Irving v. Lipstadt

Defense Documents

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

Table of Contents
(H) Falsification of sta... >>

(B) Suppression of internal inconsistencies.

1. Might Irving then have had reasons to authenticate the document on internal grounds?
2. The main piece of evidence Irving cited to support his change of mind was that the figures for the physical damage overlapped with those in other documents, as indeed they do.90 But even in arguing for it's authenticity Irving himself had outlined the disturbing contradiction, which pointed to its pedigree as a forgery:
It seems hardly possible that somebody not in an official position in the Dresden A.R.P [Air Raid Precaution] organisation could have forged his statistics so consistently well as in this report; and conversely it is remarkable that not one of the report's figures is known to be wrong, apart from the death-roll statistic, of course.91
3. A number of further facts spoke for the document being propaganda. In early March 1945 an unsparing report on the attack on Dresden appeared in the Nazi weekly Das Reich in which it was stated that the allied intention to force the German population into capitulation through mass murder was now manifest.92 At the same time as the fake TB 47 was circulating in unusual numbers in Dresden in March 1945, a 'top secret' version of the same was circulating in Berlin. As R.H.S Crossman had written retrospectively in 1963, presumably referring to TB 47: 'In his secret propaganda, Dr. Goebbels did even better [than in his public propaganda] by leaking to the neutral press a fictitious top-secret estimate that the casualties had probably reached 250,000.'93 The figures cited therein made an appearance in Nazi foreign broadcasts   in the final weeks of the war, and it would seem to have been circulated to offices where it was sure that the figures would be leaked to the foreign neutral press before the war was over.94
4. As hoped, the figures hit a real vein of revulsion in the neutral press during the final phase of the war, especially Swiss and Swedish newspapers. They duly dwelt on the extent of the destruction, the apparently immense death roll, and questioned the military sense of the action. Previous to TB 47 the neutral press had merely guessed at how many might have been killed. The Dagens Nyheter of 16 February 1945 had reported 'several tens of thousands' dead and the Svenska Morgonbladet of 17 February 1945 that 'Currently 100,000 dead are talked of.'95 Following the deliberate leaking of TB 47 the Svenska Dagbladet of 25 February 1945 wrote:
No one knows with certainty how many people lost their lives because thousands of corpses remain buried under the rubble and will long stay there. But according to information compiled a few days after the destruction the figure is closer to 200,000 than 100,000.96
5. The propaganda effect was therefore twofold: to shock the world and to shock the German people. Thus the Allies were portrayed as monsters in a believable way whilst at the same time the German population was goaded on to vain efforts at final resistance. This also explains how an inflated number so resolutely remained in the minds of the Dresden population and higher Nazi officials for long after the war.
6. But the contradictions in the report were more numerous and profound than just this. A number of facts should have alerted the common-sense reader that the document was a clumsy forgery.
7. A close examination quickly reveals a number of serious problems of plausibility and authenticity, quite apart from the distinct lack of official stamps or a signature. The document started off, 'In order to be able to counter wild rumours, there follows a brief statement from the concluding statement of the Police President of Dresden' and closed: 'As the rumours far exceed the reality, open use can be made of the actual figures. The casualties and the damage are grave enough.'97 This is the key sentence. It indeed appears true that rumours did circulate at the time of around 200,000 dead. But what rumours could be so outlandish as to 'far exceed the reality' of 250,000 dead? With a figure of 202,040 dead the sentence is nonsense.
8. Even if the attack on Dresden can be considered the worst of the war, the number of deaths would still have remained in some proportion to the extent of the physical destruction. In raids that had cost Hamburg 3.3% of its population, 48% of dwellings became uninhabitable; in Kobe the destruction of over 50% of its dwellings went with the death of 1% of its population. Even allowing for the unique circumstances in Dresden, a figure of 250,000 dead would mean that 20-30% of the population was killed, a figure so grossly out of proportion to other comparable attacks as to raise eyebrows, even if the population was inflated by refugees.98
9. Then again, how is it imaginable that 200,000 bodies could have been recovered from out of the ruins in less than a month? It would have required a veritable army of people to undertake such work and hundreds of sorely needed vehicles to transport the bodies. The effort actually undertaken to recover bodies was considerable, but there is no evidence that it reached the levels required to remove this number.
10. Thirdly, TB 47 gives a figure of 68,650 dead having been incinerated on the Dresden Altmarkt This refers to the decision by the Dresden authorities two weeks after the attack to burn some of the corpses dug from the rubble to avoid the spread of typhus. Common sense should have made Irving pause for thought before swallowing this. After all, it was he who brought the gruesome photos of the cremations on the Altmarkt to light in the first place.99 He himself gave prominence to the cremations and talked of 'scores' of police helping in the last-ditch attempt to identify the bodies.100 The Altmarkt, which everyone agrees was the only place where bodies were burned, is 100m by 125m large, a market place half taken up by a huge water tank clearly visible in photos. It would have taken weeks and an army of men and materials to burn such a vast number of corpses. As Irving points out, gallons of gasoline were needed for each pyre at a time when it was 'sorely needed' by the military.101 None of Irving's sources or anybody else's even hinted at an undertaking of such vast dimensions. In the pre-publication publicity, Irving had indeed spoken of 'the mass cremations of the tens of thousands of victims behind police cordons.'102 By the time it came in to print, it was apparent that this was a contradiction that Irving was unable to solve. Bewilderingly for his readers, Irving reproduced TB 47, including its figure of 68,650 cremated, but elsewhere in the book he put the figure of those burned on the Altmarkt at only 9,000.103 At no point did Irving seek to explain this contradiction.
11. Fourthly, and quite basically, how does he explain the incongruity of the 250,000 figure with Voigt's 135,000, on which he also placed considerable weight? Voigt had given his minimum figure of 40,000, recorded according to Voigt at the very end of the war. At no point in the revised account of 1966 did Irving attempt to reconcile the figures.
12. Despite these problems, Irving learned from his original publisher, William Kimber, in May 1965, that Corgi were to publish the paperback edition of The Destruction of Dresden. Irving requested that 'one sensational document' be inserted as an index.104 None of the further correspondence with Corgi has been Discovered and neither was it reproduced in his microfilmed records, but at some later date Irving sent Corgi 21 pages of amendments that he wanted inserted into the original Kimber text, much of them concerning TB 47.105
13. When TB 47 appeared in print in the 1966 English edition of his book what additional evidence had Irving managed to garner to allow him to so confidently reject the opinion that the document was a fake and to resolve the document's flawed nature?


