Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 1: Electronic Edition
Pages 1 - 103 of 103
1IN THE ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE
1996 I. No. 113
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
2Royal Courts of Justice
4 Tuesday, 11th January 2000
7MR JUSTICE GRAY
9B E T W E E N: DAVID JOHN CAWDELL IRVING
11(1) PENGUIN BOOKS LIMITED
12(2) DEBORAH E. LIPSTADT
14The Claimant appeared in person
15MR RICHARD RAMPTON Q.C. (instructed by Messrs Davenport Lyons and Mishcon de Reya) appeared on behalf of the First and
17MISS ROGERS (instructed by Davenport Lyons) appeared on behalf of the First Defendant Penguin Books Limited
18MR ANTHONY JULIUS (of Mishcon de Reya) appeared on behalf of
19the Second Defendant Deborah Lipstadt
21(Transcribed from the stenographic notes of Harry Counsell & Company,
Clifford's Inn, Fetter Lane, London EC4
23 PROCEEDINGS - DAY ONE
1 Tuesday, 11th January 2000.
2 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Mr Irving and Mr Rampton, I am conscious that
3this court is not capable of accommodating all who would
4like to be here.
5 MR RAMPTON: Including counsel, my Lord!
6 THE CHAIRMAN: Including counsel -- you have rather more space
7than some of the people at the back. All I can say is
8that we have done our best to find a court that can
9accommodate the technology and is physically big enough to
10cope with all the bundles.
11 I would like to be able to say that we could try
12to find another court where everybody could be found a
13place to sit down, but I just do not think it is
14possible. I will make enquiries, but it is very desirable
15that everybody who wants to be here should be here and
16I am afraid they are not. So I will make enquiries, but
17I think we will probably have to stay here, so I hope
18everyone will put up with the discomfort and I am sorry
20 Mr Irving, I have a copy of your opening
21 statement. Are there any other preliminary matters that
22need to be discussed and decided before you embark on it?
23 MR IRVING: My Lord, I did address a letter to you within the
24last few days recommending that before I embark on my
25opening statement, with your Lordship's permission, we
26address one or two procedural matters ----
1 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes, I thought there might be.
2 MR IRVING: --- covering the opening phase and also how, with
3the agreement of the Defendants, we propose to structure
4the hearing of this action.
5 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes.
6 MR IRVING: The most interesting part of the action in the
7light of history is, undoubtedly, the Holocaust and
8Auschwitz and is also, I think we all apprehend, the most
9complicated to prepare. By agreement between the parties,
10we propose to divide the action into these two phases, but
11basically all the rest followed by Auschwitz, if I have
12understood the proposals also made by the Defendants in
14 MR RAMPTON: I think that is a misunderstanding. I had
15supposed that we were going to do Auschwitz first, and if
16that causes Mr Irving a difficulty -- I am not saying
17whose fault the understanding is, but misunderstanding,
18however, it undoubtedly is -- we have scheduled our
19Auschwitz expert, Professor van Pelt, it to be here for
20the last week in January which is about when I expected to
21start my cross-examination.
22 MR JUSTICE GRAY: So what is being proposed, that the whole
23case should be divided, as it were, into two?
24 MR RAMPTON: No, I do not think so -- well, in two, yes. What
25is proposed by us (and which Mr Irving has agreed to,
26though it appears there is a misunderstanding about the
1timing of it) was that Auschwitz should be dealt with as a
2discrete or separate topic.
3 MR JUSTICE GRAY: With the Claimant's evidence and then the
5 MR RAMPTON: The Claimant gives his evidence, I would then
6cross-examine him and immediately following that or his
7own re-examination, I would call the Auschwitz expert for
8the Defence, Professor van Pelt, who can be cross-examined
9by Mr Irving.
10 I had expected that process to start at the end
11of this month. From what Mr Irving has just said, it now
12appears that he has thought that Auschwitz would come at
13the end of the case which is contrary to my
15 MR JUSTICE GRAY: I am a bit surprised that there should be
16such a fundamental disagreement.
17 MR RAMPTON: I hear it now for the first time with surprise.
18I utter no word or criticism or blame. I do not know how
19it comes about. It may be that I should have when I have
20found out what has happened. But it is extremely
21inconvenient from our expert's point of view and he is not
22resident in this country. He is in Canada.
23 MR JUSTICE GRAY: On the other hand, Mr Irving must really be
24free as Claimant to take his own course, unless agreement
25can be reached to some other effect.
26 MR RAMPTON: I do not know there is much to be gained by having
1a discussion about that particular topic in front of your
2Lordship now. It seems to me we have to go back to the
3drawing board and work out a schedule which suits both
4sides. But, as matters presently stand, it would cause us
5a great deal of difficulty as we thought we had an
6agreement that we could start that topic first, but there
8 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Mr Irving, I think it is right that we do
9want to spend time discussing this in open court unless
10and until it proves to be necessary. Do you agree with
12 MR IRVING: I agree, my Lord, except that I would remark that
13I received on Friday evening after close of business about
146,000 pages of document relating to van Pelt's evidence,
15though I am surprised that they would imagine they could
16launch straight into the preparation of the Auschwitz
17section of the hearing without not giving us time to
18examine each and every one of these documents and have
20 On the other hand, I agree, we do not have to
21discuss it in open court. I am perfectly prepared to have
22Professor van Pelt come over in the middle of whatever
23else is going on and we can take him as a separate
24entirety. He is certainly an extremely interesting
25witness to be heard.
26 MR JUSTICE GRAY: My view really is this at the moment, that
1you are the Claimant, you have a right to take the case
2all in one bite or in two bites, whichever you like, and
3if it is to be two bites, then the parties will have to
4try to reach agreement and, if necessary, I can decide it.
5 MR IRVING: My Lord, we will try to reach an agreement behind
6the scenes with the Defendants in this matter.
7 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Will you try? I do realize you are wrestling
8with a pretty enormous burden as a litigant in person.
9 MR RAMPTON: That I entirely understand and it gives rise again
10in an entirely neutral way to this small problem: my
11cross-examination of Mr Irving will consist in some
12considerable degree of reference to Professor van Pelt's
13report and underlying documents, particularly the
14blueprints and the contemporaneous journal. I cannot
15judge when Mr Irving will finish his evidence-in-chief,
16but as soon as he does, then (as with him) I must be free,
17I believe, to cross-examine in whichever order I see fit.
18 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Of course.
19 MR RAMPTON: Therefore, as I say, I expected him to finish his
20evidence-in-chief probably towards the end of January by
21which time I would start straightaway with Auschwitz.
22 MR JUSTICE GRAY: What I would like to do at some stage (and I
23think now is not the right time) is to work out an
24anticipated programme. I am not going to say anything
25about time limits at the moment, but this is the kind of
26case where it may become necessary to keep the thing
1within sensible bounds.
2 MR RAMPTON: Absolutely, yes.
3 MR JUSTICE GRAY: But I do not think now is the time because
4I have not the feel for how it is going to go and I do not
5think it is right to ask Mr Irving to estimate anything at
7 MR IRVING: We all have constraints imposed on us, my Lord, by
8the fact that we have witnesses coming from overseas who
9have to fit in their visits here with their own academic
10time-tables. For this reason, I am showing a great degree
11of flexibility over the timetable and i am sure the
12Defendants will show the same courtesy.
13 MR JUSTICE GRAY: In a day or two's time, I think, if we spend
14half an hour -- perhaps if you would both like to think
15about it before then -- trying to work out how we hope we
16will make progress, and then do our level best to stick
17whatever programme we have decided on.
18 MR IRVING: Very well, my Lord.
19 MR JUSTICE GRAY: I think that would be sensible.
20 MR IRVING: I think that is probably the only advance
21procedural matter which I wished to address at this stage,
22my Lord, and with your Lordship's permission, I will now
23commence with my opening statement.
24 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Can I just raise one small topic with you,
25which is that you wrote, I think, that you are intending
26to show a couple of video clips.
1 MR IRVING: I do not think we will get to that today, my Lord.
2 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Right. I was not clear why they should form
3part of your opening. That is the only...
4 MR IRVING: They do not form part of the opening, my Lord.
5There are immediately following it.
6 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Right. If there is no objection, there is no
7objection. There is not.
8 MR IRVING: One of the video clips I wish to show largely
9because it contains about 20 minutes of the Second
10Defendant talking on television and, as I understand, the
11Second Defendant will probably not be giving evidence in
12person, and I thought it was fair that we should hear her
13in her own words explaining her position
14 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes.
15 MR RAMPTON: My Lord, before Mr Irving opens his case, can
16I say this in advance? I say it now and I hope I will not
17need to say it again. So far as the introduction of
18evidence by Mr Irving is concerned, there will be only two
19grounds on which I shall ever object, since this is a case
20which is being tried without a jury; the first is that it
21is a waste of time and the second is that it is designed
22to catch the public eye and is not relevant to the case.
23My Lord, those are the only two matters, otherwise I am
24happy to leave it to your Lordship. There may be whole
25areas which are not really much to do with the case, but
26if Mr Irving wants to go down those roads, then subject to
1case management, I have no objection.
2 MR JUSTICE GRAY: It appeared to me, having now spent quite a
3lot of time with the papers, in a curious way it is a case
4that does not depend to a very great extent on the oral
5evidence which is an unusual feature of a case of this
7 MR IRVING: My Lord, in this particular video which I wish to
8show, there are passages which show the Second Defendant
9making certain statements on which I wish to rely and also
10Professor van Pelt standing in a certain position in the
11site of Auschwitz making certain statements upon which
12I wish also to rely.
13 MR JUSTICE GRAY: There is no objection taken, so I would not
14dream of preventing you doing it.
15 MR IRVING: Yes, and that is the reason why I wish particularly
16to show those videos. I know videos are a sore point
17between us because we discussed this at the pretrial
18hearing. Your Lordship will remember that I am concerned
19about the state of commercially edited videos where there
20have been cross-cuttings ----
21 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes.
22 MR IRVING: --- and things cut out, and so on.
23 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes. Now do open the case.
24 MR IRVING: May it please your Lordship, this is my opening
25statement in the matter of David Irving v. Penguin Books
26and Deborah Lipstadt. I appear as a litigant in person
1and the Defendants are represented by Richard Rampton and
2Miss Rogers of counsel and by Mr Anthony Julius.
3 My Lord, there were originally three other
4Defendants as well who can be characterised here as
5booksellers, which your Lordship will observe that they no
6longer figure in this action, a settlement having been
8 This is an action in libel arising from the
9publication by the First Defendant of a book entitled
10"Denying the Holocaust" written by the Second Defendant,
12 As your Lordship is aware, the work complained
13of has attracted considerable attention, both in this
14country and in the United States and elsewhere since it
15was first published in 1993. Your Lordship will have
16before you my Statement of Claim in which I set out the
17grounds for my complaint, the consequence of which I am
18asking that the Defendants be ordered to pay damages of an
19amount which I will venture to suggest, and I will invite
20your Lordship to issue an injunction against further
21publication of this work and also order that the
22Defendants should make the usual undertakings.
23 My Lord, it is almost 30 years to the day since
24I last set foot in these Law Courts, and I trust that your
25Lordship will allow me to digress for two or three
26minutes, being (in my submission) something of
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
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
26 Your Lordship may remember that Mr Kimber and
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
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
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
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,
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
26 Since then, because of the tactics chosen by the
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
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
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
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
1happened over the last 32 years on my writing desk in my
2apartment off Grosvenor Square. That is what is at stake
4 To justify her allegations of manipulation and
5distortion, it will not suffice for Professor Lipstadt to
6show, if she can, that I misrepresented what happened, but
7that I knew what happened and that I perversely and
8deliberately, for whatever purpose, portrayed it
9differently from how I knew it to have happened.
10 That is what manipulation and distortion means,
11and the other, though fundamental, story of what actually
12happened is neither here nor there. In effect, this
13enquiry should not leave the four walls of my study, my
14Lord. It should look at the papers that lay before me and
15not before some other magnificently funded research or
16scholar, and at the manuscript that I then produced on the
17basis of my own limited sources.
18 My Lord, if we were to seek a title for this
19libel action, I would venture to suggest "Pictures at an
20execution" -- my execution.
21 Your Lordship may or not be aware that I have
22had a reputation as an historian and as an investigative
23writer arising from the 30 or so works which I have
24published in English and other languages over the years
25since 1961. I am the author of many scores of articles in
26serious and respected newspapers, including over the years
1in this country, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday
2Telegraph, the Jewish Chronicle, the Sunday Express, the
3Evening Standard, Encounter and publications of similar
4repute in Germany. My articles have appeared in
5newspapers ranging from Die Welt, Die Welt am Sonntag, and
6magazines and journals like Stern, Der Spiegel, Neue
8 My books have appeared between hard covers under
9the imprint of the finest publishing houses. I might
10mention in this country the imprints of William Kimber
11Ltd, Cassell & Company Ltd, Macmillan Limited, Hodder &
12Stoughton, Penguin -- Penguin, the First Defendants in
13this action -- and Allen Lane and others. As the Second
14Defendant is, I understand, an American citizen, it might
15be meritorious for me to add that my works have also been
16published by her country's leading publishing houses too,
17including the Viking Press, Little, Brown, Simon &
18Schuster, Holt, Reinhardt, Winston, St Martin's Press and
19a score of no less reputable paperback publishing houses.
20 Each of those published works by me contained in
21or near the title page a list of my previous publications
22and frequently a sample of the accolades bestowed on my
23works by the leading names of literature and
24historiography on both sides of the Atlantic.
25 This happy situation, namely having my works
26published in the leading publishing houses of the world,
1ended a year ago, a year or two ago, under circumstance
2which I shall venture, if your Lordship permits, to set
3out later in my remarks. Suffice it to say that this very
4day, during the night, the Australia/Israel Review has
5published in Sydney, Australia, a presumably well-informed
6article (of which I have provided a copy to your Lordship;
7I have marked the sentence on which I rely) coming as it
8does from their corner, which provides one missing link in
9the circumstances under which St Martin's Press finally
10terminated their contract to publish my book, "Goebbels.
