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

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(D) Invention and manipulation of evidence: the Eberstein testimony

1. Having given the impression that Hitler knew nothing of the initial pogroms of 8-9 November, Irving now goes on to suggest that when he did discover what was going on, he was extremely angry and tried to stop it. At one point, Irving refers to Hitler's 'fury' about the pogrom.35 In a speech delivered in 1983, Irving claimed that Hitler did 'everything he could to prevent things nasty happening' to the Jews.36 Once more, his account relies on a tissue of inventions, manipulations, suppressions and omissions.
2. The first piece of evidence other than the Goebbels diaries which Irving handles in this way is the testimony of the Munich police chief and SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Karl von Eberstein to the Nuremberg trial. Irving claims that when the management of the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten phoned Hitler's private apartment after 1 a.m. on 10 November to report that   the synagogue had been set alight, Hitler sent for Eberstein, who found him 'livid with rage'.37
3. Irving's whole account of this incident lacks any kind of credibility when checked against the sources. The evidence offered by Irving for the encounter between Eberstein and Hitler is the 'testimony of Wilhelm Brückner', which Irving provides no further details about and which he has not disclosed to the court. Brückner was a close associate of Hitler, and as such, his testimony has to be treated with due caution. Brückner boasted after the war that between 1930 and 1940, when was the Head of Hitler's Adjutantur, he saw Hitler almost every single day. Brückner was also an Obergruppenführer in the SA, in which he had already been a Führer (according to another of Hitler's loyal followers) before 1923.38 Irving only provides an incomplete reference for Brückner's testimony, which could not be located in the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich. The only document which could be located was a summary of a statement of Brückner, written by a German historian. According to this summary, Brückner claimed that Hitler 'is said to have raged' when he was informed of the burning Munich synagogue. However, Brückner does not confirm Irving's statement that Hitler sent for Eberstein. The statement merely mentions that 'Brückner betook himself to Hitler, probably accompanied by the Munich Police President Baron von Eberstein.' Thus, even Irving's main witness is not sure whether Eberstein was with Hitler or not; he only thinks he 'probably' was.39
 
4. The claim that Hitler spoke in anger to Eberstein is advanced by another of Irving's sources, Hitler's adjutant Nicolaus von Below, in a transcribed interview with Irving.40 As will be shown later in this report, however, this is a highly unreliable source. Little weight should be placed by serious historians on von Below's claims as reported by Irving. In fact, it is unlikely that the exchange between Hitler and Eberstein took place in the manner described by Irving. It seems unlikely that Hitler was 'livid with rage' after he had instructed Goebbels only a few hours previously that the Jews were to be given 'a taste of the public anger for a change', as Goebbels had noted in his diary. Also, in his testimony at the Nuremberg trial, Eberstein himself never mentioned such a meeting with Hitler, although there was no reason for him not to have mentioned it had the meeting actually taken place. Irving is of course familiar with the trial records, and must know that they cast grave doubt on his version of events, which is no doubt why he ignores them in this instance.41
5. Most importantly, if he really had found Hitler 'livid with rage' about the pogrom, they why did Eberstein send a telex later the same night to the Gestapo in Augsburg, Nuremberg, Würzburg and Neustadt, repeating the order that the police were not to interfere in the 'actions against the Jews' which were taking place all over Germany?42 This would appear to have been a deliberate flouting of Hitler's wishes, which would have been inconceivable. In order to overcome this problem, Irving claims that the   instruction to the Gestapo in Augsburg and the other towns was sent out before Eberstein's supposed 'bawling out' by Hitler.43 But this would mean that Hitler was not informed about the nationwide pogrom until after 2 a.m. on the morning of 10 November, the time when Eberstein sent his order out. At one point, Irving does indeed suggest this, claiming in a lecture given in 1983 that von Below had told him during their interview: 'Mr. Irving, the first thing that Hitler knew about the night of broken glass throughout the pogrom that evening was when the phone rang at 2.00 in the morning in our adjutants' apartment.'44 But we know that large numbers of Nazi officials of all ranks were informed about it hours before. It is inconceivable that Hitler was kept in the dark when everyone else knew what was going on. Moreover, Irving's 1983 claim is not borne out by the transcript of his interview with von Below, where no time at all is given for the phone call, so that it appears to be pure invention on Irving's part.45
6. According to a number of other testimonies, the leading officials in Munich received details of the pogrom well before midnight. Heydrich received first reports at around 11.15 p.m. on the night of 9 November, his close associate SS-Gruppenführer Karl Wolff found out about the burning of the synagogues and other excesses about five minutes later, and Eberstein received reports of a burning synagogue in Munich before a   quarter to midnight.46 Two of these sources, which this Report will examine in greater detail below, also provide convincing evidence for the conclusion that Hitler himself was informed about the pogrom before midnight. Irving is familiar with these sources, but he suppresses them because they would seriously undermine his attempt to dissociate Hitler from the pogrom.
7. Reich Propaganda Minister Goebbels and Gauleiter Wagner were also informed of the first destructive actions against Jewish synagogues and shops well before midnight.47 Most of these leading Nazi officials were present at midnight at the swearing in of SS troops at the Feldherrnhalle, where Hitler spoke to the new recruits. Irving himself has acknowledged in the past that Hitler was informed of the pogrom before midnight on 9 November 1938, a fact which completely discredits his own later claim that Hitler was informed only after Eberstein's telex was sent at 2.10 am on 10 November 1938.48 And Hitler, as we have seen, had already ordered that 'The Jews must for once feel the people's fury', so why should he have any reason to be angry about what was going on.

Notes

35. Irving, Goebbels, p. 277.
36. Irving, 'On Contemporary History', The Journal of Historical Review Vol. 5 (1984).
37. Irving, Goebbels, p. 277. In The War Path, p.p. 164-5, Irving merely claims that Hitler 'angrily sent' for Eberstein 'and told him to restore order', not that Hitler was 'livid with rage' when Eberstein arrived.
38. BA Berlin, Film 55002, Vernehmung des Wilhelm Brückner, 26.8.1947; IfZ, ED 100/203, Bl. 407, statement by Schaub.
39. IfZ, Zs-243/I, Aktenvermerk Dr. Freiherr von Siegler, Betreff: Besuch von Herrn Heim am 1. Oktober 1952, written on 2.10.1952: 'soll getobt haben... Brückner begab sich wahrscheinlich in Begleitung des Münchner Polizeipräsidenten Frhr. v. Eberstein, zu Hitler.'
40. Irving interview with von Below, 18 May 1968, in, folder 51(a).
41. Der Prozess gegen the Hauptkriegsverbrecher, Vol. XX, pp. 320-21.
42. Eberstein to Staatspolizeistellen Augsburg, Nuremberg, Würzburg, Neustadt, 10 November 1938, 2.10 a.m., in BDC Berlin, BDC Ordner 240?I
43. Irving, The War Path, p. 279.
44. Irving, 'On Contemporary History', The Journal of Historical Review, Vol. 5 (1984).
45. Irving interview with von Below, 18 May 1968, in folder 51(a).
46. Der Prozess gegen die Hauptkriegsverbrecher vor dem Internationalen Militärgerichtshos , Vol. XLII, pp. 510-12, and Vol. XX, pp. 320-21, and Zeugenschrift des Instituts für Zeitgeschichte, Karl Wolff, 22. 3. 1948, cited in Irving discovery, V, document 120.
47. E. Fröhlich (ed.), Die Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels, Vol. I/6 (Munich, 1998), p. 180.
48. Irving, The War Path (London, 1984), p. 164.
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