Posted Wednesday, January 8, 2003

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I wonder if these ambassadors ever realized the responsibility they bore, in terms of later blood and suffering?


January 6, 2003 (Monday),

A SUPPORTER sends me an angry e-mail, because I rejected "Salvadore Astucia" (a rather pretentious pseudonym for an American) for last year's Cincinnati weekend as a speaker.

I reply:

His rhetoric was so violent that to have associated Cincinnati with it would have destroyed what I have spent five years building (and last year's function lost $15,000, which is why I am very carefully nurturing it).

My website, books and activities have a very carefully orientated thrust; if another person wishes to propagate more violent views, that is his First Amendment right, but then he must build, finance and operate his own platform!

Off to Cambridge today. At Churchill College I work on the rest of the 1944 diary of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay; he was General Dwight D Eisenhower's naval chief during the Normandy invasion. The archivist tells me he cannot recall any other person having bothered to read the pudgy blue leather-bound volume. It has taken four days' hard work to read the tiny, spidery pencilled handwriting of the 1944 volume, and to transcribe from it what I need for Churchill's War, vol. iii, about 60 pages of single spaced typing; the diary ends on December 31, and there are a few brief notes for 1945 and jokes, including one about Georgie Patton, on the back fly-leaves. Then silence. I go back to the shelves to check up when Ramsay died (in a plane crash, I recall), and it is rather a shock to find that he was killed just two days after the diary I have finished transcribing.

Sir Nevile HendersonI then turn to the "diary" of Sir Eric Phipps, Britain's ambassador to Berlin 1933-1937, which the library recently acquired, which I suspect is just rehashed from his dispatches; anyway, the Foreign Office refused him permission in 1942 to publish it.

I have no doubt whatever that people like him, with their snooty, sardonic, old-Etonian attitude, were largely responsible for the pre-war souring of relations between Germany and Britain; I wonder if these ambassadors ever realized the responsibility they bore, in terms of later blood and suffering? His diaries are spiced with witty epigrams and poems in flawless French, which clearly indicates which side of the divide his own sympathies lay.

Phipps (called a "drunken buffoon" by Hitler and, yes, his diaries do reveal a certain taste for official banquets) was replaced in April 1937 by Sir Nevile Henderson, left, who did his level best to repair the damage that Phipps had done. But by then Fleet Street had stepped in, with its maniac drumbeat bark for war; and the voice of Winston Churchill, now in the pay of The Focus, was beginning to bleat in the pages of the daily press as well. I read Henderson's Failure of a Mission when I was perhaps 13, and it deeply impressed me. I can recommend it as an introduction to what really caused World War II.


DER Spiegel is starting a serial revealing the history of the bombing of German cities, and of course saying that Adolf Hitler started it. I find in Phipps' diary however a passage where Hitler is clearly calling for the prohibition of all bombing as a war crime back in the 1930s.

May 14, 1936 [Hitler receives him with Ribbentrop. Air treaty impossible given the size of Russia's huge air force.] "He again urged general prohibition of bombing altogether as being far more practical."

Despite all the noisy promotional suggestions to the contrary, Der Spiegel is not the first to publish the appalling story of our saturation bombing offensive. Back in 1961 and 1962 Neue Illustrierte (Cologne) published a 37 week series of articles giving the inside story, based on interviews with hundreds of airmen and the then available docments and the recently released British official history, The Strategic Air Offensive against Germany.

I know, because Werner Höfer, editor of Neue Illustrierte, commissioned me to write that series. We went right across Germany, from city to city, and the magazine increased its circulation by 1 million in those weeks. The magazine carried magnificent photos spread across double pages which stunned the Germans, who had never seen them -- I remember one particularly vivid photograph, looking vertically downwards from the bomb bay of a B-17 Flying Fortress, showing another B-17 right beneath it, its starboard wing broken off like a leaf and doubled back by the bomb that had fallen right through it.

I remember that series well. I wrote it forty-one years ago… No German historian was daring to touch such a sensitive subject! Ja, die feige deutsche Historikerschaft!

Home from Cambridge at 7 p.m. Frazzled.


