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Karl P. recalls fond memories of an American historian we both admired, in a letter on Sunday, December 17, 2000


Memories of Charles Burdick


YOU probably don't remember me, but I met you at Charles Burdick's house, probably in the early to mid-1970s, when I was an M.A. student in history. You had a young and very attractive young lady with you (from Italy, I think) and you had rented a car in L.A. and drove up Highway 1 to Burdick's place in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

You were impressed with the scenic drive. You stayed at Charles's place for about an hour or so and swapped stories over beer and potato chips and maybe some pretzls. Charles had thrust $20 into my hand when I arrived to deliver a paper and had me scurry to the nearest store (about five miles away) for refreshments pending your unexpected arrival.

He had just received a call from you letting him know you were about half an hour away. I also seem to remember you grousing over the German publisher's treatment of Hitler's War.

I don't know if you know that Charles died a couple or three years ago in Ferndale, Calif. of cancer. He was a dear friend and colleague. Anyway, since your name has come up in conversation for time to time, I thought I would drop in and say Hello, partly out of curiosity.

Karl P., Ph.D.


PS: (Monday, December 18, 2000) Yes she was attractive! Charles said later that she made Marilyn Monroe look like a boy, and I would find it hard not to agree.

David Irving


Carla V.YES indeed. It was Wednesday July 6, 1976; I had completed work on the first edition of Hitler's War, which The Viking Press (New York) were to publish in 1977; Ullstein Verlag had just published it in Germany in May as Hitler und seine Feldherren, their chief executive Wolf Jobst Siedler having concealed from me that they had made sweeping alterations to my text (and opinions) without informing me. I had had no alternative but to order all sales of the book stopped immediately. I was already working on my new biography, Churchill's War, and was to spend a few days working in the Hoover Library at Stanford University, a few miles from Charles Burdick's forest cabin. He was an unforgettable "shirtsleeves" historian of the old mould: incorruptible, straight as a die, and good at his craft as well. As for the young Italian girl: that was Carla Venchiarutti, one of the most beautiful and gifted women I had ever met or employed; she laboured as my assistant from 1975 to the end of the decade. That week in San Francisco was also memorable for Barber Shop quartets. It was an annual competition, apparently, and those quartets were everywhere: every elevator at the Hilton opened to reveal such a quartet in mid-rehearsal. Carla told me she even ran into three quartets rehearsing on the ferry-ride out to Alcatraz. -- I published an obituary of Burdick in Action Report No. 14.

Carla Venchiarutti, of Udine

© Focal Point 2000 David Irving