Irving v. Lipstadt


Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 16: Electronic Edition

Pages 116 - 120 of 176

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    It would be an instruction not to, well, as I look at it,
 1it would be an instruction not to liquidate that transport
 2from Berlin.
 3 Q. [Mr Irving]     Is there any other way which ----
 4 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Which I would also then say strongly indicates there is a
 5prior policy that this has to ----
 6 Q. [Mr Irving]     That liquidation is in the air, so to speak?
 7 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Well, that, in fact, it had been ordered and now it has to
 8be countermanded is a possible -- I would say -- that one,
 9I would say, is the likely interpretation.
10 Q. [Mr Irving]     That liquidation of Jews or German Jews or that
11liquidation of transports of Jews was in the air or that
12liquidation of Jews at the other end was in the air? We
13cannot say or can we?
14 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Well, if it is "Judentransport aus Berlin Keine
15Liquidierung", it would imply that previous transports
16were being liquidated. In this case we know that five to
17Kovno were from documents that were also available at the
18time, the Einsatzgruppen report in which it is reported
19that those five transports had been liquidated in Kovno.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     I appreciate it is difficult to answer these questions
21from memory, but do you recall if there had bee transports
22from Berlin to the East before this one? Was this the
23first or?
24 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     No, there is a group of transports first that goes to
25Louche(?) and then there is a group of transports that
26goes to Minsk. Neither of those were liquidated. Then

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 1the third set of transports goes to Kovno. Those five are
 2liquidated. This is the first train of the fourth batch,
 3the one that is going to Riga.
 4 Q. [Mr Irving]     The ones that went to Kovno, what date were they?
 5 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I believe they were the 25th and 29th.
 6 Q. [Mr Irving]     25th and 29th?
 7 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     That is my memory.
 8 Q. [Mr Irving]     Was that the date they departed or the date they arrived?
 9 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I believe that is when the Einsatzgruppen reports them
10having been liquidated. Those would be arrival date.
11 Q. [Mr Irving]     Would that fact have been known in Berlin at that time, do
12you think? First of all, in Berlin, would that fact of
13the liquidation have been known in Berlin?
14 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     My guess is it was ordered in Berlin, that it would not
15have happened without instruction from Berlin, so, yes, it
16would have been known in Berlin.
17 Q. [Mr Irving]     Notwithstanding that the trains had been properly provided
18with all the provisions for starting a new life?
19 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes, because it was standard operating procedure for all
20the four transports, that if one at a certain point
21switched what was going to happen at the other end, the
22process of preparing the transports would not necessarily
23have been immediately changed. So that you would have had
24a situation where the people preparing the transports (and
25this had to be done days, if not weeks, in advance) would
26have been proceeding by the normal guidelines while the

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 1order to do something at the other end could have been
 2given almost instantaneously.
 3 Q. [Mr Irving]     By the people on the spot?
 4 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     No, by Berlin, not necessarily from on the spot.
 5 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Were the Kovno, the Jews shot in Kovno German
 7 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Those were German Jews, yes. Five transports of German
 9 MR IRVING:     You mentioned it was standard operating procedure.
10How do we know that? Are there any documentations or is
11this presumption on your part?
12 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     It is inference from two facts. One is that it is
13reported openly in the Einsatzgruppen report, so that it
14certainly is no indication that it was done against orders
15or that he had any inclination that reporting this might
16get him in trouble; and from this the fact that the six
17transports, keine liquidierung, would indicate that he
18would not have said this if he had no idea what had
19happened in Kovno if there was no standing policy at that
20time to be killing Jews, and that this would indicate that
21he was reversing a policy, and I would infer that that
22policy began with Kovno after Louche and Minsk had sent
23without killing.
24 Q. [Mr Irving]     Would the policy be described in German as "Richtlinien"
26 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     That is possible.

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 1 Q. [Mr Irving]     So when Himmler sends a message to Jeckeln on December 1st
 2(as we know he did now from the intercepts) saying, "Your
 3action in Riga has overstepped the guidelines", then in
 4what way had that overstepped the guidelines if the
 5guidelines were, as you have just presumed, that they were
 6going to be liquidated when they arrived? Surely,
 7exactly the opposite is the inference to be drawn from
 8Himmler's messages?
 9 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     No. If, in fact, you were not to be doing -- if you were
10supposed to be taking your guidelines from Berlin and he
11has sent a message "Keine Liquidierung", and it was
12liquidated, he is saying, "In principle, that what happens
13in the East happens under my guidelines". If there is not
14to be local decisions about who is killed or is not
15killed ----
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     Is not a more reasonable assumption the following, that
17when Berlin or when Hitler's headquarters learned that the
18earlier train loads of Jews to Kovno had been liquidated,
19an urgent message was sent when the fifth train went on
2030th November, saying, "Not to be liquidated" because it
21was realized at headquarters that things were going too
22far. Is that not an equally reasonable presumption on the
23balance of probabilities?
24 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Not an equally reasonable presumption because otherwise,
25if that were the case, Jager would not have reported it in
26the way he did in Einsatzgruppen reports, making it clear

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 1that he thought he had been following what was expected.
 2 Q. [Mr Irving]     But then, of course, the message came "not to be
 3liquidated", so Jager had obviously got it wrong?
 4 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     No, not Jager. Jeckeln -- the policy of killing the Kovno
 5Jews, I think, was approved from Berlin; that they then
 6decided to reverse that with the situation, the sensation
 7of killing German Jews was more delicate than they had
 8anticipated and, therefore, they temporarily backed off,
 9and then we have the Jeckeln/Himmler conversation, "I have
10not yet decided how we shall kill them", but this was,
11I would say it was a trial balloon and it turned out to be
12too sensitive an issue at that point.
13 Q. [Mr Irving]     A trial balloon floated by the people on the Eastern
15 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     No, by Himmler.
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     Floated by Himmler?
17 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes.
18 Q. [Mr Irving]     Just to remind the court of the hierarchy. Jager is, so
19far as we are concerned, on the bottom rung. Above him
20comes Stahlecker, as far as the killing operations goes,
21and although in a different headquarters, Jeckeln is the
22one who calls the shots?
23 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Of course, everything is not quite that neat in Nazi
24Germany in the sense that Stahlecker could report directly
25to Heydrich because the Einsatzgruppen had been sent out
26by him. Jackeln would report directly to Himmler because

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