London, April 12, 2000
THE TIMES ONLINE
Highlights of the trial
David Irving, representing himself, begins the The trial with two hours of opening statements. protagonists Richard Rampton's opening for the defence lasts 15 minutes Judgment in full
DI: "I have since 1996 seen one fearful publisher after another falling away from me, declining to reprint my works, refusing to accept new commissions and turning their backs on me when I approach."
"The word 'denier' is particularly evil, because no person in full command of his mental faculties, and with even the slightest understanding of what happened in World War Two, can deny that the tragedy actually happened, however much we dissident historians may wish to quibble about the means, the scale, the dates and other minutiae."
RR: "Mr Irving calls himself an historian. The truth is, however, that he is not an historian at all, but a falsifier of history. To put it bluntly, he is a liar."
"Lies may take various forms . . . but in the end all forms of lying converge into a single definition: wilful, deliberate mis-statement of the facts. Mr Irving has used many different means to falsify history: invention, misquotation, suppression, distortion, manipulation and - not least - mistranslation."
Mr Irving enters the witness box for cross-examination by Mr Rampton.
RR: "Do you accept that the Nazis killed by one means or another - murdered, hanged, put to death - millions of people during World War Two?"
DI: "Yes. I hesitate to speculate. It was certainly more than one million, certainly less than four million."
RR: "Do you deny the Nazis killed millions of Jews in gas chambers in purpose-built establishments?"
DI: "Yes. It's logistically impossible. One million people weigh 100,000 tonnes - it's a major logistical problem. I deny that it was possible to liquidate millions of people in gas chambers as presented by historians so far."
Following Mr Irving's insistence that Hitler's innocence of annihilating Jews is obvious from the lack of evidence:
RR: "No, it is an absence of evidence. It is negative evidence."
DI: "I hate to remind you that in English law a man is innocent until proven guilty. Am I right?"
RR: "Hitler is not on trial, alas."
DI: "Is Hitler somehow excluded from this general rule of fair play?"
As he leaves court, Mr Irving replies to a woman approaching him, who says that her grandparents had died at Auschwitz in gas chambers:
DI: "You may be pleased to know that they almost certainly died of typhus, as did Anne Frank."
Cross-examination of Mr Irving continues. Mr Rampton refers him to a document showing that a total of 97,000 Jews were gassed in three trucks in the course of five weeks. Irving had previously stated that the Nazis had gassed Jews in lorries only on a limited and experimental basis.
RR: "Why did you not say that? Why did you not say, Mr Irving, 'I have looked at this question. They have managed to get up to 100,000 at least', we know that from the documents, 'but then they decided that was not a very good way of doing it, so they stopped doing it that way. Nonetheless, the fact is that they succeeded in killing in the East and in the Reinhard camps well over a million people?'."
DI: "I always suspected, Mr Rampton, you are not listening to my answers, and that is just proof of it. I told you this figure of 100,000 only comes to my knowledge within the last few weeks or months."
RR: "But it was there to be found, was it not?"
DI: "Lots of things are there to be found. I do not have teams of 30 or 40 researchers working at the expense of God knows who is paying for the defence in this case, looking through all the archives, trying to find documents to prove me wrong."
Mr Rampton reads an extract from one of Mr Irving's personal diaries, written in 1994:
RR: "'On those walks we sing the binkety-bankety-bong song'. There are two other poems in which she stars: 'My name is baby Jessica. I have got a pretty dressica, but now it is in a messica' and, more scurrilously, when half-breed children are wheeled past', and then you go into italics, 'I am a baby Aryan, not Jewish or sectarian. I have no plans to marry an ape or a Rastafarian.'?"
RR: "Racist, Mr Irving? Anti-Semitic, Mr Irving, yes?"
DI: "I do not think so."
RR: "Teaching your little child this kind of poison?"
DI: "Do you think that a nine-month old can understand words spoken in English, or any other language?"
RR:"I will tell you something, Mr Irving. When I was six months old, I said: 'Pussy sits in the apple tree until she thinks it is time for tea'."
