Irving v. Lipstadt


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

Pages 96 - 100 of 205

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    No, I would say that -- you see I do not think they think
 1of everything in advance. What happens is that in March
 2you get the first, the first trial gassing in crematorium
 3No. 2; by May 1943 all of the buildings except crematorium
 43 are in operation. I think it is quite likely that
 5somebody -- that at that moment somebody said "we have a
 6problem". I think that the whole history of (German
 7spoken) and the history of architecture in Auschwitz,
 8construction of Auschwitz, the Germans do not think of
 9everything ahead.
10 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Yes, Mr Irving.
11 MR RAMPTON:     My Lord, could I -- it might save my having to
12come back to it in re-examination -- just draw your
13Lordship's attention to the first paragraph of that
14letter, which I think has escaped your Lordship and the
16 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Well, even that date is a bit odd too if you
17think about it, because Himmler was not there until July.
18 MR RAMPTON:     That is why I thought your Lordship might want to
19pursue the enquiry by reference to 19th June 1942.
20 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     No, but that is a little earlier than you
21would expect.
22 MR RAMPTON:     Exactly.
23 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     So it is double edged, really.
24 MR IRVING:     Well, I am indebted to Mr Rampton for pointing that
25out then.
26     (To the witness) Just one more question in that

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 1relationship, and that is; have you seen documents under
 2which any SS member involved in operation Reinhardt, or in
 3whatever was happening at Auschwitz, was obliged to keep
 4secret, under pain of death, a number of matters,
 5including -- have you seen such a document?
 6 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I have not seen a document. I know it from testimony,
 7from... who was it? Was it Hans Stark? I think Hans
 8Stark gave testimony that he had to sign such a document
 9when he came to Auschwitz and that the first thing he did
10was he was brought to the Political Department and asked
11to sign such a document, the general rule to remain
12completely secret. It also came up in the Jacob Ertl
13trial, when Ertl started talking in mid-1942, he got in
14trouble over that. He mentioned it.
15 Q. [Mr Irving]     Will you take it from me, Professor, that there is such a
16document in Berlin documents relating to a man called
17Weiss (?). I believe he is a low ranking SS NCO. I have
18seen this document, and that he was required to sign such
19a security undertaking.
20 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I trust you on that matter.
21 Q. [Mr Irving]     In that case I cannot ask you details as to what they were
22obliged to keep secret because if you have not seen the
23document you cannot tell the court. But I will ask the
24other witnesses when they come.
25     Having, I think, disposed of this document, my
26Lord, we can now resume questioning based on the pictures

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 1that we have seen.
 2 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Well, dealt with it, anyway.
 3 MR IRVING:     Well, not -- I would have said "disposed" actually.
 4 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     You can say that at the end of the case.
 5 MR IRVING:     Yes. In my famous closing speech.
 6     (To the witness) How often did Himmler visit
 7Auschwitz? Did he visit Auschwitz again after July 19th
 8or whenever it was, 1942?
 9 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Now, there is an account by Vrba that he did.
10 Q. [Mr Irving]     By Vrba, who is one of the eyewitnesses on whom you rely?
11 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     On Rudolf Vrba. I have used Rudolf Vrba in the book
12twice, yes. He is, of course, very important in the
13history of Auschwitz, because he was one of two escapees,
14three escapees, however, you want to count it, who brought
15news of the killing of the Hungarian Jews to the outside
16world in the spring of 1944.
17 Q. [Mr Irving]     When did Vrba suggest that Himmler visited Auschwitz on a
18second or further occasion?
19 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     The third one.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     The third occasion; was this 1943 or 1942?
21 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     No, he talked about it in his account I Cannot Forgive.
22 Q. [Mr Irving]     This would be 1943?
23 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     That is --
24 Q. [Mr Irving]     The visit?
25 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     -- yes, there is a visit. He says 1943. He actually
26says -- he remembers it as January 1943 and then says that

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 1he -- Himmler came to the opening of the crematorium and
 2he said would have been January 1943. In any case, we
 3know he was confused on the date because it would have
 4been March 1943.
 5 Q. [Mr Irving]     Vrba, in fact, am I right in saying this; concertinaed a
 6number of different events and different buildings into
 7one event and one building, did he not, when he wrote his
 8report up from memory?
 9 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     We are talking about the Vrba-Wetzlar Report right now?
10 Q. [Mr Irving]     No, the original one that he wrote when he came out and he
11dealt I think with a Slovakian Jewish organization who
12then reedited the report for consumption and a lot of
13details got concertinaed, did they not?
14 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Now, the question is I want to know exactly what your
15question with the verb "concertinaed" because it is a word
16I normally do not use, so I want to know exactly what you
18 Q. [Mr Irving]     Sometimes when a person visits a place two or three times
19in later memory it becomes just either one or two visits
20and the events of three visits are then concertinaed into
21one or two. But Vrba was not very precise about dates and
22times and places, was he?
23 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I mean Vrba wrote, certainly his first report, under
24incredible stress. The Hungarian action was going on. Tens
25of thousands of Jews per week were shipped to Auschwitz,
26and he wanted to warn the Hungarian Jewish community that

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 1what was happening in Auschwitz, what was awaiting them,
 2he had escaped from having been an inmate in Auschwitz for
 3two years, a little over two years, and was recalling from
 4memory his -- you know, tried to make a case that this was
 5a very serious thing and tried to describe the camp as
 6good as he could. Also even tried to describe the
 8 Q. [Mr Irving]     But his report is flawed, is it not? A lot of it is bunk?
 9 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     No, I would like -- I mean, if you make a challenge like
10that I will be willing to go with you over the report in
11detail. Certainly, the report is not more flawed, and in
12general terms I would want to say that if I had been Vrba
13coming out of the situation I am, going to then at a
14certain moment be, as you said, he was interviewed. He
15was interviewed by people in Bratislava.
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     A Jewish community, was it not?
17 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     These were people of the Jewish community --
18 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes, who advised him to rewrite what he had written.
19 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     -- Mr Vrba had no document when he came out of Auschwitz.
20He did not carry with him a document. There was no
22 Q. [Mr Irving]     He prepared a report for them and then they rewrote it
23with him?
24 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I do not exactly know how he was interviewed there, and on
25the basis of these interviews they made a report. I do
26not know exactly who wrote and who rewrote. I know that

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