Irving v. Lipstadt


Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 18: Electronic Edition

Pages 131 - 135 of 181

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    I wrote a reader's letter to the magazine concerned which
 1they published.
 2 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     I have read it.
 3 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes. Would you now go to the bottom of page ----
 4 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     But you do not make that accusation there, to my
 6 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Professor Evans, we are trying to move on.
 7Do not put the brakes on.
 8 MR IRVING:     Page 21.
 9 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     21.
10 MR IRVING:     My Lord, I find it very helpful when you do tell me
11to move on because I have no way of knowing whether I am
12barking up the wrong tree or not.
13 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I am trying to give you the odd hint --
14I meant that in a sort of -- I mean that to be helpful.
15 MR IRVING:     "The position can be summed up", you say, in these
16last two lines on page 21, "The position can broadly be
17summed up by saying that there is a general consensus that
18a decision was taken at the highest level". We are
19talking about the decision to kill Jews, right?
20 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes -- to kill all the Jews in Europe in a systematic way,
22 Q. [Mr Irving]     "... that there is a general consensus that a decision was
23taken at the highest level some time between the beginning
24of 1941 and the spring of 1942". Are you a believer in
25the writing of history by general consensus then?
26 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Ah, now, well, what I am saying is that I am trying to sum

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 1up the accepted state of historical knowledge, and ----
 2 Q. [Mr Irving]     Accepted state of historical knowledge?
 3 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes, the general state of historical knowledge in
 4which ----
 5 Q. [Mr Irving]     Can I remind you of one or two other previous general
 6consensus -- I believe it is fourth declension -- in
 7history previously? There was at one time a general
 8consensus that the world was flat, was there not, and
 9there was also a general consensus that the sun moved
10around the earth. Was that another general consensus that
11was generally accepted?
12 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Well, I think scholarship has moved on a little since
13those days.
14 Q. [Mr Irving]     But is it not dangerous to write history or to do
15astronomy or anything else by general consensus, would you
16agree? There is a case for the outsider to come along and
17say, "I may be right, I may be wrong, but let us rethink
18this"? Do you agree?
19 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Well, let me go on to say what I say in the next sentence
20which is: "The limits set by the available evidence do no
21allow of a date, say, in January 1993, or January 1943.
22The view that, for example, no decision was ever taken, or
23that the Nazis did not undertake the systematic
24extermination of the Jews at all, or that very few Jews
25were in fact killed, lies wholly outside the limits of
26what is reasonable for a professional historian to argue

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 1in the light of the available evidence." That is not to
 2say that nobody should or people should not be allowed to
 3challenge these things, but simply to say that this is
 4what you face and, of course, it is based on an enormous
 5amount of research by a very large number of people in the
 6archives, in the original documents, and that you have to
 7deal with all that research and all the documents which
 8have been thrown up.
 9 Q. [Mr Irving]     So you say that people should not be necessarily
10prevented, they should be allowed to say these things
11without being harassed, arrested or imprisoned or stripped
12of their Professorship, but that these are generally not
13acceptable opinions?
14 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     There are several questions there, I think.
15 Q. [Mr Irving]     Let us deal with just one.
16 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     First of all, I believe in free speech, so you can say
17whatever you like so long as it does not offend the laws
18of the land. What one does, as a university Professor, is
19slightly more circumscribed, that is to say, I think, as
20an academic historian, you have the duty to confirm to
21academic standards in the evaluation of evidence and in
22the views that you put forward, leaving entirely aside
23whatever people who have been dismissed from their
24university posts might have done by way of running against
25the laws of the land in terms of racist statements or

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 1 Q. [Mr Irving]     Let us just look at the first thing you say here: "The
 2view that, for example, no decision was ever taken", and
 3you consider this is one of the views that is totally
 4beyond the limits. Are you not familiar with the fact
 5that this is precisely the view espoused by Professor
 6Martin Broszat in his famous 1977 paper? He said he came
 7to agree with David Irving that probably there was no
 8decision, and this is also the view taken by Raul Hilberg,
 9is that not right?
10 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     If you present to me the passages in their work where they
11say that, it is not quite my understanding of what they
13 Q. [Mr Irving]     Well, I believed that you were an expert and this is why
14you were being paid a very substantial sum by the Defence
15to stand in the position you are in now, that you knew
16these things?
17 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes, and I am already, leaving aside your cheap jibe about
18money which I treat with the contempt it deserves ----
19 Q. [Mr Irving]     It was not cheap, from what I hear.
20 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     --- and I hope the court will as well ----
21 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     This is degenerating and please don't let us
22let it.
23 MR IRVING:     My Lord, was this not a justified question?
24 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I do not really think that -- the problem
25I have with this is that Professor Evans has introduced a
26number of other authors in support of his criticisms. To

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 1that extent, I suppose it is legitimate for you to
 2introduce, as it were, the other side of the coin. But
 3I will say again, what is going to help me is to look at
 4the individual criticisms and see whether Professor Evans
 5is right when he says you have manipulated the data. I am
 6not stopping you going through these earlier sections,
 7but, without disrespect to Professor Evans, I can tell you
 8I have not marked many of these early pages because they
 9seem to me so broad and general that ----
10 MR IRVING:     They are very broad and general but ----
11THE WITNESS: They are intended, my Lord, if it helps, just to
12set the background.
13 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Yes, I realize that, but, in the end, it is
14the guts of it that we have to tackle.
15 MR IRVING:     Yes, but if he is ----
16THE WITNESS: I mean, if it helps, Mr Irving, of course
17I accept that your work has had many very favourable
18reviews from many distinguished people.
19 MR IRVING:     That is not what we are talking about. That is now
20beyond dispute. What we are saying here is that it is
21wrong for you to say in your report, in the opening,
22scene-setting passage, that the view that no decision was
23ever taken is beyond the pail and no reasonable person
24would now say this, when, in fact, I have mentioned to you
25two names of very famous, notable, academic historians,
26Monson (sic) and Hilberg, who have adopted precisely this

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