Scene Setting.. Skip this if you know the Law Courts
*What's Going On?—Some Facts and Puzzles about the Case
*Cast of Characters
What Lipstadt's Book says about Irving
My Guesses as to Courtroom Battles, and their Outcomes
*Will it Become, or is it Already, a Political Trial?
1st day. Tues 11th Jan 2000 [Opening statements]
4th & 5th days [System? Extermination? Hitler?]
9th & 10th days & 11th [van Pelt, Auschwitz]
*13th Day [Fake? Dead certs]
*15th Day [Extremism? Archives?]
*16th Day [Keegan; Browning]
*19th to 21st and 22nd-23rd [Prof. Evans]
*Comedy Corner/ Hackwatch +Lipstadt talks!
*Technical Notes: (i) Transcripts *Days 16-25 expected within 24 hours* (ii) Prestel
* = new material since last time
David Irving


Irving website
Royal Courts of Justice
Deborah Lipstadt


Penguin website
Rae West's Unofficial Guide to this Case. Part Four.
To be updated about once a week. [ Part 1 archive | 2 archive | 3 archive | Home Page ]
Day 1 (Mon Jan 11 2000) transcript (146K) | Day 2 (12th) (261K) | Day 3 (13th) (272K) | Day 4 (Mon 17th) (274K) | Day 5 (18th) (252K) | Day 6 (19th) (263K) | Day 7 (20th) (270K) | Day 8 (Mon 24th) (259K) | Day 9 (25th) (264K) | Day 10 (26th) (295K) | Day 11 (28th) (279K) | Day 12 (Mon 31st) (206K) | Day 13 (Feb 1st) (251K) | Day 14 (2nd) (236K) | Day 15 (3rd) (124K)

Scene Setting... Skip this if you know the Law Courts
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The 'New Law Courts' are (see pictures above—none very recent) late Gothic revival, and have a huge entrance hall which is only partly-decorated, because funding from unclaimed estates and other assets, held by lawyers, ran out. The buildings were opened about thirty years after the better-known Parliament buildings (which, it isn't usually appreciated, were lit by candles or gaslight when new, and must have been visually astonishing).
        As always, vague smears surround Irving: a BBC breakfast programme on the first morning showed the first of three pieces about the Internet and extremism. The man at the Law Courts reception desk told me it would be an unpleasant case. And added that the public were excluded. This in fact wasn't true. He directed me to Court 37, in West Green building, over to the left. The courtrooms all seem to be grouped in fours, with common waiting areas outside which are rather bare, with padded benches and a few hard tables, usually strewn with newspapers. There's standardised dress for officials and lawyers, with the public often looking rather shabby by contrast, like people on day release from a low-status institution*. The legal system is, or was, stratified by class, with barristers (who do the talking) wearing wigs in more or less exuberant style from the upper classes—having attended public school at 'eaten lunches' (or dinners?) at the Inns of Court, solicitors (who do the legal spadework) from the middle classes-having done law degrees or worked at legal firms, and the ushers and police and so on firmly from the lower orders. At least, as a first approximation, all this is true enough. Court 37 is modern 1970s or 80s: false and rather low ceiling, fluorescent light, eroded aluminium-framed windows, microphones suspended from the ceiling. I suspect there's no air conditioning, and the room can and does get stuffy. At present, it's winter, and gloom descends at about 4 pm.
        The battleground, or field of play, is:— judge at the back, raised up, visible over a long bench. He's flanked by two people who seem to do nothing. (I've been told one is the clerk to the judge). In front are several benches taken up by stenographers, and other people who also seem to do nothing. There's a witness box. Facing all this is, on the left, Irving. And on the right, Mr Rampton, wearing a grey horsehair wig. He's the barrister, or QC, or Queen's Counsel, and is surrounded by a squad of people, mostly I imagine from Mishcon de Reya, a law firm, one of the partners of which is Anthony Julius, Lipstadt's lawyer, or 'junior solicitor advocate'. Mr Rampton is something like a Queen bee licensed to talk, and he receives whispers, scribbled messages, and so on. There are several benches of these legal persons, about ten in all, with others, mostly well-dressed young women, whose role seemed to be to sit near the back and 'observe'. Then we have a few rows of seats, some with PRESS signs pinned on. The sides of the room have red lever-arch files of evidence arranged in cardboard shelves.
        An important difference from many courts is the computer technology: a skilled operator working an odd-looking unmarked keyboard enters syllables (I think) directly, and the software does some sort of conversion into English, so the court transcript can be produced almost instantly. There are at least six or eight lap-top computers linked to display the transcript, so the participants can read it, and scroll back to check what's been said. (There are mistakes—especially when several people talk at once—but on the whole the transcripts are reliable. Presumably successful comparisons have been made with results from conventional court shorthand).
        The general crush (I estimate about fifty 'lay' people) included a man who'd written on the Palestinians, an ex-Guardian journalist, six or eight women who seemed to be reporters, or amateur reporters, (they had yellow writing-pads!), and who seemed to know nothing of libel law or of Irving's work. There were several elderly women from somewhere like Los Angeles, a small shabby man in a pullover with the furtive air I've come to associate with ignorant hack writers, a couple of men who struck me as physically unwholesome, and sundry others. Outside were at least two TV crews (cameraman, someone to hold a mike, someone with back wired up—not inappropriately resembling an electrically-controlled ventriloquist's dummy).
        *After some weeks, it's pointed out to me that there's one fairly well-known person in the audience, each day, namely Martin Gilbert, who, if I quote correctly, is regarded by Irving as having furnished a series of footnotes to Churchill's historical work (or, more accurately, the works attributed to Churchill). Perhaps he's come to learn something.
        I can't resist a comparison with McDonald's 'McLibel' case, in which the two defendants (not plaintiff, as Irving is) represented themselves, over a long period, also against Rampton, with no jury, in a courtroom in the same building, also lined with files of documents, with, I believe, the first use of the new system of transcription, which allowed the McSpotlight site to have a new transcript every day. However, Irving so far as I know has no legal help, unlike the two McDonalds defendants. (I contacted Dan Mills, one of their solicitors, but had no reply). The McLibel trial probably had no influence on McDonalds new 'restaurants'; it remains to be seen whether this trial will have as little influence.
        (See below for similarities with the libel case between Aldington and Tolstoy).

Since then the case has been moved to the larger court 73 in the east part of the building. The audience seems to have settled at around fifty people at most times, with small groups of people entering or leaving occasionally. They are remarkably silent, apart from an occasional fidgety person; it's impossible to guess what they're thinking, and responses to atrocities or jokes or banter are rare. I'd guess about half, or perhaps fewer, regard themselves as Jews. As usual, the press seems to subtly misdescribe things: I read a newspaper account of a young man dressed all in black with a black baseball cap who apparently would find it natural to believe in a Jewish conspiracy. In fact, there was no such person, at least not that I saw. *A few miscellaneous chats with people waiting to enter remind me how difficult it is to get across Irving's views, which after all aren't that complex. One man (who'd been at Dachau) thought that Irving was saying there were no concentration camps. (I found, by the way, there seems to be no official term for the 'audience', the people who watch: 'members of the public' seems usual. Perhaps the legal profession has its own unofficial expression!)
        *Watching some of the hacks at work, I realised many of them have no shorthand, and it occurred to me that the childish abbreviated headlines and 'sound bite' type of reporting might simply reflect their inability to write.
        Some Poles made a comment which I hadn't thought of, namely that there are hardly any Germans in the audience. Their Polish view was that Irving was helping revive their honour and the least a few of them could do was to attend.
        I've discovered that the row of eight or so young persons, about half female and half female, behind Mr Rampton and his female barrister colleague, who must be Heather Rogers, are researchers for Professor Evans. Their role seems to be to mark passages in highlighter, find documents in the files, and so on. They dress well, presumably to suggest some weight which they might otherwise not possess. (One faintly visualises the endless laboured essays they must have produced between them). I've also found the imposing microphones are record-only; by the end of the day both Mr Rampton and Mr Irving, each of whom has been standing for six hours or so, show some vocal fatigue—though, under the circumstances, surprisingly little.

What's Going On?—Some Facts and Puzzles about this Case
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You may like to see some of the official, full-length documents, from Irving's website. (Close the new window to return here):—
The Statement of Claim with Writ alleging Libel
Defence by Deborah Lipstadt's counsel (page 1; 4 pages in total)
Reply by David Irving (page 1; 5 pages in total)

Cast of Characters
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What Lipstadt's Book says about Irving
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Denying the Holocaust is online on at least two sites. One site is aaargh (chapters are separate). There are a few scanner errors; I haven't checked whether the text is otherwise correct, although it certainly seems to be. I dislike linking to sites without copyright clearance, and will remove this link if asked; the site itself claims to be presenting information in a way which doesn't infringe copyright.

Note: it's important to understand that this legal action could only take place because the book was published for a time in Britain, I think in 1994. If publication had been confined to the US, Irving, had he started a case, would have got nowhere. Irving insists that Viking-Penguin merely had to phone him to check the contents, but didn't. From his point of view, the book appears to have been something like the last straw.
        My own guess is that Viking-Penguin in effect dumped the book; they have thousands of titles, and the standard way to issue ones printed in America is to send a few thousand spare copies to Britain, a few hundred to Australia, a thousand to Canada, a few hundred to South Africa, and so on, in their shipments. I've seen a figure of 2,000 copies distributed in Britain, though I forget where I found this; and I suspect most copies ended in libraries, either bought or donated. There is a theory that the publishers cunningly engineered this situation, hoping to provoke a law case; but my guess is that the trial was not foreseen by the publishers—the title probably wasn't seen as anything special, just another low-selling title which wasn't worth editing for the local market.

