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The scale of the killing of Jews in the gas chambers
13.71 I have to confess that, in common I suspect with most other people, I had supposed that the evidence of mass extermination of Jews in the gas chambers at Auschwitz was compelling. I have, however, set aside this preconception when assessing the evidence adduced by the parties in these proceedings.
The "convergence" of evidence
13.72 The case for the Defendants, summarised above, is that there exists what van Pelt described as a "convergence" of evidence which is to the ordinary, dispassionate mind overwhelming that hundreds of thousands of Jews were systematically gassed to death at Auschwitz, mainly by the use of hydrogen cyanide pellets called Zyklon-B. I have set out at paragraphs 7.15 to 7.74 above the individual elements which make up that convergence of evidence. I have done so at some length (although not at such length as did van Pelt in his report) because it appears to me to be important to keep well in mind the diversity of the categories and the extent to which those categories are mutually corroborative.
13.73 I recognise the force of many of Irving's comments upon some of those categories. He is right to point out that the contemporaneous documents, such as drawings, plans, correspondence with contractors and the like, yield little clear evidence of the existence of gas chambers designed to kill humans. Such isolated references to the use of gas as are to be found amongst these documents can be explained by the need to fumigate clothes so as to reduce the incidence of diseases such as typhus. The quantities of Zyklon-B delivered to the camp may arguably be explained by the need to fumigate clothes and other objects. It is also correct that one of the most compromising documents, namely Muller's letter of 28 June 1943 setting out the number of cadavers capable of being burnt in the incinerators, has a number of curious features which raise the possibility that it is not authentic. In addition, the photographic evidence for the existence of chimneys protruding through the roof of morgue 1 at crematorium 2 is, I accept, hard to interpret.
13.74 Similarly Irving had some valid comments to make about the various accounts given by survivors of the camp and by camp officials. Some of those accounts were given in evidence at the post-war trials. The possibility exists that some of these witnesses invented some or even all of the experiences which they describe. Irving suggested the possibility of cross-pollination, by which he meant the possibility that witnesses may have repeated and even embellished the (invented) accounts of other witnesses with the consequence that a corpus of false testimony is built up. Irving pointed out that parts of some of the accounts of some of the witnesses are obviously wrong or (like some of Olere's drawings) clearly exaggerated. He suggested various motives why witnesses might have given false accounts, such as greed and resentment (in the case of survivors) and fear and the wish to ingratiate themselves with their captors (in the case of camp officials). Van Pelt accepted that these possibilities exist. I agree.
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