Irving v. Lipstadt

Transcripts

Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 2: Electronic Edition

Pages 71 - 75 of 189

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 1 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     But leaving aside digging out the evidence
 2 A. [Mr Irving]     Well, this generated the envy and jealousy which is
 3unfortunately what has fuelled lot of the criticism
 4 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     I hear you say that, but what about the criticism of the
 5use that you make the evidence once you have got it
 6because what is said against you is that you pick and
 7choose
 8 A. [Mr Irving]     My Lord, this is almost certainly something which can only
 9be dealt with on piecemeal basis, they will put individual
10documents to me in cross-examination and to their delight
11I may occasionally concede that, yes, I got something
12wrong. I will concede that I misread the word "harbun" in
13Himmler's appalling handwriting, and if you were to have a
14look at his handwriting you will see how very similar it
15is. I will provide the documents to your Lordship
16tomorrow to the alternative word. This kind of thing
17happens
18 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     Well, if I may say so, I think you are right that this
19particular topic has to be dealt with on a ..
20 A. [Mr Irving]     Piecemeal basis
21 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     Well, case by case basis, I think that is it probably
22right, but if you want to say anything more generally at
23the moment about your --
24 A. [Mr Irving]     I will say generally, of course, and it is important for
25the case to know, and I am saying this on oath, I have
26never knowingly or wilfully misrepresented a document or

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 1misquoted it, or suppressed parts of the document which
 2would run counter to my case, I think it is important to
 3state that. Any of the other allegations in that line,
 4misquoting, misconstruing, mistranslating, distorting or
 5manipulating a document I have not done. I shall be very
 6surprised indeed if the defence manage to make out a
 7watertight case on even one document in that line.
 8I think I would hang up my hat if that could be
 9established against me. It would be a despicable thing
10for a historian to do, but it would be also very
11difficult, because in my case I have always
12instantaneously made my documents available to my
13opponents. Sometimes in advance of publication of my own
14book I would turn over documents like the Bruns Report to
15Professor Fleming. When I found the article Aumeier
16Report in the British archives I actually contacted
17Professor Richard van Pelt, whose book on Auschwitz
18I greatly admired and I said you will certainly find this
19document of great interest and I told him exactly where
20the file was to be found. I have always been like that.
21It would be very difficult simultaneously do that, my
22Lord, and at the same time distort the document because
23you are going to get found out and shot. So I did not do
24it. But that is the only general remark I would make and
25possibly of importance because it is a statement on oath
26 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     I think that is right. The next topic that is addressed

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 1by the Defendants is the bombing of Dresden in 1945
 2 A. [Mr Irving]     Again, I will make a general statement on it, my Lord.
 3This was the -- it was not actually the first book
 4I wrote. The first book I wrote was a history of the
 5bombing war, but it was only published in German -- in
 6Switzerland. It was written at the same time as I wrote
 7the book "The Destruction of Dresden", which was a three
 8year task, between 1961 and 1963.
 9     I emphasise the years, because in 1961 and 1963,
10of course, we were not in the happy position that we are
11in now where we can go to the public archives and see the
12documents. I understand that I can go down the road to
13the public archives and actually see correspondence that
14I had with Harold Wilson, this kind of thing.
15I personally frown on it. I liked the old 50 year rule
16because there were ways round it. But in those years there
17was a 50 year rule in operation. In you wanted to write a
18history of something that happened in World War II you
19could not get the original documents if you were not an
20official historian
21 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     That is from the British -
22 A. [Mr Irving]     From the British point of view
23 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     -- what about the German records, were they available
24 A. [Mr Irving]     The German records were in a more difficult position
25because Dresden lay in the Soviet zone of Germany, the
26German Democratic Republic as it had by that time become

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 1and although I had established cordial relations with City
 2Archives Director in Dresden, Dr Walter Lange, they were
 3under no kind of obligation or compulsion to make their
 4records available to me and they did so on a very
 5piecemeal basis, what the Germans would call in salami
 6slices, piece by piece they would give me a document,
 7according to how they thought they could fit it into the
 8Cold War propaganda. I had to weigh it from that point of
 9view.
10     I emphasise this because three years later after
11the book was published those same officials in East
12Germany decided they had now just found a report on the
13statistics on the air raid on Dresden which produced
14figures which were different from mine
15 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     You are making this point really to explain why your
16estimate of the number of deaths, which is really what the
17Dresden issue is about
18 A. [Mr Irving]     Yes.
19 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     Has fallen fairly dramatically from a quarter of a
20million -
21 A. [Mr Irving]     I would not say "fallen", that implies only way, I would
22say "fluctuate"
23 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     -- in a downwards direction, would you accept that
24 A. [Mr Irving]     If you were a scientist you would not say "the figure is
25this", you would say it is probably that, with a upper
26margin of this and a lower margin of that. You would give

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 1a range of probabilities, and the range of probabilities
 2I have given has remained roughly the same, but I have
 3brought down the target figure. The original figure
 4I gave, I hasten to add, was not my figure, it was the
 5figure given to me by a man who met the Trevor Roper
 6criteria. If you remember, my Lord, somebody who is in a
 7position to know.
 8     This was a man who was school teacher in Hanover
 9who had nothing to gain from it, who had asked no money
10for it, but after the air raid on Dresden, which took
11place on February 13th 1945, this school teacher had the
12unfortunate task of running the missing persons bureau in
13Dresden, the Dead Person Section, he had been given the
14job of setting a card index in this appalling task of
15trying to identify the dead. They did it, for example,
16they collected buckets of wedding rings from the corpses.
17I am sure the defence will appreciate when I talk about
18buckets of wedding rings, gold wedding rings, were
19collected from the corpses of the air raid victims because
20inside a German wedding ring there is the initials and the
21date of the wedding, so they could identify the corpse
22from that. Or they could have an index card just saying
23"KD" and a date on the inside of wedding ring. They built
24up this card index.
25     Of course, this was incomplete because they had
26not got all the corpses and not all the corpses were

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