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Posted Thursday, August 13, 1998


From the archives of FOCAL POINT


FROM 1980 TO 1982 David Irving circulated a private newsletter, FOCAL POINT, which ran the original Radical's Diary. We reproduce here the text carried in one 1982 issue.


[THE SKETCH is a detail from an unflattering cartoon published in The Guardian when it reviewed one of David Irving's books. He purchased the original from artist David Smith, whom Focal Point commissioned to produce several skilfully executed caricatures.]

Irving caricature


CALLED ON Kay Halle in Georgetown-the Georgetown that spawned Washington D.C. in North America, not the Georgetown that spun off Jonestown in South America. It was Kay who pushed through the legislation to make Sir Winston Churchill an honorary citizen of the United States. She told me more of the story about his lascivious grandson, "Faster, Winston, Faster!"

TAKES ALL sorts to make an American law officer. At a friend's home in Crystal City, across the Potomac from Georgetown, I met ex-policeman William R., a seemingly wealthy collector of the crankier Nazi memorabilia. He owns an extensive correspondence between Paula Hitler and her famous brother; alas, we do not know what it contains, as R. cannot read German. His fingers were heavy with unsightly gold rings purported to be of the period. Around his neck he wore on a brass chain necklace a hotel key-knob for room No.106 embossed "Dreesen Bad Godesberg." He had bought this for a several thousand dollars from the hotel manager, it being Hitler's bedroom number.

He may have made that innkeeper a very happy man, because it looked quite a modern knob to be. R. pulled out of his back trouser pocket an inch-thick wallet of photographs of his trinkets and relics -- Goering's daggers, Napoleon's sword, etc. The photos were well thumbed, the frayed edges trimmed off again and again until some of them were cameo sized.

American collectors are the bane of European historians. They trade the records of the Third Reich and other empires for their autograph value, like cigarette cards or vintage cars, without being able to read a line of their content. In 1946 a former American Counter-Intelligence Corps agent, Robert G., filched the entire correspondence exchanged between Hitler and Eva Braun as well as her private diaries. This stolen material has vanished from view, and he is not saying who now has it. Perhaps he no longer knows.


He explained when I pounced on him in New Mexico, "I have no interest in publishing anything that may make That Man seem more human."

At 2 pm drove over to Lady Grover to collect her and her three paintings for the R.A. She obliged me to manoeuvre into a very narrow alley behind the Academy to deliver the works. I protested, but she said it was only for a few minutes. I deferred to her wisdom. Sure enough, we were trapped in there for half an hour by cars and vans fore and aft. I was annoyed and showed it, I am afraid. She also raised hackles by passing caustic comment on the other paintings as she passed -- "Just look at that rubbish!" she shrilled. "Poor people! Don't you think it wonderful, David, that the R.A. gives even these hopeless people a chance!"

Often the poor swine was standing nearby -- in one case sitting in a wheelchair -- and caught these pearls of gratuitous artistic criticism scattered around condescendingly by the august Lady G. However, she smiled most sweetly, so I hope they don't mind.

I SEE THAT The Times (Jun l4 [1982]), comments in an article about the Churchill boom on an element of injustice: "Martin Gilbert, according to fellow historians, breaks new ground with his biographical studies and supporting volumes of documents, allowing others like Ted Morgan and William Manchester to cash in with popularized versions. "(Mr Gilbert," added The Times, "could not assist with this article last week as he was involved in a dispute with his publisher about which neither he nor Heinemann would make a statement.)"

Could this be the selfsame dispute about which ... [ETC.] Heinemann's are believed to have printed 50,000 copies of Gilbert's Finest Hour, at £l5.95.

To Lady Grover's at 8 pm and drove her to the black-tie party given by Susan Llewellyn. Her new friend is a young banker with Granvilles, full of charm.


Party excellent, lasted there until 1 a.m. with a small room full of exquisitely clad young ladies telling coarse funny stories, until a zesty Vanessa Wells-Fernandez got to the long shaggy-dog story about the French "feeter peelot" in 1940 who was shot down in France, and was rewarded by his compatriots with a beautiful blond with big bosoms, a bottle of Pernod, a bottle of white wine and a bottle of brandy; the first two bottles were libated over her head and bosom, each act duly explained, and the story ended with zis feeter-peelot pouring the brandy over the blond's private parts, and setting fire to it, explaining: "When I go down, I want to go down in flames!"

After that we went on at someone's suggestion to Annabelle's -- I was curious to see this haunt of the rich, lazy and famous (and occasionally of Paloma, from what she tells me). It looked like a black-plastic version of Leicester Square underground station, but with thumping disco music and even more thumping bar prices.

I dropped off a Helen -- home to Earls Court Road ("At Imperial College we devised a new standard unit of measure," I told her, "the milli-helen. That was the amount of beauty it took to launch one ship"), dumped her babysitter back in Fulham Road on the way back to Duke St, and was home at 4 a.m.

Rim had collected the note but was otherwise not in evidence. An unusual night, dear diary -- "I don't usually do this sort of thing."

ON MY FINAL morning in Washington, one of my favourite cities, -- boasting of a monumental architecture that even Albert Speer would not have disdained to call his own -- worked all morning at the archives printing out captured Austrian and French documents for my Churchill.

But I had a plane to catch. When I left the Congress library, I found that the rain had stopped, the skies were clearing, so I strolled round the Capitol and down the flight of steps for the first time, and walked back to the hotel.

The walk started due west towards the sunset, a most spectacular feast of architecture: London could have done with a L'Enfant to re-plan the streets and skyline after the Blitz.


Instead of which we got the Clores and the Seifferts and inflicted them not only on our Royal parks but on New York's skyline as well.

At last they have ripped down the inconcongruous clutter of clip-joints and drug stores that befouled the north side of Pennsylvania-avenue -- with its temporary traffic islands removable to allow for state funerals and the U.S. forces' occasional displays of imperial military might -- and have laid out broad expanses of ochre coloured sidewalks and a new FBI building, the J. Edgar Hoover building; somebody said it looks like a row of filing cabinets with a couple of top drawers left half open, but it is not a bad government building for all that.

With the possible exception of post de Gaulle France, where the records of the liquidation of the collaborationistes are sealed for all time, historians have the hardest time of all in London.

Churchill's official papers are exclusively reserved for whatever use Martin Gilbert may choose to make of them, sealed until ten years after his final volume appears -- I heard many a historian attending the Annapolis conference this autumn protesting about this extraordinary situation.

Some private sources are revealing however -- like the unpublished parts of the diaries of Labour minister Hugh Dalton which, when analysed, show that he, like Churchill, was not averse to using the top secret Ultra intercepts of German airforce and other Nazi messages to provide himself and his friends with private tips about the imminence of air raids. For security reasons, the blitzed cities themselves could not be warned: but Churchill, Dalton & Co paid heed to the Oracle that spoke from the Government's Code & Cypher School at Bletchley, and fled for the countryside whenever it warned of coming raids.

Afterwards Churchill would don his air commodore's uniform and return to the wreckage, complimenting the East Enders on their fortitude. No doubt Churchill's ministers determined this to be in the country's best interest. But to me, using Ultra like that smacks of profiting from advance information about the Budget. Which brings me back to the name of Hugh Dalton, of course.   

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