Christopher R. Browning
[Dr. Christopher R. Browning was the seventh witness called by the Crown. He testified from Monday, February 15 to Friday, February 19, 1988.]
Christopher R. Browning was permitted to give opinion evidence as an expert witness in the area of the policy of the National Socialist regime to Jews of Europe during the Second World War. (13-3029)
Browning, a citizen of the United States, was 43 years of age and lived with his family in Tacoma, state of Washington where he taught history at Pacific Lutheran University. He had obtained his Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1967, winning the Comfort Starr Prize in history. In 1968, he obtained a Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Wisconsin and then spent two years teaching Modern European History at Allegheny College. In 1975, Browning was awarded a Ph.D. by the University of Wisconsin. (13-3013 to 3015)
He was the recipient of two German academic awards and had been invited to be a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (13-3014, 3015)
Browning’s research specialty was the treatment of the Jews by the National Socialist government which he had been studying for the past 17 years. In the United States, he had looked through the records of some of the Nuremberg trials, microfilms in the United States National Archives and various books available in university library collections. The microfilms were of German documents captured at the end of the Second World War, brought to the United States, catalogued, microfilmed and returned to Germany in 1958. (13-3016)
He had also conducted research in Germany at the archives of the German Foreign Office in Bonn, the Federal Archives in Koblenz, the Military Branch of the Federal Archives in Freiburg, the Berlin Document Centre, the Nuremberg State Archives, in the Central Agency for the State Administration of Justice in Ludwigsburg and in various state courts in Germany where they had conducted important court cases. In Yugoslavia, Browning conducted research in the Military Archives and in the archives of a Jewish History Museum, both in Belgrade. (13-3017, 3018)
Browning spent a full year and some shorter trips in Israel, studying at the archives library at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Remembrance Authority in that country. (13 3018)
He was the author of two books, The Final Solution and the German Foreign Office: A Study of Referat DIII of Abteilung Deutschland 1940-43, published in 1978, and Fateful Months: Essays on the Emergence of the Final Solution, published in 1985. By “final solution,” Browning meant the Nazi plan or policy to exterminate the Jews of Europe. In addition, he had contributed numerous articles to scholarly journals such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual and Yad Vashem Studies. (13-3019 3028)
Browning was on the editorial boards of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust and the International Scholars Advisory Board of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He had also contracted to be the editor and primary author of The Final Solution, a forthcoming book on Nazi Jewish policy which was to be part of Yad Vashem’s 24- volume history of the Holocaust. (13-3027, 3028)
Crown attorney John Pearson asked Browning to comment on the following passage from Did Six Million Really Die? at page 5:
It is no part of the discussion here to argue whether the German attitude to the Jews was right or not, or to judge whether its legislative measures against them were just or unjust. Our concern is simply with the fact that, believing of the Jews as they did, the Nazis' solution to the problem was to deprive them of their influence within the nation by various legislative acts, and most important of all, to encourage their emigration from the country altogether. By 1939, the great majority of German Jews had emigrated, all of them with a sizeable proportion of their assets. Never at any time had the Nazi leadership even contemplated a policy of genocide towards them.
Browning saw two problems with this paragraph: “A 'great majority' would be an exaggeration because it would be slightly over half, but not a great majority. The serious problem, I think, comes with the statement 'all of them with a sizeable proportion of their assets'. I do not believe that statement is true.” (13-3030)
In Browning’s opinion, there were a whole series of measures taken against Jews by the Nazis to deprive Jews of their property. In Germany, Jews were banned from certain professions and economic activity and were forced to register all of their property. As a result, if Jews wanted to sell their property they had to sell quickly at far below the market value. The contracts for sale had to be approved by local economic authorities and as a standard rule they would not even allow a contract that gave a Jew more than two-thirds or three-quarters of the market value.
“What that meant then,” said Browning, “was that the Jews living in Germany by the end of, say, 1938 were living off whatever they had received in reduced market value for their goods, or not engaged in ongoing businesses or professions any longer so they were living off assets that were rapidly shrinking. Those assets were attacked yet again when the Nazis put upon them a 25 percent property tax in the fall of 1938, which would take even more.” (13-3031, 3032)
In 1941 the Nazis passed a law that any Jew leaving Germany as of that date would automatically forfeit any remaining property he had. For the Jews who left Germany before 1941, it was very difficult to take property with them. There was the “flight” tax, which applied to all leaving Germany, not just Jews, which required the surrender of 25 percent of all property in order to be allowed out of the country. Strict currency controls made it difficult to take the remaining property out of the country. (13-3032, 3033)
In Browning’s opinion, it was “an entirely false statement to say that a great majority of German Jews had emigrated, all of them with a sizable proportion of their assets.” (13-3033)
Pearson asked Browning to comment on the following passage from the pamphlet on page 6:
Had Hitler cherished any intention of exterminating the Jews, it is inconceivable that he would have allowed more than 800,000 to leave Reich territory with the bulk of their wealth …
Browning testified that it was an exaggeration to say that 800,000 Jews left the Reich by 1939. Even by 1941, the total of Jews who had left Germany, Austria and the so called Protectorates was 530,000. The statement with respect to “the bulk of their wealth” was also inaccurate. (13-3035)
Browning turned to a passage on page 5 of the pamphlet:
The Nazi view of Jewish emigration was not limited to a negative policy of simple expulsion, but was formulated along the lines of modern Zionism. The founder of political Zionism in the 19th century, Theodore Herzl, in his work The Jewish State, had originally conceived of Madagascar as a national homeland for the Jews, and this possibility was seriously studied by the Nazis. It had been a main plank of the National Socialist party platform before 1933 and was published by the party in pamphlet form.
Browning testified that it was not a plank of the National Socialist platform before 1933 that the Jews go to Madagascar as a national homeland. There was no reference to Madagascar at all in their platform before 1933. “The first time in which a Nazi leader mentioned Madagascar is 1938. The first point at which there is a plan for Madagascar is 1940, and it is not referred to ever … as a national homeland. It is referred to as a super-ghetto that will be under the SS … They studied it as a place to expel the Jews to and keep them in a kind of extra-large concentration camp.” (13 3036, 3037)
Browning turned to page 7:
It is a remarkable fact, however, that well into the war period, the Germans continued to implement the policy of Jewish emigration. The fall of France in 1940 enabled the German Government to open serious negotiations with the French for the transfer of European Jews to Madagascar. A memorandum of August, 1942 from Luther, Secretary-of-State in the German Foreign Office, reveals that he had conducted these negotiations between July and December 1940, when they were terminated by the French.
Browning testified that there were no such negotiations with the French. “This was going to be imposed upon the French when a time for a final peace treaty with France occurred.” Browning felt that the pamphlet was trying to leave the impression that the failure of the Madagascar plan was caused by the French and that was not the case. In coming to this opinion, Browning relied on the document referred to by Harwood, the Luther Memorandum of 1942. This memo originated from Luther and his Jewish expert Franz Rademacher and was directed to German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop. (13-3038)
On an overhead projector, Browning read the jury portions of the Luther Memorandum of August, 1942, which dealt with the Madagascar plan:
The present war gives Germany the possibility and also the obligation to solve the Jewish question in Europe. In view of the advantageous course of the war against France, DIII proposed in July 1940 as a solution: removing all Jews from Europe and demanding the Island of Madagascar from France as the territory for the reception of the Jews. The Reich Foreign Minister has in principle approved preliminary preparations for the expulsion of the Jews from Europe in close consultation with the agencies of the Reichsführer-SS.
The Madagascar Plan was enthusiastically taken up by the Reich Security Main Office, which in the opinion of the Foreign Office was the only agency with the experience and technical capacity to carry out a large-scale evacuation of the Jews and to guarantee the surveillance of the evacuees. The competent agency of the Reich Security Main Office then prepared an extremely detailed plan for the evacuation of the Jews to Madagascar and their resettlement there, that was approved by the Reichsführer-SS. Gruppenführer Heydrich submitted this plan directly to the Reich Foreign Minister in August 1940.
The Madagascar Plan itself was made obsolete by political developments.
Ambassador Abetz told me already in August 1940, after a meeting with the Führer, that he intended to evacuate all Jews from Europe.
The basic instructions of the Reich Foreign Minister to pursue the evacuation of the Jews in closest consultation with the agencies of the Reichsführer-SS therefore remain in effect for DIII. (Luther Memo filed as Exhibit 36A,B and C, 13-3045)
Browning testified that other parts of the Madagascar plan indicated that the Nazis intended to ship the Jews to Madagascar after Britain was defeated and they had the British navy and merchant marine at their disposal. It was not negotiations with the French which rendered the plan obsolete, but rather the fact that Britain remained in the war. (13-3043)
Browning turned to page 6 of the pamphlet:
As the war proceeded, the policy developed of using Jewish detainees for labour in the war- effort. The question of labour is fundamental when considering the alleged plan of genocide against the Jews, for on grounds of logic alone the latter would entail the most senseless waste of manpower, time and energy while prosecuting a war of survival on two fronts. Certainly after the attack on Russia, the idea of compulsory labour had taken precedence over German plans for Jewish emigration. The protocol of a conversation between Hitler and the Hungarian regent Horthy on April 17th, 1943, reveals that the German leader personally requested Horthy to release 100,000 Hungarian Jews for work in the “pursuit-plane programme” of the Luftwaffe at a time when the aerial bombardment of Germany was increasing (Reitlinger, Die Endlösung, Berlin, 1956, p. 478). This took place at a time when, supposedly, the Germans were already seeking to exterminate the Jews, but Hitler’s request clearly demonstrates the priority aim of expanding his labour force.
Browning was familiar with the Hitler-Horthy Protocol of 17 April 1943 and had prepared an English translation of the excerpt dealing with the Jews which he read to the jury:
Discussion of Rationing:
Horthy observed that this problem was very difficult for Hungary. He had not yet been able to control the black market. The Führer replied that that is the fault of the Jews, who even in a world war consider hoarding and profiteering as their main field of activity, exactly as now in England convictions for ration violations and the like chiefly concern Jews. To Horthy’s counter-question as to what he should do with the Jews, now that he had deprived them of almost all possibilities of livelihood — he could not kill them off — the Reich Foreign Minister declared that the Jews must either be exterminated or taken to concentration camps. There was no other possibility. To the observation of Horthy that Germany has it easier in this regard, because it does not have so many Jews, the Führer gave figures revealing the extraordinarily strong Jewification of certain professions. Horthy replied that he had not known that at all.
In this connection the Führer began to speak about the city of Nüremberg, that for 400 years had not tolerated any Jews there, while Fürth had accepted Jews. The result had been a great flourishing of Nüremberg and a complete decline of Fürth. The Jews never even had any organizational value. Contrary to the fears that he (the Führer) had repeatedly had to bear in Germany, everything continued even without the Jews. Where the Jews were left to themselves, for example in Poland, the most cruel misery and dilapidation prevailed. They are nothing but pure parasites. This state of affairs has been completely cleaned up in Poland. If the Jews there didn’t want to work, they were shot. If they could not work, they had to perish. They had to be treated like tuberculosis bacilli, from which a healthy body can be infected. That was not cruel, if one considered that even innocent creatures of nature like rabbits and deer had to be killed, so that no harm arises. Why should one spare the beasts who wanted to bring us Bolshevism? People who did not ward off the Jews would go to the dogs. One of the most famous examples for this was the decline of that once so proud people, the Persians, who now lead a pitiful existence as Armenians. (13-3048 to 3050a; Hitler-Horthy Protocol, Nüremberg Document 736-D, filed as Exhibit 37A,B)
In Browning’s opinion, the plan for Jewish emigration had indeed come to an end and it was replaced with a plan to murder the Jews of Europe. Although some would be used as labourers first, labour was not the new precedent. (13-3053)
Browning turned to page 7 of the pamphlet:
Reitlinger and Poliakov both make the entirely unfounded supposition that because the Madagascar Plan had been shelved, the Germans must necessarily have been thinking of “extermination". Only a month later, however, on March 7th, 1942, Goebbels wrote a memorandum in favour of the Madagascar Plan as a “final solution” of the Jewish question (Manvell and Frankl, Dr. Goebbels, London, 1960, p. 165). In the meantime he approved of the Jews being “concentrated in the East". Later Goebbels memoranda also stress deportation to the East (i.e. the Government General of Poland) and lay emphasis on the need for compulsory labour there …
Browning explained to the jury that Reitlinger and Poliakov, the authors referred to by Harwood, were both early authors of books on the “final solution.” Reitlinger had relied mainly on Nuremberg documentation as his source material. Browning also explained to the jury that the reference to the “Government-General of Poland” meant central Poland. While western Poland had been annexed to Germany by the Nazis, central Poland had become a German colony under a German colonial regime called the General Government. Eastern Poland, between 1939 and 1941, was taken over by the Soviet Union as part of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. After that territory was invaded by the Germans in 1941, the part known as Galicia became part of the German Government General. (13-3054)
Browning testified that he was familiar with the March 7, 1942 Goebbels memoranda referred to in Did Six Million Really Die?. It was a reference by Goebbels in his diary to the Madagascar plan on that date. Goebbels had written:
To begin with, they will have to be concentrated in the East; possibly an island, such as Madagascar, can be assigned to them after the war. In any case there can be no peace in Europe until every Jew has been eliminated from the continent.
“It isn’t a memorandum in which he speaks in favour of it,” said Browning. “It is that he still has not heard that it isn’t in operation any longer, that he has been given some information and preparation for a conference apparently in which that mention is still made.” (13-3055) Did Six Million Really Die? was inaccurate in saying it was a memorandum in favour of the Madagascar plan. “It would be correct to say that Goebbels mentioned the Madagascar plan in a diary entry. It is not a memorandum.” (13-3061)
In Browning’s opinion, later entries in the Goebbels diary did not lay emphasis on the need for compulsory labour, as claimed by Did Six Million Really Die?, but in fact said exactly the opposite. Browning read the entry from Goebbels’s diary from March 27, 1942:
Beginning with Lublin, the Jews in the General Government are now being evacuated eastward. The procedure is a pretty barbaric one and not to be described here more definitely. Not much will remain of the Jews. On the whole it can be said that about 60 per cent of them will have to be liquidated whereas only about 40 per cent can be used for forced labour.
The former Gauleiter of Vienna, who is to carry this measure through, is doing it with considerable circumspection and according to a method that does not attract too much attention. A judgment is being visited upon the Jews that, while barbaric, is fully deserved by them. The prophesy which the Führer made about them for having brought on a new world war is beginning to come true in a most terrible manner. One must not be sentimental in these matters. If we did not fight the Jews, they would destroy us. It’s a life- and-death struggle between the Aryan race and the Jewish bacillus. No other government and no other regime would have the strength for such a global solution of this question. Here, too, the Führer is the undismayed champion of a radical solution necessitated by conditions and therefore inexorable. Fortunately a whole series of possibilities presents itself for us in wartime that would be denied us in peacetime. We shall have to profit by this.
The ghettos that will be emptied in the cities of the General Government will now be refilled with Jews thrown out of the Reich. This process is to be repeated from time to time. There is nothing funny in it for the Jews, and the fact that Jewry’s representatives in England and America are today organizing and sponsoring the war against Germany must be paid for dearly by its representatives in Europe — and that’s only right.
Another diary entry by Goebbels stated:
Finally we talked about the Jewish question. Here the Führer is as uncompromising as ever. The Jews must be got out of Europe, if necessary by applying most brutal methods. (Excerpt from Goebbels Diaries, Louis Lochner, editor, filed as Exhibit 38)
The prophesy of Hitler referred to by Goebbels in this passage, said Browning, was made in a speech by Hitler in January of 1939, where he stated that if world Jewry brought on another war, it would not lead to the destruction of Germany but to the destruction of the Jews in Europe. (13-3058)
Browning returned to page 7:
Statistics relating to Jewish populations are not everywhere known in precise detail, approximations for various countries differing widely, and it is also unknown exactly how many Jews were deported and interned at any one time between the years 1939-1945. In general, however, what reliable statistics there are, especially those relating to emigration, are sufficient to show that not a fraction of six million Jews could have been exterminated.
Browning testified that German statistical studies existed which supported the conclusion that there were enough Jews in Europe to exterminate at least 6 million of them. One such study was done by Professor Dr. Burgdörfer dated 17 July, 1940, the original of which was in the German Foreign Office where Browning had studied and handled it. The Burgdörfer study was commissioned by the German Foreign Office because they were “making plans for the so-called Madagascar plan and obviously they couldn’t make adequate preparations for that unless they knew how many people they were dealing with.” The study was found in the files of Franz Rademacher, who was the expert on the Jewish question under Secretary Luther. Burgdörfer estimated that the total number of Jews in Europe at that time was between 10.72 million and 9.8 million. (13-3069 to 3072; Burgdörfer Report filed as Exhibit 39A,B)
A second statistical study considered by Browning was a study prepared in the summer of 1940 in Germany and incorporated into the Madagascar plan. This study estimated the number of Jews in the German sphere of control in 1940 at about 4 million. It did not include the eastern section of Poland, Russia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece or Italy, countries which were not yet under German control. The number of Jews in Germany and Austria was 243,000. (13- 3072 to 3075; Madagascar Project study filed as Exhibit 40)
The third statistical study considered by Browning was that contained in the Wannsee Conference protocol of 20 January 1942. The conference, held under the chairmanship of Heydrich, was attended by the state secretaries or undersecretaries of the major ministries of the German government; for example, the Reich Ministry for the occupied eastern territories; Reich Minister of the Interior; Deputy of the Four Year Plan; Reich Justice Ministry; officer of the General Government Foreign Office; Party Chancellery; Reich Chancellery; and others. Adolf Eichmann was also a participant. The Wannsee Conference protocol listed their estimate of the number of Jews in each country or province of Europe as of 1942.
“The total they come to is 11 million,” said Browning, “which is the highest estimate, and I think if one examines carefully, one can see there are some clear errors. For instance, unoccupied France they list at 700,000 and I think, [in] my opinion, there must have been some clerical error there because I know of no other historian or other source that believes there were that many Jews in southern France. That’s why it’s somewhat inflated over the other figures we've seen, but it is close to the 10 million or 9.8 million we had seen earlier.” (13-3075 to 3079; Wannsee Conference protocol filed as Exhibit 41A,B)
Browning concluded by saying that the “Germans' figures indicate that there are in the area of 10 million Jews in Europe and therefore 6 million could have been exterminated,” contrary to what had been written in Did Six Million Really Die?. (13-3079)
Browning turned to page 7 of the pamphlet:
In the first place, this claim cannot remotely be upheld on examination of the European Jewish population figures. According to Chambers Encyclopaedia the total number of Jews living in pre-war Europe was 6,500,000. Quite clearly, this would mean that almost the entire number were exterminated.
Crown counsel placed before Browning a copy of the Chambers Encyclopedia referred to by Harwood. It stated:
When in 1939 war broke out in Europe anti-semites acted as 'fifth columns' to help to secure German predominance, and the conquest of every country was succeeded by the disenfranchisement of the Jews and the introduction of legislation based on the Nuremberg code. As time passed so the enforcement became more and more severe. The 'Jewish badge' and in eastern Europe even the ghetto were generally reintroduced. The policy was formulated of rendering western Europe free of the Jews and deportations took place on a vast scale to the Jewish reservations which had been set up in Poland. Ultimately there was begun a systematic campaign of annihilation, in a series of death camps of which that of Oswiecim (Auschwitz), where 1,750,000 persons were killed, was the most notorious. On the continent of Europe apart from Russia, whose western provinces also suffered terribly, only a handful of numerically unimportant communities in neutral countries escaped and of the 6,500,000 Jews who lived in the Nazi-dominated lands in 1939, barely 1,500,000 remained alive when the war ended six years later. In these six years the Jewish people lost one-third of its total numbers; in Europe as a whole over one-half and in central Europe, three- quarters.
In Browning’s opinion, Chambers Encyclopedia did not purport to deal with the total number of Jews living in pre-war Europe, as stated by Did Six Million Really Die?, but referred only to the “continent of Europe apart from Russia.” (13-3082 to 3084; Chambers Encyclopaedia, p. 99 filed as Exhibit 42)
Browning continued on page 7:
This is acknowledged by the World Jewish Congress in its publication Unity in Dispersion (p. 377), which states that: “The majority of the German Jews succeeded in leaving Germany before the war broke out.” In addition to the German Jews, 220,000 of the total 280,000 Austrian Jews had emigrated by September, 1939, while from March 1939 onwards the Institute for Jewish Emigration in Prague had secured the emigration of 260,000 Jews from former Czechoslovakia. In all, only 360,000 Jews remained in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia after September 1939.
Browning testified that “the German documentation gives lower numbers for the number of people who have emigrated — the German documentation would claim that fewer people emigrated by the fall of 1941 than the pamphlet alleges to have emigrated already by the fall of 1939.”
Browning referred again to the Wannsee Conference protocol which indicated that extraordinary burdens had been placed on the efforts to facilitate Jewish emigration in the pre- war and early war years; these included financial difficulties, insufficient berths on ships and constantly increasing immigration restrictions and suspensions by the countries of destination. From 1933 to 1941, however, some 537,000 Jews had been moved out: from the Old Reich about 360,000; specifically, from 1938 out of Austria about 147,000, from 1939 out of the protectorate Bohemia and Moravia, about 30,000. (13-3085 to 3088)
A comparison of these statistics with those given in Did Six Million Really Die? showed that in each case the German statistics of Jewish emigration were considerably lower than those given in the pamphlet. Harwood stated that 400,000 Jews emigrated from Germany while the Wannsee statistics said 360,000; Harwood stated that 230,000 Jews emigrated from Austria while the Wannsee statistics said 147,000; Harwood stated that 260,000 Jews emigrated from former Czechoslovakia while the figure given in the Wannsee protocol was 30,000 for the protectorate. (13 3088; Wannsee Conference protocol filed as Exhibit 43A,B)
Browning turned to page 8 of the pamphlet:
From Poland, an estimated 500,000 had emigrated prior to the outbreak of war. These figures mean that the number of Jewish emigrants from other European countries (France, the Netherlands, Italy, the countries of eastern Europe etc.) was approximately 120,000.
This exodus of Jews before and during hostilities, therefore, reduces the number of Jews in Europe to approximately 5,000,000.
Browning testified that since no sources were given for the figure of 500,000, it was difficult to evaluate it. Browning himself had never seen any source for such a figure. Nor could he make any sense of the figure of 120,000 without being provided with sources. In his opinion, the number of Jews in Europe would not have been reduced to anything like 5 million as claimed by the pamphlet. (13-3089, 3090)
Browning continued his criticism of the pamphlet at page 8:
In addition to these emigrants, we must also include the number of Jews who fled to the Soviet Union after 1939, and who were later evacuated beyond reach of the German invaders. It will be shown below that the majority of these, about 1,250,000, were migrants from Poland. But apart from Poland, Reitlinger admits that 300,000 other European Jews slipped into Soviet territory between 1939 and 1941. This brings the total of Jewish emigrants to the Soviet Union to about 1,550,000. In Colliers magazine, June 9th, 1945, Freiling Foster, writing of the Jews in Russia, explained that “2,200,000 have migrated to the Soviet Union since 1939 to escape from the Nazis,” but our lower estimate is probably more accurate.
The pamphlet miscited Reitlinger because “the Reitlinger figure of 300,000 is Reitlinger’s estimate of how many Polish Jews fled to Russia, not additional other European Jews on top of this 1,250,000 figure that he has given us without a source … Both Reitlinger and other sources take the estimate of about 300,000, so that [the figure of 1,250,000] is about five times too high … In my opinion.” (13-3090 to 3091)
Browning read an extract from the book The Final Solution by Reitlinger:
According to an estimate made by the Polish Government in 1946, the voluntary emigrants from the General Government and incorporated provinces in 1939-41 numbered approximately 300,000, a figure which is consistent with Dr. Korherr’s statistical returns … (13-3092; The Final Solution, p. 542 filed as Exhibit 44)
Crown counsel produced a copy of the Collier’s Freling Foster column “Keep up with the world” which had been cited in the pamphlet. The column stated:
Russia has 5,800,000 Jews, 41 per cent of the present Jewish population of the world, of whom 2,200,000 have migrated to the Soviet Union since 1939 to escape the Nazis.
In Browning’s opinion, this was not the type of source which he would use to collect his data. He noted that at the bottom of the column Foster offered ten dollars for each fact accepted for publication in the column. (13-3093, 3094; Freling Foster article filed as Exhibit 45)
Browning turned to page 8 of the pamphlet:
Jewish migration to the Soviet Union, therefore, reduces the number of Jews within the sphere of German occupation to around 3-1/2 million, approximately 3,450,000. From these should be deducted those Jews living in neutral European countries who escaped the consequences of the war. According to the 1942 World Almanac (p. 594), the number of Jews living in Gibraltar, Britain, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ireland and Turkey was 413,128 … When the Jewish populations of Holland (140,000), Belgium (40,000), Italy (50,000), Yugoslavia (55,000), Hungary (380,000) and Roumania (725,000) are included, the figure does not much exceed 3 million.
Browning commented that, in his opinion, Harwood continually overestimated the number of Jews who had emigrated. Other figures were also low. For example, the figure of 380,000 Jews for Hungary did not accord with the Nazi statistics for the number of Jews in Hungary which they listed at 550,000 in 1940 and in January of 1942 at 743,800. “There are also reports of Jews from other parts of Europe fleeing into Hungary and so it may develop within that the population of Hungary grew beyond that before 1944 when the deportations from Hungary began.” In addition, the Germans kept track of how many Jews they deported from Hungary in 1944. By July of that year, the figure had already reached 437,000 excluding those who remained in Budapest. This figure was recorded in reports sent from Hungary to Berlin during the course of the deportations and such documentation was reproduced in the book The Destruction of Hungarian Jewry by Randolph L. Braham.
“In short,” testified Browning, “even from part of Hungary they recorded deportations that far exceeded what the pamphlet alleges to be the total Jewish population in Hungary.” (13- 3095 to 3099; The Destruction of Hungarian Jewry, p. 443, filed as Exhibit 46)
Browning turned to page 17 of the pamphlet:
This would have been almost the entire Hungarian Jewish population, which numbered some 380,000. But according to the Central Statistical Office of Budapest, there were 260,000 Jews in Hungary in 1945 (which roughly conforms with the Joint Distribution Committee figure of 220,000), so that only 120,000 were classed as no longer resident. Of these, 35,000 were emigrants from the new Communist regime, and a further 25,000 were still being held in Russia after having worked in German labour battalions there. This leaves only 60,000 Hungarian Jews unaccounted for, but M.E. Namenyi estimates that 60,000 Jews returned to Hungary from deportation in Germany, though Reitlinger says this figure is too high (The Final Solution, p. 497). Possibly it is, but bearing in mind the substantial emigration of Hungarian Jews during the war (cf. Report of the ICRC, Vol. I, p. 649), the number of Hungarian Jewish casualties must have been very low indeed.
Browning disagreed with Harwood’s statement that there was substantial emigration of Hungarian Jews during the war. “There was a mere trickling of emigration from Hungary. The Germans did everything they could to shut it off.” Secondly, if Harwood had subtracted his figures from much higher starting figures, “then you [would] have lots of missing Jews to account for.” In Browning’s opinion, the statement in the pamphlet that “the number of Hungarian Jewish casualties must have been very low indeed” was false because one had to start from a starting figure at many hundreds of thousands higher than Harwood’s figure. (13-3100, 3101)
Browning turned to page 8 of the pamphlet:
Indisputable evidence is also provided by the post-war world Jewish population statistics. The World Almanac of 1938 gives the number of Jews in the world as 16,588,259. But after the war, the New York Times, February 22nd, 1948 placed the number of Jews in the world at a minimum of 15,600,000 and a maximum of 18,700,000. Quite obviously, these figures make it impossible for the number of Jewish war- time casualties to be measured in anything but thousands. 15-1/2 million in 1938 minus the alleged six million leaves nine million; the New York Times figures would mean, therefore, that the world’s Jews produced seven million births, almost doubling their numbers, in the space of ten years. This is patently ridiculous.
Crown counsel said he appreciated that Browning was not a statistician, but nevertheless, asked him what he would compare the World Almanac pre-war 1938 statistics with if he was to make a comparison. Browning replied that he would compare them with the statistics of the same publication, the World Almanac, in the post-war period. Referring to a copy of page 431 of the 1938 World Almanac, Browning pointed out that the figure given for the number of Jews worldwide was 15,315,359, not the figure of 16,588,259 cited in the pamphlet. Referring next to a copy of the World Almanac for 1950, and a table of Jewish population on page 473, Browning testified that it showed that the American Jewish Committee had estimated the Jewish population of the world in 1939 to be 16,643,120 and the Jewish population of the world in 1948 to be 11,373,000. (13-3102 to 3105; Excerpt from the 1939 World Almanac filed as Exhibit 47A; Excerpt from the 1950 World Almanac filed as Exhibit 47B)
Browning turned to page 9:
So far as is known, the first accusation against the Germans of the mass murder of Jews in war- time Europe was made by the Polish Jew Rafael Lemkin in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, published in New York in 1943. Somewhat coincidentally, Lemkin was later to draw up the U.N. Genocide Convention, which seeks to outlaw “racialism". His book claimed that the Nazis had destroyed millions of Jews, perhaps as many as six millions. This, by 1943, would have been remarkable indeed, since the action was allegedly started only in the summer of 1942. At such a rate, the entire world Jewish population would have been exterminated by 1945.
Browning testified that on page 89 of his book, Lemkin indicated that 1,702,500 Jews had been killed by organized murder. Lemkin had written:
The number of Jews who have been killed by organized murder in all the occupied countries, according to the Institute of Jewish Affairs of the American Jewish Congress in New York, amounts to 1,702,500.
No mention was made of 6 million as stated by Harwood. Browning did not know, however, whether the figure was given in any other part of the book. In citing this figure, Lemkin had relied on another book entitled Hitler’s Ten-Year War on the Jews [published by the American Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress]. On page 307 of this 1943 work, a table indicated that 1,702,500 Jews had been killed by organized extermination. (13-3106 to 3112; 3116; Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, pp. 88-89 filed as Exhibit 48; Hitler’s Ten-Year War on the Jews, p. 307 filed as Exhibit 49)
Browning testified that Harwood was not correct in saying that the “first accusation against the Germans of the mass murder of Jews in war-time Europe” was made by Lemkin. A previous accusation existed, that of the Joint Allied Declaration of December 17, 1942, in which the Allied nations together put on record that they were accusing the Germans of carrying out a genocide of the Jews. A reference to it was made in the Lemkin book itself. The declaration, which was made in different places and was read in the British House of Commons, stated as follows:
The attention of the Governments of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxemberg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United States of America, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Yugoslavia, and of the French National Committee has been drawn to numerous reports from Europe that the German authorities, not content with denying to persons of Jewish race in all the territories over which their barbarous rule has been extended the most elementary human rights, are now carrying into effect Hitler’s oft repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe. From all the occupied countries Jews are being transported, in conditions of appalling horror and brutality, to Eastern Europe.
In Poland which has been made the principal Nazi slaughterhouse, the ghettos established by the German invaders are being systematically emptied of all Jews except a few highly skilled workers required for war industries. None of those taken away are ever heard of again. The able-bodied are slowly worked to death in labour camps. The infirm are left to die of exposure and starvation or are deliberately massacred in mass executions. The number of victims of these bloody cruelties is reckoned in many hundreds of thousands of entirely innocent men, women and children.
The above mentioned Governments and the French National Committee condemn in the strongest possible terms this bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination. They declare that such events can only strengthen the resolve of all freedom loving peoples to overthrow the barbarous Hitlerite tyranny. They re- affirm their solemn resolution to ensure that those responsible for these crimes shall not escape retribution and to press on with the necessary practical measures to this end. (13 3114 to 3116; Joint Allied Declaration of 1942 filed as Exhibit 50)
Crown counsel returned to Did Six Million Really Die? and asked Browning to comment on selected portions of the pamphlet dealing with Kurt Gerstein. Browning turned to the following passage on page 9:
Gerstein’s sister was congenitally insane and died by euthanasia, which may well suggest a streak of mental instability in Gerstein himself … Gerstein’s fantastic exaggerations have done little but discredit the whole notion of mass extermination. Indeed, Evangelical Bishop Wilhelm Dibelius of Berlin denounced his memoranda as “Untrustworthy” (H. Rothfels, “Augenzeugenbericht zu den Massenvergasungen” in Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, April 1953).
The relevance of Gerstein was that shortly before his death in 1945 he wrote several versions of a visit he had made to the extermination camps at Belzec and Treblinka, said Browning. These were generally referred to as the Gerstein report or reports. The pamphlet’s approach to Gerstein was an attempt to discredit him as a witness. However, the article referred to by the pamphlet, Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, did not say what Harwood said it did about Gerstein. The cited article [at p. 187] said that it was not Gerstein’s sister, but his sister-in-law who was killed in the Nazi euthanasia programme at Hadamar. Regarding Evangelical Bishop Dibelius, the article actually stated that Dibelius was convinced of the political and human reliability or trustworthiness of Gerstein, the exact opposite of what Harwood said it stated. (13- 3116 to 3120; Excerpt from Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte filed as Exhibit 51)
Browning continued his analysis of the pamphlet with the following passage from page 10:
It should be emphasised straight away that there is not a single document in existence which proves that the Germans intended to, or carried out, the deliberate murder of Jews. In Poliakov and Wulf’s Das Dritte Reich und die Juden: Dokumente und Aufsätze (Berlin, 1955), the most that they can assemble are statements extracted after the war from people like Hoettl, Ohlendorf and Wisliceny, the latter under torture in a Soviet prison. In the absence of any evidence, therefore, Poliakov is forced to write: “The three or four people chiefly involved in drawing up the plan for total extermination are dead, and no documents survive.” This seems very convenient. Quite obviously, both the plan and the “three or four” people are nothing but nebulous assumptions on the part of the writer, and are entirely unprovable.
Browning did not agree that there was not a “single document” to prove the deliberate murder of Jews and believed there were a number of documents which could be looked at to find such proof. The first was an excerpt from the daily record of Hans Frank, who held the position of governor of the General Government of Poland during the war. This record, which kept track of Frank’s speeches, conferences and official activities, was published in 1975 as Das Diensttagebuch des deutschen Generalgouverneurs in Polen 1939-1945. It had been captured by the Americans after the war, microfilmed, then given to the Poles for various trials that were being conducted in Poland. Parts of it were also printed in the Nuremberg Military Tribunal records. Browning read to the court an excerpt from page 457 for December 16, 1941. On this date Frank spoke to a conference:
I want to say to you quite openly that we shall have to finish with the Jews, one way or another. The Führer once spoke these words: “If united Jewry should succeed once more in unleashing another world war, then the people who have been driven into this war will not be the only ones to shed their blood, because the Jew in Europe will also have found his end.” I know that many measures taken in the Reich against the Jews are criticised. Reports on morale indicate that again and again there are attempts to speak of cruelty and harshness. Before I continue to speak, let me therefore ask you to agree with me upon the following: In principle we want to have compassion only for the German people, otherwise for no one in the whole world. The others have had no compassion for us. As an old National Socialist I must also say: If the pack of Jews were to survive the war while we have sacrificed our best blood for the preservation of Europe, then this war would still be only a partial success. Therefore in principle concerning the Jews I would only start from the expectation that they will disappear. They must go. I have initiated negotiation for the purpose of having them pushed off to the east. In January a major conference will take place in Berlin on this question, to which I shall send State Secretary Dr. Bühler. This conference will be held in the Reich Security Main Office of SS Obergruppenführer Heydrich. A great Jewish migration will certainly begin.
But what is to happen to the Jews? Do you think they will actually be resettled in villages in the Ostland? In Berlin we were told: Why are you making all this trouble? We can’t do anything with them in the Ostland or Reichskommissariat either; liquidate them yourselves! Gentlemen, I must ask you to arm yourselves against any feelings of compassion. We must destroy the Jews, wherever we find them and wherever it is at all possible, in order to maintain the entire structure of the Reich. That will obviously happen with methods that are different from those of which Dr. Hummel has spoken. Even the judges of special courts cannot be made responsible for matters which are outside the framework of legal proceedings. One cannot transfer previous perspectives to such a gigantic, unique undertaking. In any case we must find a path that leads to this goal, and I am thinking about it.
The Jews are also for us extremely harmful animalistic eaters. In the General Government we have approximately 2.5 million Jews, and perhaps with Jewish kin and all those connected with them, now 3.5 million. We cannot shoot those 3.5 million Jews, we cannot poison them, but we can take measures that somehow lead to a successful destruction, and indeed I am referring to the large-scale measures to be discussed in the Reich. The General Government must become just as free of Jews as the Reich. Where and how this is going to happen, is a matter for agencies that we must install and create, and about whose operations I will report to you when the time comes.” (13-3122 to 3129; Excerpt from Das Diensttagebuch des deutschen Generalgouverneurs in Polen with English translation filed as Exhibit 52A,B)
Frank’s reference to a major conference to take place in Berlin actually did take place, said Browning; it was the Wannsee Conference and Dr. Bühler did attend. With respect to “measures” that would be taken against the Jews, four extermination camps were located in the General Government: Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor and Majdanek. (13-3129)
At the Wannsee Conference, Heydrich, second in command of the SS, first “reviewed previous policy and then explained that instead of sending the Jews to Madagascar, they would now be sent to the east and now he turns, at this point, to explain what does he mean by what is going to happen in the east and the course of the 'final solution.'” Browning read the translation of part of the Wannsee Conference protocol:
In the course of the final solution, the Jews should be brought under appropriate direction in a suitable manner to the east for labour utilization. Separated by sex, the Jews capable of work will be led into these areas in large labour columns to build roads, whereby doubtless a large part will fall away through natural reduction.
The inevitable final remainder which doubtless constitutes the toughest element will have to be dealt with appropriately, since it represents a natural selection which upon liberation is to be regarded as a germ cell of a new Jewish development. (See the lesson of history.)
Browning pointed out that Heydrich did not say what would happen to those who were not capable of working. Heydrich assumed a large number would die from labour and that the remainder, the “toughest element” would have to be dealt with “accordingly because they represent a germ cell of a new Jewish development.” (13 3133)
Browning continued to read the portion of the Wannsee Conference protocol which dealt with Dr. Bühler:
Undersecretary Dr. Bühler stated that the General Government [of Poland] would welcome the start of the final solution of this question in its territory, since the transport problem was no overriding factor there and the course of the action would not be hindered by considerations of work utilization. Jews should be removed from the domain of the General Government as fast as possible, because it is precisely here that the Jew constitutes a substantial danger as carrier of epidemics and also because his continued black market activities create constant disorder in the economic structure of the country. Moreover, the majority of the 2-1/2 million Jews involved were not capable of work.
Undersecretary Dr. Bühler stated further that the Chief of the Security Police and Security Service was in charge of the final solution of the Jewish question in the General Government and that his work was being supported by the offices of the General Government. He only had one favour to ask: that the Jewish question in this territory be solved as rapidly as possible.
Finally there was a discussion of the various types of solution possibilities, with both Gauleiter Dr. Meyer and Undersecretary Dr. Bühler expressing the view that they could carry out certain preparatory measures in their territories on their own, provided, however, that any disturbance of the [non-Jewish] population had to be avoided.
The conference was closed with a plea of the Chief of Security Police and Security Service for the cooperation of all the participants in the implementation of the solution tasks. (Excerpt of Wannsee Conference Protocol and translation by Dr. Raul Hilberg filed as Exhibit 53A,B)
“In my opinion,” said Browning, “the Wannsee Conference is the point at which the ministerial bureaucracy, the various parts of the German government in Berlin, were going to be brought into — initiated into the plan for the physical extermination of the European Jews … By January of 1942, the plan to murder the European Jews had taken form. It had now been communicated to the Ministerial bureaucracy through their State Secretaries in Berlin, that a decision-making process, in effect, had reached its conclusion and that the Germans were now — the Nazi government was now prepared to implement that plan.” (13-3136, 3137; 14-3152)
In Browning’s opinion, two extermination camps had already been constructed in the fall of 1941. “The first of those began gassing in fact on December 8, shortly before the Wannsee Conference. At least some experimental gassing was carried out at Auschwitz before the Wannsee Conference too. In the following year, the opening of the death camps at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka take place in March, May and July, respectively. The gassing at Auschwitz on a larger scale is commenced, and continuing gassing in Chelmno, the first camp goes as well. By the end of 1942 most of Polish Jewry has been killed.” (14-3152, 3153).
Browning referred to an excerpt from the Hans Frank diary from 9 December, 1942. At that time “the Nazi government realized it was now in for a long war and that they would have to intensify economic mobilization … ” Increased use of Polish labour in Germany as well as Russian prisoners of war had resulted in labour shortages in Poland itself. (14-3153) Browning read his own translation of the Frank entry to the jury:
Not unimportant labor reserves have been taken from us when we lost our old trustworthy Jews. It is clear that the labor situation is aggravated when, in the middle of the war effort, the order comes, to leave all the Jews to destruction. The responsibility for this does not lie with the offices of the General Government. The directive for the destruction of the Jews comes from higher authorities. We must only deal with the consequences and can only communicate to the Reich authorities that the taking away of the Jews has led to most enormous difficulties in the labor field. I have recently been able to show State Secretary Ganzenmüller who complained that a large construction project in the General Government had come to a standstill, that that would not have happened if the many thousands of Jews employed there had not been taken away. Now the order stipulates that the Jews in the armaments industry are to be taken away. I hope that this order, if not already revoked, will yet be revoked, because otherwise the situation looks even worse. (Excerpt from Hans Frank diary and English translation filed as Exhibits 54A,B)
In Browning’s opinion, the expression “taking away of the Jews” in this case meant deporting them out of the ghettos to the extermination camps. (14-3155)
Browning next referred to a speech given by Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, given to his SS leaders on 4 October, 1943 in the city of Posen and read a portion entitled “Jewish Evacuation” out loud to the jury:
I also want to talk to you, quite frankly, on a very grave matter. Among ourselves it should be mentioned quite frankly, and yet we will never speak of it publicly. Just as we did not hesitate on June 30th, 1934 to do the duty we were bidden, and stand comrades who had lapsed, up against the wall and shoot them, so we have never spoken about it and will never speak of it. It was that tact which is a matter of course and which I am glad to say, is inherent in us, that made us never discuss it among ourselves, never speak of it. It appalled everyone, and yet everyone was certain that he would do it the next time if such orders are issued and if it is necessary.
[Browning explained to the jury that this referred to an incident in which the SS provided a firing squad to execute the leader of the SA and some of his colleagues.]
I mean the clearing out of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish race. It’s one of those things it is easy to talk about — “The Jewish race is being exterminated", says one party member, “that’s quite clear, it’s in our programme — elimination of the Jews, and we're doing it, exterminating them.” And then they come, 80 million worthy Germans, and each one has his decent Jew. Of course the others are vermin, but this one is an A1 Jew. Not one of all those who talk this way has witnessed it, not one of them has been through it. Most of you must know what it means when 100 corpses are lying side by side, or 500 or 1000. To have stuck it out and at the same time — apart from exceptions caused by human weakness — to have remained decent fellows, that is what has made us hard. This is a page of glory in our history which has never been written and is never to be written, for we know how difficult we should have made it for ourselves, if — with the bombing raids, the burdens and the deprivations of war — we still had Jews today in every town as secret saboteurs, agitators and trouble-mongers. We would now probably have reached the 1916/17 stage when the Jews were still in the German national body.
