International Campaign for Real History

In the High Court of Justice

Reply by David Irving to Lipstadt's Defence

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Photo: David Irving with Otto Günsche, 1982

David Irving with Otto Günsche, 1982

(23)* Not only did the Plaintiff exhaustively interview, as he stated in HITLER'S WAR, first (1977) edition, at page 327, Hitler's surviving adjutants, secretaries and staff stenographers including Christa Schroeder, Gerda Daranowski, Traudl Junge, Ludwig Krieger, Nicholas von Below, Gerhard Engel, Otto Günsche [picture], Max Wünsche, Rear-Admiral Karl-Jesco von Puttkamer, and Karl Thöt, but many of these ladies and gentlemen had been no less exhaustively interrogated by the Allied interrogators about precisely this matter, with the same negative result. A scrupulous historian is not impressed by what sources either 'imagine' or profess themselves incapable of 'imagining.'

Further the post-war testimonies of these staff members present precisely the same picture. The above-mentioned Nicholas von Below, Hitler's air force adjutant from 1937 until the end of the war, testified on oath on April 10, 1948: 'The anti-Jewish measures which became known since 1945 were never the topic of official discussion at the Führer HQ. Nor do I recall any private talks about this matter. None of the people who have since been identified in trials as organisers of the destruction of the Jews -- like Eichmann, Höss, etc. -- was ever known to me even by name before, and none of them ever visited the Führer HQ.' Julius Schaub, Hitler's long-time confidant and personal chief adjutant, testified on oath June 8, 1948: 'in my presence Hitler never talked of the so-called final solution of the Jewish problem or of the destruction of the Jews. There was never any talk on such topics in Hitler's milieu. Nor was there any discussion of the concentration camps. I myself heard nothing of the so-called Jewish question or any destruction of the Jews until the surrender. I therefore consider it totally impossible that [Otto] Dietrich knew of it.' The above-mentioned Puttkamer -- Hitler's naval adjutant, who attended every war conference from 1935 to April 1945 -- testified on oath on May 25, 1948: 'The steps taken against the Jews which became known to me only after the 1945 collapse were never discussed either officially or privately at the Führer's headquarters. This was impossible as the knowledge of these things must have been restricted to a very few people whose names I naturally cannot state. Names like Auschwitz and Maidanek were completely unknown to me.' Wilhelm Brückner, Hitler's chief adjutant until October 1940, testified on oath on June 8, 1948: 'In my presence there was never any mention by Hitler of the so-called Final Solution of the 'Jewish problem' or 'destruction of Jews'.. . . I myself learned nothing about it until the capitulation.' (All the above are exhibits in Nuremberg state archives, war crimes trials, Case XI).

Typical of many interrogations is that of SS Sturmbannführer Wolfgang Grosch, of the construction office at the Buchenwald concentration camp, who deposed as follows on oath, June 26, 1947. QUESTION: 'When did you first heard of the erection of gas chambers in a concentration camp?' ANSWER: 'The first time was when I was in prison camp, that was in the spring of 1945, in fact during my first interrogation at Pilsen, when I was frightfully beaten up because they refused to believe me.' QUESTION: '. . .That is all for today.' (National Archives microfilm M.1019 / 23).

(24)* German courts have historically lacked the independence from the legislature of which the British courts are proud. They are subject to the dictates of the Ministry of Justice of the day. The trial of the former SS Obergruppenführer Karl Wolff will have been no exception.

(i) Where a Court rejects the claim of a witness, particularly one as politically charged as this, a historian should not be impressed by such a rejection, in the absence of documentary or forensic evidence;

(ii) SS Gruppenführer Staatsrat Dr Harald Turner (whose widow Heidi and son Harald Turner jr. the Plaintiff interviewed over twenty years ago) was executed for these atrocities. The Plaintiff admits that this document may be genuine (the original is now in the Berlin Document Center biographical file on Turner), despite spelling and punctuation blemishes (non-German paper-size, non-German quotation marks, erratic use of the 'ß' character -- dass, Einfluß, weiss, erschiessen, Grüssen -- the anglicised spelling of Canada, the absence of a proper SS-runes character). Notwithstanding what the Defendants aver, there is no indication that Karl Wolff himself did receive it. The handwritten initial on it is apparently that of [Werner] Gr[othmann], Himmler's adjutant, familiar on other documents from Himmler's files; Grothmann will no doubt clarify this at the trial of this action.

