London, March 3, 2000
Court told of 'interactions' with neo-Nazis
Skinheads shouted 'Sieg Heil' at Irving meeting
BY SIMON ROCKER
RIGHT-WING historian David Irving was "very much involved" with German neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists, the High Court was told on Tuesday.
As Mr Irving's libel action against Professor Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books entered its eighth week, expert witness Professor Hajo Funke took the stand.
The Free University of Berlin political scientist -- author of a 140-page report commissioned by the defence -- said Mr Irving had had "all sorts of interactions" with German neo-Nazis in the early 1990s.
Using video clips of footage of Mr Irving speaking in German at far-right events, Professor Funke identified an assortment of leading extremists and neo-Nazis who had also been present.
In one dramatic sequence, stomping skinheads in bovver-boots were shown marching to a rally in Halle in 1991, where Mr Irving was one of the speakers. When he spoke, they were heard shouting: Sieg Heil.
Cross-examining the professor, Mr Irving suggested the skinheads might have been bribed to shout Nazi slogans by television crews.
"'Did you see me put up my hand to tell them to stop?" Mr Irving queried.
He went on to suggest that be had been "shocked" by some of his audience. "Did you get the impression that I was overjoyed?" he asked. "Was I happy?'"
"You knew the character of the event, ' Professor Funke retorted.
In his report, the German academic argued that Mr Irving "had strong and consistent connections with many... [German] neo-Nazi organisations between 1990-1993."
Some groups were subsequently banned for inciting racial hatred, he told the court.
'"How could I have anticipated... that they would be banned?" Mr Irving asked him.
"As an intelligent man who knows German, you could have known," the professor replied.
Dispute on denial claim
BY LEE LEVITT
PROFESSOR Hajo Funke told the court on Wednesday that David Irving had "clearly" denied the Holocaust at a Berlin press conference.
The professor alleged that Mr Irving had stated: "It is a defamation of the German people if one talks of extermination camps or death camps."
But Mr Irving countered that he had been misquoted at the 1989 conference, which followed the launch of the Leuchter report, claiming scientific proof that gas chambers did not exist at Auschwitz. He said he was merely reiterating his contention that Auschwitz had not been "purpose-designed as a factory of death."
Mr Irving also denied joining in a toast to Adolf Hitler at a 1990 Munich dinner arranged by Bela Althans, organiser of the since-closed Office for People's Enlightenment and Publicity.
I had no glass as I don't drink. If one has no glass and one doesn't drink, how can one toast?" Mr Irving is suing over claims that he is a Holocaust-denier who has twisted history. The case continues.
Expert outlines extermination policy
BY BERNARD JOSEPHS
THE GRIM details of how Nazi doctors oversaw efforts to work concentration camp inmates to death were relayed by a German historian at last Thursday's hearing.
Dr Peter Longerich said the policy of "extermination through work" was illustrated by the so-called "death audits" maintained by the camp authorities. The aim, he told the court, was to ensure that replacements were found for those worked to death.
The duty of Nazi doctors was "not to keep the inmates alive but to maintain their effectiveness as a workforce as high as possible." Those who became too weak were sent to death camps, and the labour force was renewed by fresh arrivals.
Dr Longerich was responding to a claim by David Irving that SS chief Heinrich Himmler had been upset about the death rate at work camps, including Auschwitz. At one point, 70,000 out of 156,000 arrivals at concentration camps had died and Himmler, in a letter to camp doctors, said this was "completely unacceptable," Mr Irving said.
"It wasn't the role of the doctors to look after the health and welfare of the inmates," Dr Longerich observed.
"Was there not a hospital in Auschwitz?" Mr Irving asked.
"It was a place for sick persons, but its main role was to select them for the gas chambers," Dr Longerich replied.
Mr Irving read from a German report suggesting that the death rate among slave labourers in concentration camps fell from a peak of 10 per cent in December 1942 to eight per cent the following month. According to the report, this had been due to an increase in rations and measures to improve hygiene.
The witness countered that the life expectancy in such places was, at most, "a couple of months... People were put to death after their ability to work had been used for a certain period."
Clash over 'anti-Semitism'
BY BERNARD JOSEPHS
IN A SHARP exchange on Monday, defence QC Richard Rampton accused David Irving of being part of a "Hitler-worshipping, Holocaust-denying scene."
Addressing the judge, Mr Justice Gray, Mr Rampton asserted that material placed before the court -- which "came from Mr Irving's pen and from his lips" -- was virulently anti-Semitic.
"He has prostituted his talent, which is considerable, in the interests of the restoration of a neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic ideology," counsel alleged.
Mr Irving argued that his association with non-violent extremists was "not in itself necessarily reprehensible." At this juncture, the judge intervened to say he was "not sure about that," speaking of the need not to be "careless in one's choice of friends."
The plaintiff asked for "limitations" to be placed on the forthcoming cross-examination over his political background. "There is no guilt by association in this country," Mr Irving argued. I don't want this to get out of hand... It could become a shooting gallery."
London, March 3, 2000
Courtesy links: Professor Evans' witness report click to download
Dr Longerich's witness report click to download
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