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R L Cope on the Lipstadt Case

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R L Cope: "Irving versus Lipstadt: a[n] historian's view of the case," in Kleio, No.33, 2001 (University of South Africa)

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David Irving comments:

IrvingWriting in Issue No.33 (2001) of Kleio, the journal of the Department of History at the University of South Africa, the South African historian R L Cope, of the notoriously leftwing "Wits" (University of Witwatersrand), attempts the first outsider's view of the Lipstadt trial.

He has subsumed so completely the views of the chief Richard "Skunk" Evansexpert witness hired by the Defence, the entirely neutral Professor Richard Evans, (right, "witness fee" £250,000 and counting), that we assumed for a while that it might be Evans writing under a nom-de-plume, except that Cope has condensed into 27 pages material that Evans would have spread over acres of ignorant print and turgid prose.

In fact Cope has based this paper ninety percent on the Expert Report which Evans submitted, and he has paid very little attention to the detailed rebuttal of its salient points, as far as was possible in the very limited time available even in a 32 day trial.

Since Cope's paper is posted in pdf form, it is not possible to offer a hyperlinked commentary.

By way of evaluation, however, I would draw readers' attention to only three of the more egregious faiblesses:

  • Cope dismisses the Schlegelberger Document as unimportant (coupled with the snide and untrue remark that other historians had found it and used it before I did) -- he even buys into Evans' argument that the document's provenance is uncertain, although few documents can have a more well documented pedigree, as an authentic, high-level Reich Justice Ministry document, than this. No archivist has ever suggested that it is anything but genuine: that escape-route is chosen only by the despairing historian who cannot waffle his way around the Schlegelberger Document otherwise.
  • Not having the original document in front of him, Cope totally misconstrues the difficulties that led to the mistranscription of Himmler's handwritten haben zu bleiben phrase.
  • Cope uncritically swallows Evans' bald statement that my Dresden deaht-roll figure was based on a document [namely "Tagesbefehl No.47"] that I knew to be a forgery. There is no evidence of this in any edition of The Destruction of Dresden; in fact I gave a wide range of possible casualties, and selected as the best on the available evidence the 135,000 figure that was suggested to me by Hanns Voigt, who headed the Deathroll Division of the bureau of missing persons after the Dresden air raid and who lived in West Germany as a schoolteacher in the 1960s. When other documents became available, after my book appeared, I was the first to publish them in a letter to The Times (what other historian would act that way!) The notorious Tagesbefehl No. 47 on which Evans and the Court lingered for so long played no part whatever in my assessment of the death roll, as readers of my book know.

It is fortunate that, as Cope ruefully remarks in his second footnote, I am gradually placing all the documents on the trial on this website: because the verbatim transcripts, the arguments, the evidence, and the cross-examination of the so-called "experts" will reveal to future generations of historians what the truth about all these matters was.