Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Charles Gray

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Irving's response
Evidence of system and the scale of the shootings

6.39 I have already drawn attention to the number of those who, as Irving eventually admitted, were killed in the East. Irving acknowledged that the evidence shows that there was an appalling massacre of Jews on the Eastern front but he argued that, at least in their initial stages, the shootings were selective, confined to the intelligentsia and served a military purpose. He disputed that the shootings took place on the massive scale alleged by the Defendants. He suggested that many of the figures cited by the Defendants' experts and in the documents on which they relied were "fantasy figures".
6.40 Irving argued that the "ruthless, energetic and drastic measures" against the Jews ordained in the guidelines issued on 19 May 1941 did not mean that they should be shot but rather than they should be arrested and imprisoned. If the guidelines had meant that the Jews were to be killed, they would have said so. Longerich rejected this contention.
6.41 Irving pointed out that Heydrich's instructions of 2 July 1941 strictly limited the Jews who were to be executed to those in state or party positions. He did not accept that it was legitimate to infer that the instructions were intended to be construed more widely simply because the executions thereafter carried out extended far beyond these limited categories. Irving submitted that no evidence has come to light of any order which authorises the execution of broader categories of Jews.
6.42 Irving devoted a considerable amount of time in his cross-examination of Longerich to the details of the killings by Einsatzgruppen A, B, C and D which he derived for the most part from the reports submitted by them. Irving suggested, for example, that some of those reports were compiled by those who, like General Bach-Zelewski, were mass murderers and whose reporting is on that account unreliable. Irving did not accept that the reports of the Einsatzgruppen should be taken at face value. He argued that the leaders of the Einsatzkommandos, which made up the Einsatzgruppen, would have been anxious to impress their superiors with the numbers killed and so would have exaggerated the figures. Browning and Longerich both   accepted that some kommandos may have been anxious to avoid appearing to lack zeal and so may have exaggerated their achievements. But Browning considered the figures to be accurate as "ballpark figures". He added (and Irving agreed) that the numbers, even if not precisely accurate, are on any view huge. Longerich concurred. He added that the numbers do not derive solely from the reports of the Einsatzgruppen: there are other sources.
6.43 Irving expressed doubts about the logistical feasibility of the Einsatzgruppen having been able to carry out executions on the reported scale, given their limited numbers and equipment and the other tasks which they were charged with carrying out. The Einsatzgruppen consisted of only 3,000 men. But Browning pointed out that the army was called on to provide support. Longerich calculated that, if allowance is made for the auxiliary manpower available, the total number of those involved in the shootings would have been around 30,000.
6.44 Another argument canvassed by Irving is that the reports may have been inaccurate in their statements of the numbers of Jews shot because the SS auxiliaries would not always have known whether or not those they were executing were Jews. He suggested that this must have been the reaction of British intelligence when they intercepted reports of the numbers killed. Browning responded that the Jager report is illustrative of the care taken to classify Jewish men, women and children. He explained the passive British response to the intercepts probably reflected an inability on their part to comprehend the notion that the Nazis would devote resources sorely required for their war effort to killing vast numbers of Jewish men, women and children whilst there was a war on.
6.45 Irving also argued that there will have been many who, becoming aware of the wholesale murders taking place at the hands of the SS, will have fled eastwards into Russia (there to be met, no doubt, with the same fate). A report dated 12 September 1941 refers to the "gratuitous evacuation" of hundreds of thousands of Jews by inference across the Urals representing an indirect success for the security forces. According to Irving, in calculating the scale of the shootings, allowance should be made for the Jews who fled eastwards to avoid being shot. Irving also suggested that many of the murdered Jews died at the hands of local anti-Jewish populations as opposed being executed by the Einsatzgruppen. Browning's evidence was that such pogroms did occur but for a limited period only in the opening days of the war.
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