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

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(E) Use of unreliable evidence, suppression of reliable testimony, and invention: von Below and Schaub

1.Next, according to Irving, Hitler phoned Goebbels and 'tore the strips off him'. Irving continues his narrative:  
According to Luftwaffe adjutant Nicolaus von Below, Hitler phoned Goebbels. 'What's going on?' he snapped, and: 'Find out!'
According to Julius Schaub, the most intimate of his aids, Hitler 'made a terrible scene with Goebbels's and left no doubt about the damage done abroad to Germany's name. He sent Schaub and his colleagues out into the streets to stop the looting (thus Schaub's postwar version).49
2. Irving had already given a similar description in his 1978 book on the prewar years of Nazi Germany, The War Path: 'He [Hitler] telephoned Goebbels and furiously demanded: "What's the game?" He sent out Schaub and other members of his staff to stop the looting and arson.'50
3. Julius Schaub was one of the longest-standing followers of Hitler, having first joined the Nazi party (NSDAP) in 1921 or 1922. Schaub took part in the failed putsch of November 1923, and served a prison sentence for his involvement with Hitler in Landsberg. From 1925 onwards, he served as Hitler's personal adjutant. By 1938, he had risen to the rank of SS-Gruppenführer in the SS. At this time, he was also in possession of various prestigious Nazi decorations, such as the Blutorden for his participation in the 1923 putsch. In his post-war testimony, Schaub exonerated Hitler from various crimes and portrayed Hitler as a peace-loving man. In his private circle, Schaub claimed, Hitler had cursed the war and 'was always for peace.'51 Clearly, Schaub must be regarded as a highly unreliable witness.
 
