Irving v. Lipstadt

Transcripts

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

Pages 51 - 55 of 222

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 1     I may add that the points I have made do not
 2necessarily lessen the horror or the burden of guilt.
 3I have always accepted that Adolf Hitler, as Head of State
 4and government in Germany, was responsible for the
 5Holocaust. I said, in the Introduction to my flagship
 6biography, Hitler's War (this is a reference to the 1991
 7edition):
 8     If this biography were simply a history of the
 9rise and fall of Hitler's Reich, it would be legitimate to
10conclude: "Hitler killed the Jews". But my years of
11investigations suggested that many others were
12responsible, that the chain of responsibility was not as
13clear cut as that. Nothing that I have heard in this
14Court since January 11th has persuaded me that I was wrong
15on this account.
16     These latter points lead to another
17consideration. Your Lordship will have heard of the -
18largely successful - effort to drive me out of business as
19an historian. This Court has seen the timidity, in my
20submission, with which historians have already been
21fraught once Holocaust is questioned, not denied,
22questioned. One notable historian, whose name has been
23mentioned this morning, ordered by summons by myself to
24attend, showed himself reluctant even to confirm what he
25had written in my favour, repeatedly, over the last 20
26years.

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 1     A judgment rendered against me will make this
 2paralysis in the writing of history definitive; from then
 3on, no one will dare to discuss who exactly was involved
 4in each stage of the Holocaust -- rather like in Germany
 5now, you cannot do it any more -- or how extensive it
 6was. From then on, discussion will revolve around "safe"
 7subjects, like sacred texts in the Middle Ages, or Marx in
 8the old Soviet Union, or the Koran in some fundamentalist
 9state today. Every historian will know that his critique
10needs to stop sharply at the boundaries defined by certain
11authorities. He will have a choice; accept the official
12version, holus-bolus; or stop being an historian.
13     A judgment in my favour does not mean that the
14Holocaust never happened; it means only that in England
15today discussion is still permitted. My opponents would
16still be able to say, just as now, would still be able,
17just as now, to produce other documents if they can; to
18expound alternative interpretations. They would be as
19free as ever to declare that they think that I am wrong
20and all the other things that have been said about me
21today. They would be impeded in one way only: they would
22not be able to say in a loud and authoritative voice that
23I am not an historian, and that my books must be banned.
24As a result of my work (and of this case) the Holocaust,
25in fact, has been researched more, not less. Those who
26(rightly) believe that these crimes should never be

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 1forgotten (and I stress the word "rightly"), these crimes
 2should never be forgotten, should ask whether their case
 3is better served by a compulsory - and dead - text imposed
 4by law and intimidation, or by a live and on-going
 5discussion.
 6     Our Common Law has at its kernel an
 7"adversCourier" procedure whereby, it is believed, truth is
 8best elicited by each side putting their case as strongly
 9as possible. We have heard some pretty strong things said
10today. I agree with English Common Law.
11     I read in The Independent, a newspaper in this
12country, in a lengthy and deeply libellous article
13published only last week about me, these words: "But if
14he wins, it will open the door for revisionists to rewrite
15any event in history without the requirement to consider
16evidence that does not suit them and without fear that
17they will be publicly denounced for their distortion".
18     My Lord, in bygone days, I venture to submit,
19such an article, published while an action was literally
20sub judice, would have been a clear contempt. Your
21Lordship will have noticed that I wearied, after a few
22days, of drawing attention to the coverage of this trial
23in the media. Allow me, however, to introduce one
24cautionary statistic: not including the fuss about the
25Eichmann manuscript, the British press have published no
26fewer than 167 reports during the seven days that I was on

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 1the witness stand, that is 24 per day; but just 58 reports
 2during the 20 days when the boot was on the other foot and
 3I was cross-examining Mr Rampton's fine witnesses, that is
 4roughly three per day. That is a disparity of about eight
 5to one. I make no complaint about that. If your Lordship
 6has noticed any of these items, you will perhaps have
 7observed that the reporting in both cases is almost
 8exclusively devoted to the defence statements, or their
 9questions to me, and not to the product of the
10examination. That is the way things are in a free
11society. The Court, however, operates by different
12standards, and it will not allow public sentiment, I hope,
13to guide its verdict.
14     I believe it was Churchill who once said, "There
15is such thing as public opinion, there is only published
16opinion". Given such a baleful glare from the press
17gallery, my Lord, I am glad that her Majesty has such a
18resolute officer presiding over this case. The outcome is
19in your Lordship's hands and yours alone, and I am glad,
20I am confident that nothing that the press has written, or
21may yet write, will deflect your Lordship from arriving at
22a just conclusion.
23     The Defendants have sold around the world a
24book, "Denying the Holocaust". May I say here that I see
25Penguin Books among the Defendants to my sorrow, as they
26have published my own works in the past. They continuing

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 1even today, however, and I stress this fact, to sell this
 2book for profit, in the knowledge that it contains very
 3defamatory allegations and that those allegations are held
 4to be untrue. It is a reckless, even foolhardy, gesture
 5which I submit, my Lord, goes to the question of
 6aggravated damages when the time comes.
 7     Neither of these Defendants evidently bothered
 8even to have the manuscript professionally read for
 9libel. I say "evidently" because we do not know: they
10have not deigned to enter the witness box themselves, no
11executive of Penguin Books, not the author who has, I must
12say, sat in this room for the two months that the trial
13has continued, neither of them has deigned to enter the
14witness box to answer even that most straightforward and
15elementary of questions, was there a libel reading of this
16book? Nor have they answered this question when it was
17put to them in writing. Such a report, a libel report,
18is, in my submission, not privileged, and I would have
19been well prepared to argue the point; had they claimed
20that privilege, I would have asked, "On what grounds?" If
21a report was written, it should and no doubt would have
22been disclosed, and it was not disclosed. So we are
23entitled to assume that they did not bother to have the
24book read. It does not exist, the report.
25     Whatever other limited excuses - whether of
26sheer ignorance, or of innocent dissemination - that the

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