We have taken from them what wealth they had. I have issued a strict order, which SS- Obergruppenführer Pohl has carried out, that this wealth should, as a matter of course, be handed over to the Reich without reserve. We have taken none of it for ourselves. Individual men who have lapsed will be punished in accordance with an order I issued at the beginning, which gave this warning; Whoever takes so much as a mark of it, is a dead man. A number of SS men — there are not very many of them — have fallen short, and they will die, without mercy. We had the moral right, we had the duty to our people, to destroy this people which wanted to destroy us. But we have not the right to enrich ourselves with so much as a fur, a watch, a mark, or a cigarette or anything else. Because we have exterminated a bacterium we do not want, in the end, to be infected by the bacterium and die of it. I will not see so much as a small area of sepsis appear here or gain a hold. Wherever it may form, we will cauterize it. Altogether, however, we can say, that we have fulfilled this most difficult duty for the love of our people. And our spirit, our soul, our character has not suffered injury from it.
Browning read to the jury that portion on page 11 of Did Six Million Really Die? which dealt with the Posen speech:
A review of the documentary situation is important, because it reveals the edifice of guesswork and baseless assumptions upon which the extermination legend is built. The Germans had an extraordinary propensity for recording everything on paper in the most careful detail, yet among the thousands of captured documents of the S.D. and Gestapo, the records of the Reich Security Head Office, the files of Himmler’s headquarters and Hitler’s own war directives there is not a single order for the extermination of Jews or anyone else. It will be seen later that this has, in fact, been admitted by the World Centre of Contemporary Jewish Documentation at Tel Aviv. Attempts to find “veiled allusions” to genocide in speeches like that of Himmler’s to his S.S. Obergruppenführers at Posen in 1943 are likewise quite hopeless.
To Browning, the speech clearly showed that “the Jewish race is being exterminated” and “that’s quite clear, it’s in our programme — elimination of the Jews, and we're doing it, exterminating them.” (14-3162, 3163) Browning himself had never seen the original of the Posen speech but he presumed the original was in the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz. There was a sound recording of the speech as well, a copy of which was kept in the National Archives in Washington. (14-3162; Posen speech and extracts filed as Exhibits 55A, B and C at 14-3163)
Browning added that he had never heard of the “World Centre of Contemporary Jewish Documentation” at Tel Aviv referred to in the pamphlet.
He continued his analysis on page 13:
The Wisliceny statement deals at some length with the activities of the Einsatzgruppen or Action Groups used in the Russian campaign. These must merit a detailed consideration in a survey of Nuremberg because the picture presented of them at the Trials represents a kind of “Six Million” in miniature, i.e. has been proved since to be the most enormous exaggeration and falsification. The Einsatzgruppen were four special units drawn from the Gestapo and the S.D. (S.S. Security Service) whose task was to wipe out partisans and Communist commissars in the wake of the advancing German armies in Russia. As early as 1939, there had been 34,000 of these political commissars attached to the Red Army. The activities of the Einsatzgruppen were the particular concern of the Soviet Prosecutor Rudenko at the Nuremberg Trials. The 1947 indictment of the four groups alleged that in the course of their operations they had killed not less then one million Jews in Russia merely because they were Jews.
Browning testified that the attempt to kill Russian Jews through firing squad methods and the numbers that had been killed, had not been proven to be an exaggeration as claimed by Harwood. Virtually all of the historians whose works Browning had read indicated that a minimum of one million Jews were killed and that the number was probably higher. (14-3166)
Browning continued on page 13:
These allegations have since been elaborated; it is now claimed that the murder of Soviet Jews by the Einsatzgruppen constituted Phase One in the plan to exterminate the Jews, Phase Two being the transportation of European Jews to Poland. Reitlinger admits that the original term “final solution” referred to emigration and had nothing to do with the liquidation of Jews, but he then claims that an extermination policy began at the time of the invasion of Russia in 1941.
Browning agreed with both statements attributed to Reitlinger, i.e., that the term “final solution” referred to something other than extermination originally and then became the code word for extermination. “The first phase of that extermination process,” said Browning, “the policy, did begin with the invasion of Russia in June of 1941.” (14-3167)
He [Reitlinger] considers Hitler’s order of July 1941 for the liquidation of the Communist commissars, and he concludes that this was accompanied by a verbal order from Hitler for the Einsatzgruppen to liquidate all Soviet Jews (Die Endlösung, p. 91). If this assumption is based on anything at all, it is probably the worthless Wisliceny statement …
Browning had not consulted the German version of Reitlinger’s book (Die Endlösung) cited by the pamphlet. In the English version the chapter and footnotes on Hitler and the decision to murder Russian Jews did not refer at any time to the Wisliceny statement. “In terms of the Einsatzgruppen,” said Browning, “Reitlinger, like other historians, relies on primarily a series of documents that we refer to as the Einsatzgruppen reports. These documents … came in … three kinds. There were a series of daily reports, almost daily with few exceptions, through the summer and fall of 1941, compiled by Heydrich, that was circulated with the SS. There were monthly reports that Heydrich circulated to other ministries in the German government, and then in 1942, there were another series of reports that came, I think, weekly.” He regarded these reports as “very important” because they were reports of “what the Einsatzgruppen and other units were doing in Russia.” (14-3168, 3169) There were four Einsatzgruppen: Groups A, B, C and D and they were assigned to the northern, central, southern and Romanian fronts. They moved forward with the armies. (14-3172)
Browning referred to document NO (Nazi Organization) 3146, dated 25 September, 1941 being Einsatzgruppen report no. 94. This report summarized the most recent information that Heydrich had received in Berlin and was circulated within the SS. This particular report was number 36 out of 48 copies. (14-3169 to 3171) Browning read a portion of the document to the jury:
Sonderkommando 4a by now had carried out more than 15,000 executions. Einsatzkommando 5 reports the liquidation of 90 political functionaries, 72 saboteurs and looters and 161 Jews during the period of 31 August to 6 September, 1941. Sonderkommando 4b shot 13 political functionaries and 290 Jews — particularly intellectuals between the 6 and 12 September, 1941, while the Einsatzkommando 6 executed 60 persons between the 1 and 13 September, 1941. The Group staff could liquidate during the last days 4 functionaries and/or informers of the NKVD, 6 anti-social elements (gipsies) and 55 Jews. In the month of August, the formations of the Senior SS and Police leaders shot a total of 44, 125 persons, mostly Jews. (14- 3171, 3172)
As already mentioned, the procedure against the Jews has to be different in the various sectors according to the density of the settlement. Especially in the northern sector of the Einsatzgruppe C, very many escaped Jews turned up again in the villages and they now represent a heavy burden from the point of view of nourishment. They are neither billeted nor fed by the population. Partly they live in holes in the ground and partly packed together in old huts. Thus the danger of epidemics considerably increased so that for this reason alone the complete purging of the places in question became necessary. (14-3173; National Archives document NO-3146 and translations filed as Exhibit 56A, B and C)
Browning next referred to Nuremberg document L-180, which was used at the International Military Tribunal, the so-called “Stahlecker Report.” This was a report by the commander of Einsatzgruppe A, a man named Franz Stahlecker, who wrote a summary report of his activities from the beginning of the invasion of Russia on 22 June, 1941 to 15 October, 1941. Einsatzgruppe A operated mainly in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. (14-3174, 3175) Browning read excerpts of the document to the jury:
Aside from those searching activities, a systematic search was made for Communist functionaries, Red Army soldiers, and persons more seriously suspected for their communist activities who had been left behind. In some places the Self-Protection Units themselves had rendered harmless the most infamous Communists already spontaneously.
Using all available units of the Kommandos and Self-Protection Formations, and with the help of the ORPO, large scale actions were carried out in the larger towns resulting in many arrests and search actions …
From the beginning it was to be expected that the Jewish problem in the East could not be solved by pogroms alone. In accordance with the basic orders received, however, the clearing activities of the Security Police had to aim at a complete annihilation of the Jews, Sonderkommandos reinforced by selected units — in Lithouania partisan detachments, in Latvia units of the Latvian auxiliary police — therefore performed extensive executions both in the towns and in rural areas. The actions of the execution Kommandos were performed smoothly. When attaching Lithouanian and Latvian detachments to the execution squads, men were chosen relatives had been murdered or removed by the Russians.
Especially severe and extensive measures became necessary in Lithouania. In some places — especially in Kowno — the Jews had armed themselves and participated actively in franctireur war [partisan warfare] and committed arson. Besides these activities the Jews in Lithouania had collaborated most actively hand in glove with the Soviets.
The sum total of the Jews liquidated in Lithouania amounts to 71,105.
During the pogroms in Kowno 3,800 Jews were eliminated, in the smaller towns about 1,200 Jews.
In Latvia as well the Jews participated in acts of sabotage and arson after the invasion of the German Armed Forces. In Buonsburg so many fires were started by the Jews that a large part of the town was lost. The electric power station burnt down to a mere shell. The streets which were mainly inhabited by Jews remained unscathed.
In Latvia up to now 30,000 Jews were executed in all. 500 were made harmless by pogroms in Riga.
Most of the 4,500 Jews living in Esthonia at the beginning of the Eastern Campaign fled with the retreating Red Army. About 2,000 stayed behind. In Reval alone there lived about 1,000 Jews.
The arrest of all male Jews of over 16 years of age has been nearly finished. With the exception of the doctors and the Elders of the Jews who were appointed by the Sonderkommandos, they were executed by the Self-Protection Units under the control of the Sonderkommando 1a. Jewesses in Pernau and Reval of the age groups from 16 to 60 who are fit for work were arrested and put to peat-cutting or other labor.
At present a camp is being constructed in Harku, in which all Esthonian Jews are to be assembled, so that Esthonia will be free of Jews within a short while.
After the carrying out of the first larger executions in Lithouania and Latvia it became soon apparent that an annihilation of the Jews without leaving any traces could not be carried out, at least not at the present moment. Since a large part of the trades in Lithouania and Latvia are in Jewish hands and others carried on nearly exclusively by Jews (especially those of glaziers, plumbers, stovebuilders, cobblers) many Jewish partisans [Browning stated to the jury that he believed this was a mistake in the translation: it should read “artisans", not “partisans"] are indispensable at present for repairing installations of vital importance for the reconstruction of towns destroyed and for work of military importance. Although the employers aim at replacing Jewish labor with Lithouanian or Latvian labor, it is not yet possible to displace all employed Jews especially not in the larger towns. In co-operation with the labor exchange offices, however, all Jews who are no longer fit for work are being arrested and shall be executed in small badges. [Browning testified he believed this word should be “batches".]
In this connection it may be mentioned that some authorities of the Civil Administration offered resistance, at times even a strong one, against the carrying out of larger executions. This resistance was answered by calling attention to the fact that it was a matter of carrying out basic orders. (14-3175 to 3180; Report of Einsatzgruppe A (L-180) and translation filed as Exhibits 57A,B,C at 14-3181, 3183))
At the end of the document, Stahlecker attached a number of appendices. Appendix no. 8, statistics for Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and part of White Ruthenia, showed that for a four month period a total of 118,430 Jews and 3,387 Communists had been killed for a total of 121,817. Stahlecker indicated in the report that if other killings were included, such as those of mentally-ill lunatics, the total was 135,567. (14-3180, 3181)
Browning indicated that the Einsatzgruppen reports had been captured by the Americans and filed in the National Archives. They were later returned to Germany. (14-3181)
In document NO-2825, dated 14 November, 1941, being Einsatzgruppen report no. 133, Browning testified that under the heading “Liquidations,” it showed that as of that date Einsatzgruppe B had liquidated 45,467 persons in White Russia. (14-3183, 3184; Document NO- 2825 and translation filed as Exhibits 58A,B at 3185))
Browning read to the jury an excerpt from document NO-3157, dated 3 November, 1941, being Einsatzgruppen report no. 128. The report, the 51st copy of 55 copies circulated within the SS, summarized the activities of Einsatzgruppe C which operated in the Ukraine:
As to purely executive matters, approximately 80 000 persons were liquidated until now by the Kommandos of the Einsatzgruppe.
Among these are approximately 8000 persons through investigations convicted of anti-German or bolshevistic activities.
The remainder was liquidated as a retaliatory measure.
Several retaliatory measures were carried out as large scale actions. The largest of these actions took place immediately after the occupation of Kiew; it was carried out exclusively against Jews with their entire families.
The difficulties resulting from such a large scale action — in particular concerning the seizure — were overcome in Kiew by requesting the Jewish population through wall-posters to move. Although only a participation of approximately 5-6000 Jews had been expected at first, more than 30 000 Jews arrived who until the very moment of their execution still believed in their resettlement, thanks to an extremely clever organization.
Even though approximately 75 000 Jews have been liquidated in this manner, it is already at this time evident, that this cannot be a possible solution of the Jewish problem. Although we succeeded, in particular in smaller towns and also in villages in accomplishing a complete liquidation of the Jewish problem, again and again it is however observed in larger cities that after such an execution all Jews have indeed disappeared. But when after a certain period of time a Kommando returns again, the number of Jews still found in the city always considerably surpasses the number of the executed Jews. (14-3186 to 3189; Document NO-3157 and translation filed as Exhibit 59A,B)
Browning testified that while Did Six Million Really Die? maintained that the Jews were in fact resettled rather than executed, this document showed that “resettlement was in fact a clever organization of the Germans to assemble Jews and to keep them living in something else until the last moment.” (14-3187, 3188)
Document NO-2828, dated 12 December, 1941, being Einsatzgruppen report no. 145, indicated with respect to the activities of Einsatzgruppe D, which operated on the Romanian front, that “2,910 more Jews and nineteen Communist officials were shot after summary proceedings. Thus the sum total of executions has risen to 54,696,” said Browning. (14-3189, 3190; Document NO-2828 and Nuremberg translation filed as Exhibit 60A,B at 14-3191)
Browning next referred to document number 3257-PS, dated 2 December, 1941; “a document from the army’s inspectorate in the Ukraine to the chief of the military armaments group of the higher command of the armed forces, a man named General Thomas.” In Browning’s opinion as a historian, the document was significant because it was a report from a person outside the Einsatzgruppen, one Professor Seraphim, who was looking at what was going on in the Ukraine from the perspective of someone involved with the question of labour and production. It stated:
The attitude of the Jewish population was anxious — obliging from the beginning. They tried to avoid everything that might displease the German administration. That they hated the German administration and army inwardly goes without saying and cannot be surprising. However, there is no proof that Jewry as a whole or even to a greater part was implicated in acts of sabotage. Surely, there were some terrorists or saboteurs among them just as among the Ukrainians. But it cannot be said that the Jews as such represented a danger to the German armed forces. The output produced by Jews who, of course, were prompted by nothing but the feeling of fear, was satisfactory to the troops and the German administration.
The Jewish population remained temporarily unmolested shortly after the fighting. Only weeks, sometimes months later, specially detached formations of the police (Ordnungspolizei) executed a planned shooting of Jews. This action as a rule proceeded from east to west. It was done entirely in public with the use of the Ukrainian militia and unfortunately in many instances also with members of the armed forces taking part voluntarily. The way these actions which included men and old men, women and children of all ages were carried out was horrible. The great masses executed make this action more gigantic than any similar measure taken so far in the Soviet Union. So far about 150,000 to 20,000 [Browning testified that he believed this to be a misprint and that it should read “200,000"] Jews may have been executed in the part of the Ukraine belonging to the Reichskommissariat (RK); no consideration was given to the interests of economy.
Summarizing it can be said that the kind of solution of the Jewish problem applied in the Ukraine which obviously was based on the ideological theories as a matter of principle had the following results:
a) Elimination of a part of partly superfluous eaters in the cities.
b) Elimination of a part of the population which hated us undoubtedly.
c) Elimination of badly needed tradesmen who were in many instances indispensable even in the interests of the armed forces.
d) Consequences as to foreign policy — propaganda which are obvious.
e) Bad effects on the troops which in any case get indirect contact with the executions.
f) Brutalizing effect on the formations which carry out the executions — regular police — (Ordnungspolizei).
Scooping off the agricultural surplus in the Ukraine for the purpose of feeding the Reich is therefore only feasible if traffic in the interior of the Ukraine is diminished to a minimum. The attempt will be made to achieve this
- by annihilation of superfluous eaters (Jews, population of the Ukrainian big cities, which like Kiev do not receive any supplies at all);
- by extreme reduction of the rations allocated to the Ukrainians in the remaining cities;
- by decrease of the food of the farming population.
It must be realized that in the Ukraine eventually only the Ukrainians can produce economic values by labor. If we shoot the Jews, let the prisoners of war perish, condemn considerable parts of the urban population to death by starvation and also lose a part of the farming population by hunger during the next year, the question remains unanswered: Who in all the world is then supposed to produce economic values here? (14-3191 to 3197; Document 3257-PS and translation filed as Exhibits 61 A,B,C at 14-3198)
Browning testified that Did Six Million Really Die? suggested in a number of places that the question of labour was fundamental: “that this was the true priority of the Nazi regime in regards to the Jews.” (14-3193) But the Seraphim report indicated “that those responsible for trying to mobilize the occupied territories for the economic war efforts felt that in fact labour was not a rarity but was being ignored, or for sacrifice to the ideological goal of murdering all the Jews.” (14-3197)
Browning next referred to document NO-511, comprising a covering letter and a copy of a report dated 20 December, 1942 from Himmler to Adolf Hitler concerning the combatting of “bands” (the German term for partisans) in South Russia, the Ukraine and Bialystok. (14-3199) In this report, Himmler compiled statistics from the results of combatting partisans from August to the first of December, 1942. These statistics showed that for the four months of August, September, October and November, the number of partisans killed in battle was 1,337; prisoners immediately executed, 737; prisoners executed after lengthy close examination, 7,828; accomplices of partisans and persons suspected of helping them, 16,546 arrested, 14,257 executed; Jews executed in August, 31,246; Jews executed in September, 165,282; Jews executed in October, 95,735; Jews executed in November, 70,948; for a total of 363,211. (14-3200, 3201; Document NO- 511 and translation filed as Exhibits 62 A,B at 14-3208)
Pearson asked Browning to comment on the following passage from the pamphlet at page 14:
The Soviet charge that the Action Groups had wantonly exterminated a million Jews during their operations has been shown subsequently to be a massive falsification … (These horrific distortions are the subject of six pages of William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, pp. 1140-46). Here, then, is the legendary 6 million in miniature; not one million deaths, but one hundred thousand. Of course, only a small proportion of these could have been Jewish partisans and Communist functionaries. It is worth repeating that these casualties were inflicted during savage partisan warfare on the Eastern front, and that Soviet terrorists claim to have killed five times that number of German troops. It has nevertheless remained a popular myth that the extermination of the Jews began with the actions of the Einsatzgruppen in Russia.
Browning testified that the Himmler report to Hitler indicated that in a four-month period alone from August to December of 1942, there were recorded executions of Jews totalling 363,211 in the areas of South Russia, Ukraine and Bialystok. With respect to German losses, the same report indicated that “among the SS and Security Police involved in this operation in the four-month period, there was a total of 174 killed. Among the groups that were killed who worked with the so called 'protective squad', there were 285 [killed]. These are units that they organized among the local population.” Browning indicated after objection by defence counsel that the German army itself was not included in the loss tally, but simply those SS and protective squad units involved in the anti-partisan campaign. (14-3203 to 3207)
Pearson turned Browning’s attention next to page 18 of the pamphlet and the following passage:
In terms of numbers, Polish Jewry is supposed to have suffered most of all from extermination, not only at Auschwitz, but at an endless list of newly-discovered “death camps” such as Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Majdanek, Chelmno and at many more obscure places which seem suddenly to have gained prominence.
Browning testified that while phase one of the extermination of the Jews was the open-air firing squad executions in Russia, phase two was the deportation of the Jews from various parts of Europe to the extermination camps in Poland. He did not agree with the pamphlet that Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Majdanek and Chelmno were “newly-discovered” death camps: “There are reports, even during the war, on the use of gas vans at Chelmno. At Treblinka, for instance, at the first Nuremberg trial, one of the escapees during the Treblinka uprising and breakout in fact testified that Majdanek, we'll see, was liberated in the summer of 1941, and that’s well-known. Sobibor and Belzec were not unknown at the time but were not as well known, but I certainly do not characterize them as 'newly-discovered.'” (14-3210, 3211)
The Jews dealt with at these camps came from Poland itself where the camps were located and were also deported by train from the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Greece, “for the most part.” (14-3211)
Browning turned to page 18 of the pamphlet:
It has been established already that the 1931 Jewish population census for Poland placed the number of Jews at 2,732,600, and that after emigration and flight to the Soviet Union, no more than 1,100,000 were under German control.
Browning admitted that he was not a demographic expert and stated: “There is so much population movement that at any one time it’s still difficult to give exact figures … so I would refrain.” Nevertheless, he thought the statistic given in the pamphlet was much too low: “[B]y the German records, they had about a half million or 500,000 in the incorporated territories. I think Frank’s figures that he gave in his diary are inflated, but that they would have — I don’t know if I should say, they have two million in the General Government. That may be too high. I would have to analyze those reports before I can make an official, you know, statement in that regard, but 1.1 million is definitely much too low.” (14-3212, 3213)
Browning turned next to the following passage in the pamphlet on pages 18-19:
These incontrovertible facts, however, do not prevent Manvell and Frankl asserting that “there had been over three million Jews in Poland when Germany began the invasion” and that in 1942 “some two million still awaited death” (ibid., p. 140). In reality, of the million or so Jews in Poland, almost half, about 400,000 were eventually concentrated in the ghetto of Warsaw, an area of about two and a half square miles around the old mediaeval ghetto. The remainder had already been moved to the Polish Government- General by September 1940. In the summer of 1942, Himmler ordered the resettlement of all Polish Jews in detention camps in order to obtain their labour, part of the system of general concentration for labour assignment in the Government-General. Thus between July and October 1942, over three quarters of the Warsaw Ghetto’s inhabitants were peacefully evacuated and transported, supervised by the Jewish police themselves. As we have seen, transportation to camps is alleged to have ended in “extermination", but there is absolutely no doubt from the evidence available that it involved only the effective procurement of labour and the prevention of unrest. In the first place, Himmler discovered on a surprise visit to Warsaw in January 1943 that 24,000 Jews registered as armaments workers were in fact working illegally as tailors and furriers (Manvell and Frankl, ibid, p. 140); the Ghetto was also being used as a base for subversive forays into the main area of Warsaw.
After six months of peaceful evacuation, when only about 60,000 Jews remained in the residential ghetto, the Germans met with an armed rebellion on 18th January, 1943. Manvell and Frankl admit that “The Jews involved in planned resistance had for a long time been engaged in smuggling arms from the outside world, and combat groups fired on and killed S.S. men and militia in charge of a column of deportees.” The terrorists in the Ghetto uprising were also assisted by the Polish Home Army and the PPR — Polska Partia Robotnicza, the Communist Polish Workers Party. It was under these circumstances of a revolt aided by partisans and communists that the occupying forces, as any army would in a similar situation, moved in to suppress the terrorists, if necessary by destroying the residential area itself. It should be remembered that the whole process of evacuation would have continued peacefully had not extremists among the inhabitants planned an armed rebellion which in the end was bound to fail. When S.S. Lieutenant-General Stroop entered the Ghetto with armoured cars on 19th April, he immediately came under fire and lost twelve men; German and Polish casualties in the battle, which lasted four weeks, totalled 101 men killed and wounded. Stubborn resistance by the Jewish Combat Organisation in the face of impossible odds led to an estimated 12,000 Jewish casualties, the majority by remaining in burning buildings and dug outs. A total, however, of 56,065 inhabitants were captured and peacefully resettled in the area of the Government-General.
Based on eyewitness accounts and documentary evidence, Browning believed the evacuation of the Warsaw ghetto could not be characterized as peaceful. “The eyewitness testimony comes from units that were involved in clearing the ghetto, and I have read a number of these testimonies in Ludwigsburg. The accounts of clearing the ghetto are among the most hair-raising documents that I have read from the Holocaust. The descriptions of driving people out of building, or beating them down the street, of shooting willfully and wildly on all occasions, can in no way be described as a peaceful resettlement … The head of the Jewish Council in Warsaw had to make a monthly report to the German authorities, and he had to report deaths in the ghetto every month. For the month of August, when the deportations were underway, he reports, among the deaths in the ghetto, 2,305 people dying from shooting wounds, and the following months of September, 3,158 deaths from shooting wounds. This, I think, confirms the eyewitness testimony that people were shot right and left and extraordinary brutality was used to force people onto trains, to take them to the extermination camps.”
It troubled Browning greatly that the pamphlet claimed that the resettlement was only for the effective procurement of labour and that the portion dealing with the Warsaw ghetto not only denied the deaths of these people, but imputed that “the Jews were the aggressor and that the Nazis were, in effect, in self-defence, going to clear out the ghetto … ” (14-3216, 3217)
Of the alleged peaceful resettlement of the remaining 56,000 Jews, Browning testified that a number were shot on the spot; a number were sent to Treblinka where he believed they were gassed; the rest were sent to the extermination camp at Majdanek where a high proportion of them were gassed on the spot. The remainder were distributed among the work camps in the Lublin area. Most of those were then shot on the following November 3 and 4 in the fall of 1943. (14-3218) In giving this testimony, Browning relied on the testimony of a large number of people. (17-3927)
Pearson asked Browning to comment on the following passage from the pamphlet at page 22:
In his recent book Adolf Hitler (London, 1973), Colin Cross, who brings more intelligence than is usual to many problems of this period, observes astutely that “The shuffling of millions of Jews around Europe and murdering them, in a time of desperate war emergency, was useless from any rational point of view” (p. 307). Quite so, and at this point we may well question the likelihood of this irrationalism, and whether it was even possible. Is it likely, that at the height of the war, when the Germans were fighting a desperate battle for survival on two fronts, they would have conveyed millions of Jews for miles to supposedly elaborate and costly slaughter houses? To have conveyed three or four million Jews to Auschwitz alone (even supposing that such an inflated number existed in Europe, which it did not), would have placed an insuperable burden upon German transportation facilities which were strained to the limit in supporting the farflung Russian front. To have transported the mythical six million Jews and countless numbers of other nationalities to internment camps, and to have housed, clothed and fed them there, would simply have paralysed their military operations. There is no reason to suppose that the efficient Germans would have put their military fortunes at such risk.
Browning was aware of some of the works of Colin Cross and described him as a “quite respectable” historian. Browning said he would be “surprised if Colin Cross in fact was supporting the conclusions that that paragraph draws or the propositions that argues for it.” Referring to page 307 of Cross’s book, Browning indicated that the pamphlet had correctly quoted the particular sentence from the book, but that other parts of the book indicated that Cross did not support the conclusions drawn by the pamphlet. The following passages from the Cross book were read to the jury:
Although always improvised and, by its own criteria inefficient, the extermination programme moved into its most horrific phase in December 1941 with the opening of a gassing centre at an isolated country house near Lodz, Poland. This made the killing more 'impersonal' and so more bearable to the perpetrators. (The psychology of this was somewhat similar to that of mass terroristic bombing: the airmen who started the Hamburg fire storms did so impersonally; they would have found it repugnant had they been required to throw men, women and children into fire with their bare hands.) Gassing and subsequent cremation were a success and the major centre became Auschwitz (Oswiecim), a complex of concentration camps at a rail junction thirty-two miles west of Cracow, Poland. Interestingly, there were no outright exterminations within Germany itself. Many concentration camp prisoners in Germany did die through maltreatment and overwork — and in the closing phases of the war through starvation — but 'the final solution of the Jewish problem', in terms of deliberate mass killing, was carried out in seclusion in Poland. How far this was Hitler’s personal decision is not clear. There was some feeling that the soil of Germany should not be polluted by mass killing and, also, some necessity to keep the German population in ignorance of what was going on … Hitler believed it was a 'cleansing' operation and an act of 'retribution'. In reality he showed how far superstition could still count in the high politics of the twentieth century. (14-3221 to 3223; Pages 306 and 307 of the book Adolf Hitler by Colin Cross filed as Exhibit 63 at 14-3223)
Crown counsel returned to the pamphlet and read from page 20:
Certainly the most bogus “memoirs” yet published are those of Adolf Eichmann. Before his illegal kidnapping by the Israelis in May, 1960 and the attendant blaze of international publicity, few people had ever heard of him. He was indeed a relatively unimportant person, the head of Office A4b in Department IV (the Gestapo) of the Reich Security Head Office. His office supervised the transportation to detention camps of a particular section of enemy aliens, the Jews … Strangely enough, the alleged “memoirs” of Adolf Eichmann suddenly appeared at the time of his abduction to Israel. They were uncritically published by the American Life magazine (November 28th, December 5th, 1960), and were supposed to have been given by Eichmann to a journalist in the Argentine shortly before his capture — an amazing coincidence. Other sources, however, gave an entirely different account of their origin, claiming that they were a record based on Eichmann’s comments to an “associate” in 1955, though no one even bothered to identify this person.
In fact, said Browning, Eichmann had given an interview to a journalist named Sassen who had been a member of the SS during the war. There was no coincidence because it was Sassen’s attempts to peddle his material with publishers which alerted Israeli police to the fact that Eichmann was alive and thus helped lead to his capture. (14-3225)
Browning considered Eichmann’s testimony to be “very, very important and very central. It is also the most extensive testimony of any one single individual involved in the Holocaust.” This testimony included the interviews conducted with Sassen in Argentina (which were endorsed by Eichmann’s widow as his true account), extensive police interrogations of Eichmann in Jerusalem and an approximately 100 page handwritten memoir written by Eichmann in his cell in Jerusalem. (14-3226) In every account he gave, Eichmann stated that he was called into the office of Reinhard Heydrich and was told “flat out it was the order of the Führer that all the Jews of Europe were to be physically exterminated.” This was the same Heydrich who chaired the Wannsee Conference. Said Browning: “ … Eichmann notes that Heydrich and one of Heydrich’s officials, a man named Heinrich Müller, who is the head of the Gestapo and Eichmann’s more direct boss, sent him on various trips to investigate what was happening in different parts of Europe or in Poland and Russia. To be exact, in the fall of 1941 when they are in that stage of trying to figure out 'how are we going to, in fact carry out Hitler’s order', that they referred to the verbal order of Hitler for the extermination of the Jews. He tells about his first trip to a camp, the name of which he cannot remember … He tells us about his visit to Minsk where he witnessed Einsatzgruppen execution. He tells about his visit to Chelmno, the first camp that opened on December eighth, where the killing was done not in stationary gas chambers but in gas vans, and in one of his accounts he gave a very detailed description of how he visited the large villa in the town where the Jews were undressed and then forced in the vans, that the driver invited him to look through the peephole which he said he couldn’t stand, and he didn’t. He followed the truck to the woods. He saw the door opened. He saw the bodies pile out and said it was one of the worst things he had ever experienced in his life, and that he was sufficiently traumatized that he didn’t, in fact, even time the operation, and, thus, when he got back to report to Müller, the Gestapo chief, he couldn’t, in fact, even tell him in fact what he had been sent to do, which was to figure out how fast this would operate.” (14-3228)
Eichmann also testified to his being present at the Wannsee Conference, “that he in fact was in charge of the taking of the protocol; that he then checked with Heydrich a number of times; that the more vulgar language was cleaned up and expressed in more official euphemisms, and then he relates that he indeed had been to Auschwitz on a number of occasions.” (14-3229)
“What really upset Eichmann,” said Browning, “in terms of his interrogations and being on stand at the court in Jerusalem was the accusations made against him in the memoirs of Rudolf Höss, who was the commandant at Auschwitz, and that Höss had said that Eichmann had come to him very early, that Eichmann was to tell him what gas they were going to use, and that Eichmann had discussed with him shootings in the gas vans that were not efficient enough to accomplish this, and Eichmann was very incensed that he would be accused of, or saddled with, things that he hadn’t, in fact, done. He was willing to take responsibility for his actions as the coordinator of deportations. He was only admitting events that he went to and witnessed, for which there was no documentary evidence. This he volunteered, but he was adamant that he was not the man who had decided on Zyklon B gas for Auschwitz; that he had not been involved in the decision to build gas chambers there; that Höss was falsely blaming him for those; and so he spent a long time with the interrogator and also a long time with himself in the cell, trying to make — to straighten out in his own memory — he is trying to recover his memory, and he is trying to get — he has visual images of these different events, and he is trying to get them in sequence, and he, after working at this, comes firmly to the conclusion that he could not have been to Auschwitz until the spring of 1942, when the gassing and the use of Zyklon B was already in action.”
Browning knew of Eichmann’s struggle with his memory because he had read the 100- page memoirs of Eichmann as well as handwritten notes made by him which he gave to his attorney, Dr. Servatius, who in turn donated them to the Federal Archives in Koblenz. (14-3229 to 3231)
Eichmann, said Browning, wrote that “he had seen the farmsteads where the gas chambers were. He referred to the Zyklon B as the little pellets that are different from the carbon monoxide used elsewhere, and then he finally concludes: 'Why am I placing so much emphasis on this? Because I must prove Höss the arch liar, that I had nothing to do with him and his gas chambers and his death camps.'” (14-3231)
Eichmann stated that he had never seen a gassing operation at Auschwitz; he did not accept Höss’s invitation to go to the gas chambers but they did drive past the pits where the bodies were being burned. In only one of his accounts, he said that at Treblinka he saw the naked people standing between the two lines of barbed wire before the gas chamber. (14-3231, 3232)
“In none of the accounts,” said Browning, “including the one that is endorsed by his widow as his official account, does he ever deny that there was a plan to exterminate the Jews, that he was informed of this plan to exterminate the Jews directly by Reinhard Heydrich, that Heydrich attributed this to a direct order from Adolf Hitler, and that Eichmann was the man responsible for organizing the deportations from all the countries, other than Poland and Russia, to the death camps.” To Browning, Eichmann was probably the highest central figure in the plan that survived the war and testified. (14-3232, 3233)
Browning turned next to consider the following passage from the pamphlet at page 20:
A review of the Höss “memoirs” in all their horrid detail would be tedious. We may confine ourselves to those aspects of the extermination legend which are designed with the obvious purpose of forestalling any proof of its falsity. Such, for example, is the manner in which the alleged extermination of Jews is described. This was supposed to have been carried out by a “special detachment” of Jewish prisoners. They took charge of the newly arrived contingents at the camp, led them into the enormous “gas-chambers” and disposed of the bodies afterwards. The S.S., therefore, did very little, so that most of the S.S. personnel at the camp could be left in complete ignorance of the “extermination programme". Of course, no Jew would ever be found who claimed to have been a member of this gruesome “special detachment", so that the whole issue is left conveniently unprovable. It is worth repeating that no living, authentic eye-witness of these events has ever been produced.
Browning testified that in fact such memoirs did exist from members of the so called “special detachments,” one of which was Filip Müller’s book Eyewitness Auschwitz. Another account was that of a man named Rudolf Reder, who testified that he had taken bodies out of the gas chambers at Belzec as well as help dig the graves in which the bodies were placed. A third witness admitted to emptying the bodies out of the trucks at Chelmno and putting them into the graves. (14-3234, 3235)
Pearson read the following passage to the jury from the pamphlet at page 16:
However, no living, authentic eye-witness of these “gassings” has ever been produced and validated.
Browning stated that in his research into Chelmno and Belzec, he had run across “numerous testimonies of people who have witnessed the gassings … .For Chelmno, in fact two of the people who drove the vans themselves are Gustav Laab and Walter Burmeister, and as well as the man who was in charge of the area in which the Jews were forced — entered and undressed and then forced up the ramp into the van, a man named Kurt Möbius, as well as a number of guards who were both guards at that villa and also in the woods where the trucks were unloaded. At Belzec, again, we have testimony of a man who was Christian Wirth’s adjutant, who was the man who was first commandant at Belzec and then later became the head of three camps: Belzec, Treblinka, Sobibor. His adjutant, a man named Josef Oberhauser, in fact testified to … admitting that there were gassings there that he saw. Kurt Franz, who was there and also at Treblinka, admitted to the gassings. Again, Rudolf Reder, the survivor, witnessed those and has admitted it. Gerstein, we have already mentioned a long report about visiting there and testifying to that … in terms of Belzec, that part of the guard detachment — these were Ukrainians that were — that have been taken out of Russian prisoner-of-war camps. They were starving and asked, if they were allowed to be out, if they agreed to do behind the lines guard duties in Poland, assured that they would not have to fight Russian soldiers. These people were then used both for clearing ghettos and were used as concentration camp guards. A group of those who were sent to Belzec managed to escape as a group and joined the partisans and survived the war. They, too, testified to it. We have testimony, particularly from the villagers in Chelmno. Chelmno was a small town, and the camp, in fact, was in the town itself. The main villa in the town was surrounded by, first, barbed wire; later, they put a wooden fence up. The Jews were brought in and put through the villa and out on to the van. I have seen the testimony of two school children … who can remember standing at a distance watching the loading of the van and could hear the screams and see the van drive off.” (14-3236 to 3238)
In response to defence counsel’s observation that the pamphlet had said witnesses “validated” as well as “produced,” Browning testified that the “way in which most of these were located were by extensive searches” of the Central Agency of the State Administration of Justice: “That is the agency of the West German government that was created in the late 1950s with the mandate to undertake these investigations [of the camps]. They went to very great lengths to track down the names and numbers of all the guard personnel they could find … They also sought out as many survivors as they could. They were doing this for the purpose of producing witnesses that would be heard in court.” (14-3239)
Browning turned next to page 23 of the pamphlet:
It is true that in 1945, Allied propaganda did claim that all the concentration camps, particularly those in Germany itself, were “death camps", but not for long. On this question, the eminent American historian Harry Elmer Barnes wrote: “These camps were first presented as those in Germany, such as Dachau, Belsen, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Dora, but it was soon demonstrated that there had been no systematic extermination in those camps. Attention was then moved to Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec, Chelmno, Jonowska, Tarnow, Ravensbrück, Mauthausen, Brezeznia and Birkenau, which does not exhaust the list that appears to have been extended as needed” (Rampart Journal, Summer 1967). What had happened was that certain honest observers among the British and American occupation forces in Germany, while admitting that many inmates had died of disease and starvation in the final months of the war, had found no evidence after all of “gas chambers". As a result, eastern camps in the Russian zone of occupation such as Auschwitz and Treblinka gradually came to the fore as horrific centres of extermination (though no one was permitted to see them), and this tendency has lasted to the present day. Here in these camps it was all supposed to have happened, but with the Iron Curtain brought down firmly over them, no one has ever been able to verify such charges. The Communists claimed that four million people died at Auschwitz in gigantic gas chambers accommodating 2,000 people — and no one could argue to the contrary.
Browning testified that four of these camps had ceased to exist by the time they were liberated. Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec were closed in 1943 and “a great effort was made to, in effect, cover them over. We have a document, in fact, that refers to a farmstead that was settled on Treblinka where the man was to act as if he had been there for a long time.” Chelmno was evacuated in 1943 and the villa blown up. It was briefly reopened in 1944 when gas vans were operated out of the church. “There wasn’t any special camp there at that time, so there was very little to see since the gas vans then left before the Russians arrived.” (14-3242)
With respect to Auschwitz and Majdanek, the gas chambers and crematoria in the former camp were blown up before the camp was liberated by the Russians in January of 1945; however, Majdanek was captured intact before the Germans could destroy the camp “so there was one camp intact to be seen in 1944, 1945 that we have been classifying as 'extermination camps.'” (14- 3242)
The statement in the pamphlet that no one was permitted to see the camps was false in Browning’s opinion. In late August of 1944 a group of newsmen was allowed to visit Majdanek, which had been liberated in late July of 1944. One of these newsmen was Raymond Arthur Davies, who wrote the book Odyssey Through Hell, published in New York in 1946. Did Six Million Really Die? itself on page 8 cited the Davies book.(14-3243, 3244) An excerpt from page 55 of Odyssey Through Hell in which Davies related his visit to Majdanek was read to the jury:
And as we took off in our plane en route back to Moscow, William Lawrence of the New York Times, who was among the most skeptical of all correspondents in matters of German atrocities, exclaimed: “You know, I shall begin my story: 'I have just come from the most horrible place on earth.'”
And that is how his story of Majdanek began.
Yet events after Majdanek proved that Majdanek was not the most horrible place on earth. It was typical of half-a-dozen other German extermination camps. (14-3245; Excerpt from Odyssey Through Hell filed as Exhibit 64 at 14-3246))
Browning read the text of the story written by correspondent William H. Lawrence concerning Majdanek for the New York Times. The story was published on the front page on Wednesday, 30 August, 1944 under the headline “Nazi Mass Killing Laid Bare in Camp” and the sub-heading “Victims Put at 1,500,000 in Huge Death Factory of Gas Chambers and Crematories":
LUBLIN, Poland, Aug. 27 (Delayed) — I have just seen the most terrible place on the face of the earth — the German concentration camp at Majdanek, which was a veritable River Rouge for the production of death, in which it is estimated by Soviet and Polish authorities that as many as 1,500,000 persons from nearly every country in Europe were killed in the last three years.
I have been all through the camp, inspecting its hermetically sealed gas chambers, in which the victims were asphyxiated, and five furnaces in which the bodies were cremated and I have talked with German officers attached to the camp, who admitted quite frankly that it was a highly systemized place for annihilation, although they, of course, denied any personal participation in the murders.
I have seen the skeletons of bodies the Germans did not have time to burn before the Red Army swept into Lublin on July 23, and I have seen such evidence as bone ash still in the furnaces and piled up beside them ready to be taken to near-by fields, on which it was scattered as fertilizer for cabbages. Ten Mass Graves Opened
I have been to Krempitski, ten miles to the east, where I saw three of ten opened mass graves and looked upon 368 partly decomposed bodies of men, women and children who had been executed individually in a variety of cruel and horrible means. In this forest alone, the authorities estimate, there are more than 300,000 bodies.
It is impossible for this correspondent to state with any certainty how many persons the Germans killed here. Many bodies unquestionably were burned and not nearly all the graves in this vicinity had been opened by the time I visited the scene.
But I have been in a wooden warehouse at the camp, approximately 150 feet long, in which I walked across literally tens of thousands of shoes spread across the floor like grain in a half-filled elevator. There I saw shoes of children as young as 1 year old. There were shoes of young and old men or women. Those I saw were all in bad shape — since the Germans used this camp not only to exterminate their victims, but also as a means of obtaining clothing for the German people — but some obviously had been quite expensive. At least one pair had come from America, for it bore a stamp, “Goodyear welt.”
I have been through a warehouse in downtown Lublin in which I saw hundreds of suitcases and literally tens of thousands of pieces of clothing and personal effects of people who died here and I have had the opportunity of questioning a German officer, Herman Vogel, 42, of Millheim, who admitted that as head of the clothing barracks he had supervised the shipment of eighteen freightcar loads of clothing to Germany during a two month period and that he knew it came from the bodies of persons who had been killed at Majdanek. Evidence Found Convincing
This is a place that must be seen to be believed. I have been present at numerous atrocity investigations in the Soviet Union, but never have I been confronted with such complete evidence, clearly establishing every allegation made by those investigating German crimes.
After inspection of Majdanek, I am now prepared to believe any story of German atrocities, no matter how savage, cruel and depraved.
