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[verbatim trial transcripts]

February 14, 2000 (Monday)



Worked until 2 a.m. Up at 8:20 a.m.; just made it to school with Jessica in time, then on down to the High Court.

I am cross examining their expert witness Professor Richard Evans. I start by reminding the court that this morning is the 55th anniversary of the Dresden air raids. Mr Justice Gray becomes increasingly impatient with the slow pace at which I am dealing with Evans's first 100 pages; but he realises that Evans has asked for it, by taking on so much in those preliminary chapters. Gray reiterates -- as he said last week -- that he is more interested in the history from page 125 onwards. I have not prepared adequately that far ahead, so I vamp until 4 p.m., scoring some hits all the same: particularly on the accidental or deliberate omissions Evans has made from items he has quoted. Once, by omitting the word "as" from a quotation (for which he blames Prof. Eatwell! I should have chided Evans for the folly of accepting another "scholar's" quotes without checking from the original document!) he has totally reversed the content of a quotation to my disadvantage.

Rampton keeps interrupting just when I am about to make, or have made, a telling point.

I think I have done rather well today. Judge Gray says at one time something like, "Mr Irving, you are doing very well," and the experts tell me that this is a Bad Sign.

Finally downloaded an interesting article on the case from the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz; it is well written and not too negative.

Potthast letterI work until 2:45 a.m. Mishcon de Reya have asked for further Discovery, but it turns out I have almost none of the items they ask for in my custody. Some of the items they are asking for, like Himmler's letters to his mistress Hedwig Potthast, appear to be motivated purely from a desire to get their hands on historical documents to which I have at one time or another obtained exclusive access, and which have little relevance to this trial.

Jessica is indignant because I welsh on my agreement to take her toy shopping after the day in court.

I prepare all evening for tomorrow's continued hearing.

February 15, 2000 (Tuesday)


Bed around 3 a.m., and up at 7:45 to take Jessica to school. The bundle of documents I take to the High Court at ten has some interesting items, waiting to be put to the witness -- I am still cross-examining Professor Richard Evans. He has evidently been lectured on not standing with both hands thrust into his trouser pockets all day, a discourtesy which has certainly shocked some of the German reporters; but now he has taken to sitting down instead of standing, and not infrequently he turns his back on me as a seeming mark of displeasure with some of the remarks and questions.

I state at the beginning that dealing with this particular witness's expert report is like advancing with Thirty Corps into a dummy minefield at Alamein: we still have to inch our way through, even though every mine we have found so far turns out to be a dummy. The Judge does not like the comparison, and says so. A problem then arises with the expert witnesses Professors Levin and Eatwell, whom the defence will not now be calling. Judge Gray says that he has so far naturally believed that this means that their reports will no longer relied on, and when Rampton differs, stating that Civil RamptonEvidence Act notices have been served under the old Act, the judge says this procedure will surely be most unusual with expert reports, and we shall have to argue this on a later date. ¡Lo que me faltaba!

At the end of the morning I tackle Evans on the appalling slur contained in his report at page 170, that fundamentally I have conceded that I am in basic agreement with Dr. Goebbels in his belief that "they [meaning the Jews] had it coming to them." When I ask if he is inferring that I have applauded the Holocaust, Evans snaps that he is. It seems there are no libels that this defence team is willing to shun in order to smear my name further.

Instead of getting the short and expected answer, therefore, we are off on an endless and increasingly acrimonious and circular argument on the difference between excusable and explicable, a distinction which Evans pretends not to understand and the judge seems to find pedantic. The fact that the pogroms in the Baltic are explicable (given the anti-Jewish hatreds of the natives against the NKVD which they perceived as Jewish -- Evans claims never to have heard of the Jan Karski report) does not make them in the least excusable. He has omitted the vital passages from my description of the lecture at Shreveport (or was it Baton Rouge?), which was disrupted by a large party of Jewish louts, printing only my comments and responses to them, but omitting from his version what the interrupters did and said to earn these remarks, and so on.