4. The source which Irving gives for Schaub's claims is: 'Schaub's unpubl. memoirs, in the author's collection (IfZ:ED.100/202)'.52 However, there is no reference to the pogrom on 9-10 November 1938 in this file in the Munich Institute of Contemporary History. Once more, Irving makes it difficult to verify his claims. Thus, the reference has to be located in another file.53 Also, it is very misleading to describe the notes in this file as 'unpublished memoirs'.54 In any case, Schaub's claims are completely undermined by other sources. Thus, the claim that Hitler was outraged at the pogrom and attempted 'to rescue what could still be rescued, and ordered that his people, his entourage, including Schaub, had to stop the looting immediately',55 is clearly proven to be a self-serving lie by Schaub to protect himself. For according to Goebbels's diary, Schaub was not trying to stop the violence but was actively involved in it:
The Shock-troop Hitler gets going immediately to clear things out in Munich. That then happens straight away. A synagogue is battered into a lump...The Shock-troop carries out frightful work...We go with Schaub to the Artists' Club, to await further reports. In Berlin 5, then 15   synagogues burn down. Now the people's anger is raging...Schaub is completely worked up. His old shock-troop past is waking up.56
5.This contemporary document - not mentioned by Irving - is clearly incompatible with Schaub's claims, which are also undermined by the evidence given after the war by von Below, another of Hitler's adjutants, which is used by Irving himself.
6. In his memoirs, von Below claims that he was in Hitler's apartment in the night of 9 November 1938. He reports that Hitler phoned Goebbels privately from his own living room, so that it would not have been possible for him or Schaub to have heard what was going on; certainly, von Below made no claim to have overheard Hitler's end of the conversation. Von Below states quite clearly that Hitler conducted his phone conversation with Goebbels 'on his own, from his living-room'.57 Irving generally regards von Below as a reliable witness, but clearly it is not in the interest of his argument to cite him on this point, and so he does not.
7. Typically, Irving gives no reference for his claims regarding von Below in Goebbels: Mastermind of the 'Third Reich'.. But it appears clear in this instance that rather than relying on the published, written memoirs of von Below, which so crassly contradict Irving's account of events, Irving's book relies instead on the interview its author conducted with von Below in 1968. Even here, however, Irving misrepresents and   misreads his own transcript of what he claims von Below told him. After receiving details of the pogrom, von Below allegedly told Irving, Schaub passed on the news to Hitler. The transcript (with questions put to von Below by Irving in brackets) continues:
Then the police president of Munich, von Eberstein, was immediately summoned. Herr von Eberstein then appeared straight away in the Führer's apartment, he was also an SS-Obergruppenführer. He was now interrogated by Hitler. Then a telephone conversation took place between Hitler and Göbbels (sic) on the situation. (did he also stay in Munich?). I don't know. The people must all have been in Munich because of the 8/9 November. (What was Hitler's reaction to the first reports?) Well, "what's going on, please find out, I have to know what the game is." I had the impression that all of us, including Hitler himself, were all in the same basket, nobody knew anything....Then Hitler became angry and spoke very loudly to Eberstein...I heard this because the conversation took place between the door and the jamb. But what the situation was with the order to Göbbels (sic) or to Himmler for the rest of the Reich territory, I don't know.58
8. Regardless of whether this account by von Below is to be believed (and there are good reasons for disbelieving it), it is abundantly clear from it that Hitler's demand to be informed about what was going on was not made on the phone to Goebbels, as suggested by Irving, but as a reaction to being told initially of the pogrom by Schaub   well before the phone conversation with Goebbels. Von Below also again makes clear that he did not listen in to or overhear the phone conversation between Goebbels and Hitler. Finally, there is no indication that Hitler 'snapped' any orders as Irving claims. What Irving says in his account of these events is not even borne out by his own interview transcript.
9. It is worth adding that in the Preface to his published memoirs, von Below took strong exception to Irving's claim that he had provided Irving with 'unpublished contemporary manuscripts and letters' and had checked through 'many pages' of Irving's manuscript. 'I remember, to be sure', von Below wrote, 'some visits by Irving, during which I answered his questions. But I must decidedly reject his more far-reaching claims as not corresponding to the truth.'59 Irving's own claims of what von Below said to him during their interview must in the light of all this be regarded with a considerable measure of distrust. On no account is Irving's claim that von Below actually approved of his depiction of the events of 9-10 November 1938 to be accepted.
10. The claim that Hitler made a 'terrible scene with Goebbels's and told him that he utterly condemned the pogrom is further disproved by contemporary documentation. Throughout Goebbels diary entry describing the events of 9-10 November 1938, Goebbels clearly revels in the destruction and violence. There is no indication whatsoever for any disapproval by Hitler regarding what was going on, even in the early morning of 10 November 1938: 'In Berlin 5, the 15 synagogues burn down. Now the people's anger rages. Nothing more can be done against it for the night. And I don't want to do anything either. Should be given free rein...As I drive to the hotel, windows   shatter. Bravo! Bravo! The synagogues burn in all big cities. German property is not endangered.'60
11. This euphoric state of mind is hard to reconcile with Goebbels having just been informed by Hitler personally of his strong disapproval of the pogrom. Goebbels attitude that night is confirmed by the Supreme NSDAP Party Tribunal report of 13 February 1939. When Goebbels was phoned at around 2 in the morning on 10 November with the news that the first Jew had been killed in the pogrom, 'Party Comrade Goebbels answered to the effect that the man reporting it should not get upset because of one dead Jew, thousands of Jews would have to believe in it the coming days.'61
12. Clearly, these documents show that Irving's claim that Goebbels was told by Hitler personally in no uncertain terms of his total opposition to the pogrom, and that Hitler then sent Schaub and others to stop the arson and the looting, is entirely ficticious. Irving relies in his book on Julius Schaub's testimony, despite the fact that Schaub is a highly unreliable witness, despite the fact that Schaub's version is not (as Irving claims) backed up by von Below, and despite the fact that it is discredited by contemporary documentation. That Irving persists in using Schaub's testimony amounts to a wilful manipulation of the historical record.