11Mastermind of the Third Reich". I quote:
12 "... One of the catalysts for the case was
13Irving's", they are talking about this action today,
14 "experience with American publisher, St Martin's Press,
15which, after being warned by Lipstadt and others about
16Irving's approach to history, then cancelled its agreement
17to publish Irving's book 'Goebbels. Mastermind of the
18Third Reich' in the United States."
19 So these Defendants have done very real damage
20to my professional existence. May I, first of all, set
21out the very real pecuniary damage which can be done to an
22author in general terms, my Lord, by an attack on his
23reputation. It is not merely that he suffers injury and
24hurt to his feelings from unjustified attacks, whatever
25their nature; an author, by virtue of his trade, lives a
26precarious financial existence. A tenured professor or
1other scholar can look forward to a brief career, lengthy
2vacations, high rewards and eventually a pension. Perhaps
3some members of the legal profession enjoy the same
5 A writer leads a much lonelier and more
6hazardous existence. When he first embarks on his career
7he may write a string of works that are never published.
8I was fortunate in this respect. When I first started
9advertising in The Times in 1961, inviting British airmen
10who had taken part in the principal operations of Royal
11Air Force Bomber Command to come forward, among those who
12contacted me was Mr William Kimber, a publisher of great
13repute, who himself felt deeply about the ethical
14questions raised by these saturation bombing operations.
15 I , therefore, did not have the usual problem
16that faces most first time authors, namely that of
17crossing the difficult threshold from being an unpublished
18to a published author. My first book, "The Destruction of
19Dresden" was serialised by The Sunday Telegraph and
20attracted much critical acclaim. It was only then that
21I took the perhaps fateful decision to become a writer.
22 If I may now advance rapidly some 20 or 30 years
23(and I sense the court's relief) I would repeat a brief
24conversation I had with my accountant at a time when I was
25earning more than £100,000 a year. My accountant, no
26doubt with his eye on the commission involved, asked what
1steps I had taken in anticipation of retirement. My
2immodest reply was that I did not intend to retire, and
3when he murmured something about pensions, I replied that
4my books were my pension fund.
5 If I may explain that remark? If an author has
6written a good book, it will be published and republished,
7and on each occasion a fresh ripple of royalties reaches
8the author's bank account. Admittedly, the ripples become
9smaller as the years progress, as the years recede, but if
10he his written enough books in his 30 or 40 years of
11creativity, then the ripples together make waves large
12enough to sustain him into and beyond the years of
13retirement. Indeed, they should also provide something of
14a legacy for his children of whom I still have four.
15 That situation no longer obtains, my Lord. By
16virtue of the activities of the Defendants, in particular
17of the Second Defendant, and of those who funded her and
18guided her hand, I have since 1996 seen one fearful
19publisher after another falling away from me, declining to
20reprint my works, refusing to accept new commissions and
21turning their backs on me when I approach.
22 In private, the senior editors at those
23publishing houses still welcome me warmly as a friend and
24they invite me to lunch in expensive New York restaurants,
25and then lament that if they were to sign a contract with
26me on a new book, there would always be somebody in their
1publishing house who would object; such is the nature of
2the odium that has been generated by the waves of hatred
3recklessly propagated against me by the Defendants.
4 In short, my "pension" has vanished, as
5assuredly as if I had been employed by one of those
6companies taken over by the late Mr Robert Maxwell.
7 I am not submitting that it is these Defendants
8alone who have single handedly wrought this disaster upon
9me. I am not even denying that I may have been partly to
10blame for it myself.
11 Had I written books about the Zulu Wars, as the
12Air Ministry earnestly advised me back in 1963, when my
13book "The Destruction of Dresden" was first published,
14I would, no doubt, not have faced this hatred.
15 Unfortunately, World War II became my area of
16expertise. I generated a personal archive of documents, a
17network of sources and contacts, a language ability, a
18facility to research in foreign archives and eventually a
19constituency of readers who expected and wanted me to
20write only about the Third Reich and its criminal
22 What obliges me to make these sweeping opening
23remarks is that I shall maintain that the Defendants did
24not act alone in their determination to destroy my career
25and to vandalise my legitimacy as an historian. That is a
26phrase that I would ask your Lordship to bear in mind.
1 They were part of an organized international
2endeavour at achieving precisely that. I have seen the
3papers. I have copies of the documents. I shall show
4them to this court. I know they did it and I now know
6 Nearly all of these villains acted beyond the
7jurisdiction of these courts. Some of them, however,
8acted within, and I have on one disastrous occasion tried
9to proceed against them too.
10 I mention here (and only in a few words) that
11one example: as the court will, no doubt, hear, I was
12expelled in the most demeaning circumstances from Canada
13in November 1992. I need not go into the background of
14that event here, but I shall certainly do so later if in
15their attempts to blacken my name further the Defendants
16indulge in that exercise in this court.
17 Seeking to establish why Canada, a friendly
18government of a country which I had entered unhindered for
1930 years or more, should suddenly round upon me as
20savagely as a rottweiler, I used all the appliances of
21Canadian law to establish what had gone on behind closed
23 I discovered in the files of the Canadian
24Government, using that country's Access to Information
25Act, a mysterious and anonymous document blackening my
26name had been planted there for the purpose of procuring
1precisely the ugly consequence that had flowed from it in
3 Stupid lies, among the stupid lies that this
4anonymous document contained about me was the suggestion
5that I had married my first wife because she was "the
6daughter of one of General Francisco Franco's top
7generals" in order to ingratiate myself with the Spanish
8fascist regime. Another suggestion was that I lived too
9well for an author -- I have lived for 32 years, over 32
10years, in the same house off Grosvenor Square, my Lord --
11and that to sustain such a level of living purely from my
12income as an author was impossible; the implication being
13that I was receiving secret cheques from Nazi fugitives in
15 I telephoned my first wife to ask her what her
16father had been. She reminded me that he was an
17industrial chemist, a dedicated enemy of the regime after
18two of his brothers had been shot by Franco's men. So
19that was the true story.
20 It took over a year to establish beyond a doubt
21who was the author of this infamous document. It turned
22out to have been provided secretly to the Canadian
23Government by an unofficial body based in London whose
24name I do not propose to state in this court here, my
25Lord, as they are not formally represented in this
1 Suffice it to say that when I applied to a judge
2in chambers for leave to take libel action out of time,
3the culprits made no attempt to justify their libels, but
4pleaded that the Statute of Limitations had run, which
5plea was allowed, though I maintain with regret, by
6Toulson J. The mendacious body concerned then had the
7temerity to pursue me to the threshold of the Bankruptcy
8Court for the legal costs it had incurred in that one day
9hearing, amounting to over £7,500. It is a rough life,
10being an independent author, my Lord.
11 This brings us to the present case. In 1993,
12the First Defendant (as they allow in their witness
13statements) published "Denying the Holocaust", the work
14complained of, within the jurisdiction, written by the
16 The book purports to be a scholarly
17investigation of the operations of an international
18network or conspiracy of people whom the Second Defendant
19has dubbed "Holocaust Deniers". It is not. The phrase
20itself, which the Second Defendant prides herself on
21having coined and crafted, appears repeatedly throughout
22the work and it has subsequently become embedded in the
23vernacular of a certain kind of journalist who wishes to
24blacken the name of some person, where the more usual
25rhetoric of neo-Nazi, Nazi or racist and other similar
26epithets is no longer deemed adequate. Indeed, the phrase
1appears over 300 times in just one of the Defendants'
2experts reports, "Holocaust denier", 300 times in one
3report, my Lord.
4 It has become one of the most potent phrases in
5the arsenal of insult, replacing the N-word, the F-word
6and a whole alphabet of other slurs. If an American
7politician, like Mr Patrick Mr Buchanan, is branded even
8briefly a "Holocaust denier", his career can well be said
9to be in ruins. If a writer, no matter how well reviewed
10and received until then, has that phrase stuck to him,
11then he too can regard his career as rumbling off the edge
12of a precipice.
13 As a phrase, it is of itself quite meaningless.
14The word "Holocaust" is an artificial label commonly
15attached to one of the greatest and still most unexplained
16tragedies of this century.
17 The word "denier" is particularly evil because
18no person in full command of his mental faculties, and
19with even the slightest understanding of what happened in
20World War II, can deny that the tragedy actually happened,
21however much we dissident historians way wish to quibble
22about the means, the scale, the dates and the other
24 Yet meaningless though it is, the phrase has
25become a part of the English language. It is a poison to
26which there is virtually no anti-dote, less lethal than a
1hypodermic with nerve gas jabbed in the neck, but deadly
2all the same. For the chosen victim, it is like being
3called a wife beater or a paedophile. It is enough for
4the label to be attached for the attachee to find himself
5designated as a pariah, an outcast from normal society.
6It is a verbal Yellow Star.
7 In many countries now where it was considered
8that the mere verbal labelling was not enough, governments
9have been prevailed upon to pass the most questionable
10laws, including some which can only be considered a total
11infringement of the normal rights of free speech, free
12opinion and freedom of assembly.
13 Germany has not had an enviable reputation in
14any of these freedoms over the last century, my Lord.
15True to form, in Germany it is now a criminal offence to
16question the mode, the scale, the system or even the
17statistics of the Holocaust. Criminal offence. No
18defence is allowed. Some good friends of mine, I have no
19hesitation in allowing to this court, are sitting at this
20very moment in German prisons for having ventured to voice
21such questions. One of them has been in prison for seven
23 In France, the situation is even more absurd.
24Any person found guilty in France under a new law aptly
25named an "amendment of the law on the freedom of the
26Press" finds himself fined or imprisoned or both. This
1law, passed in 1991, makes it a criminal offence in France
2to challenge (the French word is contester) any war crimes
3or crimes against humanity "as defined by the Nuremberg
4Statute" of 1945.
5 Fifty years on, it has become a criminal offence
6to question whether Nuremberg got it right. History is to
7be as defined by the four victorious powers in the
8Nuremberg trials of 1945 to 1946.
9 I respectfully submit and would, indeed, hope
10that your Lordship would find such laws if enacted in this
11country to be utterly repugnant. For that same reason
12I have no hesitation in saying that some more good friends
13of mine have been fined under precisely this French law.
14Indeed, in 1993 or 1994, I myself was fined the sum of
15£500 by a Paris court under this law.
16 I had given an interview to a French journalist
17in the study of my home in London. This interview was
18published in a reputable French journal. There were
19complaints in Paris and I was summoned before the French
20Magistrates and fined, along with the publisher, the
21editor and the journalist concerned for having given this
22interview. It is, indeed, a very sorry state of affairs.
23 My Lord, we may hear the word "conspiracy"
24uttered during the next few days and weeks. If there has
25been a conspiracy, it is a conspiracy against free
1 I might mention that my father fought as an
2officer in the Royal Navy in both World Wars, both in the
3Battle of Jutland in 1916 and in the Arctic convoys of
41942. Both my brothers have served with the Royal Air
5Force. My father was an arctic explorer between the
6wars. Admiralty charts show two island points in the
7South Sandwich Islands named after him and his first
8officer, my uncle.
9 I come from a service family and I find it
10odious that at the end of the 20th century writers and
11historians going about their own respective businesses,
12writing books that may, indeed, have been completely wrong
13have found themselves suddenly and vicariously threatened
14with imprisonment or with crippling fines having expressed
15opinions on history which are at variance with these new
16freshly enacted laws, which have been introduced at the
17insistence of wealthy pressure groups and other enemies of
18the free speech for which we fought two World Wars in this
20 Your Lordship will undoubtedly hear from the
21Defendants that I was fined a very substantial sum of
22money by the Germany Government under these witless new
23laws. It is no matter of shame for me, although it has
24had catastrophic consequences, as it now makes me de facto
25a convict with a criminal record and, as such, liable to a
26concatenation of further indignities and sanctions in
1every foreign country which I now wish to visit.
2 The circumstances these are these. I may say
3here quite briefly that on April 21st 1990, nearly ten
4years ago, my Lord, I delivered an address, quite possibly
5ill-judged, to an audience at a hall in Munich. When one
6agrees to attend such functions one has little way of
7knowing in advance what kind of audience one will be
8addressing, and has no control over the external
9appearance of the function. I make no complaint about
11 Your Lordship will hear no doubt that in the
12course of my speech, of which apparently no full
13transcript survives, I uttered the following remark:
14 "We now know that the gas chambers shown to the
15tourists in Auschwitz is a fake built by the Poles after
16the war, just like the one established by the Americans at
17Dachau." Those are two concentration camps, my Lord.
18 This may well raise eyebrows. It might be found
19to be offensive by sections of the community, and if they
20take such offence I can assure this court that I regret it
21and that such was not my intention. The fact remains that
22these remarks were true. The Poles admitted it in January
231995, and under English law truth has always been regarded
24as an absolute defence.
25 We shall hear, indeed, from the Defences' own
26expert witnesses, though perhaps the admission will have
1to be bludgeoned out of them, that the gas chamber shown
2to the tourists at Auschwitz was indeed built by the
3Polish communist three years after the war was over.
4 I think it is fair to note there that at this
5point Mr Rampton is shaking his head and I apologise if
6I have misunderstood the evidence given by their
8 MR JUSTICE GRAY: You carry on with your speech.
9 MR IRVING: I do not intend to go into the question of whether
10or not there were gas chambers at Birkenau, my Lord, some
11five miles from Auschwitz, in these opening remarks. By
12the time this trial is over we shall all be heartily sick
13of the debate which has little or no relevance, in my
14submission, to the issues that are pleaded.
15 So what are the issues that are pleaded and how
16do I propose to address those issues in opening this case?
