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Defense Documents

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

Table of Contents

(B) New misrepresentations and omissions: The testimony of Walter Bruns and the letter of Dr. Otto Schulz-Du Bois

1. Irving's misrepresentation of the events surrounding the killing of the Jews in Riga is compounded in a recent article on his website. Here Irving relies on Walter Bruns (already mentioned above) as the source for his claim that a report about the killings in Riga eventually reached Hitler's headquarters. 'Hitler...seemingly intervened at once to order a halt to "diese Massenerschiessungen" (these mass shootings) as soon as a report, signed by a junior officer, was forwarded to him.'91
2. Irving also makes the same point in his Pleadings, where he claims that some time after Bruns's eyewitness account of the massacre reached Hitler's headquarters, Bruns   met an 'SS officer (in Riga, who) scoffed to him..."Here's an order that's come, saying that mass shootings like these are no longer to take place".'92
3. What is the evidence for these claims? As so often, Irving's argument depends on a complete misrepresentation of the source on which it purports to rest. First, he fails to draw attention to the full statement about these events made by Bruns in captivity on 8 April 1945. According to Bruns, two weeks after the massacre in Riga, 'ALTENMEYER (?) triumphantly shows me: "Here's an order that's come, saying that mass shootings of this kind may no longer take place in future. That is to be done more cautiously now".'93
4. Bruns made this point even more explicitly during his interrogation in Nuremberg. One or two weeks after the mass executions in Riga, he recalled, 'there someone showed me a piece of paper that sanctioned the shootings, they just had to be carried out less conspicuously in future.'94 Thus there was no question of bringing the killings per se to an end; it was simply a matter of carrying them out more discreetly. And indeed this is precisely what happened. In early 1942, Heydrich could note that 'the Jewish question in the Ostland can be seen as practically solved and cleaned-   up.'95 Thus Bruns's evidence clearly implicates the Nazi leadership in the continuation of the killings of Jews in the East; in no way does it lend credence to Irving's claim that Hitler actually put a stop to these killings.
5. Bruns's testimony is backed up by another document, which Irving simply suppresses. In the conversation of 8 April 1945, apparently secretly taped by the Allied forces, Bruns states that on 30 November 1941 he sent two officers as witnesses to the spot in Riga where the executions were taking place. According to Bruns, it was decided to send reports of the killings to Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr, the intelligence department of the Armed Forces High Command. Canaris would then tell Hitler about these events. One of the two officers sent by Bruns to witness the executions in Riga was Dr. Otto Schulz-Du Bois, a reserve engineer captain.
6. Not long after the massacre in Riga, Schulz-Du Bois sent a secret letter to his wife, which she later dated to January 1942. On his website, Irving acknowledges that Schulz-Du Bois did indeed send his wife this letter referring to the killings in Riga.96 However, he makes no mention of the letter's contents; and it is easy to see why. In this letter, Schulz-Du Bois wrote that some time after 30 November 1941, he inquired about the impact of the eyewitness report which he had drawn up on the massacres of Jews in Riga. He was told that his report had been forwarded to the top counter-espionage official  
with the justification that these things damage the morale of the troops who see and hear such things. This man, who has constant access to the Führer, is said to have described the consequences and the terrible nature of these methods to the F. (ührer) once more compellingly, whereupon he (i.e. Hitler) is said to have said: "You want to show weakness, do you, mein Herr! I have to do that, for after me there will not be another one to do it!"
Schulz-Du-Bois, who died in 1945, also apparently repeated this account verbally to a friend before the end of the war.97
7. Yet Irving makes no attempt to confront this important evidence pointing to Hitler's having sanctioned the mass killing in Riga; he simply omits it from his account. Thus Irving completely misleads his readers by claiming that once Hitler received the report of the 30 November massacre in Riga, he intervened to order a halt. Yet another piece of evidence which Irving argues shows that Hitler intervened to save the Jews fails on closer inspection to match up to the claims Irving makes for it.

Notes

91. http.//www.fpp.co.uk/Auschwitz/documents/BrunsCSDICa.html.
92. Pleadings Bundle IV, 17.
93. 'da zeigt mir der ALTENMEYER (?) triumphierend: "Hier ist eine Verfugung gekommen, dass derartige Massenerschiessungen in Zukunft nicht mehr stattfinden dürften. Das soll jetzt vorsichtiger gemacht werden"'; cited in SCDIC, SRGG 1158, transcript of conversation including Generalmajor Bruns, disclosed by Irving as document 110.
94. BA Berlin, Film 44340,Vernehmung des Generals Walter Bruns, 13. 2. 1948.
95. Gerlach, Krieg, 99-100; Safrian, Eichmann-Männer, 153-4; Heydrich in Activity and Situation Report No. 10, for February 1942, cited in expert witness report of Procfessor Browning.
96. For Bruns's testimony, see SCDIC, SRGG 1158, transcript of conversation including Generalmajor Bruns, disclosed by Irving as document 110; BZ Berlin, Film 44340, Vernehmung des Generals Walter Bruns. 13. 2. 1948. For Irving's claims, see his website at http://www.fpp.co.uk/Auschwitzs/documents/BrunsCSDICa.html.
97. Fleming, Hitler und die Genesis der Endlösung (Wiesbaden, 1982), 97-102: 'und zwar mit der Begründung, daß diese Dinge die Moral der Truppe, die derartiges sieht und hört, gefährden. Dieser, der beim Führer aus- und eingeht, sollte dem F. die Folgen und Scheußlicthkeiten dieser Methoden noch einmal eindringlich dargestellt haben, worauf dieser gesagt haben soil: "Sie wollen wohl weich werden, mein Herr! Ich muß das tun, denn nach mire wird es doch kein anderer mehr tun!" (cited in Fleming, Hitler und die Genesis, p.98. See also ibid. pp. 97-102.
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