Notes

49. Irving, Goebbels, p. 277.
50. Irving, The War Path (London, 1978), p. 165.
51. IfZ, ZS 137, Ministries Division, Research Section, no date; BA Berlin, Film 55270,Vernehmung von Julius Schaub, 7.12.1946; BA Berlin, BDC, Personalfile Julius Schaub; IfZ, ZS 137, Vernehmung von Julius Schaub durch Dr. Kempner, 12.3.1947. Schaub's claim was the Hitler war immer fuer Frieden'.
52. Irving, Goebbels, p. 613, note 46.
53. Ifz ED 100/203.
54. It is described in the file itself more aptly as 'Nachlaß Julius Schaub', which was collected by Irving and then donated to the Institut für Zeitgeschichte.The 'Nachlass' contains a very small number of photocopies of what appear to be handwritten notes by Schaub himself. The bulk of the files, however, consists of type-written notes and essays on various themes relating to the 'Third Reich'. Some appear to be written by Schaub himself (or typed directly from his notes), but it is clear that others were not written by Schaub himself. Rather, they are embellished accounts, possibly based on Schaub's original notes or interviews with him.
55. IfZ ED 100/203: 'zu retten, was noch zu retten war und ordnete an, dass einige Leute seiner Umgebung, darunter Schaub, die Plünderung sofort abzustoppen hätten'.
56. Der Stoßtrupp Hitler geht gleich los, um in München aufzuräumen. Das geschieht denn auch gleich. Eine Synagoge wird in Klump geschlagen... Der Stoßtrupp verrichtet fürchterliche Arbeit... Wir gehen mit Schaub in den Künstlerklub, um weitere Meldungen abzuwarten. In Berlin brennen 5, dann 15 Synagogen ab. Jetzt rast der Volkszorn... Schaub ist ganz in Fahrt. Seine alte Stoßtruppvergangenheit erwacht.' - E. Fröhlich (ed.), Die Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels, Vol. 1/6 (Munich, 1998), pp. 180-181. The Stoßtrupp had been created in 1923 as a personal paramilitary bodyguard formation for Hitler; see W. Benz, H. Graml, H. Weiß (eds.), Enzyklopädie des Nationalsozialismus (Munich, 1997), p. 718.
57. Nicolaus von Below, Als Hitlers Adjutant (Mainz, 1980), p. 136.
58. Irving interview with von Below, 18 May 1968: folder 51(a). The German original reads: Dann wurde sofort der Polizeipräsident von München bestellt, v. Eberstein. Herr von Eberstein erschien dann gleich in der Führerwohnung, der war auch SS-Obergruppenführer. Er wurde nun von Hitler vernommen. Dann fand em Gespräch zwischen Hitler und Göbbels (sic) statt per Telefon über die Situation. (blieb der auch in München?) Weiss ich nicht. Die Leute waren wohl alle in München aufgrund des 8./9. November. (Was war Hitler seine Reaktion auf die ersten Nachrichten?) Also "was ist los, bitte feststellen, ich muss wissen, was gespielt wird". Ich hatte den Eindruck, dass wir alle und auch Hitler selber alle aus dem Muspott kamen, keiner wusste etwas... Dann wurde Hitler ärgerlich und hat recht laut mit Eberstein gesprochen... Das habe ich mitgehort, weil das Gespräch so zwischen Tür und Angel stattfand. Was aber hinsichtlich der Anordnung an Göbbels (sic) oder an Himmler fürs andere Reichsgebiet war, das weiss ich nicht.'
59. Von Below, Als Hitlers Adjutant,, pp. 10-11 and footnote.
60. 'In Berlin brennen 5, dann 15 Synagogen ab. Jetzt rast der Volkszorn. Man kann für die Nacht nichts mehr dagegen machen. Und ich will auch nichts machen. Laufen lassen... Als ich ins Hotel fahre, klirren die Fensterscheiben. Bravo! Bravo! In allen großen Städten brennen die Synagogen'; E. Fröhlich (ed.), Die Tagebüucher von Joseph Goebbels, Vol. I/6 (Munich, 1998), P. 181
61. Der Oberste Parteirichter an Hermann Göring, 13.2.1939; in Der Prozessgegen die Hauptkriegsverbrecher vor dem Internationalen Militärgerichtshof, Vol. XXXII, ND 3063-PS.
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