International Campaign for Real History

In the High Court of Justice

DJC Irving

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Tuesday, January 11, 2000, opening statement by David Irving, part 2

We may hear the word "conspiracy" uttered during the next few days and weeks. If there has been a conspiracy, it is a conspiracy against free speech.

I might mention that my father fought as an officer in the Royal Navy in both wars, both in the Battle of Jutland in 1916 and in the Arctic convoys of 1942, and that both my brothers have served in the Royal Air Force. My father was an arctic explorer between the wars, and admiralty charts show two island points in the South Sandwich Islands named after him and his first officer, my uncle.

I come from a service family and I find it odious that at the end of the Twentieth century writers and historians going about their own respective businesses, writing books that may indeed have been completely wrong have found themselves suddenly and vicariously threatened with imprisonment or with crippling fines for having expressed opinions on history which are at variance with these new freshly enacted laws, which have been introduced at the insistence of wealthy pressure groups and other enemies of the free speech for which we fought two World Wars in this country.

Your Lordship will undoubtedly hear from the Defendants that I was fined a very substantial sum of money by the German Government under these witless new laws. It is no matter for shame for me, although it has had catastrophic consequences, as it now makes me de facto "a convict", with a criminal record, and as such liable to a concatenation of further indignities and sanctions in every foreign country which I now wish to visit.

The circumstances: I may say here quite briefly that on April 21, 1990, I delivered an address, quite possibly ill-judged, to an audience at a hall in Munich.

When one agrees to attend such functions, one has little way of knowing in advance what kind of audience one will be addressing, and one has no control over the external appearance of the function. I make no complaint about that.

Your Lordship will hear, that in the course of my speech, of which apparently no full transcript in survives, I uttered the following remark:

"We now know that the gas chamber shown to the tourists at Auschwitz is a fake built by the Poles after the war, just like the one established by the Americans at Dachau".

This may well raise eyebrows. It might be found to be offensive by sections of the community, and if they take such offence, I can assure this Court that I regret it and that such was not my intention. The fact remains that these remarks were true, the Poles admitted it (in January 1995) and under English law truth has always been regarded as an absolute defence.

We shall hear, indeed from the Defence's own expert witnesses, though perhaps the admission will have to be bludgeoned out of them, that the gas chamber shown to the tourists at Auschwitz was indeed built by the Polish Communists three years after the war was over.

I do not intend to go into the question of whether or not there were gas chambers at Birkenau, some five miles from Auschwitz, in these opening remarks. By the time this trial is over we shall probably all be heartily sick of the debate, which has little or no relevance to the issues that are pleaded.

So what are the issues that are pleaded? And how do I propose to address those issues in opening this case?

First, let me emphasise that I also have no intentions, and neither is it the purpose of this trial, to "refight World War Two". I shall not argue, and have never argued, that the wrong side won the war, for example; or that the history of the war needs to be grossly rewritten. I must confess that I am mystified at the broad thrust which the Defendants have taken in the vast body of documentation which they have served upon this Court -- another five thousand pages were delivered to me on Friday evening, and more last night.

It is all something of an embarrassment to me, and I am being forced into positions that I have not previously adopted. I have never claimed to be a Holocaust historian. I have written no book about the Holocaust. I have written no article about it. If I have spoken about it, it is usually because I have been questioned about it. On such occasions, I have emphasised my lack of expertise, and I have expatiated only upon those areas with which I am familiar. In doing so, I have offended many of my friends, who wished that history was different. But you cannot wish documents away, and it is in documents that I have always specialised as a writer.

Your Lordship will find upon reviewing my various printed works that I have very seldom used other peoples' books as sources. I have found it otiose and tedious, not only because they are ill-written, but also because in reading other peoples' books you are liable to imbibe the errors and prejudices with which those books are beset.

If however, you go to the original documents, you will often find to your joy that the weight of documents you have to read is, pound for pound, or indeed ton for ton, less than the weight of books that you might otherwise have to read upon the same subject. And you are kilometres closer to the original Real History.