As one of a group of nearly thirty foreign correspondents brought to Poland on the invitation of the Polish Committee of National Liberation, I also had an opportunity to sit with the special mixed Soviet- Polish Atrocities Investigation Commission, headed by Vice-chairman Andrey Witos of the Polish Committee, and to question six witnesses, including three German officers — Vogel, Theodore Shoelen and Tanton Earness — who will probably face trial for their part in the administration of the death camp. Responsible Germans Listed
For the correspondents, the commission’s prosecutor, a Pole, summed up the evidence taken. He said it had been decided that these Germans bore the main responsibility for the crimes committed at Majdanek and in the Krempitski Forest: General Globenik, Gestapo, and SS Chief of the Lublin district. Governor Wendler of the Lublin district, described as a distant relative of Heinrich Himmler. Former Governor Zoerner of the Lublin district. Lisske, who had charge of all the concentration camps in the Lublin district. General Weiss, who was in charge of the Majdanek camp. Company Commander Anton Tumann, who at one time had charge of Majdanek. Mussfeld, who was in charge of the crematorium. Klopmann, who was chief of the German political department in the Lublin district.
It is impossible in the space here available to relate details of all the evidence of crimes we saw and heard, but for the benefit of those who have not had the opportunity to see with their own eyes, here is the story as it came from the lips of a German who had been a prisoner in Majdanek and was left behind by the retreating Germans. He is Hans Staub, a 31-year-old, tall, husky man with close-cropped hair, who had been imprisoned for engaging in black market meat operations in Germany.
Despite German orders that prisoners were to keep out of the crematorium area, he managed to slip inside the brick fence one day and secrete himself about the time a truck loaded with about a dozen persons drove up. Among them was a Polish woman he estimated to have been 28 or 29 years old.
The prisoners were guarded by tommy-gunners, who ordered them to alight from the truck and undress. The woman refused and this enraged Mussfeld, who beat her. She screamed and Mussfeld lost his temper, shouting, “I'll burn you alive.”
According to Staub, Mussfeld then directed two attendants to grab the woman and bind her arms and legs. They then threw her on an iron stretcher, still clothed, and pushed her body into the oven.
“I heard one loud scream, saw her hair flame and then she disappeared into the furnace,” Staub said.
According to several witnesses, the peak death production day for Majdanek was November 3, 1943, when for some reason not made clear the Germans executed a total of 18,000 to 20,000 prisoners by a variety of means, including shooting, hanging and gassing. Camp Covers 670 Acres
This is Majdanek as I saw it. It is situated about a mile and a half from the middle of Lublin on the highroad between Chelm and Cracow. As one approaches he gets a view of the concentration camp almost identical with those pictured in American motion pictures. The first site is a twelve-foot-high double barbed- wire fence, which was charged with electricity.
Inside you see group after group of trim green buildings, not unlike the barracks in an Army camp in the United States. There were more than 200 such buildings. Outside the fence there were fourteen high machine-gun turrets and at one edge were kennels for more than 200 especially trained, savage man- tracking dogs used to pursue escaped prisoners. The whole camp covered an area of 670 acres.
As we entered the camp the first place at which we stopped obviously was the reception centre and it was near here that one entered the bath house. Here Jews, Poles, Russians and in fact representatives of a total of twenty-two nationalities entered and removed their clothing, after which they bathed at seventy-two showers and disinfectants were applied.
Sometimes they went directly into the next room, which was hermetically sealed with apertures in the roof down which the Germans threw opened cans of “Zyklon B", a poison gas consisting of prussic acid crystals, which were a light blue chalky substance. This produced death quickly. Other prisoners were kept for long periods; the average, we were told, was about six weeks.
Near the shower house were two other death chambers fitted for either Zyklon gas or carbon monoxide. One of them was seventeen meters square and there, we were told, the Germans executed 100 to 110 persons at once. Around the floor of the room ran a steel pipe with an opening for carbon monoxide to escape at every twenty-five centimeters. Victims' Death Watched
We were told the victims always received a bath in advance of execution because the hot water opened the pores and generally improved the speed with which the poison gas took effect. There were glass- covered openings in these death chambers so the Germans could watch the effect on their victims and determine when the time had come to remove their bodies. We saw opened and unopened cans of Zyklon gas that bore German labels.
About a mile from the gas chambers was the huge crematorium. Built of brick, it looked and was operated not unlike a small blast furnace for a steel mill, operating with coal as fuel fanned by an electrically operated blower. There were five openings on each side — on one side the bodies were loaded in and on the other ashes were removed and the fire built up. Each furnace held five bodies at a time.
We were told it took fifteen minutes to fill each furnace and about ten to twelve minutes for the bodies to burn. It was estimated that the battery of furnaces had a capacity of 1,900 bodies a day.
Near the furnaces we saw a large number of partial and complete skeletons. Behind a brick enclosure near by were more than a score of bodies of persons who, we were told, had been killed by the Germans on the day the Red Army captured Lublin, which they did not have time to burn before fleeing.
Not far from the furnaces were a large number of earthenware urns, which investigating authorities said witnesses told them were used by the Germans for ashes of some of their victims, which they sold to families for prices ranging up to 2,500 marks.
We saw a concrete table near the furnace and asked its purpose. We were told the Germans laid the bodies of victims there just before cremation and knocked out gold teeth, which were salvaged. We were told that no bodies were accepted for cremation unless the chest bore a stamp certifying that it had been searched for gold teeth.
It is the purpose of the Polish Committee of National Liberation to keep the main parts of Majdanek just as it now exists as an exhibition of German brutality and cruelty for all posterity to see.
M. Witos struck the universal feeling of all who have seen the camp when he expressed regret that the section of American and British public opinion that favours a soft peace with the Germans will not have an opportunity in advance of the peace conference to look at this plain evidence of the brutality of the Germans practiced towards their victims.
Among the few Polish people whom we had an opportunity to talk there is a widespread sentiment for stronger means of vengeance against the Germans, and the belief that some of those directly responsible for Majdanek should be executed in the terrible death camp they themselves erected. (14-3274 to 3287; Article from New York Times, August 30, 1944, filed as Exhibit 65 at 14-3287)
Lawrence wrote the article just after he and a group of newsmen visited the camp. As far as Browning knew, these were the first newsmen into the camp. It was a brief visit. Browning stated that he would not use such an article to verify such things as numbers because it was obviously “such a preliminary stage, these things would have been estimates.” However, Browning continued, “It is evidence in a sense of what impression this place made on someone that had been there and what he visually saw and what people told him.” Browning acknowledged that regarding the allegation in the article that the people were given baths prior to being gassed to improve the killing time, “subsequently we know that Zyklon B in fact operates better in drier rather than wetter climate. I'm not a chemist, but I think that he is — both the Russians and he are quite mistaken about the bathing of people who are going to be gassed.” (14-3275, 3284)
This testimony ended Browning’s examination by Crown counsel. Defence counsel Douglas Christie rose to commence the cross-examination.
Browning acknowledged under cross-examination that he had come voluntarily from the United States to testify against the publisher of a book: “I came here because I was asked, yes.” (14-3287, 3288) He was being paid to testify at the hourly rate of $150 Canadian, which his wife, who worked in a law office, told him was “approximately what her lawyers in her office get. That’s considerably more than I make as an academic.” Browning stated that he had been in Canada for more than a week. Asked if he would be paid for all that time as well as the time spent testifying, he replied: “I certainly hope so, sir."1 (14-3335)
It had crossed Browning’s mind that what he was doing in this trial — testifying against the publisher of a book — could not occur in his own country, but it did not trouble his conscience. “I know we have a First Amendment and it is possible that if such a law existed in the United States, it would be struck down, but I certainly am no expert in the constitutionality of that … If this [Canada] had been a country which had not been free to set its own rules about how they understood freedom of press, I would not have been willing to come. As far as I know, the Canadians operate a judicial system by due process, that they have chosen, through their own democratic system, to decide how they will interpret freedom of speech and therefore I did not have a problem of conscience about coming and testifying in this case.” (14-3288, 3289
Browning was on the advisory board of the Simon Wiesenthal Center but did not consider it to be a historically authenticated or official body of any sort. Browning’s only connection with the centre was acting as part of the advisory board to its journal, the Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual. He was confident of the academic integrity of its editor: “ … I do not, by being a member of that board, endorse or even am aware of all the things that the Simon Wiesenthal Center does.” (14-3290) He received no money from the centre. (14-3300) Later, however, Browning remembered that he had been paid a “moderate fee” for writing two articles. (14 3333, 3334) He was also being paid about $30,000 by Yad Vashem for a 500 to 700 page book which he estimated would take ten years working part-time to complete. (14-3334)
Christie put to Browning that the Simon Wiesenthal organization was a politically active Zionist organization that produced a journal for a political purpose and that he, Browning, worked for it. Browning responded that he did not believe that the centre produced the journal for a political purpose. While the centre had a number of purposes, Browning was interested in the purpose of publishing an academic journal for the Holocaust: “It’s an academic journal, not a political journal. It does not publish things about current events and doesn’t publish things about Israel.” (14-3292)
Browning denied that the centre published about the Holocaust for political purposes. Asked for a single historical accusation which had resulted in a larger financial benefit to a political cause than the Holocaust, Browning replied: “I don’t know how many reparations have been paid to Israel. I don’t know the figure of reparations that Germany paid after World War II. I don’t know the exact figure of reparations that the French paid to Germany after the Franco- Prussian war, so no, I wouldn’t feel comfortable making any judgment on that.” (14-3292) However, he thought it was “very likely” that the restitution payments in the Franco-Prussian war were comparable to the restitution payments made by West Germany. (14-3294)
Browning acknowledged that he had been in court when Charles Biedermann [Director of the International Tracing Service] testified that about 88 billion dollars had been paid in reparations, but Browning did not know if that was a fact or not. Asked whether he knew that Dr. Raul Hilberg had said that Germany would be paying reparations to the year 2000, Browning testified he had never heard this statement. He had not heard that East Germany was now going to start making reparations to Israel in order to get accepted as a trading partner with the United States. “I do know that some reparations are made to the state of Israel. I know that some restitution is made to individuals who have filed for loss of property. But I do not know the details, I do not know how those agreements were reached. It is not a field of my own study and research.” (14-3292, 3293)
Browning denied the suggestion that he was a propagandist for the state of Israel even though he was under contract to write a book for Yad Vashem, an Israeli organization. (14-3290, 3291) He also denied Christie’s suggestion that he was involved in a scheme to rewrite history: “If you mean … that I am part of some organized group or conspiracy, certainly not. If you mean as a historian who is continuing to look for new answers and to ask new questions, and thus is indeed looking to enhance how much we know and understand, I would say yes.” (14-3295)
Christie put to Browning that before Dr. Hilberg’s new edition of his book in 1985, it was generally believed there was a Hitler order. Browning testified that no one had said there was a written Hitler order, certainly not Hilberg. Christie pointed out he had not said “written.”
“I will go on, thank you,” said Browning, “There is a question of how we understand the word 'order' and this is a case where I think we have deepened our understanding, that we have tried to deal with the concept, what does it mean for there to be a Hitler order, a so-called Führer Befehl? And I have certainly looked into that question. I have, myself, proposed that we have to look at it in terms of a series of signals or incitements, that these are not necessarily explicit, exact, precise orders, but a conveying to subordinates of his hope that they will now move on to a newer stage or to do something more radical, that we are talking about in terms of a Hitler order, a rather amorphous process.” (14-3295, 3296)
Christie put to Browning that Dr. Hilberg, before his new edition in 1985, spoke of a Hitler “order.” When Browning asked to see the first edition of Hilberg’s book to check to see whether Hilberg had said “order” or “decision,” Christie suggested he was absolutely aware Hilberg referred to orders because he had written an article to comment on the fact that Hilberg no longer referred to orders. Browning admitted that he had written an article entitled “The Revised Hilberg” in which he compared Hilberg’s first and second editions of his book. “That certainly Hilberg has changed the way in which he explains Hitler’s role in this after twenty-five years of further research and thinking about it. That’s why one issues revised and new editions. That’s why the publisher puts on it 'this is a new and revised edition.' It is an academic practice that — I mean, I think it’s a good thing. I think we should be examining what we have said before; that we are attempting to refine and explain more fully what we meant and to not feel bound to accept some sort of particular phrase or word that we had used earlier that we felt no longer adequately expressed what we now felt.” (14-3296-3298)
Browning admitted that he wrote in “The Revised Hilberg” that in the new Hilberg edition, all references in the text to a Hitler decision or order for the “final solution” had been systematically excised: “ … certainly he did alter the way in which he explained or articulated Hitler’s role and it was to downplay Hitler’s role.” Hilberg had removed the words “order” and “decision” from his new edition because “he had obviously, with considerable care, decided that that word or term no longer expressed exactly what he wanted to express and so he had removed them.”
You mean cut out?, suggested Christie.
“Reworded,” said Browning. “He had cut those words out that he felt, as I have tried to explain, that 'order' or 'decision' perhaps has too precise a connotation for what he was trying to express and that therefore he had to reword it.” (14-3299)
Browning denied that he was motivated to now deny a Hitler order so that it would be easier to divide guilt more effectively among more Germans. (14-3299) Asked why he attributed the realization of the “final solution” to the Germans, he replied: “Because it was the government of Germany that carried it out and through the institutions of Germany … I tend to feel that certainly in the carrying out of this, it was not limited to a small group of people at the top; that, in fact, the whole thing could not have been carried out without a fair amount of — without widespread participation and without a lot of initiative, receptivity at the local level among local officials, so I certainly don’t feel that we can look at this solely as Hitler or a small group of Nazis at the top, but that you cannot explain the reactions of many of the people lower down unless you look at the ethos of the German army, unless you look at the bureaucratic traditions of the German Foreign Office, so that I would say you cannot talk about the Holocaust unless you certainly are looking at Germany, and not just Nazis.” (14-3301)
Christie, noting that it had been claimed for the last 45 years that the Jews of Europe were exterminated by the Germans, asked Browning for a definition of the word “extermination.” Browning replied it meant: “Murdered. Killed. I should use the word killed because murder has a judicial connotation … I have used in my writings mass murdered or murdered, but I don’t want to get into a discussion of what legally do I mean by that term.” Browning agreed that “extermination” could mean “a specific and systematic mass murder of an identifiable group.” He agreed that in the case of the Holocaust, it was a specific and systematic mass murder that was planned and methodical. (14-3304 to 3306)
Browning would not agree that the Holocaust was a specific and systematic crime without precedent in history: “I would not use the term 'without precedent' because in some ways there were at least partial precedents. I think one is getting into metaphysical questions when you use such terms as totally or without precedent. I can think of the massacres of Armenians in Turkey as a kind of precedent. One can think of what’s happened in Cambodia, a kind of auto- genocide, as opposed or as may be the opposite of a precedent, sort of what is followed after, so I … would be very reluctant to use a term like 'without precedent'.” (14-3306)
Wasn’t it true, asked Christie, that the usual understanding of the Holocaust was that it was a systematic murder in a way that had never been before undertaken, i.e., by the use of gas chambers?
“It was not the first use of gas chambers,” said Browning. There had already been the use of gas chambers against the German mentally ill in the euthanasia programme. (14-3307)
Christie asked if the alleged extermination of the Jews was a criminal matter in which the Germans were accused of mass murder. Browning testified that some Germans had been accused of mass murder and that over 7,000 Germans had been tried. When Christie pointed out that reparations were, however, paid by all Germans, Browning replied that he presumed that reparations were paid out of tax revenues in West Germany. (14-3307)
Browning admitted he had visited no concentration camps in either Poland or Germany for the purposes of research. He had visited several in Austria, Germany and France “simply to see what kind of memorial they had there.” (14-3300)
He had not conducted any scientific tests or looked at any scientific tests of a gas chamber. (14-3300) He admitted that he did not have and could not produce a document which ordered the commencement of gassings. Nor did he have a document that ordered the stopping of gassings. Nor could he produce a document that set out any organizational plan or blueprint to carry out gassings: “ — I would say one that mentions gassings as part of a large, overall document, implying that is coupled with a blanket plan, no, I cannot think of any.” (14-3309)
Christie pointed out that Browning had no order and no plan for the alleged extermination. Is there any budget for the transportation or the execution of these people by gas and the disposal of their bodies?, he asked.
“There are some documents relating to expenses of deportation,” said Browning. “There are documents relating to the property collected, that is being returned to the Reich. There is not a single overall budget report on the “final solution'.” (14 3310)
Did Browning have any expert reports which established the use of either a gas van or a gas chamber for the execution of a single person?, asked Christie.
There was witness testimony that such a report was made, said Browning: “Albert Widmann, the chemist of the … Criminal Technical Institute, the crime lab, said that he was asked in the fall of 1939 to make tests as to which gassing would be most effective, and that he reported that carbon monoxide would be the best way. This was in relation to the euthanasia programme.” (14-3310)
Christie indicated the question was related to the so-called extermination camps, not euthanasia. Do you have any expert report which establishes the use of gas in either gas vans or gas chambers in any of the camps referred to by you as death camps?, he asked.
Browning answered that he did not have a written report on the gas vans: “We again have witnessed testimony that the gas van was driven to the Criminal Technical Institute, that a chemist with a gas mask and instruments went inside and measured the carbon monoxide levels. That the gas van was then driven to, I believe this is Sachsenhausen. It was loaded with approximately forty Russian prisoners of war, and the van was tested on them; that the chemists that were brought along or the scientists that were brought along from the crime lab were to look at the bodies to see if, from the pinkish appearance of the skin, they could establish that it was carbon monoxide poisoning and not simply suffocation, and they affirmed that, and that the gas van was then put into production. There was a scientific test. I have not seen a written report about that test.” The witnesses who testified to such a test did so in court proceedings of the state Court at Hanover; Browning was prohibited by German law from publishing their last names, and so had merely identified them in his book as “Helmut H.” and “Theodore L.” Both men were present at the testing of the van at the Criminal Technical Institute and both had gone to Sachsenhausen where the test was made on the prisoners. However, Browning did not know whether the men actually testified in court in Hanover. He had looked only at “the pretrial statements that they made and were in the record. I did not see the court transcript. I don’t know if they testified in court. I think that they did. I would have to check the court judgment to see if they referred to their testimony.” (14-3311 to 3313)
The tested gas vans were to be sent to the Soviet Union for Jews and to Chelmno, the death camp that used gas vans. “Helmut H.” and “Theodore L.” were therefore giving eyewitness testimony in a German trial that commenced in 1965 about an event that happened in the fall of 1941. (14-3314)
Browning admitted he knew of “no autopsy report of someone killed by Zyklon B. It is my understanding from the various witnesses that the bodies were taken out and burned.” Christie pointed out that Browning had read a newspaper article regarding Majdanek which stated the existence of a number of bodies. Browning replied that it was not clear how those people had been killed. He had “no idea” if any autopsy was ever attempted. (14-3315)
Browning agreed that there had been people who said they witnessed the gassing procedures, but he did not know if there were any testimonies by such witnesses as to how the gas exited the gas chamber. “The only time I know someone went in was the chemist who put on a gas mask and went inside the van to measure the carbon monoxide level. I know of no other reference to someone who went inside the chamber and after being gassed came out and reported what had happened in there.” (14-3316)
He believed that some witnesses to these events had been cross-examined. He was “fairly certain” that Filip Müller, author of Eyewitness Auschwitz, was a witness at the Auschwitz trial; another survivor, Rudolf Reder, testified at the Eichmann trial in Israel where Eichmann’s defence attorney would have had the opportunity to cross-examine him, although Browning did not know whether the lawyer did so or not. Professor Pfannenstiel, the man who accompanied Gerstein to Belzec, also testified in court. Browning considered Gerstein to be a credible witness “in some things.” (14-3317, 3318)
In Browning’s opinion, there were gas chambers or gas vans in Birkenau, Majdanek, Sobibor, Belzec and Treblinka, while gas vans were used at Chelmno, Belgrade and Maly Trostinec outside Minsk in Russia. Gas vans were used also with the Einsatzgruppen. He had no evidence that there were gas chambers at Bergen-Belsen, Gross-Rosen, Stutthof-Danzig or Ravensbrück. He knew of no gassings at Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen other than the gas van test to which he had already testified. He had seen evidence of a possibility of the experimental gassing of a small number of prisoners at Struthof-Natzweiler in France, but this was not his area of research. As to Hartheim, Browning had seen some evidence as to gas chambers at the euthanasia centres, of which Hartheim was one, but this again was not his area of research. (14- 3318 to 3321)
Regarding Dachau, Browning did not know “whether what is now labeled there as having been built as a gas chamber is. I certainly have seen no evidence to the effect that it was used."(14-3319) Browning had heard that claims of gassings at Dachau were made after the war, but he had done no research on the camp. He had not seen any affidavits by persons swearing that thousands of people had been gassed there, nor did he know in which camps the Germans were accused of using homicidal gas chambers at the Nuremberg trials. Browning was not familiar with the accusations made by the British prosecutor at Nuremberg that there were gassings at Dachau, Buchenwald and Oranienburg. (14-3322) He would not agree that any eyewitness accounts that testified to gassings at Dachau would be totally false: “No, I said I don’t have any evidence that it took place. I could not say that those would be totally false. I haven’t seen the evidence. I wouldn’t a priori declare them false.” (14 3329)
Had Browning or anyone else undertaken any tests as to the authenticity of any of the documents he had referred to in his evidence?, asked Christie.
“Many of those documents that we have submitted I have held the originals in my hand,” said Browning. “I do not know that in any particular case of those documents that somebody has subjected it to a scientific test in terms of dating the paper and whatever. However, I do have confidence in the German Foreign Office Archives where I've done my work on those documents, the National Archives and had them before that in Alexandria, but I have not seen particular scientific tests on the age of the paper or something of that sort.” (14-3323, 3324)
Browning felt “fairly confidently,” for example, that the Wannsee protocol existed during the war because he had seen other files in the Foreign Office by a man he had been studying in which he made reference to parts of the protocol in a manner which indicated that he must have had access to it. The Wannsee protocol was not signed, but “testimony that Eichmann gave was that he supervised the taking of the protocol, that he consulted on the version several times with Heydrich and that it was sent from the Reichssicherheitshauptamt.” The cover letter that was found with the Wannsee protocol had Heydrich’s signature on it. (14-3324, 3325)
Christie put to Browning that he was well aware that Eichmann went through a long period of incarceration in circumstances that he wouldn’t like to go through. Browning replied that he “would not like to be imprisoned, no, sir.”
Not just imprisoned, sir, said Christie. You know more about it than that.
“Okay,” said Browning. “I would not like to be seized and put on an airplane and flown to another country and put in prison and be interrogated. No, I wouldn’t.” Browning had spoken with Avner Less, the man in charge of interrogating Eichmann, and knew that the interrogation had lasted “a long time"; for “many days.” He was not aware of any reports, which Christie suggested existed, that during the lengthy interrogation, Eichmann eventually did not know where he was, what time it was, that the lights were always on, that he was always in the company of someone else. Browning only knew that Eichmann was brought into the room where Less was when he was interrogated. He did not know how many other people were there. (14- 3326, 3327) Browning was not aware of the fact that during his trial Eichmann testified that he could not remember whether he had read something or actually remembered it. (14-3328)
Christie asked whether Dr. Raul Hilberg, author of The Destruction of the European Jews, had a history degree. Browning was not sure what his degree was but knew that he was a professor of political science. (14-3329)
Browning regarded Leon Poliakov, another Holocaust historian, as an acceptable and credible historian “in general” but did not know whether or not he had a degree in history. An academic education was not an “absolute necessity” in determining whether someone was a credible, acceptable historian, said Browning. Reitlinger, another Holocaust historian, did not have a degree either. (14-3330)
Browning believed that no single book had been more instrumental than Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews in making the Holocaust an acceptable historical event. In Browning’s opinion, it was a “truly great book that comes the closest of any work in print to being the summa of Holocaust studies” because of the vast number of subjects it dealt with. (14-3330, 3331)
Browning knew that Hilberg had trouble getting the book published but he did not know who the 'generous benefactor' was who helped Hilberg eventually publish the book in the 1961. (14-3331)
Browning estimated that between 5 and 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. He agreed that Raul Hilberg, in his 1985 edition, gave the figure of 5.1 million. (14-3331)
Christie asked Browning how many people were killed between 1933 and 1940. Browning thought “maybe there were individual cases of individual violence … at least sporadic killings … but I don’t have that broken down into a particular number.” (14-3332)
With respect to the number of Holocaust deaths in 1941, he said: “Again I wouldn’t have a number but it would go up — it would involve deaths in ghettos primarily in the spring and then it would be primarily due to the shootings in Russia between June and December of 1941.” (14- 3332)
Nor could Browning give any estimate of Holocaust deaths in 1942: “1942 would be, in my opinion, the highest year but I don’t have a particular figure for it.” (14-3333)
As for 1943, “There would be a bit of a lull and then I guess I would believe 1944 would be somewhat higher because of the Hungarian deportations.” (14-3333)
Browning could not give any estimate for the low as he had never gone through the exercise of trying to establish it: “As far as I know, Hilberg is the first one who has tried to do that.” (14-3333)
Browning had researched the Holocaust for seventeen years. While he had previously testified in the absence of the jury that only five or ten people knew as much as he did about euphemisms used in German documents, in the presence of the jury Browning testified that he didn’t “know whether I would stand by that particular number. It’s just what came into my head at the time.” He believed his particular expertise was the evaluation of the meaning of German bureaucratic documents within the context of other documents and other events taking place at the time. The Holocaust was the area in which he had gained what professional reputation he had. While he was “known,” he felt he was not “famous.” (14-3344, 3345)
Christie asked Browning whether it had ever occurred to him that the Holocaust was very useful politically to the state of Israel.
“There are some people in the state of Israel that have, I think, attempted to make political use of it,” Browning admitted. “I don’t. I don’t like to see it used that way. It is not the reason for which I am engaged in this research.” (14-3346)
Would the United States make Israel its largest foreign aid recipient, asked Christie, if it were not for the Holocaust?
“I do not know what all the reasons are that policy-makers weigh there,” said Browning. “I think their own perception of their national security interests, in some ways their perception of where their votes will come from in the next election, I think those are probably more important. I would, and again I don’t speak as an expert on this, of the fact that I recall the U.S. didn’t sell weapons or at least not high-grade weapons to Israel until the late sixties would indicate the Holocaust had not been a major factor in aid because at least in terms of Phantom Jets and whatever, as best as I can recall. It is not my field of expertise.” (14-3346)
Browning testified that since the mid-1970s the Holocaust had become an area of greater awareness. He would not agree, however, that more movies and books were written on this subject than perhaps any other historical event. “There is certainly more written now than before. I would, in that connection, draw your attention to the fact that I got into this in 1971 before that movement occurred. The advice of my professor was you can certainly go and do that as a graduate student on a doctoral dissertation, but you should be aware there is no professional future in it.” The professor had turned out to be wrong which was, Browning said, “my windfall, but it certainly was not my motivating force for why I got into this.” (14-3347, 3348)
Christie suggested that the Holocaust and laying it at the feet of the Germans was a big business. Browning believed this was incorrect and indicated that he himself was half-German; his mother’s name was Altringer. “I resent,” he said, “your continual imputations I am doing this because I am anti-German. I have many German friends. I have lived there two years and I think your suggestion of my motives of anti-Germanist are untrue.” (14-3348)
Christie produced Browning’s article “The Revised Hilberg” in which he wrote at page 294:
In the summer of 1941 the Germans realized that the time had come to cross over the dividing-line to systematic mass murder.
Browning protested that this was a review article summarizing in brief form what Hilberg wrote. “And I use 'the Germans' … in a general way. That one often refers to 'the Americans' in terms of policy in Vietnam or elsewhere, this is a standard usage … [Hilberg] is arguing that … there was a growing awareness in — in Germany in terms of this bureaucracy staffed by many, many people who he is arguing were simultaneously becoming aware that the time had come for a radicalization of the policy. He’s arguing that this is a kind of consensus among these middle- echelon and lower-echelon bureaucrats. Thus, what I was summarizing, I'm trying to convey to the reader there what is the way in which Hilberg is trying to articulate the beginning or a — the launching of the 'final solution.'” (14-3348 to 3350)
Christie suggested to Browning that in fact Hilberg never attributed the “final solution” to the Germans in those words. Browning did not know the exact wording that Hilberg used, but indicated that he himself had used a shorthand: “It was not meant in terms of a juridical or judicial attribution of guilt to every German. That it was a reference, 'the Germans', in the same way that you would say 'the Americans' in Vietnam … ” (14-3350)
Christie asked whether he would say that 'the Americans' decided on a specific act of mass murder or would he be more careful in his use of language to apply it to those who were specifically guilty. This question was interrupted by an intervention from Judge Thomas, and remained unanswered. (14-3351)
In his first edition, Browning acknowledged that Hilberg had spoken of two orders or two decisions for the extermination of the Jews. “Again, without the text I wouldn’t want to say which of those two words he uses, but indeed he refers to two turning points as orders or decisions.” Browning believed that Hilberg stated in his book that the first order was given in the spring of 1941 during the planning of the invasion of the Soviet Union and provided for the special mobile units that were to be sent into invaded territory with the specific purpose of killing all Jewish inhabitants on the spot. He did not claim it was a written order. (14-3352)
Browning himself believed that Hitler, in “the spring of 1941, there was what I would call signals or incitements to those around him that he wished to have prepared measures that would lead to the murder of Jews in Russia … One time he refers to 'we must kill the Jewish Bolshevik intelligentsia … '” This was contained in a document recording a conversation between Jodl and Hitler on March third. (14-3352, 3353)
Browning agreed that in his article “The Revised Hilberg” he had written that Hilberg’s new edition provided a scenario in which “decisions were not made and orders were not given.” Instead, Hilberg had “buried” the issue of a Hitler order “at the bottom of a single footnote … ” in which he had simply written: “Chronology and circumstances point to a Hitler decision before the summer ended.” (14-3353 to 3355)
What Hilberg was trying to do, said Browning, was “articulate in a different way how the decision-making process worked. This is because in the interim, there had been long historical discussion about what we understand about this historical decision-making process. This is part of the on-going project of history.” (14-3356)
In Browning’s view, Hilberg did not believe the extermination was a premeditated action, but rather that “thinking converged in 1941.” He agreed that Hilberg did not refer “to a specific Hitler order.” Hilberg instead wrote at page 55 in his new edition that:
In the final analysis, the destruction of the Jews was not so much a product of laws and commands as it was a matter of spirit, of shared comprehension, of consonance and synchronization.
There was a controversy on this subject between intentionalists and functionalists. Intentionalists were historians who saw the development of Nazi Jewish policy as the working out of a premeditated plan with greatest emphasis on Hitler at the top. Functionalists were historians who saw Nazi Jewish policy evolving over a period of time in response to circumstances. (13-3025, 14-3358)
“All historians, I hope,” said Browning, “are constantly engaged in revision. I think one of the problems with the present is it’s one particular group is trying to take that as a particular name for them. Historians, as I said, as Hilberg between '61 and '85 are engaged in an on-going process of historical revision. If that wasn’t the case, we would have been out of a job a long time ago. We would have no function. What we are trying to do is always learn more and that is a process of on-going revision.” (14-3358, 3359)
Christie pointed out that Browning had attended a colloquia at the Sorbonne in France where Holocaust revisionism was advertised as the reason for the colloquia. Browning replied that nothing in the invitation he received said that; however, after he got there, he was “informed verbally that one of the reasons for holding it had been concern over revisionist historians in France … I didn’t know about that until I got there. It didn’t affect the paper that I had written and submitted before I got there. I was disappointed that it was not going to be — let me see how I should phrase this very carefully — I will just put it I was disappointed when I heard that that had been a factor in the conference.” (14-3359)
Browning agreed that Hilberg felt there was “no single organization” that was behind the process of extermination. “No office directed the entire process but he [Hilberg] certainly has a not infinite but a large number of charts trying to show which offices directed which portions of it.” (14-3360)
In Browning’s view, Hilberg made a “significant change” in his second edition regarding the role of Adolf Hitler in the extermination process. “Yes, he did make a significant change in the sense that he completely — not completely — he reworded and rearticulated how we should talk about that. It didn’t in the sense change the chronology. He still sees the 'final solution' as coming about in two phases, a decision-making process in the spring for Russia and another in the summer, but he most certainly does express it and articulate it in a very different way and he does not speak directly of Hitler decisions or commands or orders in the second edition … It is the — compared with other changes which in terms of interpretation I think are much more minor, it is the biggest change he made in the book.” Other changes included the bringing in of new documentation, the expansion of some sections of the book, and a change in the tone in which he spoke about Jewish councils and the question of the Jewish response to the process. (14-3360, 3361)
Browning himself did not agree with the changes Hilberg made in the new edition concerning Hitler’s role in the extermination: “ … I refer more explicitly to Hitler’s role than he [Hilberg] did. That is a difference of interpretation between us.” (14 3362)
With respect to the Colin Cross quote which Harwood had used in Did Six Million Really Die?, Christie asked Browning if he ever quoted an author to use his writings in an argument against him. Browning replied that that would be “quite standard” but added that he “would try not to cite him in a way that implied that he was arguing one thing when he was arguing another. I would certainly cite information that that historian himself had brought forward that I thought was evidence for a different interpretation or I would attempt to work out or point out inconsistencies in the argument. I would not want to misrepresent what the other historian had said. That would be the thing I would be most on my guard against, would be to try to convey to the reader that the man in question thought one thing instead of what he actually, himself, was arguing for.” (14-3363)
Christie pointed out that Harwood did not say that Colin Cross agreed with his thesis.
Browning disagreed: “ … I thought he was. That’s the impression I got, yes … The way in which the paragraph was constructed gave me the impression that he was hoping to convey to the reader that the sentence that followed was, in fact, a continuation of Colin Cross.” (14-3364, 3365)
Christie indicated that Harwood had in fact used quotation marks around that portion of the paragraph in which he was actually quoting Cross and had ended the quote by referring to the page number of Cross’s book. He suggested to Browning that it was obvious from the sentence that Harwood used the quote as a means of argument and a means of questioning.
“It wasn’t obvious, but it may, indeed, be a proper point that you are making,” said Browning. “Why I got the impression, why I think it is still possible to read it the way that I initially did, was because he sets up the sentence so that he implies that he agrees with Colin Cross. Then you have the particular point. He agrees with that point and goes on as you have noted to say; at this point we may well question the degree to which he identifies with the author would lead a person reading the book to think of the pamphlet to think that that identification continues further. On reading Colin Cross, we see that there isn’t an identification further. In reading that the first time, my impression was that that was what the author was trying to create. If you read it quite literally and carefully as you say, it is possible to interpret it in the other manner.” (14-3365, 3366)
How was it morally justifiable to take reparations from the German people today for the Holocaust?, asked Christie.
“I'm not sure if I'm in the business of talking about moral justification,” said Browning. “I am not a moral philosopher.” As a historian, he looked at historical explanations. (14-3368)
Christie suggested that the current trend in the field of Holocaust history of saying there was no particular order by Hitler was to widen the guilt to more people. Browning replied that the two most ardent functionalists were German historians, Hans Mommsen and Martin Broszat, and that he himself had taken a position half way between the functionalists and intentionalists. He denied that he was writing in any way for the purpose of attributing guilt. (14-3369, 3370)
Browning was aware of the fraud of the Hitler diaries. He had read about them in the newspaper: “Other than that I don’t know anything more about them than I think other people who read the news.” (14-3370)
Did Browning consider David Irving to be on the outer fringe of acceptable historians?, asked Christie.
“I would,” said Browning. “I wouldn’t maybe choose those words but the sentiment that you express is not one I would sharply differ with.” (14-3370)
Christie suggested to Browning that if there was a monetary interest in the Hitler diaries, how much more monetary interest would there be after the Second World War to fabricate documents such as the type Browning had put into evidence.
“How much interest in fabricating the documents after the Second World War is a very bizarre notion to me, sir,” replied Browning. (14-3370, 3371)
He disagreed with the suggestion that in fact the purpose of the International Military Tribunal after the Second World War was the attribution of guilt to the whole German people. “As I understand it they put, I think it was twenty-some specific people in the dock and that they convicted all but three of them, who were acquitted. And they each were given particular sentences. What the purpose of it was, I think the Allied Joint Declaration of 1942 that we read here said that in the face of this policy of attempting to exterminate the Jews, they were going to try to hold accountable those responsible for it after the war, and they held a number of people in court. They did not bring the German people into the court.” (14-3371)
Christie pointed out that the Allies had picked defendants from every category: industrialists, bureaucrats, party members, the judiciary and so on. Browning agreed that major figures from different organizations had been picked, but didn’t know “whether the idea was to attribute collective guilt.” (14-3371, 3372)
Was Browning aware that the idea of collective guilt came out of the Nuremberg judgment?, asked Christie.
“I would not use those words,” replied Browning. “ … there was the use of a conspiracy law in a sense to declare certain organizations as guilty. These were, at least in my memory, the Gestapo, the SS, I don’t know which ones they were. The political leaders, I think. That was done … People who joined, who are, were parts of those organizations were not the entire German people.” (14-3371, 3372)
Without the Holocaust, suggested Christie, it would be very difficult to justify the fact that the countries of the free world such as Canada, the United States and Great Britain, allied themselves with the Soviet Union, which later enslaved countries like Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Albania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Browning replied that he believed “we were allies because Hitler first attacked Poland which brought England into the war, he then attacked Russia and on December 10 he declared war on the United States … Why we were in war together was because Hitler was attacking different people … I believe we … gave support to the Soviet government during the war because they were fighting the same country we were at war with.”
In Browning’s opinion, the only thing that stopped Hitler from invading Britain was his failure to gain air control, without which he could not prevent the British navy from stopping his cross-Channel invasion. (14-3373, 3374)
Nor could Browning agree with the suggestion that the Holocaust was an after-the fact justification for the continuation of the war in 1941 because Britain had no reason to continue the war: “Occupation of Poland, occupation of France, of Netherlands, of Belgium, of Norway, of Denmark. No reason to continue the war? Invasion of Yugoslavia, conquest of Greece. No reason to continue the war, sir?”
He saw no common grounds for a peace with Germany because there was no willingness on the German side to give up any of the things they had conquered. In Browning’s opinion, the Holocaust “was not a factor in the decisions that were made at that time.” (14-3375, 3376)
To Christie’s suggestion that the propaganda of the Holocaust was useful to the Allies, to Israel and to people like himself, Browning replied: “I won’t agree.” (14 3376)
What was the purpose of the constant discussion of a Hitler order, asked Christie, if there was no evidence of a Hitler order?
“Because it becomes an avenue to explore how decisions were taken. It becomes the entry point into the wider historical analysis.” (14-3377)
Christie asked Browning whether he agreed that if Raul Hilberg testified at the time when he had already written his book that he had not changed his position from his first to his second book, that that wouldn’t be very honest.
“It would depend certainly in the context if you're referring to an overall change of interpretation,” said Browning. “As I have said in the review article, the general overall structure and the way he approaches the issue has not been changed. He’s — he still refers to a machinery of destruction; he still refers us to the same phases in how the persecution develops. That if he is referring to that overall interpretation when he says there has not been a change and you interpret that to mean he has not changed the language by which he expresses the way in which he discusses the Hitler order, then I obviously can’t comment on that sentence because we're talking about apples and oranges.” (14-3377)
Browning agreed that Did Six Million Really Die? did not deny that measures were taken against the Jews in the form of deportations and concentration camps, or that Jews were forced into labour in those camps, or the existence of ghettos, or the existence of diseases like typhus in the camps or the existence of the Einsatzgruppen for anti-partisan and anti-Communist activity. (15-3381) Browning’s differences with the pamphlet arose from several matters: firstly, it denied that 6 million Jews died and put the losses at less than 300,000; secondly, it denied that there was any planned extermination of the Jews; thirdly, it denied the existence of homicidal gas chambers for the purpose of killing the Jews; fourthly, it denied the taking of property from Jews in Germany; lastly, it denied the Holocaust by the way in which the Einsatzgruppen’s activities were represented and the numbers of people they eliminated. (15-3382 to 3388)
Christie pointed out Browning made these claims without having authenticated any of the documents he had brought into court.
“The Einsatzgruppen documents are ones that I have not worked in, in the original copies that are now in the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz … I am relying on the documents that were collected by other judicial authorities, yes,” said Browning. In his opinion, there were many testimonies of members of the Einsatzgruppen “at which these documents were used in trial, that their personal accounts accorded with the kind of activities that were going on.” The Einsatzgruppen reports were not signed because they were circulated in numbered multiple copies on a daily basis. (15- 3390, 3391)
Browning did not know if the Bundesarchiv had subjected the documents to scientific tests or not. He did know that when the Bundesarchiv was presented with the 'Hitler diaries', it was able to substantiate their fakery almost instantaneously. (15-3391)
Christie pointed out that it was actually historian David Irving who first accused the 'Hitler diary' of being false. Browning was not aware of this. He believed, however, that the Bundesarchiv was “very good” at determining fakes although he did not know whether it had in fact ever done any tests on the documents. He believed that the documents had been “used in many court cases where people gave testimony that was not at variance and where attorneys could cross-examine and ask questions of that nature.” (15-3392)
Browning admitted that he had not attended any of these trials. Nor had he read the transcripts of the Einsatzgruppen trials. He had seen many references in secondary sources, however, to the fact that they were held. He admitted that he had done no primary research in the area of the Einsatzgruppen. (15-3392, 3393)
With respect to Hitler’s role in the alleged extermination, Browning testified that there was no proof of a written order from Hitler: “We have, I have argued, circumstantial evidence of at least incitements or initiative. That is an interpretive question, and I have argued that I'm persuaded.” He agreed with Christie that he had adopted the nod theory which held that it only took a nod from Adolf Hitler: “I did indeed coin the phrase that it would have only taken a nod of the head, or it could have only taken yes.”
In Browning’s opinion, the Hans Frank diary and the Wannsee Conference protocol were the two most striking proofs of a plan of extermination. There was no budget that he knew of, but different channels and different organizations were involved. In terms of deportations from western and southeastern Europe, Eichmann was one control point; Heydrich as the head of the Einsatzgruppen, was another; the SS and police in Poland were others. (15-3393 to 3396)
Without explicit orders they are supposedly able to just exercise discretion according to some intuition, I suppose?, asked Christie.
“We do not know precisely how Himmler and Heydrich were met with or talked with Hitler, or if there was some other way in which the communication was made,” said Browning. “I argued in what I've written that I infer — this is a judgment on my part and a historical judgment — that at some time in July they were indeed convinced of what Hitler wanted from them, that they then proceeded to act along a number of lines, and that the results of that, one can see at many different levels … In terms of when and how the decisions were taken, I have only stated there are different possible interpretations, because the evidence is not precise and, indeed, reasonable people can differ on this.”
Browning agreed that a reasonable person could also disagree as to whether or not such a decision was taken or communicated: “Indeed, Martin Broszat and Hans Mommsen have argued that there really wasn’t a Hitler decision, that it was a matter of local initiatives that kind of snowballed into a major extermination programme.” (15-3396 to 3398)
Would you allow reasonable men to differ then on whether there was any actual gassings or not?, asked Christie.
