Irving v. Lipstadt


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

Pages 141 - 145 of 205

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    Just so that again I am clear because my
 1recollection is that you said something a little bit
 2different maybe earlier on, you accept that there were
 3gassings of humans ----
 4 MR IRVING:     Yes.
 5 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     --- at Auschwitz ----
 6 MR IRVING:     Yes.
 7 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     --- on a limited basis and not involving gas
 8vans or anything of that kind?
 9 MR IRVING:     Not involving gas vans, no, my Lord.
10 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Right. That is clear. Thank you very much.
11 MR IRVING:     I do not think that it can be said that I have
12disputed that within any material time that is material to
13this action, but what I have most strenuously disputed is
14the notion that Auschwitz was a factory of death which we
15have narrowed down, as far as I am concerned, to this one
16building because this witness, as the outstanding expert
17on Auschwitz and the Holocaust, has said that most of it
18happened in this one building, 500,000 people. This is
19the Holiest of Holy sites. This is the geocentre of the
20atlas of the atrocities.
21 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     That is all a bit of an incursion into the
22cross-examination. It has not done any harm, I think,
23but ----
24 MR IRVING:     Well, we have Mr Rampton to thank for that disloquy
25on my part.
26 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     No, no, I am not blaming anybody. I think it

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 1is quite helpful to have had it, but I think, perhaps, we
 2ought to resume with Professor van Pelt.
 3 MR IRVING:     Now we continue very briefly with a few remaining
 4matters. To what degree have you relied on the Soviet
 5Commission Report, the USSR 008?
 6 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     For my book or for my expert report?
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     For your expert report.
 8 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     In my expert report, I have just given the Soviet Report
 9as an instance again of the emergence of knowledge about
10Auschwitz. So it is ----
11 MR IRVING:     My Lord, it is on page 162 of the expert report of
12this witness onwards, beginning at page 162.
13 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     So it is for me not so important as a basis for my own
14investigations to come to a conclusion about the use and
15design and transformation of crematorium (ii) to (v).
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     My Lord, you will have observed I am not attacking the
17integrity of all his eyewitnesses and all his sources
18because that would take us from here until next
19Christmas. I am just picking on certain elements. This
20is one of the reports. Is it not true ----
21 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I think, if I may say so, that is an entirely
22reasonable attitude to adopt. I think it would just
23prolong this case absurdly if we are going through every
24individual account.
25 MR IRVING:     That is also why I am not going to look at every
26single building, unless your Lordship would wish it

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 1otherwise, on the basis of what I said previously about
 2what my contention was. (To the witness): Is it not so
 3that the Soviet Report is the source of the original 4
 4million figure?
 5 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I think it is the first time, yes, that it is in an
 6official report, yes.
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     Four million people gassed or killed at Auschwitz?
 8 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Yes.
 9 Q. [Mr Irving]     Which figure, of course, is inaccurate now, is no longer
10believed in?
11 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     That you are right, yes.
12 Q. [Mr Irving]     I have only one other question on this particular report.
13Do you know the names of any of the signatures on the
14Soviet Report, any of the experts who signed it?
15 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I know that, I think that Dawidowski that was actually
16involved in, he was actually included at some time at the
17one, at the thing. I think the major signatory is that of
18the chief prosecutor of the, whatever, 2nd Ukrainian or
19Yellow Russian Army who actually commissioned report.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     Are you familiar with the name Bordenko?
21 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     No, I am not.
22 Q. [Mr Irving]     Nikolai?
23 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     No, I am not.
24 Q. [Mr Irving]     As two of the signatures of that Report?
25 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     It is in my file. The whole report is in my file, so I am
26happy to look at it, but...

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 1 Q. [Mr Irving]     Will you accept it from me that these two people were also
 2signatories of the Soviet investigation of Kateen, the
 3Kateen forest massacre, which resulted in the execution of
 4a number of German officers for their role in that
 6 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     If you say so, I am perfectly happy to accept it.
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     Are you familiar with the name "Lysenko"?
 8 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     No, I am not.
 9 Q. [Mr Irving]     As one of the signatures of the Soviet report,
11 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I am not, no.
12 Q. [Mr Irving]     You are not, no. If I described him as being a biological
13charlatan or "quack" who has long since been disowned by
14his peers, would that surprise you?
15 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Since I only heard this name right now, it does not
16surprise me one way or another way.
17 Q. [Mr Irving]     When you read a report or a source of this importance, do
18you bother to consider who has written it or what their
19political motivations might be?
20 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I think we come back to the other Bimko argument. I have
21never used this report in order to write my history of
22Auschwitz. This report I have just mentioned as a bit of
23the history of our knowledge of Auschwitz was brought into
24the world. That is the purpose of ----
25 Q. [Mr Irving]     About four pages of your report are based on the Soviet

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 1 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     And because the Soviet Report made an impression at the
 2time, but I also argue very clearly in the report that the
 3important investigations which were done in 1945 were not
 4done by the Soviets, but by the Poles. It was only after
 5the publication of the Soviet Report that Jan Sehn really
 6got working on this, interviewed the sonderkommandos and
 7so on. So that if we want to look at -- and I spent an
 8incredible amount of space, time and energy to actually
 9reconstruct what the Poles did. I have given significant
10parts of that Dawidowski's argument in the Polish report.
11So, I mean, I am happy to answer further questions about a
12Soviet report, but, in general, I do not think that the
13Soviet Report is historiographically so important, except
14the fact that it was issued with the endorsement of the
15Soviet Embassy in Washington and London, and so on.
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     But do you not recognize a pattern developing here,
17Professor, that every time I bring up a source or an
18eyewitness and we, I will not say demolish that man's
19integrity or reliability, but we chip away at it, you say,
20"Well, he was not important either" and "he was not
21important either", and here is the entire Soviet Union
22Report and you saying, "That is not important either".
23There is a pattern developing here of a reckless attitude
24towards the use of sources.
25 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     But I think that I have given this morning, I think, a
26quite clear presentation of the kind of sources I use and

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