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

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Hitler's views on the Jewish question (paragraphs 5.123-150 above)

13.26 Irving's submissions on this topic appear to me to have a distinct air of unreality about them. It is common ground between the parties that, until the latter part of 1941, the solution to the Jewish question which Hitler preferred was their mass deportation. On the Defendants' case, however, from the end of 1941 onwards the policy of which Hitler knew and approved was the extermination of Jews in huge numbers. Irving on the other hand argued that Hitler continued to be the Jews' friend at least until October 1943. The unreality of Irving's stance, as I see it, derives from his persistence in that claim, despite his acceptance in the course of this trial that the evidence shows that Hitler knew about and approved of the wholesale shooting of Jews in the East and, later, was complicit in the gassing of hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Reinhard and other death camps.
13.27 The evidence is incontrovertible (and Irving does not seek to dispute it) that Hitler was rabidly anti-semitic from the earliest days. He spoke, in his famous speech of 30 January 1939 and on other occasions, in the most sinister and menacing terms of the fate which awaited the Jews: they were a bacillus which had to be destroyed. The Defendants do not suggest that in the 1930s Hitler should be understood to have been speaking in genocidal terms. But, according to the Defendants, the position changed from late 1941 onwards. I was unconvinced by the strenuous efforts made by Irving to refute the sinister interpretation placed by the Defendants on Hitler's pronouncements on the Jewish question from late 1941 onwards.
13.28 I do not propose to make individual findings about the Defendants' criticisms of Irving's treatment of those statements by Hitler. I have summarised them and the parties' respective contentions about them in paragraphs 5.125-136 above. Much of the argument revolved around questions of translation. I did not derive much assistance from the debate as to how words such as ausrotten, vernichten, abschaffen, umsiedeln and abtransportieren are to be translated. I believe that Irving accepted the argument of the Defendants' experts that the Nazis often resorted to euphemism and camouflage when discussing the radical solutions to the Jewish question. For that and other reasons it was agreed on all sides that all depends on the context.
13.29 In my view consideration of the context requires an objective historian to take into account such matters as Hitler's history of anti-semitism; the importance in the Nazi ideology of achieving racial purity; the attacks on Jews and their property before the outbreak of war; the policy of deporting Jews and the systematic programme, approved by Hitler, of shooting Jews in the East. So considered, I am satisfied that most, if not all, of the pronouncements by Hitler which are relied on by the Defendants do bear the sinister connotation which they put on them. To take but one example, when Frank said on 16 December 1941 that he had been told in Berlin "liquidate [the Jews] yourselves", I am satisfied that the evidence strongly supports the conclusion that he was reporting what Hitler had said to the Gauleiter on 12 December and that Hitler had indeed given instructions for the liquidation of the Jews. That after all is what the evidence suggests happened on an ever-increasing scale in the following months. Irving's claim that Frank was telling his audience what he had told the authorities in Berlin (and not the other way round) appears to me to be wholly untenable.
13.30 As I have recorded at paragraphs 5.137-8 above, Irving produced another "chain of documents" in support of his contention that the attitude of Hitler to the Jewish question was sympathetic and protective. I accept that on occasion, particularly in the early years, Hitler did intervene on behalf of Jews (usually individuals or identified groups). I accept also (as I have already said) that until 1941 Hitler favoured deporting the Jews. But I note that few documents in this chain come after the autumn of 1941. Those that do are at best equivocal. It appears to me to be perverse to interpret Himmler's compromising letter to Berger of 28 July 1942 as referring to deportation. Objective consideration of that document suggests strongly that the responsibility with which Himmler said he had been entrusted by Hitler was the implementation of the policy of exterminating the Jews. I accept the conclusion of Evans that the chain of documents does little to justify or excuse Irving's portrayal of Hitler's views on the Jewish question.
13.31 It is my conclusion that the Defendants are justified in their assertion that Irving has seriously misrepresented Hitler's views on the Jewish question. He has done so in some instances by misinterpreting and mistranslating documents and in other instances by omitting documents or parts of them. In the result the picture which he provides to readers of Hitler and his attitude towards the Jews is at odds with the evidence.
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accessed 11 March 2013