17First let me emphasise that I also have no intentions, and
18neither is it the purpose of this trial, to refight World
19War II. I shall not argue and have never argued that the
20wrong side won the war, for example, or that the history
21of war needs to be grossly rewritten. I must confess that
22I am mystified at the broad thrust which the Defendants
23have taken in the vast body of documentation which they
24have served upon this court and myself, another 5,000
25pages delivered to me on Friday evening and more last
26night. It is all something of an embarrassment to me and
1I am being forced into positions that I have not
2previously adopted. I have never claimed to be a
3Holocaust historian. As I have said, I have no written no
4book about the Holocaust. I have written no article about
5it. If I have spoken about it, it is usually because
6somebody has asked me a question, I have been questioned
7about it. On such occasions I have emphasised my lack of
8expertise and I have expatiated only upon those areas with
9which I am familiar. In doing so I have offended many of
10my friends who wish that history was different, but you
11cannot wish documents away, and it is in documents that
12I have always specialized as a writer.
13 Your Lordship will find upon reviewing my
14various printed works that I have very seldom used other
15people's books as sources. I found it otiose and tedious,
16not only because they are ill-written but because in
17reading other people's books you are liable to imbibe the
18errors and prejudices with which those books are beset.
19If, however, you go to he original documents you will
20often find to your joy that the weight of documents you
21have to read is pound for pound, or indeed ton for ton,
22less than the weight of books hat you might otherwise have
23to read upon the same subject, and you are kilometres
24closer to the original real history.
25 As for the nature of documents, I remember that
26in 1969 I visited Professor Hugh Trevor Roper (now Lord
1Dacre who I am glad to say is still with us). He very
2kindly made available to me his considerable collection of
3several thousand original intelligence documents for my
4biography of Adolf Hitler, and in doing so he advised me
5as follows: When considering new documents you should ask
6yourself three questions. If I remember correctly, my
7Lord, those tree criteria were as follows.
8 1) Is the document genuine? (Possibly in the
9light of the "Hitler Diaries" scandal, an unfortunate
10pre-requisite in this case).
11 2) Is the document written by a person in a
12position to know what he is talking about?
13 3) Why does this document exist?
14 The latter is quite interesting, as we have all
15experienced in the archives, coming across documents
16obviously written for window dressing or buck passing
18 It is documents in this case which I think the
19court will find most interesting and illuminating. By
20that I mean the documents at every level. The court will
21have to consider not only the documents originating in
22World War II on both sides, my Lord, but also the
23documents that have been generated by that painful process
24known as Discovery. It will not escape the court, my
25Lord, when the time comes that like many personalities I
26have kept the most voluminous records throughout my career
1as a writer and even before it. Along with my writing
2career I have kept a diary. Sometimes I wondered why but
3I think the reason is basically this. If you are a
4writer, self-employed, you need the discipline that a
5diary imposes upon you, and you cannot in conscious enter
6in a diary at the end of the day: "I did nothing all
8 Your Lordship will be amused no doubt to hear
9that at one stage in the discovery process in this action
10at the request of Mr Julius, I readily agreed to make
11available to the Defence my entire diaries in so far as
12they still exist. A few pages are missing. Mr Julius
13only then learned that these diaries occupy a shelf eight
14feet long, and that in them there are approximately or
15probably 10 or 20 million words to be read. Mr Julius and
16his staff have, however, risen most nobly to challenge
17that these pages presented, and I am sure that over the
18next few days and weeks we shall be hearing more than one
19morsal that they have dredged out of the pages. They will
20hold it aloft, still dripping with something or other,
21read it to this court with a squeal of delight,
22proclaiming that this is the philosopher's stone that they
23needed to justify their client's libels all along. We
24shall see. That is not what this trial is all about.
25This trial is not really about what happened in the
26Holocaust or how many Jews and other persecuted minorities
1were tortured and put to death. The court will I hope
2agree with me when the time comes that the issue us is not
3what happened but how I treated it in my works of history.
4 It may be that I was totally ignorant on some
5aspects of World War II, and I hasten to say that I do not
6believe I was, but to be accused of deliberate
7manipulation and distorting, and mistranslating is
8perverse. The Defendants must show, in my humble
9submission, first that a particular thing happened or
10existed; second that I was aware of that particular thing
11as it happened or existed, at the time that I wrote about
12it from the records then before me; third, that I then
13wilfully manipulated the text or mistranslated or
14distorted it for the purposes that they imply.
15 I will submit that in no instance can they prove
16this to be the case. They have certainly not done so in
17the documents so far pleaded.
18 I readily concede that what I have read of the
19reports submitted by the Defendants' experts, particularly
20those of the historians, is of the utmost interest.
21I have to congratulate Professor Jan van Pelt for the
22literary quality of his lengthy report on Auschwitz, which
23will no doubt eventually see general circulation in the
24 bookstores. Indeed, I congratulated him three years ago
25already on the first book that he published on this
1 I admit too that there are documents contained
2in the expertise of Professor Browning of which I was not
3aware, and which have my own perception of some aspects of
4the Nazi atrocities on the Eastern front. For example,
5I was not aware that the SS Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard
6Heydrich had issued instructions to his commanders in the
7Baltic States after Operation Barbarossa began, the
8invasion of Russia, in June 1941, not only to turn a blind
9eye -- this was his instructions -- on the anti-Jewish
10progroms started by the local population in those
11countries, but also actively to initiate them and to
12provide assistance. That was unknown to me.
13 This document, however, emerged only recently
14from the Russian archives and there can surely be no
15reproach against me for not having known that when I wrote
16my biography of Hitler, published in 1977, or in my later
17works. That cannot be branded as manipulation or
18distortion, just by way of example.
19 What is manipulation or distortion of history
20would be this, in my submission: for example, knowing of
21the existence of a key document and then ignoring it or
22suppressing it entirely, without even a mention.
23 If, for example, it should turn out and be
24proven in this very courtroom that in the spring of 1942
25the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, was quoted by a senior
26Reich Minister in writing as repeatedly saying that he
1 "wanted the final solution of the Jewish problem
2postponed until the war is over"; and if the document
3recording those remarkable words has been found in the
4German archives, it would surely be classifiable as
5manipulation or distortion if an historian were to attempt
6to write the history of the Holocaust without even
7mentioning the document's existence, would it not, my
9 The Defendants have, as said, arbitrarily and
10recklessly decided to label me a "Holocaust denier".
11Their motivation for doing so we shall shortly hear
13 My Lord, before I continue to address the court
14on this point in my opening statement, may I take this
15opportunity to read to the court, with your Lordship's
16permission, and into the record, a two-page document which
17I shall refer to over the coming weeks as the Walter Bruns
19 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes, I do not see why you should not; I have
20not read it myself. This is the document you handed in?
21 MR IRVING: It is the document I gave you, my Lord. It is an
22eye witness description. I do so because perceptions
23matter. I want at this late hour to leave a firm
24perception in the minds of all those present about where
25I stand. It is a document which first came into my hands
26some time before 1985.
1 I should say, my Lord, by way of introduction,
2that this document (which is in my discovery) was
3originally a British top Secret document. Top Secret is
4only one rung lower than Ultra-secret; some several steps
5above Secret and Most Secret, in other words. It is the
6classification given to the British decoded intercepts.
7It was top Secret because it is the record of an
8interrogation which was obtained by methods that were
9illegal, I understand, under the Conventions.
10 Enemy prisoners of war (in this case German)
11were brought into British prison camps, treated lavishly,
12well-fed, reassured by their relaxed surroundings, and
13gradually led into conversation, unaware that in every
14fitting and appliance in the room were hidden microphones
15capable of picking up everything. (That was the
16illegality; you are not allowed to do that under the
18 Released to the British archives only a few
19years ago were all of these reports, but I had already
20obtained several hundred of them 15 or 20 years earlier.
21I consider these transcripts to be an historical source
22which, if properly used and if certain criteria are
23applied, can be regarded as part of the bedrock of Real
25 I would say further by way of preamble, my Lord,
26that the speaker whose recorded voice we are about to
1hear, as reproduced in this typescript, was on November
230th 1941, the day of the episode he narrates, a Colonel
3in the German Army Engineers Force (the sappers or
4Pioniere). He was commanding a unit based at Riga, the
5capital of Latvia. He had learned to his vexation that it
6was intended by the local SS unit to round up all the
7local Jews, including "his Jews" in the next day or two
8and to liquidate them.
9 I read from this document before I do so, my
10Lord, it is of interest to see that, purely by coincidence
11and chance, Mr Rampton has picked on precisely the same
12day in the statement which I understand that he is to make
13following upon mine.
14 MR JUSTICE GRAY: I am not quite following. Picked on the same
15day as being what?
16 MR IRVING: The same episode and the same day as an example of
17my treatment of documents, so it is a very interesting
19 I read from the document itself. It is
20headed: "Top secret. CSDIC (UK)" which is Combined
21Services Detailed Interrogation Centre UK". "GG Report.
22If the information contained in this report is required
23for distribution, it should be paraphrased so that no
24mention is made of the prisoners' names, nor of the
25methods by which the information has been obtained"
26because, of course, it was illegal.
1 "The following conversation took place between
2General-Major Bruns", his full name was Walter Bruns. At
3this time he was at the Heeres-Waffenmeisterschule which
4was an army school, an armament school, in Berlin,
5 "captured at Gottingen on April 8th 1945, and other
6Senior Officer Prisoners of War whose voices could not be
7identified". In other words, it is a conversation between
8this General and various other prisoners overheard by
9hidden microphones on April 25th 1945. "Information
10received: 25 April 1945", in other words, the war is still
12 "Translation: Bruns: As soon as I heard those
13Jews were to be shot on Friday, I went to a 21 year old
14boy and said that they had made themselves very useful in
15the area under my command, besides which the Army MT park
16had employed 1500 and the 'Heeresgruppe' 800 women to make
17underclothes of the stores we captured in Riga; besides
18which about 1200 women in the neighbourhood of Riga were
19turning millions of captured sheepskins into articles we
20urgently required: ear protectors, fur caps, fur
21waistcoats, etc. Nothing had been proved, as of course
22the Russian campaign was known to have come to a
23victorious end in October 1941!" Sarcasm there. "In
24short, all those women were employed in a useful
25capacity. I tried to save them. I told that fellow
26Altenmeyer(?) whose name I shall always remember and who
1will be added to the list of war criminals: 'Listen to
2me, they represent valuable manpower!' 'Do you call Jews
3valuable human beings, sir?'" That was the answer. "I
4said: 'Listen to me properly, I said valuable manpower. I
5didn't mention their value as human beings'. He
6said: 'Well, they're to be shot in accordance with the
7Fuhrer's orders!' I said: 'Fuhrer's orders?' 'Yes',
8whereupon he showed me his orders. This happened at
9Skiotawa()?) eight kilometres from Riga, between Siaulai
10and Jelgava, where 5,000 Berlin Jews were suddenly taken
11off the train and shot. I didn't see that myself, but
12what happened at Skiotawa(?) - to cut a long story short,
13I argued with the fellow and telephoned to the General at
14HQ, to Jakobs and Aberger(?) and to a Dr Schultz who was
15attached to the Engineer General, on behalf of these
16people". It is a bit incoherent the way that people talk
17when they are gossiping with each other. "I told him:
18 'Granting that the Jews have committed a crime against
19the other peoples of the world, at least let them do the
20drudgery; send them to throw earth on the roads to prevent
21our heavy lorries skidding'. 'Then I'd have to feed them!'
22 I said: 'The little amount of food they receive, let's
23assume 2 million Jews - they got 125 grammes of bread a
24day - we can't even manage that, the sooner we end the war
25the better'. Then I telephoned, thinking it would take
26some time. At any rate, on Sunday morning", that is
1November 30th 1941, "I heard that they had already started
2on it. The Ghetto was cleared. They were told: 'You're
3being transferred: take along your essential things.'
4Incidentally, it was a happy release for those people, as
5their life in the Ghetto was a martyrdom. I wouldn't
6believe it and drove there to have a look".
7 The person he is talking to says: "Everyone
8abroad knew about it; only we Germans were kept in
10 Bruns continues his narrative: "I'll tell you
11something: some of the details may have been correct, but
12it was remarkable that the firing squad detailed that
13morning - six men with tommy-guns posted at each pit; the
14pits were 24 meters in length and 3 metres in breadth -
15they had to lie down like sardines in a tin with their
16heads in the centre'", like that in the pit.
17 "'Above them were six men with tommy-guns who
18gave them the coup de grace", who shot them. "When I
19arrived those pits were so full that the living had to lie
20down on top of the dead; then they were shot and, in order
21to save room, they had to lie down neatly in
22layers. Before this, however, they were stripped of
23everything at one of the stations - here at the edge of
24the wood were the three pits they used that Sunday and
25here they stood in a queue one and-a-half kilometres long
26which they approached step by step - a queuing up for
1death. As they drew nearer they saw what was going on.
2About here they had to hand over their jewellery and
3suitcases. All good stuff was put into the suitcases and
4the remainder was thrown on a heap. This was to serve as
5clothing for our suffering population - and then a little
6further on they had to undress and, 500 metres in front of
7the wood, strip completely; they were only permitted to
8keep on a chemise or knickers. They were all women and
9small two-year old children. Then all those cynical
10remarks! If only I had seen those tommy-gunners, who were
11relieved every hour because of over-exertion, carry out
12their task with distaste, but no, nasty remarks like:
13 'Here comes a Jewish beauty!' I can still see it all in
14my memory: a pretty woman in a flame-coloured chemise.
15Talk about keeping the race pure: at RIGA they first
16slept with them and then shot them to prevent them from
18 "Then I sent two officers out there, one of
19whom is still alive", in April 1945, "because I wanted
20eye-witnesses. I didn't tell them what was going on, but
21said: 'Go out to the forest of Skiotawa(?), see what's up
22there and send me a report'. I added a memorandum to
23their report and took it to Jakobs myself. He said: 'I
24have already two complaints sent me by Engineer
25 "Bataillone" from the Ukraine'. There they shot them on
26the brink of large crevices and let them fall down into
1them; they nearly had an epidemic of plague, at any rate a
2pestilential smell. They thought they could break off the
3edges with picks, thus burying them. That loess there" --
4that is a kind of ground -- "was so hard that two Engineer
5 'Bataillone' were required to dynamite the edges; those
6 'Bataillone' complained. Jakobs" -- he was the engineer
7general in charge of the pioneer corps -- "had received
8that complaint. He said: 'We didn't quite know how to
9tell the Fuhrer'", Adolf Hitler. "'We'd better do it
10through Canaris', the Chief of the German Intelligence.
