Irving v. Lipstadt


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

Pages 31 - 35 of 181

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    I think it is also right to point out that I have very
 1who might be identified as right-wing.
 2 Q. [Mr Irving]     You have stepped into the shoes of Sir Geoffrey Elton at
 3Cambridge, have you not?
 4 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     No.
 5 Q. [Mr Irving]     Do you not hold the Chair of Modern History at Cambridge?
 6 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes, but he held the Reader's Chair.
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     Is he still there?
 8 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     He is dead, I am afraid.
 9 Q. [Mr Irving]     Well, he is not still there, is he?
10 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     No.
11 Q. [Mr Irving]     How would we position him on the political spectrum?
12 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Very difficult. I mean, I think in some ways he was an
13unconventional character. I did not know him very well,
14I have to say, but, on the whole, I think you could say he
15was right-wing.
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     What is the difference between "unconventional" in your
17vocabulary and "extremist"?
18 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     I meant more in terms of his rather unpredictable views on
19some subjects.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     A bit of a loose cannon?
21 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes, I would say that.
22 Q. [Mr Irving]     Not politically correct?
23 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     I think that is a very slippery term. I mean, it depends
24exactly what you mean by "politically correct". I am not
25sure that the term political correctness was very much in
26vogue at the time when he held the chair.

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 1 Q. [Mr Irving]     Let me assure you, I am not trying to lay any traps this
 2morning or, indeed, for the rest of today. We are just
 3generally exploring the terrain. So you do not have to
 4have any sense of reserve in answering the questions I am
 5putting to you because ----
 6 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Well ----
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     --- there are no traps.
 8 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Well, I am not an expert on Sir Geoffrey Elton whom I only
 9knew very slightly and I did not read, by any means, all
10of his work. I admired, what I did read, I admired it
11greatly. I thought he was a tremendous historian and also
12a very interesting man with pungent, strongly held views,
13some of which invited disagreement, some of which did
14not. But I thought, as an historian, he was in his own
15chosen field of Tudor Constitutional History, he was a
16very good historian.
17 Q. [Mr Irving]     Pungently held views or pungently expressed views. Is an
18historian entitled to express views pungently which are
19different from those of the common place?
20 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Most certainly, yes.
21 Q. [Mr Irving]     So what makes an acceptable pungently held view and an
22unacceptable pungently held view, in your view? Is it the
23supposed political leanings of the person who does the
25 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     No. I think that historians, what makes it, as it were,
26debatable within conventional academic, scholarly terms is

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 1whether historians' views are accepted -- I am trying to
 2think of an accurate way of putting this -- whether
 3historians views are put forward on the basis of documents
 4which are available and on a ----
 5 Q. [Mr Irving]     The objective sources?
 6 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     --- reasonable interpretation of those.
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     You attach great importance to the objective use of
 8sources, is that right?
 9 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     I do, yes.
10 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes.
11 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     I think the sources, as it were, have a right of veto on
12what one can and what one cannot say.
13 Q. [Mr Irving]     Express.
14 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     But within the area that is covered by the sources that
15you use, there is, of course, scope for some disagreement.
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     You have done a certain amount of research into the Nazi
17period, have you not?
18 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes.
19 Q. [Mr Irving]     This was not originally your speciality, was it?
20Originally, you came from a different era of history?
21 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes, I have researched on eras of the 19th and 20th
23 Q. [Mr Irving]     For some reason the Nazi era is a profitable era of
24research if one writes books? I do not mean this in any
25sense as a criticism.
26 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Well, I have to say the only book that I have done that is

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 1based on archival research on the Nazi period, a book
 2called "Rituals of Retribution" on the issue of capital
 3punishment in Germany since the 17th century, has sold
 4very badly. It is far too long and I am told that Penguin
 5regard it as something of an albatross.
 6 Q. [Mr Irving]     It contains acres of sludge, does it?
 7 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     I would not describe it as sludge myself, no.
 8 Q. [Mr Irving]     But I know the temptation. Is it true one finds documents
 9that oneself finds fascinating, but the readers probably
10do not?
11 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Well, I think its length has daunted an English language
12readership. It is about to appear in German and I think
13Germans are less daunted by very lengthy books. But it
14does cover 300 years of history in a major area and not a
15handful of years. It does cover a large subject.
16 Q. [Mr Irving]     I have a confession to make, Professor Evans. I had not
17heard of you before you were actually nominated as a
18witness in this case. This is not a criticism in any
19sense at all, and I wondered where on earth I could get a
20copy of your book. Then I found a copy of your book
21actually on my desk. Somebody actually sent it to me
22months earlier. I looked through it, and probably rather
23the same as you looked through my book "Hitler's War", you
24have never read my book "Hitler's War" from cover to cover
25except when this trial began, is that right?
26 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     That is true, yes.

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 1 Q. [Mr Irving]     You state in your expert report that you picked it up once
 2and leafed through it, is that right?
 3 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     That is right, yes. It was not really essentially on
 4areas with which I was concerned.
 5 Q. [Mr Irving]     At that time you were not dealing with the Third Reich or
 6with Adolf Hitler or with the decision-making processes?
 7 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Only in terms of teaching. I have been teaching courses
 8on the Third Reich for some years.
 9 Q. [Mr Irving]     And it would never have occurred to you to put my book on
10the list of recommended works?
11 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Not really. I think it is more concerned with military
12history than anything else. I do not know if you would
13accept that.
14 Q. [Mr Irving]     And the courses that are taught in universities and
15colleges do not cover military history, is that correct?
16 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Some do, but not the courses that I teach.
17 Q. [Mr Irving]     In looking at the book, did it occur to you that I had had
18access to sources that no other historians had had, and
19that this might, therefore, have made it valuable for
20teaching courses?
21 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     As I have said, I mean, the sources -- of course, it
22occurred, of course, it was clear to me that you had a
23justified reputation for obtaining sources which other
24historians had not had access to, but these sources and
25your treatment of them were not, I felt, really useful for
26the kind of teaching that I was doing on the Third Reich.

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