Irving v. Lipstadt


Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 9: Electronic Edition

Pages 46 - 50 of 194

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    My Lord, this is Fred Leuchter. My Lord, I think
 1court along, I think, if I ask the witness if he remembers
 2what was said.
 3 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     It is not your fault. Shall we turn it off?
 4 MR IRVING:     Yes. If I could borrow a transcript from someone?
 5Professor van Pelt, you remember appearing in a video
 6which is part of a film now called "Mr Death". Do you
 7remember the filming of that project?
 8 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Yes.
 9 Q. [Mr Irving]     When exactly was that filmed? A year ago? Half a year
11 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     We went to Auschwitz in April 1998 -- was it 1998? 1999,
12I think. 1999.
13 Q. [Mr Irving]     '98?
14 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     1999. No, 1998. I am sorry.
15 Q. [Mr Irving]     Do you remember saying: "Auschwitz is like the Holy of
16Holies. I have prepared for years to go there, and have a
17fool come in, coming completely unprepared, it is
18sacrilege, somebody who walks into the Holy of Holies and
19doesn't give a damn"?
20 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Yes, I remember saying that.
21 Q. [Mr Irving]     This was a reference to Mr Leuchter, was it not?
22 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Yes, it was a reference to Mr Leuchter.
23 MR RAMPTON:     Should not the witness have a transcript like
24everybody else?
25 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Do you feel the need for a transcript?
26 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     No, I remember the -- it is useful, but I remember this.

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 1 MR RAMPTON:     Except that some pages down the road we come to
 2some German, so it might be helpful.
 3 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Thank you.
 4 MR IRVING:     You were deeply moved to visit the actual location
 5where these atrocities had occurred?
 6 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     More than moved. I was frightened. I ----
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     Ghosts of the dead were still all around?
 8 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     No, I do not believe in ghosts and I have never seen in
 9ghosts in Auschwitz, but it is an awesome place in many
10ways, and it is also an awesome responsibility one takes
11upon oneself when one starts to engage this place as an
12historian. For many years I felt I was not up to that
13task. It was only after very careful preparation that
14I finally decided to go there and to start work in
15Auschwitz. As many things in life, it became easier to
16work on it as I was there as you actually start
17confronting what the place is.
18 Q. [Mr Irving]     Can I ask you about a part on the next page of the
19transcript, the page beginning with the words, "Very
20little left", "to suddenly have in that room that
21concentration of evidence, you are sitting in the
22archives, to actually hold the stamps in your hand which
23you see on the drawings". Am I right in understanding
24that the Auschwitz archives have the original wartime
25rubber stamps still?
26 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Yes, there is a box with all the rubber stamps.

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 1 Q. [Mr Irving]     You yourself took one of the stamps and you put it on an
 2ink pad and tried it out on one of your note pads?
 3 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Yes.
 4 Q. [Mr Irving]     You had exactly the same stamp that had been used by
 5architects like Dejaco and Ertl and the rest?
 6 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Yes, I made a copy of that stamp.
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     You could have had a lot of fun with one of those stamps,
 8could you not, if you had so chosen?
 9 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     If one wants to falsify evidence, one could have fun, yes,
11 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I do not think that suggestion is being made,
12is it?
13 MR IRVING:     Well, my Lord ----
14 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     That was lighthearted or was it not?
15 MR IRVING:     --- I wanted to leave that lingering suspicion in
16your Lordship's mind.
17 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     No, it is better to come out with it if you
18are going to make that allegation.
19 MR IRVING:     We referred to one document yesterday, my Lord, the
20one on cremation rate capacities, and I strongly implied
21that this document is suspect.
22 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     But not originating from Professor van Pelt?
23 MR IRVING:     Good Lord, no. For heaven's sake, no. I deeply
24regret that that impression should have been given.
25 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     No, I just wanted to clarify that.
26 MR IRVING:     Of course not. It is just that if those rubber

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 1stamps had been in a Polish archive which was Communist
 2until quite recently, in the Auschwitz State Museum,
 3rattling around in a cardboard box ----
 4 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Somebody could do it.
 5 MR IRVING:     --- somebody could have done it. Rubber stamps
 6played a great part in the falsification of the
 7Demanuke(?), identity card, and the final revealing of the
 8falsification. (To the witness): You continue to say at
 9the bottom of that paragraph: "This is like holding the
10weapon of destruction in my hand, the gun that killed the
11victim, except these blue prints did not kill one person.
12They ultimately allowed for the killing of millions." Are
13you saying that several million people were killed in
14Auschwitz or was this just a loose turn of phrase?
15 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     This would be a loose turn of phrase. I believe that
16Dr Pieper's assessment that round a million people were
17killed in Auschwitz is probably the most probable number.
18 Q. [Mr Irving]     So when you talk about millions, it is not a deliberate
19manipulation or a perverse distortion of figures. It is
20just a loose approximation because you are speaking
21without a script?
22 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     No. First of all, I am speaking without a script.
23I mean, you know exactly how Errol Morris interviews
24people because you were interviewed in the same way and
25also appear in the same movie. I was talking without of
26any of blue prints there. I was talking in studio for

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 1three or four days.
 2     There is, however, one point which I would like
 3to make, and that when I came to the archive and saw for
 4the first time these blueprints, I had very clearly in my
 5mind a scene from Shawa(?) where the great historian Wal
 6Hoeberg holds in his hand at that moment a railway table
 7of transports to Treblinka, and he says something to the
 8effect that it was looking at these documents that, in
 9fact, you were holding the murder weapon in your hand; and
10I certainly, when I was talking to Errol and when I was
11looking at these blue prints, it was really amazing how
12Errol brought back to me that that moment, that first
13moment, of seeing the blue prints, that I was thinking
14this is part of that whole administrative system. It is
15not only blue prints for Auschwitz, but it is basically
16part of a State sponsored project to kill Jews. So when
17I used to use the word "millions" here, I would be quite
18happy to ultimately defend it in that larger context of a
19bureaucracy at work to ultimately dispose of people.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     Professor van Pelt, would you agree that it is the duty of
21historians to remain completely unemotional when he is
22looking at any object or artifact or a document, and to
23interpret it as unemotionally and neutrally as he can?
24 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I think that one's duty is to be unemotional, to be
25objective, but one's duty is also, I think, to remain
26human in the exercise. I think, and this is what I just

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