Irving v. Lipstadt

Transcripts

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

Pages 86 - 90 of 103

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 1     Dr Ralf Gunther Reuth approached me saying that
 2he was preparing a five-volume abridged edition of the
 3other Goebbels Diaries for Piper Verlag in Germany at this
 4time and he had nothing for 1938. There were large gaps
 5in the other years too. I foolishly allowed him to have
 6photocopies of some of the most important passages which
 7until that moment had been exclusive to myself and my, as
 8yet, unpublished Goebbels' biography. The thanks that
 9I received for this generous act were scant indeed.
10I provided copies to the German Federal Archives entirely
11of the entire Goebbels diary extracts that I brought back
12from Moscow. I did that on July 1st 1993. Ten minutes
13later the Director of the Archives informed me in extreme
14embarrassment that on the instructions of the German
15Federal Minister of the Interior I was permanently banned
16from the self-same archives forthwith and in perpetuity,
17which is to my knowledge the only time that such a
18sanction has ever been applied to an historian. He
19explained that this decision had been taken, "in the
20interests of the German people".
21     I mention these facts, my Lord, to show that it
22was not just one single action that has destroyed my
23career, but a cumulative, self-perpetuating, rolling
24onslaught from every side engineered by the same people
25who have propagated the book which is at the centre of the
26dispute, which is the subject of this action, my Lord.

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 1 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      Thank you very much, Mr Irving. Can I before
 2I ask Mr Rampton to open the Defendants' case just ask you
 3to go back, if you would, to page 18 which is where you
 4are dealing with what I think you accept is at the heart
 5of the action, namely the accusation that you are a
 6"Holocaust denier".
 7 MR IRVING:      Yes.
 8 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      Towards the end of page 18, in fact perhaps
 9one can pick it up at the beginning of that last
10paragraph, you say this: "This trial is not really about
11what happened in the Holocaust or how many Jews and other
12persecuted minorities were tortured and put to death".
13Certainly as I see it, and I believe as he Defendants see
14it, that is right. This trial is not concerned with
15making findings of historical fact. But you then go on to
16set out what you say the Defendants need to establish for
17the purposes of their plea of justification, and you say
18that they need to establish, first, that a particular
19thing happened or existed; secondly that you were aware of
20that particular thing as it happened or existed at the
21time that you wrote about it from the records then before
22me, and then that you wilfully manipulated the text.
23     There was just one thing I wanted to put to you
24so that one is clear about it. You are saying, are you,
25that it has to be shown that you had actual knowledge of
26the particular fact or event?

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 1 MR IRVING:      My Lord, I do not have an astute legal brain, but
 2I am trying to make it easy for the court by establishing
 3very early on what the ground rules are going to be.
 4 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      Yes, that is why I am raising this with
 5because I think it is a very fundamental question.
 6 MR IRVING:      It is a very fundamental point, my Lord, and I am
 7indebted to you for having appeared to have grasped
 8precisely the point I am trying to make.
 9 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      Can I just put to you this and then complete
10your answer. The Defendants may be saying that whether or
11not they can actually prove that you specifically knew of
12the particular fact, it was there available in the
13historical records. They may be saying, and I believe
14they are saying, that you shut your eyes to it.
15 MR IRVING:      That is a different allegation, I would
16respectfully submit, my Lord, by saying that what they are
17saying there is that I am a rotten historian or a lazy
18historian or an indolent historian or that I am
19lethargic. That is not the words they have used. They
20have said that I manipulated, that I distorted. That is
21why I think I am entitled to press for my narrower
22definition, my Lord.
23 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      Yes. That puts it very clearly. Thank you
24very much indeed. That completes your opening?
25 MR IRVING:      That completes my opening statement, my Lord.
26 MR RAMPTON:      My Lord, before I read what everybody has anyway,

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 1I might just respond to what your Lordship has just said
 2to Mr Irving in this way, by saying your Lordship has it
 3right. It is not that he is indolent. It is not that he
 4falls into error. It is that he deliberately perverts the
 5course of this particular episode in European history,
 6including what happened at Auschwitz.
 7 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      So you are putting the case that Mr Irving
 8not only ought to have known but did in fact know what the
 9historic records showed?
10 MR RAMPTON:      I do not know whether he did or whether he did
11not, but what is certain is that he leapt on to the sink
12of the Auschwitz battleship campaign without even opening
13the front of the fire.
14 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      Yes.
15 MR RAMPTON:      My Lord, Mr Irving calls himself an historian.
16The truth is, however, that he is not an historian at all
17but a falsifier of history. To put it bluntly, he is a
18liar. Lies may take various forms and may as often
19consist of suppression or omission as a direct falsehood
20or invention, but in the end all forms of lying converge
21into a single definition, wilful, deliberate misstatement
22of the facts.
23     Mr Irving has used many different means to
24falsify history, invention, misquotation, suppression,
25distortion, manipulation and not least mistranslation, but
26those all these techniques have the same ultimate effect,

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 1falsification of the truth. Moreover, the lies which the
 2Defendants in this case will show that Mr Irving has told,
 3concern an area of history in which perhaps it behoves any
 4writer or researcher to be particularly careful of the
 5truth, the destruction of the Jews by the Nazis during
 6World War II, the Holocaust, and Adolf Hitler's role in
 7that human catastrophy, or, as Mr Irving would have it,
 8alleged catastrophe, for Mr Irving is nowadays a Holocaust
 9denier. By this I mean that he denies that the Nazis
10planned and carried out the systematic murder of millions
11Jews, in particular, though by no means exclusively, by
12the use of homicidal gas chambers, and in particular,
13though by no means exclusively, at Auschwitz in Southern
14Poland.
15     This was not, however, always so. In 1977 the
16first edition of Mr Irving's book Hitler's War was
17published. In that edition Mr Irving accepted that the
18Holocaust, as generally understood, had occurred. He was
19not willing, however, to accept that Adolf Hitler had any
20real or direct responsibility for what happened or that he
21knew anything very much about it until it was too late.
22     Mr Irving went to considerable lengths to
23achieve his exoneration of Hitler. At this stage I take
24but one example of many to illustrate Mr Irving's
25disreputable methods. In late November 1941 a train load
26of about a thousand Jews was deported from Berlin to Riga

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