At the Munich trial of Karl Wolff in 1964 his protestations that he did not know what happened to the Jews e.g. after they arrived at Treblinka were not believed by the court, and he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Of relevance to the current action however is that even the notorious SS Gruppenführer Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, who unjustly escaped the hangman's noose at Nuremberg, testified on July 24, 1964 during the Wolff Trial that in his view 'Hitler knew nothing of the mass destruction of the Jews,' and that 'The entire thing began with Himmler.' This is close to the views expressed by the Plaintiff.

(25)* Höttl and Höss delivered their statements to Allied officers under circumstances of duress that would have made them unacceptable to a British court.

Höttl, a career Gestapo officer who also worked for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, was offered inducements, thanks to which he is still alive today; although he wrote for the Plaintiff on October 26, 1977 denying that he was ever pressured by the Americans, his evidence at Nuremberg, as a former double-agent, was felt to be unsound, and he remarked: 'Probably that is the reason why I was never called as a witness.' Höttl adds: 'My own researches have yielded that even in this gruesome affair the figures were exaggerated by those involved.'

SS Obersturmbannführer Rudolf Höss, commandant of Auschwitz, was manhandled upon capture. After making self-incriminating (and often self-contradictory) confessions at Nuremberg he tried to smuggle a letter out to his wife apologising that he had made them only because he had been tortured (the letter is now in private hands in the USA). Höss's subsequent memoirs, written in Polish captivity before his execution, bristle with inconsistencies, inaccurate statistics, anachronisms and data so egregiously false that historians quoting the memoirs have been obliged to omit these passages altogether for fear of bringing discredit on the whole. Adolf Eichmann, told of Höss's confessions, described these while still in hiding in Argentina in 1956 as downright lies; shown a printed text of Höss's memoirs, Eichmann scribbled scornful remarks in the margin (the Plaintiff has a copy of these pages with Eichmann's hand-written marginalia). Told that Höss confessed to killing 2·8 million Jews in Auschwitz, Eichmann asked sarcastically where Höss was claiming to have obtained the seven million or so Jews from (of which the '2·8 million' would have been the 'unfit residue') -- 'Certainly not from me.' In the absence of satisfactory collateral evidence of a forensic or documentary nature, the self-serving oral testimonies of Nazi criminals like Höttl and Höss alone are not enough for a scrupulous historian.

(26)* It is denied that the Plaintiff manipulated Hitler's discussions with Horthy and Antonescu. On April 23, 1943 the Hungarian ambassador to Berlin, Sztójay, sent a full report No. 168 / pol. 1943 to Budapest summarising the talks between Hitler and Horthy and Ribbentrop; this report is in Hungarian archives, and printed in English translation by Eugene Levai in his Black Book, 1948. There is not even a hint therein that the one million Hungarian Jews were to be liquidated, only interned. Dr Goebbels in his diary entry of May 8, 1943, regrets only, 'The Führer did not succeed in his talk with Horthy in persuading him of the need for tougher measures.' When the Regent Horthy wrote to Hitler on May 7, 1943, to protest Hitler's reproaches about Hungarian 'defeatism', while he did not accuse Hitler of having called upon him to turn the Jews over for liquidation, the original draft -- prepared by the Hungarian foreign ministry -- included this preamble: 'Your Excellency further reproached me that my governments were not proceeding with the same radicalism in the Ausrottung des Judentums [for the meanings of this phrase see paras. 32 (i) -- (iii) below] as those carrying it out in Germany and as is regarded there as being desirable in other countries too.' (German: 'Euer Exzellenz warfen mir des weiteren vor, meine Regierungen schritten nicht mit dem gleichen Radikalismus in der Ausrottung des Judentums vor, als diese in Deutschland durchgeführt und dort auch für andere Länder als erwünscht betrachtet wird.' Horthy to Hitler, May 7, 1943, in Budapest National Record office, 'OL Küm. Magyarország külpolitikája' [The Foreign Policy of Hungary], MS, at pages 814-823; see The Confidential Papers of Admiral Horthy, Bu-dapest, 1965, No. 53).

(27)* The sentence at page 12 of HITLER'S WAR reads,

'While Hitler's overall anti-Jewish policy was clearly and repeatedly enunciated, it is harder to establish a documentary link between him and the murderous activities of SS 'task forces' and their extermination camps in the east.'

