Irving v. Lipstadt

Transcripts

Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 22: Electronic Edition

Pages 66 - 70 of 207

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    No. Well, it depends. As an actual style of handwriting
 1you have to learn it. I train my PhD students in it. It
 2does not take more than a few weeks and a little bit of
 3practice.
 4 Q. [Mr Irving]     And you are going to say that it is totally impossible for
 5any reader reading that line for the first time without
 6the benefit of what I would call cheats, in other words
 7printed versions of the document, to mistake in that
 8ancient German handwriting "H A B E N" for "J U D E N"?
 9Is that going to be your answer?
10 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes. I think you have to read this carefully. You thread
11your way through it. When you are reading handwriting, if
12you find something difficult to read or ambiguous, you
13then search for other similar letters, the same letter in
14other words in the same hand to try and figure out what
15that particular hand's version of a B or a D or an E or a
16U actually looks like. What we are dealing with here is
17your claim that that says, "Juden zu bleiben" or, as you
18say in Hitler's War in 1977, Himmler telephoned Paul with
19the order that Jews are to stay where they are. Whereas
20in fact it is "Verwaltungsfuhrer der SS haben zu bleiben",
21it is the administrative offices of the SS have to stay.
22     From this text there are a number of indications
23which somebody who was not biased and looking for some
24evidence to the contrary, that is say an objective
25historian, that this is "haben zu bleiben". First of all,
26the fact that it is indented, the second line "haben

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 1zu bleiben" does suggest that it runs on from the first
 2line. The new entries here begin right next to the middle
 3of the page. They are not indented. Secondly, this
 4writer, as is common in this handwriting, generally puts a
 5kind of what you might call a little inverted circumflex
 6over a U.
 7 Q. [Mr Irving]     Invariably or generally?
 8 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Generally. Obviously, this is written in some haste.
 9 Q. [Mr Irving]     So that is not the clue then?
10 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     That is a general tendency and you can see that above
11"Besuch" with a little thing over the U.
12"Fliegermeldungen" is another one there at the top.
13There is another one over the U. So that is the general
14habit of this writer.
15 Q. [Mr Irving]     But not invariable?
16 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Well, you take that from -- that is one of a number of
17indications. That is the second one. Then you compare Bs
18and Ds. You can see, when you compare the B of "bleiben"
19with a B, or if that B in "haben" is a D, making it
20"Juden", then you look for another D to see whether that
21is the way the writer writes, and so on and so forth. I
22think we have been through this at some length in
23cross-examination.
24 Q. [Mr Irving]     You are going through it at some length, but can I now ask
25you a simple question? You have gone through this at some
26length. Does that indicate it is quite difficult to read

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 1words like this?
 2 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     It was a conditional. I said, if you are having
 3difficulty, if you are finding it a problem, then that is
 4what you do as an objective historian. Myself, I think it
 5is very clear from this.
 6 Q. [Mr Irving]     Of course, if you came to the conclusion that it was
 7reasonable, if you privately came to the conclusion it was
 8a reasonable kind of mistake to make when one is reading
 9that document for the first time, you would immediately
10tell the court, would you not?
11 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes I would.
12 Q. [Mr Irving]     You would have no hesitation in saying to the court that,
13yes, this is a reasonable mistake for David Irving to
14make. Although I do not like him, on this occasion I will
15say this is quite right. You would do that, would you
16not?
17 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     I do not dislike you, Mr Irving. I have no personal
18feelings at all. But I do not think this is a reasonable
19mistake to make.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     Yes.
21 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Can I ask you two questions actually, one is
22I cannot remember what "Verwaltungsfuhrer" is.
23 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Administrative officers or leaders -- Administrative
24leaders.
25 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     And the other is the extent of the textual analysis of the
26kind you have just described that you undertake depends in

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 1a way on the significance of the document. I mean, some
 2documents you really are not going to spend ages trying to
 3work out. Is this a sufficiently significant document for
 4it to be reasonable to expect an objective historian to
 5undertake the sort of exercise that you just been
 6describing?
 7 MR IRVING:     My Lord, that is precisely question I was going to
 8ask.
 9 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I have asked it for you.
10 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     The significance that Mr Irving places upon it does
11require that, that is to say, when it says in Hitler's War
12that Himmler telephoned SS General Oswald Pohl with the
13order that Jews are to stay where they are. That is quite
14a significant statement and it, therefore, does require
15that kind of textual analysis. Normally, when you are --
16it is kind of the lowest form of historical imagination,
17as it were, when you find handwriting difficult and you do
18this. You can do it fairly quickly, in my view, with this
19particular...
20 MR IRVING:     Have you done this kind of textual analysis with
21every single document you looked at, Professor? Does it
22take you very long to write your books?
23 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes, I mean, of course I do this with documents, yes, when
24I am reading through them.
25 Q. [Mr Irving]     You look at a letters, you look at little caps over the
26Us, you look to see if it is a B or a D? You do this with

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 1every word you read, do you?
 2 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Yes. You get used to a certain hand and if it is -- if
 3you find difficulty in reading a word, as one frequently
 4does, then that is exactly what you do. I published an
 5edition of 350 handwritten police reports, as you know,
 6and they were quite difficult to read. I frequently had
 7to engage in this kind of exercise if they are written in
 8different hands by policemen who only had a very
 9elementary education.
10 Q. [Mr Irving]     But it would be normal if somebody came to you and pointed
11out and said, "Oh, I don't think this word is this, that
12word is probably that", then you would do that kind of
13textual analysis, but you would not necessarily do it with
14every word before you came up against that particular ----
15 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     Well, you would do it with words that were significant or
16difficult to read. I mean, normally, as I say, you get
17used to a hand and if you are reading through this, this
18is not a particularly difficult example of this particular
19script, in fact.
20 Q. [Mr Irving]     There are two obvious corollaries to the questions which I
21have to ask. The first question is, in your opinion, did
22I deliberately make this reading in order to serve my
23political bias? Was it deliberately perverse reading or
24was it an inadvertent misreading?
25 A. [Professor Richard John Evans]     I think it is a deliberately perverse misreading.
26 Q. [Mr Irving]     

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