Irving v. Lipstadt

Transcripts

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

Pages 81 - 85 of 214

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    But it also helps to address the court's attention
 1questioned the integrity of the documents we are
 2confronted with.
 3 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     It is not a valid criticism of him if you do
 4not question it.
 5 MR IRVING:     I personally would question it but not for the
 6purposes of this morning's hearing. Shall we just proceed
 7to the number?
 8 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Let us do the numbers. 97,000 -- what is
 9wrong with that?
10 MR IRVING:     I am sorry about that detour. 97,000 people killed
11in three vans in what space of time?
12 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     From December to June, this would be six months, by my
13calculation.
14 Q. [Mr Irving]     Six months?
15 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes.
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     Are these regular German army diesel trucks, five ton
17trucks or something?
18 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     They refer to two and then a third, and I think they had
19-- we do not know the capacity of two of them because
20they were not either the Opal or the Saurer trucks. They
21were apparently converted Renault. Then they brought in a
22Saurer truck, which is the biggest model and could carry
23I think 50 to 80 people. The Opal was 30 to 50. We do
24not know the capacity of the actual two trucks that
25were----
26 Q. [Mr Irving]     From the descriptions we have, it did not actually do it

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 1on the spot. They were loaded aboard, the victims, and
 2they were driven off into the country side for a couple of
 3hours and then they were gassed on the way?
 4 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     No. As best we can tell they loaded them, gassed them
 5there, or for a while ran the engines, and then drove them
 6off.
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes.
 8 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     So it was not a long way from Chelmno to the forest.
 9I think it is two kilometres or 3 kilometres.
10 Q. [Mr Irving]     I have read 20 kilometres.
11 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     That is not correct at all. I have driven it myself. It
12is not far, and one would have to do a considerable amount
13of the time needed to kill the people, one would have to
14remain in the courtyard unless you wanted to run the
15engines for a prolonged period after you arrived in the
16forest camp.
17 Q. [Mr Irving]     Have you ever calculated the quantities of gasoline or
18petrol that would be needed for these kind of trips?
19 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Not knowing the fuel consumption of the various truck
20models, no, I have not made a calculation.
21 Q. [Mr Irving]     Does it strike you as being a very economical way of
22killing people?
23 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I think this camp was probably very inexpensive to run in
24comparison to what they were taking in, property and
25getting in labour from the Jews in Lodz. My guess is that
26this was an infinitesimally small part of their budget.

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 1 Q. [Mr Irving]     If they had just the three trucks and this length of
 2time to do it in, and they had the problem of persuading
 3the people to get into the truck, and loading them up,
 4driving off, waiting for the gas to have its effect, then
 5unloading them at the other end and cleaning up the mess
 6so that the next cargo did not have any suspicions, there
 7must have been quite a substantial turn around time?
 8 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     The trucks made return trips each day. In fact, we know
 9with just one truck at the Semlin camp, it took about two
10months, with just one trip a day and occasionally two, to
11gas the 7,000 people there. So, with three trucks
12operating on a shorter run, they did not have to drive all
13the way through Belgrade to the far side, which is what
14happened in Semlin. I did the calculations for Semlin.
15 Q. [Mr Irving]     You have done the calculations?
16 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes. I have not done them for this.
17 Q. [Mr Irving]     Does the 97,000 not strike you as being wrong by a factor
18of two or three?
19 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Absolutely not. It does not strike me as wrong at all.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     It depends strictly on what the capacity of the trucks
21would have been, what the turn around time was, whether
22they were really efficient, whether they worked 24 hours a
23day and whether the trucks had any down time.
24 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     From the witness reports the trucks made numerous trips
25each day, the drivers traded off so that they in fact
26operated continually during the day.

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 1 Q. [Mr Irving]     Around the clock 24 hours a day?
 2 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Not 24 hours, through the day.
 3 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes.
 4 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     It is pretty distasteful, but may I ask this
 5question? How many people were there in a gas van when
 6they were being gassed? How many people could be
 7accommodated?
 8 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     We do not know for Chelmno because it is a different
 9truck. There is a Saurer truck, one Saurer truck was at
10Chelmno. That is the one that exploded. Then they had
11two converted Renault French military trucks that they
12turned into gas vans, so we do not have a knowledge
13there. The small truck that they produced, the Opal
14Blitz, was the smallest. The Saurer could carry 50 to 80
15people, the Opal Blitz was 30 to 50. So, even if the
16Renault was smaller than the Opal, which probably as a
17military truck it was larger, would be in between the two.
18 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     That is the order of magnitude?
19 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Yes.
20 MR IRVING:     Were there more than three of these ominous trucks
21of death going around the Eastern Front do you think? Did
22they go from location to location?
23 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     Some of them were distributed to each of the
24Einsatzgruppen so there were some operating in Riga, some
25in Minsk and south, so that they were a few. We know, for
26instance, that Minsk, I do not have the document, but

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 1I think they had 3 or 4 trucks and they asked for more.
 2So we know that they had small fleets of these trucks with
 3different Einsatzgruppen.
 4 Q. [Mr Irving]     Was this the principal means of killing at that time?
 5 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     No. It was a very minor part of the Einsatzgruppen. The
 6vast bulk of the killing in the East was by shooting. The
 7gas vans attached to the Einsatzgruppen were a very minor
 8part of their killing operations.
 9 Q. [Mr Irving]     Can you draw any conclusions from the fact that they used
10different methods of killing people, a lack of system?
11 A. [Professor Christopher Robert Browning]     I think we can find a kind of chronological sequence.
12They start with shooting. The next thing implemented is
13the gas vans starting at Chelmno and Semlin. Then they
14move to the fairly primitive gas chambers, which is the
15gas chambers that Operation Reinhardt and the converted
16peasant bunkers at Auschwitz. Then they move to the
17design construction. Once they have experience one can go
18back and say, how would you do this if you were creating
19something modern? So I do not find anything haphazard and
20confusing. I find it quite a logical sequence in which
21they add new methods of killing at the same time as the
22old methods continue.
23 Q. [Mr Irving]     Would you not agree that the lack of preparedness at the
24time Barbarossa began on June 22nd 1941 is in itself an
25indication that they did not go into Russia with the
26intention of carrying out systematic liquidations on a

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