Irving v. Lipstadt

Transcripts

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

Pages 26 - 30 of 222

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    In the light of Mr Irving's concession that
 1as an air-raid shelter, the stark conclusion can only be
 2this: It must have been used for gassing people, live
 3people.
 4     One residual shred of this aspect of Mr Irving's
 5Holocaust denial remains. He disputes the numbers of
 6people murdered at Auschwitz/Birkenau. This last
 7barricade of Mr Irving's is based on three
 8distinctly unstable legs.
 9     The first leg is the so-called "death books"
10released in recent years from the archive in Moscow.
11These are incomplete. They show a total of some 74,000
12recorded deaths from various causes. They relate,
13however, and could only ever relate, to the deaths of
14prisoners registered upon arrival at Auschwitz, that is to
15say, those destined to be accommodated in the camps at
16Auschwitz and, more particularly, Birkenau, as workers
17(for a time at least).
18     There was, however, a preliminary process at
19Auschwitz, which involved separating those deemed to be
20fit for work from the rest. This was called "selection".
21The vast majority, including the old, young children, and
22mothers with small children, were "the rest". They were
23gassed immediately without ever being registered; their
24deaths were never recorded.
25     There is a great deal of eyewitness evidence
26about this from both sides, perpetrators and surviving

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 1victims. This evidence is confirmed by photographs taken
 2by the SS during the so-called "Hungarian action" in the
 3course of which, over a matter of months, some 400,000
 4Hungarian Jews were gassed, in the summer of 1944. Thus,
 5once again, eyewitness evidence is corroborated by
 6contemporary documentary evidence.
 7     In the result, the fact that the "death books"
 8fail to record the deaths of perhaps 1 million people
 9killed on arrival is unsurprising and inconsequential.
10     The second leg of Mr Irving's last barricade
11consists of German police radio messages decoded by the
12British during the war. Some of these came from
13Auschwitz, and of course none mentioned gassings. For
14exactly the same reasons as the death books make no
15reference to those murdered on arrival, it is not
16reasonable to expect that the radio messages from
17Auschwitz would: people who were not registered on
18arrival at Auschwitz because they were not destined for
19work in the camp but, instead, for immediate death in the
20gas chambers, would obviously not be mentioned in messages
21about recorded deaths.
22     The last leg in the barricade is Mr Irving's
23contention that Auschwitz did not have sufficient
24incineration capacity for all the corpses of those whom it
25is generally held by historians were killed there. As
26Professor van Pelt convincingly demonstrated, by reference

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 1to a letter of 28th June 1943, from Karl Bischoff, the
 2head of the building programme at Auschwitz, to Berlin,
 3the potential incineration capacity at Auschwitz/Birkenau
 4at that time far exceeded any possible mortality rate
 5amongst the registered inmates from "natural"
 6causes, including the possibility of a repeat of the
 7typhus epidemic which had struck the camp in 1942. This
 8means that the incineration capacity must have been
 9calculated and built, as it was in due course, to
10accommodate the mortal remains of the hundreds of
11thousands of people who were gassed on arrival.
12     Faced with this, Mr Irving's only possible
13response was (as ever) to challenge the authenticity of
14the Bischoff letter. This challenge, in the end, turned
15out to be based on nothing more than the fact that the
16administrative reference on the letter did not contain the
17year date. In fact, copies of this document have been
18retained in the archive at Moscow since 1945, when the
19Soviets liberated Auschwitz and acquired the documents
20which the SS had forgotten to destroy. Moreover, the
21document was used at the trial of the Auschwitz
22commandant, Rudolf Hoess, in 1948, and again at the trial
23of the Auschwitz architects, Dejaco and Ertl, in 1971.
24Not unnaturally, Professor van Pelt saw no reason
25whatsoever to doubt the authenticity of the document.
26Amongst other reasons for rejecting Mr Irving's proposal

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 1that the document might be a postwar communist forgery, is
 2the fact that the incineration capacity shown in the
 3document -- that is 4,756 corpses per 24 hours -- is
 4very significantly lower than that estimated by the
 5Soviets and the Poles (both communist regimes) shortly
 6after the War. It follows that if the document were a
 7communist forgery, it would be a very strange one.
 8     Mr Irving's last challenge to the incineration
 9capacity was that the amount of coke delivered to
10Auschwitz at the relevant time would not, in the ordinary
11way, have been sufficient to meet the required rate of
12incineration. As Professor van Pelt demonstrated, this
13challenge is demolished by two considerations which
14Mr Irving had evidently ignored: first, the procedure for
15incineration at Auschwitz involved the simultaneous
16incineration of up to four or five corpses even in every
17muffle of the ovens; and, second, in consequence, the
18corpses themselves served as fuel for the ovens, the more
19particularly so if, as they generally did, they included
20the comparatively well fed corpses of people recently
21arrived on the trains and gassed on arrival.
22     Mr Irving's Holocaust denial is thus exposed as
23a fraud. It originated with a piece so-called scientific
24research which, on analysis, turns out, if it has any
25value at all, to support the overwhelming historical
26evidence that Auschwitz was indeed a gigantic death

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 1factory. Mr Irving's later adornments to his gas chamber
 2denial also turn out to be fragile conjectures based on no
 3significant research at all: it should be noted that
 4Mr Irving has never himself been to Auschwitz to examine
 5the archeological remains or the documentary evidence
 6contained in the archive. It follows that some other
 7reason must be sought to explain his devotion, over many
 8years, and even in this court, though his case has changed
 9and changed back again throughout the trial, to the
10bizarre idea that no significant numbers of people were
11murdered in the homicidal gas chambers at
12Auschwitz/Birkenau. The reasons are not far to seek.
13     As the evidence in this court has shown,
14Mr Irving is a right-wing extremist, a racist and, in
15particular, a rabid anti-Semite.
16     Two examples, again, amongst many, will suffice
17to illustrate this proposition.
18     In a speech which he made at Tampa, Florida, on
196th October 1995 to the National Alliance, a white
20supremacist and profoundly anti-Semitic group, Mr Irving
21said this about the Jews:
22     "You have been disliked for 3,000 years. You
23have been disliked so much that you have hounded from
24country to country, from pogrom to purge, from purge back
25to pogrom. And yet you never ask yourselves why you are
26disliked, that's the difference between you and me. It

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