Unless correspondents ask us not to, this Website will post selected letters that it receives and invite open debate.
Peter Wibber inquires about Mr Irving's contacts with Hitler's adjutants, Monday, April 15, 2002
Did Von Below really write this?
I JUST obtained a book by Nicolaus Von Below, Hitler's Luftwaffe Adjutant from 1937-1945, entitled: At Hitler's side. What amazed me about the book was that right away in the introduction he blasts you for untrue statements. Von Below indicated that he either burned or had burned all his papers and diaries at the close of the war.
He says in his first foot note:It is inexplicable why the British historian David Irving should insert in the Foreword to his book Hitler and his Generals (1975) that my diaries are "probably in Moscow". Another Statement by Irving astonishes me: I am supposed to have put at his disposal "unpublished contemporaneous manuscripts and letters" and "subsequently took the trouble -- together with others -- to read through many pages of the text based upon them". I do remember several visits by Irving, when I answered some questions; but the rest is untrue.--Author
Now the book was initially published in Germany in 1980, making him 72 at the time. That's five years after your book. It seems strange such a famous elderly man would give you such prominence quite a long time later. The English translation when this book came out was in the year 2001. I am wondering whether this was newly inserted in the American edition and wasn't in the German at all.
Also note 24 says if you want the true figures for the death toll at Dresden you should look at The Irving Judgment: "David Irving v. Penguin Books and Professor Deborah Lipstadt" [London, 2001] p. 334 from Mr. Justice Gray.
My parents are German and I have been around enough Germans all my life, long enough to know that for such sources, their natural inclination would be to refer to a German source, not some foreigner.
This note is not attributed to the author but does not indicate if it comes from the translator. In fact, there is no reference who made this note at all. To me the close proximity of this trial and these entries makes it smell to high heaven and does not come from Von Below at all.
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David Irving replies:
WHO published the US edition you refer to? But you are right. The late Nicolas von Below (and his wife Maria) were very good friends of myself and my wife; he invited me to visit many times in Detmold and Bochum, where he lived, and in about 1967 he made available to me his typescript memoirs, which he had never published. His son is unfortuntely a typical pinko-Lefty, as a result of the post-war brainwashing. (His daughter Mrs. Manfredo Macioti of Rue G. Stocq 16, Brussels 1050, has all her father's photo albums.)
Hitler with Himmler at the Berghof (the navy captain with his back to the camera is the later Rear-Admiral Karl-Jesco von Puttkamer, Hitler's naval adjutant); far left is Martin Bormann, the Luftwaffe officer in the centre is Nicolaus von Below, Hitler's air force ADC.
I relied on the memoirs typescript particularly for the events of Kristallnacht (he was at Hitler's side that night). Obviously German historians like Joachim Fest and Werner Maser, whom Von Below had with good reason refused to help, were very jealous of this. Now you see the spiteful result!
He himself told me that he believed the Russians must have found his diaries in the bunker in Berlin, and that they no doubt still had them.
I provided to him many chapters of my Hitler's War typescript and he commented on them in interviews and in letters, and he made marginal comments in his own handwriting on chapters which he returned to me. Those chapters, with his handwriting comments, are in my collections of documents housed in the Bundesarchiv and the Institut für Zeitgeschichte in Munich.
I do not know who edited the Von Below memoirs, but there is a long tradition of remoulding such books in Germany for political correctness before publication. The American translator has no doubt added to the book, without enhancing it.
In February 2002, when this mysterious reference was first reported to me, I wrote this letter to the publishers of the UK edition of the "Below memoirs" (Greenhill Books/Lionel Leventhal Ltd., Park House, 1 Russell Gardens, London NW11 9NN); they have yet to reply.
Dear Sir or Madam:
Nicholas von Below, memoirs: At Hitler's Side
I am informed that you are about to publish the above work in the UK, in the jurisdiction of the English High Court. As you will be aware I do not hesitate to take whatever action is necessary to protect my reputation, and we should both find it regrettable if your English edition should contain the defamatory and false passage included in the German edition of this ghost-written book, in which the late Colonel Von Below seems to have implicitly accused me of lying when I wrote in my famous Hitler biography that he had read and commented on certain chapters thereof (I believe your book even has him saying that he never saw my manuscript).
In fact: (a) Von Below was a close acquaintance and gave me full access to his original 1947 memoirs, on which your posthumous memoirs of his are based; (b) he voluntarily read and corrected and commented on several chapters of my Hitler biography; (c) I have, and have donated to the German archives, the original chapters with his many handwritten comments and suggestions on them.
If this defamatory suggestion remains in the UK edition, it is therefore clearly actionable, as your lawyers will already have warned you. Please acknowledge receipt of this letter.