Irving v. Lipstadt


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

Pages 46 - 50 of 176

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    We have a bit of a problem, do we not, with the fact that
 2 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     We do not have exact figures on either those that were
 3dumped or those that fled, but the estimate that I have
 4seen ranged between 200 and 300 thousand that escaped from
 5the German occupied side of Poland to the Soviet occupied
 6side. But those are estimates because obviously no one is
 7keeping track in any systematic way.
 8 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes. To recapitulate, for the first 20 years after World
 9War II there was no real investigation into the decision
10making process by which this appalling crime had been set
11in motion?
12 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     There were not studies focused on that, but they focused
13on a great deal about the Holocaust. One could not say
14the Holocaust had not been subjected to careful study.
15The decision making process in the 1930s was subjected to
16very careful study by Karl Schleunes and Adam and Adam
17also did venture into the field up to 1941 and came up
18with a very late date by those times. He said Hitler did
19not decide until the fall of 41, which to historians at
20that point seemed to be shockingly late. It is now a
21figure that many of us would agree with but at that point
22it was quite a revolutionary proposal.
23 Q. [Mr Irving]     To cut straight to the bottom line, nobody has ever found
24a single document indicating a Hitler decision or a Hitler
25will in this direction. We have had to do a lot of
26extrapolating and reading between the lines. Is that

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 2 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     A lot of it comes from a collection of documents from
 3which one draws inferences, from which one looks at
 4circumstantial evidence and how one construes the Nazi
 5system of work. But we do not have what we would call the
 6smoking pistol document; your thousand pounds is still
 7safe in your bank account in that regard. We do not have
 8a signed order by Adolf Hitler or a document that
 9explicitly refers to him taking the decision in that kind
10of way.
11 Q. [Mr Irving]     Are you surprised at that?
12 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     No, because we have -- one area in which we have a record
13of how a decision was made was when Himmler goes to Hitler
14in late May of 1940, when he wants to revalidate the
15ethnic programme that Frank and Goering had more or less
16slowed down in the spring 1940 on the grounds of priority
17of military concerns, and then, when it seemed clear that
18victory in France as very near, Himmler goes back,
19presents his memorandum to Hitler.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     May 25 1940, is that right?
21 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes. What Himmler then records is that Hitler read the
22memorandum, found it very good and correct, and said to
23Himmler, "You may show this to the others and tell them it
24is in my line of thinking".
25 Q. [Mr Irving]     How do we know that?
26 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     That is because we have a second memorandum by Himmler

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 1recording the conversation.
 2 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes, but he does not actually quote those words, does he?
 3You have rather embroidered them.
 4 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     This is how Himmler records the conversation. He does not
 5have a quote, Hitler said, quotation mark.
 6 Q. [Mr Irving]     Do you remember one particular phrase in that Himmler
 7memorandum of May 1940 in which Himmler says something
 8like, "There can of course be no question of the wholesale
 9extermination of the Jews"?
10 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     At that point he considers what he calls a Bolshevic
11solution as unGerman and impossible. Yes, I have quoted
12that many times.
13 Q. [Mr Irving]     How would you interpret that particular phrase?
14 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I would interpret that, that Himmler is not the one who
15would propose such things, that if he eventually did that
16it could have to have come from someone with greater
17authority than him.
18 Q. [Mr Irving]     Let us take it in stages.
19 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Mr Irving, do you mind me interrupting you?
20Are we now on the general perspective? Are you going to
21come back to these individual documents?
22 MR IRVING:     You will notice that when I start referring to page
23numbers of his report, my Lord. If I could take that
24piece by piece, if Himmler wrote in his May 25th 1940
25memorandum that sentence saying "There can be no question
26of a Bolshevic solution of the Jewish problem", in other

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 1words, just liquidating them ----
 2 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Liquidating a whole people.
 3 Q. [Mr Irving]     There is no indication of course, either on that document
 4which Himmler actually marked in his own handwriting, or
 5in the subsequent memorandum that he wrote, that Hitler
 6had overruled him and said, "Oh, on the contrary", is
 8 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     What Himmler wanted to get from Hitler was backing for his
 9renewed ethnic cleansing, and that Himmler comes away with
10the affirmation that he can cite Hitler's backing if Frank
11and Goring and others try to block him again.
12 Q. [Mr Irving]     Of course, you would agree that there had been a lot of
13killing of the Jews in the Polish campaign and afterwards
14had there not? .
15 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     The greater focus I believe, was on killing of Polish
16intelligentsia but certainly, given the Jews are about 10
17per cent of the population I think that the percentage of
18fatalities percentage wise is greater among the Jewish
19population than the Polish.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     In the conferences conducted by Heydrich in the autumn
211939 and over that winter, of which we have the records,
22the Jews are also mentioned as being a category to be
23exterminated, are they not?
24 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     There is a series of different quotes. I do not think
25there is a global reference to killing all Jews. There is
26one to killing Polish intelligentsia.

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 1 Q. [Mr Irving]     The Jews, the clergy?
 2 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     They list this as a category of people. It is not a
 3global killing of all Jews but Jews are among the groups
 4that can be killed. No one is going to get into trouble
 5killing Jews.
 6 Q. [Mr Irving]     Were they to be killed because they were potential
 7leadership material, or potential trouble makers, or
 8what? Was there a reason giving for the killing given on
 9that occasion?
10 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     No.
11 Q. [Mr Irving]     Or was it purely ideological?
12 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I do not remember the exact document in its entirety so
13I would hesitate to say something.
14 Q. [Mr Irving]     There is a string of documents September and October
16 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     There is a collection of references. Sometimes these
17references refer to different categories. They are not
18the same categories each time. Sometimes Jews appear
19among that category. I do not recall that they give a
20detailed justification of why each of those categories is
21mentioned at this time.
22 Q. [Mr Irving]     I do not know if you familiar with my book Hitler's War at
24 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Not very familiar.
25 Q. [Mr Irving]     Will you accept that -- and I can be proved wrong by
26Mr Rampton -- I refer in great deal to these particular

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