Irving states that Lipstadt's book had passages about him inserted at a late stage, suggesting she hadn't even heard of him. This seems likely, as the references to Irving, which are few, are inserted into chapters on other subjects. The 'research' seems to be of extraordinarily low quality—or perhaps it's just ordinarily low. There's little evidence and Lipstadt seems to have no facility for separating hearsay, testimony, and evidence.
        Anyway, below I attempt to extract the main points she makes about Irving, ignoring the rest of the book. (My edition, available in Britain, was published by 'The Free Press', which has some connection with Maxwell, the well-known fraud, and Macmillan; Viking-Penguin isn't listed, and is perhaps involved through a merger or buyout—I don't know. It's dated 1993 and already seems careless—for example, she takes Pressac seriously, and is casual in her treatment of pre-World War II Judaism. My copy, judging by spelling, is identical to the US edition, so I'll assume its page numbering applies generally.)
        The only four passages found for me about Irving are on pages 8 (1 paragraph), 111 (part para only), 161-162 (3 paras), and 179-181 (8 paras). There are about 40 statements made about Irving, then exact depending on how they're counted. Of these, about half are referenced—they have endnote numbers. The remainder are, of course, unreferenced. This gives a manageable set, which I'll now examine at not too great a length:—
  1. Referenced Statements.
    About twenty: Page 8: denier, gas chambers a "propaganda exercise" (n22), regular participant at Deutsche Volks Union (n23), women built to "produce men" and be subservient (n24), not a credible figure to German deniers (n25). Page 111: David Irving quoted by Nolte re prewar Nazi persecution of Jews (n33). Pages 161-2: Scholars have accused him of distortion (n16), scholars have dismissed the idea that Hitler did not know about the Final Solution (n17), has been accused of skewing and misrepresentation (n18), spiritual experience at Hitler's retreat (n19), Hitler helped Jews (n20), self-described "moderate fascist" (n21), Hess should have received Nobel Peace prize (n22), marriage a detour and being born in 1938 (n23). Pages 179-181: converted by Leuchter to Holocaust denial (n105), swindle of 90 Bn deutsche marks over Auschwitz (n106), Auschwitz monument a "tourist attraction" (n107), British Psychological Warfare 1942 story of killing millions (n108), Sunday Times in 1992 may have revived his reputation (n110), ludicrous to refer to Irving as transcribing technician (n111), TV rarely addresses neofascist or denial connections (n113), double standard of absolute proof for Germans, circumstantial to condemn allies. (n114). Page 180 has a footnote relating to the glass plates on which the Goebbels diaries are microphotographed. The reference is dated January 1993, (Lipstadt's foreword is dated Jan 14th 1993), so one guesses it was shoehorned in after the main text had been assembled. This is important as regards Irving's competence, and much of Irving's opening speech dealt with the claims as regards archival material. In full, this is:
    The Russian archives granted Irving permission to copy two microfiche plates, each of which held about forty-five pages of the diaries. Irving immediately violated his agreement, took many plates, transported them abroad, and had them copied without archival permission. There is serious concern in archival circles that he may have significantly damaged the plates when he did so, rendering them of limited use to subsequent researchers.
            Irving believes Jews are "very foolish not to abandon the gas chamber theory while they still have time." He "Foresees [a] new wave of antisemitism" due to Jews' exploitation of the Holocaust "myth". C.C. Aronsfeld, "Holocaust 'Revisionists' are Busy in Britain," Midstream , Jan. 1993, p. 29.
    Comments: It's possible all the above points will be examined in the trial. Irving's behaviour at the Russian archives certainly will, as we've seen. I'll point out here that the endnotes refer mostly to newspapers and small magazines which are probably unobtainable for most people in the USA. We've just seen, above, a magazine called Midstream treated as a serious source, with no information about the article's author; I wonder how many people have heard of either? Other sources include Daily Telegraph , a book by Robert Harris called Selling Hitler , and a magazine called Searchlight .
            Unwary readers may get the impression that there's some form of scholarship behind Lipstadt's footnotes, rather than a paperchase which mostly leads nowhere. To take the quotations on page 8 , we find they are from the Daily Telegraph , which is a vicious and grubby rag, the sort of thing read by vicars and retired persons who lovingly recall running over blacks in tanks in Africa. For years it supported apartheid, and other things—but I won't weary you with this. We find, consulting the relevant CD ROM, an article by Mick Brown, in which we find: 'The ‘legend’ of gas chambers, he says, was ‘a propaganda exercise’'—a phrase repeated by Lipstadt. That's all. The reader might imagine that the intrepid reporter would enquire of Irving what he meant, whether he was serious, or what evidence he had. But Brown, no doubt accurately assessing his readership, prefers to discuss Himmler in the east, Irving's daughter, his school beatings, and his lack of homosexuality. Thus, Lipstadt's quotation is simply quoting someone else, without supporting evidence. If this is research, anyone quoting something they've seen on TV or read in any newspaper is a 'researcher', or 'scholar'.
            The next claim made on page 8 is that Irving 'regularly participated in the annual meetings of the extremist German political party Deutsche Volks Union.' What we actually find in the Sunday Telegraph article of 19th Jan 1992 is: 'In March he is due to speak at the annual conference of the neo-fascist Deutsche Volks Union in Passau. He expects 10,000 people to be there—if the Germans let him in. He has been banned before.' In other words, Lipstadt has lied—one projected talk has been represented as 'regular meetings'. The Deutsche Volks Union, whatever it is, is not described; on the face of it, it seems unlikely to be neo-fascist, since one gathers there are German laws banning this. However, the Telegraph , like Lipstadt, prefers not to worry over small matters like evidence.
            Page 161 has bits taken from Selling Hitler (1991) by Robert Harris, about the 'Hitler Diaries' fraud. Unfortunately, again we find that Lipstadt has simply quoted someone else's unsourced quotation. Harris says, for example, 'Irving admitted that in writing Hitler's War he had identified with the Führer. Looking down upon him.. was a self-portrait of Hitler.. He did not smoke or touch alcohol. .. He shared Hitler's views on women.. In 1981.. he had founded his own right-wing political group, built around his own belief in his 'destiny' as a future British leader. ..' This may be true, but there's no background and an irritating lack of detail: what was the 'right-wing political group'? This book repeats the 'moderate fascist' comment, but I haven't been able to identify the source—forgive my laziness. Incidentally, I noted Hitler's War was, says Harris, 'savaged by Walter Laqueur in the New York Review of Books and boycotted by the major US paperback publishers.' (Without commenting on Laqueur, Lipstadt seems to think the New York Review of Books , which is of course an ordinary commercial/state rag which routinely censors material its advertisers or owners doesn't like, gives some sort of imprimatur—she mentions a review of Churchill's War , though, perhaps wisely, hiding the reviewer's name in the endnotes).
            Page 179 has a "one-man intifada" quotation attributed to Searchlight , a shady publication, which I think is subscription only, and so far as I've found, essentially an anonymously-funded one-man operation; my specimen copies are full of intelligence jargon.
            I suspect therefore that Irving will be able to make a good case here, more especially as he is accustomed to dealing with the intricacies of documents, and following threads from one to another. However, we shall see.
  2. Unreferenced Statements.
    These of course tend to be vague. Page 8 includes: 'long considered a guru of the extreme right', and 'extremist-sponsored rallies', 'an ultra-nationalist'. No evidence is adduced. (It might be amusing to hear Lipstadt try to explain exactly what she means by 'the extreme right'. Trevor-Roper wrote that to describe Hitler's takeover as 'far right' was part of the 'sterile vocabulary of the left.')
            An important issue could be Irving as a revisionist of Second World War historiography. Several times Lipstadt says this sort of thing: '[Irving is] The writer of popular historical works attempting to show that Britain made a tactical error in going to war against Germany and that the Allies and the Nazis were equally at fault for the war and its atrocities' ( p. 8 ) and '[Irving is] convinced that Britain's great decline was accelerated by its decision to go to war with Germany...' ( p. 181 ). One gets the impression that anyone examining the Second World War—which after all was quite an important event—and its conventional presentation—which was almost entirely shaped by thoroughly-controlled wartime propaganda— would be automatically condemned by Lipstadt.
            Another little trick is worth pointing out, namely the ascribing of a point of view to an entire well-known organisation, when in fact it's the viewpoint of one person or group. Thus ( p. 180 ) Lipstadt's book says the 'British House of Commons denounced the former [Irving] as a "Nazi propagandist and longtime Hitler apologist"..' And 'Condemned in The Times of London in 1989 as a "man for who Hitler is something of a hero.." ..'

My Guesses as to Courtroom Battles, and their Outcomes:—
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  1. Things which I think will happen:
    • Witnesses: I'm all but certain these will include an architectural expert on the plans of Auschwitz, sociological evidence on Judaism, evidence of ground-penetrating radar used at Treblinka, and John Keegan subpoenaed to talk on the Second World War, on which he's regarded as a military historian.
  2. Things which I think may happen:
    • Jewish conspiracy against Irving I think probably has to be raised, since Irving's damages depend (I think) on his showing that there were plots to prevent his books being published, distributed, reviewed and so on, and so damage his income. If he can show action was taken to damage him, presumably he'd be in a strong position. But this raises difficult questions—is such action in fact illegal; can private organisations legally do it? And what surveillance in fact actually goes on? (Also, if a conspiracy were investiagted and proven, and damages decided, should Penguin pay all damages, or others too?)
              The question also may arise as to what is a 'conspiracy'; everyone laughs at conspiracy theories, but, when there are problems, they start to see them everywhere. All this is a can containing many unpleasant and varied worms.
    • Gas chamber controversy seems likely, but not certain, to surface. This is because the conventional definition of 'the Holocaust' includes gas chambers, but Irving's definition doesn't. So presumably either side, depending on how it views the evidence available to it, might decide not to investigate the issue, and it might not arise. *It's now, of course, surfaced. However, the issue of forensic evidence was evaded by Professor van Pelt.
    • Follower or admirer of Hitler is an accusation often made about Irving. Close examination of his books may incline the defendants against, or for, this view; I can't guess. I'm not sure what is needed to make such an accusation libellous. But clearly the issue is likely to surface.
    • Part played by Jews in the Soviet Union and for example Hungary. Irving claimed that all the worst Hungarian torturers were Jews. If the disputes start to rage about eastern Europe, as they presumably must, issues of this sort will probably come up.
    • International Law , such as it is, and Hitler and Jews before the Second World War, might be investigated. It would be interesting to have light shed on this, and, on the face of it, it's a topic which ought to be investigated, but, one guesses, probably won't.
  3. Things which I think won't happen:
    • Khazars as Jews. The Khazaria theory has existed for most of the 20th century, although it's been suppressed for various reasons. Despite its importance, I doubt it will surface here. This is because (1) the plaintiff, Irving, accepts many or all Christian beliefs, and seems to feel obliged to believe modern Jews originated in ancient Israel; (2) Lipstadt and her supporters can't consider it, since it's incompatible with their system of pretences; (3) Rampton probably won't have heard of it.
    • Christian forgery as a comparative money-making scheme to what may be Holocaust forgery. This, or indeed any other established fraud, and there are many, from AIDS and NASA to physics and weapons, could make an instructive parallel. The reasons I don't expect this to happen are similar to those relating to the previous idea, plus the extra effort needed to reorient thought in several fields. I expect, analogously, links between Catholicism and Fascism will probably be avoided.
    • WW2 War crimes against (say) Germans, Indians, Chinese. Again, despite the obvious importance of these comparisons, I doubt they'll be made. Nor will such issues as the non-bombing of Ford factories in Germany be raised. The taboos are probably too strong.
    • What is fascism? This seems a fair question, especially as the press and many statements use the word rather freely. I predict however that discussion will be discouraged, on grounds familiar to readers of (for example) Chomsky. Any of the possible characteristics—killings of civilians, cruelty on a large scale, forced movements of populations, racist discrimination, for example—took place and take place in the 'post-War' world.
              There may however be some interesting footwork as the defendants in particular talk about themselves—but not of course others. An example might be Irving's audiences, which Rampton in his opening speech said 'often consist of radical right wing, neo-fascist, neo-Nazi groups of people.' A video of Irving in the US shows him speaking to what appeared to be Billy-Graham-like fundamentalists, no doubt with an admixture of US war criminals. Will they be pleased to be described as likely neo-fascists? Another example might be some groups, described as campaigning for repatriation and the like. Will the comparison be made with Israel, campaigning to remove Palestinians?
    • What is genocide? This is unlikely to be brought up, for reasons similar to those applying to the previous category. But again there may be some interesting footwork.
              *As has been pointed out to me, the trial hasn't so far had an attempt at a thorough definition of 'the Holocaust'. Lipstadt's book (chapter 1) says "the attempt to annihilate the Jewish people". Evans in his 'expert witness report' says 'The meaning.. is thus metaphorical rather than literal'. He includes the 'systematic attempt' idea which others have, e.g. Martin Gilbert 'the systematic attempt to destroy all European Jewry'. Another attempt (day 1 of the trial) is in legalistic terms—'as defined by the Nuremberg statute'. On day 2 Irving looked at this and tried to identify the components, all of which are debatable: e.g. Hitler knew/ 6 million figure/ gas chambers/ eastern Europe massacres/ specific to Jews.
    • Once-important publicists and potential witnesses such as Vrba, Fleming, Hilbert, Elie Weisel, et al. will refuse to appear, because the Zundel trials in Canada have shown such people what happens on cross-examination. (I now note that Professor Browning will appear).
    • Theology: Why didn't God prevent killings of his chosen people? Lipstadt is supposed to be a professor of this sort of thing. However, long-established convention dictates that, even if she were required to speak, such questions would almost certainly not be put.
              Another possibility might have been that Irving may have pointed out that she presumably takes the Kol Nidre seriously, which explicitly pledges her testimony in a non-Jewish court to be deceptive. Conceivably the decision not to use her as a witness may have been to prevent Irving accomplishing this coup de théâtre .
              'Holocaust' is presumably used for symbolic reasons by Jews, rather than 'genocide', because it implies a burnt offering which is made as the price for G-d [sic] to donate the Promised Land. Another interesting point is the ritual significance attached to the number '6', referring to Adam, or man, or, specifically, Jews.

