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Defense Documents

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

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(v) Manipulations and suppressions: the evidence of Hitler's stenographers.

1. The order of the day at the Führerhauptquartier was determined by the staff war conferences that were held twice daily.166 As a result of an altercation between Hitler and General Alfred Jodl in September 1942, in which Jodl quoted Hitler's own orders in defence of a subordinate general, Hitler ordered that henceforth all military conferences were to be stenographically recorded and written up as protocol. This record served the double purpose of protecting Hitler against any false interpretation of his orders, but equally to establish for posterity the mistakes of his incorrigible generals, secure in the belief in his own military infallibility. The   Stenographic Service [Stenographischen Dienst im Führerhauptquartier] eventually consisted of some 103,000 sides of written protocol, which were deliberately destroyed at the end of the war. All that was recovered from the ashes were the partial remains of around 50 conferences, less than one percent of the original. The stenographers were immediately set to work by the Americans to reconstruct the remaining fragments. The almost complete destruction of the protocol and the method of reconstruction make the source a problematic one.
2. Irving claimed in Hitler's War that 'all' the surviving members of the stenographic service were 'closely interrogated' about Hitler's involvement in 'the Jewish atrocities' [sic].167 Irving has provided the court with a number of documents pertaining indirectly to the stenographic service, including his correspondence with Horace A. Hansen, the Chief Prosecutor of the War Crimes Trial at Dachau. Hansen wrote to Irving in 1974, informing him that he possessed written statements by the stenographers Buchholz, Jonuschat, Krieger, Reynitz and Thöt made in connection with the War Crimes Trials held in Dachau.168 These are presumably the interrogations referred to in Hitler's War and elsewhere in documents provided to the court.169 Irving has not seen fit to include the actual statements given by members of the stenographic service, nor has he included details of his interviews with Krieger, Peschel, or Thöt.170 Peschel, for instance, informed Irving that 'naturally I would have something to say on the subject [Hitler   and the Jews]', but Irving has not seen fit to disclose the further correspondence, making it impossible to ascertain what Peschel did or did not hear.171
3. When the documents themselves are examined it becomes clear that far from being 'closely interrogated about Hitler's involvement in the Jewish atrocity' Hitler's stenographers gave loosely formulated statements to Hansen. Three of them chose not to mention the Holocaust at all.172
4. As an example Irving gave a note he claimed he had found amongst Krieger's private papers dated 13 December 1945 which read (the ellipse is Irving's):
In the Führer conferences which I reported in shorthand there was never any mention of the atrocities against the Jews. For the present it must remain an unanswered question, whether Hitler himself issued specific orders ... or whether orders issued in generalised terms were executed by subordinates and sadists in this brutal and vile manner.173
5. This is a stylistically improved version of the statement whichKrieger gave to Hansen. The ellipses in Irving's footnote are revealing. In the original version Krieger wrote:
I wish to state that in the meetings with the Führer, written down by shorthand by me, never those atrocities against Jews or prisoners of concentration camps were mentioned, which I myself and the other stenographers, and, surely, the most German people only learned after the end of the war. It remains a problem first unsolved whether Hitler himself issued the orders of such cruelties or authorised men as   Himmler or Bormann to do so or whether generally held orders were carried out by subordinate organs and sadists in such a brutal and vile manner.174
6. It is impossible to fathom from Irving's records whether Krieger wrote two versions on the same day, one in faulty English and one fluent, or whether these 'improvements' came from Irving's pen. The difference between the two versions is subtle but important. The sentence 'It remains a problem first unsolved whether Hitler himself issued the orders of such cruelties or authorised men as Himmler or Bormann to do so or whether generally held orders were carried out by subordinate organs and sadists in such a brutal and vile manner' obviously puts more emphasis on Hitler's decisive role than the sentence 'For the present it must remain an unanswered question, whether Hitler himself issued specific orders ... or whether orders issued in generalised terms were executed by subordinates and sadists in this brutal and vile manner.' But Irving also failed to quote the following sentence that weighs even more heavily against his argument: 'But on the other hand it seems impossible that Hitler who always consulted with his advisers, did not know these important affairs.'175 This is another manipulation of the source material.
7. Irving also decided to suppress comments by Buchholz:
The treatment of political prisoners in concentration camps was never discussed in the briefings with Adolf Hitler at which I was present. The reason lies in the fact that the question did not immediately concern the conduct of the war but was of a police and administrative character. Therefore, the Führer did not mention this matter to his military. [...] The circle of those in the know had been kept very small, and the topic was also not touched upon unofficially, for reasons which I fully understand only now. I am convinced that such questions have always been treated between the Führer and the Reichsführer SS   Himmler in strict confidence. Especially in the last half year, such conversations between these two often took place, usually before or after a briefing at which Himmler appeared.176
8. Likewise Irving failed to bring his reader's attention to the opinion of stenographer Ewald Reynitz: 'I even doubt whether he [Hitler] personally knew all about the concentration camp atrocities to the last shocking detail. But I am honestly convinced that he would have approved them following his general philosophy that the end justifies the means,'177
9. Only by dint of these manipulations and suppressions could Irving claim the statements by Hitler's stenographers as evidence for a conclusion that was not only unsupported by the sources he quoted, but openly contradicted.

Notes

166. The following is based on Helmut Heiber (ed.), Hitlers Lagebesprechungen. Die Protokollfragmente seiner militärischen Konferenzen 1942-1945 (Stuttgart, 1962), pp. 11-33. A selection of the documents appeared in English under the editorship of Felix Gilbert, Hitler Directs his War (New York, 1950).
167. Hitler's War, p. 850.
168. Document 405.
169. Document 1984, p. 5.
170. Ibid.
171. Document 628; document 634.
172. Irving Collection, IfZ Munich, written statements by Members of Stenographischer Dienst des FHQu., Hans Jonuschat, note for Capt. Hansen, undated; Karl Thoet, 'Notes about my career...', Dachau, 13 December 1945. Two of Buchholz's statements are exclusively concerned with the attempt on Hitler's life and the treatment of allied airmen shot down over Germany. This is clear even from Irving's own cover sheet summarising the statements, where of the five only two are referred to as mentioning Hitler and the 'Final Solution'.
173. Hitler's War, p. 850.
174. Irving COllection, IfZ Munich, written statements by Members of Stenographischer Dienst des FHQu., Ludwig Krieger, 'Notes on my stenographic career...', Dachau, 13 December 1945.
175. Ibid.
176. Irving Collection, IfZ Munich, written statements by Members of Stenographischer Dienst des FHQu., Heinz Buchholz, 'Note for Captain Hansen', undated.
177. Irving Collection, IfZ Munich, written statements by Members of Stenographischer Dienst des FHQu., Ewald Reynitz, Dachau, 13 December 1945.
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