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Defense Documents

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

Table of Contents
(vi) Conclusion. >>

(ii) Irving's suppression of two key documents.

1. The sources Irving cites in Hitler's War concerning the deportation of the Roman Jews are the following: (1) Nuremberg Document, NG-5027, telegram from Consul Eitel Friedrich   Moellhausen, 6 October, 1943; (2) Hitler's negation of the SS order in Franz von Sonnleithner's teletype dated October 9, 1943. (3) T175/53/7133, the SS report on the roundup of Rome's Jews, 17 October, 1943.7 In his submissions to the court in the present case, Irving has cited the first two of the above and an additional document relaying the content of Sonnleithner's teletype to Rome. All three documents provided are separate leaves from NG-5027 (i.e. a document used by the Nuremberg Court in their prosecutions).
2. All three are telegrams. The first, as we have seen, is from Consul Eitel Moellhausen in Rome to Ribbentrop, dated 6 October 1943.8 The second document listed above is from Foreign Ministry official von Sonnleithner asking that Consuls Dr. Rudolf Rahn and Moellhausen be informed of Hitler's and Ribbentrop's orders to deport the Jews of Rome, dated 9 October 1943, addressed from Westphalia.9 The other document cited by Irving in his submission to the court, but not mentioned in his account in Hitler's War, and therefore referred to here as document number (4), is also dated 9 October 1943 and is a message from the Foreign Ministry in Berlin to the same effect, but addressed only to Consul Moellhausen.10
3. These three documents (1), (2) and (4) read together could lead one to believe that Hitler had intervened to the advantage of Rome's Jews, as is no doubt Irving's intention. As we shall see, however, this belief would be mistaken.
4. The background circumstances are as follows. On 12 September 1943 the German police attaché in Rome, Kappler, received a telephone call from Rastenberg [Hitler's field headquarters in East Prussia, also known as the Wolfschanze - Wolf's Lair] informing him that Himmler wanted him to proceed with the round-up and deportation of the Roman Jews.11 This telephone call was followed by a secret cable:
Recent Italian events impose an immediate solution to the Jewish problem in the territories recently occupied by the armed forces of the Reich. The Reichsführer SS therefore requests Obersturmbannführer Kappler to take without delay all preliminary measures necessary to ensure the swiftness and secrecy of the operation to be carried out in the territory of the city of Rome. Immediate orders will follow.12
5. On 24 September Himmler's office in Berlin sent a second secret cable calling for the 'final solution' to the Jewish problem in Rome. All Jews were to be arrested and sent to the Reich 'for liquidation'.
6. The cable did not set a date for the operation, but continued:
It is known that this nucleus of Jews has actively collaborated with the Badoglio movement, and therefore its speedy removal will represent, among other things, a necessary security measure guaranteeing the indispensable tranquillity in the immediate rear of the Southern front. The success of this undertaking is to be ensured by means of a surprise action, and for this reason it is absolutely   necessary to suspend the application of any anti-Jewish measures in the nature of individual acts in order not to arouse any suspicions amongst the population of the imminent Jewish action [Judenaktion].13
7. On 25 September the RSHA sent a circular to all its branches at home and abroad, announcing that 'in agreement with the Foreign Office' all Jews of listed nationalities could now be included in the deportation measures. Italy headed the list.14
8. Although it was marked 'confidential' and 'personal' the military commandant of Rome, Stahel, read the cable from Himmler and contacted Consul Moellhausen. By chance Moellhausen had become the chief representative of the Reich in German-occupied Rome when his superior, ambassador Dr. Rudolf Rahn, had been injured in a car accident the day before.
