[verbatim trial transcripts]
February 8, 2000 (Tuesday)
Work until 3:45 a.m. Somebody sends me today's Daily Telegraph item on Sir John Keegan's testimony: it is lies from start to finish. Up at 7:40 a.m. to take Jessica to school. I print off the remaining papers needed for cross examination of Browning, and set off to the High Court, arriving 10:20 a.m.
I notice there The Daily Telegraph reporter, and suggest that next time she might print what is in the transcript rather than her own fantasy version of the proceedings.
Browning resumes the stand, a good witness, professional and urbane, a bit cocky as he sits in the chair (the only witness so far apart from Sir John Keegan to sit) and smirks when he thinks he is scoring. He has a good command of the subject, and good recall. Early on I put to him Eichmann's own copy of the Höss memoirs, with Eichmann's handwritten marginal comments: In part, Eichmann has roundly dismissed H.'s "memoirs" as "falsch". As before, the drafts provided by R. and M. prove of sterling quality.
Once or twice the judge interrupts my questions, impatient at the lines of inquiry I am developing which he does not feel are helpful or relevant; he usually does so at the precise moment when the relevance will become plain. It is bad timing on my part.
I start by referring to Browning's failed application for the proposed Harvard University chair of holocaust studies. This pains him somewhat, as he knows I am about to quote the New York Times's reference to his belief that he was been accepted for the post as he was not Jewish. He says he sent them a letter explaining he had been misquoted. I suggest that the Holocaust is a subject matter awash in money from various sources now.
After lunch I bring up, as did Douglas Christie in Toronto in 1988, the $35,000 commission he has been paid by Yad Vashem for a book he has still to write; as Yad Vashem is an Israeli state institution, does this not make him an "agent of Israel." There are titters, then laughter from the public benches. I press the point: if he were to write a book that suggested Hitler did not give the order, or know of the Holocaust, or that it was smaller than believed, what are that book's commercial prospects; or will Yad Vashem want their money back? The judge allows the point.
I bring to the Court's attention the selective way that Browning quotes the Hans Frank Regierungssitzung of December 16, 1941, and even more so the Kurt Gerstein memoirs (he knows only of three versions, not seven), originally leaving out sentences which are damaging to the defence and helpful to my case, and he has some uncomfortable moments. Before he digs himself in too deep on Gerstein, I remind him that he is (on oath) on the witness stand. He claims that I was sent an early version of his report, and that the lawyers Mishcon screwed things up. This may be so but, I press, that still means that his first version omitted the Gerstein references to the 130 foot high mound of women's clothing, the 80 foot high pile of shoes, and other unlikely spectacles.
I ask him which Nazi concentration camps he has visited, and he says that in the 1990-1 period he visited Auschwitz, Dachau, and others. At Auschwitz, no, the guards did not tell him that what he was being shown was fake. He went into the "gas chamber", and saw that it was reconstructed however. I do not press the point as the judge had not allowed me to do so with Pelt. With Dachau it is different however, as he agrees that they showed him gas chambers there. I ask if the Nazis ever had homicidal gas chambers at Dachau, and he agrees that they did not. "So what they showed you there was fake?" (Judge Gray begins to stir in his seat, and I explain that I have a valid point to make). "But countless eye witnesses described the operations of those gas chambers at Dachau killing people, did they not?" Browning agrees that this is so. Gray settles back, now grasping why I have asked about this camp. I say, "Doesn't this tell you something about the value of eye witness evidence?" Gray says my questioning on this is perfectly proper in the circumstances (but still seems unconvinced).
From somewhere to my left I hear Richard Rampton QC mutter out loud, "He says 'fake', but they were reconstructed."
"If I give you a reconstructed $50 bill will you give me five tens for it?" I challenge. Rampton mutters, "You're not good for it."
The Judge says, "Take your wagers outside please."
Rampton briefly re-examines, putting to Browning the suggestion that other documents dealing with the mass killings are only "geheim"; in further cross-examination I elicit the concession (I think) that this may be so for non-SS documents, but those such items within the SS files are invariably strictly geheime Reichssache and not of lower grade. Rampton also tries to suggest that the September 1941 Ereignismeldung No. 80, which talks of Gerüchte of killing, may have reached Hitler; I ask Browning if there are any signs on the document that it did, and it is not typed on the special Führer Schreibmaschine, is it? (No).
Browning is released, and the Court decides not to sit tomorrow. On Thursday I go back in the stand, I believe; and on Friday we shall hear my witness Dr John Fox ( "About freedom of speech things", comments Rampton sardonically, as though that is not what lies at the very root of this case).
Back home at 4:30 p.m., and I sleep for three solid hours on the sofa while little Jessica jumps up and down on my stomach on various pretexts. [...].