John Miller, asks (Thursday, December 30, 2004) about the authenticity of the published diaries of Hitler's army adjutant
Can we rely on the diaries of Gerhard Engel?
DO you feel that Lieutenant-General Gerhard Engel's entire diary is a post-war fabrication, or do you think some of it is reliable, such as the following line from an essay on a website that appears not to be anti-Catholic, per se. The website listed quotes of famous/infamous people, alphabetically by last name. One of several quotes attributed to Adolf Hitler was the following:
"I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so." --Adolph Hitler [private conversation with SS Adjutant Gerhard Engel, on the eve of the Second World War, as per Gerhard's diary, Oct. 1941]
I noticed that only the month and year of the diary entry were indicated. One would think that a diary would also indicate the day of month the alleged conversation had occurred.
David Irving replies:
I had the entire "diary" at my disposal in General Engel's Düsseldorf office for a day in the late 1960s. [Engel was Hitler's army (not SS) adjutant from 1938 to March 1943 when he was sent to the eastern front under something of a cloud, as the other adjutants hinted to me; he later distinguished himself in action, and became a post-war arms dealer]. With his permission, I made extracts. I became convinced then that it was not genuine. It consisted of about 600 loose pages in two ring binders, typed on more than one typewriter. Engel himself told me that he had got into contract difficulties, and he asked me to keep secret the fact that I had seen the pages.
The Sunday Times (London) had bought certain rights in them, I believe, but then smelt a rat. The Institut für Zeitgeschichte also bought publication rights for 50,000 deutschmarks, and refused to let any outsiders like me use them; I got many sniffs at them from their Institut für Zeitgeschichte card index however, and I began warning the institute of inconsistencies when compared with genuine diaries (Walter Hewel, Fritz Todt, Frau Anneliese Schmundt, etc).
Thus the Engel "diary" related a showdown confernce between Hitler and Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring over the Stalingrad airlift on one date in November 1942 when the genuine diary of Field-Marshal von Richthofen proved that Göring was actually shopping in Paris (when researching my Göring biography I later found actual purchase receipts of that date in Göring 's papers archived at Suitland, Maryland).
Klink, the MGFA (Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt) historian of the Stalingrad battle, son of Reichsfrauenführerin Frau Scholz Klink, then spotted another particularly bad error: Engel's "diary" quoted Field-Marshal Erich von Manstein's telegram from Stalingrad, advising Hitler to get the 6th Army out; that was however from Manstein's postwar memoirs, the actual wartime (November 1942) telegram, which Klink found in the army files, said the precise opposite! Manstein had doctored his memoirs.
Dr Anton Hoch, the Institut für Zeitgeschichte's chief archivist, privately told me of the day they confronted Engel with the unfortunate fact that the paper had now been tested by a laboratory and shown to be of post-war manufacture. (That was after, and no doubt because, I had warned them urgently that the diaries were not authentic).
The chief of the Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv in Freiburg, Manfred Kehrig, then told me privately that when they too began warning the Institut für Zeitgeschichte against their publication, there was a round table conference at the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, which he attended, at which Prof Helmut Krausnick (I believe) or Dr Hildegard von Kotze, the published diaries' editor, explained their institute's predicament: namely that several Germans were in jail on the basis of "expert affidavits" (Gutachten) submitted by the Institut für Zeitgeschichte at post-war German war crimes trials, based on the institute's set of the Engel diaries; if those affidavits had to be rescinded now, as of course they should have been, at once, the trials might, ahem, have to be restaged. Better therefore to let sleeping dogs lie.
The fake "diaries" were published by the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, with a very inconspicuous caveat in the brief Introduction about possible problems of authenticity. Flucht nach vorne, is what Germans call that. No wonder the Institut für Zeitgeschichte began disliking me when I started publicising the above disgraceful story.