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Defense Documents

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

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(E) Suppression of contradictory evidence: testimony of Theo Miller.

1. Irving had no chance to interview Mehnert, who had died in the late 1950s or early 1960s.136 But Irving corresponded with Theo Miller, a member of the Dresden Clearing Staff [Aufräumungsstab]. In his first letter of February 1965 Miller described his work to Irving (in English):
At the wall of my bunker [the Staff Quarter in the bunkers under the Brühl'sche Terrasse] I had pinned up a big map of the town. Every evening the commanders of rescue units had to report on the figures of corpses found and on the shelters which had been cleared of deads [sic]. The streets and shelters which had been cleared of corpses I marked with red colour in my map. Furthermore, I had to keep book on the figures of deads [sic]. In the middle of March, 1945, our task was almost completed. The town was free of corpses. I then received the order to return to my division in Latvia.

Soon after the attack we heard in the radio Joseph Goebbels reporting on the attack on Dresden. He spoke of 300,000 deads [sic]. In your book you mention the figure of 135,000 victims. My records at the Clearing Staff showed 30,000 corpses. If you assume the amount of deads completely burnt etc. would reach 20%, the total figure of victims will not exceed 36,000. Still this figure - two full divisions - is terrible enough.137

In a second letter of 25 February 1965 Miller gave more detail to his book keeping.
2. He first outlined how, in an attempt to prevent double book-keeping, army logistics had confiscated all brandy and cigarette stocks in Dresden and offered SS salvage teams 15 cigarettes and a half-bottle of brandy if they reported their figures to the army team.
One day General Mehnert visited our Staff. I had seen the general the last time in summer 1939 when he had inspected our battalion. In March 1945 he looked like a very old, broken man. He asked me for the figures of deads [sic] and I showed him my book-keeping, and the map showing the freed areas. He   shook his head and said: These figures are much too low, I do not believe them, it must be much more, I have seen them." Well, he was an old man and completely desperated [sic] like we all, but generally nobody, no police man, no civilian believed my figures. Maybe only the Lord in Heaven knows whether my figures were right or wrong. However, I had figures to count based on the reports of all salvage units and my counterparts only estimated figures. Their figures, so I believe, were an expression of the dantesque pictures of horror they saw everywhere on their ways through the town.

My counting system was very simple. I used a thick book like that of a book-keeper. In this book I wrote down exactly the names of the reporting unit, the name of the reporting officer, the figure of corpses found and the areas of the town, where they had been collected, and the place they had been buried. When I left the Staff on about March 20 with the order to return to my tank-division in Latvia, I handed this book over to another officer. My last figure of deads was about 30,000 - this figure I remember well, because after my return to my division I was asked by many of my comrades, who were born in Dresden and did not know anything about their relatives.138
3. Miller added 'P.S. By the way, the figures of deads [sic] were reported every day to a Central Air Defence Staff. This authority was in Berlin.'139 In a postscript typed a day later Miller wrote:
P.S. I have again to come back to the high figures of victims which I deny as far as they overgo 50,000. It is a fact that all corpses found have either been buried or burnt on the Altmarkt. Now we come to mathematical problems: Do you believe it possible to burn in about three weeks 110,000 corpses on a fire-grate of railway rails with a dimension of about 70 x 10 meters?140 In fact we started collecting corpses not before February 17 when the town stopped to burn and enough transport media had been   brought together from other cities. The burning of corpses started about February 21 (one week after the air raid) and only on the hermetically closed Altmarkt because we feared the reaction of the population. The burning was finished to the best of my knowledge about March 15. When you can find out how long corpses are burning you will believe that a maximum amount of 10,000 - rather 7,000 - has been burnt. For the transportation of the deads we had only horse-drawn carts (Panjewagen) and some rickety trucks which run with producer gas (Holzgasgeneratoren) due to the lack of diesel oil or gasoline. This poor transport capacity could not transport the gigantic figures of deads overgoing 100,000 which are mostly reported. You must check again this problem as one of logistics. But can anybody really imagine what also 40,000 corpses mean? If you put them down in a line foot by head it is a street of 42 British miles! The inner district of Dresden has only a dimension of 2 times 4 miles! So the streets of Dresden looked to the frightened population like overfloated with corpses, and as a normal human reaction the survivors reported gigantic figures out of their phantasy.141
4. Here was a lucid, sober, and detailed account by a witness who had obviously taken some time and care to recollect his activities following the bombings. Miller, like Voigt, had apparently occupied a key position in the attempts to record the death roll, and was therefore ideally suited to give an estimate, albeit like Voigt from memory, of the numbers killed. Miller's figures corresponded roughly to those given by the East-Germans, by the engineer Feydt, and to Voigt's minimum. He had given apposite information on Mehnert's state of mind, information that at the very least needed to be judiciously weighed against Funfack's, at the most invalidated it. He gave a perfectly plausible explanation of why some eye witnesses exaggerated the figures. Moreover he had raised some telling points about the sheer logistics of any death roll put at higher than 50,000.
5. Irving may have had a sound reason to ignore Miller's testimony, but if he did it is not apparent from his microfilmed records. As it was, Miller, his testimony, and his criticisms remained unmentioned. TB 47 was obviously too compelling to be questioned.


136. DJ 35, Max Funfack to Irving, 19 March 1965.
137. DJ 35, Theo Miller to Irving, 7 February 1965.
138. DJ 35, Theo Miller to Irving, 25 February 1965.
139. Ibid.
140. As a result of the Die Welt article Dr. Dieter Struss received a letter from an eyewitness who claimed that the police director had told him that 110,000 bodies had been burnt on the Altmarkt. See DJ 35, Walter Klätte to Dr. Dieter Struss, 12 February 1965; Walter Klätte to Irving, 23 February 1965.
141. DJ 35, Theo Miller to Irving, 26 February 1965.
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