Documents on Real History

Letters to David Irving on this Website

Unless correspondents ask us not to, this Website will post selected letters that it receives and invite open debate.

Quick navigation



Gary Goodenow of Miami, Florida, writes Wednesday, October 25, 2000



Prof. Ian Kershaw and his sources


I THINK that the reality is that, like me, Prof. Ian Kershaw (right) does not speak German (and also likely cannot read Sütterlin script). Rather than admit to readers that he would have been severely handicapped in interviews or documentary research that demanded a command of the German language (a command you forged -- I believe -- by forging German steel for a living), Kershaw disparages all related to it as "trite memories", unless of course someone else did the spade work first. In that event, he need only have their book in front of him as he writes. Any college history major worth a Bachelor's degree can (or should be able to) do that.

By his remarks, Kershaw inadvertently takes a page from Mein Kampf where Hitler wrote: "As soon as by one's own propaganda, if the strength of the other sides' is admitted, the cause for doubting one's own right is laid". I quote that to mean that if Kershaw admitted language inability as the reason for failing to Frau Jungemine in person the "trite memories" of Frau Traudl Junge (Hitler's secretary, right) and Herr Otto Günsche, and admitted the significance of that failure to the last 2 chapters of his book, there would be cause to doubt those who have concluded that your interviews of whomever you could locate (even Lida Baarova!) from what writer Ron Rosenbaum quoted you as calling "the Magic Circle", and the probity of your interviews, lulled you from acceptable "stone washing" to unacceptable "white washing". See Ron Rosenbaum, Ch.12, "Explaining Hitler" (New York: Random House 1998). That's why I call the malaise with which you are adjudged to be afflicted "the Magic Circle Syndrome".

I have never given any credence to this "meet the Magic Circle, then become a Nazi" theory, because you seem the only historian that can be said to have it. John Toland met the Magic Circle (see John Toland, Vol.2, "Adolf Hitler", at pp. 1020-3, where he lists all his interview sources, including two interviews with Frau Junge in 1971, and 2 interviews with Otto Günsche in 1963 and 1971). James O'Donnell claimed to have interviewed 50 Magic Circle members. See James O'Donnell, "The Bunker" at pp. 18-20 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1978), a work that the author of "The Holocaust", Gerald Green, called "a riveting, damned near incredible -- but true -- story of the last days inside Hitler's underground hideout", but one which Rosenbaum ignores when diagnosing you with Magic Circle Syndrome.

No one claims Toland or O'Donnell contracted Magic Circle Syndrome from their interviews. And no one ever reported symptoms of Magic Circle Syndrome on Hugh Trevor-Roper, nor on Judge Michael A. Musmanno, who went on to become one of the State of Pennsylvania's most distinguished jurists after he wrote a book about Hitler's death, based completely on interviews, including ones with Frau Junge and Herr Günsche, fresh out of Russian prison, and who had been a Nuremberg judge in the second round of trials, and whom the Israeli government prosecution called to testify against Adolf Eichman. See Michael Musmanno, "Ten Days to Die" (New York: MacFadden Books 1962), another work also ignored by Rosenbaum. So Magic Circle Syndrome seems to have afflicted only you, but Kershaw fears contagion.

Yet Kershaw is the writer now hailed as the foremost authority on Hitler. I think -- at least as far as his book's last two chapters go, because I have not extensively studied earlier periods of Hitler's life -- that the best that can be said for Kershaw is that he is a "master quilter" of patches he got from you, Frau Junge and Anton Joachimsthaler, who to his credit admitted in his book that he was "rounded out" by interviews with Herr Guensche. Kershaw indicated no such "rounding out" by your work, and he probably thinks that post-Lipstadt you should consider yourself lucky to be cited at all. I regret to inform you that such may be the case.

In my humble opinion, Kershaw abdicated his position as a historian by citing as sources only what's in print, while simultaneously disparaging the basis of those very sources as "trite memories". We need to name a Syndrome for that.

Gary Goodenow


YOU are absolutely right; Kershaw got most of it from my Hitler's War.

I am coining the word "conformist" for these historians. They are the opposite of non-conformist. They keep their heads below the parapet, they swim with the tide, they march with the jackbooted throng of fellow conformist historians, and trample dissent and real research underfoot. Watch for that word in coming years; conformist; it's going to pack a punch!

© Focal Point 2001 David Irving