9. It would seem that both Moellhausen and Stahel agreed that the action was a mistake. Regardless of their motivations, Moellhausen in turn agreed to take the matter up with Kappler, and proceeded to do so on 26 September. Moellhausen drew Kappler's attention to Tunisia, where in 1942 the Jews had been saved by drawing them into forced labour on fortification work. Both Rahn and the current military commander of southern Italy General Field Marshal Kesselring had been involved.15 Moellhausen and Kappler then called on   Kesselring, who told them that he would be unable to spare any soldiers for the action, and that if Berlin considered it necessary to do something about the Jews within his jurisdiction, he would approve using Jewish labour for fortification work around Rome.16
10. At the beginning of October SS Hauptsturmführer Theodor Dannecker of Section IV-B-4 of the RSHA arrived in Rome at the head of a mobile Einsatzstab [task staff, i.e. execution team].17 Dannecker had already played a prominent part in the deportation of Jews from France and Belgium. He had with him an authorisation from Gestapo Chief Heinrich Müller ordering the local police chief to furnish all necessary assistance.18 It was in this context that Moellhausen sent his cable of 6 October (document 1, above, cited by Irving both in Hitler's War and in his submission to the court). It was marked 'very very urgent' [Supercitisssime] and addressed to the Reich Foreign Minister personally.
11. This cable, Telegram 192, read in full:
Obersturmbannführer Kappler has received orders to arrest the eight thousand Jews resident in Rome and bring them to Upper Italy, where they are to be liquidated. The City Commandant of Rome, General Stahel, informs me that he will permit this action only if it corresponds to the intention of the Herr Reich Foreign Minister. I am personally of the opinion that it would be better business to employ   the Jews for fortification work, as in Tunis, and, together with Kappler, I will propose this to Field Marshal Kesselring. Please advise Moellhausen.19
12. Consul Moellhausen followed this with a second dispatch on 7 October, again marked 'very very urgent' [Supercitisssime] and to 'the Reich Minister personally'. It was numbered 201 and headed 'in connection with telegram of 6th, no. 192+' [Im Anschluß an Telegramm vom 6. Nr. 192+] Irving completely omits this document from his account, although the Foreign Ministry's reply, document number 98 as submitted by Irving, clearly reads 'in response to no. 201 of 7.10 ' [Auf Nr. 201 vom 7.10.]. Telegram 201 read as follows:
Field Marshal Kesselring has asked Obersturmbannführer Kappler to postpone the planned Judenaktion for the time being. But if something has to be done, he would prefer to use the able-bodied Jews of Rome for fortification work here.20
13. This is the complete documentary background to Hitler's order [Führerbefehl] as passed on to Rome by Eberhard von Thadden of the Foreign Ministry.
14. On 9 October, Moellhausen received an answer to telegram 201 addressed explicitly to him and marked 'very urgent'. This is the additional document, listed above as number (4), submitted by Irving to the court. It reads:
On the basis of the Führer's instructions, the 8,000 Jews resident in Rome are to be taken to Mauthausen as hostages. The Herr R(eich) F(oreign) M(inister) asks you not to interfere in any way in this affair, but to leave it to the SS. Please inform Ambassador Rahn Thadden.21
15.This in turn was a response to a message of earlier in the day from Dr. Franz von Sonnleithner to the Office of the Foreign Ministry asking them to relay the following message from Ribbentrop to Rahn and Moellhausen. This is the document referred to above as number (2) and also cited by Irving, indeed the key document in his whole account. It reads as follows:
The Reich Foreign Minister requests that consuls Rahn and Moellhausen be informed that, on the basis of a Führer instruction, the 8,000 Jews resident in Rome should be taken to Mauthausen (Upper-Danube) as hostages. The Reich Foreign Minister requests that Rahn and Moellhausen be told under no circumstances to interfere in this affair, but rather to leave it to the SS. Sonnleithner.22
16. But Irving then omits a vital document from his account. A few hours later a second, unequivocal message was sent to Rome from the same source:
The Herr Reich Minister of Foreign Affairs insists that you keep out of all questions concerning Jews. Such questions, in accordance with an agreement between the Foreign Ministry and the Reich Security   Head Office, are within the exclusive competence of the SS, and any further interference in these questions could cause serious difficulties for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.23
17. Nowhere does Irving even mention the existence of this document, let alone cite or refer to its contents.


