Irving v. Lipstadt


Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 8: Electronic Edition

Pages 166 - 170 of 191

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 1 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     You sound from that answer as if you are really talking
 2about camp officials?
 3 A. [Mr Irving]     I am talking about camp officials.
 4 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     Rather than survivors. What about the motivation of the
 6 A. [Mr Irving]     To my knowledge none of the survivors who are not camp
 7officials claimed to have been in gas chambers, inside
 9 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     No, but they give what admittedly would be circumstantial
10evidence, but nevertheless quite vivid circumstantial
11evidence ----
12 A. [Mr Irving]     They give a lot circumstantial evidence.
13 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     --- about what they infer must have been happening, do
14they not?
15 A. [Mr Irving]     I really hesitate to set traps for myself by generalizing,
16my Lord. I prefer to see precisely who we are talking
17about. When we are dealing with camp officials we have
18the odd phenomenon that people who would normally be
19candidates for the gallows somehow survive, and almost
20entirely coincidentally give statements that undoubtedly
21Mr Rampton will be relying on.
22 MR RAMPTON:     You see, if you read Professor van Pelt's report,
23Mr Irving, which I think you probably have done, you find
24evidence from what he calls perpetrators, camp officials,
25Rudolf Hess, Broad, Altemeyer, Gravno, people like that,
26which is broadly consistent, is it not, in every detail?

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 1But that is the nature of eyewitness testimony,
 2Mr Irving. You would agree, would you not, eyewitness
 3testimony which is consistent in every detail is highly
 4suspicious, would you agree?
 5 A. [Mr Irving]     It prompts the word "collusion" to mind.
 6 Q. [Mr Rampton]     Yes, exactly, collusion. But eyewitness testimony, which
 7is broadly consistent but which has differences of detail,
 8is, unless there is reason to think that the person is
 9lying, reliable as an honest account even if it be a
10mistaken one. Do you agree?
11 A. [Mr Irving]     It depends what you call difficulties of detail. If they
12are really scandalously large differences, discrepancies,
13then you have to a ask yourself how and why the
14discrepancy exists. I am thinking, for example, of the
15memoirs of Hirst.
16 Q. [Mr Rampton]     Yes. Hirst's own various accounts are not consistent
17amongst themselves, are they?
18 A. [Mr Irving]     Which suggests that one should straightaway, if one is a
19reasonable historian, discard him as a source completely.
20 Q. [Mr Rampton]     No. This would be grossly improper as a reasonable
21historian, Mr Irving, may I suggest. The right approach to
22such evidence is to treat it with all caution and to ask
23oneself, where can I check it against other evidence to
24see whether it is accurate or not?
25 A. [Mr Irving]     I agree.
26 Q. [Mr Rampton]     One can could do that with Commander Hirst.

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 1 A. [Mr Irving]     It is a yellow light, proceed with caution.
 2 Q. [Mr Rampton]     Yes, proceed with caution. One can do that with Commander
 3Hirst and one can find, unless he has been fed his lines
 4by the polls, corroboration for almost all the important
 5things that he says in his various statements, do you
 7 A. [Mr Irving]     I think Hirst and Eichmann are two pitiful characters --
 8Eichmann is another eyewitness -- where we need to know a
 9great deal almost as psychologists about their mentality
10of this servile eager to please kind of mentality that we
11are feeling with. That is why I hate using eyewitness
12evidence because you have intangible subjective factors
13coming in, where all your instincts as a historian, as
14I say, will close to cover on that file because this file
15is trouble, let us look for something that is more
16concrete. Altemeyer is another case in mind.
17 Q. [Mr Rampton]     I cannot accept that, Mr Irving. You will take as an
18historian, if you have an open mind that is, such evidence
19as there is, give it such weight as it may deserve and you
20will then make a decision whether or not to discard it.
21 A. [Mr Irving]     That is an alternative approach.
22 Q. [Mr Rampton]     You do not discard a piece of evidence just because it is
23rocky in some area.
24 A. [Mr Irving]     In the case of Hirst, you see, you have the following
25problem. He undoubtedly deserved it. He was brutally
26treated when he was taken prisoner by the by British in

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 1March 1946. He was very badly man handled. At the end of
 2the following year, of course, he was then hanged by the
 3Poles and I would be the last person to say he did not
 4deserve it. In between those months, the day of his
 5arrest and the day of his final hanging, execution and
 6hanging, we do not know what went through his tortured
 7mind. We do know that his report is full of the most
 8incredible misstatements so that even Adolf Eichmann,
 9writing in the margin of the Hirst report, and I have this
10book actually in my hand, because somebody bought it in a
11second hand book shop, with Eichmann's comments on it,
12said this man is talking through his hat. This is totally
13untrue. It renders the whole source document so suspect
14that either you can use it indiscriminately and say, hey
15this helps my case and I am going to use every bit I can
16that is of use and pretend the rest does not exist, which
17is what the average historian has done, or in my case you
18say this document is so suspect I do not want to go
19anywhere near it. That is the way I would treat it.
20 Q. [Mr Rampton]     But, you see, the problem is, Mr Irving, that much of what
21Hirst said is corroborated by other people, is it not?
22 A. [Mr Irving]     You say corroborated but, of course, we do not know how
23far it has been cross pollinated by reading the
25 Q. [Mr Rampton]     That is a different point.
26 A. [Mr Irving]     By sitting in the same court house and hearing what other

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 1people are saying, by being told by interrogating
 2officers, "If you sign this affidavit we have typed up,
 3then we will get you a shorter sentence". This is the
 4kind of thing that went on at Nuremberg, along with a lot
 5of uglier things. These so-called affidavits that these
 6people signed were not written out in their own longhand.
 7They were dictated to them and they were then obliged to
 8sign them.
 9 Q. [Mr Rampton]     Are you familiar with the testimony which Eric Bauer gave
10at Ludwigsberg in, I do not know what year it was?
11 A. [Mr Irving]     No, I am not, I can read it though.
12 Q. [Mr Rampton]     My Lord, I am looking at page 581 of van Pelt. He is
13recorded by Professor van Pelt to have testified as
14follows about the extermination of Jews in Sobibor.
15 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Let Mr Irving find it.
16 MR RAMPTON:     I am sorry.
17 A. [Mr Irving]     Can I say straightaway that I have myself been before the
18courts in Austria. They do not take verbatim testimony in
19the manner that we take here with court reporters. The
20report is drawn up by a court official in abbreviated form
21so these are not necessarily ----
22 Q. [Mr Rampton]     Well, it is in the first person. I dare say, I do not
23know, I have not seen the original document. Maybe it is
24in the file. He said this, he also used the word
25vergassung as an adjective, he is talking about gassing of
26Jews at Sobibor, "The doors were sealed airtight and

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