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Defense Documents

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

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(H) Falsification of statistics: official estimates.

1. In 1966 Irving wrote that the 'competent authority in Berlin for air raid relief and welfare services accepted an estimate of between 120,000 and 150,000...' There is no source given for this.148 In 1966 Irving wrote further that 'according to the Federal Ministry of Statistics in Wiesbaden immediately after the attacks the local authorities were estimating the figure as 180,000 to 220,000.' The source runs simply, 'Dr. Hans Sperling, Federal Ministry of Statistics'. Without Dr Sperling's letter to see what these estimates consist of the reader is hard put to comment on their provenance. Irving does not care to enlighten us further. In 1995 we are no nearer the source. Again he attributes the figure 180,000 to 220,000 to 'official sources in Berlin' and this time a lower figure of 120,000 to 150,000 to 'the authority responsible for   relief measures in blitzed cities'. Dr. Sperling's letter is still quoted.149 This figure of 120,000 to 150,000 makes a reappearance in the 1995 edition, again attributed to 'the Berlin authority for responsible for welfare in blitzed cities'. Bizarrely the upper figure of 150,000 cited in 1966 has become 'half a million' by 1995, while still being attributed to the same source as previously.150
2. Sperling's letter is included in Irving's microfilmed documents pertaining to Dresden. Indeed Sperling had informed Irving that: 'Immediately after the attack their number [the dead] was estimated by local authorities at 180,000 - 200,000. A few days later the competent authority in Berlin for relief of those cities effected by air raids reckoned with a loss of 120,000 - 150,000.' Sperling made no mention of a figure of 500,000. Moreover he provided a clear proviso to these figures: 'As a result of the shock the offices in the badly affected cities and the higher authorities directly involved were, out of experience, in the habit of being prone to initial overestimation. A typical example is the attacks on Hamburg in July 1943 when the losses were initially estimated at more than double.' Sperling then proceeded to outline a number of difficulties in establishing the number of those killed in Dresden, concluding: 'Besides, as a result of the number of those fleeing the destroyed city being hard to estimate people were counted as dead who had actually fled the city and later returned. After weighing up all demographic factors and technical numeral [zähltechnischen] influences most probability is attached to a figure of 60,000 losses.'151 Irving deliberately garnered the highest possible figures from Sperling's letter, suppressed his proviso, and suppressed the then official West German figure in this context.
3. By 1977, however, there was good evidence that a lower number was circulating in March 1945. Situation Report no. 1396 of the chief of Berlin's police force [Ordnungspolizei] concerning air attacks on the Reich, 14 March 1945, contains an appendix from the commander [Befehlshaber] of Dresden's police force which states 'some 12,000 fallen recovered until now'. Bergander argues that the appendix was penned at the beginning of March 1945 and there is no reason to doubt him.152
4. Thus in publishing TB 47, Irving had no evidence to support the document. On the contrary, he was forced to rely on hearsay, gossip, and speculation by unattributed sources, whilst suppressing and manipulating more valuable sources. His evidence has no historical credibility whatsoever. TB47 was cited by him in the face of far more reliable evidence for the true figure of deaths in the Dresden bombing raid, evidence of which he was only too well aware at the time.


148. Corgi edn., 1966, p. 225.
149. Focal Point, p. 243 and fn. 35, p. 299.
150. Corgi 1966, p. 241; Focal Point, p. 263.
151. DJ 10, Hans Sperling to Irving, 25 April 1962. See also Irving to Hans Sperling, 16 April 1962.
152. Lagemeldung Nr. 1396 des Chefs der Ordnungspolizei Berlin, quoted in Bergander, p. 264.
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