“If they had evidence that was brought forward that seemed persuasive, most people make their cases, and make their cases in such a way that the argument and the evidence upon which the argument is based can be seen by the reader, and to me, if I see an argument that simply denies the existence of evidence that I have seen, then I, indeed, wonder very gravely whether it is a serious or honest argument,” said Browning. (15-3399)
He himself had only spoken to three persons who had been in Auschwitz during the war, two of whom were Yisrael Gutman and Henry Friedlander. All three were “survivors.” He had never spoken to anyone who was involved in the administration of the camps; nor had he spoken to anyone who, on behalf of the German authorities, visited Birkenau during the war. (15-3399)
Browning had not seen any of the aerial photographs taken by the South African air force in overflights over Auschwitz-Birkenau from April 1944 to September 1944. He did not know anything about the South African air force but thought that he had seen a photo made by the United States Air Force. He understood that the CIA had released aerial photographs of Auschwitz-Birkenau in about 1979 and believed the photo he had seen came from that collection. (15-3400)
Auschwitz was not his area of research, but from what he had read, Browning believed that Crematorium I was a small crematorium in Auschwitz I and Crematories II, III, IV and V were built in Birkenau in 1943. There were also Bunkers 1 and 2 which had been converted from farmhouses. His understanding was that Crematorium I was not used after the fall of 1942 and was converted for some other use and that what was in Auschwitz today was remodelled or reconstructed after the war. (15-3401, 3403)
He had never seen a technical plan that purported to be a gas chamber. He had seen “only the ground plan printed in the back of a Filip Müller book … I have not seen plans of a gas chamber in Auschwitz. I have not looked into that. No, sir.” (15-3401, 3402)
Christie referred to the New York Times article regarding Majdanek which Browning had read to the jury.
“I read that as an example,” said Browning," … to show the falsity of the statement in the book that had said no one had been to Majdanek, that no one had been allowed in. I read the statement as what was his witness of the gas chambers, yes.” (15-3402)
Did he believe that article?, asked Christie.
“I have not been to Majdanek,” replied Browning. “I do not know survivors were there. I have not worked through the court cases … at Majdanek, because that was not open when I was working in Ludwigsburg, because it was under appeal. In that sense I would not, as I have in the cases of Chelmno or Belzec, be able to cite the eyewitnesses and other things upon which I would base a statement, but if you ask my statement, yes, there were gas chambers in Majdanek.” Browning admitted, however, that after seventeen years of research he had never seen a single gas chamber or what purported to be a gas chamber. (15-3403)
Christie suggested to Browning that he had previously described the alleged gas chamber at Auschwitz as a 'reconstruction.'
“I don’t know,” said Browning. “Did I say that? … It is my understanding that the crematoria — Crematorium I in Auschwitz was not used after about the fall of '42; that was converted for something else, and that, therefore, what is there now was remodelled or reconstructed after the war, but, again, it’s not an area in which I have done personal research.” (15-3403)
Christie returned again to the subject of Raul Hilberg’s previous testimony given at Zündel’s first trial in 1985 regarding the alleged Hitler order and read out portions to the jury:
Page 828: Q. In your opinion, is there an order or was there an order of Adolf Hitler for the extermination of the Jews? A. That is my opinion, my conclusion. Q. Well, yesterday, I think you told us you were very sure there was an order. A. Yes. Q. Okay. Is that an important order? A. I would say so. Q. Is it a specific order? A. Well, that was, of course, another matter. How specific it was, and in what form it was given, to how many people it was relayed was, in fact, a considerable subject of discussion at Stuttgart.
Page 832: Q. So we don’t have the order? A. The order was oral, and all we have are the reflections of Adolf Hitler’s words as described by Jodl. We have, however, the words also of other people who were talking to Adolf Hitler, which were more direct and more specific, but those words occurred in different contexts, such as Henry Himmler’s words, and words spoken by other people. In any case, the order was oral. Q. The order was oral, and you don’t know what the exact words were, I suppose. A. You are quite correct. No one knows the exact wording.
Page 846: [Note: In the following questions to Hilberg in 1985, Christie was reading from an article entitled “The Holocaust in Perspective” in which Hilberg was quoted]
Q. “Hilberg said, but what began in 1941 was a process of destruction not planned to advance.” Correct?
Q. “Not organized centrally by any agency.” Correct?
Q. “There was no blueprint.” Correct?
Q. “There was no budget for destructive measures.” Correct?
Q. “They were taken step by step, one step at a time.” Correct?
Q. “Thus came about not so much a plan being carried out, but an incredible meeting of minds, a consensus, mind reading by a far-flung bureaucracy.” Correct?
Q. You said that, didn’t you? A. I said that. I said nothing about any order not existing.
Q. No, nothing there about any order. Right.
Did Browning agree with Hilberg, asked Christie, that there was an 'incredible meeting of minds, a consensus, mind reading by a far-flung bureaucracy'?
Browning replied that he would have framed it somewhat differently: “ … I think Hilberg’s interpretation is a little bit too much focused on an almost autonomous bureaucratic process, that my own understand[ing] would emphasize greater the kind of initiatives and signals coming from Hitler that were understood by those under him to be orders, such as Heydrich’s statement to Eichmann that the Führer has ordered the physical extermination of the Jews and various references to the task 'I have received' or 'the order I have received' in Himmler’s speeches given in World War Two.” (15-3408)
Did Browning consider Hilberg to be a reasonable historian?, asked Christie.
“As we have said,” replied Browning, “I consider that this is an area in which there can be different interpretations by reasonable men.” (15-3408)
Christie put it to Browning that reasonable men did not have to believe in the existence of “mind reading” at all. Browning disagreed: “I would suggest that that is a metaphor or a way of trying to articulate that a large number of people who had been involved in shaping and carrying out a process of discrimination against the Jews had reached the point where something had to be done or that would not be the way something — they had reached a point where they were receptive to signals.” (15-3409)
Did this include 'nods' and 'winks'?, asked Christie.
“Himmler … if they were with him, it wouldn’t have taken more than a kind of nod,” said Browning, “why Himmler would know about the European Jews after the Einsatzgruppen had already been killing Jews in Russia. That, again, is a figure of speech to indicate that it didn’t take a major conference; it didn’t take an explicit written-out order. These were men who were seeking to understand what Hitler wanted, and were seeking to implement it.” (15-3409, 3410)
Christie put the question to Browning again: did he think a reasonable man could disbelieve in the existence of “mind reading by a far-flung bureaucracy” or “an incredible meeting of minds"?
Browning replied that he had understood the question to mean, could a reasonable man in fact invoke such a metaphor. He believed a “reasonable person could disagree with his interpretation.” (15-3410)
Could a reasonable man disbelieve this “incredible meeting of minds” that was supposed to be accomplished in the form of a plan to move 5 million Jews across Europe to their destruction?, asked Christie.
“If the person making the statement denied the very existence of some of the documents that were — had been the basis of those that believed otherwise, if they misrepresented certain documents in trying to articulate their case, I don’t know if I would consider it a reasonable response … a historian trying to sort out a very complex phenomenon would certainly do his best to represent the documents. Some of the documents are complex. I would agree that documents can be read in different ways. The question is — for instance, in the pamphlet, it simply doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of any documents … ” Browning pointed out that Harwood alleged Reitlinger used a source which did not in fact appear in Reitlinger’s footnotes. In Browning’s opinion, the distorting of documents, “particularly if there is a pattern of it, is evidence that he is not trying to reach a reasonable conclusion. “ (15-3411, 3412)
Would Browning agree, asked Christie, that even if there was no pattern of distortion but a very crucial distortion of a document was made, it would tend to imply an intent to deceive? Browning replied that it would be highly relative to the key document in question. (3412) He acknowledged that he himself had made the Wannsee protocol an important document. He agreed that his interpretation of the document was that no Jews were to survive and that he had written this on page 33 of his book Fateful Months:
Heydrich’s Wannsee Conference invitation of November 29, 1941, contained a copy of Göring’s July 31 authorization. At the conference Heydrich invoked not only it but also “previous approval through the Führer.” All Jews, Heydrich announced, would be deported to the east for labor. Most would disappear through “natural diminution.” The survivors, the hardiest, would be “treated accordingly,” for no Jews were to survive “as a germ cell of a new Jewish reconstruction.” [15-3414, 3415; Fateful Months, p. 33 filed as Exhibit 66 at 15-3543]
Browning acknowledged that on page 78 of his book The Final Solution and the German Foreign Office, he had used the following direct translation of the Wannsee protocol:
The remnant that finally survives all this, because here it is undoubtedly a question of the part with the greatest resistance, will have to be treated accordingly, because this remnant, representing a natural selection, can be regarded as the germ cell of a new Jewish reconstruction if released. [15-3415; The Final Solution and the German Foreign Office, p. 78, filed as Exhibit 67 at 15-3545]
Christie suggested to Browning that in fact the proper translation of the last line was not “if released” but “upon release” or “upon liberation.” He produced the English translation of the protocol published by Raul Hilberg in his book Documents of Destruction:
The inevitable final remainder which doubtless constitutes the toughest element will have to be dealt with appropriately, since it represents a natural selection which upon liberation is to be regarded as a germ cell of a new Jewish development. (See the lesson of history.) [Documents of Destruction, p. 94, filed as Exhibit 68 at 15-3546]
Browning acknowledged that his own translation said “if released” while Hilberg’s translation said “upon liberation,” but he did not know if it entailed a different meaning. After checking the original German document where the words bei Freilassung appeared, Browning stated that Hilberg’s might be “a more accurate translation” but he did not think that either translation implied there was going to be a release when looked at within the context of the document. (15-3417 to 3421)
Because Browning believed the document proved an extermination, suggested Christie, he interpreted it in a manner consistent with that belief. Browning replied that he had interpreted it in the context of earlier documents such as the Frank diary. (15-3421, 3422)
Christie challenged Browning on his use of a small portion of the extremely large Frank diary and asked whether he was being fair in using that portion as evidence of Frank’s understanding and intention.
“Frank’s intentions and understanding changed back and forth a great deal,” said Browning. “If you read through the diary, and I have read much of it in fact, you find he is a very vacillating character, that goes back and forth between what I would call a more pragmatic and rational — not rational, but a more pragmatic approach that is in line with what Göring, who he often worked with, emphasized in terms of, as he quotes Göring approvingly, at one point, 'We should use the Jews for labour and save racial policy till after the war', and when he, on the other hand, receives what I would call 'signals' from Hitler, he usually very radically changes. He is a volatile personality.” Browning thought the evidence he had given on Frank was a fair representation of what Frank thought on December 16, 1941. (15-3423)
Although Browning knew that the diary had been used against Frank at the Nuremberg trials, he had not looked at the transcript of the evidence given by Frank at the trial nor specifically what Frank said about the 1941 diary passage which Browning relied upon for his own opinions. (15-3424)
In fact, Christie, suggested, Frank had clearly testified at the trial that he was not talking about a policy of mass murder at all.
“A man on trial for his life,” replied Browning, “may well have done that … He at some times accepted responsibility in the most extravagant terms, and at other times, I believe, didn’t, that, in fact, this is part of what I had said earlier, he was a very volatile personality.” (15-3425)
Christie pointed out that Browning picked out part of Frank’s testimony that supported his thesis and simply denied, ignored or didn’t know other things Frank had said that provided clarification. Browning repeated that he didn’t know “what he said at Nuremberg. I do know many of his other statements.” (15-3425)
Christie produced and read an excerpt from Frank’s testimony before the International Military Tribunal on 18 April 1946:
… when, on 30 April 1945, Adolf Hitler ended his life, I resolved to reveal that responsibility of mine to the world as clearly as possible.
I did not destroy the 43 volumes of my diary, which report on all these events and the share I had in them; but of my own accord I handed them voluntarily to the officers of the American Army who arrested me … To these accusations [in the Indictment], I can only say that I ask the Tribunal to decide upon the degree of my guilt at the end of my case. I myself, speaking from the very depths of my feelings and having lived through the 5 months of this trial, want to say that now after I have gained a full insight into all the horrible atrocities which have been committed, I am possessed by a deep sense of guilt.
Browning did not dispute that Frank handed his diary over to the Americans. He also knew that at Nuremberg, Frank had alternately acknowledged and denied his guilt. (15-3428, 3429) Asked if this passage indicated prior knowledge of the extermination programme, Browning testified: “I would say that in the diaries there is earlier knowledge of the extermination programme. To what detail, whether he knew the details of the camps and the actual technology of organization of the camps, I don’t know. I know there was a great rivalry between him and Himmler, between the SS and the civil administration in Poland, and that while I think there is, in the diary, evidence that he knows in fact of the destruction taking place, I don’t believe there is specific references that say he knows the details of the gas chambers. “(15-3433)
Did he know anything about torture at Nuremberg?, asked Christie.
“I certainly have not seen any evidence about torture at Nuremberg.”
I put it to you, said Christie, that some of the defendants alleged torture at Nuremberg and their testimony was stricken from the record, but we knew about them because they were reported in the press at the time.
“I have seen a reference to that,” said Browning, “but I have seen no evidence in terms of anything to confirm that.” He admitted, however, that he had never made any inquiries with press sources. (15-3429, 3430)
You tend to disregard anything that tends to show the innocence of these accused, isn’t that right?, asked Christie.
“I tend to place a very great weight on the written documents at the time, and I tend, in evaluating evidence, to put greater weight on statements that … witnesses make about events that are not pertaining to their own guilt or innocence but are relating about other events, because in the person’s own case, of course, they have a highly vested interest … If there is a document that I have that is in contradiction to the later denial of the defendant, I put much greater emphasis and weight on the written document of the time than I would on the subsequent verbal denial.” (15- 3430, 3431)
He agreed that a document like the Wannsee Conference protocol was open to different interpretations. He translated the word ausrotten as “extermination.” He did not think the interpretation “uprooting,” as suggested by Christie, was a normal one and would want to see a German dictionary where it was listed as a regular interpretation. He had read Butz’s book [The Hoax of the Twentieth Century] and remembered some discussion by Butz that such words could have a variety of meanings depending upon the inflection and the circumstances of the speech. He repeated, however, that he would want to consult a German dictionary. (15-3432)
Browning never looked for the Butz book in a library as he had his own copy. In Browning’s opinion, Arthur Butz denied the Holocaust as Browning explained it. (16-3688)
Christie returned to the transcript of Frank’s testimony where he was asked 'Did you ever participate in the annihilation of the Jews?'. Frank replied:
I say “yes;” and the reason why I say “yes” is because, having lived through the 5 months of this trial, and particularly after having heard the testimony of the witness Höss, my conscience does not allow me to throw the responsibility solely on these minor people. I myself have never installed an extermination camp for Jews, or promoted the existence of such camps; but if Adolf Hitler personally has laid that dreadful responsibility on his people, then, it is mine too, for we have fought against Jewry for years; and we have indulged in the most horrible utterances — my own diary bears witness against me. Therefore, it is no more than my duty to answer your question in this connection with “yes.” A thousand years will pass and still this guilt of Germany will not have been erased.
Browning believed this passage showed that Frank knew Jews were being destroyed in Poland: “The Polish Jews were being destroyed, and that he was not directly involved in the camps, and he is saying that the camps were in someone else’s jurisdiction … He says 'I did not build them and I did not support them'. Globocnik financed the camps out of his own labour camps.” Although Frank was the Governor-General in Poland, and the passage did not refer to Globocnik, Himmler also carried on in Poland and in many ways quite independently from Frank. (15 3437)
Christie asked whether the words “but if Adolf Hitler has personally laid that dreadful responsibility on his people, then, it is mine too” implied that Frank knew of such an order. In Browning’s opinion, “what he says earlier in the diary would indicate that, indeed, he knew that there was an intention to destroy the Jews.” From those words of Frank, Browning derived that “he was accepting a responsibility at the end.” Browning rejected Christie’s suggestion that the passage indicated no knowledge on Frank’s part of any Adolf Hitler decision: “I don’t think he’s referring to an order in there. I don’t see any reference to an order.” (15-3437, 3438)
You didn’t tell the jury about this because you didn’t know about this part of the record, I suppose?, asked Christie.
“I came to give evidence on the pamphlet,” replied Browning. “The pamphlet stated there were no documents. I showed some documents that I believed were in contradiction … In cross- examination, one is open to questions … on many topics that I cannot come fully prepared for.” (15-3439)
Did he really think, asked Christie, that the testimony of Hans Frank at the International Military Tribunal, where he denied supporting the existence of such camps, was an unimportant thing to consider or was he just telling the jury they didn’t need to know that?
“I think the statements you read is not in contradiction, that indeed he did not build or directly support the camps, they were under the SS, and the SS, not always, but in many cases, quite often, were in conflict with one another, so I don’t see that that is a contradiction,” said Browning. He did not tell the jury about the Frank testimony at Nuremberg because he had not read it: “How can I refer to that if I have not read it?” (15-3440)
After suggesting that if Browning really was a qualified historian with respect to Frank that he would have read the Nuremberg transcript, Christie continued reading from the International Military Tribunal transcript for 18 April, 1946. In this testimony, Frank described a conversation he had with Hitler on 7 February, 1944:
In the presence of Bormann I put the question to him: “My Führer, rumors about the extermination of the Jews will not be silenced. They are heard everywhere. No one is allowed in anywhere. Once I paid a surprise visit to Auschwitz in order to see the camp, but I was told that there was an epidemic in the camp and my car was diverted before I got there. Tell me, My Führer, is there anything in it?” The Führer said, “You can very well imagine that there are executions going on — of insurgents. Apart from that I do not know anything. Why don’t you speak to Heinrich Himmler about it?” And I said, “Well, Himmler made a speech to us in Krakow and declared in front of all the people whom I had officially called to the meeting that these rumors about the systematic extermination of the Jews were false; the Jews were merely being brought to the East.” Thereupon the Führer said: “Then you must believe that.”
Was this conversation important historical evidence or a mere concoction by Frank? Would it be fair as a balanced historian to consider what Frank said?, asked Christie. Browning stated it was “post-war testimony” but agreed that he himself used a fair amount of such testimony in his own books. “If we were dealing with Frank as the defendant, yes, I would certainly go into it … If I were doing major work in that area, certainly, it’s something that I should consider.” (15-3443, 3444)
Well, I put to you, said Christie, that when you come to court and testify about the significance of the document, that’s major work when, for example, one’s liberty is at stake, or their future as a citizen is at stake, because they are charged with publishing falsehood. That’s serious business, I suggest. Don’t you agree?
“Okay,” said Browning. (15-3445)
Christie continued: And if you are going to tell this court that Frank’s diary should be taken as evidence of an extermination policy, don’t you think it would be fair to consider, and proper to advise the jury about, the existence of denial such as this, if you had known of it?
“If I had known of them, I see that you are informing us of it,” Browning agreed. (15- 3445)
I suggest to you, as a properly informed historian, you should have researched into it to find out if he said anything about these diaries, under oath, at Nuremberg, because you knew well he was an accused, shouldn’t you have?, asked Christie.
“There are many things that — many documents I have not yet read, yes.” (15-3445)
Browning admitted he had used the Nuremberg transcript before but denied that he had a habit of picking the parts that supported his theories: “I try to look at all areas. It is certainly possible that there are things that I have not seen. There are things I admitted that I have not seen.” Before he made a decision on the importance of the Nuremberg passages of Frank’s testimony, however, he would want to see more. (15-3446)
Christie continued reading from Frank’s testimony before the International Military Tribunal on 18 April, 1946:
When in 1944 I got the first details from the foreign press about the things which were going on, my first question was to the SS Obergruppenführer Koppe, who had replaced Krüger. “Now we know,” I said, “you cannot deny that.” And he said that nothing was known to him about these things …
Browning said: “Frank there is claiming to have learned through the foreign press — I presume he’s referring to the details of a death camp. Is that the right context?” (15 3447)
Now I'm suggesting that it doesn’t support your extermination thesis, that Frank’s diary was evidence of his knowledge of that extermination on the date … in 1946, when confronted with it, he indicates he learned about that from the foreign press in 1944. Those are conflicts, aren’t they?, asked Christie.
“I think, again, we're confusing intimate knowledge of the death camps and a general policy of extermination,” said Browning. He believed that Frank knew about a general policy of extermination: “ … he is indicating he didn’t, in 1946 … that post-war statement does not seem to be borne out by the documentation in his own diary.” (15-3448, 3449)
Browning acknowledged that Frank was hanged and that in his testimony he had made it clear that he did not expect anything but execution. Browning did not believe Frank, facing death, was concocting the explanations: “ … I said that those explanations seem to refer to explicit knowledge of the death camps, not to a general question of exterminating the Jews, except the one where his story about talking to Hitler … ” (15-3450)
Browning agreed that it was important to look at the documents and was “happy” to look at them: “I am glad that you have brought my attention to them … If I look through it with care, they may alter my view.” (15-3450)
Christie returned to Frank’s testimony before the International Military Tribunal on 18 April, 1946:
… I heard quite a lot through enemy broadcasts and enemy and neutral papers. In answer to my repeated questions as to what happened to the Jews who were deported, I was always told they were to be sent to the East, to be assembled, and put to work there. But, the stench seemed to penetrate the walls, and therefore I persisted in my investigations as to what was going on.
Do you think this implies a man who believed in extermination but actually is just lying here?, asked Christie.
“Those statements stand in contradiction to the contemporary — the documentation of the war period,” said Browning. He did not agree that the statement put a new light on Frank’s earlier statements: “No, I think they stand in contradiction to it.” (15 3451)
Christie suggested to Browning that nothing appeared to be able to change his mind about anyone who was an accused. Browning disagreed: “ … when Eichmann denies the claim that he was responsible for delivering Zyklon B gas, when he denies that he was in Auschwitz before the spring of 1942, which the Israel courts were accusing him of, I do indeed accept Eichmann’s explanation. I think he was telling the truth. I do not invariably always reject the statement of the man who is a defendant.” (15 3452)
Christie returned to Frank’s testimony:
DR. SEIDL: Witness, you have told us what you did for the welfare of the population of the Government General. The Prosecution, however, has charged you with a number of statements which they found in your own diary, and which seem to contradict that. How can you explain that contradiction? FRANK: One has to take the diary as a whole. You can not go through 43 volumes and pick out single sentences and separate them from their context. I would like to say here that I do not want to argue or quibble about individual phrases. It was a wild and stormy period filled with terrible passions, and when a whole country is on fire and a life and death struggle is going on, such words may easily be used … Some of the words are terrible. I myself must admit that I was shocked at many of the words which I had used.
Did that explanation put a different light on the violent language Frank used in his diary?, asked Christie.
“As I have said earlier,” said Browning, “I think he in fact had a volatile personality, that when you look through the diary there are changes of policy and mood and at many occasions, Frank stands for what might be called a moderate policy to try to enlist, for instance, aid, co- operation, of Poles; that at other times, when he believes that the opposite is expected of him, he goes into very radical policies and endorses them. It is not a clear record, but it is a pattern of volatility from moderation to radicalness and back, and in 1946, looking back, indeed, he would have some trouble figuring out himself what that pattern was.” (15-3453, 3454)
May I suggest to you, said Christie, that he didn’t have any trouble figuring out what motivated him in those passages, sir, and let me suggest to you that there was a partisan war going on, women and children were being slaughtered in his territory by partisans? Isn’t that true?
Browning disagreed since, while there was partisan activity in the later part of the war, many of Frank’s most extraordinary statements were made in the early part of the war, “for instance, the discussion of the meeting of late May of 1940 when he talked about the extermination of the intelligentsia. There is no reference to partisan warfare that had not begun yet … The Führer, he says, has told him that the Polish intelligentsia must be exterminated and it is an example then that he goes to radical action, that many of these radical actions have nothing to do with partisan warfare. They have to do with Frank’s desire to serve his Führer.” In Browning’s opinion, Frank’s radical expressions could not be explained in terms of a partisan resistance. (15- 3454, 3456) Browning later corrected this testimony, however, after re-reading Frank’s diary. He acknowledged that Frank referred to an imminent outburst of partisan activity and that part of his motive was the partisan war. (16-3645)
Christie returned to Frank’s testimony at Nuremberg:
DR. SEIDL: Is it correct that your actions as Governor General, and undoubtedly also many excesses by the police and the SD, were due to the guerrilla activities? FRANK: … In fact, the resistance movement — I will not call it guerrilla activity, because if a people has been conquered during a war and organizes an active resistance movement, that is something definitely to be respected — but the methods of the resistance movement went far beyond the limits of an heroic revolt.
Were the partisans engaged in a heroic struggle of resistance?, asked Christie. Browning replied that “given what I now know about Nazi policy in Poland beginning in 1939, it would be very surprising if there were not resistance, and I, indeed, would be sympathetic to that resistance to National Socialist occupation in Poland. If you were asking a value question of where my political sympathies lie, whether I am pro-Nazi or anti-Nazi, I think we can write history without being totally politically neutral … if the implication is history can’t be written by people that didn’t like Hitler, I would say no.” He continued, “I would say that I do certainly sympathize with people who were resisting the Nazi occupation in Poland … on the basis of documents I've read about what the Germans were doing in Poland, yes … It has to do with the German documents about what they intended for Poles, such as their plans in this case, it was a resettlement plan, if we call it resettlement to move six or seven million Poles from incorporated territories that are dumped into the General-Government … Many on the local level noted that German policy was bound to lead to resistance. Frank later goes to Hitler in 1942 or '43, I don’t remember the exact date, and complains that policies there are not in the best interests of Germany.” (15-3461, 3462)
I put it to you, said Christie, that the methods of resistance used involved blowing up civilians, killing people who were not combatants, the slaughter of German women and children under the most atrocious circumstances, and the systematic undermining of all measures to bring about the recovery of the country.
“Undoubtedly, in that resistance, the distinction between combatant and [non]combatant had long ceased to exist,” agreed Browning. “ … I do not know, but I can imagine that the partisan resistance in Poland led to many of those things. I do not know how many women and children were slaughtered. I do not know the details of some of that. I think that, certainly, one area of research would be to go through the military papers of the occupation to look at that question, but I do believe that many of those things, the slaughter of civilians and whatever, had already been inflicted by Germans on Poland before after they had even surrendered and been beaten, and that it very likely produced a similar reaction from the Poles against the Germans … ” Browning agreed that such things did happen, but in his opinion partisan warfare was not the motive or the shaping force behind what the Germans or Frank were doing when Frank wrote the first parts of his diary. (15-3463, 3464)
Browning testified that if he studied the Frank testimony “it may very well” result in a change to his earlier testimony regarding the Frank diaries but as of now he had not done so. (15- 3465, 3466)
Christie suggested that the Frank diary and the Wannsee Conference protocol were the major reasons Browning believed there was an extermination programme. Browning replied that the Frank diary was “one of the documents that contributes to that, yes” and that the Wannsee protocol was “certainly another.” (15-3466)
Browning disagreed with the suggestion that the Wannsee protocol was actually a formula for exploiting Jewish labour in the east: “I do not think that is a proper interpretation of the document.” (15-3466)
I put to you, said Christie, that the National Socialist government and the Nazis of the day, as everyone refers to them, frequently, in their public pronouncements, believed that only the best and the strongest should survive, and that was good for society; wasn’t that their general theme?
“They certainly, in terms of the justification of Aryans over others, viewed themselves as a superior race,” replied Browning, “that had the right to dominate over others. There is a strong social doministic element in their thinking.” (15-3467)
The idea of the survival of the fittest didn’t just apply to themselves, as you say, suggested Christie, dominating over others; it applied also in their views of various developments in other nations didn’t it? Browning disagreed: “I have never seen any reference in any document that views the Jews in that manner.” Browning rejected the suggestion that the Wannsee Conference protocol itself was such a document: “I don’t believe that is a proper interpretation of the document.” (15 3467)
Christie put to Browning that the Wannsee protocol could certainly be interpreted as being consistent with the idea of survival of the fittest and working the weak to a point where they could no longer survive.
“They are saying they are going to work the weak where they no longer can survive; a great part, it says, or the most part, would fall away,” said Browning. He would translate the German word Aufbau [which Hilberg translated as “revival"] as “reconstruction.” Christie pointed out that there was a Jewish newspaper called Aufbau and suggested that it could also mean “renaissance.” Browning disagreed. In his opinion, the document said that the remainder of the surviving Jews must be “treated accordingly” and this meant they must be exterminated: “I believe that that is what the document means. I believe it is, because the man who is there, Eichmann, indeed has confirmed that when he was asked at Jerusalem, what did some of these phrases mean, such as … (German phrase), he replied 'killing solution'.” (15-3470, 3471)
The Eichmann trial testimony was a major factor in his interpretation of the Wannsee protocol. In addition, “[t]he fact that … labour does not seem to be the major concern; the complaint of a number of the German officials that the labour is disappearing, the Jews are being sent to destruction, as Frank himself phrased it would make it very difficult to see this as a primacy of labour, that … this should be seen as not a matter of destruction.” (15-3472)
Browning agreed that there was a scarcity of labour after 1942 and that there were many people who wanted to use Jewish labour. He did not agree that the scarcity and the multitude of demands for labour was an explanation for the disappearance of Jewish labour: “No, I think it was because the Jews were disappearing … 5 to 6 million.” (15-3473)
You are aware, asked Christie, that to accomplish this disappearance of 5 million Jews, leaving aside the Einsatzgruppen, there must be gas chambers and crematoriums?
“Most of the disposal of bodies did not take place in a crematorium. Often, the camps, according to the eyewitness testimony, used burning in pits,” said Browning. (15-3474)
Are you aware, asked Christie, of how difficult it is to burn a human body?
“I have not burned one myself personally,” replied Browning. Nor had he ever inquired about cremation processes or how much heat and time it took to cremate a human body: “ … but I have seen countless testimony in terms of the — countless may not be the right word, but very, very many testimony in terms of the burning of bodies.” (15-3474)
Christie suggested to Browning that the reason why it was important to check the CIA photographs from April 1944 to September 1944 was because in not one photograph was there evidence of any smoke that had to exist either from the burning pits or the crematoriums that were supposed to be belching smoke. Browning replied that one “would have to look at the dates of the photos and would have to note the arrival of transports … I have not done that.” (15-3475)
But didn’t Browning know that between April 1944 and September 1944, approximately one million people were supposed to have been done to death in Auschwitz and cremated or burned in pits?, Christie asked.
“I know that there are major deportations into Auschwitz [from] Hungary from May into July,” said Browning, “that there are deportations from Lodz and Slovakia in August, and that there are many witnesses, or there are witnesses, to the fact that they were gassed and cremated.”
I suggest, said Christie, that if you go to the National Archives and do a search to look at those photographs, you won’t find smoke on any of those days to indicate cremations that you are talking about. Would you consider it necessary to check your survivors' testimonies, to determine if what they say is really physically possible, in order to be an accurate historian?
“I would like to check the dates indeed,” said Browning. (15-3476)
Christie returned to the subject of Raul Hilberg’s previous testimony on the alleged Hitler order for extermination. He produced the 1985 testimony in which he questioned Hilberg on a quote from page 177 of his book The Destruction of the European Jews:
Page 851: Q. “Shortly after the mobile operations had begun in the occupied Soviet territories, Hitler handed down his second order.”
Now, where is his second order? A. The problem with that particular order is the same as it is with the first. It is oral. Q. It is oral. A. And there are people who say, no, it was not one order at all. It was a series of orders that were given to various people at various times. Q. Mm-hmmm. A. This is a matter for dispute and for argument among historians, and for this purpose one has meetings and second editions of books, too. Q. I see. So you have to correct that statement in your second edition. Right? A. No, I am not saying that I have to correct this statement, but there are corrections in the second edition, of course.
Browning acknowledged that he had written a review of Hilberg’s second edition in an article entitled “The Revised Hilberg” published in volume 3 of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual in 1986 (15-3493) where he wrote at page 292:
What is new in the revised edition? The changes are of four kinds. The first is an updating of bibliographical reference; the second an updating of content. The third is a significant change of interpretation concerning the decision-making process and the role of Adolf Hitler therein. The last is a moderate change of tone in how Hilberg speaks of the delicate and controversial issue of the Jewish response.
Browning agreed that in his second edition, Hilberg made a significant change of interpretation concerning the decision-making process and the role of Hitler: “Particularly in the way in which he phrases and expresses or articulates the beginning of the second phase of the 'final solution'.” (15-3494)
At page 294 of Browning’s article he had written:
In the new edition, all references in the text to a Hitler decision or Hitler order for the “Final Solution” have been systematically excised. Buried at the bottom of a single footnote stands the solitary reference: “Chronology and circumstances point to a Hitler decision before the summer ended.” In the new edition, decisions were not made and orders were not given.
Browning testified that this was his “summary, interpretation” of Hilberg; he agreed with Christie that he had honestly expressed what the second edition appeared to entail. (15-3495)
It was not correct, Christie suggested, to say that there was no correction on this very important topic from the first edition to the second edition, was it?
“It would depend upon how Professor Hilberg understood the questions that you asked. If it is understood as a single explicit order, but I don’t think he is saying that, then yes; if he is, as he expresses here, saying this is a problematic question and that there are series of orders or that it’s being discussed among historians, it depends on if one takes a strict constructionist or a more liberal interpretation … I think what he has done is changed the way in which he talks about what does he mean by a decision, what does he mean by an order; that I think the whole thrust of the second edition is to explain or to show in it that we don’t have the same understanding of that concept anymore.” (15-3496, 3497)
Wouldn’t it, asked Christie, have been more honest for Hilberg in his testimony to say what you just said: that in the new edition all references in the text to a Hitler decision or order for the “final solution” had been systematically excised? Wouldn’t that have been the truth?
“It would have been,” Browning agreed. “If he had said such it would have agreed with what I said here. I don’t know what was in his mind as he understood what you meant by what degree of change, whether it was — that whether there should be a second phase or whether he was thinking that it’s a question of did Hitler give the indication vis-a-vis the Broszat/Mommsen view that there was no decision. I think that is one way in which you could understand what he said here because it is following — I'm not sure what — I think that he has, in the same context, said there are many arguments among historians on that purpose.” (15-3497)
But, Christie pointed out, I asked him not about arguments among historians but I asked him specifically whether he, Raul Hilberg, had to correct the statement about a Hitler order in his second edition.
“And he re-articulated that in the second edition,” replied Browning.
He changed his position significantly from the first to the second edition, didn’t he?, pressed Christie.
“He changed the way in which he articulated it. In terms of a first and second phase, that sort of thing, the fact that he thinks Hitler was still as — if you read further in his book, he says still central to it. I don’t have the quote. Hitler — as I read on here, Führer professed, commented and wished and that, as he put it, at the centre of this — I don’t remember what the new Hilberg edition does say — but he goes on to add after that that Hitler is very much at the centre of it and that his wishes, desires, comments in a sense help to crystallize this. So, if you are looking at this in terms of does he still feel that Hitler is the centre of it, it is not a change. It certainly is a change in which he articulates the problem … It is a significant change in terms of this — it is — significance is a relative term. I have called it a significant change in the sense that it is, I think, the biggest change that he has made in the book in comparison to what he has before … .I have also said in the — that the general structure and overall interpretation remains the same.” (15-3498)
Browning believed the change was made by Hilberg in response to the debate that had taken place on the issue. He agreed that when Hilberg gave his testimony, three months before the release of the second edition, the book would certainly “have been in manuscript form, probably beyond that.” (15-3499, 3500)
Christie suggested to Browning that one of the theses of Did Six Million Really Die?, the denial of the existence of a plan to exterminate the Jews, was supported by the fact that Browning could not point to a decision of Hitler, who was a dictator.
“Certainly the lack of a written order or an ability of historians to point to a particular conference or date has been evoked for that argument,” replied Browning. “We cannot point to a particular meeting or particular words. We do not know those … There are gaps in the evidence. We do put together the evidence in as best a manner as we can. It will involve measuring probabilities, as I have said, in this question of a Hitler order. It is a question of probability. I don’t know if I said that in here, but I did at Stuttgart, that this certainly is an issue where, because of the difficulty of the documentation, we do indeed deal with degrees of probability.” (15-3501, 3502)
If then, Christie asked, we are dealing with a charge of mass murder against an entire nation, might a reasonable man ask you for proof beyond a reasonable doubt before they would believe that the extermination plan really existed?
“Well, you're now switching from a Hitler order to the issue of an extermination plan.” (15-3502)
Christie pointed out that without a Hitler order in a country which operated under his absolute dictatorship, and without specifics of the decision, Browning could only speculate and attempt a reconstruction.
“We do attempt to reconstruct,” Browning answered. “ … We have several things here. One, you're saying, I forget the exact words, but attributing this to something about the guilt of the Germans again, and I have said I don’t want to confuse issues of historical analysis with judicial or ethical decisions or attributions of guilt. In terms of the latter, again yes, in this area we are talking about questions of probability. I think that that is why there has been a great deal of dispute over the question of whether there is a Hitler decision and how that is transmitted down the bureaucracy. When we are arguing for whether, in fact, this then set in motion planning and the emergence of a plan for the extermination of the Jews, then the documentation becomes a much wider one. You have lots and lots of pieces and it is a question of whether, having put pieces together, as you put it beyond a reasonable doubt, or in fact all of these different activities were set in motion by a plan. Among those pieces of evidence, as we have said, are witness accounts such as Eichmann, from Heydrich. 'I have received — the Führer has given the order for the extermination of the Jews.' It is in the removal of Jews from all parts of Europe, including women and children and old people that had very little to do with labour, and it is those kinds of wider context that one then argues about beyond reasonable doubt … the issue of the Hitler order or how it was initiated is very much a question of probabilities. In my opinion, the fact that there was a programme for extermination set in motion and that the degree to which this encompassed all of Europe, in my view establishes that beyond a reasonable doubt.” (15-3502 to 3504)
In Browning’s view, “The question of probability … referred to whether a Hitler order or initiation is taken in one way or another, or as Broszat and Mommsen argue, was or was not necessary. Some have said it wasn’t even necessary. I don’t particularly share that view, but the issue of whether, in fact, there were deportations from these different places and that the other events we've talked about in terms of what happened to these people when they got to these camps, I have reviewed this kind of evidence I use, documentary and eye-witness, and in my opinion, beyond a reasonable doubt, these people were murdered.” The number in his opinion was between “5 and 6 million.” (15-3504, 3505)
Christie returned to “The Revised Hilberg” at page 296 where Browning had written:
In Hilberg’s view the “German administrators were driven to accomplishment.” But the source of this drive was neither Hitler’s ideology, which merely sanctioned what they wanted to do anyhow, nor frustration at the cul-de-sac into which they had haplessly maneuvered themselves. For the perpetrators the Final Solution was “an undertaking for its own sake, an event experienced as Erlebnis — lived through by its participants … The German bureaucrats … all shared in this experience … They could sense the enormity of the operation from its smallest fragments … they understood each other.” In short, they were driven by a kind of hubris, intoxicated by daring to do what had never been done before. The machinery of destruction was self- propelled.
Browning testified that this was his summary, which he believed to be accurate, of Hilberg’s explanation of the motivation of the perpetrators and how they became involved. (15- 3506)
Was it credible beyond a reasonable doubt, asked Christie, when someone like Raul Hilberg says the machinery of destruction was self-propelled?
Browning replied that Hilberg, more than anyone else, had gone through the “countless activities of many different kinds of organizations.” In Browning’s view, “What he sees time and again is a capacity of officials to operate without an explicit order, knowing in a sense that something must be done to move in, to handle the kinds of problems that emerge — what do you do with insurance accounts or pensions, these — what do you do with gas bills … unpaid gas bills, that sort of thing. He looks at many of these very obscure kinds of documents and his attempt to explain how that all takes place since, in fact, many of those auxiliary activities that he finds essential to all of this are done really in — with a kind of — he calls it consensus or synchronization.” (15-3508, 3509)
Let me suggest to you, said Christie, that you can’t find an order, you can’t find a budget, you can’t find a plan so you call the machinery self-propelled.
“What you do find,” replied Browning, “is lots of initiatives, lots of receptivity and one way to express that, in this case, is to — the term I chose was self-propelled, to express Hilberg’s study of those many kinds of activities auxiliary to the whole operation.” (15-3509, 3510)
Do you expect people to have to believe that beyond a reasonable doubt as proof of an extermination plan for the European Jews?, asked Christie.
“That they would have to accept the expression that the bureaucracy was self propelled is a question of interpretation,” replied Browning. He reiterated that Eichmann testified in Jerusalem and in other accounts made before going to Jerusalem that Heydrich, who died in June of 1942, told him of an order received from Hitler: “ … Eichmann, on all the occasions in which he discussed it both in the written memoirs, his testimony in Jerusalem, and the earlier version that he gave before he was under arrest … says the same thing.” (15-3510 to 3513)
Did he consider himself an expert in euphemism and, in fact, believe there were only five or ten people more qualified than himself?, asked Christie.
“I have said that in terms of the German bureaucratic language which we characterized as euphemisms, I don’t know whether I initiated the term or you, that I thought I had looked at a large number of these documents and therefore that I was qualified in terms of a political and historical context to make judgments about what their meanings would be … [The figures of five to ten more qualified people] was a figure I just pulled off the top of my head. I wouldn’t go counting. I don’t know what the number would be … I don’t stand by that particular number,” said Browning. (15-3515, 3516) The people who worked with the documents and were familiar with the various terms were Raul Hilberg, Helmut Krausnick, Uwe Adam, Hans-Heinrich Wilhelm and Professor Marrus. (16-3798)
Browning had published articles in Yad Vashem Studies. Yad Vashem was known as the Heroes and Martyrs Remembrance Authority. While some used the Holocaust for a political agenda, he did not know “whether or not one would characterize the entire institution of the Yad Vashem that way … ” In his experience, Yad Vashem had opened their records to him as a scholar and been very co-operative: “ … they have never insinuated to me or told me that I have a particular political agenda to follow.” (15-3516)
Christie inquired whether Yad Vashem would have the same attitude if he questioned the Holocaust the way some revisionists had.
“That would be speculation,” said Browning. “I do know that when I have brought forward things that I don’t think are particularly popular, such as the publication of the article on the Jewish informer, this is not a topic that is popular to talk about, the presence of Jewish informers, I was in no way discouraged from doing it.” He agreed the topic did not entail a questioning of whether 6 million Jews died or whether gas chambers existed. (15-3516, 3517)
In his Yad Vashem article, Browning indicated that the term “final solution” meant, at one time, the deportation to a reservation in the Lublin area and not extermination. “There I use the term Endziel, and I said in my opinion, Endziel meant deportation to Lublin and … not extermination, and that is a view I still hold.” Heydrich had exempted the eastern part of the Government General from the measures of concentration undertaken elsewhere. (15-3517)
Christie asked how the SS or people supposedly implementing this plan would be able to discern when the phrase meant deportation and when it meant extermination. Did they use a dictionary or did they receive an order?
“I don’t believe that they got their meaning of those terms from a dictionary,” said Browning. “I would think — I would say that they would get their meaning from the political context.” (15-3518)
Okay, said Christie, so these people are supposedly endowed with a political perception that doesn’t require written explanations and at one time the word can mean just emigration and another time it supposedly means extermination?
