Irving v. Lipstadt

Transcripts

Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 32: Electronic Edition

Pages 16 - 20 of 222

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    The account given in the 1991 edition of
 1the need to kill the Jewish "beasts". And the brazen
 2transfer that Hitler's palliative remark on 16th April to
 3this meeting on 17th is perpetuated.
 4     My Lord, these two examples are but the tip of a
 5large iceberg imposed of numbers of other equally
 6egregious falsifications by Mr Irving in his written work
 7and in his public utterances.
 8     I conclude here, my Lord, with this, that the
 9Defendants say, on this part of the case: "Case proved:
10Mr Irving is, as was proposed at the outset of this trial,
11a liar".
12     My Lord, it might be thought that that would be
13enough to dispose of Mr Irving's claim, given the emphasis
14he places on the damage to his reputation as an historian
15which he says was caused by Professor Lipstadt's book.
16But the evidence in the case has covered a lot of other
17topics as well, and I shall, therefore, briefly mention
18them too.
19     Until 1988, Mr Irving had accepted the
20historical reality of Holocaust, but denied that Hitler
21authorized it or, until late on in the War, knew anything
22much about it. This position, for an historian, was
23described by Sir John Keegan, the well-known military
24historian, who was called on subpoena to give evidence in
25this court by Mr Irving, it was described as "perverse"
26and as "defying reason." Dr Peter Longerich, a

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 1distinguished historian of the period, who gave expert
 2evidence for the Defendants, called it "absolutely
 3absurd".
 4     And so it was, for reasons which can be stated
 5quite shortly.
 6     The Holocaust - that is the systematic mass
 7murder of millions of Jews, gypsies and others - took
 8place in stages.
 9     The first stage, beginning in the autumn of
101941, after Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union,
11consisted of mass shootings carried out specially-formed
12SS groups and their local allies. This continued through
13into 1942 and resulted in the deaths of up to 1.5 million
14Jews living in Russia and the Baltic states.
15     The second stage, which began in December 1941
16and continued through into 1943 or later, consisted of the
17gassing of the Jews of the Warthegau and Poland. This
18resulted in the deaths of probably as many as 2.6 million
19Jews (300,000 in the Warthegau and 2.3 million in
20Poland).
21     The third stage, beginning with mass
22deportations to the East in the autumn of 1941, culminated
23in the deaths by gassing, mostly at Auschwitz, of Jews
24from Central, Western and Southern Europe. This stage
25lasted until late 1944. Reliable recent estimates of the
26numbers gassed at Auschwitz/Birkenhau give a figure of

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 1about 1.12 million.
 2     Thus the total achievement of this horrendous
 3exercise in systematic mass murder was probably somewhere
 4between five and six million innocent lives.
 5     The whole of this gigantic operation was
 6orchestrated by Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsfuhrer SS, and
 7his able subordinates, such as Heydrich, Globocnik and
 8Eichmann.
 9     As Dr Longerich explained in court, Hitler and
10Himmler were long-time intimate associates. Himmler had
11been with Hitler during the 1923 putsch and Hitler
12appointed him Reichsfuhrer SS in 1929. Throughout the
13War, and certainly while the Holocaust was underway, they
14met frequently, sometimes two or three times a week, often
15for hours at a time and often alone together. It is,
16therefore, wholly inconceivable that during the whole
17three and a half years for which the killing lasted,
18Himmler could, or indeed would, have concealed from Hitler
19the enormous, systematic operation that he was directing.
20     This becomes all the less credible when it is
21remembered, as the documents show, that Hitler was the
22mainspring and driving force of Nazi anti-Jewish policy
23from 1923 onwards and that his anti-Semitism became
24noticeably more radical, if that were possible, from the
25date that he declared war on America (11th December 1941).
26     Thus, leaving aside all the specific evidence to

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 1be found in the contemporary documents, including
 2documents written by Himmler himself, which, fairly read
 3by an open-minded, careful historian, plainly implicate
 4Hitler, the overall picture is compelling: the Holocaust
 5could not possibly have happened without Hitler's
 6knowledge and authority. It takes only a moment's light
 7reflection to realize that the contrary idea is both
 8absurd and perverse: suppose, say, in July 1942, when
 9Himmler went to Lublin and Auschwitz to review and advance
10the mass killing in Poland, and on his return had lunch
11with Hitler (as he did) that Hitler, previously in a state
12of complete ignorance, and in any case opposed to any
13Final Solution that involved any more than deportation of
14the Jews to Siberia or Central Africa after the War, had
15suddenly found out what Himmler was doing. What, one
16wonders, would have happened to Himmler? Well, of course,
17it didn't, not then or at any time thereafter.
18     In 1988 Mr Irving's position changed
19dramatically. Not only did Hitler not know about the
20Holocaust, the Holocaust did not happen (which is why, of
21course, Hitler did not know about it).
22     The question is why? Why this change in
23Mr Irving's position? The one-word answer is: Leuchter.
24In April 1988, Mr Irving went to Canada, for reasons best
25known to himself, to give expert evidence at the trial in
26Toronto of a man called Ernst Zundel, a dedicated

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 1Holocaust denier, and since 1988, one of Mr Irving's
 2staunchest allies and promoters. While he was in Toronto,
 3he met a man called Fred Leuchter, also proffered by
 4Zundel, but rejected by the Canadian court, as an expert
 5witness. Leuchter was, it seems, some kind
 6of consultant on execution facilities in the USA. He'd
 7been to Auschwitz and Birkenau to seek "scientific"
 8evidence of the existence of homicidal gas chambers. He
 9made a report on his findings.
10     Mr Irving gave this report a cursory reading.
11His conversion was instantaneous. Even as he gave
12evidence to the Canadian court, the Holocaust had suddenly
13never happened.
14     In June 1989, Mr Irving gave a press conference
15in London, triumphantly announcing the English publication
16of the Leuchter Report, with a foreword written by
17himself. In his foreword, Mr Irving trumpeted the virtues
18of the Report, with particular emphasis on the chemical
19analysis of the samples which Leuchter had brought back
20from Auschwitz/Birkenau. "Forensic chemistry" proclaimed
21Mr Irving, "is an exact science".
22     And, my Lord, indeed so it is. Fred Leuchter
23had taken samples from the remains of the gas chambers and
24one sample from the delousing facility in the women's camp
25at Birkenau. The samples from the gas chambers showed
26small, but significant, traces of cyanide, the active

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