Irving v. Lipstadt

Transcripts

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

Pages 81 - 85 of 176

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    If the wind was blowing the right way from Treblinka, I
 1would think that was very credible.
 2 Q. [Mr Irving]     Do you have no problem with any of the eyewitnesses, with
 3accepting the evidence that they have given, the various
 4eyewitnesses, whether evidence given in court procedures
 5or afterwards, more recently, do you not suspect that they
 6may have been subjected to some kind of duress or bribery
 7or promises of better conditions or promises of an
 8alleviated sentence if they would just sign the document?
 9 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I think one has to assume there is potential problems with
10all eyewitnesses, but this is one of the materials we
11have. It is a kind of source the historians have always
12used and must be used with care, but I would argue that
13one does not write it off categorically because it has
14potential problems.
15 Q. [Mr Irving]     So, as an historian, it is your duty to weigh evidence
16then?
17 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes.
18 Q. [Mr Irving]     To look at it and say, "This one I accept and that one
19seems implausible"?
20 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Or accept parts of this because he was in a position to
21have seen this himself. The second part of it may be
22hearsay and, therefore, it is no more reliable than what
23somebody else told him. So you can have parts of
24testimony that have greater evidentiary weight -- I would
25give them greater evidentiary weight than other parts.
26 Q. [Mr Irving]     You have to rely on your own integrity and your own

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 1judgment in deciding what to select and what to omit?
 2 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Historians are always making decisions about selection of
 3documents. We are in a constant process of selection.
 4 Q. [Mr Irving]     And, obviously, in a constant process of compression too
 5because you start off with an immense shelf of documents
 6you have to compress into a reasonable length of
 7manuscript?
 8 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes. We always have to make decisions about what is more
 9important than something else.
10 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes, and you would be indignant if somebody called you
11perverse or manipulative or if you were accused of
12distorting because you left out a paragraph that just
13repeated what the paragraph above had said?
14 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     It would depend entirely on the context. If I had made a
15very egregious mistake and was caught out, I guess I would
16not have a right to be indignant.
17 Q. [Mr Irving]     Have you ever made mistakes?
18 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Of course historians make mistakes, yes.
19 Q. [Mr Irving]     Indeed. But nobody has accused you of wilfully distorting
20or manipulating because you have made a mistake?
21 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I have been accused of wilfully distorting.
22 Q. [Mr Irving]     Have you misread words in handwriting sometimes, in German
23handwriting?
24 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I may have. I do not know that anyone has called it to my
25attention but I certainly have been accused by someone who
26wished me no good will of manipulating evidence.

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 1 Q. [Mr Irving]     Have you ever read the book by, I think it is, Mr Paget QC
 2who was the Defence counsel of Manstein?
 3 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     No, I have not read that book.
 4 Q. [Mr Irving]     Manstein, of course, was put on trial for war crimes?
 5 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     By the British, yes.
 6 Q. [Mr Irving]     By the British, yes. I cannot ask you about what it
 7contains. The Jager document, the Jager report now -- I
 8am now on page 7, paragraph 4.4, my Lord -- is this a
 9document from the Moscow archives, was it a Nuremberg
10document?
11 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I believe it is a Riga document, the Jager report.
12 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Are you on 4.5?
13 MR IRVING:     4.4, my Lord. We are looking at the Jaeger
14document which is item 1944. You seem to prefer to
15work ----
16 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I am sorry, it is a Moscow document.
17 Q. [Mr Irving]     You seem to prefer to work from printed volumes of
18documents?
19 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     That will depend. If I am doing a detailed study of
20something like the Vehrmacht role in the shootings in
21Yugoslavia or the Police 101, I work in the original
22sources.
23 Q. [Mr Irving]     Original records?
24 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     In terms of a broader project, I will often avail myself
25of printed documents because one covers much more
26territory. For instance, the Goebbels diaries I would use

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 1in their printed form, and at some point the Frank diaries
 2I have used in printed form, but when they referred in
 3there to things they did not include, and it is important
 4to me, then I go to the microfilms and look at the section
 5that they have omitted. Again, an historian makes
 6judgments about how best to spend the time.
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     Hold it there for a minute. You refer to the diaries of
 8Hans Frank. Hans Frank, of course, at a conference in
 9Cracau in December 1941, I think it was ----
10 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     December 16th.
11 Q. [Mr Irving]     --- December 16th, he makes a pretty lurid statement
12about, "What do the people in Berlin think we are doing?
13We say liquidate them yourselves". Do you remember that
14passage roughly?
15 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I certainly remember that passage.
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes. Was there something left out of that passage? There
17was three dots in the middle of that passage. There is no
18need to look it up. You say things were left out of the
19printed texts?
20 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     No, in the published ----
21 Q. [Mr Irving]     Published version?
22 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     --- published version, they take blocks of things and then
23they will have in brackets, they will say, "At this
24meeting to discuss these topics" or something of that
25sort.
26 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes. Did they leave things out in a tendentious way, do

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 1you think?
 2 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Usually, they leave out topics they think were not of
 3general importance. For instance, when I was looking at
 4the issue of the public health officials in the general
 5government and the editors, apparently, made a decision
 6that was not a topic of general interest, it was a
 7particular interest of mine, so then I went to the
 8microfilms and read a section in the original because it
 9was a topic ----
10 Q. [Mr Irving]     We are at the mercy ----
11 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     --- that was important to me.
12 Q. [Mr Irving]     --- of our editors, are we not?
13 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     No. No editor has told me I could not include something.
14 Q. [Mr Irving]     But, I mean, in a volume like that of printed documents,
15the editor has to have very comprehensive knowledge to be
16able to make the right choices of what to leave in and
17what to take out?
18 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     A bad editor would certainly render a collection of
19documents much less worthwhile than a good editor.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes. Can we now turn to paragraph 4.5? This brings us to
21the interesting document, my Lord, of August 1st 1941?
22 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I think we ought to look at that document, if
23I may suggest it?
24 MR RAMPTON:     Your Lordship has got ----
25 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I know where it is. I have just been
26looking. It is the back of L, is it not?

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