David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial: Electronic Edition, by Richard J. Evans

Table of Contents
(L) Invention of evidenc... >>

(A) Misquotation, manipulation, and discounting of reliable evidence to fit a preconceived argument: the Goebbels diary

1. The pogrom of 9-10 November, obviously, eventually came to a halt. Once again, in his account of the ending of the pogrom and its aftermath, Irving is determined to manipulate and falsify the historical evidence to make it appear as if Hitler was opposed to the whole pogrom from the outset. The first piece of evidence which he treats in this way is the inevitable Goebbels diary.
2. In his account of the events of 10 November 1938, Goebbels wrote: 'New reports rain down the whole morning. I consider with the Führer what measures should be taken now. Let the beatings continue or stop them? That is now the question.103 On page 277 of Goebbels: Mastermind of the 'Third Reich', Irving paraphrases this entry as follows: 'As more ugly bulletins rained down on him the next morning, November 10, 1938, Goebbels went to see Hitler to discuss "what to do next" - there is surely an involuntary   hint of apprehension in the phrase.'104 The claim - and the use of the word 'surely' rather than, say, 'possibly' or 'perhaps' makes it a claim rather than a supposition or speculation - that Goebbels was apprehensive has no basis in the source whatsoever, but is Irving's own invention. The effect is to suggest to the uninformed reader that Goebbels was worried about Hitler's reaction. There is no evidence anywhere in the diary entry for any sense of worry or apprehension on Goebbels's part whatsoever.
3. When Hitler and Goebbels talked on the morning of 10 November as reported in this diary entry, therefore, no decision had yet been taken. It was already clear, however, that other Nazi leaders were unhappy about the pogrom. As the head of the Four-Year Economic Plan, Hermann Göring was particularly concerned about the damage it was causing to economically valuable property and assets.
4. Following this first conversation with Hitler on the morning of 10 November, Goebbels drafted an order to bring the pogrom to a halt. 'Yesterday', he wrote on 11 November in his diary, 'Berlin. There, all proceeded fantastically. One fire after another. It is good that way. I prepare an order to put an end to the actions. It is now just enough.....In the whole country the synagogues have burned down. I report to the Führer at the Osteria.'105 The fact that Goebbels had not drafted any order or indeed come to any view about whether or not the actions should be ended before he met Hitler to consider   'what measures should be taken now', and that he had drafted an order before he met Hitler in the Osteria, a Munich restaurant, makes it clear that, contrary to what Irving claims, these were two separate meetings.
5. At the Osteria, Goebbels presented Hitler with his draft order to stop the pogrom. His diary entry continued:
I report to the Führer in the Osteria. He agrees with everything. His views are totally radical and aggressive. The action itself has taken place without any problems. 17 dead. But no German property damaged. The Führer approves my decree concerning the ending of the actions, with small amendments. I announce it via the press and radio. The Führer wants to take very sharp measures against the Jews. They must themselves put their businesses in order again. The insurance companies will not pay them a thing. Then the Führer wants a gradual expropriation of Jewish businesses.106
6. This entry makes it clear, first, that Hitler approved the pogrom, and second, that it was Hitler who devised the economic measures taken against the Jews at the subsequent meeting chaired by Göring on 12 November 1938.
7. Other evidence supports the diary on these points. On the afternoon of 10 November, after he had reported to Hitler, Goebbels informed the Nazi Party chief of Munich-Upper Bavaria that the pogrom was to be terminated, and added: 'The Führer sanctions   the measures taken so far and declares that he does not disapprove of them.'107 In another circular sent out the same day to Gau propaganda officials, quoted in Irving's own book on Goebbels, and quite clearly reporting Hitler's views at the meeting in the Osteria, Goebbels added: 'An order is to be expected according to which the (cost of the) damage resulting from the anti-Jewish actions is not to be met by insurance companies but by the Jews concerned themselves. Furthermore, a series of measures against the Jews will very shortly be implemented through the promulgation of laws or decrees.'108 This point also echoes Goebbels's diary entry, cited above, in which the Propaganda Minister noted that Hitler wanted 'to take very sharp measures against the Jews'.
8. How does Irving deal with this particularly incriminating diary entry? In 1992, when Irving first read the Goebbels diary entries for the period 9-10 November 1938, he was convinced that it showed that Hitler approved of the pogrom:
