Irving v. Lipstadt


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

Pages 146 - 150 of 205

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    But I think that I have given this morning, I think, a
 1the kind of approach I use to those sources.
 2 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes, that is the drawings we are talking at present about
 3the eyewitnesses or about source material based on
 4eyewitnesses which, effectively, the Soviet Report was.
 5 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     But the Soviet Report does not give any eyewitness
 6testimony. It gives a certain amount of the declaration
 7by a number of inmates in Auschwitz who make a declaration
 8that this should never happen again, but there is no way
 9any more to establish how the Soviet Report was done. As
10far as I know, no draft exists of it. We do not have the
11interrogations the Soviets did in February 1945 of the
12inmates they found when they liberated the camp. So that
13is one of the reasons that the Soviet Report for historian
14is only interested in so far as it allows us to
15reconstruct the historiography of our knowledge about
16Auschwitz after the war.
17 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     But the Soviets placed themselves, did they
18not, on, for example, Dragon and Tauber?
19 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I think Dragon at the last thing he came in, I think, he
20probably was one of the sources of the 4 million.
21 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     Yes, and Tauber also?
22 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     But in the systematic investigation -- I think maybe
23Tauber, yes or no, I am not sure -- but the systematic
24investigation or the systematic examination of these
25people only took place later. In the Soviet Report
26itself, there is, I think, except maybe for the figure of

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 14 million which was maintained by the sonderkommando,
 2there is no discussion of either Dragon or Tauber or their
 4 MR IRVING:     But the Soviet Report talks about things like
 5electrocutions, is that right?
 6 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     That is, I think -- I probably would have it...
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     Let us move on from there rather than waste the court's
 8time. I just say, in general, how many survivors were
 9there from Auschwitz or from Birkenhau -- from the entire
10complex at the end of war?
11 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     May I consult my book?
12 Q. [Mr Irving]     Just in round figures. Are you talking about hundreds or
14 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     No less than 10,000. So there were some ----
15 Q. [Mr Irving]     10,000 people had been within the barbed wired encampment
16of this site, yet it is always the same names who crop up
17as the sources, is it not? It is always Pery Broad,
18Philip Millar, Vurvah, Vetzler, Ada Bimko; it is always
19the same old gang who come forward and give the evidence.
20Nobody goes to the other, 10,000 do, they really? Why is
22 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I adjust the figure -- may I just correct my last
23statement? We are talking about 6,000, 1200 people in
24Auschwitz and 5,80 in Birkenhau.
25 Q. [Mr Irving]     You appreciate the point I am trying to make, do you not?
26 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Yes, but I think ----

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 1 Q. [Mr Irving]     It is an enormous reservoir of eyewitnesses. Why is it
 2always the same names?
 3 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Eyewitnesses of what? We have the importance of the
 4sonderkommandos in this case, Dragon and Tauber, is that
 5they actually were in the crematoria and they worked in
 6the crematoria.
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     But the evidence of Tauber, am I not right in saying, is
 8highly suspect because he describes, for example, the gas
 9chamber as being so low that you had to stoop, and yet it
10turns out to have been nearly eight feet from floor to
11ceiling? I mean, just to give one instance.
12 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Where is that passage? Can we find it?
13 MR IRVING:     I beg your pardon?
14 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     You have put that passage before and I think
15we were going to have a look at it from Mr Tauber. I do
16not know whether it is quoted in ----
17 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     It should be around 183, if it is anywhere, because he
18describes at 183 and 182, and there are all these pictures
19in between, there is the description of the gas chamber.
20So page 182.
21 MR IRVING:     This is the witness, is it not, who said he was
22able to burn up to eight corpses at once in one furnace;
23that he could light the corpses with a small fire in the
24ash container, that they would burn by themselves, that
25thick dark smoke rose out of the crematorium chimneys, and
26that fat was collected during open air cremations from the

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 1burning bodies? He also describes ----
 2 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Where is the bit about bending over in the
 3gas chamber?
 4 MR IRVING:     It is a very long ----
 5 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     You put it, you see, and I think Professor
 6van Pelt said, "Well, show it to me", and that is fair and
 7I cannot find it.
 8 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     182, he describes the gas chamber.
 9 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes, I know, but I cannot find the bit about bending
10down. Do you remember where you saw it, Mr Irving?
11 MR IRVING:     My mind is a blur over the last few days, my Lord.
12 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Well, I quite understand that.
13 MR IRVING:     Let me just rely on the other passages that I put
14to you just now, the bit about collecting the fact and so
15on. Pauber is an emotional and unreliable witness, is he
17 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I disagree with that. I think he is a very unemotionally,
18I mean, remarkably unemotional and very reliable witness.
19 Q. [Mr Irving]     Do you rely to any degree on Dr Bendal?
20 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I have told you once, I have given, I have used Bendal
21once which is in a description of bunker No. 2.
22 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes. So the eyewitness basis anyway is scattered, skimpy
23and, in my view, questionable. The drawings which you
24have shown us only make sense taken in conjunction with
25the eyewitnesses. As soon as one starts looking for holes
26in the roof -- I am not going to labour that point -- one

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 1runs into difficulties, namely, the fact that there are no
 2holes in the roof to be seen now. Taking an overall view
 3of eyewitnesses, what is your opinion about the
 4reliability of eyewitnesses in cases like this? Suppose
 5your name was Jean De Manjiok and not Professor Robert van
 6Pelt, what would you think about eyewitnesses?
 7 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I cannot comment on that. I mean, I can only comment on
 9 Q. [Mr Irving]     You know that all these eyewitnesses fingered him and he
10was on his way to the gallows until the brave Israeli
11judges decided that he had been railroaded and ordered his
12release, that the eyewitnesses had lied in that case to
13one man, a dozen of them had lied?
14 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     One of the reasons that I limited in my expert report only
15reports about eyewitnesses who gave testimony immediately
16after the war is that I exactly wanted to prevent the
17charge being raised that late -- people who later come
18forward would have been confused because of the time that
19had lapsed. That is why I, for example, did not use
20Philip Muller because Philip Muller only published really
21a full account of what happened in, of his account in the
22gas chambers in the 1960s. So that was too late for me
23and then I can even ----
24 Q. [Mr Irving]     Would you agree that there was a reason to suspect he may
25have been motivated by commercial considerations?
26 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     

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