hitler Diaries" scandal, an unfortunate
10pre-requisite in this case).
11      2) Is the document written by a person in a
12position to know what he is talking about?
13     3) Why does this document exist?
14     The latter is quite interesting, as we have all
15experienced in the archives, coming across documents
16obviously written for window dressing or buck passing
18     It is documents in this case which I think the
19court will find most interesting and illuminating. By
20that I mean the documents at every level. The court will
21have to consider not only the documents originating in
22World War II on both sides, my Lord, but also the
23documents that have been generated by that painful process
24known as Discovery. It will not escape the court, my
25Lord, when the time comes that like many personalities I
26have kept the most voluminous records throughout my career

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 1as a writer and even before it. Along with my writing
 2career I have kept a diary. Sometimes I wondered why but
 3I think the reason is basically this. If you are a
 4writer, self-employed, you need the discipline that a
 5diary imposes upon you, and you cannot in conscious enter
 6in a diary at the end of the day: "I did nothing all
 8     Your Lordship will be amused no doubt to hear
 9that at one stage in the discovery process in this action
10at the request of Mr Julius, I readily agreed to make
11available to the Defence my entire diaries in so far as
12they still exist. A few pages are missing. Mr Julius
13only then learned that these diaries occupy a shelf eight
14feet long, and that in them there are approximately or
15probably 10 or 20 million words to be read. Mr Julius and
16his staff have, however, risen most nobly to challenge
17that these pages presented, and I am sure that over the
18next few days and weeks we shall be hearing more than one
19morsal that they have dredged out of the pages. They will
20hold it aloft, still dripping with something or other,
21read it to this court with a squeal of delight,
22proclaiming that this is the philosopher's stone that they
23needed to justify their client's libels all along. We
24shall see. That is not what this trial is all about.
25This trial is not really about what happened in the
26Holocaust or how many Jews and other persecuted minorities

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 1were tortured and put to death. The court will I hope
 2agree with me when the time comes that the issue us is not
 3what happened but how I treated it in my works of history.
 4     It may be that I was totally ignorant on some
 5aspects of World War II, and I hasten to say that I do not
 6believe I was, but to be accused of deliberate
 7manipulation and distorting, and mistranslating is
 8perverse. The Defendants must show, in my humble
 9submission, first that a particular thing happened or
10existed; second that I was aware of that particular thing
11as it happened or existed, at the time that I wrote about
12it from the records then before me; third, that I then
13wilfully manipulated the text or mistranslated or
14distorted it for the purposes that they imply.
15     I will submit that in no instance can they prove
16this to be the case. They have certainly not done so in
17the documents so far pleaded.
18     I readily concede that what I have read of the
19reports submitted by the Defendants' experts, particularly
20those of the historians, is of the utmost interest.
21I have to congratulate Professor Jan van Pelt for the
22literary quality of his lengthy report on Auschwitz, which
23will no doubt eventually see general circulation in the
24 bookstores. Indeed, I congratulated him three years ago
25already on the first book that he published on this

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 1     I admit too that there are documents contained
 2in the expertise of Professor Browning of which I was not
 3aware, and which have my own perception of some aspects of
 4the Nazi atrocities on the Eastern front. For example,
 5I was not aware that the SS Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard
 6Heydrich had issued instructions to his commanders in the
 7Baltic States after Operation Barbarossa began, the
 8invasion of Russia, in June 1941, not only to turn a blind
 9eye -- this was his instructions -- on the anti-Jewish
10progroms started by the local population in those
11countries, but also actively to initiate them and to
12provide assistance. That was unknown to me.
13     This document, however, emerged only recently
14from the Russian archives and there can surely be no
15reproach against me for not having known that when I wrote
16my biography of Hitler, published in 1977, or in my later
17works. That cannot be branded as manipulation or
18distortion, just by way of example.
19     What is manipulation or distortion of history
20would be this, in my submission: for example, knowing of
21the existence of a key document and then ignoring it or
22suppressing it entirely, without even a mention.
23     If, for example, it should turn out and be
24proven in this very courtroom that in the spring of 1942
25the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, was quoted by a senior
26Reich Minister in writing as repeatedly saying that he

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