According to his diary [Goebbels], and I can't emphasise those words enough, according to his diaries, Hitler was closely implicated with those outrages. And that's a matter of some dismay to me because it means I have to revise my own opinion. But a historian should always be willing to revise his opinion.109
9. A year later, he was sounding a slightly more sceptical note. Goebbels's diary, Irving said,  
describes how Hitler thoroughly endorses what he, Goebbels, has done, namely starting that outrage that night. This was a deep shock for me and I immediately announced it to the world's newspapers that I had discovered this material, although it appeared to go against what I had written in my own book Hitler's War. But even there you have to add a rider and say, 'Wait a minute this is Dr. Goebbels writing this.' Dr. Goebbels who took all the blame for what was done. So did he have perhaps a motive for writing in his private diaries subsequently that Hitler endorsed what he had done? You can't entirely close that file.110
10. By the time of the publication in 1996 of Goebbels: Mastermind of the 'Third Reich' , this slightly sceptical note by Irving had been transformed into total conviction that Goebbels was lying. One should stress here that Irving's change of mind was not influenced by any further discoveries of new documentary material. As we have seen, in Goebbels: Mastermind of the 'Third Reich' Irving claimed (as he had done in Hitler's War) that Hitler did not know about the pogrom, was furious when he was informed about it, and sharply attacked Goebbels for his involvement. Thus, the essence of Irving's account of the pogrom in his written work has remained totally unchanged by the discovery of vital new evidence, the Goebbels diary, even though Irving himself at first accepted this evidence as destroying his previous theories.
11. Unable to manipulate the diary's clear statement that Hitler took an extreme antisemitic line, Irving tries to explain it away by suggesting that Goebbels was falsely claiming that Hitler approved of his action and was 'radical' and 'aggressive' in his attitude towards the Jews, in order to give anyone who read the diary the misleading impression that Goebbels had merely been carrying out the wishes of the 'Führer' when in fact he had been acting against them. But what grounds does Irving have for claiming that this entry is 'perhaps slanted'? The fact that it 'stands alone, and in direct contradicion to the   evidence of Hitler's entire immediate entourage'!111 But we have already seen that far from standing alone, it ties in well with a mass of other contemporary evidence. And we have also seen that the evidence of Hitler's entourage (von Below, Schallermeier, Schaub, Wiedemann, Wolff) is either manipulated by Irving to say something it does not in fact say, distorted, invented, suspect on any one of a number of grounds, or a combination of these things. The overwhelming likelihood in the light of the available archival evidence is that Goebbels's report of Hitler's radical views at the meeting in the Osteria restaurant was accurate and truthful. There is, on the other hand, no evidence at all to suggest that was not.
12. One further important point needs to be made here. It emerges from the Goebbels diary that on the morning of 10 November 1938 no decision had yet been taken by the Nazi leadership regarding the continuation of the pogrom. As Goebbels had noted: 'Let the beatings continue or stop them? That is now the question'. Only after his conversation with Hitler did Goebbels draft an order to end to pogrom which was then approved by Hitler at the meeting in the Osteria and then passed on the press and radio by Goebbels. Various contemporary documents support this course of events and show that this order by Goebbels went out in the afternoon of 10 November 1938, probably between 4 pm   and 5 pm.112 Irving accepts that this order went out on 10 November 1938, even though he falsely claims that it was broadcast at 10 a.m.113
13. This order by Goebbels demonstrates once more that Irving's version of events is simply untrue. As will be remembered, Irving claimed that after Hitler was informed of the pogrom (after 1 am on 10 November 1938), he was furious and condemned it, that Goebbels spent most of the night trying to stop 'the most violent excesses', that Heydrich ordered the police at 1.20 am to 'halt any ongoing incidents' and that Rudolf Hess's staff instructed the Gauleiters and the police at 2.56 am to 'halt the madness'.114 So if all these attempts to stop the pogrom were going on in the early hours of 10 November 1938, why was the official directive that the pogrom was to be stopped only announced in the afternoon of 10 November 1938? Clearly, the factual evidence once more contradicts Irving's version of events.