11 "So Canaris had the unsavoury task of waiting
12for the favourable moment to give the Fuhrer certain
13gentle hints. A fortnight later I visited the
14Oberburgermeister, or whatever he was called then,
15concerning some over business. Altenmeyer(?)" who was the
16man on the spot "triumphantly showed me: 'Here is an
17order just issued, prohibiting mass shootings on that
18scale from taking place in future. They are to be carried
19out more discreetly'. From warnings given me recently,
20I knew that I was receiving still more attentions from
22 Then his interlocutor says to him: "It's a
23wonder you're still alive". Bruns says: "At Gottingen, I
24expected to be arrested every day".
25 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Mr Irving, I see the time. I think probably
26we will adjourn. My recollection of this document is
1(which I have not seen as a document before) that it is
2relied on by the Defendants for the reference to the
3Fuhrer's orders on page 1, is that right?
4 MR RAMPTON: And also the one on page 2.
5 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Towards the end.
6 MR IRVING: I have no objection to that, my Lord. The reason
7why I rely on it now will become plain as we continue
9 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Of course. Yes, I am not stopping you; it is
10just that now it is after 1 o'clock. Yes, Mr Rampton?
11 MR RAMPTON: Can I ask your Lordship's indulgence? I too have
12written an opening statement. Your Lordship has not seen
13it. It is very short, comparatively speaking. Can I hand
14it up so that your Lordship can read it over the lunch?
15 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes. Mr Irving has had a copy?
16 MR RAMPTON: Yes. It is only by that route that the press can
17have copies of it.
18 MR JUSTICE GRAY: I do not know whether we are going to manage
19to get to your speech today in a way -- if we did, yes.
20 MR RAMPTON: That is why. Once this court has read it, then it
21is a public document.
22 MR JUSTICE GRAY: I will look at it over the adjournment.
23 MR RAMPTON: I am grateful.
24 (Luncheon adjournment)
25 (2.00 p.m.)
26 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes, Mr Irving?
1 MR IRVING: My Lord, when we adjourned I just completed reading
2out to what you I was calling the Bruns Report ----
3 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes.
4 MR IRVING: --- which was an eyewitness account by a German
5General (unaware he was being overheard) of a mass
6shooting of Jewish civilians which he had witnessed in
7Riga on a particular Sunday which I maintain was November
9 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes.
10 MR IRVING: He had said, you will recall, that one of the
11gunmen had called out: "'Here comes a Jewish beauty.
12I can see it all in my memory: a pretty woman in a flame
13coloured chemise." I understand Mr Rampton to say that he
14is going to rely on the last sentence which is a reference
15to the Fuhrer and the order.
16 I will now continue.
17 My Lord, permit me a word about the credentials
18of that particular document. It is authentic. It comes
19from the British archives. A copy can be found in the
20Public Record Office this very day, if anyone wishes to go
21and see it.
22 First: is the General describing something he
23had really seen? I mention this because later, on his
24sworn oath in the witness stand in Nuremberg, this same
25General claimed only to have heard of this atrocity; yet
26there can surely be no doubt of the verisimilitude. It
1does not take university level textual analysis to realize
2that if a General says: "I can see her in my mind's eye
3now, a girl in a flame-red dress", this is a man who has
4been there and seen it with his own eyes.
5 This document has, in my submission,
6considerable evidentiary value. It is not self-serving.
7The General is not testifying in his own interest. He is
8merely talking, probably in a muffled whisper, to fellow
9prisoners at a British interrogation centre, and he has no
10idea that in another room British experts are listening to
11and recording every word. We also have the original
12German text of this document, I might add, my Lord.
13 So to what purpose do I mention this? Well,
14firstly, because I shall later on in these proceedings add
15further unknown documents from the same superb British
16archives -- that is the Public Record Office -- documents
17that go to the events of this one day, November 30th 1941,
18documents which show Adolf Hitler taking a most remarkable
19stand on this atrocity.
20 But I also adduce this document for the
21following reason which is immediately of importance, given
22the title of the book: "Denying the Holocaust". I adduce
23this document for the following reason: if an historian
24repeatedly refers to this document, the Bruns Report; if
25he quotes from it; if he immediately writes as soon as he
26finds it showing it to fellow historians, both Jews and
1non-Jews alike, and in writing draws their attention to
2the existence of this document, and its fellow documents,
3all of which were hitherto unknown to them; if, moreover,
4that historian reads out this document in public, with its
5awful, infernal descriptions of the mass killings of Jews
6by the Nazis on the Eastern front on multiple speaking
7occasions; if this historian, speaking to audiences even
8of the most extreme hues of left and right, heedless as to
9their anger, insists on reading out the document in full,
10thus "rubbing their noses in it", so to speak; if
11continues to do so over a period of 15 years again and
12again right up to the present date, and if he quotes that
13document in the text and references that document in the
14footnotes of all his most recent works, beginning with the
15"Hitler's War", the biography, the republication in 1991,
16through "Goebbels. Mastermind of the Third Reich" in
171996 and "Nuremberg, the Last Battle" in 1997, if all
18these things are true, then is it not a libel of the most
19grotesque and offensive nature to brand that same
20historian around the world as a "Holocaust denier" when he
21has not only discovered and found and propagated this
22document and brought it to the attention of both his
23colleagues and his rivals and his foes, regardless of
24their race or religion, and to countless audiences?
25 This is not an isolated example, my Lord. In
26Introduction to my biography of Adolf Hitler, "Hitler's
1War", which was published by The Viking Press in America
2and by Hodder & Stoughton in the United Kingdom and later
3by Macmillan, we shall find that I have drawn specific and
4repeated attention of the reader to the crimes that Adolf
6 How did all this happen? I shall invite the
7court to hear expert evidence on the relationship between
8the world's Jewish communities and the rest of us, given
9by a professor of sociology at a leading American
10university who has published a number of book-length
11studies on the topic.
12 The Jewish community, their fame and fortunes,
13play a central role in these proceedings. It will not
14surprise the court, I suppose, that among the allegations
15levelled against me by the Defendants by their experts is
16the adjective of "anti-Semitic".
17 This adjective is both the most odious and the
18most overworked of epithets. Almost invariably it is
19wielded by members or representatives of that community to
20denigrate those outside their community in whom they find
22 It does not matter that the person whom they
23label as anti-Semitic has conducted himself towards that
24community in an irreproachable manner until then; it does
25not matter that he has shown them the same favours that he
26has shown to others; it does not seem to matter either
1that that same community who thus labels him or her has
2conducted against him an international campaign of the
3most questionable character in an attempt to destroy his
4legitimacy, the economic existence upon which he and his
6 If he defends himself against these attacks, he
7is sooner or later bound to be described as anti-Semitic.
8 It has become a ritual. No doubt the English
9people, who in 1940 found it necessary to defend
10themselves against the Germans, would by the same token
11earn the title of anti-German. Is a person who defends
12himself ultimately and wearily and after turning the other
13cheek for 20 or 30 years ipso facto no better than the
14most incorrigible kind of ingrained anti-Semite with whom
15we are probably all familiar? I submit that he is not.
16 This court will find that, like most Englishmen,
17I have had dealings with both English and foreign Jews
18throughout my professional life.
19 There were, to my knowledge, no pupils of the
20Jewish faith at the minor Essex Public School that
21I attended (in common with our present Home Secretary)
22from 1947 to 1956. In fact, I was surprised when I
23recently heard the suggestion that there had been one.
24 I encountered many Jewish students when I
25attended London University, however. I would like to
26commemorate here the name of my flat mate at Imperial
1College, Mike Gorb, who died tragically in a
2mountaineering accident. I regarded as a good friend
3another senior student, Jon Bloc. There was one student,
4a Mr Peter L, who began agitating against me for the views
5that I profounded while at University, views I can no
6longer remember; and I have to confess that I found his
7agitation both perplexing and irritating because it all
8seemed rather petty and spiteful at the time.
9 As my own witness statement recalls, at the time
10of the Anglo-Israeli-French "police action" in Suez in
111956, I joined student demonstrations on behalf of the
12Israelis, though for the life of me now I cannot remember
13why. It is the kind of thing you do when you are a
15 My Lord, when my first book was published, "The
16Destruction of Dresden" in 1963, I became uncomfortably
17aware that I had somehow offended the Jewish community.
18I did not at the time realize why and I do not fully
19realise why even today. Whatever the reason, their
20journalists were in the spearhead of the attack on me. As
21other books appeared, this polarisation among the English
22critics became more pronounced. I remember the name of
23Mr Arthur Pottersman, writing for a tabloid newspaper --
24the Daily Sketch -- as being one of the few vicious
25critics, not of Dresden book but of my person.
26 My publisher, Mr William Kimber, to whom I
1have earlier referred, recommended to me the services of
2his lawyer, Mr Michael Rubinstein, a name with which the
3older members of this court may perhaps be familiar -- a
4very well known lawyer at the time. Mr Kimber said to me
5in his drawling, affable voice: "You will like Michael.
6He is very Jewish but a very Christian kind of a Jew,
7rather like Jesus Christ". You remember that kind of
8thing. It is the kind of inexplicable sentence that one
9remembers even now, nearly 40 years on down the road.
10I found Michael an enormously capable, energetic and
11likeable person - indeed, very English, his advice always
12sound, and he stood by me as legal adviser for the next 20
13years, two decades. He had a rhinoceros hide, as
14I remarked once in my diary -- a remark seize upon by the
15Defendants as evidence of my anti-Semitism.
16 I also form the long term friendship (which
17exists to this day) with well-known writers like the
18American David Kahn, an expert on code breaking. Being an
19author dealing with American and British publishers,
20I frequently came into contact with the Jewish members of
21the publishing profession.
22 The editor of "Hitler's War" for the Viking
23Press was Stan Hochman who became, as the correspondence
24and for all I know also my diaries show, a good friend;
25Peter Israel, who purchase "Uprising", which was my book
26on the 1956 Hungarian uprising, was editorial director at
1Putnam's, and so on.
2 The discovery documents, my Lord, show that
3there was also some kind of relationship between myself
4and our own George Weidenfeld which was the usual kind
5love/hate relationship that exists between authors and
6publishers. George published several of my books,
7including my biographies of top Nazis like Field Marshal
8Erhard Milch and Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, and I do not
9believe that he made a loss on those operations. But
10behind my back, I learned that he had made unhelpful
11remarks about me, and I had occasion to write him one or
12two terse letters about that. But I believe we are still
13friends and my relations with the present Managing
14Director of Weidenfeld & Nicholson are of the very best.
15But those are all individuals, my Lord.
16 Even as I speak of Weidenfeld, it reminds me
17that during the 1960s and 1970s I became vaguely aware of
18forces gathering to oppose me. George had originally
19bought the rights to publish my biography of "Hitler's
20War". At some stage Weidenfeld's repudiated the
21contract. Publishers can always find an excuse, a
22loophole to do so if they want, and I was not unhappy as
23it gave me the chance to offer it to an equally
24prestigious Publishing House, Messrs Hodder & Stoughton,
25for an even larger fee.
26 At the Frankfurt book fair on October 13th 1973
1 -- my diary entry relates the whole of this -- George
2Weidenfeld sat next to me at dinner and lamented after a
3few cocktails his mistake in "tearing up" the contract for
4"Hitler's War". When I asked him why he had done so, he
5explained: "I had to do so. I came under pressure from
6three Embassies. One of them was a NATO power", which
7I took to be Germany, "one of them was France and the
8other was Israel".
9 It is right that I should state here, and the
10correspondence shows, that he later denied having said
11this, but I took a very detailed diary note that same
12night, which is in my discovery, the bundle of which -- it
13is marked "Global" -- we shall look at briefly over the
14next few days, if your Lordship pleases.
15 So it became gradually evident (and I have to
16emphasise that I cannot pin down any particular year in
17which I finally realized that I was being victimized by
18this hidden campaign) that I was the target of a hidden
19international attempt to exclude me, if it could be done,
20from publishing further works of history.
21 It did not affect my attitude towards the Jews
22in the way that people might expect it to. I did not go
23on the stump, up and down the land, vituperating against
25 I merely made a mental note that I had to be on
26the look-out for trouble. Such trouble had already begun
1in November 1963 when a three-man squad of burglars,
2evidently at the commission of the English body to whom
3I earlier made reference, my Lord, was caught red-handed
4by the police, whom I had alerted, as they raided my North
5London apartment, disguised as telephone engineers and
6equipped with stolen GPO passes. There is a reason why
7I mention this.
8 The leader of that gang (whose name I shall not
9mention as he is not represented in this court) told the
10police that he had hoped to find my secret correspondence
11with Hitler's henchman, Mr Martin Bormann! Perhaps
12I ought to add that there is no secret correspondence with
14 I mention this episode for a reason, my Lord.
15This gentleman subsequently became editor of a left wing
16"Anti-Fascist" machine called "Searchlight", and he has
17made it his lifelong task over the intervening 30 years to
18take his malicious revenge upon me for the criminal
19conviction which he earned as a result of his felony.
20 His magazine repeatedly inveighed against me,
21reporting sometimes true, often part true, but usually
22totally fictitious rumours about my activities and alleged
23"Nazi" connections around the world in an attempt to
24blacken my name.
25 I will not say that the rumours are all untrue,
26my Lord. They never are. I believe Mr Winston Churchill
1once famously said: "The world is full of the most
2dreadful stories and rumours about me, and the damnable
3thing about them is that most of them are true!" At
4least, so rumour has it.
5 But the untrue ones about me are the ones that
6have a habit of surfacing again and again with their
7original polish undimmed. I mention this case, as the
8Defendants here seek to rely heavily on the outpouring of
9this troubled soul, the editor of "Searchlight".
