[verbatim trial transcripts]
January 28, 2000
As libel trial enters third week, defence witness says there is no doubt of Nazis' mass murder
Irving: gas chambers 'not used for killing'
BY SIMON ROCKER
RIGHT-WING historian David Irving claimed in the High Court this week that buildings at Auschwitz identified as gas chambers had been used for fumigating corpses rather than killing people.
He also advanced the theory that buildings where traces of cyanide were found soon after the war had been designed for delousing clothes and other objects, or as air-raid shelters.
As his libel action against American academic Professor Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin books entered its third week, Mr. Irving stuck to his line that there was no proof of mass gassings of Jews at the camp.
He is suing the author and the publisher over claims in her book, 'Denying the Holocaust," that he is a Holocaust-denier who has bent historical evidence to suit his views.
When asked by defence QC Richard Rampton [right] if he didn't think all the available evidence suggested the existence of "homicidal gas chambers," Mr. Irving's blunt reply was "No."
"Historians have retrieved hundreds of thousands of documents I from archives]," he added, "and we are entitled to at least one explicit, non-ambiguous ... document which would give us the clear smoking gun. That document does not exist."
He disputed the significance of cyanide traces taken from ventilation grilles and human hair from Auschwitz by a Polish forensic laboratory in 1945.
The building where the samples where found was used for "'fumigating objects and cadavers," he contended. When asked why there was any need to delouse corpses about to be incinerated, he suggested that the bodies had been fully clothed and needed to be fumigated before gold teeth and other objects were removed from them.
Macabre details emerged during cross-examination over the amount of hydrogen cyanide required to kill a human being -- and how much the fat in corpses speeds up their inciner-ation.
Mr. Irving stood by his publication in 1989 of a report by Fred Leuchter, a consultant on execution methods in America, which claimed scientific proof for disputing the existence of mass gassings at Auschwitz. Having taken samples from the camp in 1988, Mr. Leuchter had found relatively small traces of cyanide in the gas chamber ruins compared to far higher deposits in delousing areas.
Pointing out that 22 times as much gas was needed to kill lice than human beings, Mr. Rampton accused Mr. Irving of knowing the Leuchter report was "bunk" and "not worth the paper it was written on."
Although acknowledging that there were flaws in the report, Mr. Irving maintained that subsequent tests had confirmed Mr. Leuchter's findings.
Judge warns Irving
BY LEE LEVITT
HISTORIAN David Irving railed on Wednesday against what he termed the "wellfunded ... Holocaust education business" as his libel action against Professor Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books continued in the High Court.
Mr. Irving launched his attack while cross-examining Dutch historian Professor Robert van Pelt, co-author of a history of Auschwitz with American academic Professor Deborah Dwork.
He claimed that Professor Dwork, at Clark University, had obtained $5 million to finance her chair, and for library, student and other grants.
"It has become big business, and it's not just me who has said this. The Chief Rabbi of England said it once," Mr. Irving claimed. "There are all sorts of profitable sidelines."
But Professor van Pelt told the court: "Professor Dwork does not profit. We got [a research grant of] £15,000 to write the book."
Mr. Irving was earlier warned to "keep an eye on realities" by the judge, Mr. Justice Gray, after an exchange with Professor van Pelt in which he had queried at length the mechanics of what he termed an "alleged gas chamber" at Auschwitz. He maintained the chamber was being "converted for use as an underground air-raid shelter" in the event of allied attack.
Mr. Irving is suing Professor Lipstadt and Penguin over allegations in her book, "Denying the Holocaust," that he had twisted history.
The case continues.
Professor in clashes over deaths at camp
BY BERNARD JOSEPHS
A CHILLING description of conditions at Auschwitz-Birkenau was heard on Tuesday when a world-renowned expert on the Holocaust gave evidence in the Irving case.
Dutch historian Professor Robert van Pelt -- who has written a history of Auschwitz and also served as an adviser to the Polish authorities on the reconstruction of the site -- said the camp had been at the "centre of human suffering."
He told the court that there was overwhelming evidence that one million Jews had been exterminated there by the Nazis. He described in detail how victims would be selected either for work in the main camp, or for death in a gas chamber.
Non-Jewish prisoners did not undergo such a process, he added.
"Where did this evidence come from?" asked Mr. Irving, cross-examining.
It had come mainly from survivors' eyewitness reports and statements from SS officer Pery Broad and the camp commandant, Rudolf Hoss, who gave details of gassings and the burning of corpses, the professor replied.
It was a "moral certainty" that the Nazis had killed around one million people at Auschwitz with "the help of gas chambers," then incinerated their bodies in crematoria and burning pits. Their remains were scattered on what became known as the "field of ashes."
Professor van Pelt recalled picking up fragments of bones in the area, adding: "All the ashes in general were combined with crushed bones and dumped into the river. In winter, they were thrown on to icy roads to help vehicles."
Mr. Irving questioned the witness about the tasks of Jews who were forced to help the Nazis deal with the victims of the gas chambers.
They were employed to keep order in the "undressing room," to "help put people in the gas chambers" and to "bring corpses for incineration," the professor explained.
How could such people "survive with their debt of shame?" Mr. Irving asked, adding: "There may be a tendency to romanticise in their recollections."
The professor dismissed Mr. Irving's suggestion that the incinerators at Auschwitz had been designed to deal with the dead from a typhus epidemic that raged through the camp.
They had been designed to dispose of four-fifths of the camp population each month, he declared. "It is absurd to use the typhus epidemic to justify the building of the incinerators."
There was a sharp exchange over whether the remains of a crematorium indicated that it had also been used as a gas chamber.
Mr. Irving said there was no evidence of holes in the roof of the building through which the Nazis were said to have dropped cyanide pellets.
Professor van Pelt countered that the building had been destroyed by the Nazis in an effort to cover up the evidence of their atrocities.
January 28, 2000