Notes

103. Fröhlich (ed.), op. cited, p. 181.
104. Whether or not the word 'next' in the phrase 'what to do next' is a proper translation of the original German nunmehrige is quite irrelevant to the issues at hand. Literally 'now-more', it means precisely 'from now on, in the immediate future', and either 'now' or 'next' would be a reasonably satisfactory English equivalent in the context.
105. 'Gestern: Müller erstattet Bericht über die Vorgänge in Berlin. Dort ist es ganz toll hergegangen. Brand über Brand. Aber das ist gut so. Ich setze eine Verordnung auf Abschluß der Aktionen auf. Es ist nun gerade genug... Im ganzen Land sind die Synagogen abgebrannt. DiesenToten [vom Rath] muß das Judentum teuer bezahlen. In der Osteria erstatte ich dem Führer Bericht'; E. Fröhlich (ed.), Die Tagebucher von Joseph Goebbels, Vol. 1/6 (Munich, 1998), p. 182.
106. 'In der Osteria erstatte ich dem Führer Bericht. Er ist mit allem einverstanden. Seine Ansichten sind ganz radikal und aggressiv. Die Aktion selbst ist tadellos verlaufen. 17 Tote. Aber kein deutsches Eigentum beschädigt. Mit kleinen Aenderungen billigt der Führer meinen Erlaß betr. Abbruch der Aktionen. Ich gebe ihn gleich durch Presse und Rundfunk heraus. Der Führer will zu sehr scharfen Maßnahmen gegen die Juden schreiten. Sie müssen ihre Geschäfte selbst wieder in Ordnung bringen. Die Versicherungen zahlen ihnen nichts. Dann will der Führer die jüdischen Geschäfte allmählich enteignen...'; E. Fröhlich (ed.), Die Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels, Vol. I/6 (Munich, 1998), p. 182.
107. Schreiben des Adjutanten des Gauleiters Adolf Wagner an den bayrischen Ministerpräsidenten, 11 Nov. 1938, in Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, MA 106412, cited in Obst, "Reichskristallnacht", p. 93.
108. Irving, Goebbels, p. 279, my translation. 'Weiterhim werden in kurzer Frist noch eine Reihe von Maßnahmen gegen die Juden auf dem Gesetzes- oder Verordnungswege durchgefüuhrt werden'.
109. 'Videotape 199: Irving interviewed by Kurt Franz on the serialization of the Goebbels diaries, CBC Newsworld, 10 July 1992.
110. Irving, tape 200: Irving, "The Search forTruth in History-Banned!" 1993.
111. Ibid., p. 278.
112. IfZ, G 01/71:SD-Unterabschnitt Wien an den SD-Führer des SS-Oberabschnittes Donau, 10.11.1938; IfZ, G 01/91: Der SD-Führer des SS-Oberabschnittes Donau an das Sicherheitshauptsamt, 21.11.1938; Rundruf des Deutschen Nachrichtenbüros; Rundruf des Deutschen Nachrichtenbüros in Berlin vom 10. November nachmittags, in W.-A. Kropat, 'Reichskristallnacht' (Wiesbaden, 1997), p. 233; Obst,op. cited, p. 93.
113. Irving, Goebbels, p. 277.
114. Irving, Goebbels, p. 276-7.
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