Will it Become, or is it Already, a Political Trial?
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I consulted several books on the political aspects of law (for example, Peter Hain's Political Trials in Britain ) and some historical works, but none seem very satisfactory: few people seem able to separate the power structures from the coccooning verbiage of law. We find accounts of Socrates, Bruno, Joan of Arc; blasphemy trials; and people variously described as racists and fascists; and descriptions of judges as conservatives who are appointed in secret ways. I doubt whether military law (with peremptory removal of dissidents) is much of a guide. Possibly there may be analogies from trials of the sort that occurred and occur in what was the Empire; these of course were and are normally kept secret. My only conclusion is that law is generally on the side of the powers-that-be, as one would expect—lawyers have supported slavery, exploitation, and so on, but, then, what else would they do? Change doesn't usually take place as a result of a verdict—changes in the law are more important.

It's possible this case will be decided politically; perhaps it's already been decided Irving must lose. Looking at a mixed bag of cases, it seems clear enough that the British government's recent treatment of Pinochet was political, not legal. The Birdwood case perhaps is a precedent: her prosecution petered out in what I take to be a trumped-up medical let-out, and the copyright status of her booklet was left in suspension. John Pilger was forced to make an obviously unconvinced apology as regards atrocity allegations he made. I haven't made much attempt to follow the 'denial' law in France; but clearly there must be pressure for a similar law in Britain, and if European Union law spreads this may be applied across all Europe.
        *The nearest analogous case known to me was the Aldington vs Tolstoy libel case. Both Rampton and Gray were counsel. As I understand it, Nikolai Tolstoy circulated a leaflet accusing Lord Aldington (whose name before being made a Peer was Toby Low) of a war crime, viz. sending Yugoslavs back to Stalin after the Second World War was over. Aldington won huge damages, but these seem not to have been pursued. It seems to be British government policy never to admit to British war crimes.
        Unfortunately, Prime Minister Blair seems to be the sort of politician who sees his role as counterbalancing existing groups; not as encouraging some groups and discouraging others. For example, the billion-dollar 'dome' looks like a submission to vested interests; so does his, to my taste, rather contemptible deferring to religious superstitions, and his deferring to NATO. The medical system is in the balance. He has been reported as accepting money from Monsanto. Such a person, under pressure, seems likely to adjust laws to reflect pressures being applied, rather than aim at worthwhile but difficult goals.
        Perhaps the money flowing to Jewish survivors has been deemed to be excessive; possibly this rather banal cause will, unexpectedly, cause influential people to change their tune. This seems possible; Catholicism wasn't weakened because princes objected to superstitions amongst their peasantry, but rather because too much money was wanted to pay for them.
        Another aspect is the effect on the future; no doubt scare stories will be manufactured, as happens all the time on many subjects. Is it the case that the risk of exposure of myth will cause people to adopt strange ideologies, vote for people with little moustaches, and invade foreign countries? May there be trade threats, or pressure to prevent media people, teachers and historians look foolish? Does it in fact such a trial make any difference?—if Irving won, there would still be countless films, novels, and books in circulation, huge funds to continue the tradition, endless actors and hacks willing to turn out anything paid for. Some revisionists think the newspaper reporting of this trial is a breakthrough; in my view this simply isn't true (see for example the cuttings which Irving put in his website) since the basic assumptions aren't challenged. The effect may be as transitory as the Pentagon Papers .

The first day. Tuesday 11th January 2000
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Note: I attended this day's proceedings in person.

The first day was mainly taken up by the reading out of opening statements: Irving's was first, and it was rather long, partly for some technical reason about the following day which I didn't fathom.
        Irving appears to be going for the basis of the libel being that he manipulated and falsified history, i.e. he wasn't lazy or careless, but deliberately lied. His statement began with his account of his life and his histories, and continued with a long passage on the Goebbels diary glass plates, I think to establish his credentials as a serious obtainer, decipherer, and preserver of otherwise-endangered documents. He also mentioned Jews as opponents of the truth (he intends to call a sociologist from America on this subject) and of himself.
        Rampton, representing the defendants (Lipstadt et al) seems to follow rather closely the claims made in Denying the Holocaust , putting for example emphasis on Leuchter (perhaps Rampton doesn't know that other forensic investigations of Auschwitz have been made since 1993), and repeating the claim about the DVU (perhaps he can't operate CD ROMs). There's some suggestion that he will treat Irving's lawsuit as a 'campaign'; at any rate, that word surfaced in The Times report. Rampton read out what he regarded as an example, or perhaps the only example, of Irving's lies and fakery: a case in Riga involving orders about liquidation. Irving's account in Hitler's War was supposed not to correspond with the facts. And two editions of Hitler's War were very different.
        After this, Irving wished to show a video, but the equipment was not available(!). So it was agreed to adjourn.

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Fourth and Fifth Days. Monday 17th, Tuesday 18th January 2000
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Note: I attended these days' proceedings in person.

        Mr Rampton's strategy seems to be this: his aim is to establish a number of what he calls bricks, from which, presumably, to complete his structure. (1) One such brick is 'system': he intends to show the Germans had a system. (2) Next, I think, he intends to establish that Hitler knew of and originated the system. (3) And then he intends to establish extermination. (4) Then he must show Mr Irving is a 'Holocaust denier'. (I'm uncertain how the rest of the case is to be treated).
        Mr Irving's counter as to these points is, I think, as follows: (1) He states the Germans unquestionably had a system for moving Jews from the parts of Europe under their control to areas which seem to have been as far east as possible. This was definitely a 'system' (involving e.g. the Gestapo, late-night evictions of families, and train journeys.) But, says Irving, the system ended there; when they arrived, they were expected to build camps (or in some cases moved), and there appears to have been chaos, including murders, which, Irving says, show no signs of having been authorised by Hitler. (2) As to whether Hitler knew what was happening, Irving stated he is "absolutely certain" (his exact words) that the defendants cannot find a single document that shows Hitler was informed of killings or approved of them. (3) Irving states that mass killings certainly occurred; his figure for all shootings of Jews was from 500,000 to 1,500,000. He never denied this and all his books include it where relevant. (4) On 'Holocaust denial', Irving simply states that, in fact, his books describe it perfectly clearly, I think from the documents.
        My personal impression was, frankly, that Irving wiped the floor with the opposition. His replies are, or seem, so assured that any statement he makes on dates, German translations, documents, the reading habits of Hitler and Churchill and so on, is simply assumed to be true; I suspect that, if he chose to deliberately manufacture a fake statement (e.g. "Sigmund Freudssohn became temporary adjutant of 2nd August 1942 when Martin Bormann's usual adjutant was ill, and composed a note to.." etc. This example is made up! ) nobody would or could query it. This is rather extraordinary. I can't think of any other witness who could retain credibility after announcing "I never read books." At one point, he pointed out the word 'geheim' (secret) in the middle of a document, which Mr Rampton hadn't noticed, and clearly didn't understand, despite being concerned at the document's security classification. Again, Justice Gray asked Irving whether the 'fragmentary' nature of the documents wasn't a difficulty; Irving replied that the Washington archives have so many documents that they're still unsorted now, more than fifty years later; and that the entire archives of Auschwitz and Maidanek had been captured by the Russians. Justice Gray, who of course seems fairly impassive, looked rather astounded—and it's perhaps significant that it was Irving who had to make that point. (And Mr Rampton seemed a little nonplussed when Irving stated that most of the concentration camp commandants were lawyers). Again, very often Mr Rampton in effect complained that an original document could not be found; on numerous occasions Irving replied that the same document was in his 'discovery' (i.e. copies disclosed before the trial, and now stored in files in the same courtroom). When faced with documents new to him, Irving's practised eye immediately makes deductions: the typewriter keyboard lacked the SS rune, the language has a suspiciously illiterate ring to it; he's just noticed the box has 'AR' in it—probably the German abbreviation for Operation Reinhard, or Operation Reinhardt—the correct spelling is disputed. Again, Mr Rampton seems often to be wrong-footed: he makes a very good observation, but is then floored by a better observation: for example, the questioning turned to Hitler on sending Jews to Madagascar, and (e.g.) Professor Evans (whose report on Irving is frequently mentioned) says something like: Irving is being totally misleading in saying Hitler intended to send the Jews to Madagascar. This was by then firmly in British hands, as of course Hitler knew. So Hitler couldn't possibly have meant this. Clearly, it was a nonsense, a euphemism. One thinks: oh, that's a good point. And Irving replies: the remark makes perfect sense: Hitler was an optimist—he hoped to win the war (and presumably then control Madagascar). In the same way the defendants hope to win the case.
        At this time, I concluded that Mr Rampton must have started the case, a few months earlier, all but certain that he'd have a walkover on his hands. He has several professors and numerous helpers on his side—although an observer could be pardoned for feeling that the helpers might more accurately be described as a hindrance. I think this must account for what I take to be his somewhat lacklustre performance, the long pauses, and occasional snaps. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if there's a certain tenseness, some harsh words, behind the scenes in the defendants' camp. It even occurred to me that they may seek an out-of-court settlement (you may recall an offer was made in the McDonalds trial, which however broke down because, I think, McDonalds would not accede to the McLibel Two's request that McDonalds stop suing activists).
        What does Justice Gray think of this? One sees him making notes, and putting documents in his own files. Possibly he makes some mark or indication at each point claimed and made, or lost, or left uncertain, by the parties.
        One begins to see one reason, at least, while Irving is unrepresented. The replies he makes simply could not be made by someone unfamiliar with the material; questioning would take twice the time as Irving whispered comments or passed notes to his counsel.
        Another unsuspected advantage accrues to Irving: since he's a claimant in person, the judge allows him more leeway than ordinary counsel is allowed. In this way he can put in his remarks (you have the document—it was in my disclosure/ Mr Rampton; you have teams of researchers/ the intention is producing a more readable book/ there is an embarrassing superabundance of German material) which might perhaps never be made effectively.