“The term does change its meaning,” replied Browning. “There is not a vocabulary code sheet sent out to say such-and-such now means something else.” Browning believed many of them were experts in euphemisms like himself. As an example, Browning cited a case from the fall of 1941, when the question arose in Serbia of whether the Jews should be expelled elsewhere: “ … the local military administration … wanted to get rid of the Jews and the response was no, there should be a 'local solution' and that at that point when there had already been shooting of Jews in Russia, when there had already been massive retaliations for the partisan war in Yugoslavia, people sensed that 'local solution' now meant, in fact, to shoot the Jews.” (15-3519)
The retaliations for partisan warfare were not secret. In Serbia, retaliation was taken against small groups of Jews and Communists initially. As the partisan war increased, the Germans asked for reinforcements. “They were told this was not possible, use draconic terror instead, and so the retaliation then becomes something to set an example that will deter anyone else and they begin shooting more people..[in ratios of] about a hundred to one.” (15-3520, 3521)
The Germans paid a high price for the policy which resulted in more people fleeing to the partisans. When they could not fill the quotas with people who were ascertained Communists, Jews were shot instead “even though the Jews, in fact, had been incarcerated and clearly were not the ones who had been engaged in partisan war. This would be an example of people perceiving that the Jewish population … was totally expendable, that if you couldn’t get rid of them by expelling them, it was now quite permissible, and didn’t have any terrible local repercussions, that you could shoot them there.” (15-3521, 3522)
The policy was an indication of the frustration felt by the Germans in the fall of 1941 that they were unable to pacify Serbia because of the thin forces stationed there. Browning did not feel the policy should be seen primarily as a response to the ferocity of the partisan war which got worse only later. (15-3522, 3533)
Christie pointed out that the British and American rules of land warfare at that time justified the taking of reprisals for shootings by guerrillas behind the lines. Browning began to answer, but then admitted that he did not know the specific conventions or treaties. (15-3523, 3524)
Christie next turned to an article written by Browning entitled “Referat Deutschland, Jewish Policy, and the German Foreign Office, 1933-40,” where Browning recalled an incident in 1940 when a Dr. Emil Schumburg asked that deportation measures be carried out “in a noiseless and cautious way” in order not to excite attention abroad.
“[W]hen they evacuated Jews … to Poland,” said Browning, “ … this incited some comment in the foreign press and Schumburg then, on behalf of the Foreign Office, asked that these things be done in such a way that would not excite foreign comment.” (15-3524 to 3526)
Did he agree, asked Christie, that the words 'noiseless' and 'cautious', used to refer to the deportation, did not import the meaning of extermination in 1940?
“It has to do with what they considered the difficult public relations abroad or they didn’t want the foreign comment. It did not have to do with extermination,” Browning agreed. He reiterated that “one has to look at the context” of the euphemism to determine whether it meant extermination or whether it meant deportation. Browning referred back to the Wannsee Conference protocol “ … [i]n which you said there could be two interpretations here. Either we were separating the sexes and working most of the Jews to death and then sending the last remnant to be exterminated, or we were talking about shipping the Jews to the east and separating the sexes and working most of the Jews to death and then using the remnant of Jews as … part of a renaissance because of selective breeding theories of the Nazis … Social dominance, selectivity, theories of the Nazis, and I said there were several — I started with at least one why that context — why I would interpret that document in one way, I referred to Eichmann. I also … referred to the fact that in … speeches made particularly by Hitler, one does not see him refer to the Jews as a same kind of category as other peoples. I would point, in particular, to the document we had on the screen on Monday, that the Jews should be treated like a tuberculose bacillus, that they were a source of infection, that this kind of statement by Hitler does not coincide very well with an interpretation of the Wannsee Conference, for instance, which stipulates the suggestion that the alternative would be a selectivity for a Jewish renaissance. That is why I mean by a kind of context.” (15-3527)
Browning agreed that he himself had written that a lot of the political and aggressive military talk of the day should not be taken literally: “I have suggested that in 1939, that Hitler’s speech about the destruction, threatening the destruction should, in that context, not be taken literally. That, at least, I would say, others didn’t, at the time, interpret it as that. That is true. I have said that some of these should not be taken literally.” (15-3528, 3529)
Browning agreed that the term judenrein, which he interpreted as meaning “pure of Jews, Jew pure or cleansed of Jews,” was used long before extermination was allegedly a policy: “Yes, they wished to make Germany judenrein through emigration … And then through expulsion.” (15- 3529)
Christie suggested it was somewhat like one might try to make Israel free of Palestinians by throwing them out? Browning declined to answer the question: “It deals with a political evaluation in Israel or elsewhere.” He continued: “I have said already that when they were trying to expel, that was not yet a conscious policy of systematic extermination, it was a policy to make the German sphere free of Jews. That that expulsion, at least by the stage of the deportations to Lublin, certainly involved … the deportations both of Poles and Jews; certainly at that point … involved a degree of attrition or high loss, but it was not a policy of systematic extermination, in my view, at that time.” (15-3530)
Christie moved to the topic of Martin Luther. Browning testified that Luther was the head of Abteilung Deutschland, a bureau within the Foreign Office that handled the liaison to the various party organizations and handled questions arising from inside Germany that could have foreign complications. One of the bureaus of Abteilung Deutschland was D-3, the so-called Judenreferat — the Jewish desk. (15-3530, 3531)
Luther attended the Wannsee Conference in January of 1942 and was the author of the Luther Memorandum, a lengthy document written in August of 1942. Browning believed that Hitler’s initiatives regarding extermination came in the summer of 1941 and that mass gassings commenced in Chelmno in December of 1941 and in Belzec in March of 1942 and in Treblinka in July of 1942. (15-3531, 3532)
The Luther Memorandum did not contain anything about extermination or gassings; it could be termed a “covering your tail” type of memo, said Browning. “There had been agreements between Ribbentrop and Himmler about the placing of SS men in the embassies around Europe and circumscribing the channels of report; that in the case of Romania in the summer of 1942, when the pressure was — I don’t remember this exactly — but I believe there came a report from the ambassador or it was from the SS advisor that did not go through the Foreign Office, I think it was from the SS advisor that didn’t go through the Foreign Office, but that Ribbentrop found out of it by some way and he was furious at Luther and suspected him. Their relations were becoming strained of gallivanting outside his authorization. The report, therefore is constructed — the term we might use is covering your tail report to Ribbentrop and that therefore he cites the different authorizations he has. I do not believe that he was at this time intimate with Ribbentrop. My own opinion is that Ribbentrop himself did not know at this point of the exterminations though I believe that Luther did, and that it would, in fact — Ribbentrop was sufficiently angry that he ordered the Foreign Office to cease to co-operate with the SS, that he then was at a conference or there was several meetings where Hitler and other foreign statesmen and the virulence with which Hitler expressed himself on the Jewish question calls Ribbentrop to scurry to the telephone to urge the Foreign Office to resume support of deportations. That, I think, and this is speculation on my part, at that point Ribbentrop realized what was going on. We have at least by the next spring his quote to Horthy as we have seen that when Horthy says, 'What can we do with the Jews? We cannot kill them.' He replies, 'Exterminate them or put them in concentration camps. There is no other way.' So I think at that time Luther is very cautious in the way he is writing to Ribbentrop. He is afraid that he will be seen as doing things without authorization and indeed he had been.” (15-3533, 3534)
You're kind of a mind reader in some of your answers, aren’t you?, asked Christie.
“That is a reconstruction,” replied Browning, “in my view, of the events, that it is based on some of the statements that others made about the events surrounding the formation of that report. So that it is based on both a series of documents and Ribbentrop’s reactions in that period, plus the testimony of various people who talked about the writing of that report.” (15-3536, 3537)
Browning acknowledged again that the Luther Memorandum did not contain references to extermination or mass gassings, and indicated that in his answers he was “trying to explain why I do not believe that report would contain such references.” (15-3535)
Prior to the war, Browning testified that Luther attempted to have a contact man with the party organizations in each region of Germany. (15-3535, 3536)
Christie referred Browning to his article “The Government Experts” at page 189 where Browning had written:
Decrees in 1942 prohibiting German Jews from having pets, getting their hair cut by Aryan barbers, or receiving the Reich sports badge appear utterly senseless in view of the extermination process that was taking place at that time … Jewish experts continued devising anti-Jewish measures even as the objects of their persecution vanished in the death camps in the East.
The decrees wouldn’t be senseless if there wasn’t an extermination process, would they?, asked Christie.
“In view of the fact that clearly the Germans or the government, the Nazi regime, was putting people on trains and sending them east, it would not make a great deal of sense even then, but it wouldn’t have the same meaning as this sentence does.” (15 3537)
Christie suggested that Browning had no orders, no plan, no specific budget, no proof of the gas chamber, so when real things such as these types of decrees didn’t fit, he simply said they were senseless.
Browning disagreed: “What we're referring to is behaviour of the government experts and what I was saying is lots of the earlier kinds of activities that they engaged in continued to be engaged in, even though given that, I believe, an extermination programme was then underway; it didn’t make a great deal of sense to me … The process of deportation was a gradual one … I would presume someone drawing up a measure about having pets — this is conjecture on my part — probably does not know that the Jews are being exterminated in the east.” (15-3538, 3539)
Christie returned to the article, page 194:
In September 1943 the Turkish government finally permitted the return of all Turkish Jews who so desired. Singlehandedly Wilhelm Melchers had thwarted the SS and Foreign Office Jewish experts, buying time until the Turkish government at last regained its conscience.
Why, asked Christie, would Wilhelm Melchers [the head of the Near East desk in the German Foreign Office] be protecting Turkish Jews if there was an extermination policy in existence?
“The German Foreign Office sent out inquiries to various governments whether they had an interest or giving them an option, would they take their Jews back or would they allow them to be deported,” said Browning. “They could not remain in Germany. The initial reaction of many governments was first of all to delay, and then simply not answer, or to say they had no interest and then as a number of governments did, they changed their opinion and said we will accept the Jews. I would suggest it is a strong possibility, though I have not looked in the archives of the Turkish government, that they did indeed receive, through whatever channels governments do, at least, rumours of extermination in the east and that is why they changed their policy from not replying to the Germans to saying yes, we will allow Turkish Jews to come home.” In his opinion, Wilhelm Melchers used his position to attempt to prevent the deportation of Turkish Jews which the Foreign Office was advocating. (15-3540 to 3542)
Christie referred Browning to his article “The Final Solution in Serbia” where Browning had written:
… and the gassing of Serbian Jews in the spring of 1942 was complete in early May before Sobibor and Treblinka were even in operation.
Christie asked Browning how he reconciled this with Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss’s testimony at Nuremberg [IMT vol. 11, p. 416] where Höss agreed he signed a statement:
The 'final solution' of the Jewish question meant the complete extermination of all Jews in Europe. I was ordered to establish extermination facilities at Auschwitz in June 1941. At that time, there were already in the General Government three other extermination camps: Belzek, Treblinka and Wolzek.
How was it, asked Christie, that Höss did not even mention Semlin, which according to Browning was where the first gassings took place?
“Well, I don’t imagine Höss heard of it and I also do not think that Höss’s testimony in that regard is accurate. I think he often confused years. He ran several years together in his memory … I think his evidence, given that first time, mentioned June when he gives a specific date, is the first testimony he gave. He later, as I recall, said sometime in the summer; I cannot remember the date.” (15-3548)
He got better with practice, did he?, asked Christie.
“I think,” replied Browning, “as he was pulling his thoughts together and trying to sort out things, I don’t know … ” (15-3548)
Maybe they were being pulled together for him a little bit?, suggested Christie.
“I don’t think things were being pulled together for him. I think as he was being asked questions, he probably was recalling things,” replied Browning. Browning had read Höss’s testimony and agreed that the camp Höss referred to, Wolzek, never existed. “There is no such camp that I know of. I don’t think that that testimony is accurate. I don’t think it’s compatible with other testimony that we have.” (15-3548, 3549)
Christie returned to Browning’s article and read from page 76:
Given these facts it does not seem wildly hypothetical to speculate that the decision practically made itself.
Browning testified he was speculating about why, at that time, a gas van was sent to Semlin shortly after the Wannsee Conference. He believed the initiation for the vans to be built was the gassing of, particularly, Jewish women and children. (15-3550)
Do you have any knowledge of gas vans for delousing used by German troops and used in various ways in the times we are speaking about? Disinfection vans for clothing, to kill lice?, asked Christie.
“I presume there were such things for the army,” said Browning. (15-3551)
Christie asked if he had ever seen plans for such vans. Browning had not: “I have not seen a plan of the gas van.” Nor had he ever looked in the archives of the German army to ascertain if there were such vans. (15-3551)
Do you maintain, asked Christie, that every reference to gas or Zyklon B meant a killing?
“No,” replied Browning. “Zyklon B was also used for defumigation.” (15-3551)
And I understand this to mean, said Christie, that the same Zyklon B that is claimed to be used as the murder weapon for the Jews was used to disinfect clothing in sealed chambers?
“I don’t know,” said Browning, “what kind of chambers were used for it but presumably they would have to have had some seal.” (15-3551)
Christie suggested that if Browning went to Dachau he could see chambers used for delousing, with a hot air vent system and a number of other things.
“That may be,” said Browning. “I was in Dachau but I don’t remember seeing whether there were vents or seals.” (15-3552)
Did you look, asked Christie, to see just at the south end of the crematorium, the hangers for clothing are right there in the rooms with the sealed doors and they don’t claim those are for people, do they?
“I don’t believe they've said that there was gas in there.” (15-3552)
No, but there are gas chambers there for clothes, right?, asked Christie.
“Well, I don’t know if they were for clothes,” said Browning. “They may have been.” He did not recall seeing that. (15-3552)
Christie asked Browning whether he had done extensive research for his Serbian article in the Yugoslav military archives. Browning replied that he did work there and obtained some documentation, although most of the documentation came from other sources. Browning agreed that Marshal Tito, who became the government of Yugoslavia, had been the leader of the partisans during the war. (15-3553)
Did Browning suspect that Tito might have been biased in the way the records were kept and created in the archives? Browning did not believe so: “In terms of the records that I looked at, I doubt that Tito ever gave a thought to it.” (15-3553)
Christie suggested that he was sure Tito didn’t, but that people under his control made selections of documents and what Browning saw was what they had permitted to exist.
“Yes, I recall what I saw there were some copies of Nuremberg documents and some interrogations of some German personnel.” He thought most of the interrogations were carried out by the Yugoslavs in Yugoslavia.
Browning agreed that near the end of the war, the fight between the Yugoslav partisans and the Germans had become increasingly vicious. However, he added, “ … I don’t know that any of the material I got in Belgrade was essential. It was supplementary.” His conclusions about gas vans rested also on documents from the Bundesarchiv, the Hanover courts and the military archives at Freiburg. (15-3554)
Browning admitted that he had never seen a plan for one of the gas vans which he alleged were used for gassing the Jews. Nor had he ever seen a photo of an interior of such a van. In his book, he included a photo of the exterior of a van: “That is … a photo the Poles, I believe, sent to Yad Vashem. I don’t know for a fact it is a gas van. It is one they labeled as a gas van.” He put it forward in the book as a gas van. (15 3555)
Christie returned to Browning’s article, “The Final Solution in Serbia,” and read from page 88:
The question of timing in Serbia is also important. The period from the spring of 1941, with the formation of the Einsatzgruppen, to the spring of 1942, with the opening of the death camp at Belzec in mid- March, is a confused time-span in the history of German Jewish policy. The decision-making process at the highest level of Nazi leadership is not revealed in documentation. Thus a wide variety of interpretations has flourished: Hitler knew from the beginning of his political career or from the mid-1920’s that he was going to kill the Jews [Lucy Dawidowicz]; Hitler knew before or at the beginning of the war [Gerald Reitlinger]; Hitler decided in the spring of 1941 [Helmut Krausnick]; Hitler made not one but two decisions — first in the spring of 1941 to kill the Russian Jews and subsequently in the summer of 1941 to kill the European Jews, though this latter decision could not be immediately implemented [Raul Hilberg]; Hitler decided to kill the Russian Jews in the summer [Christian Streit] and the European Jews in the fall of 1941 [Uwe Dietrich Adam]; Hitler made no decision and issued no comprehensive order but exerted the pressure that led to a gradual or incremental evolution toward the Final Solution [Martin Broszat]; Hitler made no decision and was unaware of the Final Solution being perpetrated by his underlings. [David Irving]
Christie asked whether he was summarizing in this passage the view of various people he would call reputable historians.
“They all represent different views on the Holocaust,” replied Browning. He had quoted them as “historians who have been published in the area, yes.” (15-3557)
They're not historians you'd be testifying against as to being purveyors of false news or anything, are they? asked Christie.
“I don’t imagine I would be testifying against any of them,” replied Browning. (15 3557)
He agreed that the passage set out eight different versions of how the decision was supposed to have occurred. (15-3559)
I suggest to you, said Christie, that a reasonable man might take the position that you so- called historians are a bunch of theologians who may debate and you do not know at all and a reasonable man could disbelieve every one of you.
Browning disagreed: “I don’t think that on the basis of there being a number of different interpretations that that can be concluded simply from that fact. The question, of course, still comes back to what is the evidence we have not about the decision-making process at the top, which I said is made difficult by scanty documentation, but what about the documentation of the implementation, and there, I think that we have had much more to deal with and that is the latter thrust of the question that you raised. I think we still — you're still jumping from one to the other.” (15-3559)
Christie accused Browning of jumping into a grey area in the middle because there was nothing at the top and Browning did not even look at the bottom — the concentration camps where these events were supposed to have occurred.
“I do not say they occurred in the concentration camps in Germany. I have never said they did,” said Browning.
Christie pointed out he never said Germany.
“You said the concentration camps. Usually I refer to the other as or I would distinguish the other as the extermination camps in Poland and there is not much there to look at,” said Browning. He admitted, however, that he had never been to either Auschwitz or Majdanek. (15- 3560)
I suggest to you, said Christie, that Auschwitz is where, according to some authorities, 4 million people were gassed and burned.
“Some authorities may say that. I certainly don’t think the number is as large.” (15 3560)
Christie pointed out that the monument in Auschwitz stated that 4 million people died there.
“The volume of the monument is not necessarily a scholarly work,” replied Browning. (15-3560)
If, asked Christie, you wanted to find out whether the story of the disappearance of 5 million people was even possible, why wouldn’t you go to places like Majdanek and Auschwitz to see if it was physically possible?
“Because I have — one, I have never been to Poland and two, the testimonies with which I have worked have seemed eminently plausible to me.” (15-3561)
Browning testified that his article “The Genesis of the Final Solution: A Reply to Martin Broszat” was not so much a review of Broszat as an argumentative reply to his work. He agreed that historians debate these points and respect each other’s right to debate. (15-3562)
You also define the limits of those debates to exclude people like Harwood, right?, challenged Christie.
“If I look at the Harwood pamphlet,” said Browning, “I see numerous examples of denial of certain documents or of misrepresentation of certain documents and so I do not include it.” In Browning’s view, historical debate was legitimate “as long as it was not an intended misrepresentation of the evidence.” (15-3562)
Christie referred back to the eight different versions of the alleged decision to exterminate the Jews: were those eight historians with their eight different versions of this story deliberately misinterpreting the evidence?
“I do not believe they deliberately misinterpreted the evidence,” said Browning. “The point on which we were looking was one in which, as I have said, it is exceedingly complex and lacking of documentation and open to different interpretations.” (15-3562, 3563)
Your ability to find documentation, suggested Christie, was not drastically different from anybody else's.
“Ability to find the documentation? There are different areas and in a sense it is a matter often of time and focus. For instance, indeed other people could find the documentation I had worked on on the gas van. Other people have not looked at it yet. It is a wide field and people will focus on different things … Our time limits as to how much one can see in the number of years I've been looking at this,” said Browning. (15-3563)
Browning agreed that after seventeen years of research, there were things he had not seen which other historians had. To Christie’s suggestion that honest people might not know everything he knew, he stated: “They might not, but again, it’s a relative question often as to what particular documents we are talking about and how those documents are represented and portrayed.” (15-3563)
Christie returned to the article “The Genesis of the Final Solution: A Reply to Martin Broszat” where Browning had written:
Although he is undismayed by the absence of any document signed by Hitler explicitly ordering the extermination of the Jews (for such orders would have been given orally), Broszat is disturbed by the absence of any reference in postwar interrogations or surviving diaries by close associates like Göring, Ribbentrop, Frank, or Goebbels, to a specific verbal order by Hitler for total extermination.
Browning admitted that Broszat listed Goebbels as someone who did not refer to a specific verbal order. Christie pointed out that Broszat also listed Frank as someone who did not refer to a specific verbal order by Hitler for total extermination.
“Frank does not say in that speech a Hitler order has now been given,” said Browning, “The speech is a reflection of what information or what he is expecting to happen at the Wannsee Conference … .And what information he has been given when he asked about sending the Jews to the east.” He agreed that Broszat was disturbed by the absence in Frank’s diary to any reference of a specific Hitler verbal order and that “is what he cites as to why he came to the conclusion that there was not a central order, but it was a process that came from below, and I argued with him as to why I thought that he had not conceived the question properly. “(15-3565)
Christie suggested to Browning that he should be as disturbed as Dr. Broszat was about the lack of evidence.
“Well,” said Browning, “I tried to assemble some evidence to show that it wasn’t quite as lacking as he had concluded.” (15-3566)
I put it to you, said Christie, that Mr. Zündel could reasonably be disturbed by the lack of evidence as well.
“I don’t know what Mr. Zündel would conclude, but I do know that the pamphlet, in referring to many of these things, does so in ways that misrepresent the documents or deny their existence.” (15-3566)
Christie suggested that they get to some of those points, such as the passage on page 5 of Did Six Million Really Die?, which Christie suggested Browning had testified was false:
By 1939, the great majority of German Jews had emigrated, all of them with a sizeable proportion of their assets. Never at any time had the Nazi leadership even contemplated a policy of genocide towards them.
Browning stated that he had said “it was an exaggeration to say the great majority of the Germans had emigrated. I said it was false to say that all of them had gone with a sizeable proportion of their assets because it is not clear in the last sentence whether he is still referring to 1939. I did not comment.” In Browning’s opinion, the words “sizeable proportion” meant “more than some … I would look at that in connection with what is the next one, the bulk of their wealth, and when you put those two together, I would say you are implying that they left with most of their property.” (15-3567)
Christie suggested that in fact Browning did not know how much money German Jews were able to get out of the country at the time.
“I know of the difficulties that they encountered in getting out property. I know the correspondence and declarations of at least people in the Foreign Office … their determination was that as little of that property as possible would be taken out.” (15-3568)
Browning knew that Raul Hilberg mentioned twelve methods used by Jews to transfer money abroad, but believed that “most of them show that only very small portions would fit under those twelve methods.” (15-3568)
Christie pointed out that Hilberg never calculated how many marks could have left in those days because nobody could know.
“Certainly there were people in the German government themselves that were arguing that the legislation they had concerning the taking out of property worked at cross-purposes with the goal of emigration, that nonetheless, they were determined to try to pursue both simultaneously of recovering as much property as possible and getting as many Jews out of the country as possible; that those who were advocating a greater leniency in terms of property did not succeed in the bureaucratic in-fighting,” replied Browning. (15-3568, 3569)
As Browning could not recall all twelve methods by memory, Christie read out each method and asked Browning to comment. The first method was the free currency zone. Browning knew it was listed by Hilberg and presumed it was accurate.
The second method was use of the free goods zone. Browning did not know “how extensive that was because I don’t have the text [Hilberg] there to see how it is described … [each emigrant] could take out personal belongings but I think it excluded precious valuables, but included furniture.” (15-3570)
The third method was the purchase of railroad and ship accommodation in reichsmarks. Browning testified that “ … you would buy the ticket with what property you had in Germany … that would be one way you could spend money that would otherwise have been left in a blocked account. You buy the ticket, you travel; the ticket is not refundable; you've used the passage.” (15-3571) Browning agreed with Christie that the tickets might have been quite valuable as exchange items: “It was a way, I guess, yes.” (15-3572, 3573)
The fourth method was the use of the general trusteeship office for Jewish emigration, which was an exchange office set up to convert reichsmarks into foreign currency, other than Palestine currency, at a 50 percent loss to the Jews. (15-3573)
The fifth method was the use of the Haavara Agreement which gave Jews emigrating to Palestine a special opportunity to remove their capital. Said Browning: “It was drastically decreased by 1937. It still could be used by very limited numbers of people to 1939.” (15-3574)
The sixth method was the Aryanization payment in foreign currency. “That would have required a buyer that was willing to pay you with a foreign currency on the outside. That would have been a — requiring very special kind of thing, where a friend would have been trying to — to help you out, who had possession of currency. That would have been a very, very limited kind of circumstance … The Aryanization contracts, as I recall, usually had to be approved. I don’t know whether foreign buyers were excluded. I think it is referring to a capacity of Jews to sell to a German who would have agreed, on the private, I believe, in this, to render them some foreign currency abroad. So it would have required both a person who had the foreign currency and a willingness to give up that scarce foreign currency. That, I think, would have been a very rare exception.” (15-3574)
In view of what you say you don’t know, suggested Christie, it would be fair to say you cannot determine what sizeable proportion or otherwise could be exchanged, would it not?
“I cannot give you a percent,” said Browning, “but I know the extraordinary or I know the efforts made to prevent the property from getting out and by the methods that you have listed there, I think we can see they were fairly limited.” (15-3575, 3576)
Christie pointed out that he had dealt with up to seven of the twelve methods and that Browning had been unable to say how the methods operated from his own expert knowledge with any degree of certainty. Browning agreed: “Not all of them, no.” (15-3576)
Browning would have to honestly admit, suggested Christie, that the amount of money exchanged in those methods or the proportion of total Jewish assets would not be known to him in any accurate sense.
“Would not know any kind of precise figure … I could not give you a proportion,” said Browning. (15-3576)
Christie went on with the next method of taking property out of Germany, that of smuggling. Browning agreed that in times of desperation people “may” smuggle; he had “no idea” if it was not as difficult to smuggle goods across the border then as it was today through the Iron Curtain: “I don’t know how many goods were smuggled out, but I do know that many of the Jews did not want to leave before 1938 because it would have required a large sacrifice of property. The Economics Ministry and others lobbied against any relaxation of that, and that therefore other kinds of pressure, particularly I don’t know — I don’t think this was planned for this purpose but the point at which many of the Jews in Germany decided, regardless of the sacrifice in property, they must leave, came after Kristallnacht and then by then, much of that property had been already registered.” (15-3577)
Do you know the proportion of Jewish assets capable of being taken out of the country?, asked Christie.
“I do not know the proportion that could be taken out,” said Browning. “I do know or from what I have seen I would conclude that it would could not have been a very sizeable proportion or a bulk … I do not know the proportions. I do know that there were great, great attempts to prevent it from being taken out and there was a great reluctance of Jews to leave because they could not take out much and that it required a traumatic event like the Kristallnacht to convince many German Jews that regardless of the property they would lose, they would have to leave.” (15-3578)
Christie suggested that there were all sorts of other ways Jews might have gotten their property out that Browning did not know about, with the result that it was impossible to know with any degree of certainty whether it was a large proportion of assets or not.
“I would say we cannot ascertain the percentages, but that the kinds of things you listed that I think are very limited, combined with the kinds of measures and intent on the part of German government officials that I have seen … to block as much of a removal of property as possible, and the reluctance of many Jews to leave because of that, permits a conclusion that not a great deal of property could have been taken. I cannot give you a proportion.” (15-3579)
Browning had “no idea how substantial smuggling was” at the time. He “would speculate — this would be speculation — that to engage in activities … of that sort would be undertaken only with the very, very greatest of fear.” (15-3580)
So, asked Christie, was his speculation to be taken as truth beyond a reasonable doubt or just his best effort?
“That is my best effort.” (15-3580)
Christie next moved to the question of the number of Jews in the pre-1938 frontiers of Germany. He put to Browning that Gerald Reitlinger, on page 535 of his book The Final Solution estimated that in 1933 there were 499,682 pure Jews and far less than 215,000 at the beginning of the war. Was Browning prepared as an expert to dispute those figures?
“Two things,” said Browning. “One, I am not an expert in demographics. Secondly, Reitlinger, and again this is just a question of reputation, Reitlinger has a reputation of being low on figures. I don’t know if that is relevant here … I cannot, particularly without the book in front of me, but just as I said earlier, I am not a demographic expert and I do not have those population figures in my mind.” (15-3580, 3581; The Final Solution, pp. 534-537, filed as Exhibit 71 at 16-3717))
Christie suggested that one of the reasons given for the German invasion of Poland was the intense violence against the ethnic Germans living in Polish areas. Browning agreed, “That certainly was part of the German propaganda … We also know that Frank himself talks about the many shootings that he tried to get a grip on in which he tried to insist that there must be at least some court martial procedure. In fact that’s the thread that runs through much of this, complaints that lots of things are going on there that make it impossible for him to stabilize the country, because as long as the Poles are under slave labour, as long as many people are being shot, it is going to be very difficult to create order in the General Government.” (16-3646, 3647)
Browning had heard of the White Book and knew it was a series of documents relating to the outbreak of the war which explained with cases, names, dates and circumstances what the Germans alleged was done to ethnic Germans in Polish territories. He had never looked at the White Book as he regarded it as German propaganda on the basis of secondary literature. (16-3647, 3648)
Would you agree, asked Christie, that you should look at all evidence, even what you call “German propaganda” to determine if it might have a bearing on Frank’s state of mind when he wrote what you say was a statement about exterminating the Jews?
“I am always engaged in the process of seeking new evidence. It is an ongoing process of collection,” said Browning. In his opinion, however, the White Book was one document among many. He acknowledged that it was the official German reason for invading Poland, but indicated that he “would lay greater value on documents that deal with the decision-making process, that the government is not revealing to the public than what they would issue to justify what they had done.” (16-3648, 3652, 3653)
Christie suggested that the whole of the Nuremberg trial process was an official position for the Allies, and therefore the propaganda label might apply to it as well?
Browning indicated in reply that he had “not looked into the behind-the-scenes decision- making to shape the Nuremberg process. I have not claimed to be an expert in that.” (16-3653)
Christie returned again to Did Six Million Really Die? where Harwood claimed that the great majority of German Jews had emigrated by 1939, all of them with a sizeable proportion of their assets. Christie asked Browning what percentage he was prepared to say constituted a “great majority"?
To Browning, a “great majority” would “be, say, over — would be 75 percent … You're asking for, you know, a subjective rule of thumb.”
But you made a subjective judgment on that sentence, said Christie.
“I said I thought it was perhaps exaggerated,” replied Browning. “I didn’t say that it was false … But if we're looking at it, it does say 'all of them with a sizeable proportion of their assets', and that is what I said was wrong, and I don’t think that one can make a statement 'all of them', every single one of them, 'with a sizeable proportion'. We admitted, yes, I could not give you percentages, but I don’t think one looking at the sentence, and knowing what the German policy and intention was, can state that.” For Browning, it was “simply inconceivable.” (16-3654, 3655)
Christie produced Reitlinger’s The Final Solution:
Shortly after Hitler’s rise to power, in June, 1933, a census was taken of the pure Jews of Germany, and it showed 499,682. By the outbreak of war, emigration had reduced this number, according to the Reichsvereinigung, to 215,000 — a rather problematic figure which must be our starting point.
Browning agreed it was about 3 out of 5 “[and] the same percentage is used when they talk about 400,000 out of 600,000, so they are using the same percentage … And if that strikes them as a great majority, I won’t quibble with that choice of -.” (16-3657)
Browning confirmed again that he was on the Academic Advisory Board of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “It has very limited functions dealing with one aspect of what the Simon Wiesenthal Center does,” he testified. “There is an Academic Advisory Board. It deals with academic questions, and the only thing that I have dealt with there, I had one meeting of that committee, and we dealt with the annual … It publishes an academic annual, a scholarly journal … It is not involved in other kinds of activities … I have never been consulted about any of the political activities the Simon Wiesenthal Center chooses to pursue.” In Browning’s view, the Center had never attempted to make any use of his writing. (16-3658, 3659)
Browning knew of the writer from France, Serge Klarsfeld, and was aware of the fact that he had made a study of the number of Jews deported from France during the war. He believed Klarsfeld’s number was 75,000. (16-3659)
Christie asked Browning whether he was aware of the War Refugee Board Report, published in the fall of 1944, which purported to tell the world that 150,000 French Jews were gassed between April 1942 and April 1944. Browning was aware of the report, one of the authors of which was Rudolf Vrba, and realized that it “had a much higher percentage of French coming to Auschwitz.” In Browning’s opinion, however, “I think the calculation there that was wrong is that he was working from certain percentages of prisoners registered to assuming a certain number of prisoners gassed. I think a much higher percentage had been selected and not sent to the gas chambers, so that his calculations were wrong … Vrba of course was working under conditions that were not conducive to a precise count.” Browning had never interviewed Vrba. (16-3659 to 3661)
Browning assumed that Serge Klarsfeld, who had the transportation lists containing the numbers and names of people deported from France, had tried to be “as accurate as he could be.” Klarsfeld had materials to work from that Vrba had not, although Browning did not know where those materials came from. (16-3662)
Did it alarm him, asked Christie, to find that an officially-sanctioned report such as the War Refugee Board Report, accepted and published by the American administration of the time, alleged twice as many Jews were gassed in two years as were later found to have been deported from France?
“Knowing the circumstances under which the Vrba report — or given what the report states to be the circumstances under which it was written, I would find early attempts at numbers, just as the number that the newsman going into Majdanek speculates on or admits he has no way of knowing at the moment, are going to be superseded by future research. The fact that the report is published, I don’t think, gives that halo of official stamp. It states it is publishing a report that was the best information they had at the time, and historians are searching always, to find more information, to become more precise, more accurate. [This] is one source that one would use.” (16-3663)
Browning agreed that the War Refugee Board Report was a document used at Nuremberg. He did not know whether the Nuremberg estimate of deaths was based on the Vrba number of 150,000 French Jews or not. (16-3663, 3664)
Browning agreed with Christie that the War Refugee Board Report placed the number of Jews gassed at Auschwitz in a two year period at 1,765,000. And that, suggested Christie, we now know is a figure which was as accurate as his figure about gassed French Jews, wasn’t that fair? In Browning’s opinion, “ … the figure for French Jews has been reduced by one-half. The estimate that people have made about Auschwitz, for instance — Professor Hilberg would not reduce it quite by half but — will be somewhat over a million.” (16-3664, 3665)
Christie pointed out that Klarsfeld said the 75,721 Jews were those deported from France, not those gassed, killed or dead at all.
“Okay, deportees … I'll accept that,” said Browning. He agreed there were some survivors. (16-3665)
Klarsfeld’s research found that Simone Veil, who later became head of the European Parliament, was alleged to be among those who were gassed, suggested Christie. Browning did not know as he was not familiar with the details of Klarsfeld’s research. (16-3666)
I suggest to you, said Christie, that you would have to admit you have a bias, as we all do.
“All historians write with a perspective that comes out of how they see events,” agreed Browning. “A historian tries to, on the one hand, not hide his views; on the other hand, tries to be as impartial as he can.” (16-3668)
Having read Did Six Million Really Die?, asked Christie, was it not fair to say that what the author put forward were his views, backed up with factual information?
“There are points where — when he says it is his view, and there are points when he says it is a fact. I could not pick them all out at the moment.” (16-3668)
Christie referred Browning to the first sentence of the pamphlet where Harwood had written:
In the following chapters the author has, he believes, brought together irrefutable evidence that the allegation that 6 million Jews died during the Second World War, as a direct result of official German policy of extermination, is utterly unfounded.
I suggest to you, said Christie, that he is telling you in plain English what he believes.
Browning agreed: “He is stating his opinion, yes … At that point he is saying that he is going to try to persuade us to, or give evidence for, an opinion.” (16-3669)
Christie pointed out that Harwood was talking about the whole pamphlet, not just one or two chapters.
“He does say 'In the following chapters'. Plural,” replied Browning. He agreed that Harwood’s insertion of the words “ … the author has, he believes … ,” indicating the making of arguments and propositions which the author believed, was an honest thing to do academically.
Christie suggested that what Browning himself wrote was basically opinions substantiated by pieces of evidence.
“We do try to reach conclusions and interpretations based upon evidence, and that evidence itself we try to evaluate and that we assert often different degrees of certainty to that evidence, and in places, as we pointed out yesterday, I've said the evidence can be unclear and that what one is arguing then is a case of probabilities … In other cases, for instance, a document says such and such, we look at the document and we say that is a fact, the document says this … sometimes — certainly, there are some aspects of the documents which are a matter of interpretation. There are other aspects of the document that I don’t think we could call interpretive. The document that I showed, for example, showed 430,000 Jews, I don’t think we look at that and say that is a matter of interpretation if that number is there,” said Browning. (16- 3669, 3670)
Didn’t you just use the words 'I don’t think'?, asked Christie, because you were again expressing an opinion?
“I was expressing my opinion.” (16-3671)
Christie pointed out that unless Browning had personal experience of something, that what he stated as a fact in history was an opinion.
“I think that there are differing degrees of probability,” said Browning, “and I had argued earlier there are those issues that are beyond a reasonable doubt and that there is a spectrum between what I often identify as conjecture, interpretation, analysis of a problematic aspect of a document, and what I would consider evidence that we would look at and say there really isn’t much room for quibbling on it. For instance, that number I gave as an example.” In doing so, Browning was giving his “best opinion, yes, but based upon varying degrees of various kinds of evidence that has varying degrees of certainty.” (16-3672)
Christie put to Browning that in formulating his opinions on history, Browning himself ignored some of the evidence because he considered it propaganda.
“I would evaluate various kinds of evidence, and it may well be that in various cases I have not seen all the evidence; that, as I said, there is an ongoing process; there is never any way in my lifetime I will read all the relevant evidence, because every question leads to another.” (16- 3672, 3673)
When you find that Höss’s testimony supports your thesis of a planned extermination of the Jews by gas and other means you accept it and quote it, don’t you?, asked Christie.
Browning replied that when he looked at the testimony of an individual, he asked a number of questions about it: “Is it corroborated by documentary evidence? Is it corroborated by eyewitness evidence? Is it internally consistent? Is it plausible? Is it self-interested? There is a whole range of questions that one asks about in reaching an evaluation about a testimony, and in that context in which you evaluate, you may come to conclusions that part of that testimony has much greater probabilities than other parts.” (16-3673)
Christie pointed out he had asked Browning specifically about Höss and whether, in giving some of his opinions, he had not quoted, relied upon and used some of Höss’s words.
“I have cited the Höss testimony,” Browning agreed. “In doing so, I discussed the problematic nature of it and … argued why I thought much of it relevant to the particular issue at hand. There was — not reliable, but that part of it, I said, nonetheless seems to coincide with other kinds of evidence offered and would have a higher degree of acceptability.” (16-3674)
So you select the portions of the evidence you choose to believe?, asked Christie.
“I select the portions of evidence that, after looking at it and examining it, strikes me as the most reliable,” said Browning. “If a witness is giving a great deal of testimony, in this case an entire autobiography, or in some cases an affidavit, if one is looking at the shorter document, I would not reject the whole document because parts of it seemed to be totally inconsistent with other documentation and other testimony. And in view of the other kind of considerations that I had already listed, I don’t think that there is a kind of litmus test in the witness, somebody who is telling an account is either red or blue; he is either totally beyond doubt and totally reliable, or he is totally without credibility. Usually, in these cases, these people are trying to figure out in their own mind events that happened in the past. It is very easy to confuse years, when I think back myself of what happened in certain events, if the location is the same, for instance, which school- year did I teach such a course? It becomes very difficult then to straighten that out in your mind, particularly if one asks you initially and one doesn’t have time to think through and find pegs to put one’s memory on to try to come to a clear memory of the sequence of events. I think that’s quite different than someone having a vivid image and that they put down that it has stuck very firmly in their mind, even if they can’t place it at a certain time, or a very vivid experience.” (16- 3674 to 3676)
Had Browning ever been tortured? asked Christie.
“I have never been tortured.”
Did he have any knowledge of whether Höss claimed to have been tortured? Browning replied that Höss had said, perhaps in his affidavit, that “he was struck with his strop or his whip.” Browning did not know whether Höss had actually been tortured or not. (16-3676, 3677)
Browning knew that the Höss autobiography was written in Poland while he was in Polish captivity but did not know whether it was written in pencil, as suggested by Christie. He had never seen the original, handwritten copy: “I have heard Martin Broszat worked off photostats and then was allowed to see the original to check the original with his photostats.” Browning had never spoken to Broszat about the autobiography, but he had read in the court judgment of the Auschwitz trial that Broszat testified to that effect and that that was the ground for admitting the evidence. (16-3677)
Browning met Broszat when both attended the Stuttgart conference in 1984, at which time they had breakfast together and were on the podium discussion together. (16 3678)
Would it raise doubts in your mind, asked Christie, to know that there were no corrections at all in the handwritten Höss autobiography?
Browning indicated there might have been another draft, but he didn’t know: “It would be an item to consider.” (16-3678)
Do you have any doubts about documents written in Communist captivity in your own historical assessment?, asked Christie.
“That would be another consideration to take into account,” replied Browning, “conditions under which the documents were written.” (16-3678)
With respect to the credibility of Rudolf Vrba, Browning stated: “I would say that their documents and testimony has to be evaluated, and I have already pointed out that I thought that there was questions about the conclusions he reached as to, for instance, the number of French Jews at Auschwitz, but I wouldn’t say that the whole document is discredited because of that.” The “document” referred to by Browning was the War Refugee Board Report. Browning had never read Vrba’s book, I Cannot Forgive. (16-3679, 3680)
Insofar as the eyewitness accounts in the War Refugee Board Report were corroborated by other kinds of eyewitness testimony, “namely, that there were gas chambers there, I do think they are credible,” said Browning. He had seen the report’s drawing of what purported to be a gas chamber: “There is a rough sketch. I don’t think that it is pretending to be a very technical document in terms of the sketch.” (16-3680)
Browning testified that he had seen one of the aerial photographs of Auschwitz taken during the war by the Allies on the wall at Yad Vashem Museum. He had never gone to the Washington archives to get the CIA report of 1979 to look at the photographs. (16-3681)
Browning used four sources in deriving his opinions: eyewitness testimony, documents, physical evidence and circumstantial evidence. To Browning, circumstantial evidence “ … would be questions of the logicalities of drawing certain conclusions from other events or other documents, even if there was not an explicit document, there is for the particular event, and in effect much of what I have argued about the origins of the Hitler — of the decision-making process that we were talking about yesterday, when I said we have gaps in the evidence and we do our best to create a plausible or most probable explanation of events, that you do have some documents in other areas, and you then argue that given this pattern here and there, one can put forward the hypothesis that such did take place, and in a sense it is the construction of that connection between those other documents that I would say is circumstantial evidence. We are arguing this happened because of the surrounding circumstances.” (16-3681 to 3683)
Browning operated in the writing of history in the same way as a good prosecutor would, suggested Christie, arguing in favour of the extermination thesis by filling in the blanks.
“I wouldn’t choose the word 'prosecutor',” answered Browning, “because the analogy is to a judicial proceeding in which you have two people, each doing their best to argue contrasting views … it's … an adversarial proceeding … I don’t think of writing history as adversarial, in that nature.” (16-3683)
But you write with an objective in mind, said Christie, you select the evidence that you find probative of that objective and then you publish it as an argument, was that not a fair statement?
Browning disagreed: “I don’t start with the objective and then seek out the evidence. No, I don’t believe that is the sequence.” (16-3684)
Christie suggested to Browning that he in fact had done that, an example being that he had never once in all his research gone and talked to a defence counsel for any of the people charged to see what their side of the story might be.
“I never talked to a defence counsel,” agreed Browning. He had, however, met with prosecutors in Germany and had derived documents from them. He had never asked defence counsel for any documents: “No, I have not.” He had, however, consulted defence documents in books that had been compiled for some cases. (16 3684, 3685)
Christie pointed out that in much of his writing, Browning referred to court testimony. Had he examined the cross-examination of those witnesses to see if they maintained their stories under cross-examination?
