The Holocaust Historiography Project

From the Trial Proceedings

Excerpts from the Irving-Lipstadt Trial Transcripts

Compiled by Greg Raven

IHR Journal Provides 'Wake Up Call'

January 25, p. 23

Judge Gray: What puzzles me about this is that one of the documents Mr. Irving just handed in says that this further Polish or Auschwitz investigation has been published in the summer 1991 Journal of Historical Review. ["An Official Polish Report on the Auschwitz 'Gas Chambers'"]

[Professor Robert Jan] Van Pelt [a defense witness]: Yes. The history of that report was kind of a rude wake-up call for the people at Auschwitz [State] Museum, because what happened was that, one way or another, the document, which had not been finalized as far as I know, was leaked to people of the Institute for Historical Review and then immediately published rather triumphantly as a Polish investigation and/or sister Leuchter investigation. It was this kind of experience which then made both the people at the [Auschwitz State] Museum and the people at the Jan Sehn Institute to decide to move with greater care in the future.

Prof. van Pelt on Qualifications

January 25, p. 38

Irving: … Professor van Pelt, you are a Dutch citizen or Canadian citizen now?

Van Pelt: I am a Dutch citizen.

Irving: … And you are now Professor of the History of Architecture at the University of Waterloo in Toronto?

Van Pelt: No… I am in the Department of Architecture and hence I am officially a Professor of Architecture. Your title as professor depends on the department you are in. However, I teach in what we call the Cultural History stream, so normally, in order to prevent confusion in ordinary usage, I would call myself Professor of Cultural History because, both in my background, my PhD and my teaching duties, I teach cultural history in the architectural school. However, when I was advised about the way I had to create my curriculum vitae for this proceeding, I was told that I had been to be extremely precise in the legal sense of what I was, so again I put in Professor of Architecture.

Judge Gray: So you are really a cultural historian?

Van Pelt: I am really a cultural historian.

Irving: This is a point of some substance, my Lord. We need to know precisely what your qualifications are to offer your expertise to the court… In Britain, of course, we have the Royal Institute of British Architects. Are you familiar with the fact that it is illegal in England to call yourself an architect unless you are registered with the RIBA?

Van Pelt: That is in most countries like that, yes, I know.

Irving: In Holland, the equivalent is the Bond van Nederlandse Architecten, am I correct?…

Van Pelt: Yes, Bond van Nederlandse Architecten.

Irving: … Am I right in saying that you are not registered with the Bond van Nederlandse Architecten?

Van Pelt: I have never had any reason to do so since I never studied in an architectural school.

Irving: So you cannot legally pretend to be an architect, if I can put it like that?

Van Pelt: No, I could be prosecuted.

Irving: … Rather like Mr. Leuchter was prosecuted in Massachusetts for pretending to be an engineer?

Van Pelt: Yes.

Irving: … In other words, your expertise, as an architect, is the same as Mr. Leuchter’s expertise was an engineer?

Van Pelt: I do not really know. I have been teaching in architecture school now since 1984. I have taught design courses, specially in small architecture schools one needs to chip in wherever one does. I have been on architectural juries and quick sessions, mostly on a weekly, bi-weekly, kind of frequency. I did —

Irving: You have never learned architecture? You have never studied architecture at university? You have never taken a degree in architecture?

Van Pelt: I do not have a degree in it, but I have been confronted with the architectural practice and, apart from that, I have worked for various architects, one of them, Sir Dennis Leston, here in England, when he was designing the Synagogue in Jerusalem. I have worked with Jack Diamond in Toronto. So I have been in architectural offices very often and other practices.

Irving: … Very well. So if I am called a pseudo historian, then you are a pseudo architect, if I can put it like that?

Van Pelt: Yes, except I have never claimed to be either an architect or a pseudo architect.

Irving: Except that you are a professor of architecture, you announce you are a professor of architecture, you leave people with the impression that you are an expert on architecture, and yet you have never studied it and you have never qualified and you are not registered as such?

Van Pelt: I must say that I probably would prefer to be called a professor of cultural history, but the fact of the matter is that the university has given me an appointment as professor of architecture. So —

Irving: But you are not giving evidence here on the culture of Auschwitz; you are giving evidence on the architecture of Auschwitz.

Van Pelt: … I think, as an historian, you can talk about various forms of evidence and the architectural documents is one of these forms of evidence.

Irving: I do not mean these questions in the least sense as a put down, but I think it is important to draw his Lordship’s attention to the fact that your qualifications as an architect are, in fact, no greater or lesser than mine?

Van Pelt: I agree that my formal qualifications are exactly the same as yours.

Irving: So when you look at light switches or architectural drawings or blue prints, as you call them, you are no better qualified than I am?

Van Pelt: No …

The Intimidating Carlo Mattogno

January 25, p. 110

Irving: … Professor van Pelt, you are probably the world’s leading authority on Auschwitz. There is no need to be humble or modest about this. Is this correct?

Van Pelt: It is difficult to say that. I think that the history of Auschwitz is a very big history, a very complex history… I would say that [I am] probably one of the two people, yes, who was most comfortable with all the material.

Irving: You are certainly the best that money can buy … Is it true that most of these Auschwitz files have now been microfilmed and provided to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC?

Van Pelt: The Auschwitz files from Moscow have all been unblocked microfilmed, and the Museum is now working on a microfilm collection of the files in Auschwitz itself.

Irving: So there are probably not many pages of those archives that have not recently been turned by one researcher or another?

Van Pelt: I do not know what other researchers are doing. I have read in some of, I think in material which comes from your web site, I think, Mr. [Carlo] Mattogno [Italian revisionist] has done a lot of [archival] work in Moscow. I think that, a number of people in the Holocaust Museum seem to have been intimidated by this book and thinks there is no more work to do, but I tell them that there is enough work to do still.

Irving: It is a very well written book, if I may say so …

Thin Gas Chamber Evidence

February 15, pp. 91-92

Judge Gray: I expect you would accept, Professor [Richard] Evans [a defense witness] … the number of overtly incriminating documents, wartime documents, as regards gas chambers is actually pretty few and far between?

Evans: Gas chambers, other things such as the systematic nature of the extermination, I am referring to the whole package of evidence …

Irving: Professor Evans, you accept that we cannot do things that way in this court… As his Lordship has said, you do accept that the documentary basis for the gassings, the gas chambers and for the systematic nature of that is thin compared with the documentation of the Eastern Front shootings?

Evans: Yes …