Next week is to be (as I understand it) inquiries into Auschwitz and perhaps other concentration camps. Expert witnesses are to be called, starting, I believe, with Professor van Pelt. I'm not sure whether forensic evidence in the popular sense—actual objects and artefacts—will be examined; I suspect maps, plans, films and photographs will be the extent of the evidence. There may well be some considerable upsets. Irving has already stated, I think as an established fact, that the first references to gas chambers were in British intelligence broadcasts to Germany, which, he said, predate the claims made by some historians as to the starting date of gas chambers.

Ninth and Tenth Days. Tuesday 25th, Wednesday 26th January 2000
Prof. van Pelt on Auschwitz/Birkenau

[Back to start]

Note: I attended these days' proceedings in person.

        Professor Robert Jan van Pelt's examination and cross-examination took up most of these two days; and he's due back on Friday (the court is not sitting on Thursday, today,as I write this). The following account is an attempt to describe both days' testimony. I fear it's rather long; however, the subject is important, even if the relevance to the libel case is disputable, so I've taken some trouble to sort out and arrange the claims. I haven't checked the spelling of some names; if they're wrong, I apologise.
        Almost all the talking was between Irving and van Pelt; Mr Rampton remained mostly silent. (Indeed, at one point late on the second day, he seemed to be accusing Mr Irving of deliberate rambling to cost Mr Rampton's side more money.)
        Van Pelt is Dutch; his English and German are both very good. He is a professor of architecture—or, at least, he is in the department of architecture—at Waterloo University, Ontario, Canada. (Fees something like $10,000 per term, I believe). He's the joint author of a book on Auschwitz with Deborah Dwork, described as 'his partner' by Irving, who now holds the Chair of Holocaust History, endowed with $5M, apparently at Clark University. (I couldn't find this establishment in my reference book collection). She seems to have supplied the historical material for their book. If Irving is to be believed, this book is one of the few which he has read cover-to-cover; he said he couldn't put it down. As well as jointly-writing this book, Professor van Pelt wrote an expert report specially for the trial. He is an attractive figure, somewhat like (I hope this isn't insulting) Benny Hill in a suit. At the start of Irving's cross-examination, he modestly admitted to being the world's leading expert on Auschwitz—or perhaps only the second most expert. It's not entirely clear on what basis this opinion is based: he's apparently in a cultural history department, and has no architectural qualifications, as Irving rapidly established, despite appearing as an expert witness on the architecture of Auschwitz/Birkenau. He delivered his answers with smiles and aplomb, at least at first—later, he became more rattled, refusing, for example, to comment on his own work unless the exact words were in front of him.

        What happened is, roughly, that Mr Irving attempted to pin him down, first, as to the building, presumably to avoid changes of subject: Irving showed a video (which his little daughter seemed to have moved to the wrong place) of Fred Leuchter, with Van Pelt's voiceover, talking of the leichenkeller next to crematorium 2 at Birkenau, the centre of 'any map of human suffering', in which 'millions' had died. Irving repeatedly drew attention on his huge recently-taken aerial photo of the ruins of this elongated building. Yes, this is the subject they're discussing. And he had to establish the figures: van Pelt had said 'millions' on the video, but this of course was a slip of the tongue which anyone could make, and not of course a falsification. Van Pelt stated the true figure was probably 500,000. This figure was settled on by both Mr Irving and Professor van Pelt.
        Second, Irving's pinning down moved to the evidence which van Pelt could produce with regard to this building. Van Pelt's corpus of evidence is as follows:
  1. Eyewitness testimony. The professor proved a little shy of answering the direct question: how many eye-witnesses? The figure appears to be five; all are dead. One is Bimko, who, said Irving, had claimed to have examined the cremation records, and that these proved 4M deaths, and who, they seemed to agree, must have been something of a liar. Another, Henryk Tauber, gave the wire mesh pillar evidence, and is described by van Pelt as 'one of the most important witnesses'. Other names were Pery Broad. Shlomo Draga, Hiss, Kramer.
            (At this point, I'll mention that Tauber's testified that the gas chamber, or morgue, below ground, had wire-mesh pillars arranged next to the supporting, structural pillars; the wire mesh protruded above ground, in five or six (I forget) chimney-like structures, down which cyanide-containing diatomaceous earth, Zyklon, was dropped from tins or lowered in a container. The mesh was surrounded by other mesh in the actual room; I think the mesh was supposed to be arranged with a square cross-section. This remains the standard, establishment picture of the gas chambers at Crematorium 2.)
            NB: Professor van Pelt felt able to exclude a Russian report in Pravda, which mentioned no gas chambers, and had an account of buildings housing old, sick, young, and otherwise non-working Jews. He excluded the testimony, or alleged testimony, of Hoess—the actual kommandant of Auschwitz! Doubtless other eyewitness evidence is excluded too, though it's of course hard to estimate exactly how much. And let me point out that no living eyewitnesses appear on van Pelt's list. There are (says an e-mailer) hundreds of thousands of holocaust survivors, for example in Israel. Surely the Professor might call a few of them? Granted it's 55 years later; but surely some people, then 20-25, now 75 or 80, might be available?
  2. Eyewitness testimony in the shape of drawings by a fairly experienced sketcher drawn several years after the event. They include a crematorium chimney belching smoke and flame—something revisionists point out doesn't happen with crematoria. If, perhaps, something specially inflammable could produce this effect, van Pelt (supposedly Professor of Architecture, remember, and world's leading expert) didn't know of it. Mr Irving claimed, though he produced no examples, that the artist had also painted near-pornographic images, mostly with nubile naked young women in the same series. Why had the Professor excluded all of these? One of the drawings (out of style with all the rest) showed a cross-section through a building, with cartoon-like figures; this suggested to Mr Irving that possibly there had been 'cross-pollination' of ideas. Had the artist been supplied with blueprints to assist his memory?
            ('Cross-pollination' is a phrase selected by Mr Irving to name the process by which people can in principle produce evidence which social pressures point to; think for example of 'UFO' testimony. And Professor van Pelt uses the expression 'convergence of evidence' to indicate the process by which traces of evidence can cumulatively point to the truth; the Tichborne Claimant being my example. There's no doubt this is essentially true; the question is whether, in fact, the bits of evidence exist at all).
  3. Documentary evidence. Mr Irving seemed to lose his way in the jumble of documents, or perhaps I lost my way, but the point seemed to hinge around a document from the manufacturers of cyanide, Tesch, giving delivery figures to Auschwitz, which used about 9 tonnes in a year or two (I think). Granted that legitimate disinfestation could be applied to barracks, and also to standard 10 cubic metres chambers, did this indicate enough surplus to gas half a million people? Mr Irving pointed out that Auschwitz had a history as a quarantine camp, at least since the 1880s, and quoted Bruno Tesch, who was an expert on fumigation, but also a suspect witness. The point was left hanging (I think) partly because little attempt was made by either side to quantify the amount needed to kill people.
  4. Air photography evidence. (No photos taken on the ground are being produced. Whether they exist is another matter; van Pelt never spontaneously volunteers what may be called the total universe of discourse of his pieces of evidence.) There are essentially just two: one shows the roof of the leichenkeller under construction, with five (I think—the photo wasn't shown to the public) objects arranged not very evenly down the length of the roof of the leichenkeller. These must be the ends of the wire-mesh cylinders! The other picture showed five rather large blobs on the same roof.
            Irving, being aware that these photos have been adduced many times before, counter-attacked by pointing out that the first picture could perhaps be explained as well by barrels or some other sealant being on the roof. (As I've said, the actual photos weren't produced; I can't say how irregularly or asymmetrically these objects were placed.) There was also some dispute as to the height of the objects, based on the shadows they cast; and also on stereo interpretation. These latter topics weren't gone into in detail. The second picture with blobs on the roof was not really dealt with satisfactorily; however, van Pelt certainly seemed to estimate the size of such blobs incorrectly. Irving claimed also to have a picture of the leichenkeller under snow, no protuberances being visible, though he hadn't brought it with him (and apparently the world's leading expert hadn't, either).
            Neither of these adversaries showed much grasp of photography. As examples, van Pelt got into a tangle over moiré patterns, which he thought showed on high enlargements, and Irving hadn't checked up on stereo photos.
  5. The last type of evidence is blueprints and/or drawings of the structures. Irving says van Pelt's video used an expression like "we have the blueprints!" But, on cross-examination, it seems that the world's leading expert has a bit of difficulty here; my notes say he said "by itself that drawing means nothing." The evidence here will be produced on Friday. Van Pelt promised a video, including computer graphics, made by several of his students. It will probably take the world's leading expert only a few hours to show his doubtless convincing evidence, which, one gathers, will have no drawings whatever of the wire mesh cylinders.
This was Irving's cross-examination. But he made points of his own; I think these are most of them:—
  1. The collapsed roof of the leichenkeller was finished with 'fair-faced concrete', which shows the marks of the wood planks which formed it; it's impossible to repair holes through it invisibly; there's always a line or evidence of botching. If the wire mesh had been there, it must have left a hole through the roof (which was reinforced concrete). Irving states he has photos showing there are no such holes. (Incidentally, they should show up on metal detectors too above ground). This is what Robert Faurisson meant when he said "No holes, no holocaust" , presumably in English, as the pun seems unworkable in French. Mr Irving timed his coup, as he hopes it is, on this subject, to 4 pm on day 9, though, unfortunately for him, several press reporters had gone, e.g. from the Times , and others preferred to rely on a handout, perhaps thoughtfully supplied by the defence. (Next morning, asked whether the Auschwitz/Birkenau authorities had looked for evidence, van Pelt said he didn't know; he 'couldn't second guess them.' This is from someone who has access to Auschwitz and has written a big book on it).
  2. Van Pelt wrote somewhere the "Germans had managed to kill every Jew they had got their hands on". When Mr Irving proposed to dispute this, van Pelt backed away.
  3. Priority argument. If, as we're told, the whole object of the Nazi program was to kills Jews, how come the building project at Birkenau was delayed by problems in electrical supplies, and building supplies? Irving's reading of documents about V1 and V2 rockets showed that documents stamped as having Hitler's top priority faced no such problems.
  4. Coke figures; one document, which Irving says is suspect (for one thing, official rubber stamps from that period are still in the Auschwitz archives) says 3.5 kg of coke is enough to cremate one corpse. Is that credible? Unfortunately, van Pelt seemed not to have done any work on this.
  5. Elevator figures. The leichenkeller has an elevator, apparently occupying a space about 9 feet by 4, which was an open platform. How many bodies could be moved in such a device to the crematoria above, on ground level? There may be a counterweight occupying some of this space. Again, van Pelt, despite being in an architecture department, surrounded presumably by architects whose stock in trade is knowing things like the wattage consumed by large buildings, the percentage of walls occupied by glass, or, in this case, planning of elevators, seems to have made no attempt to examine the possibilities here. (This theme is to be resumed on Friday).
  6. Phenol injections are a standard typhus treatment, asserted Mr Irving. Professor van Pelt seemed unaware of this.
  7. Pre-warming the leichenkeller. Ernst Neufert's Bauentwurfslehre (a bit like British building regulations), of which a copy was found in the Auschwitz building department, states corpses have to be kept above freezing by heating, and below (I think) 12 degrees by cooling, if necessary. Van Pelt seemed uninformed on these points, as he did on the question of the temperature of the ground in the leichenkeller; the average must be rather low, rather similar to Canada perhaps, but anyway van Pelt provided no useful information on this.
There's also evidence that neither side seems to be taking very seriously:
  1. Archaeology. Van Pelt several times has talked of 'the field of ashes'. What, in fact, is the evidence for burning pits, mass graves, and exhumations followed by burning? Neither side seems to broach this topic. (NB I've heard from a Polish source that Auschwitz was, in fact, investigated by archaeologists as long ago as the 1960s, with negative results. Perhaps something will come of this. Something beginning with H!)
  2. Auschwitz death books, which I think I recall were given by Gorbachev back to Germany, seem not to be mentioned, perhaps because the figures are low—it's essential for van Pelt's presentation that the gassed dead should have never been recorded.
  3. Professor van Pelt has mentioned that there were changes of policy, changes of the use of buildings, sorting of Jews (but not gentiles) on arrival by rail and so on. Again, this is essential to his presentation, but of course has the problem that it looks as if he's inventing things ad hoc, especially where there's no support from documentation.