“There are two factors,” replied Browning. “One [must] take into account what I have available to me is not the transcript of the trial. Then I attempt to look at the judgment which will summarize the evidence given in the trial, and the evaluation of that, how it was — in the sense that’s where I find out if in fact that stood up in the court, but I do not have the transcripts of the trials.” (16-3685)
Did Browning know, asked Christie, of the Frankfurt trials in Germany in the 1960s where witnesses who didn’t give satisfactory testimony were arrested and charged themselves?
“I don’t know that case, no, sir,” replied Browning. “I do not know if anybody has been arrested for the kind of testimony they gave. Presumably Germany has laws of perjury … ”
Christie indicated he was not suggesting perjury.
“I don’t know that,” said Browning. “In the cases I have studied in detail, I have seen no reference to such an event.” (16-3686)
Christie asked Browning whether he knew of an author by the name of Stäglich. Browning knew of the name and knew he was a German judge, but had not read his works. He did not know that Stäglich claimed to have been stationed near Auschwitz; he had simply seen the name and the title of the book listed in the context of writings which questioned the extermination. (16-3687)
Did Browning think, asked Christie, whether physical evidence, such as photographs taken of the scene of an alleged mass murder at the time that it was supposed to be going on, were important pieces of evidence for a historian?
“That would be one piece of evidence,” replied Browning. He did not know about the technology of aerial photography or how much information could be derived from it. He had heard that aerial photographs were taken of Auschwitz in the summer of 1944, but he did not know that for a fact. (16-3689)
Christie put to Browning that they were taken long before the so-called blowing up of the alleged gas chambers and were taken on over thirty occasions in 1944. Browning had “never heard a number near that high … I've seen one photograph on the wall of the museum of the Yad Vashem.” (16-3689, 3690)
Did he look at it carefully at all?
“Not in great detail, no,” said Browning. (16-3690)
Wasn’t physical evidence one of the four categories of evidence he claimed to look at?
“I said this is one of the four categories one can look at … I have not in this case … looked at that. I haven’t done specific research in Auschwitz. I have done detailed research in some other areas.” (16-3690)
Are you aware, asked Christie, of the many survivor stories of smoke and flame shooting out from chimneys and crematoria?
“I've seen accounts that speak of the smoke and of flames,” said Browning, but he admitted he did not note whether or not there was smoke and flames when he looked at the photograph of Auschwitz at Yad Vashem. (16-3690)
Did Browning know who first published the actual plans of the crematory at Auschwitz with the dimensions?
“No, I do not,” replied Browning. “I did not know that there were plans published with dimensions. I have never seen that.” (16-3691)
Did Browning know who the first person was to reveal the likelihood of the existence of aerial photographs in 1979 in the National Archives? Browning answered that the first time he had heard of them was in an article by Professor David Wyman, but he did not know who else may have gone and asked for them. In 1979, Browning knew that Robert Wolfe would have been the person in charge of captured German records at the National Archives, but he presumed such photographs would have come out of American military records. (16-3691, 3692)
From the Wyman article, Browning recalled that some of the photographs were taken from flights originating in southern Italy. (16-3693)
Did Browning realize, asked Christie, that those aerial photographs totally denied, by their existence, the stories of the people who alleged smoke and shooting flames from the crematoria chimneys?
“I do not know that,” replied Browning. “ … It would be another avenue to pursue."(16- 3693)
It was true, wasn’t it, asked Christie, that Browning’s references to the Frank diary in his earlier testimony were a selection of a very, very small portion of all the available information about Hans Frank? Browning admitted that the “book is voluminous, and this is just the excerpt of the twelve reels of microfilm. Anybody who is writing about Hans Frank will be making selections.” (16-3694, 3695)
Browning agreed that the prosecution at Nuremberg selected certain documents from a wider selection of German documents, but he did not know how much access the defence had to the captured German documents. “I would not be competent to state any opinion on that,” he said. (16-3695)
Did he know that the German documents that were captured were taken to Alexandria, Virginia, where they were sorted for some time before being sent back to Germany and used by the prosecution?
“I don’t know if the sorting took place before it was sent over or not,” said Browning, “but there was obviously a selection from those documents that was used in the proceedings.” (16- 3695)
Browning admitted that what he had selected for presentation at the trial in Toronto was a “very limited selection, yes … That which was pertinent to a statement in the pamphlet.” He agreed that he did not include anything about Frank’s last recorded words. (16-3696)
Christie produced the final statement made by Hans Frank before the International Military Tribunal on 31 August, 1946:
There is still one statement of mine which I must rectify. On the witness stand I said that a thousand years would not suffice to erase the guilt brought upon our people because of Hitler’s conduct in this war. Every possible guilt incurred by our nation has already been completely wiped out today, not only by the conduct of our war time enemies towards our nation and its soldiers, which has been carefully kept out of this Trial, but also by the tremendous mass crimes of the most frightful sort which — as I have now learned — have been and still are being committed against Germans by Russians, Poles, and Czechs, especially in East Prussia … Who shall ever judge these crimes against the German people?
I end my final statement in the sure hope that from all the horrors of the war and all the threatening developments which are already appearing everywhere, a peace may perhaps still arise in whose blessings even our nation may be able to participate.
But it is God’s eternal justice in which I hope our people will be secure and to which alone I trustfully submit. (16-3696, 3697; Excerpt from Hans Frank final statement filed as Exhibit 69 at 16-3702)
Had Browning known of this statement by Frank, would it have affected his view that Frank must have known of the extermination of the Jews?, asked Christie.
“What I got out of that,” said Browning, “was that his sense of peace with himself, or what we want to call that word, seemed to have been altered by hearing of other atrocities which he now felt erased whatever guilt the Germans or the Nazi regime or he himself may have carried from previous events. That sounds indeed as if he felt that atrocities have been committed earlier, or what were they being balanced against?” (16-3697, 3698)
Browning agreed that Frank did not defend Adolf Hitler and accepted for himself “a very tremendous spiritual responsibility.” At the end, however, Browning noted that Frank believed the crimes of the other nations were equal. (16-3703)
If he was being honest in his last statement, asked Christie, he certainly didn’t indicate knowledge of the extermination programme that Browning said existed, was that fair?
“He does not mention death camps in here or extermination camps. He does refer to crimes or atrocities … He does not mention Jews in here. He talks about — he isn’t specific.” (16- 3703, 3704)
Wouldn’t he consider that a valuable piece of evidence?
Browning indicated that it “would be important for his state of mind at the end of his life, and that would relate to other things.” (16-3704)
Christie and Browning returned to Frank’s evidence given at Nuremberg on April 18, 1946 (IMT “Blue Series", vol. 12, pp. 18 and 19):
When in 1944 I got the first details from the foreign press about the things which were going on, my first question was to the SS Obergruppenführer Koppe, who had replaced Krüger. “Now we know,” I said, “you cannot deny that.” And he said that nothing was known to him about these things, and that apparently it was a matter directly between Heinrich Himmler and the camp authorities. “But,” I said, “already in 1941 I heard of such plans, and I spoke about them.” Then he said that was my business and he could not worry about it. (16-3705, 3706; Hans Frank testimony, IMT vol. 12, pp. 18 and 19, filed as Exhibit 70 at 16-3707)
In Browning’s opinion, the passage did “not admit specific knowledge of the concentration camps or the extermination camps, but it says there were many, many rumours and that when he refers in general, he said ' … already in 1941 I heard of such plans and I spoke about them.'” To Browning, this reflected Frank’s position on extermination camps. (16-3706, 3707)
Christie turned to the subject of the Posen speech given by Himmler. Browning had not heard the sound recording of the Posen speech but had heard that the sound quality was not good. He did not know whether it was too difficult to understand. (16-3709, 3710)
Christie asked whether Browning now had a copy of the CIA report [regarding aerial photos of Auschwitz] of 1979.
“I believe that that was handed to me and it is under my coat,” said Browning. “I have not looked at it yet.” It had been handed to him by Professor Marrus: “I asked him if he had a copy since that was a topic which we had — I had not been able to discuss in any way because I had not read it.” (16-3710)
Browning admitted that he had never taken a course in text criticism. Nevertheless, one dealt with such things in graduate training, he said. (16-3711)
Christie returned to Did Six Million Really Die? and read from a portion on page 6 which Browning had disputed in his evidence:
By 1939, the consistent efforts of the German Government to secure the departure of Jews from the Reich had resulted in the emigration of 400,000 German Jews from a total population of about 600,000, and an additional 480,000 emigrants from Austria and Czechoslovakia, which constituted almost their entire Jewish populations.
“I said that that quote was inaccurate or that section was inaccurate,” testified Browning. “The fact that later in the text he refers to Slovak Jews on several occasions would raise some question as to whether they — almost the entire Jewish population of Czechoslovakia had emigrated.” (16-3712)
Browning admitted that statistics in this area “is a very complex question … The author here states and that was one sentence I would agree with fully, that it is a very complex question.” One problem was the difficulty of defining who a Jew was at the time, given that there were different definitions; another “major problem” were the changing borders. He agreed there were “undoubtedly cases of illegal border crossings.” (16-3712, 3713)
Browning worked from different definitions of who was a Jew; there was the Nazi definition and a religious definition. He did not know what definition was used in Poland. (16- 3713)
The figures used for Poland were from the 1931 census; Browning did not know of any later census taken for Jews in Poland. He agreed that in the eight years before the war, changes “could have occurred … There were certainly Jews moving.” (16 3714)
Browning acknowledged that the Jewish population statistics could be complex and people working with them could make honest mistakes with them. (16-3718)
Christie put to Browning that it was mighty tough to be accurate about the number of Jews in Poland in 1939 after the Russians and Germans had divided up the country.
“The statistics we showed indeed showed variation in estimates; that all the people looking at it have acknowledged that they are making estimates.” (16-3718)
Browning indicated that the statistics on Hungarian Jews was “one of the most problematic areas … statistically.” Transylvania was transferred to Hungary. The Jews of this region were part of the deportation programme in 1944. Browning agreed that in speaking of Jews from this area, “It would be necessary … to stipulate are you speaking of 1938 Hungarian boundaries or 1944 Hungarian boundaries because as I pointed out they changed dramatically between the pre-war and 1942.” (16-3718, 3719) Hungary, by virtue of her alliance with Germany, said Browning, acquired about 150,000 Transylvanian Jews, about 40,000 Slovakian Jews, about 100,000 Carpathian Ruthenia Jews and about 25,000 German Jews from Yugoslavia. (16-3720)
Christie suggested that if Harwood meant Hungarian Jews in a limited sense of Jews from Hungary previous to annexations, it would make an enormous difference to his figures. Browning agreed: “-well, I think it does make an enormous difference to his figures … The pamphlet does not reveal which boundaries encompassing which Jews he’s talking about at which time. That is the source of the error, I believe.” (16 3720)
Browning agreed that statistics could “certainly be deceptive, yes.” (16-3721)
“I'm neither a demographer or a statistician,” Browning admitted. He agreed that the quote which Christie had read from page 6 of Did Six Million Really Die? dealt with statistics. (16- 3721)
Christie returned to passage in the pamphlet at page 5 which Browning had disputed regarding Madagascar:
The founder of political Zionism in the 19th century, Theodore Herzl, in his work The Jewish State, had originally conceived of Madagascar as a national homeland for the Jews, and this possibility was seriously studied by the Nazis. It had been a main plank of the National Socialist party platform before 1933 and was published by the party in pamphlet form.
Browning testified that he defined “main plank” to mean “something that was part of the party programme … Published as such … When I see the reference 'main plank', I assume that it is or my interpretation was that it was meant to be that the author was implying with 'main plank' that indeed it was one of the main points of the initial Nazi programme that Hitler didn’t like to change.” He would not consider an obscure pamphlet published by someone who was not a major figure or authorized to speak on it to constitute a main plank. (16-3722, 3723)
Christie asked if Browning agreed that there certainly were publications that had the National Socialist Party name and logo on them that did advocate the Madagascar plan.
“I don’t know if they had the party logo on it,” said Browning. “I know there were several English pamphlets and there was a Dutch pamphlet, I believe. I don’t know that there was a German one … I've seen the reference to a German pamphlet but I have never seen the pamphlet.” In his opinion, this did not constitute a “main plank” of the National Socialist Party platform. He agreed that the word “main,” like “great majority,” was a relative term. (16-3724)
Did Browning agree, asked Christie, that Herzl did refer to a number of other places besides Madagascar, namely, Mozambique and Uganda, as a homeland for the Jews?
“He may have. I don’t know,” said Browning. (16-3732)
Christie returned to the pamphlet at page 6:
As the war proceeded, the policy developed of using Jewish detainees for labour in the war- effort. The question of labour is fundamental when considering the alleged plan of genocide against the Jews, for on grounds of logic alone the latter would entail the most senseless waste of manpower, time and energy while prosecuting a war of survival on two fronts. Certainly after the attack on Russia, the idea of compulsory labour had taken precedence over German plans for Jewish emigration.
Browning agreed that the first sentence in the paragraph was true and that the second sentence entailed a value judgment which constituted an argument. It was the third sentence which Browning disputed: “Jewish emigration is halted in the fall of 1941. I think that the precedence in German plans was for — to exterminate Jews who could not work and who used the labour of Jews that could, at least for the time being.” As authority for this proposition, Browning relied “upon the many Einsatzgruppen reports … Hitler’s words in this April 17th document that we're going to refer to; we rely upon many documents of negotiations or sometimes protests between the economic interests and Himmler over how much Jewish labour would be allowed; the pressure of the party to or of Himmler to have that Jewish labour replaced with non-Jewish labour as quickly as possible … It is, in fact, an on-going process in which there is a debate over how soon Jewish labour will end.” Browning believed the Einsatzgruppen reports were valid documents. (16 3725, 3726)
Had he ever been able to produce any evidence that the Einsatzgruppen reports were shown to an author at any time during their trial or after the war to validate them?, asked Christie.
“I believe that many of them were shown to their author. I don’t know. We don’t know who wrote them. They were compiled and circulated from the Reichssicherheitshauptamt … I assume there was an author but they were compiled,” said Browning. (16-3726)
Christie pointed out that attached to some of the documents introduced by Browning were documents called 'staff evidence analysis'. Browning testified that this referred to the prosecution staff and were briefs of what one could look for in the document. He himself had not seen the staff evidence analysis until the documents were already ordered; he had not used them in deciding which documents to order. (16-3727)
Was Browning’s position then that the idea of using the available labour had not taken precedence over Jewish emigration, and that there was instead an extermination plan?
“I would say that it started in two phases,” said Browning. “In the spring and summer, the extermination of the Russian Jews emerged and that we have documents that talk about by- passing certain areas, putting Jews to work or not killing artisans that are doing useful labour until they can be replaced that summer. Through fall, we have the development of the second phase and that … is reflected in such statements such as Goebbels when he says we would liquidate sixty percent and forty percent would be put to work. It, I think, is reflected in the Wannsee Conference protocol that talks about putting Jews to work in labour columns separated by sexes through which a bulk of them will fall away through natural reduction or whatever the exact term was.” (16-3728)
Did Browning know how the Goebbels diaries were found?, asked Christie.
“I do not know the specifics behind that edition of the Goebbels diaries,” replied Browning. “I do know that they have — different sections have been found in different places, that there is work now in progress to try to create a comprehensive collection of the various Goebbels papers.” Browning, however, did not have specific information on how the diaries got into the hands of Louis Lochner, the editor. (16-3729)
Christie put to Browning that it was no secret, and in fact was widely published, that what Lochner had published were typewritten pages found by a junk dealer after the war.
“I don’t know … I have not enquired as to the origins of it.” (16-3730)
Had he heard, asked Christie, that the reason why they were assumed to be Goebbels’s diaries, apart from content, was the quality of the paper and a large, oversized type?
“I do not know that,” said Browning. (16-3730)
Christie returned to Did Six Million Really Die? at page 6:
The protocol of a conversation between Hitler and the Hungarian regent Horthy on April 17th, 1943, reveals that the German leader personally requested Horthy to release 100,000 Hungarian Jews for work in the “pursuit-plane programme” of the Luftwaffe at a time when the aerial bombardment of Germany was increasing (Reitlinger, Die Endlösung, Berlin, 1956, p. 478).
Was that specific statement false?, asked Christie.
“The protocol of the … conversation on April 17, 1943,” said Browning, “I did not see a request from Hitler to Horthy to release 100,000 Hungarian Jews who worked in a — in a plane programme.” He had read the protocol as printed by the Nuremberg Tribunal. He had notes on the original document but could not recall if they would indicate if there was more in the document or not. (16-3731, 3732)
Browning did not know whether Nuremberg document 736-D which he had introduced in court [Exhibit 37] was the only record of the proceedings. He did not look at the German edition of Reitlinger which Harwood cited in support of the allegation. He agreed that he therefore did not know whether the statement was correctly attributed to Reitlinger or not: “The protocol of the conference that I saw did not include what is attributed here. I do not know whether such an attribution is in the German edition of Reitlinger.” (16-3732, 3733)
Did Browning agree that many of Hitler’s statements were more figurative as symbols of struggle, to mobilize and incite his followers, than expressions of any intent?
“ … I would say that indeed on occasions one should interpret Hitler’s words in a more figurative manner,” said Browning. “But they are the way often in which he sends the signals about the direction he wishes to go; that I would not classify them as some have as meaningless or empty words.” (16-3733, 3734) Browning quoted from page 14 of his book, Fateful Months, where he had written on this subject:
The historian … can interpret many of Hitler’s statements more figuratively, as “symbols of struggle” mobilizing and inciting his followers.
In this section of his article, said Browning, he was listing three ways in which one could treat Hitler’s speeches. In the first, through hindsight, one could judge “certain of Hitler’s statements to be literal and dismiss the rest as duplicity, thus assuring a coherent ideology and a consistent, but all-too-clever pattern of behaviour on Hitler’s part.” Second, the historian could “interpret many of Hitler’s statements more effectively as quote 'symbols of struggle', mobilizing and inciting his followers.” Browning indicated that the words 'symbols of struggle' were a quote of Martin Broszat. Finally, the historian “can accept that Hitler experienced uncertainty and changes of mind and mood and that contradictory statements are evidence of his own confusion … Each of the above approaches is valid, at least in some cases, and thus the scope for possible interpretation is once again very wide.” (16-3735)
Christie referred to Exhibit 37, the protocol of the meeting between Horthy and Hitler, in which Browning had alleged Ribbentrop said that the Jews must either be exterminated or taken to concentration camps. Christie pointed out that the German word used in the original document was vernichten.
Did this word mean annihilate or exterminate?, asked Christie.
“It can be translated as destroyed or exterminated or annihilated,” replied Browning. (16- 3735, 3736)
When we speak of this in the context of military terms, asked Christie, could it not also mean displaced and extinguished and reduced to silence, or powerlessness, like you would annihilate a battalion, but you wouldn’t necessarily kill everybody?
“If you, in a sense, destroyed its fighting capacity, you would refer to the destruction of the battalion without necessarily implying the destruction of every member of the battalion,” replied Browning. He did not agree that in that context the word vernichten meant the neutralization of a fighting force. “I think it would imply something stronger than neutralized … It’s not referring here to a military operation in a unit … It’s referring to the Jews.” Browning agreed, however, that at that time, people like Ribbentrop regarded the Jews as the enemy. (16-3737)
Much as we, in this country, suggested Christie, regarded the Japanese and we acted much the same way towards them, with the exception of extermination, as the Germans did to the Jews; we took their property, we put them in concentration camps and we eliminated them from public life.
“I have never seen that referred to as the destruction of the Japanese … That context, I think, would be most inappropriate,” said Browning. “You can certainly say the Japanese were deprived of their freedom and property, but I've never seen that action referred to as the … destruction of the Japanese Americans.” (16-3738)
Christie pointed out that Hitler and others frequently used language in a context that implied military struggle against their political enemies, one of whom they thought to be the Jews; that frequently Hitler spoke of the Jews as an enemy within Germany.
“He spoke of the Jews — German Jews as part of a wider ideology and racial enemy,” Browning agreed. Hitler referred to it as the international Jewish conspiracy. (16 3739)
And conspiracy theories are no doubt in your view ridiculous?, asked Christie.
“I am generally suspicious of conspiracy theories,” replied Browning.
But, Christie pointed out, he was willing to accept a plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe which was really a form of conspiracy theory itself.
“Well, now you're placing words and I'm always reluctant to let you phrase my thoughts,” replied Browning. It bothered him that Christie had equated the words “conspiracy” and “plan.” (16-3739, 3740)
Christie put to Browning that if there was a secret plan for the extermination of the Jews, and it had to be secret because, given what Browning had been saying, there was nothing in writing and all kinds of euphemisms and nods, then that was a conspiracy theory.
“No, I don’t think it is a conspiracy theory,” said Browning. (16-3740, 3741)
Isn’t it true, asked Christie, that without having any evidence of the actual existence of some concise plan for the moving of 5 million people, you relied on the occurrence of events to justify the belief in this, and that the occurrence of these events, namely the 5 or 6 million people you say disappeared, is, itself, speculation?
“I would not phrase it that way. I have talked about different degrees of our ability to assert something as an interpretation or a historical fact. I have talked in the examination-in-chief of the particular evidence for the parts of the Holocaust that I would claim are historical knowledge … I would view none of that in terms of the understanding of how it comes about as a matter of interpretation, and I had said there indeed could be different ways of interpreting the evidence.” (16-3741)
Could Browning name any other event which had had so much effect, that didn’t have the kind of evidence that we would expect to have for the disappearance of 5 million people?
“I think we know much less about, for instance, Stalin’s purges than we do about the Holocaust,” replied Browning. “That there are many areas we know less about what happened in Cambodia than we know about the Holocaust. That I think that there are a number of things that have happened that we do not know as much about as the Holocaust.” (16-3742)
And none of those things, suggested Christie, were beyond doubt, were they?
“I think that parts of it we could accept as beyond reasonable doubt. Parts of it would be a matter of interpretation.” (16-3742)
And I suggest, said Christie, that all of it would be a matter of opinion, wouldn’t it?
“No, I don’t,” said Browning. “We were in the court room together a while back with Mr. Biedermann and you lifted up a book and said it is a known fact. You, yourself, speak of known facts. So, I think that we have both, at times, used expressions. That was about the 588 people killed at Dachau, when Mr. Biedermann said he did not know about it, you raised up the book in your left hand and said it is a known fact; and I would invite the transcript to be studied if you don’t remember it. Apparently there is evidence in that book which I haven’t seen that leads you to make a conclusion that you can state something as a known fact.” (16-3742, 3743)
I agree, said Christie, that even though I assert it as a fact, you acknowledge it as an opinion.
“No,” said Browning, “I would like to see the book to know what the evidence is to make some judgment.” (16-3743)
Browning believed there were degrees of certainty in history. “I would be hard put here as a non-expert in the field to prove the existence of the Roman Empire or that World War I took place, but I think that those … are accepted as historical facts … And I think they probably are accepted beyond a reasonable doubt.” (16-3743)
Christie suggested that there was great debate about events, for example, the Holocaust, because the proof was not there.
“As I said,” answered Browning, “the problems of the purges and I would add the famine in the Ukraine, we have a much smaller base of evidence than we do for the Holocaust.” (16-3744)
Did Browning have any evidence of a million bodies?, asked Christie.
“No, I do not have a million bodies … If bodies are burned I cannot have a million bodies … That is what the eyewitness testimony tells us.” (16-3744)
How much energy was required to burn a million bodies? Browning did not know. “I have not burned a million bodies. I am not a chemist. I cannot tell you that.” (16 3744)
Did it ever cross your mind, asked Christie, why we don’t find any evidence in the literature of the transportation of coal for burning these bodies?
“Most of the bodies were burned in pits,” said Browning. “I have not seen documents referring to fuel.” (16-3744, 3745)
I suggest to you, said Christie, that we don’t have documents either which indicate how the large volumes of Zyklon B gas that would be required to exterminate millions of people were the same volumes that were sent to places like Oranienburg and other German concentration camps where no gas chambers existed.
Browning replied that this was an area where he had to rely upon secondary evidence, but what he could recall was that there were “shipments to Oranienburg … a kind of headquarters camp which clearly could have distributed to other camps in the concentration camp system. I also — again, this is a case of secondary literature, that the shipments of Zyklon B to Auschwitz in April or May, or at least in the period preceding Hungarian deportation, increased significantly.” (16-3745)
Christie produced Nuremberg document PS-1553, the report of Kurt Gerstein, who was the disinfection officer at some of the camps. Browning did not believe he had ever cited Gerstein in any of his work: “I think it is a document that is of considerable importance, but given what I know has transpired in the last while with — Hilberg and you had a considerable discussion of the document — if I used it I would be careful to qualify it, just as I did with the Höss document when I used that in my work.” (16-3746)
Christie suggested that one of the reasons Höss and Gerstein were used at Nuremberg was because they were the available evidence, but that they were really very suspicious because of their exaggerations.
“I would say that parts of them have problems. I would not, in terms of Gerstein, obviously one of the problems is his ability to measure the volume and the area of the gas chamber and the number of people. That is a situation where he is presumably quite traumatized, I doubt very much that he stepped out to measure or that he sat there counting the people. That that would be a kind of recollection that one would be very reluctant to trust. Other parts of it, I would put much more credence in, particularly the ones that have been confirmed by other eyewitnesses.” (16-3746, 3747)
Wasn’t it intellectually dishonest, asked Christie, to accept the credible part of a witness' testimony when other parts of that person’s testimony were completely insane?
“It would then be something that must be measured against other eyewitness testimony. It would impose a higher burden on the document,” replied Browning. (16-3748)
Would you believe, asked Christie, somebody who told you 25 million people [were killed] and their clothes piled seven stories high?
“You would get into the problem of the state of mind both at the time he may have been writing that document or at the time in which he was witnessing a particular event, but depending again upon the situation, it might or it might not totally discredit the entire recollection or document.” (16-3748, 3749)
But was it intellectually honest, asked Christie, to leave out those parts from a reader when presenting that so-called eyewitness to the public for their assessment?
“If, as in this case,” said Browning, “it has become a matter of controversy, historians certainly should address the issue. I think that it would be understandable if not the most desirable that not every document is precluded with an evaluation of it. Then you would have longer footnotes than you would have text.” (16-3749)
Christie returned to page 7 of Did Six Million Really Die?:
Reitlinger and Poliakov both make the entirely unfounded supposition that because the Madagascar Plan had been shelved, the Germans must necessarily have been thinking of “extermination". Only a month later, however, on March 7th, 1942, Goebbels wrote a memorandum in favour of the Madagascar Plan as a “final solution” of the Jewish question (Manvell and Frankl, Dr. Goebbels, London, 1960, p. 165). In the meantime he approved of the Jews being “concentrated in the East" …
In Browning’s opinion, Reitlinger’s and Poliakov’s supposition was not unfounded: “- I think the Madagascar plan for practical purposes had been shelved back in December 1940 and that did not immediately necessarily lead to thinking of extermination, though I think it was an important chain in the link.” Browning admitted that the first sentence of the paragraph constituted “an interpretation which is a form of opinion.” (16-3750, 3751)
Browning believed that Goebbels did not write a memorandum in favour of the Madagascar plan: “ … he wrote a brief note in the diary … It is my interpretation, and this is, indeed, simply a conjecture based upon circumstantial evidence, that Goebbels had received a shortened or modified version of the [Wannsee] protocol … emphasizing the discussion about the mixed marriage and part-Jewish question that was the subject of the March 6th meeting. He would have needed to know what the proposals that had been put forward and discussed at Wannsee were in order for him to take part in that meeting, and the diary, that puts that at that point.” To Browning, this spoke to the diary’s authenticity. (16-3751, 3752)
Christie asked whether there was something wrong with the second sentence of the paragraph of Did Six Million Really Die?. Browning indicated that on March 7th, Goebbels had written an entry in his diary that mentioned the Madagascar plan. (16 3752)
So the problem with 'memorandum' is that it should be 'entry'?, asked Christie.
“Yes,” said Browning. (16-3752, 3753)
With respect to the third sentence, Browning testified that he did not believe Harwood made an honest presentation of the diary entry because he failed to include other parts of the diary entry which referred to the intention to liquidate sixty percent of the Jews. To Browning, it was excluded deliberately. (16-3753)
Christie suggested that people who supported the extermination thesis did likewise by ignoring and sometimes excising references to the more ridiculous statements of Gerstein, for instance.
“Is the term liquidate sixty percent a ridiculous statement?” asked Browning. “That would be excised because it was ridiculous.” (16-3754)
Christie pointed out he did not know the reason why it was excised, but was suggesting that Browning did the same thing in his writings to promote his arguments.
“We all have to make selections in which documents and we all make selections in which parts you may quote or summarize from documents,” said Browning. “And then it becomes a question of the context. What he is arguing and in this case, he clearly has invoked something in the Goebbels diary which is situated, as we had seen, on the same page as a clear reference to liquidation.”
Browning confirmed that Goebbels wrote that about sixty percent of the people involved would have to be liquidated whereas only forty percent could be used for forced labour. He spoke about barbaric measures and attributed the driving force behind this to Hitler. (16-3754, 3755) In Browning’s opinion, the entry did not indicate the carrying out of a resettlement; the Jews were not being sent to the east for labour or they would not have sent the sixty percent. (16- 3759)
Christie produced Harvest of Hate by Leon Poliakov and read a translation of a portion of a speech made by Goebbels in March of 1943 regarding the Jewish question:
What will be the solution of the Jewish question? If one day a Jewish state is created on some territory we shall know this later on. But it is somewhat strange to state that those countries whose public opinion rises in favour of the Jews always refuse to receive them. They say that they are the pioneers of civilization, geniuses of philosophy and artistic creation, but if one wants to make them receive these geniuses, then they close their frontiers; 'no, no we don’t want them'. It is, it seems to me, a unique example in world history that people refuse to receive geniuses. (16 3761)
If there was a public policy to exterminate the Jews, asked Christie, why would that statement have been made publicly by Goebbels a year after the diary entry?
“There was not — people did not make public statements,” said Browning. “Let me put it this way. What decision Goebbels would make about giving a speech would depend a great deal on whom he was addressing, the circumstances of it, that there are also in an article, for instance by a historian named Wilhelm a number or study of a whole series of things he wrote in which he does address that question very more openly. But I do not remember the exact speeches, merely that I have seen a study that deals with Goebbels and his publications or statements about it and I would be therefore very careful about drawing a conclusion from that one document.” (16-3761, 3762)
Why then, asked Christie, was Browning less careful about drawing a conclusion from somebody’s alleged diary?
“As I have said, when we measure the diary, we look at the context, that we look at the internal consistency, we look at the circumstances in which it was written. We look at the way in which it may or may not be corroborated by others. We look at plausibility. We look at self- interest.” (16-3762)
Do we look at authenticity?, asked Christie.
“That is another thing that we may look at,” said Browning. He himself had accepted the printed version of the diary published by Lochner. He had read part of the Manvell and Frankl edition. (16-3762)
Christie produced Manvell and Fraenkel and read from it:
That these pages were rescued from the chaos of the fall of the Reich is due to chance. For his notes Goebbels used an unusually handsome and sturdy-laid paper such as the average consumer had hardly ever got to see in those war years after the capture of Berlin in 1945. Some 11,000 sheets of this paper were lying around the courtyard of the propaganda Ministry. Russian soldiers were about to burn these heaps of paper when a junk dealer, impressed by the quality of the hand-laid paper, took the valuable and scarce commodity for himself and thus saved the wartime memoirs of the minister from the flames.
Later a great deal of effort was devoted to sorting and collating the scorched pages. In 1947-48, Louis P. Lochner edited this material and published those portions of it that are of interest to the historian. The original manuscript reposes in the Stanford University library in California along with a copy of the L. Berfeld diary; a copy of the entire manuscript is to be found in the Institute für Zeitgeschten, Munich. In those years, Goebbels no longer made his own entries in the diaries, but dictated them to a co-worker Master Stenographer Ude. Goebbels, by the way, never took the time to revise … That explains why the text is repetitious and stylistically uneven.2
Browning had not read this portion of Manvell and Fraenkel before. Nor had he ever checked the Stanford University library to see if Louis Lochner had edited the diary correctly. He was aware that editing could produce some very serious problems of meaning and that very slight word changes could make big differences. He agreed that it would be a “very good” idea to check the original of the diary for the words which he relied upon the most, namely, “will have to be liquidated.” (16 3764, 3765)
Christie produced The Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Dr. Arthur Butz and read from page 195 regarding the Goebbels diary:
Finally, there are a number of remarks in The Goebbels Diaries but, as the “Publisher’s Note” explains, the “diaries were typed on fine water-marked paper” and then “passed through several hands, and eventually came into the possession of Mr. Frank E. Mason". Thus the authenticity of the complete manuscript is very much open to question, even if the authenticity of much of the material can be demonstrated somehow. Interpolation with a typewriter is simple. The original clothbound edition of the “Diaries” even contains a U.S. Government statement that it “neither warrants nor disclaims the authenticity of the manuscript".
Would that have a bearing on how seriously we should regard these diaries?, asked Christie.
“It would certainly be good to have an edition in the original German language. As I have said at least in — in some passages where I am familiar, the context at least looks — when I, for instance, as I said with the March 7th event, it made sense that he would be saying what he was saying at that time. But I have not seen the original. I have not tested the paper of the original … I have not seen a German original to check with this [translation],” said Browning. (16-3766)
Christie returned to page 7 of Did Six Million Really Die?:
Statistics relating to Jewish populations are not everywhere known in precise detail, approximations for various countries differing widely, and it is also unknown exactly how many Jews were deported and interned at any one time between the years 1939-1945. In general, however, what reliable statistics there are, especially those relating to emigration, are sufficient to show that not a fraction of six million Jews could have been exterminated.
In the first place, this claim cannot remotely be upheld on examination of the European Jewish population figures. According to Chambers Encyclopaedia the total number of Jews living in pre-war Europe was 6,500,000.
Browning agreed with Christie that the first sentence was a true and accurate statement; it was the second sentence which he disagreed with. (16-3768, 3769) He also disagreed with the citing of Chambers Encyclopedia. (16-3775) Browning confirmed that with respect to this point, he had introduced three documents: the Burgdörfer Report, the Wannsee Conference protocol and [the Madagascar Report]. (16-3769) Browning agreed that at the beginning of his report, Burgdörfer had written as follows:
… [there are] considerable difficulties to make any statistics for the entire world … only Germany and (only since 1939) has tried to count Jews on a racial ground … Other countries count only the religious Jews … Other countries like France, Great Britain and U.S.A. do not even inquire about that … A number of other countries do not inquire about religious affiliation.
Browning did not dispute that what Burgdörfer wrote was true. He agreed that Burgdörfer built into his report qualifiers as to its accuracy. “I think all of them are estimates, yes. He is building in qualifiers. We presented three different ones that, in fact, all gave three different numbers to demonstrate that it is not an exact science.” (16-3770, 3771)
It seemed, said Christie, that statistics was a very difficult thing even at that time for the people allegedly trying to count Jews.
“It is a difficult problem,” Browning agreed.
He confirmed that the Wannsee Conference protocol contained a figure which was out of line, that of the number of Jews in unoccupied France. The number given was 700,000. (16-3771)
How were these statistics compiled?, asked Christie.
“Burgdörfer gives us his sources or at least two of them,” said Browning, “and presumably did other inquiries. I know that the Jewish expert in the Foreign Office wrote each of the embassies in Europe and asked for whatever official statistics he could get. Some of them replied and some of them did not. I do not know the basis for the statistics of the … SS [in] 1940 and 1942.” (16-3772)
With respect to accuracy then, suggested Christie, we are unable to identify the precise origin of the statistics or the rules by which people were put into those categories?
“They are imprecise, they are estimates because, among other things, you have different … definitions of Jews.” (16-3772)
Browning agreed that the statistic for Estland which indicated it was judenfrei meant only that there were no Jews there. Browning believed that the Stahlecker Report indicated there were no Jews there as a result of emigration and shooting. (16-3773)
Did the whole of the Russian campaign involve a brutal partisan war?, asked Christie.
“As the war continued,” said Browning, “the partisan war got worse but in the beginning, at least, we have the statement of Hitler welcoming Stalin’s call for a partisan war because it gave them the opportunity to carry out pacification and I think he said to shoot anyone that so much looks askance at us.” (16-3773, 3774)
There was the Jewish-Bolshevik commissars order, Browning agreed. Commissars were political officers attached to the units of the Red Army. Browning did not know whether their reputation, as suggested by Christie, could be summarized by the saying: either be shot by the Germans in front or by the commissars in the back. (16-3774)
Christie suggested that the last part of the paragraph of Did Six Million Really Die? to which Browning had taken exception dealt with statistics, an area where opinions differed, even at that time.
“Opinions differ but there are also degrees of difference,” replied Browning. (16 3775)
Christie read from Chambers Encyclopedia which Harwood had cited:
On the continent of Europe apart from Russia, whose western provinces also suffered terribly, only a handful of numerically unimportant communities in neutral countries escaped and of the 6,500,000 Jews who lived in the Nazi dominated lands in 1939, barely 1,500,000 remained alive when the war ended six years later.
To Browning, the key figure was 6.5 million Jews in Nazi-dominated lands as of 1939, which was different from the claim made in the pamphlet that the total number of Jews living in pre-war Europe was 6.5 million. (16-3778)
Christie suggested that the sentence could have two other meanings: did it mean the people lived there in 1939 and the lands later became dominated by Nazis, or did it mean that the Nazis dominated the land in 1939 and there were 6.5 million Jews?
Browning agreed that the “sentence is constructed so it is not clear.” However, to Browning, “Of the various meanings, the one that doesn’t emerge, as I can tell by any construction, is that the total number of Jews living in pre-war Europe was 6.5 million.” (16-3778, 3779)
Browning agreed that most of Europe came under Nazi domination, but that there was no fixed boundary for Europe: “ … there is no fixed convention, but it would be from the Urals to the Atlantic is one view of it. Some would not include so much of Russia. There is, as far as I know, not a universally accepted notion of where Europe ends.” (16-3780, 3781)
Christie returned to page 7 of Did Six Million Really Die?:
This is acknowledged by the World Jewish Congress in its publication Unity in Dispersion (p. 377), which states that: “The majority of the German Jews succeeded in leaving Germany before the war broke out.” In addition to the German Jews, 220,000 of the total 280,000 Austrian Jews had emigrated by September, 1939 …
Browning did not dispute the first sentence of the paragraph, but indicated that the statistics given in the second sentence were different from those in the Wannsee protocol. He acknowledged, however, that there was at least one clear error in the Wannsee protocol. (16-3781, 3782)
Christie returned to the pamphlet at page 8:
From Poland, an estimated 500,000 had emigrated prior to the outbreak of war. These figures mean that the number of Jewish emigrants from other European countries (France, the Netherlands, Italy, the countries of eastern Europe etc.) was approximately 120,000.
With respect to this passage, Browning testified that “what he has done there is taking the figures from 1939 to '45, or from 1948 and has then treated them as 1939 figures, when, in fact, there would have been migration of survivors in '45 after the war, and that is, I think, a problem in the calculations that he makes. Likewise, as I said I had no source for the emigration from Poland. Authorities using the 1931 [census] that I have seen have, in fact, always estimated a significant increase in Polish population due to the rapid birth rate, not a decrease.” (16-3784)
Christie suggested that Browning’s true argument was with Reitlinger, not Harwood, since Reitlinger, on page 543 of his book, stated:
It may, therefore, be reckoned that 250,000 Jews escaped from Polish White Russia and 120,000 from Eastern Galicia. In addition to these figures, there was a considerable reduction in the Jewish population of former Polish Vilna and its province, before the Germans arrived in 1941 … It certainly exceeded 30,000. Thus the flight from the whole of pre-war Poland into Russia may have been in the neighbourhood of 700,000, when all these sources are considered.
In Browning’s opinion, Reitlinger was referring to flight from the boundaries of all of pre- war Poland which would mean incorporated territories, the General Government and the Soviet zone, which took place during the war, but not before 1941. Browning referred to page 542 of Reitlinger:
According to an estimate made by the Polish Government in 1946, the voluntary emigrants from the General Government and incorporated provinces in 1939-41 numbered approximately 300,000 …
Browning pointed out that on page 8 of Did Six Million Really Die?, Harwood had written: “Reitlinger admits that 300,000 other European Jews slipped into Soviet territory between 1939 and 1941.” In Browning’s opinion, it was a serious error to attribute to other European Jews the figure that Reitlinger gave for migration from the General Government and the incorporated territories. (16-3787)
Christie asked Browning to identify precisely what he felt was wrong with Harwood’s sentence: “From Poland, an estimated 500,000 had emigrated prior to the outbreak of war” when it said in Reitlinger that 700,000 had left pre-war Poland. Christie pointed out that Harwood’s figure of 500,000 was low compared to Reitlinger's.
“Well, except that the pamphlet is saying emigrated prior to the outbreak of the war,” said Browning. “In the context of this, I think it is clear that this is flight, not emigration, and you are referring to the whole of pre-war Poland in order to identify the boundaries in question.” To Browning “pre-war Poland” was the not the same as “prior to the outbreak of war": “Prior to the outbreak of war is a temporal term. Pre-war Poland is a geographical term to intend to indicate which boundaries we are speaking of.” Browning agreed that statistics were complex and that, again, they were talking about the degree of differences. (16-3788, 3789)
Christie turned next to the subject of Collier’s magazine, quoted by Harwood with respect to statistics. You implied, suggested Christie, that Collier’s magazine was not really to be taken seriously?
“We hoped,” said Browning, “to inject a bit of humour into the proceedings, that we had noted he had quoted it correctly and he had not relied upon it in his figures … That was not a source … of error … We were just demonstrating the kind of source he was referring to.” Browning did not know where Freling Foster got the figure except that he offered ten dollars for any fact that he accepted for his column. In Browning’s opinion, the New York Times was, in general, to be taken more seriously than Collier’s regarding statistics during the war. (16-3790, 3791)
Christie suggested that war propaganda was part of all the news of the day in that period.
“I would not say all the news … There would be propagandistic considerations in every country but that would not mean all the news was propagandistic.” (16-3791)
Wouldn’t news about statistics of fleeing Jews be a very valuable propaganda weapon at the time?, asked Christie.
“It would not necessarily be propaganda,” said Browning. “It might be.” (16-3792)
Christie put to Browning that it was no more disreputable for Harwood to use Freling Foster than it was for many writers to quote Kurt Gerstein. Browning did not see that it was the same thing, “In the sense that Gerstein was there, I believe, and Freling Foster to the best of my knowledge was simply collecting things sent to him … That does not mean that Freling Foster could not be printing accurate facts but I don’t see the analogy between them.” (16-3792)
Was it true, asked Christie, that the social sciences were opinion?
“I do not think they're entirely opinion. As I have said, I think there are graduations between speculation … political science, for instance, you may have opinions, but you would also have the facts, that there are a Democratic and Republican Party in the United States. That would not be a matter of opinion,” said Browning. (16-3792, 3793)
The existence of political parties per se was not debatable, said Christie, but whether they were parties or not was debatable?