10 The court might wonder why I took no action
11against this journal or, indeed, any of the other parties
12who had defamed me over the years. One of the things that
13Mr Rubinstein, like Mr Kimber, my publisher, dinned into
14me very early on was to avoid at all costs taking libel
16 My Lord, I am sure I do not need to labour the
17reasons why in this opening statement. Suffice it to say
18that I had already realized by 1970, at the time of the
19"Convoy PQ17" libel action -- that is Broome v. Cassell
20 -- that libel actions are time consuming, costly and
21vexatious, and are indeed in the words of the cliche "to
22be avoided like the plague".
23 Besides, this particular magazine had no assets,
24so any type of litigation would have been quite
25pointless. I might add that only once in recent years
26have I been forced to take action in this jurisdiction
1under the Defamation Act against a major national
2newspaper four or five years ago, which resulted in an
3immediate settlement out of court which I can only
4describe as most satisfactory. The terms of this
5settlement are covered by the usual Court Order, though
6I fancy they are known to the Defendants here who asked
7for, and were given, full disclosure of the relevant
9 It will become evident to this court from the
10evidence that I lead over the next few days, my Lord, that
11the international community started to intensify its
12campaign to destroy me and to truncate my career as an
13author either before or at about the same time as The
14Viking Press and other publishers published my well-known
15biography of Adolf Hitler, "Hitler's War", which was
17 The court will be shown at least one internal
18document, dated April 1977, which I have identified as
19emanating from the Washington files of the so-called
20Anti-Defamation League, a part of the B'nai Brith, in the
21United States, which reveals quite unabashedly how they
22tried to pressure television producers to cancel
23invitations to me to discuss "Hitler's War" book on their
24programmes. It failed. The programme in question went
25ahead and the ADL noted, aghast, in a secret memorandum
26that I was well versed in the matters of history, a
1formidable opponent who could not, however, be called
2anti-Semitic. I would have to be destroyed by other
4 This is a document in my discovery. By various
5entirely legal means, I obtained several such disturbing
6documents from within their files.
7 From them and, in particular, from their details
8registered out the Data Protection Act in this country, it
9appears that these bodies, which are also embedded in our
10society in Britain and elsewhere, have seen their task,
11unbidden, as being to spy upon members of our society, to
12maintain dossiers on us all, and to deploy those dossiers
13when necessary to smite those of us of whom they
15 As the court will see, the dossiers are
16explicitly designed to hold such material on the subjects'
17personal lives, criminal records, credit delinquencies,
18marital difficulties, dietary habits and even sexual
19proclivities. That is what we know from their details of
21 It is not anti-Semitic to reveal this. The
22spying and smearing by these bodies goes on against fellow
23Jew and non-Jew alike. The Jewish writer, Noam Chomsky,
24relates that he found, quite by chance, that they were
25"monitoring" (for that is the word they use) him too.
26 Several of our own most notable personalities
1have already commented on this unsavoury element of
2British life. In an article in a UK magazine, the writer,
3Mr Auberon Waugh, remarked upon how he too inadvertently
4found that such a file was being kept on him.
5 May I add that these "dossiers" provided by this
6London body to the Canadians, to the Anti-Defamation
7League, and to various similar bodies in Australia, South
8Africa and elsewhere, have been drawn upon heavily and
9without question by the Defendants in this action, which
10my justification, I submit, for drawing your Lordship's
11attention to this disturbing and sleazy background.
12 When I attempted to take the libel action
13against the London-based body that I have mentioned, its
14Director, Mr Michael Whine, admitted in an affidavit that
15his body had taken upon itself to "monitor" -- here is
16that word again -- my activities, as he called them, for
17many years. He also freely admitted that when secretly
18called upon by his Canadian associates in 1992 to provide
19them with a smear dossier for the purposes of destroying
20my presence in Canada by planting it in government files
21in Ottawa, he willingly agreed to do so.
22 This is how that file turned up in Canadian
23Government resources; which in turn is how it came into my
24hands, years later, through lengthy "Access to Information
25Act" procedures; otherwise I would never have known why I
26found myself being taken in handcuffs aboard an Air Canada
1flight in 1992, after 30 years as an honoured visitor in
2that country and deported, an event to which the
3Defendants make gleeful reference in their book "Denying
5 I may be rather naive, but this kind of thing
6offends me as an Englishman, as no doubt the idea will
7offend many of those present in court 37 today. The
8notion that a non-Governmental body, unofficial body,
9equipped evidently with limitless financial resources, can
10take it upon itself to spy upon law-abiding members of the
11community for the purpose of destroying them is one that
12I find discomfiting.
13 I have never done it to my fellow human beings.
14I can think only of the wartime Gestapo and its offshoots
15in Nazi-occupied Europe as a body engaged in similar
16practices. It is an offensive and ugly comparison, I
17warrant, and one that I have never made before, but in a
18legal battle of this magnitude, I consider it necessary to
19use ammunition of the proper calibre.
20 My Lord, I will now come to the matter of the
21glass microfiche plates containing the diaries of the Nazi
22propaganda Minister, Dr Joseph Goebbels. Your Lordship
23will have seen from the Statement of Claim that the
24Defendants have accused me of having improperly obtained
25these glass plates from the Moscow -- it was in 1992 -- or
1 May I set out some of the antecedents of this
2matter? Your Lordship will, perhaps, remember the
3widespread newspaper sensation that was caused by the
4revelation at the beginning of July 1992 that I had
5succeeded in retrieving from the former KGB archives in
6Moscow the long last diaries of Dr Joseph Goebbels, a
7close confidant of Adolf Hitler and his propaganda
8minister and, indeed, his successor as Reich Chancellor.
9 I may see here that scholars have been searching
10for a number of diaries ever since the end of World War
11II. I would mention here only the example of the diaries
12of Hitler's Intelligence Chief, Vice-Admiral Wilhelm
13Canaris, in the search for which I was concerned in the
141960s and 1970s. (The Canaris diaries offered to myself
15and Messrs William Collins Limited on that occasion turned
16out to be fake, which I established by the use of the
17appropriate forensic laboratory in the City of London,
18Messrs Hehner & Cox).
19 Forensic tests are to play quite a large part in
20these current proceedings too.
21 In writing my own biographies of the leading
22Nazis, I have attached importance to primary sources, like
23the original diaries which they wrote at the time. When I
24have found these documents, as many scholars know, I have
25invariably and without delay donated them (or copies of
26them) either to the German Federal Archives in Koblenz or
1to the Institute fur Zeitgeschichte, which is the
2Institute of Contemporary History in Munich. In the case
3of the Goebbels' diaries, after I retrieved them from
4Moscow, I additionally gave a set of copies to the
5archives of Monchen-Gladbach, his home town, where they
6maintain a collection of Goebbels' documents, the
8 In fact, the only items which I consider to be
9of greater source value than diaries, which are always
10susceptible to faking or tampering, are private letters.
11In my experience, once a private letter has been posted by
12its writer, it is virtually impossible for him to retrieve
13it and to alter its content.
14 If I may take the liberty of enlightening the
15court at this point by way of an example, I would say that
16I had earlier also found the diaries of Field Marshal
17Rommel; some I retrieved in shorthand from the American
18archives and I had them transcribed. Those in typescript
19turned out to have been altered some months after one
20crucial battle ("Crusader") to eradicate a tactical error
21which the Field Marshal considered he had made in the
22Western desert. But the hundreds of letters he wrote to
23his wife were clearly above any kind of suspicion.
24 On a somewhat earthier plane, while the diaries
25of the Chief of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, which have in
26part been recently retrieved from the same archives in
1Moscow, yield little information by themselves, I have
2managed to locate in private hands in Chicago the 200
3letters which this murderous Nazi wrote to his mistress,
4and these contain material of much larger historical
6 Until my career was sabotaged, therefore, I had
7earned the reputation of being a person who was always
8digging up new historical evidence; that was until the
9countries and the archives of the world were prevailed
10upon, as we shall see, to close their doors to me!
11 After I procured these 600 pages of manuscripts
12written by Adolf Eichmann when I visited Argentina in
13October 1991, the German Federal Archives grudgingly
14referred to me in a press release as a Truffle-Schwein,
15which I hope is more flattering than it sounds.
16 We are concerned here, however, primarily with
17the diaries of Dr Joseph Goebbels of which the Defendants
18made mention in their book. This is the inside story on
20 I begun the search for these diaries, in fact,
2130 years earlier. In my discovery are papers relating to
22the first search that I conducted for the very last
23diaries which Dr Goebbels dictated, in April 1945 -- right
24at the end of his life. Since there was no time for them
25to be typed up, Dr Goebbels had the spiral-bound shorthand
26pads buried in a glass conserving jar in a forest
1somewhere along the road between Hamburg and Berlin.
2 Chance provided me in about 1969 with the
3"treasure map" revealing the precise burial place of this
4glass jar, and with the permission of the Communist East
5German Government, I and a team of Oxford University
6experts, equipped with a kind of ground penetrating radar
7(in fact, a proton magnetometer) mounted a determined
8attempt to unearth it in the forest.
9 We never found that particular truffle.
10Unfortunate, the topography of such a forest changes
11considerably in 20 years or more and, despite our best
12efforts, aided by the East German Ministry of the
13Interior, Communist Ministry of the Interior, and a
14biologist whose task would be to assess the age of the
15fungi and other biological materials found in and around
16the jar, we came away empty-handed. This is nothing new.
17Field work often brings disappointments like that.
18 Twenty-five years later, however, now back in
191992, I had the conversation which was to lead to the
20retrieval of the Goebbels' diaries in Moscow, and
21indirectly to our presence here in these courts today.
22 In May 1992, I invited long time friend, a
23leading historian at the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte, to
24have lunch with me at a restaurant in Munich. We had been
25good friends since 1964, nearly 30 years, and she is still
26in the Institute's employ today. As my diaries show, this
1friend and colleague, Dr Elke Frohlich, had dropped
2several hints during the previous 12 months that she had
3traced the whereabouts of the missing Goebbels' diaries.
4 We all knew, my Lord, those of us who had
5engaged in research into Hitler, Goebbels and the Third
6Reich, that Dr Goebbels had placed these diaries on
7microfiches -- that is photographic glass plates -- in the
8closing months of the War to ensure that they were
9preserved for posterity. But they had vanished since
11 His Private Secretary, Dr Richard Otte, whom I
12had questioned over 20 years previously in connection with
13our search in the forest in East Germany, had told us
14about these glass plates. So we knew they existed. I
15should mention that he was actually one of the small
16burial party who had hidden the glass jar, but he was
17unable to accompany us as at that time he was still in
18West German government employment. We could only presume
19that the glass plate microfiches were either destroyed in
20Berlin in the last weeks of the war or that they had been
21seized by the Red Army.
22 During this lunch-time conversation in Munich in
23May 1992, Dr Elke Frohlich revealed to me that the latter
24supposition was correct. She had seen them herself a few
25weeks previously -- she had held them in her hands -- on a
26visit to the archives in Moscow. My Lord, you can imagine
1the thrill that kind of thing gives an historian to have
2something like that.
3 My recollection of the conversation at this
4point is that she continued by saying that the Institute's
5Directors were unwilling to fund a further expedition to
6procure these diaries.
7 Now that I have seen some of the documents
8provided to the Defendants in this action by the Russians
9and by the Institute, it is possible that my recollection
10on this point is wrong, namely, that the Institute were
11not willing to pay for it.
12 My recollection of the following is, however,
13secure. Dr Frohlich informed me that the Director of the
14Russian archives, the "trophy" archives, as they were
15known, Dr Bondarev, was in a serious predicament, as he
16was faced with the economic consequences of the collapse
17of the Soviet Empire; he had no longer the financial means
18necessary for the upkeep of the archives and the payment
19of his staff.
20 The plates, in my view, were seriously at risk.
21Dr. Frohlich indicated that if I were to take a sufficient
22sum of foreign currency to Moscow, I could purchase the
23glass plates from Dr Bondarev. It was clear from her
24remarks that Dr Bondarev had already discussed this
25prospect with her.
26 Dr Frohlich added that the glass plates were in
1fragile condition and needed to be rescued before they
2came to serious harm. I recall that she said: "If you
3are going to do this deal with the Russians, you will have
4to take a lot of silk paper with you from England to place
5between the glass plates. The plates are just packed into
6boxes with nothing between them". My Lord, when I provide
7you with bundles of photographs later on, there were
8photographs of the actual plates in the cardboard boxes.
9 I asked how much money we were talking about,
10and either she or I suggested a figure of US$20,000.
11I immediately contacted my American publishers in New York
12who seemed the most immediate source of money. I informed
13them of this likely windfall and asked if we could
14increase the cash advance on my Goebbels' manuscript
16 My manuscript of the Goebbels' biography was at
17that time complete and undergoing editing by myself. It
18was already ready for delivery to the publishers.
19 The American publisher responded
20enthusiastically at first, and upon my return from Munich
21to London I began negotiations through intermediaries with
22the Russian archivist, Dr Bondarev. (Dr Bondarev will
23not, unfortunately, be called by either party in this
24action as a witness. He seems to have vanished. He is
25certainly no longer employed by the "trophy" archives).
26 The first intermediary I used was a
1Russian-language specialist employed by Warburg's Bank in
2Moscow. He undertook the preliminary negotiations with Dr
3Bondarev. I instructed him to tell Bondarev as openly as
4was prudent of my intention to come and look at the glass
5plates, and also to make it quite plain that we were
6coming with a substantial sum of hard currency. Many
7American institutions were currently engaged in the same
8practice -- it is important I should say this -- as I knew
9from the newspapers.
10 At about this time, it became plain that the
11German Government was also keen to get its hands on these
12glass plates. Naturally, I desired to beat them to it,
13first, because of professional pride and the desire to
14have an historical scoop and, secondly, years of working
15with the German Government Archives had proven both to me
16and many scholars that as soon as high-grade documents
17like these dropped into their hands they vanished for many
18years while they were assessed, catalogued and indexed.
