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

Table of Contents

Case for the Defendants

5.113The Defendants also cite Irving's treatment of the shooting of these Jews as another instance of his misrepresentation of events and his determination to exculpate Hitler from responsibility for their fate. In particular the Defendants criticise Irving for his omission to record what Bruns had to say about the shooting of Berlin Jews. In 1941 Bruns had been a colonel stationed in Riga. Later in 1945, when in captivity, he spoke about the shooting to fellow prisoners. His words were surreptitiously recorded so (say the Defendants) there is no reason to suppose he was not telling the truth. The transcript records him as saying that a junior officer named Altemeyer had told him that the Berlin Jews were to be shot "in accordance with the Fuhrer's orders". According to the same transcript, after Hitler had been informed of the shooting Altemeyer showed Bruns another order and said:
"Here is an order just issued, prohibiting mass-shootings on that scale from taking place in future. They are to be carried out more discreetly".
The Defendants contend that Bruns's words represent important and credible evidence from a reliable witness, firstly, that Hitler personally ordered the Riga executions and, secondly, that once informed of the shooting Hitler, far from prohibiting such conduct in the future, ordered that shootings of this kind it should continue but on a more discreet basis.
5.114Despite the crucial importance of Bruns's evidence, of which Irving was aware, there is no reference in any of Irving's books to his claim as to the apparent role of Hitler in regard to the deaths of the Berlin Jews in Riga. Reference is made to Bruns in the introduction to the American edition of Hitler's War, where Irving refers to Hitler's "renewed orders that such mass murders were to stop forthwith". The Defendants contend that this reference wholly perverts the sense of Bruns's account.
5.115In the text of Goebbels at p645 Irving writes that 1000 Berlin Jews and 4000 Riga Jews were shot on 30 November. According to Evans and Browning, the true figure was found in later reports to be at least twice that number and higher estimates of 13-15,000 were given in post-war trials. The Defendants are critical of Irving for minimising the number of those killed. They accept that he refers, albeit tucked away in a footnote, to a claim that 27,800 Jews were murdered but he there describes that claim as exaggerated. Evans testified that the figure of 27,800, which was reported by Einsatzgruppe A was probably justified.
5.116In relation to Hitler's attitude towards the shooting of the German Jews in Riga, the Defendants also criticise Irving for making no mention whatever of the evidence of Schultz-Dubois. This young Nazi officer was entrusted with the task of conveying to Admiral Canaris a report prepared by another officer based in Riga protesting at the shooting. The intention was that Canaris should raise the matter with Hitler. According to a letter from the widow of Schultz-Dubois, which is quoted in a book by Professor Gerald Fleming, Canaris did so but was met with the response:  
"You want to show weakness, do you mein Herr! I have to do that, for after me there not be another one to do it".
This, say the Defendants, is clear evidence that Hitler approved the shooting the Jews yet Irving suppressed it.

accessed 11 March 2013