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What Mr Justice Gray made of the dispute about Hofmann in his Judgment:

Case for the Defendants

5.20 Evans noted that, whereas in Hitler's War it is claimed by Irving that the whole squad which was involved in the looting was disciplined by Hitler, in Goering it is just the ex-army lieutenant. The reader who seeks to resolve the inconsistency is not assisted by any footnote identifying either the police sergeant who is said by Irving to have witnessed the dismissal or the occasion when he gave his evidence (as would be conventional practice for a reputable historian). Irving says at p518 that his account is knitted together from eye-witness evidence at the trial.

5.21 Evans managed to track down the identity of the police officer, who was called Hofmann. The Defendants criticise Irving for his failure to inform the reader that Hofmann was a loyal member of the Nazi party who participated in the putsch and who was on that account likely, when testifying on his behalf at his criminal trial, to give a favourable account of the conduct of his Fuhrer in his testimony and to depict him as a law-abiding citizen.

5.22 According to Evans, examination of the transcript of Hofmann's testimony reveals several inaccuracies in Irving's account. There is no support for the claim that Hitler summoned or "sent for" the former lieutenant or that either the police sergeant officer or Goering "goggled" when Hitler admonished him for raiding the Jewish shop. The admonition took place before the putsch and so cannot have formed any part of an attempt by Hitler to maintain order during it.

5.23 Irving's account is also criticised for misrepresenting the nature of Hitler's concern about the raid on the Jewish shop. The record of the evidence given at the trial demonstrates that Hitler's concern was not to punish the officer for victimising a Jewish shopkeeper but rather that the incident might convey a bad impression of his new party.

5.24 Evans maintained that, far from acting to protect Jewish property during the putsch, there is reliable evidence that Hitler (as he himself admitted at his trial) ordered a raid on a Jewish printing house by armed Storm Division troops, who under threat of violence stole 14.5 billion marks. This robbery is presented by Irving at p59 of Goering as a "requisition" of "funds".

5.25 The Defendants maintain that in the respects which I have summarised, in his account of Hitler's reaction to the raid on the Jewish delicatessen and the evidence given at his trial, Irving persistently twists and embroiders the facts so as to exculpate Hitler and portray him as having acted sympathetically towards the Jews. Evans emphasised that it is essential for any historian to pay close attention to the background of any source he intends to quote so as to ensure that he is a reliable witness. He concluded that Irving deliberately suppressed the information as to Hofmann's background, preferring instead to present him to the reader as an objective and trustworthy source, when to Irving's knowledge he was nothing of the kind.

Irving's response

5.26 In the course of his own evidence and his cross-examination of Evans Irving made a number of claims about his treatment of Hofmann's evidence.

He repudiated the suggestion that he had deliberately provided a footnote for Hofmann's evidence which would make it difficult for anyone so minded to track it down. By way of explanation, he explained that his publisher had called for cuts to be made in the text, so he had abbreviated the footnotes with the result that they are not as helpful as they might otherwise have been.

5.27 Irving initially excused his version of events by saying that what he wrote was based on the microfiches of Hofmann's testimony rather than the verbatim transcript of the evidence given at the trial. But Evans pointed out that the contents of both were the same. Irving next claimed that he had no way of knowing that Hofmann was a longstanding member of the Nazi party and so likely to present Hitler in a favourable light. Evans responded that this would have been apparent on the face of Hofmann's testimony, which Irving read on microfiches and which recounted his close relationship with Hitler and his involvement in the putsch. Moreover the Judge is recorded on the transcript as having congratulated Hofmann for speaking out on behalf of his Fuhrer. Irving responded that he had not had the transcript of Hofmann's evidence when he wrote Goering or, if he had, he had not read that section of the testimony which related to Hofmann's membership of the Nazi party. When it was the pointed out to Irving that, in the course of his own cross-examination, he had said that he had read the whole transcript of Hofmann's evidence (which was only five pages long), Irving explained that, whilst it was true that he had read Hofmann's evidence, he had not "paid attention" to what he had said about his background. He added that readers of Hitler's War and Goering would be able to work out for themselves that Hofmann was not an objective witness without that fact being spelled out.

5.28 Irving accepted that there is no evidence that Goering "goggled" when Hitler disciplined the former lieutenant but regards that as permissible "author's licence". Irving defended his description of the robbery of the bank as "requisitioning" the bank's funds by saying that the robbery was an obvious prank: he was seeking to write with a "light touch".


Hitler's trial in 1924 (paragraphs 5.17-28 above)

13.12 I am satisfied that in Goering and to a lesser extent in Hitler's War, Irving misrepresents Hitler's role in the putsch. The evidence does not support the claim that Hitler was seeking to maintain order. Irving embroiders the incident when the ex-Army lieutenant is disciplined in such a way as to present Hitler as having behaved responsibly. But the evidence of Hitler's role in the putsch suggests otherwise. Irving ought to have appreciated that Hofmann's allegiance to Hitler rendered his testimony untrustworthy.