MR JUSTICE GRAY: "You were very precocious!"
RR: "I was, but then I burned out at two."
Sir John Keegan, defence editor of The Daily Telegraph, is subpoenaed to appear in court as one of Mr Irving's witnesses.
DI: "Would it be fair to say that you were apprehensive about the repercussions of giving evidence on my behalf?"
JK: "Naturally. I am not giving on your behalf."
DI: "Giving evidence as a witness for the claimant?"
JK: "Under subpoena."
Richard Evans, Professor of modern history at Cambridge University, is called as a witness for the defence. Mr Irving reads extracts from a 740-page report Mr Evans had written on Mr Irving's historical method.
DI: "You say 'Irving has fallen so far short of the standards of scholarship customary among historians that he does not deserve to be called an historian at all'. Is this still your view, having heard all the evidence over the last four or five weeks, that I show no scholarship?"
RE: "Yes, it has been...".
DI: "I do not deserve to be called an historian?"
RE: "...reinforced by what I have read in the transcripts over the last weeks."
RR: "What you are doing is appealing to, feeding, encouraging, the most cynical radical anti-Semitism in your audiences, are you not?"
Mr Rampton reads out a transcript of a speech given by Mr Irving in Canada:
RR: "....'you have to say things like more women died on the back seat of Senator Edward Kennedy's car at Chappaquidick than died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz'."
DI: "The applause drowned the rest of the sentence, unfortunately, which is 'in the gas chambers of Auschwitz which are shown to the tourists'. I always say exactly the same thing."
RR: "Oh no, you do not, Mr Irving. We went through that before."
MR JUSTICE GRAY: "Is it on the video?"
RR: "This is on the video. Would you like to see it?"
On the subject of whether eyewitnesses can be believed:
MR JUSTICE GRAY: "Mr Irving, can I ask you this? Of these eyewitnesses, are you saying that they have come to believe what they say about their experiences and that is why they need psychiatric treatment? Or are you saying that they are collectively telling lies, deliberate falsehoods?"
DI: "Different people have different motives or different reasons.... It (the Holocaust) has become an important part of their (Jewish) social awareness. It has become very close to religion in some aspects, in my view. It has become almost blasphemy to trample on any part of that ground. It has become holy ground, both in the physical concrete sense and in the metaphysical sense. As with any religion, there are hangers-on, people who believe they were there, people who believe they touched the cloth, if I can put it like that."
A further exchange went as follows:
RR: "I expect you have been reading the Eichmann memoirs, have you not?"
DI: "Not yet. If you know how little time I have."
RR: "If you do a word search on them, look for the word Vergasungslager.
DI: "I take your tip. Thank you very much. Vergasungslager?"
RR: Yes, Vergasungslager - gassing camps, Mr Irving."
[Website note: A search of the Eichmann MS reveals one unimportant reference in passing to the word. Rampton was bluffing the Court].
Closing submissions are given, which include:
RR: "As the evidence in this court has shown, Mr Irving is a right-wing extremist, a racist and, in particular, a rabid anti-Semite. How far, if at all, Mr Irving's anti-Semitism is a cause of his Hitler apology, or vice versa, is unimportant."
"By the defendants' estimate, there are, in relation to Hitler alone, as many as 25 major falsifications of history, as well as numerous subsidiary inventions, suppressions, manipulations and mistranslations employed to support the major falsifications. If those relating to Auschwitz, Dresden and other matters are added in, the number goes well over 30."
DI: "For 30 days or more of this court's time we have had to rake over the embers of what may be one of the greatest crimes known to mankind: a harrowing, time-wasting and needless effort which has yielded even now few answers to great questions and mysteries."
"I have been subjected since at least 1973, and probably before then, to what would be called in warfare a campaign of interdiction. I know of no other historian or writer who has been subjected to a campaign of vilification even one tenth as intense. The book, Denying the Holocaust, was the climax of this campaign."
April 12, 2000