Irving v. Lipstadt


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

Pages 21 - 25 of 181

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 1 Q. [Mr Irving]     Where would you position yourself in the political
 2spectrum? I think it is important that we know, when you
 3are describing somebody as being an extremist of either
 4left or right, where you position yourself, your own
 5vantage point from which you view them?
 6 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     I am a member of the Labour Party. I do not suppose that
 7means that one is left wing these days.
 8 Q. [Mr Irving]     No. Never mind the Labour Party's politics. What is your
 9own personal political standpoint from which you view
10people like myself, or Margaret Thatcher, or John Major?
11Would you regard Margaret Thatcher as being moderately
12right-wing or extreme right wing?
13 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     As I said, I am a member of the Labour party and, broadly
14speaking, I take the Labour Party's point of view on
15current affairs in so far as I interest myself in them.
16I would not describe myself as an expert.
17 Q. [Mr Irving]     Do you allow the Labour Party to dictate your politics to
18you or do you have any ideas of your own in this respect?
19 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     It depends what you mean by politics. Of course I make up
20my own mind about things.
21 Q. [Mr Irving]     Your writings appear to be left of centre, if I may put it
22that way. You would not expect David Irving to write a
23book, for example, about feminism or the women's movement
24or something like that.
25 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes, though I have to point out that my work on feminism
26has been heavily sharply criticised by a number of

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 2 Q. [Mr Irving]     Well, maybe feminists are the kind of people who will
 3never be satisfied. Would that be correct?
 4 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     I cannot really comment on that. It depends what kind of
 5feminists you are talking about.
 6 Q. [Mr Irving]     You have written about 15 books have you, about 15 titles
 7so far?
 8 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     16, I think. Yes.
 9 Q. [Mr Irving]     They have been published widely around the world?
10 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     They have, yes.
11 Q. [Mr Irving]     How would you describe yourself? None of your books have
12been on a best seller list, have they? They are academic
13works, are they not?
14 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     They are academic works, though some of are written --
15I always try to write for a wider audience. That is to
16say I always try and write in a readable manner, and some
17of my books have sold I think quite well for works that
18are scholarly. My book "In Defence of History", which
19came out two and a half years ago, has I think sold about
2020,000 copies.
21 Q. [Mr Irving]     You are referring to this book, is that correct?
22 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Indeed. That is the American edition. I have no idea
23what that sold.
24 Q. [Mr Irving]     It spells "defence" differently.
25 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Indeed. That is why they had to reprint it. It is also
26appearing in Turkish, Japanese, German, Korean and a

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 1number of other languages. My book "Death in Hamburg"
 2I think sold about 20,000 copies in English and German.
 3 Q. [Mr Irving]     Are you talking about hard book copies or paper back
 5 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Both.
 6 Q. [Mr Irving]     Altogether?
 7 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes. I should also say that I have one won a literary
 8prize for history and I have recently been elected Fellow
 9of the Royal Society of Literature so it seems that my
10books are regarded as being literary in some sense.
11 Q. [Mr Irving]     It is quite difficult to write literary history, is it
12not, especially when you are quoting from document? Would
13you agree?
14 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     It is difficult. One has maintain a balance between
15accuracy, which is of course one's first duty, and
17 Q. [Mr Irving]     If you are translating a document from Chaucer in English,
18then you would not use the old language, you would use
19modern English, would you not? You would put it into
20modern English and this would not be considered in any way
21distorting the original. Is that right?
22 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     It depends. There are different versions of Chaucer.
23I cannot say I am an expert on Chaucer in any shape or
25 Q. [Mr Irving]     Obviously, if I am referring to translating from French or
26from German, it is sometimes very difficult to get an

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 1exact shade of sense on a word. Frequently there is no
 2exact comparison between the two words, between the
 3English and the German?
 4 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     This is, well, I think what I would say is that, of
 5course, you cannot do an absolutely literal
 6translation because the word order is different and words
 7have slightly different meanings, but the first duty of an
 8historian is to translate from a foreign language in terms
 9that render faithfully the meaning of the original.
10 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes.
11 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     And I think that any literary pretensions that one has
12must surely take second place to that aim.
13 Q. [Mr Irving]     How would you decide what is the faithful rendering of a
14particular word in translation? Would you look just at
15that word or would you take into account your own general
16knowledge of what is going on or would you look at the
17surrounding countryside, so to speak, of the paragraphs
18before and after?
19 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     I think you have to do all of these things and reach your
20own judgment as to what is an accurate translation.
21 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes, but the fact that you have used a word that is not a
22mirror image from one language to the other of a word in a
23translation is not necessarily evidence of a distortion or
24an intent to distort?
25 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     It depends on how you do it. I mean, as you know,
26dictionaries give a number of different alternative

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 1English equivalents for German words and you have to
 2decide which one is the most accurate in the
 4 Q. [Mr Irving]     Well, I will be dealing with this probably next week with
 5you when you come back, Professor, but you will accept
 6that, for example, a 1936 dictionary in German will
 7probably give a different meaning of a word from a 1999
 9 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     In some cases, most certainly, in some cases, not, and of
10course they give range of meanings which one has to use in
11different circumstances. It may well be, for example,
12that in 1942 or 1943 in some circumstances a word is used
13somewhat differently from the way it is used in 1936. So
14I would not take a 1936 dictionary as being absolute
15gospel for the usage of words in some circumstances in
161942 to 3. As I said, you have to look, as you said
17indeed, at the document itself and the surrounding
18documents, at the meanings, at the time, the people who
19wrote it.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     And take your own expertise into account, is that correct?
21 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     You have to use your judgment which is based on your
22reading of other documents, most certainly, yes, and,
23indeed, other people's of course. Other people will have
24worked ----
25 Q. [Mr Irving]     Sometimes the document itself will give you a clue. We
26looked at a document with Professor Browning, October

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