Irving v. Lipstadt


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

Pages 151 - 155 of 214

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    The main line runs through and then I believe they pulled
 1this would not have been at the central train station,
 2this would have been somewhat off, though the Belzec camp
 3lies very close to the train tracks there.
 4 MR IRVING:     The reason I am saying this is, quite clearly, as
 5you say, it is a logistical problem, it is a human
 6problem. You have 2,000 corpses being carried into a camp
 7in which there are living people, there are guards, there
 8are eyewitnesses, there are prisoners. They are being
 9buried, they are being disposed of. It is an horrific
10problem, it is an atrocity, there is no question of that,
11and there are eyewitnesses to it?
12 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     If one is gassing 5,000 people a day, an extra 2,000
13bodies in the train cars is not going to be a memorable
14experience. They are seeing more corpses than that every
15day, day after day, week after week, month after month.
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     If I take you now to page 46, paragraph 5.3.14?
17 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes.
18 Q. [Mr Irving]     Here you say that the documentary evidence of the killing
19at Belzec and Treblinka is scant. Have I got it right?
20 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     The scant surviving documentation concerning the purpose
21of Sobibor.
22 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes?
23 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes.
24 Q. [Mr Irving]     Do we have documentary evidence about Belzec and
25Treblinka, about the gassing?
26 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     No, about the kinds of people, this is a section that is

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 1still dealing with people being sent there who are not
 2sent there to do work and who do not reappear. This is
 3not yet the section in which I say how do we find out what
 4the documents do not tell us and that is how they were
 6 Q. [Mr Irving]     Can I take you now to page 48, paragraph 5.4.1? Here we
 7have the talk about the pestilential smell from all the
 8rotting bodies caused by the inadequate burial of the
 9Jews. "No contemporary document specifically states how
10the Jews sent to these three camp were killed". We have
11the same kind of documentary problem again, do we not?
12 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     We are dealing with something -- yes, as I have said, that
13they do not have a document, we do not have a document
14from Operation Reinhardt that specifies their being killed
15in gas chambers.
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     So how do we know then? Eyewitnesses?
17 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     This is what we then turn to, yes. At the beginning
18I said there are numbers of kinds of evidence. Eyewitness
19is one category among a number.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     You very honestly state in the same paragraph towards the
21end: "As in any body of eyewitness testimonies, there are
22errors and contradictions as well as both exaggerations
23and apologetic obfuscation and minimisation"?
24 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Correct.
25 Q. [Mr Irving]     So, in other words, the whole sorry of these three camps
26which I am not challenging -- I am only challenging the

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 1scale of the operations -- the whole story is rather
 2hedged in uncertainty and lack of the kind of documentary
 3evidence we have for the killings that went on on the
 4Eastern Front.
 5 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     It is evidence of a different quality. The convergence of
 6testimony I think establishes beyond any reasonable doubt
 7what took place in those camps.
 8 Q. [Mr Irving]     The convergence of testimony, as I am beginning to
 9believe, is a phrase that people take refuge in when there
10is no testimony and little evidence?
11 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Well, I believe it is a very useful concept that we deal
12with a totality of evidence, and that if one were to argue
13that we cannot use eyewitness testimony and had to let out
14every criminal in prison on that ground, we would have a
15fairly chaotic society.
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     But you would agree that there is are different qualities
17of eye witness testimony; there is eyewitness testimony
18gained from somebody who saw something this afternoon,
19reports this afternoon what he saw this morning or
20yesterday evening, but eyewitness testimony recalled 30
21years later in a West German court is liable to be
22somewhat more shaky?
23 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     It is liable to have less specificity. My feeling is if
24somebody had spent six months or 12 months in a death
25camp, he does not forget the existence of gas chambers.
26 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Mr Irving, can I just go back to something

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 1you said a while ago which was that you were not
 2challenging -- I am just picking up your quote.
 3 MR IRVING:     This is quite right, my Lord. I am not challenging
 4the nature of these three camps.
 5 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     You are not challenging that?
 6 MR IRVING:     As killing centres.
 7 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Yes, you do not have to put it quite like
 8that, but you are challenging the scale of operations?
 9 MR IRVING:     Yes.
10 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I understand that completely. But at
11paragraph 5.4.1 what Professor Browning is dealing with is
12the way in which Jews were killed. I just wanted to have
13clear from you, you do accept that gas was used to kill
14Jews at all these three camps, as I recall; is that
16 MR IRVING:     I think it is immaterial what way they were killed
17or the way I accept they were killed at these three camps.
18There is a lot of debate about it. But in order to keep
19this trial far shorter than it could be if we really
20wanted to challenge everything in it or debate everything
21in it ----
22 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Well, if that is right, you need not bother
23with paragraph 5.4.1 because that is where Professor
24Browning says that they were basically killed in gas
25chambers at those three camps ----
26 MR IRVING:     It goes to the whole problem of ---- no.

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 1 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     --- and, as I understand it, you are not
 2challenging that.
 3 MR IRVING:     --- reliability of eyewitnesses. We have now
 4established since that concession or statement by me -- I
 5hate to say "concession" because it implies that ----
 6 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Do not worry about that, yes.
 7 MR IRVING:     --- we have now established since that once again
 8it is the eyewitnesses that we are relying upon for this,
 9and I am using this as a way of undermining the
10credibility of eyewitnesses or eyewitness evidence as a
11general source. We are later on coming to quite an
12important eyewitness who is a man called Gerstein who
13I shall spend a few minutes assailing the credibility of.
14 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Does Gerstein deal with gassing at Belzec,
15Sobibor or Treblinka?
16 MR IRVING:     Indeed, yes. He claims to be an eyewitness and he
17introduced -- Your Lordship will remember the pretrial
18hearing on November 4th where we learned that Professor
19Browning had desired to incorporate subsequent material
20relating to one particular man.
21 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Yes. All I am getting at this is -- I am
22sorry to interrupt you because I want to keep the
23interruptions to a minimum -- if you are accepting that
24gas chambers were used to kill Jews at these three camps,
25in a sense, there is not terribly much to be gained by
26challenging the credibility of Mr Gerstein who says that.

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