Index to papers of and about Dr Helmuth Greiner, KTB-Führer des OKW: keeper of the official High Command war diary August 12, 1942 - March 17, 1943
WHILE researching for his biography of Adolf Hitler in November 1973 David Irving microfilmed the largely handwritten draft of the 1942-1943 War Diary (Kriegstagebuch) of the OKW (High Command of the German Armed Forces) written by Helmuth Greiner. It is available as Microfilm DJ-91 of the Irving Microfilm Collection, from Microform Academic Publishers Ltd., Main Street, East Ardsley, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF3 2AT, England. This original draft is reproduced here as facsimiles in three large pdf files, pages 001 to 099 (10MB); 101 to 199 (12MB); and 200 to 242 (6.5MB). A full transcript will be posted here shortly (it is labour-intensive work).
The draft is mostly handwritten, but some typescript pages of the 242-page draft are also in the file. In accordance with his working methods, Mr Irving first typed a complete 150-page transcript of the handwritten and typed passages, which is posted with this dossier and the pdf facsimile pages.
In 1973 Mr Irving further obtained from Greiner's widow [Frau Asta Greiner of Wiesbaden, Germany] her husband's unpublished private diaries and the private letters he wrote to her during his Führer Headquarters stint, and these put a different accent on Greiner's wartime opinions and provide much local colour ("Much though we long for rain and cool weather," wrote the OKW diarist Greiner from Werewolf on August 31, 1942, "we dread them too because then it rains in torrents and every lane will become a quagmire within minutes and the humid heat here is said to be particularly grim.")
They confirm Mr Irving's views that such private letters are a more reliable source of opinion than war diaries: once mailed, letters are not easily retrieved and edited. He contributed all these papers to the Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archives) at the time, but when the German Ministry of the Interior ordered him banned from the country and archives in 1993, the archives had to return the entire one-ton Sammlung Irving; the files finally came back to him in October 2006.
Writing Hitler's War, to Mr Irving's surprise he found significant variations between this original draft OKW diary text posted here, and the published text printed as volume III in the official lavishly bound five-volume series Kriegstagebuch des Oberkommando der Wehrmacht edited by Percy Schramm, Greiner's colleague as "KTB-Führer". Because it was fashionably critical of Hitler's achievements, it provided a useful source for conformist historians. With the exception of Mr Irving and Dr Joel Hayward of New Zealand (see below), they relied on the printed diary.
All the war diaries of the OKW Wehmachtsführungsstab, the operations staff of the OKW (German High Command of the Armed Forces) survived except for two, the volume for 1938 and the volume for 1942-1943 (for reference to the volume for 1938 see the 1938-1939 diary of the adjutant of the later Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, Wolf Eberhard, which will be posted elsewhere on this website).
The US Army asked Greiner in post-war captivity to reconstruct the missing OKW diary from his handwritten draft. Unable to resist the temptation, Greiner interpolated numerous negative passages about Adolf Hitler for which there is no trace of support in this draft. Few historians commented on this discrepancy when Mr Irving made it public in the introduction to his Hitler biography, Hitler und seine Feldherren (West Berlin, 1975) and Hitler's War (New York and London, 1977 and 2002).
Dr Hayward, writing his history of the Battle of Stalingrad: Stopped at Stalingrad : The Luftwaffe and Hitler's Defeat in the East 1942-1943 (University Press of Kansas, 1998 ed., 2001 ed.), took the trouble to investigate Mr Irving's claim, and explicitly confirmed his conclusions:
According to the published version of the OKW war diary, Hitler promptly discussed the overall situation with the general staffs of both army and air force, but, "as usual, again no bold decisions are taken. It is as though the Führer is no longer capable of doing so."
The footnote reads: "Irving, Hitler's War, 453. Irving is correct. An examination of the original manuscript (David Irving, Microfilm DJ-91, part of the Irving microfilm series "Records and Documents Relating to the Third Reich" by Microform [Wakefield] Ltd.) reveals that the published version differs in many places from the original manuscript and that all changes cast Hitler in a negative light."
Note too the extreme reticence of the OKW war diary. Although Hitler was explicit on July 31, 1940, about his intention to attack Russia, it is buried in the OKW diary of Greiner in one line thus : "For further utterances of the Führer to Army Commander in Chief see [Warlimont's] note of August 1." Wolf Eberhard recalled in an interview with me in 1970 that when Greiner visited OKH [German Army] headquarters at Fontainebleau in the summer of 1940 he hinted to the Luftwaffe liaison team there that there was to be no invasion of England. "You'll see well enough next spring why nobody's putting any weight into it."
ON NOVEMBER 25, 1942 Greiner actually wrote in his draft that Paulus's "demand for 700 tons" of supplies a day for his beleaguered Sixth Army was evidently exaggerated; Greiner removed this sentence in 1945, and it does not appear in the text subsequently published. (Incidentally in his own "diary" entry of November 25, 1942, Hitler's army adjutant Major Gerhard Engel transplanted Hermann Göring to the Wolf's Lair for a dramatic conference with Hitler -- but Göring was actually shopping that day in Paris.)
Mr Irving further wrote: "The air staff was evidently optimistic, for twice the OKW historian [Greiner] noted that 298 Junkers transport aircraft were available, with a daily capacity of 600 tons." Greiner "improved" his record -- with hindsight -- in 1945 to read : "Only 298 transport planes are with the Fourth Air Force; about 500 are needed."
The most serious omission came on November 27 when Greiner noted after Hitler's afternoon conference: "Enemy's dispositions around Stalingrad could hardly be more favourable for Sixth Army's intentions. The Stalingrad food situation is better than we thought." General Paulus's planned withdrawal of his north-western front was going well. Acording to Greiner's private letters, the mood at the Wolf's Lair that week was one of complacency about Stalingrad, and concern only about Erwin Rommel's retreat in North Africa. On the twenty-ninth, the conference record referred to Field Marshal Erich von Manstein's telegraphed appreciation of the Stalingrad situation: "Arrives at same conclusion as Führer." Needless to say, this compromising sentence was omitted altogether by Greiner from his improved 1945 text.
Manstein's original telegram has survived. In his published memoirs Manstein too "improves" the damning wording which Mr Irving quoted: The Sixth Army should wait to be relieved, since its best chance of breaking out had passed, but "only if" it could be adequately supplied by air. -- Engel promptly used this published (but fake) text in his allegedly wartime diary! Thus history is faked.
Stenografisches Tagebuch geführt von Reichstagsstenograph Karl Thöt (Stenografischer Dienst des Führerhauptquartiers) September 1942 - Mai 1945: Part I, September 1942 - December 1943 | Part II, January 1944 - May 1945