"We weaken our case by publicly giving credence to atrocity stories for which we have no evidence".
"As regards putting Poles to death in gas chambers I do not believe there is any evidence that this has been done."
"There may have been stories to this effect and we have played them up in PWE* rumours [* Psychological Warfare Executive] without believing that they had any foundation. At any rate there is far less evidence than exists for the mass murder of Polish officers by the Russians at Katyn. On the other hand we do know that the Germans are out to destroy the Jews of any age unless they are fit for manual labour". [/i]
--August 27th 1943
MR IRVING: We … come to the important matter of the allegation by me that the Holocaust story in part is an echo of our own propaganda. It is quite an intricate allegation… Do you agree that the Allies at any time started making propaganda broadcasts to Germany with references to the extermination of the Jews?
A. [Professor Richard John Evans] Yes. I certainly agree with that.
Q. [Mr Irving] Can you put a rough date on when these broadcasts began?
A. [Professor Richard John Evans] Sometime in 1942.
MR IRVING …in January 1942 Thomas Mann broadcast the following words in German: "[German - wording not provided] "400 young Dutch Jews have been brought to Germany to be used as experimental objects for poison gas in January 1942". Can you accept that if he writes that in his diary as a propaganda broadcast that he made, that there was such a broadcast?
A. [Professor Richard John Evans] Yes. I certainly agree with that.
Q. [Mr Irving] Will you accept that Ringlebloom makes reference in June 1942 in the ghetto to receiving broadcasts about the extermination of Jews with poison gas?
A. [Professor Richard John Evans] Yes, I will accept that.
Q. [Mr Irving] If you have read my Goebbels biography, as no doubt you have for the purposes of this case, will you agree that the German Propaganda Ministry monitored a wave of propaganda broadcast in November 1942 referring to the gassing, mass gassing, of Germans?
A. [Professor Richard John Evans] Yes.
Q. [Mr Irving] In other words, they were Nazi monitoring reports of the BBC. ...Given that the BBC made -- I am going to keep this brief -- repeated broadcasts during 1942 about the Nazi atrocities, and about the extermination of Jews, and about gas chambers, even before the gas chambers began operating on a large scale ----
MR RAMPTON: Wait a minute. If Professor Evans is to deal with that, Mr Irving must give some precise dates. … the evidence is that Chelmno started killing people in gas trucks 8th December 1941, and that the three Reinhardt camps were in full operation during the summer 1942. I think we need some dates.
Q. [Mr Irving] With respect, Mr Rampton, I think, in view of the fact that Professor Evans has stated himself that he is not an expert on this matter ----
MR JUSTICE GRAY: No, Mr Irving, that will not do, will it? You cannot put a question which has as its premise a misstatement about the date when gas chambers began operating. That is the point that Mr Rampton is making. It does not impinge on that objection that Professor Evans may not himself be an expert. If you are going to ask that question, and it is a relevant question, you must premise it correctly.
MR IRVING: I was really trying to save the court time.
MR JUSTICE GRAY: That will not do either, Mr Irving, if I may say so.
MR IRVING: It will certainly take time for me to look up the actual dates and references and I do not want to take up the court's time shuffling papers.
MR JUSTICE GRAY: Can I reformulate it for you and try and help? Or would you rather do it yourself? Do it yourself.
MR IRVING: Your Lordship is much better reformulating questions.
MR JUSTICE GRAY: No. I think I must not interfere too much.
A. [Professor Richard John Evans] Can I say that what is at issue here are Mr Irving's statements that "the British Intelligence Service suggested a propaganda campaign against Germany on the basis of invented allegations of gas chambers", or another “invented." That is really what is at issue.
MR JUSTICE GRAY: Let us see what the context is for what Cavendish-Bentinck said.
MR IRVING: As regards putting Poles to death in gas chambers, that is pretty plain. Is it not? Here is the Foreign Office saying we have no evidence for this, and yet back in 1942 they are making the propaganda broadcasts.
MR JUSTICE GRAY: … I am bound to say that I do think that, in fairness to Mr Irving, one of the things about which Cavendish-Bentinck is saying is that there is no evidence available to the British at that stage, of the putting to death of Poles in gas chambers.
MR RAMPTON: “Polish children”, and the underline is in the original. Is it not Professor Evans?
MR JUSTICE GRAY: I agree what is being talked of is killing Polish children, or selling them. But also, as a separate topic, it seems to me [that] a fair reading of this suggests the putting of Poles to death in gas chambers.