Eleventh Day. Friday 28th January 2000
Prof. van Pelt on Auschwitz/Birkenau, continued

[Back to start]

Note: I attended this day's proceedings in person.

Today was intended as a presentation and examination of the blueprint, or rather drawing, evidence of the function of crematorium 2. (Professor van Pelt wanted to shift to crematoria 4 and 5, and Gray suggested he was entitled to look at any evidence, supported by Mr Rampton. Mr Irving didn't like this, since, of course, the entire emphasis had been on crematorium 2. In fact most of the evidence dealt with crematorium 2).
        As might be expected, van Pelt's visual presentation wasn't very convincing. The courtroom was darkened and slides projected; architectural drawings plus more comprehensible coloured sketches (and a few photos) showed, according to van Pelt, that the building had been through several stages. There was, as we've come to expect, no direct evidence whatever of gas chamber use: no holes were demonstrated in the roof of the underground leichenkeller, nor was there any evidence of drainage to remove the various disgusting by-products—difficult to do underground. Van Pelt's evidence was that the door seem to have been re-hung to open outwards at one point—though even this seemed not visible on the drawings. His computer reconstructions, whether deliberately or otherwise, weren't very convincing. For one thing, there were no indications of scale, such as human figures; the impression was of cavernous interiors, but it's impossible to judge such blank computer-drawn rooms. Also, as van Pelt admitted, his students hadn't done a very accurate job; the light detailing was taken from modern lighting styles, so the impressions had an IKEA-like feel about them. In particular, the elevator, which should have been shown as an open space, and would have benefited from an indication of scale—since one of the essential points is its carrying capacity—appeared inaccurately as a modern metal elevator doors. The surrounding areas weren't shown, so that no feeling was given of the size of the camp and the relation of this building to everything else. There was an Agatha Christie-like feel about the evidence; we were invited to believe in rooms with only one entrance on the basis of, literally, sketchy information.
        Much of this evidence was hard to follow; I imagine most of the audience dozed through it. I'll take one substantial point: van Pelt wishes to maintain that the underground entrance, the outside stairway, was the only way into the building; people must he thinks have walked in, but not come out; there was, he thought, little scope for getting corpses into the building. Irving asked him: what about the August 1942 typhus epidemic; were those bodies cremated? For that matter, what about natural deaths? If so, they must have been taken into the building—possibly through the newly-constructed entrance, which was made on the side of the building facing the main camp, so people wouldn't need to go the long way round.
        The crematorium drawings showed five sets of three crematories, a total of only fifteen, each designed for one body. Mr Irving established that the shortest distance to the chimney was (I think) seventy feet—quite a way for flames and smoke to travel, as shown in the drawings produced by van Pelt's 'eye-witness'.
        Another piece of evidence produced by Mr Irving was a bundle of air photos of the location taken at about the same time, including his snow-covered ground picture (the latest was a German photograph when the site was under Russian control). I think these were based on Ball's air photo evidence, published by him in the early 1990s. Irving asked van Pelt whether he could see the inlets for cyanide on these pictures. Van Pelt (the world's leading expert on the site, according to himself) said he would need a magnifying glass. Irving's photos also included a pair, one, an original, from the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation; the other, identical save for fake smoke put into the background, from Simon Wiesenthal's organisation's website. (This picture has now been removed).
        Mr Irving again attacked the credibility of witnesses: Vrba (whose report had been edited by Slovakian Jews, and who had admitted to Christie at a Zundeltrial that he'd never been inside the 'gas chamber building'), the Soviet Report (with Lysenko among the signatories) which sated 4 million had been killed, Tauber again, and a dozen 'eyewitnesses' in the Demjanjuk trial, all, said Irving, liars.
        After all this wearying material Mr Rampton had the last word, at about two thirty, re-examining Professor van Pelt. (I think Mr Irving hadn't realised he wouldn't be able to ask any more questions). His material included: a patent document on continuous-flow cremations (with no evidence that it was ever built or would have worked); Pressac (a village pharmacist, apparently) saying that Tauber was a sober, careful witness; the separation of people who'd arrived by train (accepted by the judge, despite being a new point); and a metal grille inside the spyhole of a door—which Irving would have claimed was simply a standard fitting. Mr Rampton also estimated that the hoist could carry 25 corpses; his method was to divide the carrying capacity by average weight of a corpse, irrespective of practicability. Van Pelt also stated that the SS barracks are about a mile and a half from the building; not much use in air raids?
        And Mr Rampton caused a minor stir by producing a document, which he said he'd received the previous day from an anonymous source, supposedly dated 8 May 1943 and relating to Auschwitz, complaining that lots of useless Poles had been delivered to the camp, and they can't treat them as they do Jews. (I wonder what the e-mails to Lipstadt/Penguin are like? One imagines enormous numbers of them...) Gray seemed likely to allow this, there and then, but Mr Irving, saying it might take three months to check the validity of such a potentially important document, managed (I think) to postpone assessment of it.
        At the end of all this, the judge said he'd like maps of Auschwitz/Birkenau to study, as the arrangement wasn't quite clear to him. I was pleased he said this, since it shows his honesty. I'm certain a poll of the people watching would have yielded a very low comprehension score.

*Important note: Irving made an offer [see Day 11, p. 150] to drop his case, immediately, if the defendants would instigate an archaeological/forensic investigation of the supposed gas chamber, which van Pelt had claimed was the centre of the extermination machinery. No newspaper mentioned this offer.
    Professor van Pelt evaded the issue. I will record here my disgust with van Pelt. Tens of millions of people died in the Second World War; van Pelt will not involve himself with investigations in what he claims to be a central issue in the entire war. It's a sad situation that post-war bickering includes this Mickey Mouse pseudo-academic who puts money before truth. May he get what he deserves.

[A considered reply to van Pelt, by Germar Rudolf has been put on the VHO site.]

On Monday, Professor Kevin MacDonald is due to give evidence, on, I think, techniques of group survival considered in a Darwinian, socio-biological sense. I doubt whether this is relevant to libel; but it may apply to conspiracy and, hence, compensation. (*Judging by the transcript, MacDonald arrived with written testimony, not realising he would be required to give only oral evidence. His main function seems to have been to permit the introduction of a document proving the connection between Lipstadt and pressure on St Martin's Press to withdraw Irving's Goebbels —and this document must be important, since the defence attempted to conceal it).

[Back to start]

Thirteenth Day (Tuesday 1 February 2000)
Forgery? Dresden Bombing, and other 'dead cert winners' of Mr Rampton

[Back to start]

Note: I attended this day's proceedings in person.

Forged Documents (with helpful tips to the forgers—perhaps their fakes will improve)
        The day began with Irving challenging the document which Rampton produced from an anonymous source on day 11, a few days before (my guess it was faxed to the defendants): this interestingly shows some of Irving's methodology when faced with a document which may be suppositious or fake. (Excluded, are, of course, such things as the physical appearance of the document and the files in which it was supposed to have originated, since there seems to be no such provenance).
        According to my notes, Irving's questions included its first date of surfacing, the omission of 'Auschwitz den' from the date, typed (rather than handwritten) letter register line, the use of 'ja./' rather than 'ja/', the use of secretarial initials '/ne.' not found in any other of 50 similar documents, and the omission of 'Waffen SS' from the address.
        As regards the contents, Irving presumably had been looking at his card-index or other reference systems, finding that several crematoria were out of service at the time referred to in the document.
        Will Professor van Pelt investigate these discrepancies in the document?—Irving wanted this on the record.

Kristallnacht and Dresden Bombing: Mr Rampton thinks these are 'dead cert winners'
        Mr Rampton now produced four topics (his count) which he regarded as 'dead cert winners' in the effort to prove Irving had distorted the historical record. These apply to Irving's book Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich . I assume most of the people reading these notes haven't access to this book, so I'll produce some extracts verbatim.
        One 'dead cert winner', if we can believe Mr Rampton, was Irving's treatment of Kristallnicht; Irving's view is that Goebbels initiated it, with a series of frenzied phone calls; when Hitler was awaked, at two in the morning, he took action to stop it, as soon as he'd worked out what was happening. The received view is, presumably, that Hitler initiated the whole thing. We see here the relevant parts of pages 276 and 613 as used by Mr Rampton.
Goebbels page 276
Goebbels page 613
Mr Rampton's case was that Irving had referenced the wrong document. It should, perhaps, be ND:3051-PS, a Heydrich telegram, should it not? [ND = Nuremberg Document]. Irving said this is only a part of his footnote—as indeed you can see it is. Karl Wolff, said Irving, was 'overlooked by Professor Evans' in his Expert Report. Irving said he doesn't know the correct document number—he can't get access to the archives he donated to Germany. This therefore is unsatisfactory. Irving undertook to examine his records (perhaps there was a slip of the pen when he wrote?). And Mr Rampton did not produce Karl Wolff's statement, but instead changed the subject. (Remember this is after months of preparation!) (Irving's book, on page 277, says 'At 2:56 A.M. Rudolf Hess's staff also began cabling, telephoning and radioing instructions to gauleiters and police authorities around the nation to halt the madness.' quoting ND:3052-PS, and this evidence led to another exchange with the cross-examiner).
        Mr Rampton's second dead cert related to the morning after: Goebbels was summoned before Hitler. Much of the cross-examination was made to hinge on the German word 'nunmehr' (or 'nun mehr'). And on Goebbels circular to cancel the action (p 279 of the book). And, largely, on whether Goebbels reports were accurate—as of course they are likely not to be. (Irving pointed out that Goebbels intended his diaries, or parts of them, for publication, and had arranged the copyright and terms and so forth).
        The third 'dead cert' was, I take, it, the passage in p 281 of Goebbels , which reads: 'He ordered the Gestapo and the party's courts to delve into the origins of the night's violence and turn the culprits over to the public prosecutors. 70 ' where endnote 70 is: 'Communication of SA Supreme HQ, Dec 19, 1938 (BDC file 240/II).' The problem here is whether the passage is misleading: Mr Rampton stating that the courts involved were Nazi courts, not part of the proper legal system at all, so a false impression is given of justice moving into action. Irving said he'd preceded this passage by long accounts of concentration camps, murders and looting, and distortions of the legal system by Goebbels. (It also seemed clear that Evans' Expert Report did not have reliable figures about the legal aftermath of Kristallnacht.)
        The fourth 'dead cert' was Irving's treatment of Dresden, in his book on Dresden. This was another long and inconclusive effort on Mr Rampton's part. As usual, Irving provided the background, leaving the defence seeming thin and feeble: the Russians were advancing; it was three weeks after Auschwitz had been emptied; there were one million refugees in Dresden; the town had no bunkers or shelters or other air raid precautions, and no anti-aircraft guns; and a firestorm leaves only ash, making it impossible to count corpses. Taking Hamburg as a point of comparison (much more fully equipped, and yet 48,000 killed) Irving's best guess was 60,000-100,000 dead. Mr Rampton's cross-examination dealt with several aspects of Irving's work—naturally he had no evidence of his own as regards the total number of dead—including a document described rather bafflingly as genuine, but with fake figures (it seems the official deathrate was revised down from a quarter of a million). And a German publisher putting the word 'novel' on its edition of Dresden —perhaps like Schindler's List . And an official document mentioning dead 'so far found'. And the question whether an interviewee of Irving's had, in fact, been deputy chief medical officer of Dresden. And whether, supporting an exhibition in Coventry [twinned with Dresden] in the 1960s Irving had knowingly supplied exaggerated figures. It was interesting to see Irving criticise a war crime by his own side—something rather rare, and, in fact, as far as I can guess, utterly baffling to Mr Rampton.