As for the nature of documents: I remember that in 1969 I visited Professor Hugh Trevor Roper, who is now Lord Dacre and I am glad to say still with us. He very kindly made available to me his collection of several thousand original intelligence documents for my biography of Adolf Hitler, but in doing so he advised me as follows: when considering new documents, you should ask yourself three questions: and if I remember correctly, those three criteria were,

  • 1) is the document genuine (possibly, in the light of the "Hitler Diaries" scandal, an unfortunate pre-requisite in this case):
  • 2) is the document written by a person in a position to know what he is talking about? And
  • 3) Why does this document exist?

The latter is quite interesting, as we have all experienced, in the archives, coming across documents obviously written for window-dressing or for buck passing purposes.

It is the documents in this case which I think the Court will find most interesting and illuminating. And by that I mean documents at every level. The Court will have to consider not only the documents originating in World War Two on both sides, but also the documents that have been generated by that painful process known as Discovery.

It will not escape the Court, My Lord, when the time comes, that like many personalities, I have kept the most voluminous records throughout my career as a writer, and indeed even before it. Along with my writing career I kept a diary; sometimes I wondered why, but I think that the reason was basically this -- if you are a writer, and self-employed, you need the discipline that a diary imposes upon you. You cannot in conscience enter in a diary at the end of the day: "I did nothing all day".

Your Lordship will be amused no doubt to hear that at one stage in the Discovery process in this action, at the request of Mr. Julius, I readily agreed to make available to the Defence my entire diaries, in so far as they still exist (a few pages are missing); and that Mr. Julius only then learned that these diaries occupy a shelf eight feet long; and that in them there are approximately there are probably ten or twenty million words to be read.

Mr. Julius and his staff have, however, risen most nobly to the challenge that these pages presented, and I am sure that over the next few days and weeks we shall be hearing more than one morsel that they have dredged out if these pages. They will hold it aloft, still dripping with something or other, and read it to this Court with a squeal of delight, proclaiming this to be the Philosopher's Stone that they needed to justify their Client's Libels all along. We shall see.

But that is not what this trial is all about.

This trial is not really about what happened in the Holocaust, or how many Jews and other persecuted minorities were tortured and put to death. This Court will, I hope, agree with me when the time comes that the issue before us is not what happened, but how I treated it in my works of history: it may be that I was totally ignorant on some aspects of World War Two (and I hasten to say that I do not believe I was). But to be accused of deliberate manipulation, and distorting, and mis-translating is perverse: the Defendants must show, in my humble submission,

  • 1) that a particular thing happened or existed,
  • 2) that I was aware of that particular thing, as it happened or existed, at the time I wrote about it, from the records then before me;
  • 3) that I then wilfully manipulated the text or mis-translated or distorted for the purposes that they imply.

I will submit that in no instance can they prove this to be the case. They certainly have not done so in the documents so far pleaded.

I readily concede that what I have read of the reports submitted by the Defendants' experts, particularly those of the historians, is of the utmost interest. I have to congratulate Professor Jan van Pelt, for the literary quality of his lengthy report on Auschwitz, which will no doubt eventually see general circulation on the bookstores: indeed, I congratulated him three years ago already on the first book that he published on this topic.

I admit too that there are documents contained in the expertise of Professor Browning of which I was not aware, and which have changed my own perception of some aspects of the Nazi atrocities on the Eastern front: for example, I was not aware that the S.S. Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich had issued instructions to his commanders in the Baltic States, after Operation BARBAROSSA began in June 1941, not only to turn a blind eye upon the anti-Jewish pogroms started by the local populations in those countries, but also actively to initiate them and to provide assistance.

This document, however, emerged only recently from the Russian archives and there can surely be no reproach against me for not having known that when I wrote my biography of Hitler, published in 1977, or in my later works. That cannot be branded as manipulation or distortion.

What is manipulation or distortion of history would be, in my submission this: knowing of the existence of a key document and then ignoring it or suppressing it entirely, without even a mention.

If, for example, it should turn out, and be proven in this very Courtroom, that in the spring of 1942 the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was quoted by a senior Reich Minister, in writing, as repeatedly saying that he "wanted the final solution of the Jewish problem postponed until the war is over"; and if the document recording those remarkable words has been found in the German archives; it would surely be classifiable as manipulation or distortion if a historian were to attempt to write the history of the Holocaust without even mentioning the document's existence? Would it not, my Lord?