19Sometimes they were even squirreled away for later
20exploitation by the Chief Archivists themselves (the
21 "Hossbach Papers" were a case in point).
22 These vital Nazi diaries would, therefore,
23vanish from the public gaze possibly for five or 10
24years. My fears in this respect had been amply confirmed
25by events, I would submit, because many of those glass
26plates which I saw in Moscow in 1992 have since vanished
1into the maw of the German Government and the Munich
2Institut fur Zeitgeschichte, and they are still not
3available even now.
4 I considered, therefore, that I should be
5rendering to the historical community the best service by
6doing the utmost that I could to extract those glass
7plates or, failing that, copies of them or, failing that,
8copies of the maximum number of pages possible, by hook or
9by crook, from the KGB archives before a wind of change
10might suddenly result in the resealing of all these Soviet
11former archives (and once again this apprehension has been
12largely confirmed by the attitude of the Russian Archive
13Authorities, who have resealed numbers of these files and
14made them once again inaccessible to Western historians).
15 The second intermediary upon whom I relied was
16the former KGB Officer, Mr Lev Bezymenski. I have known
17mr Bezymenski for many years, about 35 years, and over
18these years we have engaged in a fruitful exercise of
19exchanging of documents. I would hasten to add that the
20documents which I furnished to Mr Bezymenski were entirely
21of a public-domain nature.
22 Mr Bezymenski, however, in return extracted from
23secret Soviet archives for me vital collections of
24documents, for example, their diplomatic files on Sir
25Winston Churchill and the private papers of the Commander
26in Chief of the German Army, Colonel-General Werner von
1Fritsch. From the Russian archives I obtained, via
2Mr Bezymenski, Fritsch's personal writings during and
3about the "Bloomberg-Fritsch scandal" of 1938, which had
4historic consequences for Germany, for Hitler and,
5ultimately, for the whole world. I immediately donated a
6complete set of those Fritsch papers to the German
7Government archives where they can still be seen.
8 Dr Bezymenski, unfortunately, turned out to be
9something of a "double agent".
10 Fearing that Dr Bondarev was not properly
11getting my message, I asked Mr Bezymenski to approach him
12on my behalf and inform him that there were certain
13documents he held in which I was interested, and that
14I was coming as a representative of the Sunday Times, well
15armed with foreign currency. Mr Bezymenski enquired what
16those documents were. I refused to tell him and he
17replied: "You are referring to the Goebbels diaries
18I presume". This I affirmed and ten minutes after this
19phone call from me in London and Mr Bezymenski in Moscow,
20I receive a phone call from Dr Frohlich in Munich
21complaining bitterly that I revealed our intentions to Mr
22Bezymenski. Instead of acting as I had requested, my
23friend had immediately sent a fax to the Institut fur
24Zeitgeschichte to alert them to what I was "up to". This
25set the cat among the pigeons, and the Institut fur
26Zeitgeschichte left no stone unturned to prevent the
1Russians from providing me with diaries or other material,
2for reasons which this court can readily surmise.
3 I had in the meantime approached the Sunday
4Times after my American publishers got cold feet, and
5I succeeded in persuading a Mr Andrew Neil that I could
6obtain Goebbels Diaries from the Moscow archives, and that
7I was by chance one of the very few people capable of
8reading the handwriting.
9 Two years previously, in 1990, my Italian
10publisher, Mondadori, had commissioned me to transcribe
11the handwritten 1938 diary volume of Dr Goebbels, a copy
12of which they had purchased from a Russian source. So the
13diaries were in the process of being purchased. I was
14thus acquainted with the difficult handwriting of the Nazi
15propaganda Minister. At that time there were probably
16only three or four people in the world who were capable of
17deciphering it. The negotiations with Andrew Neil
18proceeded smoothly, that is between me and Mr Neil. He
19did express at one stage enough nervousness at the
20prospect of entering into another "Nazi diaries" deal.
21Your Lordship will remember that his newspaper group had
22been made to look foolish for the purchase and publication
23in 1983 of the Adolf Hitler diaries.
24 I pointed out that I had warned them writing
25once ahead in 1982 that the Hitler Diaries were fakes, and
26I added: "I am offering the Sunday Times the chance t
2 Armed with the prestige and the superior
3financial resources of the Sunday Times, I went to Moscow
4in June 1992, and negotiated directly with Dr Bondarev and
5his superior, Professor Tarasov, who was at that time the
6overall head of the Russian Federation Archival System.
7Dr Bondarev expressed willingness to assist us, although
8there could no longer be any talk of the clandestine
9purchase of the plates which we had originally hoped for,
10since Mr Bezymenski let the cat out of the bag. I say
11"clandestine", but of course I understand that the same
12archives had sold off many other collections of papers,
13for example, to the Hoover Institution in California and
14US publishing houses, publishing giants, and to my
15colleague the late John Costello as well. My own little
16deal was not to be.
17 My Lord, professor Tarasov is to be one of the
18witnesses in this case called question by the Defence.
19Your Lordship will be able to study the documents
20exhibited to his witness statement. I confess that I fail
21to the relevance of very many of them, but no doubt we
22shall see that difficulty removed by Mr Rampton in due
24 The Moscow negotiations were not easy. We
25negotiated directly with Professor Tarasov for access to
26the glass plates. The negotiations were conducted in my
1presence by Mr Peter Miller, a freelance journalist
2working for the Sunday Times, who spoke Russian with a
3commendable fluency. He will also be giving evidence in
4this action on my behalf, my Lord. With my limited
5"O" level Russian I was able to follow the gist in
6conversation and also to intervene speaking German after
7it emerged that Professor Tarasov had studied and taught
8for many years at the famous Humboldt University in
10 By now both Dr Bondarev and Tarasov were aware,
11if they had not been aware previously, that these Goebbels
12Diaries were of commercial and historical value. The
13negotiations took far longer than I had expected.
14I produced to Professor Tarasov copies of the Soviet
15editions of my books which had been published years
16earlier, and I donated to him as well as to the Archives
17staff later copies of my own edition of the biography of
19 This established my credentials to their
20satisfaction, and Tarasov gave instructions that we were
21to be given access to the entire collection of Dr Goebbels
22Diaries. It was evident to me when I finally saw the
23glass plates that the diaries had hardly been examined at
24all. It seemed to me, for example, from the splinters of
25glass still trapped between the photographic plates, that
26there had been little movement in the boxes of plates for
1nearly 50 years. The boxes were the original boxes. The
2brown paper round them in some parts was still the
3original brown paper. The plates were in total disarray
4and no attempt had been made to sort them. I have seen no
5work of history, Soviet or otherwise, that is quoted from
6them before I got them. My Lord, my excitement as an
7historian getting my hands on original material like this
8can readily be imagined.
9 The moot point is that there is a dispute as to
10the nature of the Russian permission. This alleged
11agreement is one of the issues pleaded by the Defendants
12in this action. It is difficult for me to reconstruct
13seven years later precisely whether there was any verbal
14agreement exceeding a nod and a wink or what the terms
15were or how rigid an agreement may have been reached.
16There is no reference to such an agreement in my
17contemporary diaries. Certainly the Russians committed
18nothing to paper about such an agreement. Professor
19Tarasov's word was law, and he had just picked up the
20phone in our presence and spoken that word to
22 My own recollection at the time was that the
23arrangement was of a very free-wheeling nature, with the
24Russians being very happy and indeed proud to help us in
25the spirit reigning at that time of Glasnost and
26Perestroika, and the extreme co-operativeness between West
1and East. They were keen to give us access to these
2plates which they had hitherto regarded as not being of
4 Tarasov did mention that the German Government
5were also interested in these plates, and that they were
6coming shortly to conduct negotiations about them.
7I remember clearly, and I think this is also shown in the
8diary which I wrote on that date, that Dr Tarasov
9hesitated as to whether he should allow us access without
10first consulting the German authorities. I rather
11mischievously reminded Dr Tarasov of which side had won
12the war, and I expressed astonishment that the Russians
13were now intending to ask their defeated enemy for
14permission to show to a third party records which were in
15their own archives, and this unsubtle argument appears to
16have swayed him to grant us complete access without
18 There was no signed agreement either between the
19Russian authorities and us or at that time between the
20Russians and the German authorities, my Lord.
21 I would add here that I was never shown any
22agreement between the Russian and the German authorities,
23nor was I told any details of it, nor of course could it
24have been in any way binding upon me.
25 We returned to the archives the following
26morning, Mr Miller and I, to begin exploiting the
1diaries. Miller went off on his own devices. I had
2brought a German assistant with me to act as a scribe. My
3Lord, her diary is also in my discovery, and I admit that
4I have not yet found time to read it. I have got an odd
5aversion to reading other people's diaries, unless it is
6by way of my business. I must admit that I was rather
7perplexed by the chaotic conditions that I found there,
8that is in the Russian archives. There were no technical
9means whatever of reading the diaries, the glass plates.
10The Nazis had reduced them to the size of a small postage
11stamp on the glass plates. I should have photographs of
12them brought to you, my Lord.
13 Fortunately, Dr Frohlich had alerted me about
14this possibility, the lack of technical resources, and
15I had bought at Selfridges a 12-times magnifier, a little
16thing about the size of a nail clipper, with which by
17peering very hard I could just decipher the handwriting.
18It was even more alarming to someone accustomed to working
19in Western archives with very strict conditions on how to
20handle documents, and cleanliness and security, to see the
21way that the shelves and tables and chairs were littered
22with bundles of papers. At one stage the Archivist
23(I think it may be one of the ladies who is coming to give
24evidence for the Defendants) brought in bottles of red
25wine and loads of bread and cheese which was scattered
26among the priceless papers on the tables for us to
1celebrate at the end of the week. That would have been
2unthinkable in any Western archive building.
3 My German assistant had worked with me in the US
4National Archives previously. We spent the first day
5cataloguing and sifting through all the boxes of glass
6plates and identifying which plates were which,
7earmarking, figuratively speaking, the glass plates which
8were on my shopping list to be read copied. Very rapidly
9we began coming across glass plates of the most immense
10historical significance, sections of the diaries which
11I knew had never been seen by anybody else before. I was
12particularly interested in the Night of the Broken Glass,
13November 1938, the Night of the Long Knives, June 1934.
14I also found the glass plates containing the missing
15months leading up to the outbreak of World War II in 1939,
16diaries whose historical significance in short need not be
18 Given the chaotic conditions in the archives,
19I took the decision to borrow one of the plates overnight
20and bring it back the next day so that we could photograph
21its contents. I shall argue about the propriety of this
22action at a later data. I removed the plate. Its
23contents were printed that night by a photographer hired
24by the Sunday Times whose name was Sasha, and the glass
25plate was restored to its box the next morning without
26loss or damage.
1 The Sunday Times editor, Andrew Neil, was
2coincidentally in Moscow at this time, and I showed him
3one of the glass plates at his hotel, the Metropol. He
4stated: "We really need something spectacular to follow
5the Andrew Morton book on Princess Diana and this is it".
6The next day, Dr Bondarev formally authorized the
7borrowing of two more such plates anyway. So it was clear
8to me that nobody would have been offended by my earlier
10 I returned to London and over the next few days
11a contract was formalized by myself and the Sunday Times
12under which the newspaper was to pay me £75,000 net for
13procuring the diaries, transcribing them and writing three
14chapters based on the principal extracts from the Goebbels
15diaries. The contract with the Sunday Times contained the
16usual secrecy clauses. Nobody was to learn of the nature
17of the contract or its contents or the price or the
18existence of the diary.
19 For reasons beyond my knowledge, the Sunday
20Times when it came under extreme pressure from
21international and British Jewish organisations,
22subsequently put it about that I had only been hired to
23transcribe the diaries, with the implication that they had
24obtained them on their own initiative. I was not,
25however, just a hired help. This was my project. Which I
26took to them and which they purchased, as the documents
1before this court make plain.
2 It may be felt that £75,000 would have been a
3substantial reward for two weeks work. My response would
4be that it was for 30 years plus two weeks work. We are
5paid for our professional skills and expertise and
6experience and reputation, for our track record in short.
7I returned to London with arrangements to revisit Moscow
8in two or three weeks time.
9 My Lord, the court will find that I have
10stipulated, in what I believe is known in legal terms as
11an admission, that I carried with me two of the glass
12plates from the Moscow archives to the Sunday Times in
13London, informally borrowing them in the same manner as
14previously, namely those vital records containing the
151934, "Night of the Long Knives". The reasons for doing
16I have already hinted at earlier, the fear that they would
17either vanish into the maw of the German Government, or be
18resealed by the former Soviet Archives, or be sold off to
19some nameless American trophy hunter and thus never see
20the light of day again.
21 I took these two borrowed plates straight from
22Moscow to Munich to the Institute of History (the Institut
23fur Zeitgeschichte), where I knew they had a microfiche
24printer and reading machine, together with the institute's
25Dr Zirngiebel who was an expert in the archives, we
26inserted the appropriate lenses in the microfiche printer
1for a microfiche of this magnification, and I printed out
2two copies of each of the 100 or so documents contained on
3the two microfiche.
4 There was no secrecy about this. I at once sent
5two of those pages upstairs to the experts in the
6Institute of History itself, and two more to the German
7Federal Archives with the written request that they
8formally identify these pages as being in the handwriting
9of Dr Joseph Goebbels. This was a necessary part of the
10agreement with the Sunday Times who were being no less
11cautious than I.
12 The other principal reason that I borrowed these
13glass plates temporarily from the Russian Archives was in
14order to put them to London forensic experts for the
15purposes of authentication. I mentioned the use of
16forensic experts before. We are doing it again. In the
17same manner that others had tested the Adolf Hitler
18diaries and I had tested the Canaris diaries, the Sunday
19Times quite properly wished to have final proof that the
20glass plates were indeed of wartime manufacture. We are
21dealing after all with the KGB archives. Namely, that the
22glass was wartime origin and that the photographic
23emulsion was of wartime chemicals.
