Irving v. Lipstadt


Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 10: Electronic Edition

Pages 81 - 85 of 215

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     The figure of 4 million? Not, because nowadays we have
 1and it is more likely to have been around a million.
 2 Q. [Mr Irving]      So would you agree that this is an example of what I call
 3cross pollination? He hits on the figure of 4 million
 4because that was the current figure at that time?
 5 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      I do think that we should look at how the figure of 4
 6million originally arose.
 7 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      So do I. Where do we find that, Mr Irving?
 8If we do not find it in the report perhaps you could just
 9quote in its context where one gets that estimate.
10 MR IRVING:      My Lord, with respect, if the witness agrees that
11Tauber attested to 4 million, we are only concerned with
12the figure.
13 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      He has made the point, which I think is a
14fair one, that he wants to see in what context and on what
15basis that 4 million figure was arrived at by Tauber.
16That is a reasonable thing for him to want to do, and I am
17simply asking you to identify where one finds it.
18 MR IRVING:      My Lord, I will have to adjourn that piece of
19information, the page number, until after lunch. If it is
20substantial, we can come back to it and retake it.
21 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      Can anyone on the Defendants side find that
23 MR RAMPTON:      I am sorry?
24 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      I can point to the page. It is page 178.
25 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      Of your report?
26 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      178 of my report, which goes back to Pressac 501. What he

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 1says is that he came to this figure on the basis of
 2conversations he had with various prisoners. Yes? If you
 3allow me, I can probably quote the whole thing. I give
 4the full quotation now from Pressac on page 501:
 5     "I imagine that during the period in which
 6I worked in the crematorium as a member of the
 7sondercommando a total of about 2 million people were
 8gassed. During my time in Auschwitz I was able to talk to
 9various prisoners who had worked in the crematorium and
10the bunkers before my arrival. They told me that I was
11not among the first to do this work and that before I came
12another 2 million had already been gassed in bunkers 1 and
132 and crematorium (i). Adding up the total number of
14people gassed in Auschwitz amounted to about 4 million".
15That is what he says.
16 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      Half of it comes from other people?
17 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      Half of it comes from other people.
18 MR IRVING:      This information is being taken by Judge Jan Sehn
19in whom you repose great trust?
20 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      Yes. I think that Sehn did a marvellous investigation.
21 Q. [Mr Irving]      Can you tell us something about these depositions were
22taken in communist countries? Would the man sit down with
23a pencil and paper and retire to a room and write it all
24out himself, or would it be summarized by the lawyers and
25he would be asked to sign it.
26 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      I do not know what happened. I already told you

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 1yesterday. I do not know what happened in that room where
 2Jan Sehn was interviewing Mr Tauber. I know there were
 3witnesses there because the original report mentions other
 4people being present. That is all I know.
 5 Q. [Mr Irving]      If I can just leap sideways to the name of Rudolf Hirst,
 6the kommandant of Auschwitz, is it right that he was
 7interrogated several times at Nuremberg?
 8 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      Yes, that is right.
 9 Q. [Mr Irving]      And that, as a result of these interrogations, a
10deposition was taken or put before him for signature?
11 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      Yes, that is right.
12 Q. [Mr Irving]      And you have now read these interrogations, I believe?
13 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      I have read a copy of the interrogations, yes.
14 Q. [Mr Irving]      The verbatim interrogation transcripts?
15 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      Yes. I do not think I have read every one of them but, I
16have read them in general.
17 Q. [Mr Irving]      Have you managed to form an impression there of how the
18Americans obtained depositions from their witnesses?
19 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      Maybe you can lead me on that, because I do not exactly
20know where ----
21 Q. [Mr Irving]      Would I be right in saying that, on the basis of the
22interrogations, the Americans would draw up a deposition,
23confront the witness with it, and say, "Sign here"?
24 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      I cannot conclude that on the basis of the interrogations
25I read.
26 Q. [Mr Irving]      Very well.

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 1 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      Certainly not.
 2 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      Mr Irving, have you left Tauber now.
 3 MR IRVING:      I believe we have just one more point on Tauber and
 4that is to look at page 481 of Pressac, where we do have
 5four photographs of Pressac posing in various costumes,
 6post war photographs taken by the Polish authorities who
 7obviously regarded him as a star witness.
 8 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      This is Heinrich Tauber?
 9 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      You said Pressac.
10 MR IRVING:      My mistake. There are four photographs of him
11posing in the camp costume.
12 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      What is the significance of that?
13 MR IRVING:      That he was a star witness, my Lord, of the Polish
14prosecution authorities, he was being subjected to what we
15call now photo ops, and they were relying on him very
16heavily, and that no doubt there was a certain amount of
17privilege being granted to him by the Polish authorities
18in the way that he was cooperating with them.
19 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      So he was making it up to express his
20gratitude to the Polish authorities?
21 MR IRVING:      It is not an unknown phenomenon for witnesses to
22make things up. Your Lordship will probably recall that,
23at the end of World War II, the whole of Europe was in a
24very, very sorry state. You did not have food supplies,
25there were no consumer goods and this was something with
26which the people who were in authority, whether they be

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 1Poles or Russians or Americans or British, were able to
 3 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      May I put the general question to Professor
 4van Pelt which I invited you to ask a little while ago?
 5That is this. Are there aspects of Tauber's testimony or
 6account which cause you to doubt his plausibility?
 7 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      I think that Tauber is an absolutely amazingly good
 8witness. I find his powers of observations very precise
 9in general. I do not have any general reason to doubt his
10credibility as a witness.
11 MR IRVING:      May I ask a question on that, my Lord?
12 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      Of course, yes. I was only asking the
13question that seemed to me to be need to be asked.
14 MR IRVING:      Would your impression be, or would it not, that, at
15the time he was being questioned by the Polish authorities
16for the purpose of providing this deposition, he was being
17confronted or furnished with drawings, documents and so on
18to help jog his memory. His apparent precision may have
19come from this kind of prompting by the Polish
21 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]      This is possible indeed but let us now just go back for a
22moment. Let us assume this happened, Tauber would have
23been confronted with blueprints which, sadly to say, for
2440 years after the these blueprints came in the public
25realm, most people were unable to interpret. These are
26very technical documents. These documents are not easy to

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