90. Corgi 1966, p. 226; DJ 35, Irving, 'Die Totenziffern von Dresden,' readers letter to Die Welt, 12 February 1965, p. 10.
91. DJ 12, Draft, 'Two Questions on Dresden' for the Sunday Telegraph, February 1965, 15pp, p. 13.
92. Rolf-Dieter Müller and Gerd R. Ueberschär, Kriegsende 1945: Die Zerstörung des Deutschen Reiches (Frankfurt a. M., 1994), p. 39.
93. DJ 12, R.H.S. Crossmann, 'Apocalypse at Dresden,' Esquire, November 1963, pp. 149-154, p. 152.
94. Weidauer, pp. 111-12.
95. Documents 66 and 67 in Klöss (ed.), Der Luftkrieg über Deutschland 1939-1945, pp. 260-62.
96. Document 69, in ibid., p. 265.
97. Doc. 164, Order of the Day, 22 March 1945, p. 4; Corgi edn. 1966, pp. 259-60, appendix IV.
98. R.A.C. Parker, Struggle for Survival. The History of the Second World War (Oxford/New York, 1989), p. 167.
99. Doc. 155, Irving to Dieter Struss, 28 November 1964.
100. Corgi edn., 1966, pp. 221-2; Focal Point edn., pp. 234-6.
101. Focal Point edn., p. 235.
102. DJ 12, Draft, 'Two Questions on Dresden' for the Sunday Telegraph, February 1965, 15pp, p. 5.
103. Corgi edn., 1966, pp. 222 and 260.
104. DJ 12, Irving to Corgi Books, 25 May 1965.
105. DJ 12, 'Required Alterations in the Dresden Book,' undated, 21 pp.
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(H) Falsification of sta... >>