Irving v. Lipstadt


Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 11: Electronic Edition

Pages 101 - 105 of 205

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    I do not exactly know how he was interviewed there, and on
 1the papal nuncio in Bratislava was very closely involved.
 2 Q. [Mr Irving]     Have you read the records of the War Refugee Record in the
 3Roosevelt archives?
 4 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Which ones? I have read the records as they were printed
 5in --
 6 Q. [Mr Irving]     You have not read the original telegrams that came from
 7McClelland in Bern?
 8 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     From McClelland, I think a number of them I have quoted in
 9my expert report, yes. So I mean they were reprinted in
10facsimile by David Wyman (?) in his book, Serious About
11American Reaction to the Holocaust, his documentary
12collection. So I have looked at those, yes.
13 Q. [Mr Irving]     -- and you did not notice that the telegrams from
14McClelland make quite plain that the Vrba Report had been
15heavily edited or altered by this external committee of
16Slovakian Jews, for whatever reason? You did not notice
18 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I remember -- I mean I do not dispute the fact that this
19report, that this report, the origin of this report, is in
20Bratislava in 1944 and that members of the Jewish
21community were involved in that. I do not exactly know
22what Mr McClelland said again. We can look at the
24 Q. [Mr Irving]     We are in a slightly difficult position with Vrba, are we
25not, because you rely on him to a certain extent; is that

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 1 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     In extent to what?
 2 Q. [Mr Irving]     As an eyewitness, one of the most important, he was one of
 3the first one?
 4 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Vrba is very important. Vrba is very important because he
 5is the first one who brings a substantial account of the
 6use of Auschwitz as a place where Jews are being killed
 7en masse.
 8 Q. [Mr Irving]     He is now Professor at a university in Vancouver, is he
10 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I think he is retired now.
11 Q. [Mr Irving]     Would it be fair to say that great harm was done to his
12testimony under cross-examination during the Zundel trial?
13 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I do not think that great harm was done. I think that
14Christie got under his skin all right. But I think the
15attorney for Mr Zundel got under the skin of many people.
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     I hope I am not getting under your skin if I continue this
17line of investigation and say would it be fair to say that
18Vrba finally admitted that he had never been inside one of
19these gas chamber buildings?
20 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Yes, I think that he had never been inside. He relied on
21reports of others.
22 Q. [Mr Irving]     So in this respect of course his eyewitness testimony is
23worthless, then, is it not?
24 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     It is you know at a certain moment to me, you work as the
25best you can, and, of course, I know that there was a --
26that one of the major challenges during the Zundel trial

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 1was actually on the diagrams being produced of the -- he
 2produces a diagram of a crematorium, with the gas chamber,
 3and unlike the diagrams of the camp site itself, which are
 4quite correct, in the archeological sense, there are some
 5problems with the diagram he has of the crematorium and he
 6assumes that crematoria 2, 3, 4 and 5 in some way, he
 7collapses then into one proposition.
 8     However, if you want to understand -- I can draw
 9the diagram by heart if your Lordship wants that, but if
10you understand actually how information which had been
11transmitted to him from people again who are not
12experienced in describing buildings and I today needed,
13you know, all the blueprints and all these reconstructions
14in order to make some points. So now we have some
15"sondercommando" who in one way or another get
16information to him, and he sees these building at a
17distance and he knows something is going on there and he
18knows about an underground space and tries to put this
19together at a certain moment in Bratislava. I think that
20ultimately while it is not ideologically correct, as
21Mr Song also noticed, it is understandable how the
22mistakes were generated.
23 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes.
24 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     In the actual plan. So I must say that Vrba, while
25I would not say that he is like Olare in this case, a
26perfect kind of -- visually perfect kind of eyewitness,

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 1I think that he, given the situation he had been in, did a
 2job which was as good as one can expect at the moment.
 3 Q. [Mr Irving]     You mentioned Olare. My Lord, Olare was the artist, you
 4will remember.
 5     (To the witness) You will remember, Professor,
 6will you not, that I asked you the length that the flame
 7has to travel from the furnace to the mouth of the
 9 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Yes.
10 Q. [Mr Irving]     We reached a figure of 90 feet or so, did we not?
11 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Yes.
12 Q. [Mr Irving]     Have you ever seen flames that are 90 feet long?
13 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     No.
14 Q. [Mr Irving]     Will you take it from me that any furnace engineer would
15say that you never get flames from a chimney that is as
16long as that, or route that is as long as that?
17 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I am happy to accept what your engineer says. I am happy
18also to accept what another engineer has said. I have not
19consulted engineers on this.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     Regardless of what is being burned, even if it was trash
21from the incinerator or whatever they would not have
22flames emerging from the mouth of the chimney.
23     Will you also accept that the Germans, being
24very good design engineers, have also made adequate
25provision to ensure that no smoke would have come from the
26chimney either?

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 1 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     No smoke?
 2 Q. [Mr Irving]     No smoke would come from the chimney. That is the purpose
 3of the design of chimney roof.
 4 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Okay, it may be so or it may be not so, I cannot
 5comment --
 6 Q. [Mr Irving]     Regardless, if you concentrate just on the flames will you
 7agree that Olare in one of his drawings which you
 8described as being very good of the outside of the
 9crematorium shows flames and smoke luridly belching from
10the -- not just trickling out --
11 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Well, do not bother, it does.
12 MR IRVING:     I am sure you know which picture I am referring
14 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     -- yes, it is tab No. 3.
15 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     And it either is or is not intended to be an
16accurate reproduction of what actually was visible.
17 MR IRVING:     If you have read Pressac, Professor, do you
18remember the passage where Olare states that the SS turned
19bodies into sausages?
20 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I do not remember that, I am sorry.
21 Q. [Mr Irving]     I think it is on page 255, I will look for it in the lunch
22break. My Lord, I will only have about one hour to do
23with this witness after lunch if it is a useful guide.
24 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     It is very helpful to know, but do not feel
25under any pressure, obviously.
26 MR IRVING:     

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