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

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Hitler's knowledge >>

Evidence of system and the scale of the shootings

6.10 It is common ground between the parties that over a period which started in the summer of 1941 and ran on throughout 1942, vast numbers of Jews within the area of the General Government (as occupied Poland was now called) were killed by shooting. The Defendants contend, principally through the reports and evidence of Browning and Longerich, that large numbers of Jews were executed in this manner and that the executions were carried pursuant to a systematic programme which Hitler knew about and approved.
6.11 Irving accepts that the number of Jews who were executed was large but disputes that it occurred on the scale alleged by the Defendants. He accepts that the killing was systematic. After some hesitation he conceded that the evidence which he has now seen indicates that Hitler knew and approved what was going on.
6.12 Much of the material and documentary evidence relating to he shooting in the East was destroyed. What remains suffices to establish that (as Irving accepted) four mobile SS units called Einsatzgruppen were established by Himmler's deputy, Heydrich, who was Chief of the Security Police and Security Services. The Einsatzgruppen provided information relating, amongst other things, to the number of Jews and others who had been shot. The information was collated into reports which were sent to Berlin where Heydrich's staff processed the information into event reports (Ereignismeldungen). Activity reports were also prepared. These documents represent the primary source of knowledge about the shootings on the Eastern front up to the spring of 1942. In addition to the Einsatzgruppen, there were other units who were also carrying out killings. For instance a police unit, presided over by Jeckeln, who was a Higher SS and Police Leader, killed 44,125 persons in August 1941. Other units carried out mass killings on a similar, if not greater, scale.
6.13 On numerous occasions prior to the commencement of this trial, and in the early stages of the present hearing, Irving claimed that the shooting of the Jews in the East was random, unauthorised and carried out by individual groups or commanders. Irving compared the shooting to the tragic events at Mi-Lai during the Vietnam war. However, in the course of the trial Irving radically modified his position: he accepted that the killing by shooting had been on a massive scale of between 500,000 and 1,500,000 and that the programme of executions had been carried out in a systematic way and in accordance with orders from Berlin. On the vital question whether Hitler knew and approved the shooting of the Jews in the East, Irving was equivocal. In the end I understood it to be his position that he now accepts that Hitler did know and approve what was going on. But that at the time when he was writing about the treatment of the Jews in the East (which, as he rightly stresses is the material time for purpose of evaluating the Defendants' case against him) the available evidence did not implicate Hitler. I shall therefore concentrate on the arguments advance by the parties on that aspect.
Hitler's knowledge >>