Irving v. Lipstadt

Transcripts

Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 17: Electronic Edition

Pages 106 - 110 of 214

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    Certainly when the intention is clear, then we are -- it
 1is easier to decide. I, myself, would feel that if one
 2has a pattern of distortion, even if it is not intended,
 3but is so much of the personality of the person that they
 4are so identified with this that they no longer in a sense
 5can see the evidence except by kind of default position,
 6one gets a consistent pattern of distortion even if it is
 7not a calculated and wilful distortion.
 8 Q. [Mr Irving]     This is a very useful concept. In other words, if an
 9historian is so imbued with the notion that, "Surely,
10Adolf Hitler gave the order and, even we cannot find it,
11it must be there somewhere and I am going to disregard any
12evidence to the contrary", that would fit within that
13concept, would it, or are you only looking at the people
14on the other side of the mirror when you say that?
15 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I think it is a general rule and the is, as you have
16brought it up, obviously, one can reverse these things,
17and if every piece of evidence one gets, the first thing
18is, "Does this implicate Hitler? Is there Hitler in it?
19Well, it does not implicate Hitler, we can deal were this
20document; but if Hitler is in there, then we have to do
21something with it".
22 Q. [Mr Irving]     Suppose there was a document which suggested that Hitler
23had repeated the order that he wanted the Final Solution
24postponed until the war was over and all the historians
25ignored that, would they be being perverse or would they
26be entitled to act like that?

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 1 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     In the circumstances, which I am sure we will discuss in
 2detail, I will explain why, I do not think it would be
 3perverse not to discuss that document.
 4 Q. [Mr Irving]     We do not discuss the document today. I just wanted to
 5know would it be right to ignore it and pretend it did not
 6exist or would that be perverse?
 7 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I do not think one is obligated to footnote all the
 8documents they do not use.
 9 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes. In other words ----
10 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     And that they have made a judgment they do not find
11helpful.
12 Q. [Mr Irving]     You put it under the carpet and you do not even put a
13footnote about it, and that is OK, is it? That is what
14you are saying?
15 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Again, it would depend very much on the circumstances.
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     So I am trying to help you here because the picture you
17are giving is that a person is considered to be a
18respectable historian provided he has views that are
19respectable, if I can put it like that, but as soon as he
20starts having disrespectable views, then -- if he has
21politically incorrect views, then this makes him
22disreputable and beyond the pail?
23 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     It not said that at all.
24 Q. [Mr Irving]     But there are certain views which one has no problem with
25at all?
26 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     There is a range of views which involve a looking at the

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 1evidence that historians seeing that evidence would say,
 2"This is within a range of interpretation". The example
 3I then gave was that if one invents further evidence, this
 4is not within the realm of acceptance as one example of
 5where I would say we could say one has gone over the line.
 6 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes, but putting something in square brackets to assist
 7the reader is not inventing evidence, is it? If you are
 8adding an interpretation for the reader and helping the
 9reader to see that -- would that be ----
10 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Mr Irving ----
11 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I think that could be called misleading.
12 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     --- I think that for two reasons we have had
13enough of this. (A) it is my province, and (B) I think
14the questions are too broad. I think it all depends.
15 MR IRVING:     It is, my Lord, and I am going to ask the witness
16now to turn to 5.1.6 which is on pages 27 to 8. We have
17had this before already in another context, my Lord. In
18fact, it is not irrelevant to the previous matter. (To
19the witness): If one has a certain mind set, Professor,
20is it correct that one might read a document the wrong
21way?
22 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     That is possible.
23 Q. [Mr Irving]     I think we are going to come to one example of this
24straightaway. You say at the foot of page 27:
25"Rademacher reported: 'Then as soon as the technical
26possibility exists within the framework of the total

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 1solution to the Jewish question, the Jews will be deported
 2by waterway to the reception camp in the east."
 3 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes.
 4 Q. [Mr Irving]     Now, the fact that they were going to go to a reception
 5camp implies to your mind that they were going to go to a
 6sticky end, to some kind of sinister place where nasty
 7things were going to be done to them?
 8 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     What I used this for was to show that a reception camp,
 9and we will come to my mistake in terms of the plural and
10the singular, I am sure, immediately. As I said
11yesterday, yes, I did make mistakes.
12 Q. [Mr Irving]     Is that an example of the kind of mistake one might make
13if one had a mind set where you were expecting that we are
14talking about one of the Operation Reinhardt camps, one of
15the camps, that they are going to be sent there and they
16are going to be bumped off; but when we read that the
17actual document says they are going to be sent to
18reception camps, all the sinisterness goes out of this
19particular document?
20 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     On the contrary, I think my interpretation was against
21interest, that I have looked and what, as an historian,
22I have been concerned with is evidence in the fall of 1941
23of this, as say, a vision between Himmler, Hitler,
24Heydrich and others, that they have now decided on the
25murder of Jews. For my purposes, in terms of what I would
26have been predisposed to find, would indeed to have found

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 1evidence of a much broader thing and to have interpreted
 2it correctly. To have it in the singular was against
 3interest; an error on my part, but certainly not one that
 4would be one that I would have made willingly or would
 5have been disposed to make because of opinions I held that
 6this is a case, in fact, where I made an error that
 7limited the importance of the document I had, and the
 8correct translation, I think, is very useful to me because
 9it goes towards something that I have been working to
10collect evidence on, hoping to bolster an argument. So in
11that case, I would say this is not a reflection of a
12predisposed mine set to read the document wrongly. I read
13it wrongly despite a prior interpretation that I had
14published.
15 Q. [Mr Irving]     So you do not think that this very minor translation error
16has in any way damaged the burden of the argument you are
17making?
18 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I cannot see that it makes a blind bit of
19difference myself.
20 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I think it limits it. If my argument has been that after,
21that the second Hitler decision came in early October and
22that after that there is an awareness among the Germans
23they are going to build a series of camps, to put this in
24the singular instead of the plural, that Eichmann's
25assistant saw travelling with Rademacher is speaking about
26the creation of, I put it there, within "the technical

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