Irving v. Lipstadt

Transcripts

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

Pages 16 - 20 of 214

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    The total number of Polish Jews in Siberia I do not think
 1is even close to that. We know that the estimated number
 2of Jews that fled or were deported from the German zone to
 3the Soviet zone in 1939/1940 was in the magnitude of 200
 4to 300,000. How many for 1941 are, in a sense, caught in
 5the German advance which in these areas, of course, is the
 6very first territories they overcome, that you do not have
 7any indication that very large numbers escaped at all.
 8 Q. [Mr Irving]     But there is an area of uncertainty, is there not?
 9 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     The point at which the German documents start saying "The
10Jewish populations have managed to flee" is when you get
11much deeper into the Soviet Union where it took longer for
12the Russian armies to get to and there was more warning.
13The German documents indicate only then are they beginning
14to find that the Jews had managed to flee before they
15arrived.
16     So, while there is certainly a degree of
17uncertainty, to suggest that significant vast numbers of
18Jews escaped from these very border territories the very
19first days occupied by the German Army, I do not think is
20-- it is not one that I can accept.
21 Q. [Mr Irving]     But is not the evidence, in fact, that the Soviet Union
22had evacuated large parts of their forward territories in
23preparation for their attack on Germany, and that when the
24Germans advanced into these areas in Operation Barbarossa
25in June 1941 they found the population relatively thin
26because of these evacuations?

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 1 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     No, I do not think so.
 2 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Can we ----
 3 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     There were deportations of what they -- there were
 4deportations of what they considered political enemies.
 5 MR IRVING:     So, in other words, I am not right in suggesting
 6there is any area of uncertainty about the figures, in
 7your view?
 8 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     No. What I said is the area of greatest uncertainty is
 9the areas of the Soviet Union and that from that boundary
10westward we come to a fairly close proximation. After
11that it varies, estimates vary greatly.
12 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Can I just interrupt because I want to go
13back to Operation Reinhardt which is where we started and
14we have rather sort of spread out from there. Can you --
15Mr Irving, you are probably going to ask this at some
16stage anyway -- put an estimate on the number of people
17you would say were killed by gassing at the smaller death
18camps like Treblinka, Sobibor and Chelmno?
19 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     The numbers that the German courts came to in their
20investigations in which they emphasised that they were
21using the minimum estimate so that this would not be a
22controversy between the defence and the prosecution, in
23the first Treblinka trial, I believe it was 700 or
24750,000. By the second Treblinka trial, they had upped
25that figure to 9 or 950,000. Belzec is estimated at about
26550,000. Sobibor, I believe they estimated 200,000, and

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 1Chelmno, as a minimum, I think they said 150,000, but they
 2thought it was more likely in the 250,000 area.
 3 MR IRVING:     When were these estimates made?
 4 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     These were in the various judgments of the 1960s in German
 5courts.
 6 Q. [Mr Irving]     1960s and 1970s or 1960s?
 7 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     These particular trials, I believe, all -- and I think the
 8last one was in 1968/69, so I think all of those concluded
 9before 1970.
10 Q. [Mr Irving]     You say these figures were reached at by agreement between
11the parties?
12 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     These were the figures that were put into the judgment and
13what the prosecution said -- I mean, let me see if I
14can phrase this right, I want to be very careful on this
15-- that this was the figure that in a sense was in the
16realm where they had sufficient documentation that it was
17not contested. Then you have the estimate, possible
18additional that they did not want to put into the judgment
19or the indictment because they did not want that to be an
20obscuring issue or become a detracting issue, "Well, we
21did not kill 250,000, we killed only 200,000".
22 Q. [Mr Irving]     I was going to ask, to put it in common language, was it
23any skin off anybody's nose if people added 100,000 more
24or less? I mean, was anybody going to get a shorter
25sentence because the numbers were lower or a longer
26sentence because the numbers were higher? What I am

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 1getting at is were the figures properly tested in court?
 2 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     The figures were reached in general by historical expert
 3witnesses that submitted these to the court and they were
 4open to cross-examination by the Defence.
 5 Q. [Mr Irving]     And these witnesses were German or?
 6 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     The most, the most active witness was Wolfgang Schafler
 7who was a German historian.
 8 Q. [Mr Irving]     A German historian?
 9 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes.
10 Q. [Mr Irving]     Is that the very reputable German historian too.
11 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     A very reputable German historian, who, in fact, looked
12at ----
13 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Mr Irving, if you challenge these figures,
14I think now is the time to do so. I do not know whether
15you do or you do not.
16 MR IRVING:     My Lord, I am not in a position to challenge them
17on a numerical basis, but I do wish to plant or implant
18doubts in your Lordship's mind as to the rigour with which
19the figures have been arrived at, shall I put it like
20that? All I have to establish, if I have understood it
21correctly, in your Lordship's mind is the position that
22I am entitled, as a writer myself, not to be called a
23Holocaust denier because I question figures. I can put it
24as simply as that. Your Lordship has a different take on
25that, I ought to be told it now perhaps in order that I
26can ----

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 1 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I am sure about "ought", but I understand the
 2way you use this evidence.
 3 MR IRVING:     I mean, this is not a court of law, criminal law,
 4where they are trying somebody for murder. We are just
 5trying to establish a matter of Holocaust denial really
 6which is a different standard of proof, I think.
 7 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Yes.
 8 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Would it be helpful if I said a little bit about how
 9Schafler arrived at his figures?
10 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I think it might be in the sense that
11Mr Irving is really saying, "Well, I question the figures"
12and I think he must by implication be saying, "and I have
13good grounds for questioning the figures". So I think if
14you wanted to add something about the way in which the
15figures were arrived at, I think that would be helpful.
16 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes, the figures for each of the camps he did by trying to
17trace the ghetto liquidations at the different periods
18into which camps they were sent. So we have a very
19accurate reduction of the Lodz population, which trains
20went to Chelmno, when, and we can come very accurately to
21the number of people deported from Lodz to Chelmno, then
22one is on a little bit less secure grounds for the various
23other surrounding towns where we do not have a day by day
24deduction or a train by train calculation, but we do have
25statistics of what the populations were there before the
26whole operation began.

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