“Then you are getting into a realm of interpretation,” replied Browning. “What do you mean by a political party? In terms of the legal definitions for registering parties in each state, I think we could say that the party existed.” (16-3793, 3794)
Christie referred to “Historians, Hitler and the Holocaust,” a paper Browning delivered in March of 1987, in which he wrote:
History is probably the most inexact of all social sciences.
Browning testified that this statement was a statement of his opinion on the status of history vis- a-vis other social sciences. He did not agree that that made history largely a matter of opinion: “I would say that there are areas of interpretation, areas of conjecture, areas of fact in the same way as you earlier had indicated. Something as a known fact. That we work with some things that are accepted as known facts and that also we work with opinions and we work with differing interpretations of documents and that sort of thing.” (16-3795)
Christie suggested that when dealing with something as complex as the subject of the Holocaust, one was dealing with inferences, suspicions, probabilities, estimates: in essence, opinion.
“History includes those but I would not say that is the total,” said Browning. (16 3795)
Certainly the conclusions you draw, pointed out Christie, about the death of 5 million Jews at the hands of the National Socialists by some plan is an opinion.
“The interpretation I have given to that as to how it comes about and how we are to understand it is certainly an interpretation or an opinion,” said Browning. “The exact number’s certainly an estimate … The existence of a plan would again depend upon your interpretation of the term 'plan'.” (16-3796)
To Browning, the process entailed “ … marshalling evidence to make … arguments, with varying degrees of probability and that some of the evidence, I would call facts, and that they allow us to make judgments that can be more or less [probable] even to the degree of beyond reasonable doubt.” (16-3796)
Wasn’t it true, asked Christie, that in reading and publishing the evidence and in coming to his conclusions, Browning had indulged in many value judgments in selecting what he considered important?
“All historians make selections from the evidence,” said Browning. “Otherwise all you could do is print everything that you had looked at.” Browning testified that the vast majority of his writings were based upon original documentation and not a great deal of secondary sources. (16-3797)
Christie noted that Browning relied upon court testimony which he did not verify by looking at the trial record. That, suggested Christie, was not primary evidence but secondary evidence.
“No, I do not classify it as secondary evidence,” said Browning. “I classified it as a study of an eyewitness account … you don’t not look at autobiographies or something else because the man was not cross-examined. You are looking for their account of something.” (16-3797, 3798)
When did Browning first read Did Six Million Really Die?, asked Christie. Browning believed he got a copy in the early 1980s. To the best of his knowledge, he had never written anything against the pamphlet prior to coming to Toronto to testify. “I don’t think I have ever mentioned it before it became a subject or before I became involved with it.” (16-3799)
Was it the practice of his group of historians, those he considered as qualified as himself, to first seek to bring matters to a court or did Browning feel it more appropriate as an academic to write about it and refute what he thought wrong about it?, asked Christie.
“I'm not a part of a group,” said Browning. “You're implying some sort of concerted activity … I have brought no one to court.” (16-3799, 3800)
Christie pointed out that Browning had voluntarily come to testify in Canada.
Said Browning: “In those terms, I did come to this court, yes. I thought you were referring to indicting someone else.”
He wished he were a well-paid historian and acknowledged that “for this particular episode, I am being paid as I said more like a lawyer than a professor.” (16-3800)
Christie produced the book What is History? by E.H. Carr, whom Browning acknowledged was a well-known historian. The book, Browning testified, was used both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. (17-3804, 3805) Christie read from page 23:
Study the historian before you begin to study the facts. This is, after all, not very abstruse. It is what is already done by the intelligent undergraduate who, when recommended to read a work by that great scholar Jones of St Jude's, goes round to a friend at St. Jude’s to ask what sort of chap Jones is, and what bees he has in his bonnet.
Browning agreed that when “we read history we consider the historian as well as what he is writing.” The “bees in the bonnet” meant the perspective through which they saw events. (17- 3806, 3807)
Applying this to Browning, Christie suggested that most, if not all of his writings were published by Jewish sources like the Simon Wiesenthal Center, sources that might have an axe to grind or strong views on the subject.
Browning disagreed: “Holmes and Meier I believe is owned by a Jewish publisher. (German phrase) certainly is not, Journal of Contemporary History is not, German Studies Review is not, Central European History is not … The two books are published with a publisher who is Jewish … There are a number of articles with Yad Vashem, but there are also papers given at Stuttgart, Paris — those are not to my knowledge Jewish.” Browning testified he would not use the terms 'axe to grind' or 'strong views' on the subject to describe his publishers. (17-3807, 3808)
Christie returned to What is History? at page 23:
When you read a work of history, always listen out for the buzzing. If you can detect none, either you are tone deaf or your historian is a dull dog. The facts are really not at all like fish on the fishmonger’s slab. They are like fish swimming about in a vast and sometimes inaccessible ocean; and what the historian catches will depend, partly on chance, but mainly on what part of the ocean he chooses to fish in and what tackle he chooses to use — these two factors being, of course, determined by the kind of fish he wants to catch. By and large, the historian will get the kind of facts he wants.
With respect to this passage, Browning agreed that “writing of history involves selection. I don’t believe if you put historian’s facts to the kinds of tests we have given that he can invent facts, but indeed, there is a selection process that goes on.” The question posed by the historian would determine the selection of relevant facts. (17-3809)
And the questions that Hilberg and Browning posed, suggested Christie, were always these: How did the Holocaust happen? When did it happen? Where did it happen? But never do you ask if it happened, right?
“I would say we do not frame our work in that specific way but certainly the research that we do has a bearing on that question,” replied Browning. (17-3809)
Christie returned to What is History? and read from page 29:
As any working historian knows, if he stops to reflect what he is doing as he thinks and writes, the historian is engaged on a continuous process of moulding his facts to his interpretation and his interpretation to his facts. It is impossible to assign primacy to one over the other. (What is History, E.H. Carr, filed as Exhibit 72 at 17 3810))
“I would not phrase it the way that he does when he says moulding facts to his interpretation,” said Browning. “I think I would use the word selecting relevant facts. I wouldn’t use the term mould.” (17-3810)
Browning confirmed that he had read Raul Hilberg’s previous testimony given at the first Zündel trial in 1985. Christie suggested that as a result, Browning realized there were serious problems with the statement of Kurt Gerstein. Browning answered that he “certainly became much more highly sensitized to the Gerstein report through reading” the Hilberg testimony. (17- 3811)
Christie suggested that one of the major areas that Browning and Hilberg had not explored was the testing of the credibility of the eyewitness reports with the physical possibilities of accomplishing the events allegedly witnessed by an on-site inspection of the places where the crimes were alleged to have occurred.
“I have already said I have not done on-site inspection. I also noted that most of these places, there is no physical evidence left to inspect.” (17-3811, 3812)
That is your statement without having looked?, asked Christie.
“There is, at least, the record in the documents that the Germans intended to leave no physical evidence,” said Browning. But he acknowledged that he had not gone to the camps. (17- 3812)
Browning testified that he had read The Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Dr. Arthur Butz, some time before. “It is a book that is often referred to by the group that identifies themselves as the revisionists … I did not find it persuasive … It does set forward a different thesis. I would have to reread it very carefully and make some judgment as to whether I thought there had been a repetitive pattern of misuse of evidence and that sort of thing. I have not subjected it to the kind of analysis that we did for the pamphlet.” (17-3812, 3815, 3816)
Would you agree, asked Christie, that, having read The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, the revisionist view of the subject looks more at the physical evidence, on on-site inspection of the camps, and tries to apply scientific analysis to the eyewitness testimony to see if those things were physically possible?
“It puts more attention on the physical evidence,” Browning agreed. “I don’t remember well enough to comment on the second part.” (17-3817)
Browning reiterated that he had never heard of Dr. Kubovy or the World Centre of Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Tel Aviv, which Harwood referred to on page 29 of the pamphlet. (17-3817)
Christie asked Browning whether he had filed any documents, other than the Einsatzgruppen reports, which were made during the war and which specifically showed the number of executed Jews. Browning indicated that he could not recall any others. He agreed that the other documents, such as the Frank diary, the Wannsee Conference protocol, the Posen speech and the Goebbels diary did not articulate anything to do with specific dead Jewish people. (17-3819, 3820)
Christie returned to Did Six Million Really Die?, page 14:
The Soviet charge that the Action Groups had wantonly exterminated a million Jews during their operations has been shown subsequently to be a massive falsification … Here, then, is the legendary 6 million in miniature; not one million deaths, but one hundred thousand.
Browning testified that he thought both of these statements were false: “The essence [of the falsehood] is that he is dismissing as a popular myth the fact that many hundreds of thousands of Jews were shot in Russia.” (17-3822)
Browning admitted that he had never read Harwood’s source for this allegation, namely, the book Manstein: His Campaigns and His Trial written by the English lawyer, R.T. Paget. Browning indicated that it “would have been another book to consult.” (17-3823)
Christie suggested that, as a good historian Browning really should have read the book; the Manstein trial was essential on this point because Manstein was accused of being responsible for an area of Russia where Einsatzgruppe D in the Ukraine had supposedly killed thousands and thousands of Jews. Browning replied that he believed “that Einsatzgruppe D was accused of killing thousands and thousands of Jews, yes.” (173823)
The only place the Einsatzgruppen reports had ever been tested in a court of law, with vaguely similar rules to ours, where the victors were not the judges and German lawyers were not the defenders, suggested Christie, was in the case of Manstein, where Paget, his lawyer, was a Member of Parliament.
“There were Einsatzgruppen trials as part of the American military tribunal and there were many post-war German trials,” said Browning. (17-3824)
But for the first time in history in the Manstein trial, Christie suggested, challenge and checking of the Einsatzgruppen reports was done; did he know that?
“I do not know in which way they were challenged at that trial.” (17-3824)
If you had checked Harwood’s source for his opinion, said Christie, you would have found that what Harwood said was probably a reasonable opinion based upon other facts you didn’t consider.
“I think that the Einsatzgruppen reports are valid,” replied Browning. “I think that because … they're real documents because we have a number of other summaries based upon them. I've seen a handwriting of people who have summarized them, that have seen them at the time.”
Browning acknowledged he had never consulted Paget or any other defence lawyers. He agreed that he had never read any books written by defence counsel. (17-3824, 3825)
To get a good picture of a trial, suggested Christie, sometimes it helped to hear both sides?
“It would be something to consider,” said Browning. (17-3826)
Christie produced the Manstein book and read from pages 169, 172 and 173:
The prosecution case was based on returns made by the central authority of the SD in Berlin. These returns stated that Einsatzgruppe D under the command of Ohlendorf had executed some 85,000 Jews in four and a half months. Certain figures in the SD reports as to numbers executed in particular towns appeared to be corroborated by reports made by the town majors, but on examination it appeared probable that the town majors merely repeated a figure given to them by the SD.
The first question which we had to consider was whether the SD figures bore any resemblance to the truth. The strength of Einsatzgruppe D was about 500 divided in five companies. At least 200 were clerks. Each company had about ten vehicles. According to Ohlendorf the procedure was first that the Jews were required to register, then they were assembled in some central building and informed that they were to be resettled, then they were taken to some convenient anti-tank ditch at least 10 kilometers from the nearest inhabited place, shot and buried in what Ohlendorf was pleased to describe as a humane manner. The fact that in town after town the Jews were prepared to register and assemble certainly establishes that the executions were extremely secret if they happened. Apart from these lethal activities the SD undoubtedly did a big police and intelligence job. They travelled some 1200 miles and they did a considerable amount of fighting against the guerillas.
It seemed to me that the SD claims were quite impossible. Single companies of about 100 with about 8 vehicles were reporting the killing of up to 10,000 and 12,000 Jews in two or three days. They could not have got more than about 20 or 30 Jews who, be it remembered, thought they were being resettled and had their traps with them, into a single truck. Loading, travelling at least 10 kilometers, unloading and returning trucks would have taken nearer two hours than one. The Russian winter day is short and there was no travelling by night. Killing 10,000 Jews would have taken at least three weeks.
In one instance we were able to check their figures. The SD claimed that they had killed 10,000 in Simferopol during November and in December they reported Simferopol clear of Jews. By a series of cross checks we were able to establish that the execution of the Jews in Simferopol had taken place on a single day, 16th November. Only one company of SD were in Simferopol. The place of execution was 15 kilometres from the town. The numbers involved could not have been more than about 300. These 300 were probably not exclusively Jews but a miscellaneous collection of people who were being held on suspicion of resistance activity. The Simferopol incident received a good deal of publicity because it was spoken of by the prosecution’s only live witness, an Austrian corporal called Gaffa who said that he heard anti-Jewish activities mentioned in an engineers' mess when he was orderly and had passed the scene of the Simferopol execution. As a result we received a large number of letters, and were able to call several witnesses who had been billeted with Jewish families and also spoke of the functioning of a synagogue and of a Jewish market where they bought icons and similar bric-a-brac right up to the time that Manstein left the Crimea and after.
It was indeed clear that the Jewish community had continued to function quite openly in Simferopol and although several of our witnesses had heard rumours about an SD excess committed against Jews in Simferopol, it certainly appeared that this Jewish community was unaware of any special danger. …
By the time we had finished with the figures and pointed out the repeated self contradiction in the SD reports, it became probable that at least one “0” would have to be knocked off the total claimed by the SD and we also established that only about one-third of Ohlendorf’s activities had taken place in von Manstein’s area. It is impossible to know even the approximate number of murdered Jews, for not only was Ohlendorf lying to his superiors but as we were able to show his company commanders were lying to him. …
Now it is true that the resistance movement in the Ukrainian towns was largely Jewish and that in the German mind militant communism was to a considerable extent identified with Jewish rule, but none the less the note tends to show (and this was borne out by other wisps of evidence) both that the army was connecting SD activities with anti-semitism and that it was reacting in a very normal German way to something of which it disapproved, that is to say, disassociating itself from evil rather than seeking to stop it. (17-3827 to 3832; Manstein by R.T. Paget, M.P., filed as Exhibit 73 at 17-3871)
Browning agreed that the “returns” mentioned by Paget in the first quoted line referred to the Einsatzgruppen reports filed in Berlin. Browning did not believe the Russians captured the reports at the end of the war; he did not know if they had been moved out of Berlin. He had never inquired. (17-3826)
Browning agreed that since Manstein was tried in a British trial, he could look at the court record; however, he had not done so. “I have not done research in this particular area so I have not done the primary documentation there. I have done research in other areas in which shooting was done, such as in Belgrade, and there it did not take very many men to shoot thousands of Jews on a single day … I haven’t done particular research in the Russian area. I have done it elsewhere and in terms of shootings in Yugoslavia, I certainly have looked at the trial records.” (17-3830, 3831, 3834)
When it came to Auschwitz or the concentration camps, did he think, generally, that the accused got fair trials in Germany?, asked Christie.
“From the trials I have looked at, in fact, the courts leaned over backwards to acquit,” said Browning. (17-3835)
He agreed that one million deaths were generally attributed to the Einsatzgruppen and the formations that worked with them and that in the Manstein book, Paget stated that they had succeeded by analysis and evidence at the trial in knocking off one zero. Browning agreed, further, that Harwood quoted the Manstein book as a source and authority for saying that the real number of casualties for which the Einsatzgruppen were responsible was one million with one zero knocked off, or 100,000. Browning agreed that “apparently” Harwood believed Paget and not the Einsatzgruppen reports which Browning had introduced. (17-3835, 3836)
You, for your knowledge, suggested Christie, never checked any primary source to see if those documents you brought to this court had ever been challenged or perhaps even proven to be exaggerated?
“Well, I think that we have other kinds of documents that would lend veracity to them,” said Browning, “the fact that the military documents from other sources likewise referring — refer to the massive executions and the Jewish labour. These come not from the Einsatzgruppen themselves, but from those who want to use the Jewish labour so that clearly to many, the Jews were being executed en masse and that those documents corroborate the intention and effort to carry out a massive murder of Jews in Russia.” (17-3836)
You brought in the Einsatzgruppen reports, suggested Christie, because they are the only documents you could produce that would give people the right to say a million Jews were killed in that action, aren’t they? Browning agreed that “there are some of those that do.” He agreed that if he had checked Harwood’s source, the Manstein book, it would have shown what Harwood based his statements on. (17 3837)
You can criticize it any way you like, pointed out Christie, but Harwood’s figure of 100,000 came from Paget’s book.
“It would show he extrapolated from Paget,” responded Browning. “ … I use the term extrapolate because what you show me here is the evidence from a town of Simferopol, and on the evidence of that, they then said they would probably — that a zero could be knocked off of the number claimed by the SD.” (17-3838)
Christie challenged Browning’s use of the word “extrapolate” and suggested that Paget’s writing was a summary of what took place in the trial and used a specific example of how the figures were exaggerated. Browning agreed that was what the book was claiming and that Harwood seemed to agree with it. The Manstein trial “would be one more trial to look at, yes.” (17-3839)
It appears to be a rather different trial than the ones you have looked at, doesn’t it?, suggested Christie.
Browning agreed: “It is. I would get — I don’t know from that, yes.” (17-3840)
Would you think that in view of your need and desire to continue your research you will look into the matter?, asked Christie.
“As I looked into the Frank document yesterday,” said Browning. (17-3840)
Christie asked Browning to list the extermination camps. In Browning’s opinion, Auschwitz, Majdanek, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka and Chelmno were the major extermination camps: “If you define it strictly by where did gassing take place, then I have said there was a gas van sent to Semlin in Yugoslavia, there were gas vans sent to Maly Trostinec which we mentioned earlier; I have seen correspondence about sending gas vans to Riga … ” (17-3840)
Did Browning agree, asked Christie, that it was a frequent and common occurrence to have disinfection vans for clothing both in the military and elsewhere in the German community at that time?
“I said it was a possibility. I didn’t know of but I presume that they would have disinfectant vans. I also know that the correspondence relating to the gas vans produced in the SD motor garage give no basis for assuming these are for fumigation,” replied Browning. (17- 3841)
From these plans, asked Christie, could Browning explain how the vans functioned?
Browning had looked at documents from the automotive division. “From the description in the reports which are talking about improvements, they discuss that the van perhaps should have a hole with a tap in the floor so that the fluids and filth that is emitted during operation can be cleaned out … They refer to the cargo moving and pressing against the back door … They refer … to one of these as a letter in response to Mauthausen saying we do not have one of these vans available. Perhaps you can get bottled carbon monoxide from the … Führer’s Chancellery in Berlin. I do not believe bottled carbon monoxide is a fumigant.” Browning knew of Zyklon B being used as a fumigant to kill lice in clothing, but not carbon monoxide. (17-3842, 3843)
Christie suggested that Zyklon B was used widely in the German army and even outside the concentration camps.
“I do not know,” said Browning. “I guess it was used by the German navy. I don’t know the details of that.” (17-3843)
Christie reiterated that he had asked for some technical drawing to explain how the gas van was used for gassing people.
“Okay, I also know that one of the letters refers to processing 97,000. I don’t believe they were counting lice,” said Browning. (17-3843)
Suits of clothing was a possibility, wasn’t it?, suggested Christie.
“That in the course of the operation, pressed against the back door?,” asked Browning. “ … I don’t believe that is a remote possibility in terms of interpreting that document … It would be a bizarre interpretation.” (17-3844)
Christie stated that he assumed Browning knew that these vehicles were obliged to move during the fumigation process. Browning knew nothing about that, but “in terms of the trucks taking the people, I presume that yes, they moved while they were in operation. (17-3844)
Browning confirmed that in his article on Semlin, he wrote that the gas vans went through downtown Belgrade while people were being gassed in the back and that there was a Jewish doctor and a Jewish nurse with each trip: “That … is how the survivor at Semlin recorded the vans being loaded. There is also the testimony of the people that unloaded and buried the bodies.” There was a repetition of this over a period from early March to May — one trip each morning and three times a week a trip in the afternoon, until finally the whole camp was cleaned out. Roughly eighty people were put in the van. In Browning’s opinion, the taking of the Jewish doctor and nurse indicated there were “attempts made to make the trip look like a resettlement.” (17-3844 to 3846) Browning believed the eyewitnesses who reported that they unloaded the bodies from the trucks were credible: “ … they had variations in their stories as every case in which you have eyewitnesses, but in the general thrust I would say they were credible.” (17-3847)
Christie suggested that Browning had to be aware that unless such eyewitnesses gave the stories they did, they themselves would have been charged. Browning disagreed, stating he did not know that. (17-3847)
In researching gas vans, Browning looked through the records on a number of criminal trials: the Hanover trial for gas vans and trials in Stuttgart and Constance. In all cases, the materials available to Browning were the volumes of pre-trial testimony and the judgments. The actual transcripts of the trial testimony itself, however, were not available. The pre-trial testimony came from a “series of interrogations or inquiries by the court; … there is usually not just one but a number of these pre-trial dispositions. I don’t know if that would be the term you would use for that are taken down.” (17-3848)
Christie returned to the pamphlet, page 16, to the next point with which Browning had taken issue:
However, no living, authentic eye-witness of these “gassings” has ever been produced and validated.
“I said they had been produced and if we — what we mean by validated, I am not aware of an institution that hands out a wall plaque that validates you as a particular witness, but that they had gone through various judicial proceedings and that they had testified to these events.” (17- 3850)
Validated was a value judgment, wasn’t it?, suggested Christie.
“Validated has a different connotation than that and it is a sentence in its thrust … I would presume that to mean someone much that or sort of had never come forward, had never been asked about things, had never been cross-examined in court [or] something of that nature or never had his testimony accepted,” said Browning. (17-3850)
What trial did Filip Müller testify in?, asked Christie.
Browning believed that Müller testified at the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt: “I was not in Frankfurt. I did not see him testify in person but I have seen quotations from testimony he gave there.” Browning did not know whether the quotes he had seen were from pre-trial testimony or not, although his impression was that it was trial testimony. Nor did he know whether Müller had been cross-examined at the trial. (17-3851, 3852)
As a historian, asked Christie, could he say a witness had been validated if he had not been cross-examined on the point they were testifying about? Browning indicated that “ … we … get many eyewitness accounts of things that don’t go through court procedures and then the question is what do we mean by validation there.” (17-3852) Christie suggested that validated meant that the witness had been validated by some process of testing the veracity of their testimony. Browning agreed: “That their testimony has been examined and put to some scrutiny.” (17 3853)
Browning did not know whether Eichmann’s defence lawyer in Jerusalem, Dr. Servatius, ever cross-examined a surviving witness of a gassing. (17-3853)
Did Browning know of any witness anywhere in the world who claimed to have seen gassings who had been tested by a critical analysis of their evidence in a court proceeding?, asked Christie.
Browning replied that there had been “at least three trials for people from Treblinka, several trials from Sobibor, major trials — one each of the other camps that they had both accused defendants — defendants as well as other camp personnel who had not been indicted, as well as witnesses who were survivors. That there was no cross examination in all of that I would find inconceivable.” (17-3853, 3854)
Christie indicated he was not interested in what Browning found inconceivable, he was asking if he knew of any witnesses who were cross-examined and if so, who, when and where. The question was disallowed by Judge Thomas, who ruled that the question had already been answered. (17-3854)
Christie suggested to Browning that at least in one instance a witness who was on the stand in one of these trials didn’t give what was considered correct testimony. He was arrested and then when he corrected his testimony, he was released. Did Browning know of such an incident?
“No, I don’t,” responded Browning. If such an incident had ever occurred, it “would be one fact to consider” in assessing the credibility of the trial judgments. (17-3855)
Browning returned to the previous question and indicated that at the Demjanjuk trial in Israel, attorneys for Demjanjuk vigorously cross-examined the eyewitnesses from Treblinka on the question of whether he was the man who put people into the gas chamber at the camp. Christie pointed out to Browning that the defence of Demjanjuk was that he was never there, not that there were no gassings. Browning agreed, “That is the defence strategy at that trial.” (17-3856)
Then it wouldn’t be very wise, suggested Christie, to attack the whole of the sacred and obviously important belief that there were gassings in Treblinka when you're simply saying you weren’t there? The question was disallowed by Thomas, on the grounds that it was “preposterous” to ask Browning to comment on what would be a wise tactic by defence counsel in a trial in another part of the world. Thomas indicated that the Demjanjuk trial had been going on for the last year and “defence counsel had an opportunity to cross-examine about gassings.” (17- 3856, 3857)
Did Browning ever contact the defence counsel in the Eichmann trial to find out if he had cross-examined on the issue of the extermination itself?, asked Christie.
“I have never contacted Dr. Servatius,” said Browning. (17-3858)
Christie referred Browning to the notes which Eichmann made during his trial and gave to his defence attorney, which were now filed in the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz. Eichmann wrote:
I must prove Höss the arch-liar, that I had nothing to do with him and his gas chambers and his death camp.
In Browning’s opinion, that was “the position of Eichmann expressed at that time. He rejected one of the areas of the defence that he was trying to establish was that though he had been indeed the man who had organized deportations from the west, and south and east of Europe, that he had not been responsible for Zyklon B at Auschwitz or for building of gas chambers there … That was his reaction to the statement in the Höss memoirs about him coming at a very early time and that Eichmann had played a key role, then, in establishing the camp or the gas chambers at Birkenau and the use of Zyklon B … He said he was involved in the deportations and he knew that the deportations led to the murder of these people but that in a sense, his responsibility or job ended with the delivery of the people to the camp.” Browning agreed that people could make their own interpretations of Eichmann’s words. (17-3858 to 3860)
Christie produced the Israeli interrogation of Eichmann [Transcripts, J1-MJ at 02 RM] where Eichmann was asked the following question and gave the following answer:
THE COMMISSIONER: Did you talk with Höss about the number of Jews who were exterminated at Auschwitz?
EICHMANN: No, never. He told me that he had built new buildings and that he could put to death 10,000 Jews each day. I do remember something like that. I do not know whether I am only imagining that today, but I do not believe I am imagining it. I cannot recall exactly when and how he told me that and the location where he told me. Perhaps I read it and perhaps I am now imagining that what I had read I heard from him. That is also possible.
Browning testified that this was about a very specific incident, about “whether there was a conversation between him and Höss about the number of Jews exterminated at Auschwitz and Eichmann responded that his first response was that Höss had told him about new buildings and what their capacity would be.” (17-3861)
Christie suggested that Eichmann’s answer was that of an apparently confused man, as to whether he heard it or read it or imagined it?
“I think he is referring to — he initially answers and then does not recall fully if he had read it or not but from the context, he is, I think, referring to the number of Jews that could be put to death in a day … He was trying to get straight in his mind the sequence of events. He had many very vivid memories and it was a question of recalling in what order those vivid memories came. He, at no time, had difficulty remembering the extraordinary conversation with Heydrich in which he recalls that Heydrich told him the Führer has exterminated the Jews. He at no time has difficulty recalling the incidents at Minsk, watching the Einsatzgruppen shooting or the gassing at Chelmno. These were very vivid memories. The question he had difficulty with was in what order did those events come,” said Browning. (17-3866)
He agreed that this was his opinion on Eichmann’s ability to remember, based on the various Eichmann documentation: “ … I am indeed giving my opinion that he had no difficulty in remembering those kinds of events. He did have a little trouble — more than a little trouble sorting it out into sequence.” In this instance, he could not remember “the location, where he was, and if, in fact, the number was 10,000, and he read or had he read that elsewhere.” (17-3867)
Was Browning aware, asked Christie, that Eichmann was interrogated in an unusual way?
“I'm not sure what you mean by the word unusual,” said Browning. “ … He was in a room with Avner Less, the policeman. I believe there were other people present but I'm not sure of that. It may have been that — that he was alone. What I do know is that he got the — had to be a tape recorder because he got the transcript back and he could initial and make changes in it the following day.” Browning did not know the exact time-span of the interrogation but knew “it was over a long period.” (17-3869)
Are you aware, asked Christie, that he was kept in a room with the light on 24-hours a day?
“I do not know if the light was on all the time. Presumably they were wanting to be very careful that he would not commit suicide or something like that in the cell and then they would be held responsible for it, that someone would be watching him … I'm just conjecturing there, saying that it is a possible fact there was a light on and there was a reason for it.” (17-3869)
With respect to Eichmann’s interrogation, Browning indicated that he had spoken with Avner Less and read the interrogation transcript, and did not see “anything that was extraordinarily unusual.” The interrogation was taken down on a tape recorder and then given to Eichmann in written form so that he could make corrections to it. Browning had seen a photostat of the interrogation transcript that showed Eichmann did make corrections and initialled the pages. He believed that the transcript was accurate. (17-3870, 3870a)
Are you aware, asked Christie, that Eichmann was told that if he co-operated, he would be given a fair trial and a defence lawyer?
“I do not know of any such statement to him,” answered Browning.
Would you take the Jewish Chronicle newspaper as a reliable source?, asked Christie.
“I do know the paper the Jewish Chronicle.” (17-3870)
Do you believe, asked Christie, that if the government affixes a stamp to a document that says they neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of the document, that a historian should take that document skeptically?
“A historian should look at the circumstances of the document,” said Browning. “ … there are many things in archives that the governments keep that they don’t claim to be able to certify. For example, in the Bach-Zelewski archive box, Zelewski gave them two of his diary books. The second was in the original version and they could tell it was and they said this is the original. The first volume was not, but [was] retyped, and they said we cannot certify this as a copy of the original because they didn’t get the original so they alert the reader to the fact that it is not the original diary book of the man, so you can indeed be alerted to the fact that it … possibly had been changed.” (17-3870a)
Browning admitted that he was unaware that the Goebbels diaries were so stamped. He indicated that he wanted to tell the jury as much as he knew about the origins of the documents, but that he had never claimed “to have seen or handled the original manuscript of the Goebbels diaries.” (17-3870b, 3870c)
Christie asked whether Browning was familiar with the name Richard Baer. Browning knew that Baer was the last commandant of Auschwitz, and that he was arrested and charged [as part of the Auschwitz trial] but died before coming to trial. Browning had never investigated how Baer died. (17-3870d)
Were you aware, asked Christie, that he had adamantly refused to confirm the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz, the camp he had once administered?
“I did not know what he said,” replied Browning. “I have seen many testimonies of people who denied that events that other people gave testimony about that they had been there are not — suddenly, mysteriously disappear or die as I have seen many cases in which witnesses did not give testimony, that the prosecution wanted and it did not result in repercussions of that sort.” (17-3870d)
Are you aware, asked Christie, that an autopsy was performed at the Frankfurt-am Main University School of Medicine and it found that the ingestion of an odourless, non-corrosive poison could not be ruled out when Baer died in custody?
“No, I do not have the autopsy report on Baer.” (17-3870e)
Were these factors that might have some effect on Browning’s belief?
“Not having worked in original documentation on Auschwitz … except I worked in some of them for the very early period, before Baer was even there, I … don’t see that was particularly relevant to the ones I was working on. I was looking at the testimony about the earlier part in the start of gassing.” (17-3870e)
Christie put to Browning that in the Auschwitz trial there was pressure upon those who were charged and those who weren’t to testify in a particular way.
“I do not know,” said Browning. “I have seen many trials in which — from the police or from the pretrial depositions. I do not see any indication of pressure. That people could maintain their denials and this did not result in repercussions.” (17-3870e, 3870f)
Christie suggested that at the Auschwitz trial, a German non-commissioned officer named [Bernhard] Walter who was supposedly in Auschwitz, was set free only after he made a correction to his testimony while in prison, and that this incident was reported in the book The Auschwitz Prozess. Browning knew of the book but indicated that he “would certainly want to know the context and read the page before I made a judgment.” (17-3870f)
Christie indicated that it also could be found in Dr. Stäglich’s book. Browning had not read Stäglich: “I read the Butz [book] and I have read the pamphlet. I have not read others … I do not know how many there are.” (17-3870f, 3870g)
Christie returned to page 9 of Did Six Million Really Die?:
So far as is known, the first accusation against the Germans of the mass murder of Jews in war- time Europe was made by the Polish Jew Rafael Lemkin in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, published in New York in 1943.
Browning confirmed that with respect to this passage of the pamphlet, he had produced the Joint Allied Declaration of December 17, 1942 and indicated that the declaration had been mentioned in a footnote in the Lemkin book cited by Harwood. Browning produced the declaration to the jury to prove that there had been a mention, prior to Lemkin’s book, of an extermination allegation and to show that the allegation did not come from the Polish Jew. (17- 3872)
Browning confirmed that the declaration spoke about exterminating the Jews in Europe, that Jews were being transported from all the occupied countries in conditions of appalling horror and brutality to Eastern Europe; he agreed it referred to Nazi slaughterhouses in the ghettos, that Poland was the principal Nazi slaughterhouse, that the ghettos were being systematically emptied of all but a few who were highly-skilled workers; that none of those taken away were ever heard of again, the able-bodied were slowly worked to death in labour camps, the infirm were left to die of exposure and starvation or were deliberately massacred in mass executions, and that the number of victims of these bloody cruelties and policy of cold-blooded extermination was reckoned in the many hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children. There was no mention of gas chambers in the declaration. (17-3874, 3875)
Christie pointed out that Browning himself had said that the Allies and Germans indulged in wild language in terms of propaganda.
“No,” said Browning, “I think the Allies were very worried … were extremely worried about making allegations that would seem incredible, and that they were extraordinarily cautious in using anything to do with the Holocaust as part of propaganda. That is why it took a number of months between the summer and December of 1942 to reach an agreement even to make a declaration that … they shouldn’t — couldn’t do this until they had what they were convinced was very firm information.” (17-3875)
Was Browning aware, asked Christie, that British intelligence investigations between the declaration date and a later date of August 30, 1943 determined that there were no gas chambers? Browning did not know of that. He explained that he had not done original research into this area: “Research in the Holocaust involves a number of different areas. There are people who do original research into the area of the responsibilities of the [bystanders], those that deal with victims, those that deal with German perpetration. Even within those there are vast sub-areas. There are limits to which one human being can consult all the documents that you may wish to pull out and to present to me. I am sure you can pull many documents I have not seen.” (17-3876 to 3878)
Christie produced a telegram, published in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1943, sent from U.S. Secretary of State Hull to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Standley) on 30 August, 1943 at 5:00 p.m.::
767. Department’s 758, August 27, 10 p.m. At the suggestion of the British Government which says there is insufficient evidence to justify the statement regarding execution in gas chambers, it has been agreed to eliminate the last phrase in paragraph 2 of the “Declaration on German Crimes in Poland” beginning “where” and ending “chambers” thus making the second paragraph end with “concentration camps". Please inform the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs of the change in text.
“Yes,” said Browning, “what they are saying is that — what I know was a concern was they did not want to go on record as saying anything that they could not prove incontrovertibly, that they were very, very cautious about how much they claimed. They were very, very worried that anything they said would be categorized in the same category as World War I atrocity stories so that a statement that they decided they didn’t have sufficient evidence to publish that in no way says they didn’t strongly suspect it. It is that they didn’t feel they could produce something in public at that time about events happening in Eastern Europe, far out of their control, and I do not read that document as a way of saying the Allies did not believe there were gas chambers … They are saying there is insufficient evidence to justify the statement. That means that they had put it in originally; that they had information; on the basis of that, the people who had drawn it up wanted to clear it, and then out of excessive caution or — I wouldn’t use the words excessive caution — out of the decision that they had insufficient evidence, they decided not to put into the document something that they could not flatly and incontrovertibly prove, this at a time when the gas chambers in question were not under their control.” (17-3879, 3880)
How do you know, asked Christie, that the British government hadn’t actually made an investigation through overflights, through spies in Eastern Europe? How do you know that they weren’t aware that their position was false?
“You are asking a question, and the way in which the question is framed is, I think, difficult to answer. How do I know that something didn’t happen?” (17-3880, 3881)
When you find circumstantial evidence that doesn’t prove your thesis, suggested Christie, you quickly find a way to explain it away, don’t you?
“Certainly, the circumstances here would indicate that they had originally included gas chambers in the document. It indicates they therefore had considerable information, or they had information. I won’t say how much,” replied Browning. (17-3881)
Do you claim, asked Christie, to have more information than the British government knew even from its secret sources in 1943?
“No, I'm not an expert in this field,” said Browning, “but in terms of the secondary reading there is considerable research that has been done. I don’t know the details of it, but I do know that the researchers who had worked in it have reported that it was an area in which the Allies had the utmost reluctance to say anything that might later prove to be false or that they could be challenged on and not be able to present the proof of.” (17-3881, 3882)
By August of 1943, the date of the telegram, how many people did Browning think had been done to death in gas chambers?, asked Christie. Browning believed an estimate would be in “the area of 2 million.” (17-3882)
Are you asking us to believe, said Christie, that 2 million people in Eastern Europe disappeared in smoke but the British government didn’t have sufficient evidence to believe it?
“I think it is an entirely credible statement,” said Browning. “Indeed, they say people have disappeared.” He agreed there were Polish Jews who were survivors but he had never counted them. (17-3882, 3883)
Do you mean to tell us, asked Christie, that 2 million were done to death by August of 1943 and the British intelligence, capable as they are, didn’t know about it and urged the American government not to mention it because there was insufficient evidence?
Said Browning: “They, as I said, on the one hand, were very reluctant in any way to have even the slightest risk that something they might say would later — would not — couldn’t be proved or would appear so incredible that they would diminish the credibility of their statements; that after World War I they had decided it was very essential that the policy of complete credibility be established in that they would refrain from saying anything that didn’t sound believable, even if in this case they had some evidence but did not regard it as sufficient.” (17-3884)
Browning testified that he had no evidence that there were gas chambers at Oranienburg, Sachsenhausen or Ravensbrück. He had not researched this subject. “They were not places to which Jews were deported.” Browning was not aware whether anyone was accused of operating gas chambers at Ravensbrück. (17-3884, 3885)
Christie returned to the evidence of Kurt Gerstein. Browning testified that he had examined the Gerstein statement, Nuremberg document PS-1553. Browning understood the original statement was made in France. He did not know how many times Hilberg quoted Gerstein in his 1961 edition of The Destruction of the European Jews. He did not believe, however, that he himself had ever cited or quoted Gerstein. If someone referred to Gerstein twenty-three times, the question of whether the references were valid or invalid “would depend entirely on what the references said, what parts.” (17-3890, 3891)
Was Browning aware that Gerstein alleged that 60,000 Jews per day were gassed in the three camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka?, asked Christie.
“I do not remember the exact number that he gives. I do know that many of the details he gives have been corroborated by others, that Professor Pfannenstiel said that he indeed went with him. He had different memories of how long the gassing took.” (17-3891)
Was Browning aware that Gerstein alleged that all the people in those three camps were gassed with one old diesel motor in each camp?
“He had been at Belzec, in Treblinka, and he — I remember at least he refers to the diesel motor at Belzec that had great difficulties starting.” (17-3892)
Was Browning aware that diesel motors didn’t produce carbon monoxide in sufficient portions to kill people?
“I believe that these motors,” said Browning, “or at least the motors on the gas van — trucks, were tested, as I related that incident in which that took place. I do not know. I'm not a chemist, and I do not have a scientific basis for replying to that.” (17-3892)
Was Browning aware that Gerstein alleged that Hitler and Himmler visited Belzec on August 15, 1942 and that we know that it was totally impossible because we knew where Hitler and Himmler actually were on that date? Browning agreed that Gerstein alleged the visit occurred and agreed that it was impossible: “We know that [they] did not visit there.” (17-3892, 3893)
Was Browning aware that Gerstein stated that in Belzec there were four gas chambers of 25 square metres and 45 cubic metres, and that in each 700 to 800 people were packed?
“He has dimensions that would not be realistic,” agreed Browning. “I think we mentioned yesterday I don’t believe he could have gone out and paced over the distance, nor could he have counted the people going in. I would not expect someone in that circumstance to be able to give reliable testimony in that regard, in that detail.” (17-3893, 3894)
How do you explain it, asked Christie, when Gerstein gives these exact numbers?
“I don’t know,” said Browning. (17-3894)
Was Browning aware that Gerstein repeated twice '25 square metres and 45 cubic metres'?
Browning agreed: “He does repeat that figure.” (17-3894)
Was Browning aware that Gerstein twice repeated the same number of people, 700 to 800 people? Browning knew he gave that number but did not know if he repeated it twice. (17-3894)
Did Gerstein say that in Belzec and Treblinka 25 million people had been killed?
“That is in an earlier report, I think … I think he did at one time refer to that figure and the figure goes down. It changes. He is not in a position to have a figure like that,” said Browning. (17-3894)
In another version of his statement, asked Christie, did Gerstein allege 'a heap of shoes of 35 to 40 metres high', 'ten to twelve stories'?
Browning agreed: “Yes, he talks about 'very high' … I think we're talking about measurements or estimates that were made by a man in a highly traumatized situation.” (17-3895)
Was Harwood right, asked Christie, when he talked about 'fantastic exaggerations'?
“There are fantastic exaggerations in Gerstein,” agreed Browning. (17-3895) He nevertheless believed that Gerstein’s testimony was corroborated by the testimony of Dr. Pfannenstiel, the testimony of Rudolf Reder, the only known survivor of Belzec, the testimony of Josef Oberhauser, and the testimony of a number of camp personnel. This testimony took place at trials in Munich in the 1960s. Browning did not attend and did not read the trial transcripts: “I do not have the trial transcript … I'm telling you what the pre-trial testimony is that I saw.” (17-3896, 3897)
Another person who was corroborative of the story was Baron von Otter, who met with Gerstein on the train afterwards. Gerstein related his tale to him. (17-3897)
Browning had never read a book by Carlo Mattogno. (17-3897)
Was Browning aware, asked Christie, that Reder had published in his book a plagiarism of some of Gerstein’s reports? Browning was not aware of this. The testimony of Reder which Browning had seen did not seem exaggerated. Reder said there were six gas chambers, but this was the number which other witnesses had given, except for Oberhauser, who said the first gas chamber was one instead of three. Everyone agreed that when it was rebuilt, it had six rooms. With respect to credibility, Browning believed “their testimony has to be measured against each other and against other information that one can get.” (17-3898)
Was Browning aware that Reder himself said that 750 people were put in 16 square metres? Browning did “not know any measurement that Reder gave in testimony, that I saw.” (17- 3899)
Was Browning aware that Reder also said that there was a pit 100 metres long and 25 metres large in November of 1942 and there were 30 pits with 3 million bodies? Browning had “seen nothing from Reder that talks about 3 million.” (17-3899)
If that information was available to him, asked Christie, would it cause him to question and maybe doubt as fantastic exaggerations not only Gerstein but also the corroborative witness, Reder?
“It would be another fact to take into consideration … I would want to read the entire text,” replied Browning. (17-3900)
Christie returned to Did Six Million Really Die? and the point with which Browning had taken issue on page 10:
It should be emphasised straight away that there is not a single document in existence which proves that the Germans intended to, or carried out, the deliberate murder of Jews.
To refute this passage, Browning testified that he had relied upon the Posen speech, the Wannsee Conference protocol and the Frank diaries: “ … I believe that each of those documents … both the Frank diary and the Posen speech, talk about the Germans intending to — or the Posen speech talks about a deliberate murder that had been carried out. 'Our policy' said it was extermination.” (17-3901, 3902)
Browning agreed that this was his interpretation of the Posen speech. He had not heard the sound recording of the speech, but in this case, the document was proof enough for him. (17- 3902) Browning agreed there were limits on the authenticity and accuracy of any proofs he had tendered. In Browning’s opinion, the Posen speech did not make “veiled” allusions but rather “explicit allusions” to genocide. He agreed that the word “genocide” did not appear in the Posen speech; it said “to exterminate the Jews.” The word “genocide” was a word or concept that did not exist then. Lemkin was just in the process of formulating it. But in Browning’s opinion, it was a generic term to describe what happened. (17-3903, 3904)
Must Harwood believe that one document proves this, or could he be honestly and accurately stating that no single document proves it?, asked Christie.