Dishonestly manipulating the text to their advantage, the Defendants omit the struck-through words from the passage quoted in their Defence.

Wilhelm KeitelThe Defendants furthermore accuse the Plaintiff of not drawing the reader's attention to a September 9, 1939 document in which Vice-Admiral Wilhelm Canaris tells Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel [picture] that his understanding is that there is an order from Hitler for 'grosse Füsilierungen' (large shootings) in Poland. Had the Defendants read onward to page 15 they would have found precisely this document and quotation, große Füsilierungen therein being rendered more literately as 'widespread executions'.

(28)* It is admitted that the Plaintiff, like many other historians, has commented on the absence of any written order bearing Hitler's signature for the extermination of the Jews. He denies that he has relied on this absence in the legal sense of the word 'rely'. He further denies the Defendants' contention that Hitler preferred oral instructions over written directives, especially in secret matters: firstly, the Defendants appear to contend that Hitler made no secret whatever of his intentions in this matter, publicly proclaiming it in speeches in 1939 and 1942. Secondly, the archives contain comparable orders which he did personally sign, e.g. the Euthanasia Order, in the summer of 1940 (but backdated for obscure reasons to September 1, 1939). Equally remarkably, no other high ranking official (Himmler, Bormann, Heydrich, Keitel) appears to have signed any document referring explicitly to a Hitler Order for the liquidation of the Jews. There is no evidence known to the Plaintiff that Hitler gave an oral instruction in this matter.

The Plaintiff further draws attention to Raul Hilberg's standard work The Destruction of the European Jews. In the first edition (New York, 1961), he originally held that there were two orders by Hitler for the destruction of Europe's Jews, the first given in the spring of 1941 and the second shortly thereafter. By the time that Hilberg published his second, revised edition in 1985 he was no longer so sure.

"In the new edition, all references in the text to a Hitler decision or Hitler order for the 'Final Solution' have been systematically excised. Buried at the bottom of a single footnote stands the solitary reference, 'Chronology and circumstances point to a Hitler decision before the summer ended.' In the new edition, decisions were not made and orders were not given" (Dr Christopher Browning, 'The Revised Hilberg,' Simon Wiesenthal Annual, vol. 3, 1986, at page 294).

(29)* It is denied that the Plaintiff falsified and took out of context in HITLER'S WAR (original 1977 edition) at page 331 certain remarks recorded in Hitler's Table Talk as having been made by Hitler on October 25, 1941, which falsification thereby enabled, if the Defendants' rather complicated submission is correctly understood, the Plaintiff to draw a false analogy between Hitler's attitude to the Jews and his attitude to Bishop Galen and the Vatican.

(i) The Defence quotes the Plaintiff as writing in HITLER'S WAR (1977 edition) at page 331 as follows:

Martin Bormann'No documentary evidence exists that Hitler was aware that the Jews were being massacred upon their arrival. His remarks, noted by Bormann's adjutant Heinrich Heim late on October 25, 1941, indicate that he did not favor it: '. . . By the way -- it's not a bad thing that public rumour attributes to us a plan to exterminate the Jews. Terror is a salutary thing.' Hitler added that, just as he was sidestepping an open clash with the Vatican by postponing the final reckoning with Bishop von Galen until later, "with the Jews too I have found myself remaining inactive. There's no point in adding to one's difficulties at a time like this."'

In fact the Plaintiff had written in HITLER'S WAR at page 331:

'No documentary evidence exists that Hitler was aware that the Jews were being massacred upon their arrival. His remarks, noted by Bormann's adjutant Heinrich Heim late on October 25, 1941, indicate that he did not favor it: "From the rostrum of the Reichstag I prophesied to Jewry that if war could not be avoided, the Jews would disappear from Europe. That race of criminals already had on its conscience the two million dead of the Great War, and now it has hundreds of thousands more. Let nobody tell me that despite that we cannot park them in the marshy parts of Russia! Our troops are there as well, and who worries about them! By the way -- it's not a bad thing that public rumour attributes to us a plan to exterminate the Jews. Terror is a salutary thing." Hitler added that, just as he was sidestepping an open clash with the Vatican by postponing the final reckoning with Bishop von Galen until later, "with the Jews too I have found myself remaining inactive. There's no point in adding to one's difficulties at a time like this."'

