Irving v. Lipstadt

Transcripts

Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 1: Electronic Edition

Pages 61 - 65 of 103

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     In writing my own biographies of the leading
 1to the Institute fur Zeitgeschichte, which is the
 2Institute of Contemporary History in Munich. In the case
 3of the Goebbels' diaries, after I retrieved them from
 4Moscow, I additionally gave a set of copies to the
 5archives of Monchen-Gladbach, his home town, where they
 6maintain a collection of Goebbels' documents, the
 7municipal archives.
 8     In fact, the only items which I consider to be
 9of greater source value than diaries, which are always
10susceptible to faking or tampering, are private letters.
11In my experience, once a private letter has been posted by
12its writer, it is virtually impossible for him to retrieve
13it and to alter its content.
14     If I may take the liberty of enlightening the
15court at this point by way of an example, I would say that
16I had earlier also found the diaries of Field Marshal
17Rommel; some I retrieved in shorthand from the American
18archives and I had them transcribed. Those in typescript
19turned out to have been altered some months after one
20crucial battle ("Crusader") to eradicate a tactical error
21which the Field Marshal considered he had made in the
22Western desert. But the hundreds of letters he wrote to
23his wife were clearly above any kind of suspicion.
24     On a somewhat earthier plane, while the diaries
25of the Chief of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, which have in
26part been recently retrieved from the same archives in

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 1Moscow, yield little information by themselves, I have
 2managed to locate in private hands in Chicago the 200
 3letters which this murderous Nazi wrote to his mistress,
 4and these contain material of much larger historical
 5importance.
 6     Until my career was sabotaged, therefore, I had
 7earned the reputation of being a person who was always
 8digging up new historical evidence; that was until the
 9countries and the archives of the world were prevailed
10upon, as we shall see, to close their doors to me!
11     After I procured these 600 pages of manuscripts
12written by Adolf Eichmann when I visited Argentina in
13October 1991, the German Federal Archives grudgingly
14referred to me in a press release as a Truffle-Schwein,
15which I hope is more flattering than it sounds.
16     We are concerned here, however, primarily with
17the diaries of Dr Joseph Goebbels of which the Defendants
18made mention in their book. This is the inside story on
19those.
20     I begun the search for these diaries, in fact,
2130 years earlier. In my discovery are papers relating to
22the first search that I conducted for the very last
23diaries which Dr Goebbels dictated, in April 1945 -- right
24at the end of his life. Since there was no time for them
25to be typed up, Dr Goebbels had the spiral-bound shorthand
26pads buried in a glass conserving jar in a forest

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 1somewhere along the road between Hamburg and Berlin.
 2     Chance provided me in about 1969 with the
 3"treasure map" revealing the precise burial place of this
 4glass jar, and with the permission of the Communist East
 5German Government, I and a team of Oxford University
 6experts, equipped with a kind of ground penetrating radar
 7(in fact, a proton magnetometer) mounted a determined
 8attempt to unearth it in the forest.
 9      We never found that particular truffle.
10Unfortunate, the topography of such a forest changes
11considerably in 20 years or more and, despite our best
12efforts, aided by the East German Ministry of the
13Interior, Communist Ministry of the Interior, and a
14biologist whose task would be to assess the age of the
15fungi and other biological materials found in and around
16the jar, we came away empty-handed. This is nothing new.
17Field work often brings disappointments like that.
18      Twenty-five years later, however, now back in
191992, I had the conversation which was to lead to the
20retrieval of the Goebbels' diaries in Moscow, and
21indirectly to our presence here in these courts today.
22     In May 1992, I invited long time friend, a
23leading historian at the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte, to
24have lunch with me at a restaurant in Munich. We had been
25good friends since 1964, nearly 30 years, and she is still
26in the Institute's employ today. As my diaries show, this

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 1friend and colleague, Dr Elke Frohlich, had dropped
 2several hints during the previous 12 months that she had
 3traced the whereabouts of the missing Goebbels' diaries.
 4     We all knew, my Lord, those of us who had
 5engaged in research into Hitler, Goebbels and the Third
 6Reich, that Dr Goebbels had placed these diaries on
 7microfiches -- that is photographic glass plates -- in the
 8closing months of the War to ensure that they were
 9preserved for posterity. But they had vanished since
10then.
11     His Private Secretary, Dr Richard Otte, whom I
12had questioned over 20 years previously in connection with
13our search in the forest in East Germany, had told us
14about these glass plates. So we knew they existed. I
15should mention that he was actually one of the small
16burial party who had hidden the glass jar, but he was
17unable to accompany us as at that time he was still in
18West German government employment. We could only presume
19that the glass plate microfiches were either destroyed in
20Berlin in the last weeks of the war or that they had been
21seized by the Red Army.
22     During this lunch-time conversation in Munich in
23May 1992, Dr Elke Frohlich revealed to me that the latter
24supposition was correct. She had seen them herself a few
25weeks previously -- she had held them in her hands -- on a
26visit to the archives in Moscow. My Lord, you can imagine

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 1the thrill that kind of thing gives an historian to have
 2something like that.
 3     My recollection of the conversation at this
 4point is that she continued by saying that the Institute's
 5Directors were unwilling to fund a further expedition to
 6procure these diaries.
 7     Now that I have seen some of the documents
 8provided to the Defendants in this action by the Russians
 9and by the Institute, it is possible that my recollection
10on this point is wrong, namely, that the Institute were
11not willing to pay for it.
12     My recollection of the following is, however,
13secure. Dr Frohlich informed me that the Director of the
14Russian archives, the "trophy" archives, as they were
15known, Dr Bondarev, was in a serious predicament, as he
16was faced with the economic consequences of the collapse
17of the Soviet Empire; he had no longer the financial means
18necessary for the upkeep of the archives and the payment
19of his staff.
20     The plates, in my view, were seriously at risk.
21Dr. Frohlich indicated that if I were to take a sufficient
22sum of foreign currency to Moscow, I could purchase the
23glass plates from Dr Bondarev. It was clear from her
24remarks that Dr Bondarev had already discussed this
25prospect with her.
26     Dr Frohlich added that the glass plates were in

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