[The Van Pelt Report]: Electronic Edition, by Robert Jan van Pelt

Table of Contents
<< 4. Relevant documentation...

5. Relevant material and opinions

  • (a) The relevant material on which I have based my report and conclusions is detailed in the footnotes to my report.
  • (b) The material relating to the history of Auschwitz is derived from various evidential historical sources which can be categorized as follows:
    • (i) contemporaneous documents such as letters, blueprints, minutes of meetings held in the Auschwitz Central Construction Office, budgets, contractors' bids, requests for material allocations, invoices, and so on, which are found in the archive of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, the Osobyi archive in Moscow (this collection has been microfilmed, and is available in microfilm format at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.), and the German Federal Archive in Koblenz;
    • (ii) unpublished transcripts of the trials of (a)Rudolf Höss, held in Warsaw in   1947; (b)the Auschwitz architects Walther Dejaco and Fritz Ertl, held in Vienna in 1972;
    • (iii) published transcripts of the trials of (a) Josef Kramer and others held in Lüneburg in 1945; (b) Hermann Goering and others held in Nuremberg in 1945 and 1946; (c) Adolf Eichmann held in Jerusalem in 1961; (d) Mulka and others held in Frankfurt in 1963, 1964 and 1965;
    • (iv) contemporary newspaper articles, magazine articles and other publications reporting on the situation in the concentration camps;
    • (v) contemporary documents and reports,such as the Vrba-Wetzlar report or the transcripts of the Höss interrogations in Nuremberg, published after the war in edited collections;
    • (vi) memoirs, such as the autobiography of Rudolf Höss, written and published after the war;
    • (vii) academic historical studies published after the war.
  • (c) The material relating to Holocaust Denial in general, the Faurisson Affair, the Zündel Trial and the Leuchter Report is derived form various evidential historical sources which can be categorized as follows:
    • (i) contemporaneous documents such as letters that became available in Irving's Further Discovery;
    • (ii) unpublished transcripts of the trials of Ernst Zündel held in Toronto in 1985 and 1988;
    • (iii) the published writings of Holocaust deniers like Paul Rassinier, Robert Faurisson, Arthur Butz, Thies Christophersen, Wilhelm Stäglich, and Fred Leuchter;
    • (iv) contemporary newspaper articles, magazine articles and other publications reporting on Holocaust denial;
    • (v) published academic studies of Holocaust denial.
  • (d) The material relating to David Irving's engagement with Auschwitz, the Holocaust, Holocaust Denial in general, the Zü;ndel Trial, and the Leuchter report is derived from various evidential historical sources which can be categorized as follows:
    • (i) contemporaneous documents such as letters, audiotapes and videotapes that became available in Irving's Further Discovery;
    • (ii) unpublished transcripts of the trial of Ernst Zündel held in Toronto in 1988;
    • (iii) the published writings of Irving;
    • (iv) contemporary newspaper articles, magazine articles and other publications reporting on Irving;
    • (v) published academic studies of Holocaust denial.
In my research, I have considered that there is a hierarchy of reliability in respect of these categories of sources which I have taken into account when preparing this report. The most important reliable source is contemporaneous documents and the published and unpublished trial transcripts. The reliability of the rest of the categories depends on the context in which they have been produced, organized or extracted. I have avoided any over reliance on one evidential source.
I have taken into account the fact that archival records are invariably organized and structured in a particular way when they are first put together and are necessarily set up to serve a particular purpose. The reliability of oral evidence depends on their distance in time from the event they are recalling, their role in the particular event, the interests of the witness in giving his or her account of the event and of the interlocutor in recording the account. I know that historians may be predisposed to accept the information uncritically in order to show that they have made a new discovery,and have tried to consider the evidence in its context,   having put aside all political or personal persuasions.21

Notes

21. While I did not allow my work to be guided by any personal persuasions, it will be clear that in researching and writing a report on the profoundly disturbing subject of the Holocaust at Auschwitz and the denial thereof some personal feelings did arise. I have expressed these in the Introduction to this report. These feelings did not affect my objectivity as a historian of either Auschwitz, the Holocaust, Holocaust denial, or David Irving.
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