The omission by the Defendants of the struckthrough passage is straightforward textual manipulation by the Defendants, because the full text makes plain that Hitler was talking only about, at worst, 'parking the Jews in the marshy parts' of Russia.

At the time when the Plaintiff wrote the original 1977 edition of the book he relied on the official translation of Hitler's Table Talk (ed. H. R. Trevor-Roper, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1953), where at page 87 the relevant paragraph is translated as follows:

'From the rostrum of the Reichstag I prophesied to Jewry that, in the event of war's proving inevitable, the Jew would disappear from Europe. That race of criminals has on its conscience the two million dead of the first World War, and now already hundreds of thousands more. Let nobody tell me that all the same we can't park them in the marshy parts of Russia! Who's worrying about our troops? It's not a bad idea, by the way, that public rumour attributes to us a plan to exterminate the Jews. Terror is a salutary thing.'

When the Plaintiff thereafter prepared the German edition, and subsequently revised the book, he was the only historian in the world to whom the original German texts were made available by their physical owner, namely in October 1977. He then found that Martin Bormann's adjutant Heinrich Heim had actually noted on October 25, 1941 the following remarks by 'the Chief ' (i.e. Hitler), to his dinner guests Heydrich and Himmler.

'Vor dem Reichstag habe ich dem Judentum prophezeit, der Jude werde aus Europa verschwinden, wenn der Krieg nicht vermieden bleibt. Diese Verbrecher-Rasse hat die zwei Millionen Toten des Weltkrieges auf dem Gewissen, jetzt wieder Hunderttausende. Sage mir keiner: wir können sie doch nicht in den Morast schicken. Wer kümmert sich denn um unsere Menschen? Es ist gut, wenn uns der Schrecken vorangeht, daß wir das Judentum ausrotten.'

A photocopy of this original typescript is in the Plaintiff's possession. It shows that the words italicised in the English translation above, 'Terror is a salutary thing,' are wholly gratuitous additions by the translator; the Plaintiff therefore omitted them from the 1991 edition. It is denied that this amounts to manipulation.

These typescripts have since been published (Werner Jochmann, ed., Adolf Hitler. Monologe im Führerhauptquartier 1941-1944, Hamburg 1980).

(ii) The Defendants furthermore aver that Heim in fact recorded Hitler's words, if translated, as follows:

'It is a good thing (is useful) if we (our arrival is) are preceded by terror-reports that we are exterminating Jewry. . .'

and, 'About the Jews too, I had to remain inactive for a long time.'

(iii) The Defendants further aver* that by (evidently deliberately) changing the tense of the sentence 'About the Jews too. . .' the Plaintiff falsely made it appear to Hitler was not at that time pursuing an active policy against the Jews, when the sentence as properly translated made it clear that the contrary was true;

(iv) The Defendants further falsely aver* that by adding the words 'plan' and 'public rumour' the Plaintiff completely distorted the meaning of the sentence, 'It is a good thing (is useful) if our actions are preceded by terror-reports that we are exterminating Jewry.' The Defendants further falsely aver that Hitler did not say that the extermination was a rumour, let alone an incorrect rumour as the Plaintiff implied; nor did Hitler speak of a plan, allege the Defendants, but of the fact that Jews were being exterminated.

These averments are denied by the Plaintiff. The original German phrase was Es ist gut, wenn uns der Schrecken vorangeht, daß wir das Judentum ausrotten. The noun Schrecken has the flavour of scarecrow, frightener, spectre; hence the perfectly proper translation of 'public rumour'. The Plaintiff draws the attention of the Defendants to page 87 of the official Weidenfeld translation,

'[. . .] It's not a bad idea, by the way, that public rumour attributes to us a plan to exterminate the Jews.'

(v) The Defendants aver* that the sentence, 'There's no point in adding to one's difficulties at a time like this,' in its context, plainly referred to Hitler's decision to postpone his 'settling of accounts' with Bishop Galen and the Vatican, not (as the Plaintiff falsely suggested), to any postponement by Hitler of an active policy against the Jews.

The Plaintiff denies this averment. The aforementioned official translation of Hitler's Table Talk reads (Weidenfeld edition at page 90) without omissions,

'Even with regard to the Jews, I've found myself remaining inactive. There's no sense adding uselessly to the difficulties of the moment. One acts more shrewdly when one bides one's time.. . . When I read of the speeches of a man like Galen, I tell myself that there's no point in administering pinpricks, and that for the moment it's preferable to be silent.' (The ellipsis [. . .] occurs in the English original, but not in the German. The German word auch can be translated as both even and too and also.)