A.[Professor Richard John Evans] Can I say that what is at issue here are Mr Irving's quote at the top of page 141, "The story that the Germans are using gas chambers for the mass extermination of Jews is…,” so and so on forth, “psychological warfare…,” etc, “…warned the cabinet this is a lie that we ourselves had invented." That is really what is at issue. Yes? Nothing to do with Jews so far as I can tell.
MR IRVING: Are Jews Poles? Is there some distinction there, Mr Rampton?
MR JUSTICE GRAY: I follow that.
Q. [Mr Irving] …Witness, will you therefore go straightforward to page 148 of your report? You are quoting here from a clip of Foreign Office documents, are you not?
A. [Professor Richard John Evans] Yes.
Q. [Mr Irving] In the Public Record Office. They are well-known documents and I am going to rely on the final paragraph of page 148. Is this document dated August 27th 1943?
A. [Professor Richard John Evans] Yes, that is right.
Q. [Mr Irving] At this time does Mr Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, who I think later became Lord Portland, state, "I think that we weaken our case against the Germans by publicly giving credence to atrocity stories for which we have no evidence." Is that right? Does he write that?
A. [Professor Richard John Evans] That is what he says, yes.
Q. [Mr Irving] So at this time in August 1943 the British had no evidence of gas chambers, because that is what is specifically being talk about in this document?
A. [Professor Richard John Evans] Could I just make a couple of points here? These documents emerged during the formulation of a joint British/American declaration on German crimes in Poland, which is released at the request of the Polish government in exile, so it is focusing on Poles.
MR IRVING: Do you agree that the statement concerned is on the facing page 147, and that the sentence causing problem is the allegation on the authority of His Majesty the king that Poles are "now being put systematically to death in gas chambers", and the word "systematically" figures in that?
A. [Professor Richard John Evans] Yes. That is the first thing. The context of this is negotiations involving the Polish government in exile about German atrocities in Poland.
The second point is that of course Cavendish-Bentinck's position is not necessarily to be accepted as a correct one. He was extremely sceptical, and indeed has been criticised by historians for his negative attitude towards reports. As he says, the Poles and, to a far greater extent, the Jews tend to exaggerate German atrocities in order to stoke us up.
Thirdly, and the really crucial point here is that this is not the same as saying that these stories about gas chambers have been invented, deliberately invented.
What he says is: "As regards putting Poles to death in gas chambers I do not believe there is any evidence that this has been done."
I am bound to say that is probably correct.
He goes on to say: "There may have been stories to this effect and we have played them up in PWE* [* Political Warfare Executive] rumours without believing that they had any foundation. At any rate there is far less evidence than exists for the mass murder of Polish officers by the Russians at Katyn. On the other hand we do know that the Germans are out to destroy the Jews of any age unless they are fit for manual labour". [/i]That is really the context of the quote that you originally gave.
Q. [Mr Irving] Very interesting. Will you now tell the court who Victor Cavendish-Bentinck was?
A. [Professor Richard John Evans] He was a Foreign Office official, I think.
Q. [Mr Irving] He was Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, was he not?
A. [Professor Richard John Evans] Right, yes.
Q. [Mr Irving] The fact remains that he states in August 1943, when requested to authorize a government statement signed by Churchill and Roosevelt, that Poles were being systematically put to death in gas chambers …on the facing page, …he specifically issues a minute to the Foreign Office officials, saying, "We weaken our case by publicly giving credence to atrocity stories for which we have no evidence". He then goes on to say, "These mass executions in gas chambers", in other words the story of the mass executions in gas chambers, "remind me of the story of the employment of human corpses during the last war for the manufacture of fat, which was a grotesque lie and led to true stores of German enormities being brushed aside as mere propaganda". He is not pussy footing around with the way he is describing the state of British knowledge on gas chambers in August 1943, and yet you have accepted that during 1942 the BBC and the Americans repeatedly broadcast in German these stories of gas chambers, which must therefore have been invented.
A. [Professor Richard John Evans] I do not think that last statement follows at all.
Q. [Mr Irving] He says we have no evidence, so where else could it have come from?
A. [Professor Richard John Evans] He is talking about mass executions of Poles in gas chambers. He says: "We do know that the Germans are out to destroy the Jews of any age unless they are fit for manual labour." I think this is a good example, which you have just quoted, of the scepticism which unfortunately was engendered by the belief in many Foreign Office and other officials that a lot of the atrocity stories in the First World War were mere inventions of allied propaganda.
MR IRVING: My Lord, this now goes back to the reason for this, which is page 141 [of Lipstadts libelous book], where the allegation is that I said this with no justification.
Irving v Lipstadt. Day 20, Transcripts, pgs 41 -55
http://www.hdot.org/en/trial/transcript ... 46-50.html