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Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 1: Electronic Edition

Pages 11 - 15 of 103

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    My Lord, it is almost 30 years to the day since
 1an historian, on the history of those events because there
 2are not without relevance to the proceedings upon which we
 3are about to embark.
 4     The occasion of that visit to this building was
 5an action heard before Lawton J, which became well-known
 6to law students as Cassell v. Broome & Another. It too
 7was a libel action and I am ashamed to admit that I was
 8the "Another", having written a book on a naval operation,
 9 "The Destruction of Convoy PQ17. That was the only
10actively fought libel action in which I became engaged in
1130 years of writing. There were two reasons for this
12abstinence; my Lord, first, I became more prudent about
13how I wrote and, second, I was taught to turn the other
14cheek.
15     The man who taught me the latter lesson was my
16first publisher. He had signed up my first book, "The
17Destruction of Dresden" which was eventually published in
181963. I had been approached in about 1961 by this
19gentleman, a well-known English publisher, Mr William
20Kimber. When I visited him in his offices (which were on
21a site which has long since been built over, buried by a
22luxury hotel, the Berkeley in Belgravia) I found him
23surrounded by files and documents, rather as we all are in
24this courtroom today, my Lord, and he wore an air of
25exhaustion.
26     Your Lordship may remember that Mr Kimber and

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 1his author, Mr Leon Uris, had become involved through a
 2book which Mr Uris had written, entitled "Exodus", in a
 3libel action brought by a London doctor who had been
 4obliged to serve at Auschwitz. That case was also heard
 5before Lawton J. There was one other similarity that
 6closes this particular circle of coincidence: like me
 7now, Mr Kimber was, in consequence, also obliged to spend
 8two or three years of his life wading, as he put it, "knee
 9deep" through the most appalling stories of atrocities and
10human delegation.
11     That day he advised me never, ever, to become in
12involved in libel litigation. I might add that, with one
13exception that I shall later mention, I have heeded his
14advice.
15     There have since been one or two minor legal
16skirmishes which have not involved much "bloodshed".
17There was an action against an author which I foolishly
18started at the same time as the PQ17 case and, having lost
19the latter, i was obliged for evident reasons to abandon
20it on relatively painless conditions; and a more recent
21actions against a major London newspaper who put into my
22mouth, no doubt inadvertently, some particularly offensive
23words which had, in fact, been uttered by Adolf Hitler.
24That newspaper settled out of court with me on terms that
25were eminently acceptable, my Lord.
26     I have often thought of Mr Kimber's predicament

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 1since the 1960s and, more particularly, the last three
 2years. I have been plunged into precisely the same "knee
 3deep" position ever since I issued the originating writs
 4in this action in September 1996.
 5     My Lord, by the way, does your Lordship actually
 6require to see the writs today?
 7 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      No, not at all; if I need to look at any
 8document, I will just mention that I would like to look at
 9it -- certainly not the writs. Thank you.
10 MR IRVING:      If I am late with the bundles and papers upon which
11this court relies, I can only plead this in mitigation,
12knee deep.
13     I have never held myself out to be a Holocaust
14expert, nor have I written books about what is now called
15the Holocaust. If I am an expert in anything at all, I
16may be so immodest to submit that it is in the role that
17Adolf Hitler played in the propagation of World War II,
18and in the decisions which he made and the knowledge on
19which he based those decisions.
20     As a peripheral matter to that topic on which
21I have written a number of books, I inevitably
22investigated the extent to which Hitler participated in or
23had cognisance of the Holocaust. That was the sum total
24of my involvement as a book author up to the launching of
25these writs.
26     Since then, because of the tactics chosen by the

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 1Defendants, my Lord, I have been obliged willy-nilly to
 2become something of an expert through no desire of my own.
 3To my utmost distaste, it has become evident that it is no
 4longer possible to write pure history, untrammelled and
 5uninfluenced by politics, once one ventures into this
 6unpleasant field.
 7     I have done my best to prepare the case that
 8follows, but I respectfully submit that I do not have any
 9duty to become an expert on the Holocaust, my Lord. It is
10not saying anything unknown to this court. I remind those
11present that, the Defendants having pleaded justification,
12as they have, it is not incumbent upon me, as the
13Claimant, to prove the wrongness of what they have
14published; it is for them to prove that what they wrote
15was true.
16     I intend to show that far from being a
17"Holocaust denier" -- the phrase in the title of the book
18 -- I have repeatedly draw attention to major aspects of
19the Holocaust and I have described them and I have
20provided historical documents, both to the community of
21scholars and to the general public of which they were
22completely unaware before I discovered these documents,
23and published them and translated them.
24     It will be found that I selflessly provided
25copies of the documents, that I had at great expense
26myself unearthed foreign archives even to my rival

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 1historians, as I felt that it was important in the
 2interests of general historical research that they should
 3be aware of these documents. I am referring, for example,
 4to the Bruns Report, my Lord, which we will shall shortly
 5hear -- it is the document which I provided to you
 6separately -- and to the dossier on Kurt Aumeier in
 7British files, a dossier which even the Defence experts
 8admit is one of the most important historical finds since
 9the writings of Rudolph Hoss, the commandant of Auschwitz,
10were published after the war.
11     My Lord, that actual document I quote all the
12relevant parts in the opening statement, but I have
13submitted the document to your Lordship as a courtesy.
14 MR JUSTICE GRAY:      Thank you very much.
15 MR IRVING:      There is one essential plea that I wish to make of
16this court: I am aware that the Defendants have expended
17a considerable sum of money in researching all over again
18the harrowing story of what actually happened in what they
19call the Holocaust.
20     I submit that, harsh though it may seem, the
21court should take no interest in that tragedy. The court
22may well disagree with me, and show a profound interest in
23it, but, in my submission, we have to avoid the
24temptations of raking over the history of what happened in
25Poland or in Russia 50 years ago. What is moot here is
26not what happened in those sites of atrocities, but what

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