David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial: Electronic Edition, by Richard J. EvansTable of Contents
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1. Irving has intimated that he will contest in court that estimates of the casualties vary between 35,000 and 250,000.34 This is indeed in a strict sense true. Georg Feydt, a Dresden civil defence engineer during the war, said that the number could not have been above 50,000, quoting an official figure of 39,773 fallen, but without naming his source.35 Hans Rumpf, General Inspector of the fire services in Germany during the war put the figure at 60,000, which in turn was the number first 'approximately' given by the German army.36 This figure of 60,000 gained acceptance in West German official circles after the war. The first post-war mayor of Dresden, Max Seydewitz, put the figure at 35,000, although conceding that it could be several thousand higher. This remained, with some exceptions, the official East German figure.37 Others, contemporary and later, have put the figure variously at between 100,000 and 400,000. None of these though can be considered with any degree of seriousness. Either they are content merely to quote secondary sources or each other, or repeat propaganda figures circulated immediately after the attack.38
2. The fact that various people have made widely varying estimates of the numbers of dead is completely beside the point What is at issue is Irving's own estimate, or rather, as we shall see, estimates, and the question of whether or not he has falsified statistics in order to arrive at them.
3. Irving's own estimates of the numbers of dead have varied widely over time, and have changed from one edition of his book to the next and in his public speeches:
- In the 1966 edition of The Destruction of Dresden the triple blow was 'estimated authoritatively to have killed more than 135,000 of the population...',39 but the 'documentation suggests very strongly that the figure was certainly between a minimum of 100,000 and a maximum of 250,000.'40
- In the 1971 edition the triple blow was 'estimated authoritatively to have killed more than 100,000 of the population...'41
- In 1989 Irving told journalists whilst launching the 'Leuchter Report' in Britain that: 'There were one million refugees in the streets of Dresden at the time that we burned Dresden to the ground, killing anything between 100,000 and 250,000 of them.'42
- In 1992 Irving told the Institute of Historical Review that 'a hundred thousand people were killed [in Dresden] in a period of twelve hours by the British and Americans.'43
- In 1993, in a publicity video made for the Australian public, Irving stated that 'over 130,000 people died in that particular air raid.'44
- In the 1995 edition of The Destruction of Dresden the figure was no longer authoritative and the attack had 'cost the lives of between fifty and one hundred thousand inhabitants....'45 Elsewhere he dropped the lower figure and said the attack cost 'up to a hundred thousand people their lives.'46
- In 1996 Irving had changed this figure yet again in his Goebbels: The Mastermind of the 'Third Reich', where he notes of the Dresden raids that 'Between sixty and one hundred thousand people were choked to death or burned alive...'47
4. As will be demonstrated, these erratic fluctuations in Irving's figures are entirely arbitrary and have never accorded to the changing state of research (either his own or that of others) into the Dresden death roll. The only consistency in his figures is that they have resolutely remained far in excess of the most reliable and agreed figures (i.e. those based on the most solid research and which command the most general assent). We shall now see how he has arrived at these inflated estimates, and what evidence that they are indeed far above the likely number.
5. In 1977 Bergander's book appeared, which after painstaking research and sound reasoning came to the conclusion that the number which 'came nearest to the truth' was 35,000, even if he did not exclude the possibility of it being a few thousand more.48 This figure tallies with that given by Walter Weidauer and by the East-German authorities.
6. Many historians accept the 35,000 figure.49 For instance the historian Earl A. Beck said 'the constant increase in estimates of the number killed in the raids does not comport with the facts. Official reports justify an estimate of between 25,000 and 35,000 killed. Figures that rose to 100,000 or 200,000 killed lost touch with reality.'50 In 1994 research by the Dresden historian Friedrich Reichert was published, using a previously unused source, which convincingly reduced Bergander's figure of 35,000 to 25,000.51 This figure can be regarded as close to definitive.
7. The Dresden City museum sent Irving a copy of the research in 1997. It seems unlikely he could have read it in 1994 before issuing his own revised edition (his manuscript is dated 1993), but from his reply to the defence plea it is clear Irving rejects these findings as well.52
34. Reply to Defence of Second Defendant, paragraph 48, p. 38.
35. Georg Feydt, in Ziviler Luftschutz 4, 1953, quoted in Bergander p. 253. His was the first 'sober' account of the attack, but went largely ignored at the time. Irving refers to the article several times in his accounts.
36. Hans Rumpf, Das war der Bombenkrieg (Hamburg, 1961), p. 106 108 Rumpf was one of the authors to first bring many rumours and legends to full circulation through his books; KTB/OKW, vol. IV, second part, p. 970.
37. Seydewitz, p. 141. Dresden was located in the Soviet occupation zone and from 1949 to 1990 in the communist German Democratic Republic.
38. Bergander details the progressive and feverish notching up of the figure throughout the literature, pp. 253-259.
39. Corgi, edn. 1966, vii.
40. Corgi, edn. 1966, p. 225.
41. Corgi, edn. 1971, p. 7.
42. Videotape 184, 'Leuchter Report press conference,' London [?], 23 June 1989. Titles read: 'The Truth at Last, Six Million Lies, Focal Point Video'.
43. David Irving, 'Life under Fire' (remarks delivered to the eleventh IHR conference, October 1992), Journal of Historical Review, vol. XIII, no. 1 (January/February 1993), 8-11, p. 10.
44. Videocassette 200: Irving, "The Search for Truth in History -Banned!" 1993.
45. Focal Point, ix.
46. Focal Point, p. 167.
47. David Irving, Goebbles, Mastermind of the 'Third Reich' (London, 1996), p. 501.
48. Bergander, p. 268.
49. For example Pommerin, p. 244; Sherry, p. 260.
50. Earl A. Beck, Under the Bombs. The German Home Front 1942-1945 (Kentucky, 1986), p. 179.
51. Friedrich Reichert, 'Verbrannt bis zur Unkenntlichkeit', in Dresden City Museum (ed.), Verbrannt bis zur Unkenntlichkeit. Die Zerstörung Dresdens 1945 (Altenburg, 1994), pp. 40-62, p. 58.
52. Doc. 1836, Stadtmuseum Dresden to Irving, 13 April 1997.
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