24 My Lord, the court may marvel at these
25precautions that we as non-scholars took, but it seemed
26perfectly natural to me and to the officers of the Sunday
1Times. After all, not only were large sums of money
2involved, but the reputation of myself and the reputation
3of a major international newspaper group. We wished to be
5 On my return from Moscow and Munich to London in
6June 1992, therefore, the two glass plates were sent their
7separate ways, heavily wrapped and protected; one to Agfa
8photographic laboratory which tested the age of the
9emulsion in a non-constructive manner, and the other to
10the Pilkington Glassworks whose laboratory specialists
11carried out similar tests on the age of the glass. Their
12reports are part of my discovery, and these confirmed that
13the tests were appropriate under the circumstances.
14 My Lord, if I may just anticipate by a few
15paragraphs what happened to those two glass plates
16subsequently. I returned to Moscow at the end of June.
17The glass plates were brought out to Moscow personally by
18a courier of the Sunday Times. As soon as the tests on
19them were complete and handed to me standing outside the
20archives building, as my diary records, and within three
21minutes I had taken them back into the archives building
22and replaced them in the box where they have been for the
23last 47 years. This is of course a matter that is very
24much in contention, my Lord. That is why I have gone into
25it in such detail.
26 What follows is not strictly relevant to the
1glass plates, but it is relevant to this case and is best
2inserted here because of its chronology. When I returned
3to London with the remaining diaries which the Sunday
4Times had requested, an awkward situation had developed.
5Our secrecy had been compromised by an astute reporter of
6The Independent, a Mr Peter Pringle, who was based in
7Moscow at the time I was using the archives. He too has
8submitted a written witness statement for the Defendants.
9He stalked me into the KGB archives, confronted me and
10learned from Dr Bondarev of my work on the Goebbels
11Diaries. The resulting scoop in The Independent sent the
12press world about its ears. Before I returned to London
13on July 4th 199 h entire Fleet Street press and the
14broadcast media fell over themselves to print stories
15about the diaries and my own participation. In order to
16blacken the name of the Sunday Times and its somewhat
17unpopular editor, I was described with every possible
19 It is of relevance to this action, in my
20submission, my Lord, because the same organizations which
21had gone to great lengths to furnish the Defendants here
22with the materials they needed to blacken my name and the
23book "Denying the Holocaust", now applied heavy pressure
24to Andrew Neil and The Times Newspapers Limited to violate
25their contract with me and to pay me nothing of the moneys
26which were due to me under the contract. Under this
1pressure, which Mr Neil described to me at the time as the
2worst that he had experienced in his life, the Sunday
3Times having in fact paid me the first installment welshed
4on the rest of the payments. I was forced to sue them in
5these same courts for breach of contract. The financial
6consequences of this violation of the contract, in round
7terms about £65,000, were serious for me.
8 When I reviewed all the clippings, when I read
9all the statements made by these various bodies and boards
10and campaigns and agencies and organizations attacking my
11name, both during my absence in Moscow and upon my return,
12I could only say, sadly, from a lengthening experience:
13"The gang's all here". The same gang whom I loosely
14describe as the traditional enemies of free speech, were
15to be seen in the following days behind the metal police
16barricades, police barricades thrown up outside my
17apartment, screaming abuse at me and other leaseholders in
18our building, spitting, harassing passers by, holding up
19offensive placards and slogans, including one reading in a
20most execrable taste, "Gas Irving". They can be seen in
21the newspaper photographs. From the photographs of this
22demonstration it appeared that representatives of every
23ethnic and other minority were present in these. It was
24the most disagreeable experience.
25 On my second visit to Moscow, as your Lordship
26will find from the relevant passages of my diary, I found
1frostier atmosphere. The boxes which I had so readily
2been provided with on my previous trip were said to be
3missing and not found. For three or four days I was
4unable to do anything and then one box was released to me
5which I devoured rapidly. On the last day but one it
6became plain that I had jealous and envious rivals in
7Munich to thank for the difficulties that the Russians
8were now making. Dr Bondarev's secretary came into the
9reading room and said there were allegations that I had
10stolen the glass plates. I assured her that while
11I borrowed some heavy glass plate which had been in my
12custody was at that time back in the archives and nothing
13was missing, which was true. I also voluntarily wrote a
14statement which was handed to Dr Bondarev.
15 Your Lordship will find this document in both
16Russian and English, in my handwriting, is in discovery
17both of myself and of the Defendants as an exhibit to the
18report by Professor Tarasov. Professor Tarasov is to be
19giving evidence before your Lordship, and I shall examine
20him with particular pleasure.
21 Dr Bondarev's secretary came back a few minutes
22later and said that this declaration was just what they
23required. She vouchsafed to me the information came from
25 Your Lordship will see from the information
26which came from Munich which is in the Defendants'
1discovery that the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte faxed to
2Moscow a particularly hateful letter about me in an
3attempt to destroy my relationship with the Russians.
4However, I already had all the documents that had been on
5my shopping list, either in long hand or by dictating them
6on to a hand-held dictate recorder or typed on to my
7portable typewriter, or as photocopies of a few pages of
8November 1938, or as photographic prints obtained from the
9glass microfiche. I have collected several hundred pages
10of the most important Goebbels Diaries entries that have
11been missing ever since the end of the war, and I see no
12reason not to be proud of this achievement. It is
13indicative of he general attempt to blacken my name and to
14silence me, that when I spoke to a meeting organised by my
15private supports' club, I suppose you would call it, the
16Clarendon Club, on evening of July 4th 1992, my return
17from Moscow that day, the hall in Great Portland Street
18was subjected to violent demonstrations outside which
19required a very large police presence to protect the
20members of my audience. This will be one of the
21photographs in the bundle I shall shortly be submitting to
22your Lordship. Later on that year when I addressed a
23third meeting at a West End hotel, there were even more
24violent demonstrations. Such demonstrations do not occur
25spontaneously. Somebody has to pay for the printing and
26the bill posting and the bus rentals. I might mention
1that on one of the days that followed I was violently
2attacked by three men who identified themselves to me as
3Jews when I was having a Sunday lunch at a public
4restaurant in Mayfair with my family. They had laid an
5ambush for me.
6 I only recently learned that on the Monday after
7my return from Moscow, my long time publishers, Macmillan
8Limited, seeing the clamour and coming under pressure from
9unnamed members of the Jewish community (I have the
10internal memorandum), panicked and issued secret
11instructions for the destruction of all remaining stocks
12of my books without ever informing me that they had done
14 This particularly repulsive act by a publisher,
15July 6th 1992, reminiscent of the Nazis in 1933, cost me
16of course many tens of thousands of pounds in lost
17royalties. At the same time as they were taking these
18secret decisions to destroy all of my books, at a cost to
19themselves of hundreds of thousands of pounds, my editor
20at Macmillan has continued to write ingratiating letters
21expressing interest in the early delivery of my Goebbels'
22biography. It was altogether a most unhappy period.
23 My Lord, I am coming towards the end as you can
24see. I can add one further brief example of how different
25is my attitude of such documents as the Goebbels Diaries
26from the attitude of my rivals and the scholars.
1 Dr Ralf Gunther Reuth approached me saying that
2he was preparing a five-volume abridged edition of the
3other Goebbels Diaries for Piper Verlag in Germany at this
4time and he had nothing for 1938. There were large gaps
5in the other years too. I foolishly allowed him to have
6photocopies of some of the most important passages which
7until that moment had been exclusive to myself and my, as
8yet, unpublished Goebbels' biography. The thanks that
9I received for this generous act were scant indeed.
10I provided copies to the German Federal Archives entirely
11of the entire Goebbels diary extracts that I brought back
12from Moscow. I did that on July 1st 1993. Ten minutes
13later the Director of the Archives informed me in extreme
14embarrassment that on the instructions of the German
15Federal Minister of the Interior I was permanently banned
16from the self-same archives forthwith and in perpetuity,
17which is to my knowledge the only time that such a
18sanction has ever been applied to an historian. He
19explained that this decision had been taken, "in the
20interests of the German people".
21 I mention these facts, my Lord, to show that it
22was not just one single action that has destroyed my
23career, but a cumulative, self-perpetuating, rolling
24onslaught from every side engineered by the same people
25who have propagated the book which is at the centre of the
26dispute, which is the subject of this action, my Lord.
1 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Thank you very much, Mr Irving. Can I before
2I ask Mr Rampton to open the Defendants' case just ask you
3to go back, if you would, to page 18 which is where you
4are dealing with what I think you accept is at the heart
5of the action, namely the accusation that you are a
7 MR IRVING: Yes.
8 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Towards the end of page 18, in fact perhaps
9one can pick it up at the beginning of that last
10paragraph, you say this: "This trial is not really about
11what happened in the Holocaust or how many Jews and other
12persecuted minorities were tortured and put to death".
13Certainly as I see it, and I believe as he Defendants see
14it, that is right. This trial is not concerned with
15making findings of historical fact. But you then go on to
16set out what you say the Defendants need to establish for
17the purposes of their plea of justification, and you say
18that they need to establish, first, that a particular
19thing happened or existed; secondly that you were aware of
20that particular thing as it happened or existed at the
21time that you wrote about it from the records then before
22me, and then that you wilfully manipulated the text.
23 There was just one thing I wanted to put to you
24so that one is clear about it. You are saying, are you,
25that it has to be shown that you had actual knowledge of
26the particular fact or event?
1 MR IRVING: My Lord, I do not have an astute legal brain, but
2I am trying to make it easy for the court by establishing
3very early on what the ground rules are going to be.
4 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes, that is why I am raising this with
5because I think it is a very fundamental question.
6 MR IRVING: It is a very fundamental point, my Lord, and I am
7indebted to you for having appeared to have grasped
8precisely the point I am trying to make.
9 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Can I just put to you this and then complete
10your answer. The Defendants may be saying that whether or
11not they can actually prove that you specifically knew of
12the particular fact, it was there available in the
13historical records. They may be saying, and I believe
14they are saying, that you shut your eyes to it.
15 MR IRVING: That is a different allegation, I would
16respectfully submit, my Lord, by saying that what they are
17saying there is that I am a rotten historian or a lazy
18historian or an indolent historian or that I am
19lethargic. That is not the words they have used. They
20have said that I manipulated, that I distorted. That is
21why I think I am entitled to press for my narrower
22definition, my Lord.
23 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes. That puts it very clearly. Thank you
24very much indeed. That completes your opening?
25 MR IRVING: That completes my opening statement, my Lord.
26 MR RAMPTON: My Lord, before I read what everybody has anyway,
1I might just respond to what your Lordship has just said
2to Mr Irving in this way, by saying your Lordship has it
3right. It is not that he is indolent. It is not that he
4falls into error. It is that he deliberately perverts the
5course of this particular episode in European history,
6including what happened at Auschwitz.
7 MR JUSTICE GRAY: So you are putting the case that Mr Irving
8not only ought to have known but did in fact know what the
9historic records showed?
10 MR RAMPTON: I do not know whether he did or whether he did
11not, but what is certain is that he leapt on to the sink
12of the Auschwitz battleship campaign without even opening
13the front of the fire.
14 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes.
15 MR RAMPTON: My Lord, Mr Irving calls himself an historian.
16The truth is, however, that he is not an historian at all
17but a falsifier of history. To put it bluntly, he is a
18liar. Lies may take various forms and may as often
19consist of suppression or omission as a direct falsehood
20or invention, but in the end all forms of lying converge
21into a single definition, wilful, deliberate misstatement
22of the facts.
23 Mr Irving has used many different means to
24falsify history, invention, misquotation, suppression,
25distortion, manipulation and not least mistranslation, but
26those all these techniques have the same ultimate effect,
1falsification of the truth. Moreover, the lies which the
2Defendants in this case will show that Mr Irving has told,
3concern an area of history in which perhaps it behoves any
4writer or researcher to be particularly careful of the
5truth, the destruction of the Jews by the Nazis during
6World War II, the Holocaust, and Adolf Hitler's role in
7that human catastrophy, or, as Mr Irving would have it,
8alleged catastrophe, for Mr Irving is nowadays a Holocaust
9denier. By this I mean that he denies that the Nazis
10planned and carried out the systematic murder of millions
11Jews, in particular, though by no means exclusively, by
12the use of homicidal gas chambers, and in particular,
13though by no means exclusively, at Auschwitz in Southern
15 This was not, however, always so. In 1977 the
16first edition of Mr Irving's book Hitler's War was
17published. In that edition Mr Irving accepted that the
18Holocaust, as generally understood, had occurred. He was
19not willing, however, to accept that Adolf Hitler had any
20real or direct responsibility for what happened or that he
21knew anything very much about it until it was too late.
22 Mr Irving went to considerable lengths to
23achieve his exoneration of Hitler. At this stage I take
24but one example of many to illustrate Mr Irving's
25disreputable methods. In late November 1941 a train load
26of about a thousand Jews was deported from Berlin to Riga
1in Latvia, as part of a process which had been initiated
2earlier that year in accordance with Hitler's wishes to
3empty the Reich of its Jews.
4 On 30th November 1941, as his daily log records,
5Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, was at the Wolf's
6lair, Hitler's headquarters in East Prussia. Mr Irving's
7account of this visit, so far as it concerns the fait of
8the Jews, is as follows. This is in Hitler's War 1977 at
10 "On November 30th 1941 Himmler was summoned to
11the Wolf's lair for a secret conference with Hitler at
12which fait of Berlin's Jews was clearly raised. At 1.30
13p.m. Himmler was obliged to telephone from Hitler's bunker
14to Heydrich the explicit order that Jews were", and this
15is in the author's italics, "not to be liquidated". The
16next day Himmler telephoned SS overall General Oswald
17Pohl, overall chief of the concentration camp system with
18the order: "Jews are to stay where they are". That is
19what Mr Irving wrote.
20 In the introduction to that edition of the book
21at page 14, anticipating what the reader would find in the
22text, Mr Irving wrote this:
23 "The incontrovertible evidence is that Hitler
24ordered on November 30th 1941 that there was to be "no
25liquidation" of the Jews (without much difficulty I", that
26is Mr Irving "found in Himmler's private files his own
1handwriting note on this)".
