Irving v. Lipstadt


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

Pages 66 - 70 of 214

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    I just wish to put this to the witness. I
 1which is page 122 of the book.
 2 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     122.
 3 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Can you give us the context, Mr Irving?
 4 MR IRVING:     The killing of the Russian prisoners in 1941
 5I think he is talking about. This is by Rudolf Hoess.
 6 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     And he had been ordered to carry it out, is
 7that right? He, Hoess, had ----
 8 MR IRVING:     "It was ordered that I had to carry it out", writes
 9Hoess, "but I have to say openly that this gassing had a
10calming effect on me, as in the near future we had to
11begin with the mass destruction of the Jews too, and
12neither Eichmann nor I was clear about how we were to deal
13with these masses", is that roughly the sense of that
14final sentence on page ----
15 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Roughly, yes.
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     And underneath it in his appalling handwriting Adolf
17Eichmann has written -- can you read the words: "Ich war
18gar nichts zustandig"?
19 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     What does that mean?
21 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I was not at all competent, this was not at all my
23 Q. [Mr Irving]     And in the margin next to the footnote he was written just
24one word "falsch"?
25 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Correct.
26 Q. [Mr Irving]     In other words, Eichmann, who ought to have known, if

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 1I can use one of the phrases Mr Rampton likes, disputes
 2the version given by Rudolf Hoess. In private, he does
 3not know that David Irving is going to come into
 4possession of that years later, so can we assume therefore
 5that there is some conflict in the evidence that Hoess
 7 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes. This is the major case where Eichmann contests
 8vigorously the evidence the Israelis bring to him and
 9present this before him. For instance, in the handwritten
10notes to his attorney, he says: "Hoess is the arch liar.
11I have nothing to do with Hoess, with his death camp or
12his gas chambers". That is in Eichmann's handwriting and
13Serwateus' notes. He disputes having anything to do with
14Hoess's gas chambers. He does not deny the existence of
15gas chambers but confirms Auschwitz, but he says that was
16not my thing.
17 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     The falsehood is his own involvement,
18Eichmann's own involvement.
19 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes. He is saying that Hoess is laying responsibility on
20him for playing a part in the selection of the gas chamber
21site, and the selection of the type of gas at Auschwitz,
22and in this regard I think Eichmann is correct and that
23Hoess is utterly wrong.
24 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     That is the means, not the end, in other
26 MR IRVING:     You use the interesting phrase, of course, "Hoess's

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 1gas chambers" and that Eichmann ----
 2 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     This is Eichmann's phrase; what I quoted to you from
 3memory is what Eichmann wrote to Serwateus in the
 4Serwateus papers.
 5 Q. [Mr Irving]     Serwateus was his lawyer in Israel?
 6 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes.
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     Is there any hint there, therefore, that people like Hoess
 8and the other concentration camp commandants were loose
 9canons, and that they were doing things their own way
10without -- ?
11 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I do not think that there is a hint of that at all. The
12hint is that Hoess is trying to shift blame elsewhere and
13that Hoess has a very bad memory.
14 Q. [Mr Irving]     Or a conveniently bad memory perhaps?
15 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Well, Hoess has many self-incriminating things. Where
16Hoess's testimony is particularly unreliable is anything
17related to dating.
18 Q. [Mr Irving]     Dating and numbers?
19 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Numbers as well, and to, in this issue certainly,
20Eichmann's role in all of this.
21 Q. [Mr Irving]     Is it not correct that Hoess, in fact, fluctuates between
222.8 million and 1 million, and then back to 2.7 million,
23as late as March 1947? Before his execution, he is back
24to 2.7 million again killed in Auschwitz.
25 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I do not remember the exact figures but I believe he does
26give fluctuating figures.

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 1 Q. [Mr Irving]     Can any kind of credence be attached to figures like that
 2when they vary by such enormous amounts?
 3 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     This would be a case where you would look at the testimony
 4and say that, when Hoess is talking about dates and
 5figures, one would not use it as reliable. When he is
 6talking about experiences that he recalls with great
 7vividness, one would say this is more likely to be
 8something that one at least must look at, can we
 9corroborate this? It would not mean that everything Hoess
10says is wrong, but it would mean that, in the areas of
11dating and where he is trying to share responsibilities
12with others, one must use it with great caution.
13 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     You do not know this, Professor Browning. We
14looked at the 2.8 million figure in some detail and it is
15quite clear that that is actually not his own account but
16it is what he has been told by others.
17 MR IRVING:     It did actually creep up again, the 2.8 just before
18he was hanged. He appeared to be readily flexible and
19this is what I am getting at; I suppose "suggestible" is
20what I am aiming at, the word that these witnesses -- you
21yourself have said that you had to pick and choose what
22they wrote, effectively?
23 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     You had to make judgments about it. "Pick and choose"
24sounds as if one was picking and choosing for my
25convenience rather than my ability to explain in terms of

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 1 Q. [Mr Irving]     We will come to that in a minute, Professor Browning, when
 2we come to Gerstein.
 3 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     We will get there but, in terms of ability to bring
 4reasons as to why you think parts of it are more reliable
 5than others.
 6 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes. Is there any reason why, when somebody is in
 7captivity on trial for one's life, one might write things,
 8either deliberately or inadvertently, that were not true,
 9do you think?
10 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     This is a possibility but, again, one looks at it and
11judges. If one is already sentenced to be hanged and
12there is, in a sense, nothing further they can threaten
13you with, then wonders one why would one go through the
14business of writing out a long handwritten document.
15 Q. [Mr Irving]     Have you not read large numbers of interrogations and
16pretrial interrogations yourself, where you have marvelled
17at some of the statements that these people have made?
18 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Can you give me a context?
19 Q. [Mr Irving]     For example, self-incriminating statements which, as you
20said in the case of Eichmann, nobody knew what he was
21admitting there. Have you never wondered why people would
22make these statements?
23 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I think in cases I have used he is telling the truth.
24I think he is relating----
25 Q. [Mr Irving]     Obviously. Otherwise you would not have used them. But
26does it not occur to you that sometimes people make

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