As shown in para. 2 (f), Hitler repeatedly stated that he wanted the solution of the Jewish problem postponed until the war was over; Hans-Heinrich Lammers also testified to this effect (see HITLER'S WAR, 1977 edition, page 331), and in the Subsequent Proceedings at Nuremberg, Case XI, September 23, 1948, the Wilhelmstrasse-Trial.

Ribbentrop(30)* The Defendants note that the Plaintiff wrote at page 851 of HITLER'S WAR (1977 edition) that Ribbentrop [picture] had exonerated Hitler of responsibility for the extermination of the Jews; the Defendants aver that the Plaintiff omitted the second part of the text which read, 'On the other hand, judging from Hitler's last will, one must suppose that he at least knew about it, if, in his fanaticism against the Jews, he didn't also order it.' As correctly stated at (ii), the Plaintiff considered that the omitted passage was irrelevant to the logic of his argument, and that its inclusion would confuse the reader. The special circumstances and imperatives of foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, writing under duress in Allied captivity and facing the inevitable death sentence, had to be born in mind; even Hitler's Political Testament, to which the Defendants allude, does not explicitly specify a Hitler knowledge of the extermination.

The Defendants overlook that the Plaintiff also had a fund of collateral documentary evidence on which to base his decisions on how to paraphrase or edit overlong documents. This includes the transcript of a conversation, secretly recorded, between Ribbentrop and a British officer at this time, relating to what had happened in these concentration camps.

(31)* The summary of the January 20, 1942 Conference at Nos.56-58, am Grossen Wannsee in Berlin, which the Defendants offer here is specious and erroneous. The transcript retained in the political archives of the German foreign ministry today (and microfilmed by the U.S. National Archives as film T-120, roll 780, frames 372,024 et seq.) contains no reference to liquidation or to agreement with Hitler. Fortunately the 'Wannsee conference' has been the subject of much recent expert analysis, in particular by Professor Eberhard Jäckel, who concluded convincingly that Heydrich [picture, left] called the conference as a means of raising his own profile among the mid-level Staatssekretäre (permanent under-secretaries) whom he had invited to attend; those who attended included Gauleiter Meyer, Stuckart, Freisler, Bühler, Klopfer, Kritzinger, Eichmann and the Gestapo chief Müller, but nobody of higher rank. Several Staatssekretäre whom Heydrich attended [read: invited] including Gutterer (whom the Plaintiff interviewed) and Schlegelberger did not bother to attend.

Reinhard HeydrichThe foreign ministry's Martin Luther reported afterwards: 'On the basis of this [Göring] directive Gruppenführer Heydrich called a conference of all the German agencies involved on January 20, 1942 which was attended by the permanent undersecretaries of the other ministries and by myself from the foreign ministry. Gruppenführer Heydrich told the conference that Reichsmarschall Göring's warrant to him had been issued at the Führer's behest and that the Führer had now approved evacuating the Jews to the east instead of [overseas] emigration as a solution. [. . .] The number of Jews expelled in this manner to the east was insufficient to meet the manpower needs there' (Unterstaatssekretär Martin Luther, 'Aufzeichnung, auf Nr. 954 vom 19.8.,' Berlin, August 21, 1942: Nuremberg document NG-2586).

That the earlier planned emigration was to be directed overseas is shown by a foreign ministry letter signed Legationsrat Rademacher to Gesandter Bielfeld, February 10, 1942, on the new possibilities opened up by the Nazi conquests in Russia: 'The Führer has accordingly decided that the Jews are not to be expelled to Madagascar but to the east. Thus Madagascar need no longer be contemplated for the final solution' (Nuremberg Document NG-5770, at page D523727.)

On January 27, 1942, seven days after the Wannsee conference, Heim noted Hitler as saying at his supper table: 'The Jews have got to get out of Europe! Best thing would be for them to go to Russia. I've no sympathy for the Jews.'

On March 7, 1942 Goebbels dictated in his diary at pages 17-18 a summary of the Wannsee conference report: 'There are still over eleven million Jews in Europe. They'll have to be concentrated later in the east for the time being; perhaps an island like Madagascar can be made available for them after the war.'

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