London , Tuesday, January 18, 2000
Nazi trains carried ample food for Jews, says Irving
By Daily Telegraph Reporter
THE image of the Holocaust was dented by the fact that trains carrying Jews to concentration camps were "well-provisioned", David Irving, the historian, said in the High Court yesterday.
A telegram message[*] about a transportation of 944 Jews from Berlin to Lithuania on Nov. 17, 1941, decoded by British intelligence at Bletchley Park, Bucks, showed that there was 24 days' worth of food on board for the three-day journey.
"It's a bit of a dent, a tiny dent in the image we have of the Holocaust today," said the 62-year-old author of Hitler's War.
It went against the accepted image of victims stuffed into cattle trucks and shipped across Europe with no food or water, to arrive half dead. In fact, he added, intercepted messages indicated that the trains were equipped with a "very substantial amount of food" to keep the Jews going for three weeks after their arrival and their appliances or "tools of the trade".
Mr. Irving is suing Deborah Lipstadt, an American academic, and Penguin Books for libel over claims that he is a "Holocaust denier" in the 1994 book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.
Cross-examining Mr. Irving, of Duke Street, Mayfair, Richard Rampton, QC, for Prof. Lipstadt and Penguin, said he was concerned with the historian's "readiness to leap to conclusions in favour of the SS and the Nazis".
Mr. Irving told Mr. Justice Gray that he "strongly objected" to the suggestion. He did not doubt that there was a "lot of hardship and cruelty and barbarism" but he questioned the impartiality of experts for the defence, who had paid no attention to these documents which went "against the notion that it was a systematic programme to exterminate Jews".
Mr. Rampton showed the court a report which said that 2,934 Jewish evacuees from Berlin and other cities, including women and children, were shot in the east on Nov 25, 1941.
Mr. Irving said that "it was not impossible" that the trainload of Jews in the message ended up "in that atrocity".
Up to 1-5 million Jews were shot in the east, he said, but they were not "part of the system". "The system ended when the train arrived. The system put the victims on the trains and sent them to the east with food and equipment to start a new life. Once they arrived, the system broke down and the murderers stepped in."
The hearing continues today.
Tuesday, January 18, 2000