“That is certainly not the thrust that I got from the sentence,” replied Browning. (17 3905) In his opinion, the three documents he had produced were proof enough for him.
But, pointed out Christie, they are not one document that is proof enough even for you, are they?
Browning disagreed: “Even several of the documents refer to and state an intention or deliberate murder of the Jews. Certainly, in what I am, as a historian trying to find as broad as documentation — if you are saying is there one single piece alone, by itself -” (17-3905)
Christie indicated that was what the statement said to him. He put it to Browning that there was not one document in Browning’s evidence that the Germans intended to, or carried out, the deliberate murder of Jews. If there was one document that proved it, what was it?, challenged Christie.
“The document that states it most explicitly is the Posen speech,” said Browning. (17- 3906)
And you and I are aware, continued Christie, that there are people who question the accuracy of the transcript and whether it even is a speech by Heinrich Himmler, aren’t there?
“I've heard that the audio is a bit difficult to understand. I do not know to what extent recent technology has been applied to it,” said Browning. (17-3906)
Christie suggested that if Browning wanted to be satisfied about a proof, in any historical sense, he should go to the actual sound recording and decide whether it proved it or not.
Browning agreed: “It would be a possibility to do … I did not do that.” He indicated it was “possible” that he would do it in the future: “It would be another thing to look at. It is not an area — the work in which I've done so far, as you know, in terms of original documentation, is mostly up through '41 or '42 … It would be certainly something that would be on a future agenda. Again, you can find an infinite number of documents that I have not yet looked at that would be good to look at.” (17-3906, 3907)
Browning did not know how the tape recording of the Posen speech was supposed to have gotten into Allied hands. Nor did he know who delivered it to the archives or where it came from. He believed someone had identified Himmler’s voice on the tape but did not know who: “I do not remember the name, but I … remember some reference of that sort, but I do not know the details of it.” (17-3908)
So, suggested Christie, if proof means some kind of certainty about authenticity, you wouldn’t deny that Harwood could have a reasonable ground for questioning that such proof existed?
“I wouldn’t call it — in the way in which I read that sentence, I would not call it a reasonable ground … The sentence implies that there is no document, and we have it as if not a single document anywhere existed,” said Browning. But he agreed with Christie that Harwood said not just 'no document' but 'not a single document.' (17 3910)
Christie returned to page 11 of the pamphlet:
A review of the documentary situation is important, because it reveals the edifice of guesswork and baseless assumptions upon which the extermination legend is built. The Germans had an extraordinary propensity for recording everything on paper in the most careful detail, yet among the thousands of captured documents of the S.D. and Gestapo, the records of the Reich Security Head Office, the files of Himmler’s headquarters and Hitler’s own war directives there is not a single order for the extermination of Jews or anyone else … Attempts to find “veiled allusions” to genocide in speeches like that of Himmler’s to his S.S. Obergruppenführers at Posen in 1943 are likewise quite hopeless.
Browning agreed that the first sentence of the paragraph was the author’s opinion, but he disagreed with the second sentence: “It says 'extermination of Jews or anyone else'. There are certainly orders to carry out individual operations … There are numbers of orders for particular actions but not a single global document that says 'I order killing the Jews'.” An example of an order for killing Jews, said Browning, “would be an order of the general in Serbia, ordering that Jews in a particular camp be taken out and shot. That’s an order to kill Jews.” Browning agreed these shootings took place under the framework of reprisals. The Jews were expendable. (17- 3912)
With respect to the sentence regarding the Posen speech, Browning testified: “Well, I think he is stating that the document is certainly trying to imply there are no allusions to a policy of genocide there. Literally it says there are no veiled allusions. Allusions are rather specific if you understand 'genocide' to mean the murder of a race. He says 'It is our policy to exterminate the Jews'.” (17-3913)
You're saying that the allusions are not veiled, suggested Christie, because ausrotten is used to describe what is to happen to the Jews, right? Browning could not remember which word appeared in the German text. A number of words were used to refer to it, including vernichten and ausrotten. (17-3914)
Christie suggested that they had agreed that vernichten, in terms of military parlance, applied to a body of enemy troops, meant not the extermination by killing of each one but the breaking up of that group?
“If you were saying that you had destroyed an enemy army,” agreed Browning, “it would mean you would have destroyed its fighting capacity. You haven’t killed every single soldier in that army.” But, he continued, if Himmler “was using ausrotten or vernichten, he’s talking about the bodies lined up, it seems he is talking about killing individual people … It implies all Jews.” Himmler did not say “every Jew,” but he said “the Jews.” (17-3914, 3915)
With respect to the subject of the Einsatzgruppen, Browning testified that he did know whether Wisliceny, who was in captivity in Czechoslovakia under the control of the Russian army, was tortured or not. (17-3915)
Browning testified that Otto Ohlendorf, the commander of Einsatzgruppe D, testified at Nuremberg that the figures of those killed by the Einsatzgruppen were approximate, but in 1948 he said that the figures were not as many as he had stated previously. (17-3917)
Christie returned to the pamphlet, page 16, where Harwood claimed that no living, authentic eyewitness to “gassings” had ever been produced and validated. How many eyewitnesses, asked Christie, did Browning say had been produced and validated?
“I do not have a particular number,” said Browning. “I have not compiled that. I do know that the two court cases that I looked at with detail on camps were Belzec and Chelmno … ” Browning listed several witnesses whose pre-trial testimony he had read and taken notes on. He had not witnessed any cross-examination of these eyewitnesses. (17-3918, 3919)
How did Browning define the word 'validate' in a historical sense?, asked Christie.
“[There] are many eyewitness reports that we do not, cannot, subject to cross- examination,” said Browning, “but we examine it in terms of its plausibility and reliability by subjecting it often to other checks in terms of other factors, documentary evidence, other testimony and that sort of thing. I do not know if all of these individuals were cross-examined in the trial. I was not there and did not see it … I have looked at their testimony and I certainly was trying to get a general picture of what was happening at Chelmno from that, so, yes, I was doing that, and in the course of that I was comparing one with another.” (17-3920)
Christie asked if he had examined the testimony to see if it was possible from any physical or common sense point of view.
“I have not conducted tests with a gas van, if that is what you mean by the physical … It certainly seemed plausible from a common sense point of view, to me,” said Browning. He did not remember any of the eyewitnesses he had mentioned as being utterly ridiculous. He believed that the Oberhauser testimony was very cautious. Oberhauser was an accused who was convicted and given a short sentence. It was counted in terms of pre-trial arrest as having been served and he was released. In his testimony about Belzec, Oberhauser “talked very openly about some of the earlier events before, that would not have directly implicated him … I believe that he was minimizing and underplaying his testimony.” (17-3921, 3922)
Was Oberhauser’s testimony plausible?, asked Christie.
“That there would have been only one initial gas chamber when everyone else said three, no, I don’t think that was plausible … That area is very inconsistent with the rest of the testimony.” (17-3922)
So, asked Christie, when we get people who give inconsistent testimony, what you do as a historian is take the parts that suit you and throw away the inconsistent parts?
“If there had been a number of people testifying to one gas chamber,” said Browning, “I would have certainly had to give it more weight … Oberhauser gives, I think, very detailed accounts of the construction of Belzec. I think he gives very minimizing evidence … considering the period in which he was actually a responsible figure there and for which he was standing trial.” (17-3923)
So you say that he is honest when he incriminates himself and he is dishonest if he exculpates himself?, asked Christie.
“ … the pattern that I saw,” said Browning, “looking at it, was that he gave fairly detailed and open evidence in areas that did not directly incriminate him. It was not incriminating any other witness on the stand for the earlier period. He was very minimizing in his evidence concerning the events for which he was standing trial.” (17-3924)
Christie suggested that other historians might legitimately regard that testimony as implausible because of the inconsistencies and the apparent dishonesty and motives involved in the testimony.
Browning agreed: “They could look at the testimony and evaluate it differently than I did.” (17-3925)
Whether they regard it as plausible or not was a matter of opinion and judgment, was it not?, asked Christie.
“They would be able to evaluate different pieces of the evidence differently than I,” Browning repeated.
Especially, pointed out Christie, if they researched the area from the point of view of the physical evidence, namely, the inconsistencies of the story with the physical evidence?
“That is a hypothetical,” said Browning but he admitted that he did not know what results a physical investigation would have. (17-3925, 3926)
Christie turned to page 20 of Did Six Million Really Die?:
Of course, no Jew would ever be found who claimed to have been a member of this gruesome “special detachment", so that the whole issue is left conveniently unprovable. It is worth repeating that no living, authentic eye-witness of these events has ever been produced.
This section was false in Browning’s opinion because there had been people who were members of the special detachments (Sonderkommando) that came forward. Examples were Filip Müller and Rudolf Reder. (17-3928)
Was Filip Müller the one that had the talk in the gas chamber with the naked Jewish lady?, asked Christie.
“The very same,” replied Browning. “ … I believe he is telling the truth there.” (17 3928)
Christie produced the book Eyewitness Auschwitz by Filip Müller, and read from page 113:
The atmosphere in the dimly lit gas chamber was tense and depressing. Death had come menacingly close. It was only minutes away. No memory, no trace of any of us would remain. Once more people embraced. Parents were hugging their children so violently that it almost broke my heart. Suddenly a few girls, naked and in the full bloom of youth, came up to me. They stood in front of me without a word, gazing at me deep in thought and shaking their heads uncomprehendingly. At last one of them plucked up courage and spoke to me: 'We understand that you have chosen to die with us of your own free will, and we have come to tell you that we think your decision pointless: for it helps no one.' She went on: 'We must die, but you still have a chance to save your life. You have to return to the camp and tell everybody about our last hours,' she commanded. 'You have to explain to them that they must free themselves from any illusions. They ought to fight, that’s better than dying here helplessly. It'll be easier for them, since they have no children. As for you, perhaps you'll survive this terrible tragedy and then you must tell everybody what happened to you. One more thing', she went on, 'you can do me one last favour: this gold chain round my neck: when I'm dead, take it off and give it to my boyfriend Sasha. He works in the bakery. Remember me to him. Say “love from Yana". When it’s all over, you'll find me here.' She pointed at a place next to the concrete pillar where I was standing. Those were her last words.
I was surprised and strangely moved by her cool and calm detachment in the face of death, and also by her sweetness. Before I could make an answer to her spirited speech, the girls took hold of me and dragged me protesting to the door of the gas chamber. There they gave me a last push which made me land bang in the middle of the group of SS men. Kurschuss was the first to recognize me and at once set about me with his truncheon. I fell to the floor, stood up and was knocked down by a blow from his fist. As I stood on my feet for the third or fourth time, Kurschuss yelled at me: 'You bloody shit, get it into your stupid head: we decide how long you stay alive and when you die, and not you. Now piss off, to the ovens!' Then he socked me viciously in the face so that I reeled against the lift door.
Did Browning believe that? asked Christie.
“I do not know whether every exact word happened,” answered Browning. “Obviously he is recounting something later, that an incident of that kind occurred, and he is reporting it as best he can remember, yes.” (17-3933)
Christie suggested it was open to reasonable people to disbelieve it.
“There is much about the Holocaust that boggles the imagination,” said Browning. (17- 3933)
Let me suggest, said Christie, what not only boggles the imagination but boggles the mind is a suggestion that these conversations could go on in the gas chamber and the door be opened from the inside and the girls push Filip Müller out as they stand there naked in the full bloom of youth?
“I don’t believe it said the door was closed, did it?” asked Browning. “I don’t remember … Yes, my impression of it was they were still — I mean I will speculate on the situation, but it seems as if there are some people in there initially. There are still others dressing, undressing, in the ante-room and that the door has not yet been sealed. I don’t see anywhere where they said they pushed him against the door that opened. He was pushed against the lift door at the end. That’s the only door I see referred to.” (17-3933, 3934)
Let me suggest, said Christie, that if there was a room full of six or seven hundred people, and they knew they were going to be gassed, and these young ladies allegedly did that, there would be more than just one person pushing on a door, in the usual sense of the nature of humanity?
“There is nothing in there about a door being closed yet,” said Browning. (17-3934, 3935)
Do you consider that rational?, asked Christie.
“I consider that a believable and rational account of an incident. Moreover, the general question of whether his testimony, in terms of being in a Sonderkommando and his three years at Auschwitz witnessing to the gassings, is, indeed, very credible … I find Müller a credible witness. I did not find that incident incredible. I found it moving,” said Browning. (17-3937)
Christie returned to the Müller book and read from page 47:
When I had found out in which block he was housed I managed, with the help of dollars and diamonds I had organized, to bribe the Kapo …
Do you maintain there were dollars and diamonds in Auschwitz-Birkenau?, asked Christie.
Browning believed there were: “The accounts of the various kinds of money and valuables that came in and that were taken off the people indicates, yes, there were.” (17-3938)
I suggest to you, said Christie, that he also alleges that muscles were cut from prisoners and thrown into buckets which made the buckets jump up. Did Browning believe that?
“I don’t know to what extent he is speaking figuratively,” said Browning. “What does he mean by the buckets jumping? How far does the bucket — does the muscle have a spasm?” (17- 3938)
Christie handed the Müller book to Browning who read the account:
The muscles of those who had been shot were still working and contracting, making the bucket jump about.
Browning indicated that Christie had not read the passage correctly as it said not “jump” but “jump about". He continued: “'Jump' like that, to move sideways or rattle because there is something contracting is a very different quote.” (17-3938)
Browning did not know whether human muscles in a bucket would cause it to jump about: “I don’t know on that particular detail, sir. That is not something that I think is essential to the credibility of the overall accounts about Filip Müller having been in the Sonderkommando and having experienced that for a long time. That is certainly a movement of some bucket in that case and having him describe it as jumping about is certainly possible.” (17-3939)
Well, sir, said Christie, I suggest that what you have is a predilection to believe these stories, and it wouldn’t make much difference what they said, you'd believe it anyway?
“It would depend entirely upon the account in question … And its corroboration, yes. How closely did it, in fact, fit in with what other witnesses and other people have said, the various ways — “ (17-3939)
So, asked Christie, if there were enough people who said ridiculous things you'd believe them all?
“We have said there is one way in which you consider the eyewitness testimony,” said Browning. “As I said before, you also consider plausibility; you consider the self-interest of the person that is giving the testimony, that you consider as many different angles to it as you can in evaluating it.” (17-3940)
Browning did not know if there were testimonies of people describing gas chambers at Buchenwald. He had not looked for it. Like Sachsenhausen, it was not an area in which he did research. (17-3940)
Browning had met an author named Vidal-Naquet but had never read anything he had written. (17-3940)
Was Browning aware, asked Christie, that even famous survivors, such as the Nobel Prize-winning Elie Wiesel, had told stories that were incredible?
“There is famous survivors who may have made exaggerated statements,” agreed Browning. (17-3940)
Don’t you think that reasonable people might, therefore, disbelieve the allegations because of the nature of these witnesses?, asked Christie.
“Again,” said Browning, “as Gerstein and other cases, it would be depend[ent] upon what the nature of these allegations were.” (17-3941)
Christie put it to Browning that large newspapers such as Nürnberger Nachrichten had reported a witness testifying in a trial in Germany that inmates at Auschwitz Birkenau had ridden bicycles in the gas chambers. Browning knew nothing of this testimony. (17-3941)
I suggest, said Christie, that survivors give absolutely incredible stories like riding bicycles in the gas chamber in Auschwitz-Birkenau, like naked ladies giving necklaces inside the gas chamber. That happens all the time doesn’t it?
“There may be some that are not plausible. That doesn’t mean that all the testimony is tainted by that,” said Browning. He did not agree with Christie’s suggestion that after awhile one became skeptical because of things said by the so-called eyewitnesses: “I have read a number of accounts, and I have not gotten that impression on working through court records.” (17-3942)
Browning reiterated that he found the account of Filip Müller credible: “I found his account of the incident — I found it credible. I did not find, however, that that was relevant to whether he had been — I mean — let me rephrase that. Yes, I believe that that incident happened to Filip Müller. He may have rephrased it in some way as he could remember it but the essential parts of Filip Müller’s testimony, in terms of his activities in the Sonderkommando, is very believable.” Browning did not believe that Müller was being novelistic or exaggerating: “He tries to write it quite factually.” He agreed that it purported to be a factual account and not some kind of novel. (17-3943)
Are you aware that Rudolf Vrba is another famous survivor?, asked Christie.
“Rudolf Vrba has admitted that what he wrote had literary dimensions to it,” said Browning. He had heard that Vrba made this admission in his testimony given at the first Zündel trial in 1985. Browning had not read the testimony transcript itself, nor had he read Vrba’s book I Cannot Forgive. (17-3944)
Was Browning aware, asked Christie, that Vrba claimed in the book that it was the truth and a very accurate account?
“I haven’t read it, as I said."(17-3944)
Was there anything in the nature of these incredible accounts that would cause Browning to change his mind?, asked Christie.
Judge Thomas interjected: “What 'incredible accounts'?” (17-3944)
Christie suggested he had read Browning some and asked if they affected his willingness to believe in the eyewitness testimony of Filip Müller?
“The particular accounts you read from Filip Müller do not change my mind about the credibility of Filip Müller as a witness.” (17-3945)
Would you say that someone who didn’t believe it would have to be dishonest?, asked Christie.
“ … Someone could take disagreement with Müller,” said Browning. “The implication I have and read here is that no one has ever come forward and claimed that and that he has never been produced, and in fact he did come forward. He was produced in the court … He was a witness at Frankfurt.” Browning had read only a “short snippet” of Müller’s testimony, but could not remember what he said. (17-3945)
How do you know that he claimed to have been in the Sonderkommando from that snippet that you can’t remember?, asked Christie.
Replied Browning: “I do not know if in that — I do not remember what the snippet said, so I cannot answer that.” (17-3946)
Christie turned to page 20, Did Six Million Really Die?:
Certainly the most bogus “memoirs” yet published are those of Adolf Eichmann. Before his illegal kidnapping by the Israelis in May, 1960 and the attendant blaze of international publicity, few people had ever heard of him. He was indeed a relatively unimportant person, the head of Office A4b in Department IV (the Gestapo) of the Reich Security Head Office. His office supervised the transportation to detention camps of a particular section of enemy aliens, the Jews … Strangely enough, the alleged “memoirs” of Adolf Eichmann suddenly appeared at the time of his abduction to Israel. They were uncritically published by the American Life magazine (November 28th, December 5th, 1960), and were supposed to have been given by Eichmann to a journalist in the Argentine shortly before his capture — an amazing coincidence.
Browning took issue with Harwood’s allegation that Eichmann was a relatively unimportant person. He agreed that Eichmann held the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel, and was not even a Colonel: “But he was not, in my opinion, a relatively unimportant person, and he certainly wasn’t, for anyone who is looking at the Holocaust, an unimportant person.” (17-3946)
Eichmann was in B4b, not the higher-level A4b, as written in the pamphlet. In the hierarchy of the Reich Security Main Office, Eichmann’s office was “down the hierarchy,” Browning admitted. At the top was the Gestapo, signified by the Roman numeral IV, “then I forget what the sub-division — it will be Security Police II, then go to the Gestapo within the Security Police, and then it would go to a branch dealing with ideological enemies, and then there would be a subdivisions of that, the Jews of which are one.” Eichmann did not have an office under himself. He had a direct staff of about twelve or thirteen people. (17-3947, 3948)
So was it a fair statement, asked Christie, to say that from the point of view of the hierarchy, he was an unimportant person?
“If you are looking solely at rank and comparing him with a General, he is less important,” said Browning. “ … Lieutenant-Colonel would be two steps down.” (17 3949)
Browning did not disagree with Harwood’s statements that the Eichmann 'memoirs' appeared at the same time as his abduction to Israel, that they were uncritically published by Life magazine, or that they were supposed to have been given by Eichmann to a journalist shortly before his capture. However, Browning did not agree with the statement that this was an “amazing coincidence": “I did not believe it to be a coincidence because it was my understanding that the attempt to peddle the memoirs had been one of the factors that led to his arrest.” Browning admitted that he had never investigated the background to the arrest of Adolf Eichmann: “I do not know how the manuscript or how that portion of it came into the hands of Life magazine.” (17-3950)
Browning did not dispute that part of Did Six Million Really Die? which claimed that other sources gave an entirely different account of the Eichmann 'memoirs'. He agreed that some people claimed they were based on a record of Eichmann’s comments to an associate in 1955, whom Browning believed to be Sassen. Browning, however, had never spoken to Sassen. (17- 3950, 3951)
Christie referred back to the pamphlet at page 8:
In Colliers magazine, June 9th, 1945, Freiling Foster, writing of the Jews in Russia, explained that “2,200,000 have migrated to the Soviet Union since 1939 to escape from the Nazis,” but our lower estimate is probably more accurate.
“We did go through that earlier … And I said, if you read it quite literally, as you did, then one can — I indicated that I thought he had attempted to, in fact, create the impression of an identification between him and Cross so that one had the tendency to read on further, but you had pointed out to me that that was not a necessary conclusion to draw.” (17-3951, 3952)
Christie read from page 23 of Harwood:
It is true that in 1945, Allied propaganda did claim that all the concentration camps, particularly those in Germany itself, were “death camps", but not for long. On this question, the eminent American historian Harry Elmer Barnes wrote: “These camps were first presented as those in Germany, such as Dachau, Belsen, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Dora, but it was soon demonstrated that there had been no systematic extermination in those camps. Attention was then moved to Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec, Chelmno, Jonowska, Tarnow, Ravensbrück, Mauthausen, Brezeznia and Birkenau, which does not exhaust the list that appears to have been extended as needed” (Rampart Journal, Summer 1967). What had happened was that certain honest observers among the British and American occupation forces in Germany, while admitting that many inmates had died of disease and starvation in the final months of the war, had found no evidence after all of “gas chambers". As a result, eastern camps in the Russian zone of occupation such as Auschwitz and Treblinka gradually came to the fore as horrific centres of extermination (though no one was permitted to see them), and this tendency has lasted to the present day. Here in these camps it was all supposed to have happened, but with the Iron Curtain brought down firmly over them, no one has ever been able to verify such charges. The Communists claimed that four million people died at Auschwitz in gigantic gas chambers accommodating 2,000 people — and no one could argue to the contrary.
Browning believed he had not mentioned the Barnes quote in disputing the pamphlet. What he took issue with was the allegation that no one had been permitted to see the eastern camps. Browning disagreed with Christie that Harwood was referring only to Auschwitz and Treblinka: “ … The subject of the sentence is eastern camps.” (17-3953)
Christie suggested that there were published indications that no one was allowed to see those camps. One of these was a letter written by a lawyer, Stephen Pinter, who served in the U.S. War Department in Germany after the war, which Harwood quoted in the pamphlet:
What is the truth about so-called “gas chambers"? Stephen F. Pinter … made the following statement in the widely read Catholic magazine Our Sunday Visitor, June 14th, 1959:
“I was in Dachau for 17 months after the war, as a U.S. War Department Attorney, and can state that there was no gas chamber at Dachau. What was shown to visitors and sightseers there and erroneously described as a gas chamber was a crematory. Nor was there a gas chamber in any of the other concentration camps in Germany. We were told that there was a gas chamber at Auschwitz, but since that was in the Russian zone of occupation, we were not permitted to investigate since the Russians would not allow it. From what I was able to determine during six postwar years in Germany and Austria, there were a number of Jews killed, but the figure of a million was certainly never reached. I interviewed thousands of Jews, former inmates of concentration camps in Germany and Austria, and consider myself as well qualified as any man on this subject.”
Christie produced the letters to the editor section of the June 14, 1959 edition of Our Sunday Visitor and had Browning verify that Harwood gave an accurate quotation of the letter: “It is an accurate quote,” agreed Browning. (17-3958)
Christie suggested to Browning that Harwood had chosen to believe someone who represented himself as an eyewitness and who indicated the eastern camps were not open, rather than the New York Times article that Browning had quoted. Browning answered that there was no indication that he was choosing between the two. Christie agreed, suggesting that it was apparent that Harwood did not even know about the New York Times article. Browning answered: “He certainly either is not aware, or he is not revealing that he is aware, but I, from reading this, could not tell which … He does not mention it.” (17-3958)
The New York Times article indicated that Majdanek had been visited briefly; were the eastern camps open on other occasions?, asked Christie.
“I do not know,” said Browning. “There was, as I gather from the text, a trip that was organized [by] the Russians with a political motive, that the reporter makes clear to his readers, so they can take that into consideration.” (17-3961)
So this, suggested Christie, was at least one occasion upon the liberation of Majdanek when the Russians chose for publicity purposes to let the press in?
“That is what the article says, yes.” (17-3961)
But what Stephen Pinter, who claimed to have been there at the time, said could also be true, that the Russians thereafter did not allow other people in?
Browning replied: “At least for Auschwitz is the example that he mentioned.”
Christie pointed out that Pinter had indicated that it was the Russian zone of occupation which was off-limits to Allied soldiers. Browning agreed that this was what the letter was “trying to imply.” (17-3962)
And wouldn’t that be the truth?, asked Christie.
“I don’t know if it was the truth,” said Browning. Nor did he know if it was false: “No, I don’t know if the policy is whether one would have been allowed to investigate or not.” (17-3962)
Christie turned to the subject of the western concentration camps; did Browning say that the western camps, such as Dachau, Ravensbrück and Buchenwald, did not have Jews in them?
“They were not the deportation reception camps during the period up to 1945,” said Browning. “They had — Jews were among those evacuated from Poland to them. There were some Jews in the camps, those camps, since 1942, when Himmler ordered that Jews in the German concentration camps be transferred to Auschwitz. They were not camps that were primarily intended for receiving large deportations of Jews and gassing them … There may well have been some Jews in those camps at different times, but they were not primary to the German policy. I don’t know of the numbers of individual Jews in those camps … It was not central to the 'final solution' … They are not, in my opinion, extermination camps, though many people died there.” (17-3963)
Browning confirmed that the New York Times article he had read from August 30, 1944 claimed that 1.5 million died at Majdanek. He acknowledged that Hilberg now estimated the dead at 50,000. He continued: “ … I had said when we introduced this it was not evidence for how many died there, but it was simply the impressions of the newsman who went — who declared at the very beginning he did not know how many died there.” (17-3965)
But the headline of the article, pointed out Christie, said 'victims put at 1,500,000', right? Browning did not remember and stated he would have to see the article again. (17-3965)
Did Browning take seriously other information given in the article?, asked Christie.
“There are information — for instance, he says they expect to uncover many more bodies in the forest,” said Browning. “That’s what he said they expected to find, and I do not know what subsequently anybody dug up, graves like that.” (17-3966)
So, suggested Christie, the information of that day was grossly exaggerated? Browning agreed: “It was very sketchy and exaggerated because it was still [a] very preliminary stage of research, that he admitted that this is his first impression, that there was no claim that it could be more than that.” (17-3966)
And he was there on a propaganda trip?
“He was there because the Soviets had an overt political purpose which he clarified to the readers and did not hide.” (17-3966)
Do you realize, asked Christie, that the estimates of the daily death toll in Auschwitz ranged from 1,000 a day to 60,000 a day?
“In that at different periods the daily rate changed,” said Browning, “I think there certainly are much exaggerated statements about it and that often that will depend upon what time, such as whether during Hungarian deportations or at some period with no one coming in, what the rate would have been on a particular day. What the pamphlet does is to take a maximum and then extrapolate it.” Browning had seen a variety of estimates, but could not recall a particular source that said 60,000. Christie asked if he was aware of Jan Sehn, a judge in charge of investigating Auschwitz after the war, who published in 1961 the book Le Camp de Concentration d'Oswiecim-Brezezinka in which Sehn gave the estimate of 60,000. Browning knew of Sehn but did not know if he gave such an estimate. (17-3967, 3968)
Christie produced a list of various written opinions on the daily death rates (which had been entered as Exhibit 129 on February 20, 1985 at the first Zündel trial) and asked Browning to comment on it.
“There is nothing here,” said Browning, “to calculate whether they are referring to an average over a long period, or a peak, or a peak over a short period. There is a column of books on the one hand and numbers on the other hand, under the title 'Number of People Cremated Per Day', and it does reflect a variety, though from reading Hilberg, I'm sure that his reference is to a peak period, not over a prolonged period. I do not know or remember the other references.” (17- 3970)
Browning believed that the estimate of 50,000 dead at Majdanek “came as a result of the judicial investigations of the German trial of Majdanek, that they did their best to find out which deportations actually went there. To their surprise, they found out that Majdanek had not had anything like the numbers of the other camps, that the number they came up with was much lower than the other camps, but that gassing had taken place, particularly the period from late fall of '42 into the spring of '43, that it had not been a period in which there were major deportations to the camp over a prolonged time.” (17-3971)
Christie referred Browning to page 67 of his book Fateful Months where Browning had written, regarding gas vans, that after the war they were scarcely remembered or not at all. The few who admitted they even knew that gas vans had been produced in their garage and for what purpose claimed to have been horrified and shocked. Their only documents portrayed a different picture. What disturbed them was the criticism and complaints about their product.
Do you agree, asked Christie, that after the war the people who you allege to have made these gas vans, didn’t appear to have any knowledge of any sinister purpose for them?
“The people working in the garage, the minor mechanics, remember very little. The chief mechanic and the head of the automotive section remembered a great deal more.” Browning’s source for this statement was, again, the testimony given in pre trial depositions in war crimes trials. (17-3972)
Did Browning ever consider, as a historian, that a lot of the allegations about the extermination was post-war propaganda?
“Did I consider the possibility?,” replied Browning. “In the abstract way, having read Butz, and whatever I did indeed say, is this a plausible or possible kind of an interpretation? I suppose it’s an intellectual question, yes.” (17-3972)
Had Browning ever made a search to determine if there was an official policy to create atrocity propaganda at the end of the Second World War to justify the alliance with the Soviet Union and the obvious barbarity of the Red Army as it advanced into Eastern Europe? Browning had not: “As — no, I did not make a research into the question of whether there was a policy to invent propaganda. I did not think, and as I have said earlier, the alliance with the Soviet Union needed justification.” (17-3973)
Christie produced and put to Browning an excerpt from the book Allied Wartime Diplomacy by Edward J. Rozek (Exhibit 124, February 20, 1985, in the first Zündel trial) in which the author quoted from a note sent from the British Ministry of Information to the BBC and the higher British clergy on February 29, 1944:
I am directed by the Ministry to send you the following circular letter:
It is often the duty of the good citizens and of the pious Christians to turn a blind eye on the peculiarities of those associated with us.
But the time comes when such peculiarities, while still denied in public, must be taken into account when action by us is called for.
We know the methods of rule employed by the Bolshevik dictator in Russia itself from, for example, the writing and speeches of the Prime Minister himself during the last twenty years. We know how the Red Army behaved in Poland in 1920 and in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Galicia and Bessarabia only recently.
We must, therefore, take into account how the Red Army will certainly behave when it overruns Central Europe. Unless precautions are taken, the obviously inevitable horrors which will result will throw an undue strain on public opinion in this country.
We cannot reform the Bolsheviks but we can do our best to save them — and ourselves — from the consequences of their acts. The disclosures of the past quarter of a century will render mere denials unconvincing. The only alternative to denial is to distract public attention from the whole subject.
Experience has shown that the best distraction is atrocity propaganda directed against the enemy. Unfortunately the public is no longer so susceptible as in the days of the “Corpse Factory,” and the “Mutilated Belgian Babies,” and the “Crucified Canadians.”
Your cooperation is therefore earnestly sought to distract public attention from the doings of the Red Army by your wholehearted support of various charges against the Germans and Japanese which have been and will be put into circulation by the Ministry.
Your expression of belief in such may convince others.
I am, Sir, Your obedient servant,
(signed) H. HEWET, ASSISTANT SECRETARY
The Ministry can enter into no correspondence of any kind with regard to this communication which should only be disclosed to responsible persons.
Would it be important, asked Christie, for historians to assess such official pronouncements to determine the credibility of subsequent information out of eastern Europe?
“It would be one factor to take into account,” said Browning. “Any of the things that I've said in my books I do not believe I have based anything on a statement to the British Ministry of Information … I would say that I do not see a policy such as this reflected in the work that I've done. There was, as is noted here, a concern for credibility, and we have talked about that earlier. It would be one more factor to take into consideration and to weigh in the balance with other things.” (17-3976)
Browning did not see any connection between his work and the material contained in the circular: “I wonder how a study of a gas van killing of people in Belgrade in 1942 should include information about an international circulation in a British Ministry of Information in 1944? … There was a propaganda from all sides, and as I have pointed out, on the part of the British and the Americans, there was, for a long period, a great reticence, as we had seen in that telegram, to use or — to use what they consider not totally confirmed information.” (17-3977, 3978)
Are you incorporating that telegram, asked Christie, which you didn’t know about until you took the stand, in your opinion now? Browning acknowledged he was: “I have, just as I incorporated the information … on Hans Frank yesterday that we discovered. Thanks for your reference … I have indicated that research in history is an ongoing business, that I am incorporating information when I get it.” (17-3978)
In his research, Browning had used the Yugoslav archives but it was not the major source; most of his sources came from Germany. (17-3979)
And don’t you think that the documents you saw in Germany are also part of the selection made by the Allies?, asked Christie.
Browning disagreed: “No, I do not. When I went through the documents for the German army in Serbia, they go down to the divisional level. I have no knowledge that anything was taken out … I worked in the Bundesarchiv in terms of the automotive department documents that were referred to before. It is very incomplete. I … therefore can’t tell from the context whether something had been taken out. How can I know, you know? Some things, it is possible, by looking at them, to see fairly certainly that nothing has been removed. Some files, you could not tell from looking at them whether possibly someone had removed some document.” (17-3979, 3980)
Christie indicated that Raul Hilberg had been quoted as stating that Holocaust revisionists such as Robert Faurisson had rendered a service in that they raised questions which had the effect of engaging historians in new research. Did Browning agree with that statement?
“Just as this whole court proceeding has raised some questions that I have continued to look into,” said Browning, “such as the research into the Frank interview or interrogation you referred me to, yes, we do — it does raise questions that we continue to look into … Academic research develops in terms of confronting new ideas … I think that we did this at the beginning, talked about a line between misrepresentation and search … for new things. That line, at points, is going to be fairly hazy, and at other points I think it will be less hazy.” (17-3981) Browning agreed that one “should be open to new research, new evidence.” (17-3982)
Did Browning know who Dr. Robert Faurisson was?, asked Christie. Browning replied that he had seen him but had not met him. He indicated that he saw Faurisson was present in the courtroom. (17-3982)
Christie put it to Browning that Faurisson had come up to Browning in the Sorbonne on 13 December 1987 and tried to hand him a piece of paper?
“I had already received a copy of that piece of paper from someone else,” replied Browning. (17-3982, 3983)
Christie suggested that Browning told Faurisson he did not want it.
“I walked past,” said Browning, “I believe I walked past. I don’t know that I said anything.” Browning did not know at that time who Faurisson was: “I didn’t know at that time. Somebody pointed him out afterwards. I'm not — let me think. When I came there I did not know who he was. I do not remember at which point he was identified to me. I didn’t know for sure whether he and another gentleman — which one was which, so I don’t believe I knew for sure that it was Dr. Faurisson.” (17-3983)
Browning had heard of the Committee for the History of the Second World War and the Institute of France but did not know any details.
Are you aware, asked Christie, that there is now a public debate in France as to the existence or not of gas chambers and whether there was a genocide of the Jews?
“I was aware that that issue has been discussed in France,” replied Browning. “When I went to the conference, I did not know that that was related to that discussion.” (17 3984)
Browning indicated that at the Sorbonne conference questions were sent in written form to the chairman. He did not see the questions, which were relayed verbally to different people: “I did see that Mr. Faurisson had handed one to her, but the chairman did not read it.” (17-3984)
You are saying 'Mr. Faurisson', noted Christie. Did Browning know Faurisson’s academic background?
“I believe he is a professor of literature at the University of Lyon, but I don’t know that for a fact.” (17-3984)
Did Six Million Really Die? was one of the first revisionist publications Browning had seen and only one of two that he had read. He would not agree that the Butz book came later. (17- 3985)
Did Browning agree that the Butz book was much more advanced in terms of research?, asked Christie.
“Certainly, the Butz book did not — I did gain a different impression of the Butz book than the pamphlet,” replied Browning. (17-3985)
He would not speculate on what the consequences would be for the state of Israel if it was ever admitted one day that there was no policy of extermination, no gas chambers and that the figure of 6 million was a gross exaggeration. (17-3985)
Browning did not read the front and back portions of the pamphlet written by its publisher, Ernst Zündel: “I remember scanning them but I read the pamphlet. I did not study the other portion … I was asked to study the pamphlet, to make comment on it. I did not subject the first part to the kind of examination that I did the rest.” (17-3987)
Browning admitted that he had never written a paper to refute the pamphlet. Nor did he know of any publication by any other historian that had sought to point out publicly any errors in Did Six Million Really Die?: “ … there may well be some. I just do not know.” (17-3987)
The cross-examination of Browning by defence counsel Christie ended, and Crown Attorney Pearson commenced his re-examination of the witness. (17-3988)
Pearson referred Browning to the book What is History? by E.H. Carr, and asked him to read the following paragraph at page 27:
How then, in the middle of the twentieth century, are we to define the obligation of the historian to his facts? I trust that I have spent a sufficient number of hours in recent years chasing and perusing documents, and stuffing my historical narrative with properly footnoted facts, to escape the imputation of treating facts and documents too cavalierly. The duty of the historian to respect his facts is not exhausted by the obligation to see that his facts are accurate. He must seek to bring into the picture all known or knowable facts relevant, in one sense or another, to the theme on which he is engaged and to the interpretation proposed. If he seeks to depict the Victorian Englishman as a moral and rational being, he must not forget what happened at Stalybridge Wakes in 1850. But this, in turn, does not mean that he can eliminate interpretation, which is the life-blood of history.
Browning agreed that Carr drew a distinction between fact and interpretation, and “you must respect the facts.” (17-3989)
There was a reference in your cross-examination to Kristallnacht, said Pearson. Could you please explain what it was?
“Yes, Kristallnacht was an event in November 9 to 10, 1938,” said Browning. “Three days earlier, a Polish-Jewish refugee, who apparently had just been expelled from Germany but had not been admitted to Poland had been caught in 'no man’s land', and he went into the German Embassy in Paris and shot an official of the German Embassy. The man died three days later, and then a riot took place in Germany, or a pogrom, in which most of the synagogues were burned down and Jewish stores were looted and vandalized … It was a point following that, in fact, that a very pluralistic approach, in which various agencies in the German government sort of went their own way, were more or less co-ordinated under Göring and Himmler, that Hitler empowered Göring to be in charge of overseeing Jewish policy, and Himmler worked very closely with him, so it created a greater centralization.” (17 3989)
Were secondary sources something to which a competent historian made resort to?, asked Pearson.
“It is the only way in which he can possibly get to write anything. If one has to find the next documents that gave a background and a context to the area in which he is researching, he could never come to an end, so that basically you pose a research problem and you look into that. You do as much to get all the primary source as you can for that topic, and then you read the surrounding secondary literature so that you know in what context you are working on the particular area you are doing, primary or archival research,” said Browning. Secondary sources were also subject to scrutiny: “You certainly look at how it was read and what kind of archives that its author visited, what kind of secondary sources that he consulted, so you look at its bibliography and you take a measure, as you read it, as to its credibility.” Browning felt that he “certainly [had] some ability” in assessing the reliability of secondary sources in the area of Nazi policy towards the Jews. (17-3991)
Pearson asked Browning to explain the incident concerning the Hitler diaries. Browning testified that there was an attempt to sell what turned out to be a fraudulent diary. Stern magazine in Germany was going to release it in segments over many months. The document was eventually sent to the Bundesarchiv for certification, but was instead exposed as a forgery “in very rapid order … It was almost instantaneous … inconsistencies have been found very quickly that could not have been in the original, and I think, I am not sure, I don’t know what kind of scientific test, but they subjected it to both a scientific test and a contextual examination.” (17- 3992, 3993)
Browning testified that the Hans Frank diary had been used by scholars since it was captured in 1945. He was not aware of any scholar casting any doubt on the authenticity or reliability of the diary in the intervening years. (17-3993)
With respect to the Goebbels diary, scholars had been using it since 1948. It had been widely cited, and Browning had seen no charge that it was a fabrication. (17-3994)
Pearson produced the book Manstein: His Campaigns and His Trial by R.T. Paget, M.P., and read from page 130:
Hitler had from the beginning of his career made speeches to the effect that if international Jewry or the elders of Sion succeeded in casting the world into war with Germany then that war would result in the total destruction of international Jewry, and the prosecution argued that the German generals must have realised as a result of these speeches that literal Jewish extermination was a German war objective. They then produced an order addressed by Himmler to the S.D., a copy of which had been sent to the army, to the effect that Jews were to be concentrated in the larger cities or in other words that a ghetto system was to be established pending the “final aim.” No document stated what the final aim was. The prosecution said it was extermination. It certainly became extermination, but it is improbable that extermination was contemplated as early as 1939 or 1940.
Browning testified that this was the position he had argued for. Pearson turned to page 171 and had Browning indicate that Christie had stopped reading at the words “in Simferopol, it certainly appeared that this Jewish community was unaware of any special danger.” Pearson continued reading from that point on:
Ohlendorf had reported that not only Simferopol but the whole Crimea was cleared of Jews. He was clearly a man who was prepared to say anything that would please his employers. The Americans had found him the perfect witness.
Nobody ever will know what really happened. I think that Ohlendorf probably told the truth when he said that before the campaign he received verbal orders directly from Himmler to exterminate the Jews of the Ukraine and that it is probably also true that these orders were so secret that they were known only to a few officers of the Einsatz Kommando. I think that Ohlendorf probably started off with the intention of carrying out his orders but very soon realised that the task was enormously beyond the capacity of his command. I believe also that while it was relatively easy to order the murder of the Jews in the abstract it was psychologically difficult to murder women and children in practice. Even the S.D. thugs discovered a loathing for the task. One went mad in Simferopol and started moaning “The eyes, the awful eyes.” This shook the others. At about this point Ohlendorf whose figures even before had been enormously exaggerated, reported that his area was clear of Jews.
The extermination policy worked in the extermination camps where every individual could be given a particular job. It broke down in the field where the same body of men had to be entrusted with the whole operation from capture to murder. Human beings were just not wicked enough to go on doing the whole job. The Nazi devil had nearly but not completely obliterated the Christian tradition of childhood.
If Browning had discussed this with Paget, a defence lawyer, would it have changed his perspective?, asked Pearson.
Browning replied: “No, I think we saw even in some of the Einsatzgruppen reports saying that it would be difficult to complete the job in this way, so that this would confirm what we had seen in the documents.” The psychological difficulties of killing women and children was reported in discussions with Himmler and the development of the gas van was a way to reduce this burden. Browning concluded by stating that a discussion with Paget would not have changed his perspective “in terms of whether there had been a plan to murder the Jews of Russia [by] the Einsatzgruppen.” (17-3998, 3999, 4002)
1 Documents released in 1989 under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that Browning was paid $25,818.85 for research, testimony and expenses.
2 Not compared with original.