Irving v. Lipstadt


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

Pages 96 - 100 of 194

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    The system worked well, and I think I have pointed out in
 1extermination plant, and so the Germans worked with what
 2they had.
 3 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes, but the Germans were constantly building new
 4buildings, were they not, and you and I, we have probably
 5never visited a slaughterhouse, I am glad to say -- am
 6I right in suggesting you have not visited a
 7slaughterhouse in your life? I certainly have not.
 8 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     No, I have only read about it.
 9 Q. [Mr Irving]     Will you take it from me that a slaughterhouse is built
10all on one level, all on ground level, so that there are
11no ups and downs for obvious reasons?
12 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I cannot comment on it. It would make a logical
13proposition, but I remember reading about the
14slaughterhouses in Chicago where actually things, the cows
15are moved through the air, but that is just a memory from
16a thing ----
17 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Anyway, you say crematorium (ii) was not
18originally designed as a ----
19 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Yes, and crematorium (iv) and (v) were and there
20everything is at the same level.
21 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     --- killing chamber?
22 MR IRVING:     The point I am making, my Lord, is if one is
23building a factory of death for a systematic killing of
24people and you are constantly erecting new buildings, it
25would not have been built in this extremely awkward way.
26 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Yes, but this was conversion from another

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 1use. That is what Professor van Pelt is saying.
 2 MR IRVING:     I think your Lordship appreciates the point I am
 3trying to make
 4 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Yes, I do.
 5 THE WITNESS:     May I add to this that the Germans were not
 6constantly building other buildings. There was a general
 7build stop in Germany from 1942 onwards. In fact, very
 8little construction was being done in Birkenhau. The two
 9crematoria (ii) and (iii), they are identical exactly for
10the reason that they could not get crematorium (iii) built
11any otherwise since the building (ii) had been approved
12for another site for ----
13 Q. [Mr Irving]     Who applied the building stop? Was this the four year
14plan or?
15 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     The general, as relative to what has happening in the war,
16the only buildings which could be constructed in Germany
17from 1942 onwards were really buildings for the
18Wehrmachts, I mean for the Army or the armed forces, and
19the SS did not count on that at that moment under that
20general umbrella.
21 Q. [Mr Irving]     So the factory was destroyed; it was not rebuilt?
22 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     And then there were buildings which had been destroyed by
24 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes, so ----
25 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     That was the other thing, and the Behaltsheimer which
26means provisional housing for people, but, in general,

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 1there was a building stop. One of the reasons there are
 2so many documents in the Auschwitz archives was because
 3every building was by its very nature an exception which
 4had to be approved at many different levels. So the SS
 5had great difficulty to get anything built in Birkenhau or
 6Auschwitz during the war.
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     And they could not say, "Hey, we are carrying out the
 8Fuhrer's orders here. This is the annihilation of
 9millions of Jews that the Fuhrer has personally ordered.
10We demand top priority. This is the main plank of the
11national and socialist programme", is what you are saying?
12 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     What I would like to say is that probably bureaucracy
13works in the same way in Germany in 1943 as it works
14anywhere else. If there is a general building stop --
15I would like to imagine the situation where an SS man
16comes with your story to an official of the building
17department and what this German official will say to this
19 Q. [Mr Irving]     Well, normally, when people mention the Fuhrer's name,
20there will be a clicking of heels and "Ja Woll" and they
21would get that priority?
22 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Mr Irving, if you had read my book carefully, you would
23have read in the book that at a certain moment there was a
24number of low ranking civilians in the Upper Silesian
25planning office who threatened to close the camp in late
261942 because of building code violations. This is one of

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 1the reasons that the sewage treatment plant was built. So
 2I think that the relation between bureaucrats at whatever
 3level and at a certain moment the SS is a little bit more
 4complex than you suggested.
 5 Q. [Mr Irving]     I think you are stretching the court's credulity if you
 6suggest that a planning official in Upper Silesia could
 7overrule the Fuhrer of the Greater German Reich and
 8Heinreich Himmler in their dedicated desire, which we are
 9constantly being told by the Defence, Hitler had ordered
10the systematic liquidation of the Jews, top priority, main
11purpose of the Nazi party, kill all the Jews, and you are
12telling us they could not get building priority?
13 MR RAMPTON:     That is, my Lord, to misrepresent any question
14I have ever asked Mr Irving.
15 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I was going to ----
16 MR RAMPTON:     I never said anything about priority at all.
17 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     No. Professor van Pelt, did you investigate,
18have you regarded it as part of your brief, as it were, to
19investigate the extent to which Hitler knew and authorized
20what was going on, you say, at Auschwitz?
21 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     No. This has not been part of my brief.
22 MR IRVING:     I appreciate what you are trying to say, my Lord,
23that I am wrong yet again. I am familiar with ----
24 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Mr Irving, I was not saying you were wrong;
25I was simply saying that this is something that Professor
26van Pelt says is outside his remit.

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 1 MR IRVING:     I do apologise for the inference, my Lord, but, in
 2fact, if you are an objective historian and you are
 3looking at the files, as I have, for example, in a
 4parallel programme, the German V weapons programme, the V1
 5and the V2 rockets with which your Lordship is probably
 6also brutally familiar during the war years. I wrote a
 7history of that project. They ran into similar kinds of
 8priority problems for scarce materials, and the Fuhrer's
 9order that this programme would get a "DE" which was the
10highest stufe or priority, was marked on all the
11appropriate contracts. "This is the Fuhrer programme, the
12Fuhrer's programme for construction of locomotives", and
13so on. So you did not have to be a genius or specializing
14in Adolf Hitler personally to find traces of the priority
15attached to a programme very low down in the
16documentation. The magic words would be uttered on the
17contracts and that would cut through the all red tape.
18 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I was simply making the observation that you
19cannot really put to this witness the extent of Hitler's
20involvement in the Auschwitz programme, if there was one,
21because it is just not within his knowledge.
22 MR IRVING:     With your Lordship's permission, I will now do
23precisely that. (To the witness): Professor van Pelt, on
24any of the documents you saw in the Auschwitz construction
25office, did you see any reference at all to a special
26priority being attached to this by Adolf Hitler?

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