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[verbatim trial transcripts]

February 7, 2000 (Monday)




Work until 2:30 a.m. preparing material for the cross examination of Professor Browning today; up at 7 a.m. to take Jessica to school. E-mails: a Swiss gentleman contributing £1,000 anonymously to the fighting fund. Thank-ee kindly zur. At the High Court at 10 a.m., I admonish Eva Menasse for her wrongful Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reporting; she looks abashed, and complains that since I put her e-mail address on the website she has received unpleasant e-mails. I promise her, relenting, to take the address off as soon as I get home this evening (and do so; but the links to her editor remain). One or two nasty e-mails are of course as nothing compared with days of stinking and inaccurate reports in a newspaper of the weight of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, but there we are.--The Ottawa Sun and Toronto Globe and Mail have yesterday published libellous and venomous attacks on me, written by the usual people.

Sir John Keegan, my witness, arrives toward 10:30 a.m.; he is bent almost double, and carries a walking stick, and I assure him that I will call him first thing; he asks me to make plain that I have sub poena'd him, and I tell him I would do so anyway. His evidence is short and to the point, and he is through in twenty-five minutes. I put to him a small bundle of ten documents, going back to 1980: fine words of praise he has uttered for my book Hitler's War, and for Chester Wilmot's Struggle for Europe, both in press reviews and in private to Alan Williams [editor at The Viking Press, NY] in 1981, and more recently in his book in 1996. He confirms that his views on those are unchanged, but adds that he disagrees with mine on the Holocaust, which is fair enough. His evidence is straightforward and obviously to the point. He does not know of Eberhard Jäckel, but I put the Michael Berenbaum book quote to him. Then I ask him finally why I had to subpoena him, if I was only asking him to repeat what he had often said in public and private. He is embarrassed and flustered by the question, and clearly gives the impression in his answer that it was fear of the repercussions that led him to refuse to testify voluntarily.

At 10:45 a.m. I make three or four submissions to the Court, primarily about the lopsided press coverage now beginning -- still muted in its attacks on me in the U.K., but vicious and unprincipled in Canada, Australia, Israel, and elsewhere. I point out that Geoffrey Wheatcroft (who writes that he dislikes the word Holocaust, since "some of us" prefer to call it the Shoah) is a London-based journalist; and that the two Guardian Newspapers Ltd articles by Neal Ascherson and Jonathan Freedland are deliberately prejudicial, in view of the company's being a defendant in a related libel action brought by me. It is in their interest to see me go down in this one, I submit. Judge Gray announces that whatever people may think, in the U.K. at least it is not "open season" on any of the parties in this action, and he takes away the newspaper articles concerned to read.

At 11 a.m. Prof. Christopher Browning enters the witness box, and I spend the rest of the day teasing out of him the answers that I want, based on his expert report. Firstly, I lead him up the path of why he did not get tenure at Harvard's new Holocaust history chair, instead of being professor at a minor university in North Carolina; eventually he admits that it was perhaps his non-Jewishness that disqualified him -- though his answer is wrapped in so much American soft talk that it is hard to perceive. I have more joy when I tackle his report's first twenty pages, paragraph by paragraph, with the aid of the expert critiques prepared for me by M. and R. I take on the August 1, 1941 Müller-to-Einsatzgruppen document, and I believe I have demolished it: he translates its betrifft: Anschauungsmaterial line as "re: visual materials", and since we have earlier this morning earlier established that the Einsatzgruppen also had major intelligence gathering functions, and their killing activities only took up one paragraph (of many) in each report, these are more likely to have formed the basis of any subsequent reports to Hitler. Besides, as Browning confirms, the document has only a geheim rating. He is a bit more tenacious on the November 30, 1941 document, insisting that it shows that Liquidierung of such transports is evidently in the air, and that this phone call is cancelling a previous policy; he proves difficult to shake on this. When we come to the December 18, 1941 Himmler visit to Hitler, and the Judenfrage | als Partisanen auszurotten entry, there are audible gasps (of consternation, or of incredulity?) from the packed public benches as I point out that since the word used is als and not wie, the correct (expanded) meaning would be "Jewish problem | to be wiped out as [the] partisans [they are]." Wie is a comparison, I explain; als is an equivalency.

I put to him the Victor Gollancz book, Extermination of the Jews, and invite him to tell the court its year of publication from the title page (1936!). So Extermination, I suggest, must have meant something else then; which neatly brings us to the topic of Umsiedlung. One of his documents is an October 1942 report on the shooting of 20,000 Brest Litovsk Jews; it has that word three times in its first paragraph; the first two umgesiedelt's are clearly homicidal, the third, at the end of the same paragraph, to which I invite his attention only after he has stated that the word clearly means "killing" in this document, unambiguously means only resettlement ("Half of the villagers of X were shot, the other half were resettled [umgesiedelt] to the village of Y").

The day flies past with such inquiries and investigations in a spirit of mutual discovery. The August 1941 Entwurf for Stahlecker, proposing future plans for the Jewish ghettoes in the east, with Stahlecker's handwritten footnote, yields the fact that this plan has been overtaken by verbal orders "von höherer Stelle." I ask Browning, "Could those orders have been from the Führer?" -- this is our only concern in this Court. (At this Richard Rampton QC leaps to his feet to interrupt with a totally irrelevant point, and after that has been dealt with I have to ratchet back a couple of lines and start again). Professor Browning states quite frankly, "No, then it would have read von höchster Stelle." Game and set, but not yet match. Browning is no fool, and an honest witness: the sort perhaps that defence counsel hate.

By 3:30 p.m. I have come to the end of my cross-examination preparations for the day, and Judge Gray willingly agrees to adjourn, complimenting me on a day's "exemplary" cross-examination, or so I am told.

[...] In the evening friends fax through to me from Germany the latest Ergüsse by Eva Menasse in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: more vitriolic, more verlogen, more distorted than ever. I said to her today, "I sometimes wonder if you are sitting in the same courtroom as the rest of the people here: your account is so totally different from the transcripts, and from what really happens." She looked wounded. Perhaps she should umsiedeln to somewhere else.

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