The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/press/irving-vrs-lipstadt/BBC_News_Online.000117

Holocaust Trains 'Well Provisioned'

BBC 17 Janaury 2000 18:09 GMT

[Includes all links to previous BBC coverage of the trial.]

Historian David Irving, who is suing a fellow academic for libel, has told a
court trains which took Jewish to concentration camps during World War II
were "well provisioned" and not part of a systematic extermination programme.

Mr Irving is suing Professor Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books for libel
over claims in her book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth
and Memory, that he was a "Holocaust denier".

The 62-year-old author of Hitler's War and Goebbels: Mastermind of the Third
Reich alleges Prof Lipstadt's book accused him of distorting statistics and
documents to serve his own ideological purposes and said it has generated
"waves of hatred against him".

The historian told the High Court in London that messages intercepted by
British wartime intelligence indicated trains transporting Jews to the camps
were equipped with a "very substantial amount of food", and "tools of the
trade" for their occupants.

He said this indicated "the system that was sending them was apprehending
that they would be doing something when they got there".

Cross-examining Mr Irving, of Mayfair, central London, Richard Rampton QC
for Prof Lipstadt and Penguin, said he was concerned with the historian's
"readiness to leap to conclusions in favour of the SS and the Nazis".

Mr Irving said he "strongly objected" to the suggestion and referred to the
message, dated 17 November 1941, which he said presented a "subtly different
picture of how this deportation programme was carried out - brutal and cruel
though it was".

Millions shot

He said he did not doubt there was a "lot of hardship and cruelty and
barbarism" in the deportation of Jews.

But he questioned the impartiality of experts for the defence who he said
had paid no attention to documents which "go against the notion that it was
a systematic programme to exterminate Jews".

Mr Rampton showed the court a report which said that 2,934 Jewish evacuees
from Berlin and other cities, including women and children, were shot in the
east on 25 November 1941.

Mr Irving said "it was not impossible" the trainload of Jews in the message
ended up "in that atrocity".

Up to 1.5 million Jews were shot in the East, he said, but he denied they
were "part of the system".

He said: "The system put the victims on the trains and sent them to the East
with food and equipment to start a new life.

"Once they arrived on the spot, the system broke down and the murderers
stepped in."

Expected to last up to three months, the case is not being heard in front a
jury as both sides felt the mass of documentation made it more appropriate
for a judge alone.

The case continues.

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