Irving v. Lipstadt


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

Pages 66 - 70 of 103

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    Dr Frohlich added that the glass plates were in
 1fragile condition and needed to be rescued before they
 2came to serious harm. I recall that she said: "If you
 3are going to do this deal with the Russians, you will have
 4to take a lot of silk paper with you from England to place
 5between the glass plates. The plates are just packed into
 6boxes with nothing between them". My Lord, when I provide
 7you with bundles of photographs later on, there were
 8photographs of the actual plates in the cardboard boxes.
 9     I asked how much money we were talking about,
10and either she or I suggested a figure of US$20,000.
11I immediately contacted my American publishers in New York
12who seemed the most immediate source of money. I informed
13them of this likely windfall and asked if we could
14increase the cash advance on my Goebbels' manuscript
16     My manuscript of the Goebbels' biography was at
17that time complete and undergoing editing by myself. It
18was already ready for delivery to the publishers.
19     The American publisher responded
20enthusiastically at first, and upon my return from Munich
21to London I began negotiations through intermediaries with
22the Russian archivist, Dr Bondarev. (Dr Bondarev will
23not, unfortunately, be called by either party in this
24action as a witness. He seems to have vanished. He is
25certainly no longer employed by the "trophy" archives).
26     The first intermediary I used was a

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 1Russian-language specialist employed by Warburg's Bank in
 2Moscow. He undertook the preliminary negotiations with Dr
 3Bondarev. I instructed him to tell Bondarev as openly as
 4was prudent of my intention to come and look at the glass
 5plates, and also to make it quite plain that we were
 6coming with a substantial sum of hard currency. Many
 7American institutions were currently engaged in the same
 8practice -- it is important I should say this -- as I knew
 9from the newspapers.
10      At about this time, it became plain that the
11German Government was also keen to get its hands on these
12glass plates. Naturally, I desired to beat them to it,
13first, because of professional pride and the desire to
14have an historical scoop and, secondly, years of working
15with the German Government Archives had proven both to me
16and many scholars that as soon as high-grade documents
17like these dropped into their hands they vanished for many
18years while they were assessed, catalogued and indexed.
19Sometimes they were even squirreled away for later
20exploitation by the Chief Archivists themselves (the
21 "Hossbach Papers" were a case in point).
22     These vital Nazi diaries would, therefore,
23vanish from the public gaze possibly for five or 10
24years. My fears in this respect had been amply confirmed
25by events, I would submit, because many of those glass
26plates which I saw in Moscow in 1992 have since vanished

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 1into the maw of the German Government and the Munich
 2Institut fur Zeitgeschichte, and they are still not
 3available even now.
 4     I considered, therefore, that I should be
 5rendering to the historical community the best service by
 6doing the utmost that I could to extract those glass
 7plates or, failing that, copies of them or, failing that,
 8copies of the maximum number of pages possible, by hook or
 9by crook, from the KGB archives before a wind of change
10might suddenly result in the resealing of all these Soviet
11former archives (and once again this apprehension has been
12largely confirmed by the attitude of the Russian Archive
13Authorities, who have resealed numbers of these files and
14made them once again inaccessible to Western historians).
15     The second intermediary upon whom I relied was
16the former KGB Officer, Mr Lev Bezymenski. I have known
17mr Bezymenski for many years, about 35 years, and over
18these years we have engaged in a fruitful exercise of
19exchanging of documents. I would hasten to add that the
20documents which I furnished to Mr Bezymenski were entirely
21of a public-domain nature.
22     Mr Bezymenski, however, in return extracted from
23secret Soviet archives for me vital collections of
24documents, for example, their diplomatic files on Sir
25Winston Churchill and the private papers of the Commander
26in Chief of the German Army, Colonel-General Werner von

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 1Fritsch. From the Russian archives I obtained, via
 2Mr Bezymenski, Fritsch's personal writings during and
 3about the "Bloomberg-Fritsch scandal" of 1938, which had
 4historic consequences for Germany, for Hitler and,
 5ultimately, for the whole world. I immediately donated a
 6complete set of those Fritsch papers to the German
 7Government archives where they can still be seen.
 8     Dr Bezymenski, unfortunately, turned out to be
 9something of a "double agent".
10     Fearing that Dr Bondarev was not properly
11getting my message, I asked Mr Bezymenski to approach him
12on my behalf and inform him that there were certain
13documents he held in which I was interested, and that
14I was coming as a representative of the Sunday Times, well
15armed with foreign currency. Mr Bezymenski enquired what
16those documents were. I refused to tell him and he
17replied: "You are referring to the Goebbels diaries
18I presume". This I affirmed and ten minutes after this
19phone call from me in London and Mr Bezymenski in Moscow,
20I receive a phone call from Dr Frohlich in Munich
21complaining bitterly that I revealed our intentions to Mr
22Bezymenski. Instead of acting as I had requested, my
23friend had immediately sent a fax to the Institut fur
24Zeitgeschichte to alert them to what I was "up to". This
25set the cat among the pigeons, and the Institut fur
26Zeitgeschichte left no stone unturned to prevent the

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 1Russians from providing me with diaries or other material,
 2for reasons which this court can readily surmise.
 3     I had in the meantime approached the Sunday
 4Times after my American publishers got cold feet, and
 5I succeeded in persuading a Mr Andrew Neil that I could
 6obtain Goebbels Diaries from the Moscow archives, and that
 7I was by chance one of the very few people capable of
 8reading the handwriting.
 9     Two years previously, in 1990, my Italian
10publisher, Mondadori, had commissioned me to transcribe
11the handwritten 1938 diary volume of Dr Goebbels, a copy
12of which they had purchased from a Russian source. So the
13diaries were in the process of being purchased. I was
14thus acquainted with the difficult handwriting of the Nazi
15propaganda Minister. At that time there were probably
16only three or four people in the world who were capable of
17deciphering it. The negotiations with Andrew Neil
18proceeded smoothly, that is between me and Mr Neil. He
19did express at one stage enough nervousness at the
20prospect of entering into another "Nazi diaries" deal.
21Your Lordship will remember that his newspaper group had
22been made to look foolish for the purchase and publication
23in 1983 of the Adolf Hitler diaries.
24     I pointed out that I had warned them writing
25once ahead in 1982 that the Hitler Diaries were fakes, and
26I added: "I am offering the Sunday Times the chance t

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