Irving v. Lipstadt


Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 13: Electronic Edition

Pages 16 - 20 of 186

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 1 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     You are quite right, it is. But I want to
 2ask you a question which I hope does reflect the
 3cross-examination, and that is this, Professor van Pelt.
 4Taking on board, as it were, all the points that have been
 5put to you by Mr Irving about the authenticity of this
 6document, do you have a view about it? Are you doubtful
 7about it?
 8 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     If this document were to pop up right now, after having
 9not been seen for 50 or 60 years, given the kind of
10challenges which have been made by Holocaust
11denier/revisionist historians, however one would want to
12call people who challenge the historical record, I would
13be more suspicious, because, you know, where does this
14document come from? The issue is, however, that this
15document has been in existence, and the records of these
16documents before ever a challenge was being made to the
17incineration capacity of the crematoria. In fact, this
18document shows a much lower incineration capacity of the
19crematoria than we find in the testimonies of Hoess and
21     So what I do not understand is what purpose
22would have been served, let us say, in the 1950s by, let
23us say, somebody who wants to make a case that Auschwitz
24was an extermination camp, by creating a document, by
25falsifying a document, which shows a lower incineration
26rate for the crematoria than that which has been attested

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 1to under oath by the German eyewitnesses. That is the
 2discrepancy. So, given the fact that it is lower, and
 3given the fact that it appeared at a time that no one was
 4challenging the incineration capacity, because the German
 5testimony on it was kind of self-evident, and given the
 6fact also that this document, I think, shows a very good
 7convergence with Tauber's testimony, and Tauber's
 8testimony which after 1945 really was not published until
 9Pressac did it, and Tauber describes in detail the way the
10corpses in the incinerators were incinerated, with many
11corpses at the time, and he gives times for this, and in
12fact Tauber's figures do converge with this one, I think
13there is absolutely no reason to doubt the authenticity of
14this document as far as the content is concerned.
15 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     Can I ask you one more question? When did the issue about
16incineration capacity really surface?
17 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     The issue of incineration capacity really started to
18surface, I think Faurisson mentioned it. Faurisson in the
19late 70s really concentrated on the issue of the gas
20chambers. The first major challenge which was made
21I think was Fred Leuchter in 1988. Butts in 76 also made
22an issue of it, but in some way this was buried, I think,
23in the larger context of his work.
24 Q. [Mr Irving]     In the 70s anyway?
25 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     In the 70s, after this document had been admitted as
26evidence in the Vienna court.

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 1 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Mr Irving, there is a bit of a new point
 2there, so do you want to ask any further questions?
 3 MR IRVING:     I do wish to re-examine just briefly. I do not
 4want to go into the matter of the burning pits. I think
 5that that is a side issue that was raised in
 6cross-examination. I do not think it should have been
 7because we had not mentioned the burning pits, but I do
 8want to raise just two or three of the points you
 9mentioned there. You referred to the witness Hoess, and
10you relied on his figures. Is it correct that the witness
11Hoess in his statements said that 2.8 million Jews were
12killed in Auschwitz?
13 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I feel uncomfortable discussing what Hoess says without
14the documents, but since I discussed it in length in my
15expert report, Hoess ultimately comes down to 1.125
16million. He makes a detailed calculation, and he does it
17actually on two or three different occasions.
18 Q. [Mr Irving]     Did he use the figure 2.8 million at any time?
19 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     As a general, he said there were different ways to account
20to it. He said he had one kind of figure based on, he
21thought how many people had been killed, but then at a
22certain moment he corrects himself and he says but the
23real way to calculate it is by looking at how many Jews
24arrived by the transports. Then I come to 1.15 million
26 Q. [Mr Irving]     If somebody oscillates between 2.8 million and 1.1 million

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 1under oath, how can you place any reliance whatsoever on
 2his other figures?
 3 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     I think that there is the issue of how do you calculate
 4the figure? There is one thing. He had no documents in
 5front of him because no record was kept. He at a certain
 6moment tries to reconstruct without having any figures,
 7and of course we must remember that Hoess was, in the
 8crucial time of the camp's history, Hungarian, actually
 9late 43, he was not any more Kommandant of Auschwitz. He
10left Auschwitz. He was attached to the inspectorate in
11Oranienburg. So he only came back later to Auschwitz.
12 Q. [Mr Irving]     We are only talking about the reliability of his figures.
13 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Mr Irving, we have to confine this. We cannot
14have an open ended further cross-examination. Confine it
15to the authenticity of the document.
16 MR IRVING:     That did go to the authenticity because he relied
17on Hoess as a source of statistical evidence, my Lord.
18Secondly, is it correct that the version of this document
19which is in the Auschwitz State museum was provided to
20them by the East German communist authorities? In other
21words, not the other way round, as one would expect?
22 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Yes.
23 Q. [Mr Irving]     Thank you.
24 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     The version in Auschwitz, but this is the Moscow version,
25so we are talking here about the Moscow document. It is a
26different document. It is a different object, so to

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 1speak. The object means the actual sheet of paper which
 2came from East Germany.
 3 Q. [Mr Irving]     The final question is on the question of why the matter
 4has only just recently been raised. Is it not correct to
 5say that the Moscow archives have only become available
 6for purposes of comparison over the last ten years or so?
 7 A. [Professor Robert Jan van Pelt]     Yes, that is true.
 8 MR IRVING:     Thank you very much. I have no further questions,
 9my Lord.
10 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Thank you very much, Professor.
11 < (The witness stood down)
12 MR IRVING:     Your Lordship may have considered that a rather
13useless exercise but, as it is such a crucial document,
14I thought that we ought to examine it in greater detail.
15 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I personally think that the issue of
16authenticity of this document is important for the
17purposes of this trial.
18 MR IRVING:     It is almost pivotal, along with the roof. Thank
19you very much.
20 MR RAMPTON:     I certainly do not agree that it is pivotal. It
21may be an important document in some senses.
22 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     The challenge to it may be important.
23 MR RAMPTON:     Yes, absolutely. If I feel the need to meet that
24challenge beyond what the Professor has said in the
25witness box, I will do so.

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