The Defendants have, as said, arbitrarily and recklessly decided to label me a "Holocaust denier" -- their motivation for doing so we shall shortly hear about. My Lord, before I continue to address this point in my opening speech, may I take this opportunity to read to the Court, and into the public records, a two-page document, which I shall refer to as the Walter Bruns interrogation. I do so because perceptions matter, and I want at this late afternoon hour to leave a firm perception in the minds of all those present. It is a document which first came into my hands some time before 1985.

I should say, My Lord, by way of introduction, that this document, which is in my Discovery, was originally a British TOP-SECRET document. TOP SECRET is only one rung lower than ULTRA-SECRET, the classification given to the British decoded intercepts. It was TOP SECRET, because it is the record of an interrogation which was obtained by methods that were illegal, I understand, under the Conventions.

Enemy prisoners of war were brought into British prison camps, treated lavishly, well-fed, reassured by their relaxed surroundings, and gradually led into conversation, unaware that in every fitting and appliance in the room were hidden microphones capable of picking up even whispered remarks. (That was the illegality.) Released to the British archives only a few years ago were all of these reports, but I had obtained already several hundred fifteen or twenty years earlier. I consider these transcripts to be a historical source which, if properly used and if certain criteria are applied, can be regarded as part of the bedrock of Real History.

I would say further by way of preamble, My Lord, that the speaker whose recorded voice we are about to hear, as reproduced in this typescript, was on November 30, 1941, the day of the episode he narrates, a Colonel in the German Army Engineers force (the sappers, or Pioniere); he was commanding a unit based at Riga, the capital of Latvia. He had learned to his vexation that it was intended by the local SS unit to round up all the local Jews, including "his Jews" in the next day or two and to liquidate them.

I read from this document:

[click link for text or document]

My Lord, permit me a word about the credentials of that document. It is of course authentic. It comes from the British archives. A copy can be found in the Public Record Office this very day if one wishes to go and see it. First: is the General describing something he had really seen?

I mention this because later, on his sworn oath in the Witness stand in Nuremberg, he claimed only to have heard of this atrocity. Yet there can surely be no doubt of the very verisimilitude: it doesn't take university level textual analysis to realise that if a General says, "I can see her in my mind's eye now, a girl in a flame-red dress", this is a man who has been there and seen it with his own eyes.

This document has in my submission considerable evidentiary value. It is not self-serving. The General is not testifying in his own interest. He is merely talking, probably in a muffled whisper, to fellow prisoners at a British interrogation centre, and he has no idea that in another room British experts are listening to and recording every word. We also have the original German text of this document I might add, My Lord.

To what purpose do I mention this? Well, firstly because I shall later add further unknown documents, from the same superb British archives, to the events of this one day, documents which show Hitler taking a most remarkable stand on this atrocity.

But I also adduce this document for the following reason:

  • if an historian repeatedly refers to this document;
  • if he quotes from it;
  • if he immediately writes showing it to fellow historians, both Jews and non-Jews alike, and in writing draws their attention to the existence of this document, and its fellow documents, all of which were hitherto unknown to them;
  • if moreover that historian reads out this document in public, with its awful, infernal descriptions of the mass killings of Jews by the Nazis on the eastern front, on multiple speaking occasions;
  • if this historian, speaking to audiences even of the most extreme hues of left and right, heedless as to their anger, insists in reading out the document in full, thus "rubbing their noses in it" so to speak; and
  • if he continues to do so over a period of fifteen years, again and again, right up to the present date, and
  • if he quotes that document in the text, and references that document in the footnotes of all his most recent works, beginning with the HITLER'S WAR biography republication in 1991, through GOEBBELS. MASTERMIND OF THE THIRD REICH in 1996 and NUREMBERG, THE LAST BATTLE in 1997:

Then -- is it not a Libel of the most grotesque and offensive nature to brand that same historian around the world as a "Holocaust denier", when he has not only discovered and found and propagated this document and brought it to the attention of both his colleagues and his rival and his foes, regardless of their race or religion, and to countless audiences?

This is not an isolated example, My Lord. In the Introduction to my biography of Adolf Hitler, HITLER'S WAR, which was published by The Viking Press in America and by Hodder & Stoughton in the United Kingdom and later by Macmillan, we shall find that I have drawn specific and repeated attention of the reader to the crimes that Adolf Hitler committed.




Defendants' opening statement