Irving v. Lipstadt


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

Pages 136 - 140 of 214

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    Yes. My feeling here is that that is more than a speech,
 1about the upcoming Wannsee conference, because there is no
 2indication that Hitler would have mentioned that. So that
 3I think he has talked to -- my interpretation would be
 4that he had talked to a number of people, possibly with
 5Hitler alone, and clearly with someone who let him know
 6that there would be further meetings, because he makes
 7reference to this meeting under the SS at which much of
 8this will be sorted out.     Is that a reference to the vulmardt which was issued to
 1Heydrich by Goring, do you think, on July 31st 1941?
 9 MR IRVING:     Are you aware of testimony that Hans Frank gave
10at Nuremberg, evidence-in-chief I believe, in which he was
11questioned about his contacts with Hitler, and he
12mentioned having visited Hitler once and talked to Hitler
13about Auschwitz and asked him what was going on there,
14that he described having tried to gain access to Auschwitz
15but that he was turned back on the excuse that there was
16an epidemic? Are you familiar with that passage?
17 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I am not, but Auschwitz is not in the General Government
18and certainly not in Frank's jurisdiction, and I would see
19no reason why he could barge into Auschwitz.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     Was this particular passage put to you in the Canadian
21trial that I referred to earlier?
22 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I have a vague recollection but I do not remember in fact
23that discussion in any detail. I know that we brought up
24aspects of the Frank testimony at Nuremberg. I do not
26 Q. [Mr Irving]     And that Frank testified on oath at Nuremberg that when he

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put this to Hitler, Hitler said to him, "I do not want to hear about this, this nothing to do with me, this is entirely Himmler's business"?
 2 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     The fact it includes the Goring authorization with the
 3invitation, I think that is indeed what he is partly
 4referring to. He is bolstering his credentials because he
 5is dealing with people who might not be anxious to take
 6orders from him.
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     Is there a dispute among historians as to the significance
 8of the Wannsee conference?
 9 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I think that most of them view it as an implementation
10conference, at a point at which they are now trying to
11initiate the ministerial bureaucracy and in which Heydrich
12is going to visibly assert his leading position in this.
13I do not think it is viewed by many historians now as a
14conference at which a decision was taken. They did not
15debate should we do A or B and then say we will do B.
16They said, "Hitler has ordered this and now how are going
17to implement it? Are we going to include mixed marriage?
18Are we going to include this?" It is an implementation
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     Are you saying that it has been overrated?
21 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Not overrated, because it is a crucial part of bringing in
22the ministerial bureaucracy. I have always seen it that
23way, so I do not consider it, I am not backing up from
24something I think that I have claimed more than.
25 Q. [Mr Irving]     Am I correct in describing it as being an
26inter-ministerial conference at State Secretary level?

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 1 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes.
 2 Q. [Mr Irving]     In other words, the ministers themselves were not brought
 3in; it was just at the lower levels?
 4 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Because Heydrich cannot sit there with people higher than
 5his rank. Cabinet ministers would have been parallel with
 6Himmler. If Heydrich is sponsoring it he cannot bring in
 7people higher in his rank in a programme he is trying to
 8assert his leadership. So he would invite the State
10 Q. [Mr Irving]     This rather tends to down-play the significance of
11Heydrich was acting on Hitler's orders at this meeting
12then, if he is only able to bring in State Secretaries.
13As you say, he is only relying on his own rank. He is
14only pulling his own rank and he is not pulling Hitler's
15rank on those present?
16 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Well, at the place he cites Hitler's authority, buried
17against all protocol for him summoning cabinet ministers.
18 Q. [Mr Irving]     He cited Hitler's authority just proforma, is that what
19you say?
20 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I do not think it is proforma. It is setting out his
21authority and he has the signed Goring letter which, as
22best we can tell, he drafted and took to Goring for
23signature and that he, likewise, invokes Hitler's
24authority at the conference.
25 Q. [Mr Irving]     You said earlier at any rate in the record of the
26conference (which is not verbatim) there is no explicit

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 1reference to killing. There is one inference from which
 2killing can be drawn, am I correct?
 3 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     There are a number of passages in which -- that most
 4people would view as transparent references.
 5 Q. [Mr Irving]     Can you remember one offhand?
 6 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I would suggest two. One is that most of the Jews will
 7diminish away under physical labour and the rest ----
 8 Q. [Mr Irving]     The hard core will remain?
 9 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     --- will be treated accordingly. The second is Buhle's
10reference that where we should we begin, and he said, "We
11should begin in the General Government because there we do
12not have to worry about Jews capable of work". They do
13not mention in the first place what happens to the
14non-workers. They talk about the workers will diminish,
15the survivors will be handled accordingly, and there is no
16reference to the vast majority, the women and children and
17old people, who obviously are not even going to work.
18Then Buhle's reference, "Well, let us begin this programme
19with the General Government because most of the Jews are
20not even work worthy there any longer", I would interpret
21it as a fairly -- as a reference to the fact that they can
22be killed first of all.
23 Q. [Mr Irving]     Is there a passage in the protocol that reads: "The
24remnant that finally survives all this" -- do you remember
25this passage -- "because here it is undoubtedly a question
26of the part with the greatest resistance will have to be

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