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[verbatim trial transcripts | previous Radical's Diary]

February 17, 2000 (Thursday)


Courtesy link: Professor Evans' witness report • click to download download


To bed at 4 a.m. and up again at 7:50 a.m., feeling lethal with a capital L. 'Mal sehen!

8:34 a.m. I phone Ingrid Weckert for the first time ever: what evidence is there for the 10 a.m. timing of the [Goebbels] radio broadcast on the morning of November 10, the night after the Kristallnacht? The time?, she repeats. Goebbels"Ich habe es ja gehört!" she answers. It was broadcast repeatedly all day long, and she recalls that they even had to hear it at school. When she returned home her mother told it had been broadcast repeatedly all day long. Which certainly fixes the time at earlier than 4 p.m., the time preferred by the defence. The Aufzeichnung, recording, of the broadcast is at the Königswüsterhausen sound archives of the Reich radio.

9:18 a.m. I phone her again: what were the school hours in those days in Germany? -- She has however gone out.

The taxi gets snared in roadworks and jams in Piccadilly. I am back in the courtroom five minutes late at 10:35 a.m., and apologise to the Court.

On the witness stand, Professor Richard Evans is back to his hostile, hands-in-pockets stance. Asked by me, he admits candidly that he has not the faintest idea of the CSDIC reports, of which some 50,000 pages or more are in the PRO, and that he has never worked in them; nor in the Bletchley Park intercept files either. (The CSDIC reports are transcripts of hidden-microphone recordings of captured German prisoners).

Discussing the closing paragraphs of the Bruns interrogation, and the third-hand remark by the SS-gangster Hans Altemeyer (upon which the defence heavily relies) that although they had now received orders (December 1941, from the FHQ) that these mass shootings are to end, they are to be resumed elsewhere less publicly, I ask Evans repeatedly (and with growing bluntness, several times) the question as to whether he does not consider the decodes and intercepts to be far harder evidence than any later statements, e.g. in Nuremberg or elsewhere, or even the CSDIC reports of 1945. He has also adduced a January 1942 letter written by one Schulz Du Bois, reporting that after Canaris conveyed protests about the shootings (from Bruns) to Hitler, Hitler made a dismissive comment to him.

I extract from Evans the admission that Canaris was an anti-Nazi who was hanged by Hitler in April 1945 for treason: hardly a perfect source for such a third-hand reported remark. Canaris of course is the source of many a document used in war crimes trials; but not even Nuremberg accepted his version of Hitler's August 22, 1939 speech, ND: L-039 I think!

Pit with corpsesFor a while we look at his charge that I played down the statistics of the victims shots at Riga in 1941, stating in Goebbels. Mastermind of the Third Reich that the pits probably held one to two thousand bodies each. I have prepared well for this. I remind him that Bruns described the trenches as being 25 metres long, and three metres wide. Evans objects, "But we don't know how deep!" "Look at the photograph at the end of the bundle which I handed you this morning, please, witness," I respond: "Does it show a trench filled with bodies, under the guard of British soldiers holding Tommy guns? I believe it is Bergen-Belsen."

"But is this a picture of the trench at Riga?" he counters.

"No, it is a picture of a trench being filled by various women with bodies."

Evans objects that he refuses to answer questions if it is not the actual trench in Riga to which Bruns is referring, but the judge rules that I should continue with my questions.

Even the judge says at first that a trench can be of any depth, surely?

"My Lord," I respond, "I worked my way through University as a navvy. I have spent my early years digging trenches. I am an expert on trenches! If they are not shored up, they will cave in." (The professor says he too has experience, as his house is having an extension built).

Eventually I am allowed to put to the witness this calculation: if the trench is 25 metres by three by two metres deep, say, for the purpose of this calculation, and if it has square sides (not the sloping ones that common-sense and this typical photograph shows) it will hold 150 cubic metres; and if no allowance is made for a fill-in layer of earth between the bodies and the surface, then 1,500 bodies can be packed in, assuming ten bodies to the cubic metre. The witness falls into a rare silence, and my one to two thousand estimate seems to have prevailed.


THE constant petty objections by Professor Evans have, in my view, proved self-defeating over the week. It is not a witness-tactic that commends itself in the long run; on the other hand, I may be wrong, and this may be what lawyers, judges, and the courts expect and applaud.

The 1942 Schlegelberger Document takes up an hour of the afternoon, and results in my view in a resounding and even somewhat unexpected victory. I begin by eliciting from Evans a grudging admission that the Schlegelberger document is of absolutely unimpeachable integrity. He demurs, grumbles that it is an odd document with no heading, no signature, etc; and that I have attacked "documents" on that basis.

I say: one document is under serious attack by me, the June 24, 1943 crematorium-capacities document. And that document, unlike this one, has a very odd provenance, while the pedigree of the Schlegelberger document is beyond doubt: an unbroken chain of correspondence since November 1945 testifying to the document's existence, to its vanishing act from 1946 to 1978, and its present location in a file of "March-April 1942" Reichsjustizministerium documents at the Bundesarchiv in Germany.

The defence in their written reports have made a noisy case for enveloping this otherwise unambiguous document (it states that Hitler has ordered the postponement of the final solution to the end of the war) in a smokescreen of inter-ministerial talks about red tape over mixed marriages, half-Jews, and related problems thrown up by the Final Solution. They even try to haul it out of its 1942 context (the file concerned) into the less homicidal atmosphere of 1940 and 1941.

The judge has however his eye on the ball. I suspect that this is because the document is genuine (as Evans reluctantly concedes), is short and to the point, and, in effect, "pure Gold". It allows little room for Evans' usual wriggling. Judge Gray is surprisingly unconvinced by his responses to my cross-examination. I suspect, to be fair to Professor Evans, that this particular issue has not been one of his own strong points, and that if the assistants who had done the research on the matter had been on the witness stand and not he, the defence would have fared better; he seems rather out of his depth, and his answers are demonstrably shorter though, alas, no more to the point for that.

In the afternoon, after Mr Rampton mutters a loud comment about Hitler's military defeats and his ineptness, I curse myself for not calling out to him: "Hitler had bad Counsel!" Then to my delight Rampton, who seems to be slipping today, repeats his remark in a loud sotto voce, and "bad Counsel" brings the house down -- which in a courtroom of the RCJ means a polite ripple of laughter -- and has even the judge chuckling.

I announce that in the remaining ten minutes I want to tackle briefly the issue of the Roman Jews and Hitler's October 1943 order that they are not to be liquidated, notwithstanding that Mr Rampton has grandly declared that he no longer relies on that episode: but I do, I tell the Court. The matter is postponed to Monday. Professor Evans wails that he has hoped that we would continue to 4:30 p.m. today, but I am silently shaking my head, and the Judge too has taken all he wants to today.

We return to Duke Street -- the taxi loaded now with supporters, including three who have come from the United States on various confidential missions to me. Well, if [the Second Defendant] Professor Lipstadt has been provided in effect with a bottomless multi-million dollar defence fund by the American Jewish Committee, as I am told, why should my own friends in that great country not want to shake my hand? We are however still trying to raise the funds needed to bring the "live" courtroom transcripts back to the website. Nine p.m. finds me in bed, and 9:01 p.m. fast asleep.

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