Each time I try to chase down such an episode, the judge intervenes to urge that we make forward progress, although it seems quite plain that he has registered all the slurs on my name that Evans has concocted. We deal quite shortly with the list of names of right-wing "Holocaust deniers" (I point out earlier today that Evans has used the phrase over 350 times in his one report); he accuses me of being in contact with all the world's leading such men, but this turns out to be a total of eleven names, half of which he has conceded I have never in fact met or corresponded with. The "most sinister" of Remerthem all, General Otto Remer, he finally admits, I met only once -- in July 1989 to interview for the Goebbels biography. I ask him why he lists not only Tony H., but his father too, whom he identifies as a Sir Oswald Mosley supporter.

"Mr Justice Lawton," I reminisce, "who heard the 1970 libel action against me was a Mosleyite before the war." But Judge Gray has already snapped at the witness in astonishment, "What on earth does it have to do with Mr Irving what this man's father is or was?" and Evans explains that he included the father in the report by way of light entertainment. I ask if he has ever heard of Sippenhaft -- the Nazi habit of arresting family members of a political opponent. In Stalin's Russia of course there was an actual criminal offence of "being related to an enemy of the state." I ask him if he approves of the arrest and seven-year jail term of Dr Günter Deckert, another of the names, for having "translated a lecture" by Fred Leuchter, as Evans himself reports in his statement. But this witness sees nothing wrong with this. We are living in odd times.

Toward the end of the afternoon, we get halted by the 1924 Police Sergeant Hofmann testimony again: it seems an infuriating detail -- Evans has impugned me for not knowing and stating (in fact, he even says, "for knowing and not stating"!) that Hofmann was a Party member and on Hitler's staff -- but my original notes taken from the microfilms of the 1924 Hitler treason trial are still at the downloading company, after six weeks or more, being converted from the now illegible mid-1980s Xerox discs, and I cannot retrieve my original notes until then, to prove that Evans is wrong. Thus he and Richard Rampton QC, who springs up and down like a jack-in-the-box all day long with objections and interruptions, make hay with this point, and the Judge seems to attach great importance to it as well. Difficult to bring home to these modern books-from-shelves historians, that it is easier for them to use a printed, bound volume, with a fully annotated alphabetical index of names, etc., than for a shirtsleeve historian like myself who uses the original microfilm sitting at a microfilm reader years before those books of their were printed: no page numbers, no index, no Xerox copier.

As the hours grind past, I appeal to the judge several times to assist me in stemming the flow of witless words from this witness, and at one time I refer to the famed loquacity of the Welsh race (adding, "-- Though Mr Rampton will no doubt call that a racist remark"). The Welshman waffles on endlessly, wriggles out of some questions, evades answering others, appeals to the judge, bumbles, loses himself in his own answers, refers back two paragraphs and reads out everything before coming to the sentence on which I am questioning him -- in short adopts every tactic that delays proceedings. The judge is infuriated by the slow progress, and blames it on me. I say, "If this witness had been properly instructed by the defendants solicitors on how the write his expert report, there would have been no need for these delays." Occasionally Judge Gray says, "Mr Irving has my sympathy," but I doubt that today I really have.

By 4 p.m. I have driven a 200 page bridgehead into the Evans report, and we have barely reached Kristallnacht. Tomorrow I propose to adopt entirely new tactics, as this diary will reveal.

As everybody picks up their papers to leave, a stranger with staring eyes comes up to me, hair unkempt, and offers these words: "Mr Irving, the Judge should have halted, adjourned the proceedings, at 3:10 p.m." I raise my eyebrows. "Because at 3:10 p.m.," he says, "it was plain you couldn't carry on. You were washed out. You look really dead." (I thought that for the last hour I had fought that horrid little Welshman really well.)

I told this stranger three times to go away, to clear off, and to depart, and variations on those words, and finally I say: "P*ss off, will you!" when he will not take the hint.

"When you lose the case," are his parting words, "you can take it from me that it began at 3:10 p.m. today!" Have a nice day to you too, Sir.

Seventy-three e-mails waiting for me this evening, and Jessica cashes in the promise I made yesterday take her to the toy department. Before I go out, I phone the court reporting service, to haggle about a fee for permission to continue posting the daily transcripts on the Internet. I point out that I am doing it as a public service, and earning nothing from it, but they remain intransigent. Somehow we will get the service resumed.

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