7. Hitler's War, (1991 ed.) p. 879.
8. Plaintiff's First List of Documents, no. 96.
9. ibid., no. 97.
10. ibid., no. 98.
11. Meir Michaelis, Mussolini and the Jews. German-Italian Relations and the Jewish Question in Italy, 1922-1945 (Oxford, 1978), p. 352; Robert Katz, Black Sabbath. A Journey through a Crime Against Humanity (London, 1969), p. 48. Michaelis gives as his source M. Tagliacozzo, 'La Comunità di Roma sotto l'incubo della svastica. La grande razzia del 16 ottore 1943', Gli ebrei in Italia duraante il fascismo, iii (Quaderni del Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea), Milan, 1963, p. 9. Katz's source is the transcript of Kappler's sworn testimony in hte trial of Adolf Eichmann taken at the military priosn at Graeta, 27 June 1961.
12. Michaelis, p. 353; Katz, p. 49. Both give Taglicozzo, 'La Comunità di Roma sotto l'incubo della svastica.', p. 9, as their source. This might be a paraphrase of the cable as repeated by Kappler in his trial in 1948. Michaelis's translation is given. Katz's translation varies slightly, most noticeably in givng the phrase 'final solution' instead of'immediate solution'.
13. Katz, p.54; Michaelis, p. 354. both translations are the same. Both give Taglicozzo, 'La Comunità di Roma sotto l'incubo della svastica.', p. 10, as their sources.
14. NG-2652-H, von Thadden to missions abroad, 12 October 1943, enclosing the RSHA circular dated 23 September 1943, Hilberg, p. 427.
15. NG-2271, order by General Nehring, forwarded to Rahn, 6 December 1942; NG-2099, Rahn to Foreign Office, 6 December 1942. The NG-2771 document is partially reprinted as document 102 in Peter Longerich (ed.) Die Ermordung der Europäischen Juden. Eine umfassende Dokumentation des Holocaust 1941-1945 (Munich/Zurich, 1989), p. 255-6. For the Tunisian episode see Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York, 1961), pp. 411-413.
16. Michaelis, p. 355; Katz, pp. 60-62. Michaelis cites Taglicozzo, 'La Comunità di roma sotto l'incubo della svastica.', p. 10-12 and E. F. Moellhausen, La carta perdente. Memorie diplomatiche, 25 luglio 1943 - 2 maggio 1945 (Rome, 1948), p. 112-15. Katz likewise cites Moellhausen' memoirs and his own interview with Moellhausen in Milan, 13 June 1967.
17. Section IV of the RSHA was the Gestapo, section IV-B was concerned with sects, and within that Section IV-B-4 with the Jews.
18. Michaelis, p. 362; Katz, pp. 117-18 and 125-9. Both cite Taglicozzo, 'La Comunità di Roma sotto l'incubo della svastica.', p. 19-20 and Kappler's sworn testimony at the trial of Adolf Eichmann.
19. 'Obersturmbannführer Kappler hat den Auftrag erhalten, die achtausend in Rom wohnenden Juden festzunehmen und nach Oberitalien zu bringen, wo sie liquidiert werden sollen. Stadtkommanddant von Rom, General Stahel, mitteilt mir, daß er diese Aktion nur zulassen wird, wenn sie im Sinne des Herrn Reichsaußenministers liegt. Ich perönlich bin der Ansicht, daß es besseres Geschäft wäre, Juden, wie in Tunis, zu Befestigungsarbeiten heranzuziehen und werde dies gemeinsam mit Kappler Generalfeldmarshall Kesselring vortragen. Erbitte Weisung. Moellhausen.' NG-5027, Moellhausen to Ribbentrop, 6 October 1943. The document is also to be found in the Public Record Office, Kew (PRO) under GFM 33/147/123580. It is also reproduced in Akten zur deutschen Auswärtigen Politik 1918-1945, Serie E: 1941-45, vol. VII, 1 October 1943 - 30 April, 1944 (Göttingen, 1979), p. 31. The text above is Michaelis's translation, p. 363.
20. 'Generalfeldmarshall Kesselring hat Obersturmbannführer Kappler gebeten, geplante Judenaktion zunächst zuruckzustellen. Sollte jedoch etwas unternommen werden, würde er es vorziehen, die arbeitsfähigen Juden Roms zu Befestigungsarbeiten heranzuziehen', Moellhausen to Ribbentrop, 7 October 1943, (PRO) GFM 33/147/123599. Michaelis's translation, p. 363.
21. 'Für Konsul Moellhausen persönlich: Auf Grund Führerwiesung sollen die in Rom wohnenden 8.000 Juden als Geiseln nach Mauthausen gebracht werden. Der Herr RAM bittet Sie, sich auf keinen Fall in Angelegenheiten einszumischen, sondern die SS zu überlassen. Bitte Gesandten Rahn verständigen. Thadden.', NG-5027, von Thadden to Moellhausen, 9 October 1943. Michaelis's translation, pp. 363-4.
22. 'Der Herr RAM bittet, Gesandten Rahn und Konsul Moellhausen mitzuteilen, dass auf Grund einer Führerweisung die 8000 in Rom wohnenden Juden nach Mauthausen (Oberdonau) als Geiseln gebracht werden sollen. Der RAM bittet, Rahn und Moellhausen anzuweisen, sich auf keinen Fall in diese Angelegenheit einzumischen, sie vielmehr der SS zu überlassen. Sonnleithner.' Irving document no. 97, NG-5027, Sonnleither to Ribbentrop's Office, 9 October, 1943.
23. NG-5027 as cited by Michaelis, p. 364. No further details.
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(vi) Conclusion. >>