Irving v. Lipstadt


Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 20: Electronic Edition

Pages 46 - 50 of 215

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    Can I say that what is at issue here are Mr Irving's
 1quote at the top of page 141, "The story that the Germans
 2are using gas chambers for the mass extermination of Jews
 3is, so and so on forth, psychological warfare, etc, warned
 4the cabinet this is a lie that we ourselves had
 5invented." That is really what is at issue.     Yes. Nothing to do with Jews so far as I can
 6 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I follow that.
 7 MR IRVING:     This is very helpful. In fact, the witness has
 8been very helpful and this helps me to zero in on the
 9particular matter. Witness, will you therefore go
10straightforward to page 148 of your report? You are
11quoting here from a clip of Foreign Office documents, are
12you not?
13 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes.
14 Q. [Mr Irving]     In the Public Record Office. They are well-known
15documents and I am going to rely on the final paragraph of
16page 148. Is this document dated August 27th 1943?
17 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes, that is right.
18 Q. [Mr Irving]     At this time does Mr Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, who I
19think later became Lord Portland, state, "I think that we
20weaken our case against the Germans by publicly giving
21credence to atrocity stories for which we have no
22evidence." Is that right? Does he write that?
23 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     That is what he says, yes.
24 Q. [Mr Irving]     So at this time in August 1943 the British had no evidence
25of gas chambers, because that what is specifically being
26talk about in this document?

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 2 MR IRVING:     Are Jews Poles? Is there some distinction there,
 3Mr Rampton?
 4 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Anyway, I see the point. We have now at any
 5rate seen the whole document.
 6 MR IRVING:     My Lord, now I see that I have your Lordship's ear,
 7may I now ----
 8 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Could I just make a couple of points here? These
 9documents emerged during the formulation of a joint
10British/American declaration on German crimes in Poland,
11which is released at the request of the Polish government
12in exile, so it is focusing on Poles.
13 MR IRVING:     Do you agree that the statement concerned is on the
14facing page 147, and that the sentence causing problem is
15the allegation on the authority of His Majesty the king
16that Poles are "now being put systematically to death in
17gas chambers", and the word "systematically" figures in
19 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes. That is the first thing. The context of this is
20negotiations involving the Polish government in exile
21about German atrocities in Poland. The second point is
22that of course Cavendish-Bentinck's position is not
23necessarily to be accepted as a correct one. He was
24extremely sceptical, and indeed has been criticised by
25historians for his negative attitude towards reports. As
26he says, the Poles and, to a far greater extent, the Jews

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 1tend to exaggerate German atrocities in order to stoke us
 3 MR IRVING:     Are you saying that he was anti-semitic?
 4 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Thirdly, and the really crucial point here is that this is
 5not the same as saying that these stories about gas
 6chambers have been invented, deliberately invented. What
 7he says is: "As regards putting Poles to death in gas
 8chambers I do not believe there is any evidence that this
 9has been done." I am bound to say that is probably
10correct. He goes on to say: "There may have been stories
11to this effect and we have played them up in PWE rumours
12without believing that they had any foundation".
13 MR IRVING:     What is PWE?
14 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Political Warfare Executive. "At any rate", he says,
15"there is far less evidence than exists for the mass
16murder of Polish officers by the Russians at Katyn. On
17the other hand we do know that the Germans are out to
18destroy the Jews of any age unless they are fit for manual
19labour". So what he is saying is this. He is not saying
20we have deliberately cooked up these atrocity stories. He
21is saying we have received stories which we are using.
22That is quite a different matter from what say. You say
23they are invented by the PWE. Secondly, he is saying it
24is about Poles, and he is making a distinction, saying
25explicitly that the Germans are out to destroy the Jews of
26any age unless they are fit for manual labour. That is

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 1really the context of the quote that you originally gave.
 2 Q. [Mr Irving]     Very interesting. Will you now tell the court who Victor
 3Cavendish-Bentinck was?
 4 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     He was a Foreign Office official, I think.
 5 Q. [Mr Irving]     He was Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, was
 6he not?
 7 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Right, yes.
 8 Q. [Mr Irving]     Did he therefore have access to every single scrap of
 9intelligence evidence that came into the British
10community's hands?
11 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     I doubt very much whether he had that. He would have
12received more general reports, I imagine, but I am not an
13expert on British intelligence in the Second World War.
14 Q. [Mr Irving]     As Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee he
15received all the police decodes, all the other decodes,
16all the intercepts, all the agents reports, all the
17prisoner of war messages, is that not right?
18 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     I do not know, to be quite honest. I am not an expert on
19British intelligence. That sounds an awful lot for one
20man to master by himself. As I said, I would imagine that
21he would have received summaries of some description.
22 Q. [Mr Irving]     The fact remains that he states in August 1943, when
23requested to authorize a government statement signed by
24Churchill and Roosevelt, that Poles were being
25systematically put to death in gas chambers on the facing
26page. He specifically issues a minute to the Foreign

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