        This was the best the defence could do. (I was rather amazed that Mr Rampton's list of dead certs seemed not to include Hitler's War ). Next Monday, Professor Browning is due to appear. He is an old hand at this sort of thing, having testified for the Crown (i.e. Canada's prosecution) for five days in 1988 in the trial of Ernst Zündel. Mr Rampton said he had a suspicion that Browning will not be in the witness box very long. I have the opposite suspicion!

Fifteenth Day (Thursday 3rd February 2000)
Racism? Extremists? Danger to Archives?

[Back to start]

Note: I attended this day's proceedings in person.

Racism? Extremists?
        Irving was cross-examined on racism and extremism by Mr Rampton, whose source was mainly Irving's diaries, written over a period of many years. The press were more interested than they had been over the trivial event of Dresden (here, all four major British papers of four covered it; with Dresden, only one)—I found myself hemmed in by several scribblers. The issues, not very clearly separated by Mr Rampton, were immigration, the loss of the British empire, racist remarks and supposed meetings with extremist groups.
        Not for the first time, I was struck by the lack of evidence produced by the defence: in view of the claims made in Lipstadt's book, one might reasonably have expected evidence from their own sources.
        What was produced was an Australian video, which the defence seem to have started at the wrong place, as Irving's image immediately stated that there were massacres. Then there was the transcript of a talk, in 1990, at something called the Clarendon Club, in which Irving quoted a politician called Hailsham who, in 1958, said 100,000 coloured immigrants would not be a problem. Considerable cross-examination followed this point: Irving said they were imported as cheap labour, a claim Rampton did not pursue—the full reasons for post-war British policy remaining somewhat obscure. Rampton, quoting I think Irving's website diary, stated that Irving, returning to Heathrow from the Florida sun, shuddered when his passport was checked by a Pakistani. Irving maintained that Rampton has misquoted; what he'd shuddered at was a political wrangle between Kinnock (then leader of the Labour Party) and Tony Benn (left-wing politician). Irving disliked mass immigration of any sort, including central Europeans; this wasn't a racist thing, he said. Irving stated that he liked England as he remembered it, in the 1950s—at peace, having defeated a powerful enemy, with no chewing gum on the streets and (in effect) Dixon of Dock Green on TV, a series with reassuring policemen.
        It was strange to listen to this and watch the hacks scribble. Britain has had for years a fairly rigorously-enforced policy of immigration, which pretty well exactly conforms to what Irving was saying.
        Rampton promised to assemble more documents, for example on the IHR, Zündel, and German right wing persons, which he may, or may not, cross-examine on, next Monday.

Danger to Archives?
        The second half of this day's game play revolved around the claim (made in a footnote by Lipstadt) that Irving had endangered the glass plates with Goebbels' diaries photographed on them. 'Serious concern in archival circles' and so on. A freelancer who worked for Andrew Neill of the Sunday Times was sworn in, a rather shabby and untidy bubbly-haired man who sounded Australian or South African, but told me he wasn't. He spoke Russian and had been the go-between. It appeared (I'm abbreviating a longish story) that the archives were in disarray, the Berlin Wall had fallen, many KGB archives had already been sold, the plates had been utterly ignored and some were broken, the building had no facilities even to read them let alone copy them, German archivists were due to come soon and possibly make the plates vanish for decades, and there were only verbal agreements with the Russians over what to do with them—including an agreement to let them be removed by Irving for copying. Two plates had been smuggled out by Irving for validation. Irving's strategy seemed to be to go for contrite humbleness—I am deeply ashamed to have taken them—but also to say in effect that he found the documents about the Night of the Long Knives, hidden for 55 years, published them after learning to read Goebbels' writing, and deposited copies of all the plates for the use of other historians.
        Somewhere about this point Mr Rampton produced a negative rabbit from his hat—he announced that the three Russian archivists who were scheduled to appear as witnesses, were not to be called after all! These included Eatwell and Levin.

This was a short day—after lunch, Mr Rampton seemed to run out of steam and suggested an early adjournment. I suspect this may have been a manoeuvre to distract Irving from tiresome questions he might feel inclined to ask about the disappearing witnesses. However, he told Irving he was 'knackered', and since Irving certainly was, the suggestion was taken up and everyone went away. This is why the day's transcript is short. Professor Browning is still scheduled for Monday, after a brief appearance by John Keegan, a conventional-minded military historian subpoenaed by Irving.

In the following weeks, I'll try to include comments on press coverage of this case, and I'll try to talk to some of the hacks in person. Watch this space!

[Back to start]

Sixteenth Day (Monday 7th February 2000)
Sir John Keegan and Professor Christopher Browning?

[Back to start]

Note: I attended this day's proceedings in person.

Sir John Keegan
        Looking somewhat like Noel Coward, John Keegan was sworn in, having been subpoenaed or to use the up-to-date term received a 'witness summons'. His role is to assure the judge that serious historians take Irving seriously. And indeed Keegan has high praise for Hitler's War (along with Chester Wilmot) in his book The Battle for History (see my notes below). He seemed unaware that the book had been extensively revised. He thinks Irving on Hitler 'defies common sense', and that Reitlinger is a good source—almost all Keegan knew of the Holocaust is from Reitlinger. He was not in the witness box long.
        [Note: I re-read Keegan's rather slender book The Battle for History: Re-Fighting World War Two . (1995). It is an agonisingly lightweight work which is no doubt why Keegan was a, or the, senior lecturer in Military History at Sandhurst, and latterly the Defence Editor for the Daily Telegraph . It's a pretence to look at reconsiderations of the Second World War. He says 'Extermination camps were set up.. both the most shameful and most extensive exercise in massacre in human history, far exceeding the atrocities of Genghis Khan or Timurlane..' Not only is there no consideration of revisionism, but other massacres and genocides are unknown to Keegan. (This is even odder in view of the fact that he puts the death toll of WW2 at 40 or 50 million). Beyond cliche, he makes no attempt to estimate the relative ethical status of the US segment of the world, the British, the Soviet, the German, the Italian. He has no grasp of the technical side of war—how did the US become rich because of a war? Why were Ford's factories not bombed? How come Britain's 'isolation after June 1940 required it to liquidate the majority the majority of it foreign holdings?' He accepts the various implausible stories about 'Ultra', and Turing and so on. He shows no grasp of the cost of the nuclear bomb programme. He has no grasp of the way intrusions into small states can lead to disaster—he seems to think all partisan groups etc are bona fide. He was actually knighted [ceremony involving the Queen and a sword] on the strength of his military history. One hears jokes about armies planning for the last war but one; here we have a mind fixed in Churchillian British propaganda. This sort of unrealism, one fears, may extort a hefty price. Meanwhile Sir John left the witness box, presumably for an office at the Telegraph , like an unusually successful courtesan amid the everyday prostitutes of the Überpimps like Conrad Black.]

Professor Christopher Browning
        There was now an interval in which Irving complained about the press, notably articles in Saturday's Guardian and in Sunday's Observer . Since Irving has a pending libel case against Gitta Sereny, who has connections with both papers, shouldn't the court do something? Gray however was reluctant, his main argument being that he himself doesn't read them and therefore can't be influenced. (A jury trial might be different).
        Irving also complained about the disappearing Russian witnesses. He intended to put questions to them, including whether they had any right under the Hague Convention to hold the Goebbels Diaries at all. Gray suggested putting his points to the most appropriate remaining expert: "I think you'll get your point across." other matters included the question of van Pelt, and the testimony of Hoess, parts of which—in fact, most of which—haven't been examined. (The point to grasp here is that Rampton, by not calling witnesses, can allow points to pass unnoticed in a way that would not apply if the evidence had been examined.)

Professor Browning was sworn in at about ten past eleven. He resembles J K Galbraith or Edward Said—tall, gray-haired, with matching eyebrows and a matching suit, with a white button-down shirt and patterned dark tie. Despite his patrician-style appearance, Irving soon elucidated the fact that he'd been turned down, in about mid-1997, for a chair in Holocaust Studies at Harvard. My impression was that Browning is rather more interested in his fellow historians and their activities, and non-activities, than in actual history—this, one comes to recognise, is characteristic of the quasi-religious parts of academe—it's essential to know the current taboos, trends, and favourites, irrespective of truth. Browning has contributed an expert report, which was the basis of most of Irving's cross-examination, and perhaps helps explain the rather trackless nature of the questioning. Browning unfortunately is not a stranger to the arts of waffle: asked whether eyewitness reports might be influenced by duress, bribery, promises, he said ".. They are one of the materials we have.. historians have always used them.. Historians are always making decisions about selection of documents." One selection process which Browning didn't mention is letters from Irving: Irving told me Browning never answered his letters.
        Irving started, before getting to the expert's report, with some matters which I take it had to be put, as Gray suggested, even though not necessarily quite relevant to the witness. They discussed archives in Russia, US, Germany and difficulties of access; the Goebbels diaries; whether items are liable to disappear into the German system; whether Jews think the Holocaust is their patch; and that few people studied it in the early 1970s, but at the end there were academic conferences and so on. Irving's claim was that Hitler's War had catalysed the process. The question of whether Hitler knew—assuming that the Holocaust of tradition existed, which Browning seems to have never doubted—got a bit of discussion; perhaps, like Nixon, he said do it but don't give me details. This might logically have suggested some interesting remarks on Nixon, but logic perhaps is not Browning's strong point. About this point, Rampton felt moved to intervene: he was concerned that Irving might have a historical forum with Browning—I confess the same thought had occurred to me. So Irving went through his next pieces quickly—what did Himmler mean when he said there can be 'no question of a Bolshevik solution'? Browning replied he hadn't read Hitler's War with its detailed examination of these documents. And Irving produced a book entitled The Yellow Spot , subtitled 'the extermination of the Jews in Germany' or something similar. Browning, who seemed not to know the book, was instructed to look inside at the publication date: 1936. He agreed that 'extermination seems hyperbolical.' Then Irving produced a document containing a word that could mean 'resettlement' which Browning said, in context, definitely meant extermination. Unfortunately for him, Irving pointed out the same word, a bit further on in the same document, which used exactly the same word to mean 'resettlement.'
        On to the Expert Report. After a digression on the meaning of 'final solution', Irving tackled the Einsatzgruppen. Did Browning know there were four of these, A to D, with about 900 men down to about 600? Could they really shoot 360,000 people in two days? After a few other things, Irving asked about the asymmetry between shooting and gassing, as mentioned in reports. Large number of accounts of shootings; but none of gassings! Why destroy one category of documents completely, but not the others? Browning replies that shooting was decentralised. And so on. Irving must have been doing the right sort of thing, as Gray said his cross-examination was 'extremely orderly'. I should point out something not visible from transcripts, namely that there were long delays while documents in German were located, then found not to have been translated, except in parts, which were stored in separate files, and so on. Gray in fact ticked off the defence for this. I noticed Heather Rogers, looking, I thought, rather pale, approach Irving to suggest some sort of rationalisation of documents.
        The court, by mutual agreement of Irving and Rampton, rose early (at 3.30). If cigarette smoking is a signal of stress, Mr Rampton must have been impacted by the case—I saw him light up just outside the courtroom at the earliest opportunity. This seems to be a habit of his.

