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

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(J) Conclusion >>

(B) Suppression of relevant evidence: the Eberstein testimony and the Goebbels speech in the Old Town Hall

1. Irving' tries to suggest that Goebbels did not know about the pogroms in Kassel and Dessau until after he had spoken to Hitler at the dinner in the Old Town Hall. This would reinforce his claim that Hitler was not involved. In his pleading in the case, Irving suggests that the diary entry for the previous day, 8 November, in which Goebbels first mentions the demonstrations in Hesse, was written up not the following morning (which would have proved Goebbels knew about them on 9 November) but at a later date.
2. But this is completely irrelevant. The diary entry for 9 November, quoted above, demonstrates that Goebbels knew about the pogroms in Kassel and Dessau before he had dinner with Hitler and that they were the subject of the two men's discussion before Hitler left the Old Town Hall. Indeed, the attacks were reported in the morning issue of the Nazi Party newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, of 9 November, which Goebbels would certainly have read and authorized.
3. Irving completely fails to mention the report of the Munich police chief Eberstein, whose testimony he uses in other instances, of Hitler's intense discussions with Goebbels at the   dinner, after supposedly receiving the news of vom Rath's death.14 These discussions between Hitler and Goebbels are also reported by several other witnesses used by Irving in his account.15 By suppressing this well-known piece of testimony, Irving reinforces the impression given in his book that Hitler was not involved in Goebbels's encouragement to the local party leaders present in the Old Town Hall to repeat the excesses in Kassel and Dessau in the rest of Germany. Irving continues to suggest that Hitler left the dinner in total ignorance by claiming that only after Hitler had left the Old Town Hall in Munich did Goebbels decide, on an ad-hoc basis, to incite the Nazi leaders present to give orders to start the pogrom. After Hitler left, Irving claims, Gauleiter Rudolf Jordan
now told Goebbels of widespread anti-Jewish violence in Magdeburg. According to Bormann's adjutant Heim, Goebbels seemed taken aback by this: things were getting out of hand and the carefully propagated image of German law and order was taking a battering. Deciding to make a virtue out of necessity...[Goebbels] announced the death of the German diplomat and the anti-Jewish incidents...The local British consulate learned that he also said that Jews were now fair game and that 'the SA could do anything to them short of looting and plundering'.16
4. This account is highly suspicious on three counts. First, there is no indication in the Goebbels diary that Goebbels was at all concerned about the sporadic anti-Jewish violence which had taken place over the preceding days, and of which he was well aware. For instance, in his diary entry on 9 November 1938 (describing the events of the previous day), Goebbels noted: 'Big antisemitic demonstrations in Hesse. The synagogues are burned   down. If only one could now unleash the people's fury!'17 Thus, not only did he have no worries about the local violence undermining the propaganda image of Germany, he was even hoping that the 'people's fury' could be unleashed on a wider scale. Goebbels certainly made no sudden decision to start a pogrom after Hitler had left the dinner.
5. Secondly, the reason why it was on the evening of 9 November 1938 that Goebbels held the speech aimed at unleashing the 'people's fury' was not because he had just received news about what happened in Magdeburg, but because he had evidently received Hitler's general permission to do so. As will be remembered, Goebbels noted in his diary that before Hitler had left the dinner in the Old Town Hall, he told Goebbels: 'Let the demonstrations go on. Withdraw the police. The Jews must for once feel the people's fury'.18 Hitler's involvement in the decision-making process is confirmed by another contemporary source, the investigation of the Supreme Nazi Party Court into the pogrom already mentioned above. According to the court's report, Goebbels told the Nazi officials in the Old Town Hall about the anti-Jewish demonstrations in Hesse and Magdeburg-Anhalt, adding: 'On his briefing, the Führer had decided' that such demonstrations should not be stopped. Goebbels is extremely unlikely to have lied to an audience of Nazi officials about an order from Hitler if that order had not actually been issued. Irving is familiar with this source.19 Yet, this key part of Goebbels speech on 9 November 1938 is entirely omitted by Irving in Goebbels: Mastermind of the 'Third Reich'. This amounts to a serious suppression of relevant   historical evidence. Only by suppressing this information can Irving later claim that the Supreme Court inquiry left little doubt about Goebbels's 'sole personal guilt'.20
6. Third, the account given by Gauleiter Jordan in his memoirs of his conversation with Goebbels is totally at odds with Irving's description of this conversation. According to Jordan, after Hitler had left the dinner on 9 November 1938,
I went after a while to Goebbels and reported to him on the two Magdeburg occurrences. He looked at me mockingly and said: "Don't trouble your thoughts with these little miniature outrages. From other areas I have similar and more exciting reports...That is just the very first beginning. The German people still have enough sense of honour to hand out a very different answer to Jewry after the cowardly terror-murder. Just you wait five more minutes. Then I will take a position on the subject.."21
7. Thus, according to Jordan's own recollections, Goebbels was by no means taken aback. On the contrary, it had already been decided that Goebbels would give a speech and incite the Nazi officials present to unleash the 'people's fury' on a wider-scale.
8. In the light of all this evidence, therefore, it is clear that Irving's claim that Goebbels only decided to unleash the pogrom after Hitler had left the dinner at the Old Town Hall, a claim which Irving puts forward in order to absolve Hitler from responsibility for the pogrom, and   can only be maintained on the basis of manipulation and suppression of the historical record.

Notes

14. Der Prozess gegen the Hauptkriegsverbrecher, Vol. XX, p. 320.
15. R. Jordan, Erlebt und Erlitten (Leoni, 1971), pp. 180-181; lfZ, Zs 251/I, Niederschrift der Unterredung des früheren SA-Obergruppenführers Max Jüttner mit Dr. Freiherr von Siegler am 2.4.1952.
16. Irving, Goebbels, p. 274.
17. E. Fröhlich (ed.), Die Tagebucher von Joseph Goebbels, Vol. I/6 (Munich, 1998), p. 178: "In Hessen große antisemitische Kundgebungen. Die Synagogen werden niedergebrannt. Wenn man jetzt den Volkszorn einmal loslassen könnte!'
18. E. Fröhlich (ed.), Die Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels, Vol. I/6 (Munich, 1998), p. 180.
19. Irving, Goebbels, p. 613, note 37.
20. Irving, Goebbels, p. 196.
21. R. Jordan, Erlebt und Erlitten (Leoni, 1971), p. 181: 'ging ich nach einer Weile zu Goebbels und berichtete ihm von den beiden Magdeburger Vorfällen. Er sah mich spöttisch an und meinte: "Machen Sie sich über diese kleinen Miniaturausschreitungen keinerlei Gedanken. Aus anderen Gauen liegen ähnliche und auch aufregendere Berichte vor... Das ist erst der allererste Anfang. Das deutsche Volk hat noch so viel Ehrbewulßtsein, um nach dem feigen Terrormord dem Judentum eine ganz andere Antwort zu erteilen. Warten Sie noch fünf Minuten. Dann werde ich zu dem Thema Stellung nehmen".'
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