2 Thus the reader was led to believe, first, that
3as early as 30th November 1941 Hitler had issued an order,
4faithfully passed on by Himmler to the relevant
5authorities, that there was to be no liquidation of any
6Jews, and that all Jews were to stay wherever they happen
7to be; and second that there was incontrovertible evidence
8of this in handwritten notes by Himmler which Mr Irving
9had found in Himmler's private files. Mr Irving had
10evidently read Himmler's notes, and Mr Irving's German was
11then, as it is now, very good. So what did the notes
13 The relevant part of the note for 30th November
141941 reads as follows:
15 "Judentranport aus Berlin. Keine Liquidierung".
16That is the German entry by Himmler. The unambiguous
17meaning of those words in English is: "Jew transport" the
18word is singular, "Jew transport from Berlin no
20 Thus so far from being a general prohibition
21against the liquidation of the Jews, it was merely an
22order from Himmler to Heydrich that the particular train
23load of Berlin Jews in question was not to be killed on
24arrival in Riga.
25 The matter gets worse. What was the evidence
26that Himmler's order to Heydrich was derived from
1instructions given to him by Hitler at a secret conference
2at which the fait of Berlin's Jews was clearly raised?
3The answer is none. This was pure invention by
4Mr Irving. Indeed, the fact is, as Mr Irving later
5discovered, that Himmler did not meet Hitler until an hour
6after he telephoned this order to Heydrich.
7 Thus the matter gets worse still. I repeat
8Mr Irving's words:
9 "And the next day Himmler telephoned SS General
10Oswald Pohl, overall chief of the concentration camp
11system, with the order 'Jews are to stay where they are'."
12 What does Himmler's note of his telephone call
13to General Pohl on 1st November 1941 actually say? It
15 "Verwaltungsfuhrer des SS haben zu bleiben".
16 Does this mean, as Mr Irving told his English
17readers, Jews are to stay where they are? No, it does
18not. It means administratively leaders of the SS are to
19stay where they are. Nor is there in this day's entry in
20the Himmler log any reference to the Jews whatsoever.
21I repeat, Mr Irving had, as he proudly announced, read the
22Himmler log and he has very good German.
23 One asks the question: Does not this single
24example condemn Mr Irving as a liar, whose utterances
25about this awful episode in European history can never be
26taken seriously? In fairness it should be pointed out
1that in the 1991 edition of Hitler's War Mr Irving
2corrected, though by implication only, the assertion that
3Himmler's order to Heydrich of 30th November 1941 "no
4liquidation" applied to Jews generally, and accepted that
5it applied only to a single trailer of Jews from Berlin.
6But did he withdraw his imaginative assertion that
7Himmler's instruction to Heydrich was derived from an
8order given to him by Hitler, or that Himmler's log for
91st December 1941 read, "Jews are to stay where they
10are"? No he did not. He wrote on page 427:
11 "On November 30th 1941 Himmler was summoned to
12the Wolf's lair for a secret conference with Hitler at
13which the fate of a train load of Berlin Jews was clearly
14raised. At 1.30 p.m. Himmler was obliged to telephone
15from Hitler's bunker to Heydrich the explicit order that
16these Jews were not to be liquidated, and the next day
17Himmler telephoned SS General Oswald Pohl, overall chief
18of the concentration camp system, with the order, 'Jews
19are to stay where they are'."
20 Thus was repeated and preserved a monstrous
21distortion of the evidence in Mr Irving's own hands. It
22is true that he printed a facsimile of Himmler's log for
2330th November 1941 in both editions of the book, but he
24never printed the entry for 1st December 1941,
25"administrative leaders of the SS are to stay where they
26are." One wonders rhetorically why not?
1 So, my Lord, I pass on to Mr Irving and
2Holocaust denial. Between the publication of the first
3edition of Hitler's War in 1977 and its second edition in
41991, Mr Irving's views about the Holocaust underwent a
5sea change. In the 1977 edition he accepted it as an
6historical truth in all its essentials, systematic mass
7murder of Jews in purpose built extermination factories,
8but in the 1991 edition all trace of the Holocaust in this
9sense has disappeared. Auschwitz, for example, has been
10transformed from a monstrous killing machine into a mere
11slave labour camp.
12 What are the reasons for this astounding
13volte-face? The principal reason can be expressed in one
14word Leuchter. In 1988 a man of German origin, Ernst
15Zundel, was put on trial in Canada for publishing material
16which, amongst other things, denied the existence of
17homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz. In defence of this
18charge Mr Zundel's lawyers recruited a man called Fred
19Leuchter who seems to have made his living as some kind of
20consultant in the design of execution facilities in the
21USA. Mr Leuchter was duly despatched to Auschwitz to seek
22evidence of the use, or otherwise, of homicidal gas
23chambers. He took some samples from various parts of the
24remains of Auschwitz which he later had analysed in
25America and then wrote a report describing his findings
26and summarizing his conclusions. These were that there
1were never any homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz.
2 Unfortunately for Mr Zundel, Mr Leuchter's
3report was declared inadmissible by the Canadian judge on
4the grounds that Mr Leuchter had no relevant expertise.
5 Now it happens that Mr Irving also gave evidence
6for Mr Zundel at that trial. In the course of that visit
7he had read the Leuchter report. Shortly thereafter he
8declared himself convinced that Leuchter was right and
9that there never any homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz.
10So enthused was he by the Leuchter report that he
11published it himself in this country, with an appreciative
12forward written by him and introduced it to the public at
13a press conference in London, at which he declared that
14the validity of Leuchter's laboratory reports was
16 So it was that the Leuchter report became the
17main weapon in Mr Irving's campaign to "sink the
18battleship Auschwitz", as he calls it. The essence of
19this campaign is that the Holocaust symbolized by
20Auschwitz is a myth legend or lie, deployed by Jews to
21blackmail the German people into paying vast sums in
22reparations to supposed victims of the Holocaust.
23 According to Mr Irving, the Leuchter report
24is "the biggest calibre shell that has yet hit the
25battleship Auschwitz" and has "totally exploded the
26legend". Unfortunately for Mr Irving, the Leuchter report
1is bunk and he knows it. It was comprehensively debunked
2in court in Canada. It has been comprehensively
3demolished since by people who have written to Mr Irving,
4and perhaps not least by Professor van Pelt in his report
5made for the purposes of this case. This is not the
6moment to describe all the many means by which the
7Leuchter report is demolished, but one simple example can
8be given because it is derived from the internal evidence
9of the Leuchter report itself, and must have been apparent
10to anyone with an open and thoughtful mind.
11 One of the main reasons that Mr Leuchter
12advanced in his report for his conclusion that there were
13no homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz, was that it was to
14be expected that any residual traces of hydrogen cyanide,
15the killing agent in the Zyklon B pellets used by the SS,
16should be very much higher in those parts of the remains
17of Auschwitz which were identified as gas chambers for
18killing people than in those parts which are known to have
19been used for killing lice.
20 Leucther's report recorded very small traces of
21hydrogen cyanide in the gas chamber remains and relatively
22large traces in the delicing remains. Therefore, said
23Mr Leuchter, the alleged gas chamber remains could
24obviously never have been gas chambers at all. But the
25report itself contained the seeds of its own destruction,
26for it revealed that concentration of hydrogen cyanide
1required to kill humans was approximately 22 times lower
2than that required to kill lice, 300 parts per million as
3against 6,666 parts per million for lice. This was
4internal evidence obvious to any interested reader, which
5Mr Irving certainly was, that the Leuchter report was
7 So why did Mr Irving ignore this and all other
8stupidities in the Leuchter report? Why did he embrace it
9with such wholehearted enthusiasm? The answer must be
10that he wanted it to be true. After all, if the Holocaust
11never happened, then Hitler cannot have ordered it or
12known about it. Thus, as Mr Irving himself said of the
13second edition of Hitler's War, "You won't find the
14Holocaust mentioned in one line, not even in a footnote.
15Why should you? If something didn't happen, then you
16don't even dignify it with a footnote."
17 So, finally, my Lord, why has Mr Irving resorted
18to these lies, distortions and misrepresentations and
19deceptions in pursuit of his exoneration of Adolf Hitler
20and his denial of the Holocaust? One can often derive a
21fair picture of a man's true attitudes and motives from
22what he says and from the kind of people he associates
23with and speaks to. Mr Irving has done a lot of public
24speaking over the years. The evidence for the Defendants
25in this case will show that his audiences will often
26consist of radical right-wing neo-facist, neo-Nazi groups
1of people, groups like the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi,
2white supremacist organisation in the USA, the DVU,
3perhaps the most radical right-wing party in Germany,
4gatherings of so-called revisionists, in truth largely
5Holocaust deniers, the extreme right-wing British National
6Party and so on.
7 What sorts of things has Mr Irving said on these
8occasions which might be thought to betray his underlying
9motives and attitudes? It is not possible in a relatively
10short statement of this kind to catalogue all the most
11telling instances of this kind, but it is perhaps possible
12to give the flavour of some of Mr Irving's thinking by
13reference to two short examples from the same speech.
14 In September 1991 Mr Irving spoke to an audience
15in Calgary, Alberto. He complained about pressure from
16Jewish people and Jewish bodies designed to prevent him
17from speaking. He said:
18 "And it's happening now. They're zeroing in on
19the university, 'Nazism not welcome here, self-professed
20moderate facist'". Mr Irving went on: "I strongly object
21to that word "moderate". That remarked provoked some
22laughter and it may be that it was not meant to be
24 On the same occasion, however, he said something
25which, though somewhat facetiously worded, conveys a
26message about his true views and attitudes which can only
1be taken seriously. It was this:
2 "I don't see any reason to be tasteful about
3Auschwitz. It's baloney. It's a legend. Once we admit
4the fact that it was a brutal slave labour camp and large
5numbers of people did die, as large numbers of innocent
6people died elsewhere in the war, why believe the rest of
7the baloney? I say quite tastelessly in fact that more
8women died on the back seat of Edward Kennedy's car at
9Chappaquiddick than ever died in a gas chamber in
10Auschwitz. Oh, you think that's tasteless. How about
11this. There are so many Auschwitz survivors going around,
12in fact the number increases as the years go past which is
13biologically very odd to say the least, because I am going
14to form an Association of Auschwitz survivors, survivors
15of the Holocaust and other liars for the A-S-S-H-O-L-S",
16pronounced no doubt "asshols".
17 This last inspiration was also greeted by
18laughter, but it was laughter of an altogether different
19kind. It was the laughter of mockery, mockery of the
20suffering of others, people whom on this and other
21occasions Mr Irving has accused of lying about their
22Holocaust experiences, of forging Auschwitz tattoos on
23their arms, of deserving both contempt and the attention
25 My Lord, this is obviously an important case,
26but that is not however because it is primarily concerned
1with whether or not the Holocaust took place or the degree
2of Hitler's responsibility for it. On the contrary, the
3essence of the case is Mr Irving's honesty and integrity
4of as a chronicler -- I shy away from the word
5"historian" -- of these matters, for if it be right that
6Mr Irving, driven by his extremist views and sympathies,
7has devoted his energies to the deliberate falsification
8of this tragic episode in history, then by exposing that
9dangerous fraud in this court the Defendants may properly
10be applauded for having performed a significant public
11service not just in this country, but in all those places
12in the world where anti-Semitism is waiting to be fed.
13 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Mr Irving, I would have suggested -- that is
14the opening statements out of the way, as it were --
15I would have suggested we might viewed those two videos
16but we do not have the equipment.
17 MR IRVING: We do not have the equipment unfortunately.
18I think we will have the equipment first thing tomorrow.
19 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Whenever. The fact is we cannot do it now.
20 MR RAMPTON: No, we cannot, my Lord.
21 MR JUSTICE GRAY: I am just wondering where we go immediately.
22 MR RAMPTON: Perhaps the answer might be home.
23 MR JUSTICE GRAY: If needs be, yes. It seems to me rather
24difficult to start on the evidence without knowing whether
25we are taking Auschwitz separately and first, or whether
26it is going to be the other way round. You have not
1obviously resolved that.
2 MR RAMPTON: Can we usefully, and I mean usefully, use a little
3bit of time now, perhaps your Lordship would adjourn until
4tomorrow. We can then try to work out something a little
5less jelly like than we offered your Lordship this morning
6so far as scheduling is concerned.
7 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Certainly.
8 MR RAMPTON: And give a report tomorrow morning?
9 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes. I have a fairly short statement from
10you, Mr Irving.
11 MR IRVING: As required under the new rules.
12 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes. We will have to discuss how far one
13needs to deal with all the issues in oral evidence.
14I hope not by any means all of them. I think I am right
15in saying that really I perhaps know rather less of your
16specific answers to some of the specific criticisms than
17I would like and at some stage I would like to be provided
18with the answers.
19 MR IRVING: I appreciate that, my Lord, and I know
20that -- I intend not to offer very much answer to the name
22 MR JUSTICE GRAY: No, I agree with you about that. What is at
23the heart of the case is the manipulation allegation and
24that involves looking, to a degree anyway, at what the
25historical documents actually say and mean.
26 MR IRVING: I am grateful, my Lord. Our documentation on both
1sides is very extensive.
2 MR JUSTICE GRAY: Yes. If there is nothing else we need to do
3now, then perhaps it would be sensible to adjourn. If you
4could let me know through the usual channels what you have
5decided, that would help me, if you reach agreement.
6 MR RAMPTON: I know it would. At the moment I do not see a
7problem with the existing plan which is to bring Professor
8van Pelt over for the beginning of the last week in
10 MR IRVING: There is a problem, my Lord, and that is we have
11also arranged for our gentleman to come from California.
12We will have to iron that one out.
13 MR JUSTICE GRAY: This cannot be done in open court. So I will
14leave it to you and we will resume at 10.30.
15 MR IRVING: Thank you very much, my Lord.
16 (The court adjourned until the following day)