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  The Sunday Times

London, Sunday, February 18, 2007

David Irving, Rolf Hochhuth, 1966

In July 1966 David Irving (left) invited Rolf Hochhuth to stay at his London partment; fearing arrest in civil proceedings, Hochhuth has not visited London since.

KGB and the plot to taint 'Nazi pope'

by John Follain

THE KGB hatched a plot to smear the late Pope Pius XII as an antisemitic Hitler supporter and fostered a controversial play that tarnished the pontiff, according to the highest-ranking Soviet bloc intelligence officer to have defected to the West.

click for origin

David Irving comments:

WHAT an extraordinary story about Hochhuth, and what utter rubbish; he was my best friend in those years and still is a good friend; I have two chapters about him in my memoirs. There was never a hint of Soviet influence -- which is not to say he may not have been fed a corrupt dossier in some clever way. He could be very naive.

Irving, Hochhuth

David Irving first met Hochhuth in the Hamburg editorial offices of Der Stern on Jan 25, 1965

   The recently relesaed files in the Public Record office in London show that the Government suspected at that time I too was receiving Soviet financial support, otherwise how could I be living in my fine apartment in Mayfair just on the income of a struggling author. Sadly untrue; or Schön war's, as the Germans say.
   In fact I worked 365 days a year, many hours a day, for forty years to build up what we had -- and saw it all seized, lock stock and barrel, in 2002.

Forty years on: Rolf Hochhuth in 2005

Former Lieutenant-General Ion Mihai Pacepa, who headed the Romanian secret service before defecting in 1978, has broken a silence of nearly half a century to reveal that he was involved in the operation code-named Seat12, a Kremlin scheme launched in 1960 to portray Pius XII "as a cold-hearted Nazi sympathiser".

The result, according to Pacepa, was the 1963 play The Deputy, by Rolf Hochhuth, which argued that Pius XII had supported Hitler and encouraged him to launch the Holocaust. It ignited a furious debate over Pius XII's attitude towards Hitler.

The controversy was revived when the director Costa-Gavras adapted the play for his 2002 film Amen, whose poster depicted a swastika twisted into the cross.

The cold war plan had the motto "Dead men cannot defend themselves" as the Pope had died in 1958. "Because Pius XII had served as the papal nuncio in Munich and Berlin when the Nazis were beginning their rise to power, the KGB wanted to depict him as an antisemite who had encouraged Hitler's Holocaust," Pacepa wrote in an article published by the National Review.

To obtain original Vatican documents, the KGB recruited the Romanian foreign intelligence service to pretend that Romania was ready to restore its broken relations with the Vatican. Pacepa said he was granted access to its archives by Monsignor Agostino Casaroli, who was in charge of confidential talks with Soviet bloc authorities.

Pacepa persuaded Casaroli, whom he met at a Geneva hotel, that he needed to find historical roots that would help Romania to justify publicly its change of heart towards the Vatican. For two years, three spies posing as priests smuggled documents out of the Vatican archives and the Apostolic Library to be photographed. "Everything was immediately sent to the KGB via special courier," Pacepa said. "In fact, no incriminating material against the pontiff ever turned up. Nevertheless, the KGB kept asking for more documents."

On a visit to Bucharest in 1963, General Ivan Agayants, chief of the KGB's disinformation department, told Pacepa that Seat12 had "materialised into a powerful play attacking Pope Pius XII, entitled The Deputy", Pacepa related.

In his article he claims that Agayants took credit for the outline of the 1963 play, by the unknown Hochhuth, and added that its appendices of background documents had been put together by his experts with the help of the material that Pacepa had obtained.

The play, published in book form with an appendix that Hochhuth called "historical documentation", was translated into some 20 languages.

"Today, many people who have never heard of The Deputy are sincerely convinced that Pius XII was a cold and evil man who hated the Jews and helped Hitler to do away with them," Pacepa said.

ASKED about Pacepa's article, Hochhuth has denied any KGB influence and insisted that the play was all his own work. In the early 1960s he defended his portrayal of Pius XII, saying: "The facts are there -- 40 crowded pages of documentation in the appendix to my play."

Hochhuth later wrote another controversial play, Soldiers, in which he accused Churchill of ordering the murder of Wladyslaw Sikorski, the Polish general.

The Vatican is now pursuing its efforts to have Pius XII declared a saint. Among those who have defended Pius is Israel Zoller, the chief rabbi of Rome in 1943-44, who said the Pope had instructed bishops to allow Jews to seek refuge in convents and monasteries.

Father Peter Gumpel, a member of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said of Pacepa's article: "We already knew that Soviet Russia was very hostile to Pius XII and started a fully fledged campaign against him.

"There was definitely a communist influence over the play."

© Copyright Times Newspapers Ltd


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Ein spannungsreiches Vierteljahrhundert: Der Briefwechsel Rolf Hochhuth / Golo Mann: "Ein Kronzeuge für Hochhuths These war der britische Historiker David Irving, dem der Dramatiker freundschaftlich verbunden war. Diese Beziehung sollte in der Folge das Verhältnis zwischen Mann und Hochhuth stark belasten."
Der Schriftsteller Hochhuth ist aus Sicht des Zentralrats der Juden in Deutschland ein «geistiger Brandstifter». Diese habe er mit seiner Verteidigung des Holocaust-Leugners Irving bewiesen.
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Germany's Jews force Rolf Hochhuth to eat crow: apologises for backing David Irving as serious historian
Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin, 26. Februar 2005, Hochhuth relativiert seine Irving-Äußerung
N24, 24. Februar 2005, "Ehrenerklärung" für Irving: Giordano kritisiert Hochhuth, 25. Februar 2005, Hochhuth will öffentlich mit [Paul] Spiegel reden Rolf Hochhuth will Streitgespräch mit Paul Spiegel (dpa)
LVZ Online [Leipziger Volkszeitung], 25. Februar 2005, Hochhuth vor dem Fall?
Pro-Israel Springer group slams Germany's leading leftist playwright Rolf Hochhuth for praising Mr Irving Der Tagesspiegel: Rolf Hochhuth lobt Holocaust-Leugner | Die Zeit: Jens Jessen, "Auf der Suche nach dem Skandal: Hochhuth und der Holocaust."
Rolf Hochhuth verteidigt Holocaust-Leugner [picture]
Hochhuth talks about his demand for a bombing war museum in Germany, and his forty year friendship with David Irving | pictures of David Irving with Rolf Hochhuth
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Neues Deutschland [Germany's communist newspaper], 15. März 2005: Hochhuth lesen! Der rechten »Jungen Freiheit« gab Rolf Hochhuth ein Interview. Was soll man von ihm halten?
Westdeutsche Zeitung, 15. März 2005: Geplanter Gastauftritt von Rolf Hochhuth sorgt für Ärger: Am 24. April kommt der Historiker als Gast der Else-Lasker-Schüler-Gesellschaft als Diskussionspartner nach Wuppertal.
Die Jüdin Eva Menasse in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Skandale: Keine Gnade fur Hochhuth [No Mercy]

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