London, January 19, 2000
Irving insists that Hitler did not order the Holocaust
BY TIM JONES
THE historian David Irving refused to accept yesterday that hundreds of thousands of Jews had been sent to concentration camps as part of Hitler's plan to exterminate them.
His denial that the liquidation of Jews was part of a plan personally approved by the Führer came during a sharp exchange with Richard Rampton, QC, during a libel case at the High Court in London.
Referring to the transportation of Jews from Warsaw and other towns and cities to the villages of Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec, near the Russian border, Mr Rampton suggested that "only a fool and a liar" would suggest that they were being sent there for their health.
No sensible person, Mr Rampton said, would conclude from all the evidence that thousands of Jews were being shipped to the three villages close to the Russian border for benign purposes.
Mr Irving, 62, who is conducting his own case, replied: "There could be any number of convincing explanations, from the most innocent to the most sinister."
He added: "During World War II large numbers of people were sent to Aldershot but no one believes that there they were put into gas chambers."
In another exchange, Mr Irving said he could not accept that 1.2 million Jews had been deliberately murdered at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Mr Irving, who maintains that the gas chamber at Auschwitz was built by the Poles after the war as a tourist attraction, said: "I don't accept that and I have good reason not to."
He indicated that he would justify his belief about what occurred at the infamous camp when he cross-examines Holocaust experts who are to appear in court during the course of the trial, which is expected to last for more than two months.
Speaking from the witness box in Court 73, in front of a packed public gallery in which there were many Jewish people, Mr Irving maintained that Hitler had not been aware of the mass slaughter of the Jews. He said that in the records of the so-called "table talks" between Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, and Joseph Goebbels, his Propaganda Minister, there was no evidence that the Führer knew of the "Final Solution".
Even in 1942, Mr Irving said, Hitler was talking in terms of shipping the Jews to the island of Madagascar to begin new lives but that operation could not be carried out because of the naval war.
Hitler, he said, did not want the Jews transported to Siberia, which would merely toughen up the strain of the Jewish "bacillus". He wished them to be removed totally from the Greater Reich.
Mr Irving said that during the conversations, at which Hitler and his henchmen had discussed the course of the war, there was no suggestion that the Jews should be systematically killed.
Mr Irving, who accepts that hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered but denies that the killings were part of a systematic programme of extermination, accused Mr Rampton of disregarding evidence which did not concur with his case.
During the trial, Mr Irving has been branded a "falsifier of history and a liar" for questioning the massacre of six million Jews by the Nazis. He has been accused of denying the Holocaust and Hitler's role in it.
Mr Irving is suing Deborah Lipstadt, an American academic, and Penguin Books for claiming in her book Denying the Holocaust: the growing assault on truth and memory that he was a "Hitler partisan" who had twisted history.
January 19, 2000