[Back to start]

Nineteenth to Twenty-First Days... (Thurs 10th February, Mon 14th, Tues 15th Feb)
Professor Richard Evans

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Note: I wasn't able to attend the first day of Evans's expert testimony. What follows is based on the two subsequent days.

        Warning! Forgive me for being so predictable; I didn't think much of Evans. If you like him (or have the misfortune to be a student of his) perhaps you'd better not read on.

        [Let me start with a book of his, In Defense [sic] of History (1997,1999. W W Norton). This is a shot at the same market as E H Carr's book on history (there have been many—I imagine he picked Carr because it was current in his younger days). I thought I'd look up the Vietnam War, and found this (p 114): [if JFK wasn't killed] 'the big issues—civil rights, welfare, the Vietnam War—would not have been much affected. We [sic] would still most probably have had Medicare. The student and other radical disturbances of the late 1960s wold not have been prevented by a Kennedy presidency, America would still have been involved in Vietnam and still have been defeated. ...' Note the two examples I've indicated, where the reader is invited to suppose the writer is American; in fact this is a phoney, as he's English (and I'd imagine Jewish, though nobody has explicitly asked him, yet, I think). Following up my interest in what he calls 'equivalence' I also checked on the Belgian Congo, of which Evans appears ignorant. Just two items; enough to establish him as the usual seedy racist. He's fond of the phrase 'Holocaust denial' and uses it all the time against Irving, and all revisionists, somewhat as Zimbabwean TV would always speak of 'racist South Africa.']
        In appearance he's rather ordinary, with abundant tidy dark hair, gold rimmed glasses, mediumish height, in a dark suit. He has a chubby and frowny face—difficult to describe. His manner in the witness box is not very respectful to the judge—hands in pockets much of the time. He often reads out long stretches of documents, perhaps to read them into the transcripts, or perhaps to waste time and avoid straight answers. I suspect he is shortsighted: he removes his spectacles, bends his head over the report, and gabbles through long passages. (Three people spent eighteen months each on this report—nominally. I suspect there are passages which Evans has never read; he often appeared completely at sea, leafing frantically through the report to find something saying approximately what he wanted). His voice is entirely ordinary English; for many years Oxbridge academics tended to have BBC voices, but not now; Evans typifies the modern consensus academic, semi-secretly funded, bureaucratic, and uncreative. One imagines him at school, picking history as an easy option.
        His report is 700-odd pages, though this of course is double-spaced, so in effect is about 300 pages. (The full report is downloadable from Irving's website in Adobe format). The cross-examination is due to finish, by Irving's decision, on Monday, despite the obvious impossibility of covering the whole report. I think the length must have been a deliberate tactic by the defence; the report is a confused mass of quotations of other peoples' quotations, not, in fact, unlike Lipstadt's book. The judge has not ruled that parts can simply be thrown away, although he did say he doesn't regard Evans as authoritative, I think on Auschwitz, and that much of the information was 'marginal'. There is therefore a problem: when Evans says something like 'Holocaust denier Fred Smithers wrote that 1 million Jews were killed, which influenced Holocaust denier Irving' [my made-up, simplified example] where does Irving start? As Gray said: 'You [Evans] seem to disavow the evidence' when it's challenged. From Irving's viewpoint, it must be like fighting an evasive sponge. It's conceivable that the entire arrangement has been worked out beforehand: after all, it's not Irving's fault that a report is long and unfocussed. Whatever he does, therefore, there must be parts which aren't properly covered. Mr Rampton has stopped interrupting to say the costs are high, so he must be happy with this arrangement. But he also stood up at one point specifically to state that matters not contested by Irving would be assumed to be conceded.
        Looking through my scribbled notes, I list below some of the topics Evans said he didn't know about or wasn't expert on: In other words, his expertise seems distinctly threadbare.
        I must spend some time describing Evans's techniques for replying to questions. Reducing them to a pattern, we find this algorithm: (i) Try to avoid admitting that you don't know something—Evans seems to have had a lot of practice in this. [Typically, say "Remind me what happened" then "I must have documentary evidence of that."] (ii) If a straight answer is embarrassing, don't give one. [Read out a long passage of doubtful relevance, or waffle. Be evasive] (iii) Appeal to consensus: "It is generally agreed that.." or "There are huge institutions studying these topics". (iv) Provide vague comments which resemble hard evidence: "There is a vast quantity of wartime documents". (v) Someone you don't like is always a 'holocaust denier' and/or 'anti-semite.'
        Evans likes the word 'scholar', and to talk of communities of decent and serious historians, all maintaining a consensus (and avoiding serious issues, one should add). The word 'scholar' seems to be slipping back into the medieval meaning. If you read conventional authorities, you are a 'scholar'. If you look at the real world, you're a rude mechanical.

        (A unique event, though it needed a sharp eye to spot, took place on one of these days: Heather Rogers actually spoke a few sentences, to the effect that her son told her that drop-down menus can't be printed. I wonder what the cost-per-word was).

        It was almost a relief to hear a statement from Mr Rampton that the 'Center for Democratic Renewal', 'Coalition for Human Dignity', 'Searchlight', 'Surfwatch Internet Censorship', and 'Community Security Trust' are all Jewish organisations (though Mr Rampton produced no evidence).

        As I've implied, it's hard to summarise much of the cross-examination, because Irving has a dilemma with this over-long document, as to whether to tackle every small point, or try to go for the overall picture. Unfortunately Gray is reluctant to dismiss much of the expert report, although he says various things are marginal, that he doesn't regard Evans as an authority on this or that point, and so on. The first 150 pages seem to be a problem, being the ones in which other peoples' supposed opinions of Irving are quoted.
        There are three claims invoked by Evans when he has little to say: (i) There is a large volume of documentation, and thousands of eyewitnesses. (ii) No revisionists have achieved anything (but this contrasts absurdly with Evans' occasional statements that 'no one doubts' Mr Irving has personally discovered very many documents). (iii) Irving is full of misrepresentations and distortions. Each time he selects one of these options, Irving has to ask whether he has any evidence. Consequently progress was slow.
        As illustrations, the topics examined included: [20th day] different figures for deaths claimed at Birkenau (4 million, 1.5 million..)/ sharing a 1991 platform with someone called Rami/ whether Hitler's staff were as reliable interviewees as men convicted of war crimes/ opacity of footnotes; a move to prevent plagiarism?/ Irving's archives, from which he is barred/ website list of enemies of free speech are all Jewish, says Mr Rampton (apart from governments of Australia and Germany)/ Hitler's Testament forged by a Swiss man known to Irving/ mention of Vrba and Wetzler, unreliable according to Irving, elided away by Evans/ Einsatzgruppen figures reliable?/ Churchill's 6 volume history has no mention of killing of Jews; was he a 'holocaust denier'?/ children in Auschwitz when liberated/ UNRRA/ Evans states the Germans deliberately caused typhus.
        And 21st day: Gas vans denied by a respectable historian/ Evans takes Gerstein memorandum seriously/ Irving's criminal conviction in Germany was for quoting l'Express , that the Auschwitz 'gas chambers' are fakes. Gray states he's not interested in German criminal convictions/ discussion on the meaning of 'final solution'/ Holocaust an echo of allied propaganda?/ Anne Frank diary (parts in biro. A point I hadn't grasped is that handwriting analysis supposedly showed all parts were written by the same person. So, however unimportant the text of the bits in biro might be, the whole document could not have been written by Anne Frank—assuming biros were invented when they are supposed to have been. I think Evans failed to grasp this)./ Was Rudolf Hoess reliable?/ Is there a well-financed campaign? Evans doesn't like conspiracy theories, and reads out long passages./ Madagascar Plan/ four criteria of 'Holocaust denial' which are plainly set out, says Gray, who thinks acceptance of any one makes a person a 'denier', though, according to my notes, Evans thinks all four are needed./ guilt by association? Discussion of the IHR, and the total number of 'prominent holocaust deniers-—fewer than ten./ Whether Hitler's War in 1977 was a key event./ How much intimidation was there in the 1938 plebiscite?
        They now proceeded to work towards Reichskristallnacht. It was perfectly clear at this point that the expert report can't possibly be tackled in this way, at least not within the time limit that's been agreed. Gray said, I think, that he wouldn't dream of nit-picking.

...Twenty-second to Twenty-third Days... (Wed 16th, Thurs 17th February)
Professor Richard Evans

[Back to start]

In these two days, two main subjects only were examined, namely Reichskristallnacht (as presented in Irving's book on Goebbels, and also, though less so, in Hitler's War ) and what Irving described as the chain of documents supposing the view that Hitler intervened in favour of Jews.
        I won't even attempt an overview of the opinions on Reichskristallnacht, which occupied all but an hour of the first day. Evans adopts the conventional view, that Hitler started, approved of, and oversaw the whole thing; Irving maintains that Goebbels started it, under the pretext that the Führer had ordered it, but was brought down with a shock when Hitler became aware of what was happening. (Bear in mind that the courtroom is less tidy than a transcript; at each point documents had to be produced, very often facsimiles of the original German, so there were endless delays, disputes over translations, interruptions, and so on).
        On 'chain of evidence' documents, Irving had burrowed around in his apartment and produced about sixteen. An important one is the 'Schlegelberger' document or memorandum, dated by Irving at 1942, but with Evans trying to be convincing at 1941. It's the one in which Hitler says he wants to postpone the 'final solution of the Jewish question' until 'after this war is over'. As with the other documents Irving produced, this brings thorny problems of interpretation. When the court adjourned, we were promised the next stage will be an account of the Jews of Rome and Hitler's intervention.
        (It's perhaps worth pointing out that, once a racial basis for a state is accepted, naturally there are liable to be endless disputes over the categorisation of people at the margins. Evans seemed to think this was peculiar to Germany, though in fact, given that Germany was not an island or continent, and had only the vaguest borders, it's easy to see that some vague definition of Germanness had to be accepted—what else could they do?—and that lawyers would wrestle with such cases, and irritate Hitler in the process. In the same way, there are endless disputes in the UK over families and relatives of immigrants, and whether marriages in other countries count as valid, and what is the position of stepchildren or divorcees? The same sort of thing occurs in Israel! Evans accepts the tradition of presenting 'race' as a strange criterion, and so seems to disqualify himself form understanding much of Nazi ideology).

[Back to start]



THE PLACE: Royal Courts of Justice, London.   DATE: Thursday 17th Feb 2000.   TIME: 1 p.m. (adjournment for lunch). NOW READ ON...

