Irving v. Lipstadt


Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 25: Electronic Edition

Pages 21 - 25 of 212

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    Can I now, if Mr Rampton does not mind, translate
 1not say, "The Reichsfuhrer SS", that is Heinreich Himmler,
 2"has ordered that the mortality rates are without
 3question to be held down. They have got to be reduced".
 4     So that is the overall tenor of this letter.
 5The camp doctors are not doing their job properly. They
 6have got to pay attention to the feeding and the health of
 7the prisoners. Himmler is getting angry because they are
 8losing so much of their valuable slave labour through
10 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Where do you get Himmler from?
11 MR IRVING:     The Reichsfuhrer SS. It is the last sentence but
12one, my Lord. The Reichsfuhrer SS es hat befuhlen?
13 A. [Dr Heinz Peter Longerich]     The bottom line for me is: "The programme to exterminate
14prisoners for work is going too fast. We have to make
15sure we did not kill too many in a short time". I think
16this is the context of document.
17 MR IRVING:     It is difficult at the last minute when documents
18are provided to me by lawyers around the world in doing
19these things. If your Lordship has any objection, then I
20would not take it further.
21 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     No, I do not. I think this document is
22rather different from your manuscript and I think we will
23proceed cautiously, but for the moment let us assume it is
25 MR IRVING:     If you just look at the first page of this document
26and run your eye over it, is Pohl sending a message to all

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 1the concentration camp commandants, 19 of them, saying:
 2"It is time to stop the rough and ready measures with
 3prisoners. We are losing them like flies. We need their
 4manpower. Look after them better"?
 5 A. [Dr Heinz Peter Longerich]     Well, first of all, I have to express my reservations
 6about this document. I do not know the context. I do not
 7know the archive. But on the assumption that this is an
 8authentic document, yes, it is a letter to the 19 heads of
 9the concentration camps, and obviously the document is
10saying that they have to improve their measures to keep
11prisoners alive, so which is a kind of reference to what
12happened in the camps before, I think.
13 Q. [Mr Irving]     Indeed, and paragraph 5 of that first page says: "Not
14from any false sentimentality but because we need their
15arms and legs because those are helping the German people
16to get to a great victory. That is why we have got to
17start paying attention to the welfare of the prisoners"?
18 A. [Dr Heinz Peter Longerich]     Yes. That is stated here in this document.
19 Q. [Mr Irving]     Then the next page, page 2, the heading is, "Foodstuffs,
20food, feeding"?
21 A. [Dr Heinz Peter Longerich]     I do not have the time to read now.
22 Q. [Mr Irving]     Well, I am just asking you to look at the headings. That
23all we need, I think. Page 2 he is talking about the
24feeding. The following page, paragraph 2, is called
25"Clothing". Then down to the bottom of that page,
26"Natural Medications" or "Health" ----

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 1 A. [Dr Heinz Peter Longerich]     Yes.
 2 Q. [Mr Irving]     --- "stuff".
 3 A. [Dr Heinz Peter Longerich]     Well, I cannot, you know, I cannot read so fast but under
 4"Clothing" it is stated here: "I decide that during the
 5winter, as far as far as available, prisoners should wear
 6coats, pullover, socks", so that should give you an idea
 7about the standards which actually existed in the
 8concentration camps before this letter arrived, and it
 9says, it says "as far as available", so it does not
10actually say, "Give the men, you know, proper clothing".
11It is saying, you know, "You can give them socks if they
12are available and nothing more". So I think this gives
13you a kind of an idea of this.
14 Q. [Mr Irving]     Over the page, paragraph 4 is called "Avoiding unnecessary
15exertions". For example, these frequent parades were they
16were held standing for hours while they were counted
17zielappelle ----
18 A. [Dr Heinz Peter Longerich]     Yes.
19 Q. [Mr Irving]     --- are to be kept as short as possible, and so on. In
20other words, there seems to be a reversal of existing
21policy because they are losing prisoners like flies to
22what I would call non-violent causes.
23 A. [Dr Heinz Peter Longerich]     That is your interpretation, yes.
24 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Well, what is yours?
25 A. [Dr Heinz Peter Longerich]     Well, they started in the concentration camps a programme
26which they called "extermination through work". So they

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 1used hard labour as a tool, as a means to kill prisoners.
 2This was the practice before. Now, at October '43, it is
 3not really surprising they are a bit cautious here and
 4they are trying to improve as far as they can, trying to
 5improve in some sense the general conditions of the
 6prisoners. But, of course, this is a document, I mean,
 7this document is, of course, sent to the head of the
 8concentration camps -- nothing to do with the
 9extermination camps, for instance.
10 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     I was going to ask you about that.
11 A. [Dr Heinz Peter Longerich]     Yes. So, as far as Auschwitz is concerned, it concerns
12the slave labours within the camp. It does not say
13anything about the people who were deported to the camp
14and selected in front of the camp.
15     If one, you know, if I have to -- if I were in
16the position to give you a kind of expert's opinion on the
17condition in the concentration camps at the end of 1943,
18I would not completely rely on this document. It would be
19completely unprofessional to rely on this one document.
20One has to look, of course, at all kind of circumstances.
21One has to look at the death rates. They had statistics
22on the death rates and I had to look at those, and so on.
23You know, the problem with this kind of document is that
24if you have not seen the file, in the file in the next bit
25you could find a document which says, "Well, I recall my
26order from last week". If you do not have the context, it

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 1is difficult to make, you know, a general statement as an
 2historian about the condition in this camp, and whether
 3they really, you know, in the way gave up this idea of
 4extermination through work in the end of 1943 and how far
 5they still carried on with this policy.
 6 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Can I just ask you one question? You refer
 7to the death rates and they were being reported, for
 8example, from Auschwitz on a regular basis?
 9 A. [Dr Heinz Peter Longerich]     Yes.
10 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     Death rates of those in the camps?
11 A. [Dr Heinz Peter Longerich]     Yes.
12 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     The inmates in the camps?
13 A. [Dr Heinz Peter Longerich]     Yes, exactly.
14 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     Do you recall, in general, whether the death rate reduced
15around October 1943?
16 A. [Dr Heinz Peter Longerich]     I cannot -- I think I should not speculate.
17 Q. [Mr Justice Gray]     No.
18 A. [Dr Heinz Peter Longerich]     I do not have the statistics here and I cannot answer.
19 MR IRVING:     You do actually because they are just in one of the
20other documents in the bundle, my Lord. We are coming to
21the death rates in a minute.
22 MR JUSTICE GRAY:     Are we? Good.
23 MR IRVING:     Yes. Can I ask, if you have finished with your
24replies, Dr Longerich, now to look at the loose page
25No. 15? This is from the same kind of source, is it not,
26the administration of the concentration camp system, dated

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