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

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<< (F) Use of unreliable te...

(G) Use of unreliable evidence: testimony of Wilfred von Oven.

1. In 1995 Irving quoted the post-war diaries of Goebbels's propaganda ministry official, Wilfred von Oven, that 'with Dresden, Churchill has fulfilled his first quota [as agreed at Yalta with Stalin] of 300,000 at one fell swoop.'145 This is nothing but von Oven's personal opinion, or more likely a regurgitation of the propaganda of the time. Moreover it is not a contemporary, but a post-war record (which Irving uses despite his declared suspicion of post-war records of any kind). Von Oven had every motive to put himself and his work for the Nazis in a favourable light in this way, by exaggerating the numbers killed at Dresden and falsely claiming that the Allies had apportioned 'quotas' of German dead to each other (a claim for which there is no documentary evidence).
2. In fact there is much better evidence available for the contemporary estimate of deaths at Dresden circulating in the Reich Propaganda Ministry, where von Oven worked.
3. One of the witnesses to Hitler's vengeful desire to start shooting Allied soldiers in retaliation for allied bombings was Hans Fritzsche, radio propaganda chief under Goebbels. At Nuremberg he stated:  
Dr Goebbels explained in the often mentioned "11-o'clock-midday conference" that 40,000 victims were to be lamented in Dresden. At the time one did not know yet that the figure was considerably higher.146 Dr. Goebbels added to the announcement that one way or another this terror had to now be stopped and that Hitler was absolutely determined to have the same number of English, American, and Russian pilots shot as the residents of Dresden who had died.147
4. This is proof enough that in the Propaganda Ministry and in Hitler's headquarters a far lower number was available than that given out as official propaganda, the spurious number merely repeated by von Oven.

Notes

144. Dresden Updated Materials, Joseph P. Trustin (Chief Historian, Historical Division, Office of Information Services Headquarters, United States Air Forces in Europe), Why Dresden Was Bombed. A Review of the Reasons and Reactions (1954, n.p.), pp. 15-17.
145. Focal Point edn., p. 214; Mit Goebbels bis zum Ende, n.d., Buenos Aires, vol. ii, no page number.
146. Quite the contrary, the number was suprisingly exact.
147. Der Prozeß gegen die Hauptkriegverbrecher vor dem Internationalen Militärgericchtshof, vol. XVII, p. 283. Irving himself has collected extensive material on this episode and gave it prominence in his book Hitler's War, (1977 ed.) pp. 771-72.
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