DAVID IRVING ANSWERS a student asking for his views on the Anne Frank diary
TELEPHONE 01-499 9409
London, February 15th, 1986
Dear Sarah Jules,
Thank you for your letter of the 10th.
I will answer your questions from memory as I have given my original file on the Anne Frank controversy to the archives of the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, which houses the rest of my research records. However, you will find yourself that the human memory, aside from its defects, has a useful ability to synthesize, assess and analyse the data fed into it. As far as my own person is concerned you can obtain relevant information from the enclosed publication Torpedo Running; page 2 deals, incidentally with my exposure of the fake Hitler diaries.
Please don't take any of what I write in this letter as in any way reflecting on Anne Frank or her parents. Her tragic death in a German prison camp at the end of the war is something that cannot be overlooked. I venture to suggest that in the long run a good case could be made out for those who say that we were all to blame for her death, because it was the Germans who put her in there, and it was our deliberate systematic bombing of the food centres, supply system, transportation routes and pharmaceutical factories that produced the typhus epidemic that finally killed her.
In the immediate postwar years the luckless Dutch girl became (posthumously) the pivot of an unattractive propaganda campaign directed by the victors against the vanquished; as a by-product of that, she became incidentally a source of substantial profit to her sorrowing father Otto Frank, who became wealthy from the sales of her purported diary and of the New York play and film based on it.
I was rather suspicious of the content of the Frank diary when I read excerpts. I have never read the whole thing -- life is too short for that -- but the excerpts struck me as written too maturely for a girl who was only about thirteen at the time. Perhaps you can judge that better than I.
There have been textual analyses of the content from this point of view, and they seem to cast doubt on the authenticity. A North German citizen, Ernst
Römer, made the charge publicly that the diaries were faked. A court in Lübeck tried him for criminal libel (in West Germany it is a criminal offence to libel sections of the dead, i.e. to say things about them that are demonstrably defamatory and untrue.) The court action was heard in the emotional atmosphere which still persists in West Germany and which makes it very difficult to arrive at the truth. The upshot was that the court ruled in its Judgement that the diaries were genuine. It had heard evidence in particular from Otto Frank (who testified in writing, by affidavit, I believe) and from handwriting experts (graphologists) who testified on oath that the handwriting throughout the diary or diaries that they had scrutinized was consistent, i.e., that it had all been written by the same person. Please bear that in mind!
I corresponded at some length with her father Otto Frank, who was by that time living in retirement in Switzerland. (If you wish to see those letters, by all means write to Hermann Weiss, Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Leonrodstraße 46b, 8 München 19, West Germany: he understands English.) The Anne Frank foundation that he had set up was running an exhibition site, a publishing business and other lucrative operations in Amsterdam.
He was, naturally, outraged when I asked him questions about the diary of his daughter; my letters were phrased with the utmost tact, but he became more and more entrenched, refusing to allow anybody to examine the diaries, and particularly not me. I suggested that he allow the diaries to be examined by an independent laboratory, and named one particular firm in the City of London, Hehner & Cox Ltd., who specialize in detecting frauds for insurance companies. They can tell from the chemical content of ink signatures how many years old a signature is; they can examine documents microscopically, by laser and by ultra violet light and tell how old they are and the country of manufacture. Of course genuine diaries sail through such tests easily. Diaries are hard to fake for precisely that reason. Otto Frank replied indignantly refusing to allow the diaries out of his custody, even into the hands of a reputable laboratory.
My cursory study of the documents (cursory, because I have not made it a principal task to examine this matter) drew my attention to the odd fact that one Meyer Levin, a New York scriptwriter, had sued Otto
Frank in the New York courts for "his share of the proceeds" as he had worked with the father writing the diary. In New York, I obtained the Court documents and read the case, but it appeared to me that Levin was only concerned in getting at the royalties from the film and stage-play. That line of investigation was a blind alley.
In the West German edition of Hitler's War, my Hitler biography (Hitler und seine Feldherren, published by Ullstein Verlag, Berlin, 1975), I mentioned many fake diaries in the introduction, and said that incidentally in my view the Anne Frank diaries were suspect too. Otto Frank took legal steps against Ullstein, brandishing the Lübeck Judgment I mentioned above. Without even consulting me, Ullstein paid him compensation and promised to delete that sentence from later editions (which were not printed, as I forbade further publication anyway because of a separate dispute between us.) So you see the story gets more complicated.
Ernst Römer was meanwhile continuing his campaign. It cost him a lot of money, savage fines, and the loss of his job (in West Germany the laws are very tough: a schoolteacher or civil servant can very easily be fired for getting involved in anything that impugns the sacred cows, shibboleths or other propaganda bases of the postwar Republic.)
I do not want to comment on the rights and wrongs of his campaign, but it has turned up some interesting data, which I copy and enclose [not in this file] for you, although it is in German. In summary, his lawyers were able to get a Court injunction ordering Otto Frank (who died a year or two ago) to make the diaries available for laboratory scrutiny.
It may be that he was just a crotchety old gentleman, who knew he was in the right and did not see why he should bother himself with such matters; it may be that he had a deeply guilty conscience about profiting from the forgery (or embellishment: bear this in mind) of a diary in his dead daughter's name.
Whatever the cause, Frank again refused to let the diary out of his grasp, whereupon the West German police sent two trained forensic laboratory experts with their equipment all the way down to Switzerland to examine the documents in situ.
Their conclusion shocked the world, although for propaganda reasons the impact has been far less than it would have been in other circumstances. Parts of the diary, the detectives found, had been written in ball-point ink. Now, although I have found evidence in the archives of some top Americans using a ballpoint-like ink as early as 1944 (the head of the British secret service in America William Stephenson signed at least one letter in that ink in 1944: it's in the Beaverbrook papers in the House of Lords archives), ball-point pens did not become generally available until the early 1950s.
The Otto Frank position therefore became very delicate. The earlier Lübeck Judgment had been based in part on a graphologist's sworn statement that the diary had been written throughout by one and the same hand! If so, it followed that therefore it had all been written in the 1950s or later, long after Anne's death.
Otto Frank subsequently claimed that the diary was not, after all, all in the same hand, and admitted that it had been embellished by others, hence the ball-point ink. The Anne Frank Foundation in Amsterdam commissioned exhaustive new tests and promised publication of the entire unabridged diaries and papers. But, as the enclosed photocopies say, they have postponed again and again the publication of their findings.[*]
There the matter rests for the moment: and with that, young lady, I return to my own writing.
With all good wishes for your examinations, and the hope that you keep me informed of your own conclusions on the Anne Frank case, I remain,
Miss Sarah Jukes,