Fascinated by the problem of why author Deborah Lipstadt was being made to remain silent—something apparently completely out-of-character—your intrepid reporter Rae West , amid the chaotic movement of people in the courtroom at adjournment, decided to ask Professor Lipstadt in person. With a carefully prepared list of questions, he waited until Prof Lipstadt was in earshot, then asked: "Ahem. Professor Lipstadt. Have you worked out why it is you're being kept silent?" Imagine the years of professorial training (admittedly, in America) which must have gone into her eloquent reply: "I've nothing to say to you, sir." At this point one of her entourage of goon-like handlers swept her away by another exit.
Boycott Penguin. Their books aren't very good!     Why is she considered such a net negative asset? Perhaps we'll never know! Probably she doesn't know herself. I was later told that she (and Penguin ) wouldn't talk to me, though I didn't get this in writing. So I don't even know if she pronounces "that guy Irving" as "dat goy Oiving" in Brooklynese.
    For those interested, some of my other questions were: 'Do you buy your scarves at Nieman-Marcus?' 'Do you think Los Angeles should be renamed with a less obviously Spanish Catholic name?' 'Do Jews have some moral responsibility for Jewish war criminals like Henry Kissinger?' 'Do you have unfulfilled ambitions (apart from yelling at Mr Rampton)?'

© Rae West 2000. All rights reserved. World copyright. No part to be reproduced without written permission.
Cartoon from Private Eye, Britain's satirical 2-weekly
Headlines we're unlikely to see...
Bride-to-be Deborah Lipstadt, from Georgia, USA, announced her forthcoming marriage to British author David Irving today. Irving nibbled a kosher vinegar-soaked gherkin dipped in preserved chicken fat, which he said was "delicious". He made no denial when Deborah said "His name may be David, but, believe me, he is Goliath!" The couple are planning to rebuild the kitchen of Irving's Mayfair apartment to include ritual dairy equipment, and to amalgamate their papers into a Second World War research center. Irving, who has a reputation for flirting with younger women, quipped "Now I'm off to beddie with Debbie!"

Professor Robert van Pelt said he was surprised by a new twist in the Irving/Penguin Books case, when it was announced that 546,439 Holocaust survivors would be called as witnesses. It is intended that witnesses will be shipped into court in groups of 25 on an elevator hoist the size of a table, and on cross-examination will withdraw all the assertions they have made in the past. But, outside, they will announce that millions of people died in the hot air of the small courtroom. Van Pelt said: "In the search for truth, no stones must be left unturned—unless they are in Auschwitz."

In a ceremony dating from the Middle Ages, noted barrister Richard Rampton was yesterday expelled for life from Britain's legal profession after charges of Grandiloquentia cum nulla substantia and extra pecuniarius horrendis were made against him. A kangaroo court composed of men dressed as penguins produced their documents at the last possible moment, according to long-established tradition. Rampton's black gown and horsehair wig were burnt at a symbolic stake, and Latin oaths were chanted. It is reported that he is considering taking to the London comedy circuit in a double act with author David Irving.

Yawns as obscure case continues
A law case, forgotten by almost everyone, still continues, largely unnoticed. Davod Irvine is believed to be an author who sells few books, and who is living somewhere in London during a libel action. He is not to be confused with Clifford Irving, author of a notorious book on recluse Howard Hughes, which was proven a fraud some decades ago, when Hughes himself dramatically denounced it in a telephone transmission. Yesterday Mr Irvin called a press conference, but nobody attended. David Irven's case created something of a stir when it started, some time ago, but most people have forgotten it now.

Torrents of unforgettably golden eloquence took the Irving case by storm, when two lawyers utterly demolished the claimant, demonstrating unrivalled knowledge of world history, government archives, legal systems, and forensic detection. The entire court, including Irving, rose for an hour-long standing ovation, and the two were carried in a triumphant procession through London. Permanent statues will be erected in their honour. An extraordinary meeting declared that any case in which they participate will automatically be decided in their favour, without the trouble of a trial.

February 4, 2000. Ha'aretz , a US / Israel rag, ran a piece attributed to Tom Segev , with this:
    'But what interested him [Irving] more than anything else were the holes that were supposed to be in the ceiling of the chambers, which were ostensibly used for introducing the poison gas. No holes were marked on the plans displayed by the defense witness. Perhaps these were not suffocation chambers, but rather shelters to protect from aerial bombing, suggested Irving, and dramatically promised to withdraw his libel suit if he could only be shown the holes. Where are the holes, he asked again and again. "We had so much fun that day," he said later, because it turned out that there were no holes. But the media, of course, did not report that, Irving complained, and informed Internet surfers that Rudolf Hess' son was also infuriated about the gap between the protocols he reads and the media reports.'
    Read, and probably re-read. My numerous fans will notice that the plans are mentioned; the fact there are no holes in the structure of the 'gas chamber' is omitted by this dishonest and undersized flack. Segev also says 'Lipstadt [in fact, of course, not her but the defence legal team] 'must prove that the Nazis systematically murdered millions of Jews in gas chambers in Auschwitz and the other death camps. This isn't hard to prove; there is a plethora of solid evidence, both written and oral.'
    [ A S Marques brought this to my attention]
Jonathan Freedland Guardian 5 Feb 2000, says: 'The [Auschwitz] gas chambers are intact, but their ceilings have collapsed, allowing Irving to deny their purpose. Since we cannot see them cannot examine the ceiling holes through which the gas seeped, we cannot prove they were what thousands of witnesses said they were.'
    We have two (presumably deliberate) lies by Freedland. First, they can—and have been—examined. Second, there are not thousands of witnesses; van Pelt could manage only five, all dead.
Independent (28 Jan). Among other absurdities, James Dalrymple writes:
    '[Van Pelt] knows this terrible place as no other human being knows it' [in fact, van Pelt has spent less time there than Auschwitz staff] and 'was "absolutely certain" that at least one million people had died there.'
    Dalrymple tactfully omits the enormous changes in van Pelt's testimony.
Andrew Neil's 1996/7 autobiography covering his editorship of the Sunday Times has this: 'I also made the huge mistake of using David Irving, the Nazi apologist historian, to translate the Goebbels' Diaries. He was the only expert able to read Goebbels' writing and all the excerpts we published rather refuted Irving's views on Nazi history. But many were understandably appalled...—a good illustration of the maxim that if you lie down with dogs you get fleas.'
    [The Sunday Times of course is mostly junk, tackling only soft targets. An exception under Neil was his allowing AIDS to be examined, though his book shows he personally understood nothing about that either.]
Richard Rampton was featured in the London Times Law Section on 8th Feb 2000. To Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions? he is recorded as saying ' To write the definitive biography of Mozart.' As the Irving case shows, Rampton has little knowledge of German, so this ambition is certain to remain unfulfilled.
    Returning to the real world, we find: 'Have there been any surprising aspects in the case? —Only how little I knew before I started it.'  Just as I thought!
Mon 7 Feb: no British press coverage of this trial, apart from three letters in the Guardian —with impending libel case—
    1. 'I consider Irving a near-monster.. That a large and terrifying atrocity was committed by the Nazis is not doubtable. The sad fact is that there are many questions about the Holocaust which haven't been answered.. is it any wonder that those on the far-right use our frightened silence to propagate lies?'
    2. '.. If one must play such perverse games.. Irving's own evidence could just as well have been forged by a sinister Aryan group.. When will the madness stop?
    3. '.. each successive generation of young Europeans must be reminded of the horrors of Hitler's "Final Solution to the Jewish Question".. David Irving richly deserves to lose his case and be bankrupted.'
Professor Evans's first day: a piece attributed to Ian Burrell ('Home Affairs Correspondent') in the Independent also appears, rewritten, and anonymous in the Times and Guardian . Typical phrases were 'sheer depth of duplicity' and 'doesn't deserve to be called a historian'. The careless reader mightn't note that these are simply privileged, i.e. unactionable, quotations from Evans's 'expert report'. I was amused to find a comment somewhere in David Irving's vast website, from (I think) a Sydney paper, that a 'quietly spoken middle-aged woman' would soon defend herself against a libel case. I wonder if he knows that Lipstadt in fact will remain silent throughout the trial. Martin Mears , Times law section (Feb 15th) wrote 'Irving, for instance, contends that Hitler knew nothing about the Holocaust because no one is able to produce a piece of paper which says: "Dear Heinrich, please kill all the Jews. Adolf." To punish an argument of this kind is to dignify it.' Mears must be considerably stupid: he's incapable of criticising the holy writ of the 'Holocaust', and unable to paraphrase Irving's work. (Mears used to be President of the Law Society).
Professor Evans' expert testimony (despite occupying six full days) has, as far as I know, been completely unreported, a computer search of The Times , for example, revealing nothing. It's true that Evans' testimony is about as interesting, reliable, and knowledgeable as a typical medical expert report. Even so, it's odd nothing is printed. Why do they bother to send the hacks along?
I hear Channel 4 [British TV] plan a TV piece on this trial. (They did a transcript-based McDonalds libel reconstruction, in a mock courtroom, with actors playing the McLibel Two). Presumably it will be anti-Irving. I tried to suggest Irving could act as himself. He is irritated that his words may be used without copyright.

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Technical Notes. (i) Transcripts. (ii) Prestel.
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(i) Transcripts

        I've had a number of emails, some rather frantic, asking about the daily transcripts of this case. The situation seems to be: (ii) Prestel
        Prestel (a British company) hosts my website. The www2 part of Prestel (not just my site; several thousand others too) was offline for at least ten hours in the morning of 16th Feb, and at least an hour on Sunday 20th Feb. Whether this was due to my hyperactive site, or some other reason such as routine maintenance or perhaps some sort of malicious attack, I have no idea. Prestel doesn't seem to make much effort with its Internet provision, perhaps as a result of the popularity of 'free' sites. Look at to find their information has remained unchanged for two years! They claim 24-hour technical support, but in fact have a recorded message outside office hours. There are other outdated/ unhelpful items on their site. And they don't host domain names! Personally I've found their service very good, when it works, as it usually does, but have never been able to get much in the way of explanatory information from them. So if this site seems unobtainable, the only advice I can give is to try a little later.

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Key words, subject terms: Allies Anthony Julius Auschwitz Britain Christianity Churchill David Irving Deborah Lipstadt Denying the Holocaust Fascism France Germany Goebbels Heydrich Himmler Hitler Hoess Holocaust revisionism Holocaust denial Holocaust Jews Judaism Khazaria libel libel law Kevin MacDonald Mishcon de Reya Nazism Nuremberg Trials Nuremburg Trials Palestine Robert van Pelt Penguin Russia Second World War Soviet Union Treblinka USA Vietnam War Viking Penguin Viking-Penguin visible defamation War Crimes Zundel
© Rae West 22 Feb 2000. This piece doesn't represent legal opinion. It's my personal interpretation of the event. I believe the content to be essentially correct, but of course the situation is complex, and unfortunately I can't guarantee that I haven't missed the point of some events, or the significance of other non-events. In fact, I probably have, since the courtroom situation has evolved in an opaque way—out-of-court settlements, for example, often being secret. The relevant pages of Denying the Holocaust were found by a friend of mine and may be incomplete. I'll archive my pieces for future reference; I don't want to be misrepresented. The court transcripts are completely unedited; I've left even very obvious mistakes, in case I might be accused of altering the sense. In such cases keyword computer searches with the correct spelling will not work.
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