January 7, 2003 (Tuesday),

Up at 7:45 a.m. History master at Oundle phones, to ask if I can step in at short notice and speak to 240 of their fifth and sixth formers on Friday; they have been let down by a speaker. He has "Churchill's War", vol. ii: "Triumph in Adversity", and thinks it is a spectacularly good book. Yes indeed. He then remarks that two years ago they had Richard Evans to speak there, and that he was absolutely dreadful. He wanted to speak on the Holocaust, but the school asked him not to as they had that as part of their course and the students were fed up to their back teeth with it.

Evans had arrived late and ill-prepared, shuffled his notes, was a poor speaker and seemed to know little of what he was talking about. "I shouldn't speak ill of any of my speakers," says the teacher, "but for Evans I will make an exception. I told him that you were a magnificent researcher, and that other historians round the world like Gordon Craig and Hans Mommsen had spoken famously of you."

EvansI said yes, but Evans had derided them all as ignorant and lazy, and for that reason we had accorded to him the icon of a skunk. I confessed that I too, if I had been paid a quarter of a million pounds as a fee by one party in a trial, would have found it hard to remain balanced and neutral. But then, of course, I don't take payments of money for my opinions.

For the Lipstadt Trial, Evans had hired a team of postgraduates and they had spent twenty man-years trawling through my thirty books looking for errors; they had found less than twenty, but flourished them with triumph in the High Court as proof of my distortion and falsification of history (e.g. I had misread one word written in Heinrich Himmler's appalling handwriting in 1941, long since corrected in the latest editions of Hitler's War).

[--] says that a female historian at Cambridge had told him privately that Evans chaired a committee on which she sat, and that he was the most appalling chairman they had ever had. I wonder how such people get their jobs?

All day with an assistant at the Public Record office, reading Cabinet Office files for 1944. As we leave I catch sight of a familiar face at Table 31 beneath a mop of rusty fair hair. It is Robert Jan Van Pelt, Evans's expert witness on Auschwitz, studying a file intently.

I am impressed. It is not often that we see a conformist historian in an archive, doing actual field work. I wrote Pelt a letter some years back recommending that he do just that. Seems like he has learned something from the revisionists after all. Of course, he may find it difficult to bend the files in the archives into shape to fit his own hypotheses. I shake hands briefly with him as I pass (he goes pink) and hand him a slip of paper, reading: "You will find I have posted the entire Aumeier file, 150 pages, on my website," and give him the URL.

Seven p.m. to Lady M's for dinner in Kensington. Six others there, with an empty chair left, and a place set, for my kind backer Jeannot, killed in that mysterious road accident in Texas just a year ago. M. remarks on the Tutankhamen curse that seems to afflict all my wealthier backers: Henry K., the Prince, and then Jeannot. But we expect to see the curse lifted in the next few weeks. Barrister Adrian, who is there, talks well of the prospects of our coming action against Penguin Books [The Last Gavel].

Sir Richard Body, who retired recently after forty years as a Conservative MP, sits to my right; his son went to school with me, in Brentwood, I recall. As did the son of his predecessor, Sir Bernard Braine. Many a quip was muttered in Billericay, his constituency, about body succeeding brain.

BlairHe is most kind about "Churchill's War", vol. ii: "Triumph in Adversity", and I leave a copy of Hitler's War with Professor Brian Thwaites, who talks volubly during the dinner about his crystallizing plans to force legal action in the High Court against Tony Blair (right) to prevent the war crimes and crimes against peace that he seems determined to commit in our names against Iraq.

Some good legal thoughts here from Adrian, who suggests that an Iraqi citizen should apply for a qui timet injunction or restraining order. That is one of the delights of the British constitution. Only Her Majesty can declare war; so long as Blair is bent on waging war without declaring it, he is an ordinary citizen committing an unlawful act and must personally face the consequences. Ho-ho.

Where is the Conservative party which should be speaking this kind of language? Melting down and trickling away between the cobblestones of Westminster, and soon destined to become invisible.

After that I work until 2, when Benté comes up from the dungeons, or Grumpyland as I sometimes call the lower floor, to ask me to stop rumstering around: namely, thinking too noisily.


 [Previous Radical's Diary]

on this website:

 Dossier on The Final Gavel (password protected)
 Sir Eric Phipps diary: a guide to
Global vendetta
[This is the early draft of a publication being prepared on the international campaign mounted to silence to author David Irving since 1989. In its final form it will be longer, illustrated, and have links to key documents on which the narrative is based]

[Download a different and better printed form as a pdf file]
© Focal Point 2003 [F] e-mail: Irving write to David Irving