7, 2004 (Wednesday)
A "Don" has written to me: "My son-in-law has a photo album which we believe was Adolph Hitler's personal album. Can you recommend where he could get it appraised. We are in the mid-west part of the USA."
I reply: "Please send me a good scan of some of the pictures and of anything that makes you believe it was Hitler's own album. It would be worth quite a lot. I can put you in touch with some people who will pay. What is the provenance of the album, how did it come into your possession? These are important details."
At two-twenty p.m. Benté phones from London. Donations include a magnificent £403 from a Mr H T in South Africa. She says there is also an alarming email, saying my bank account has been closed for suspected fraud, "please open attachment." I warn her that is typical virus trick, Not to open.
There are also two letters from the solicitors DLA, for the Trustee who seized all my property in May 2002 when I was speaking in the USA. One is to her company, Parforce UK Ltd, -- she does not say what about -- and one to me. They are furious that I am fighting back against the official Trustee They are now asking for details of all those who have given me more than £500. A nice try! I reply:
With respect, you are not entitled to ask me to identify friends who choose to give me sums of money, whether of £500 or of £4,999, and whether within or without the jurisdiction, to see us through this difficult time, pay school fees, and the rest. If you think differently please be so good as to advise me of the authorities on which you rely.
This turns out very shortly to be a very pertinent question, unfortunately.
I work on "Churchill's War", vol. iii: "The Sundered Dream" until nine-fifty p.m..
8, 2004 (Thursday)
In the mail here are a couple of small cheques, and a package from my London solicitors, Fenwick & Co. It contains the Trustee's witness statement pursuant to the Court's Order on my application, in which I demand that she returns to me all the history archives and my library, and other "tools of the trade" seized when my Duke Street home was seized by her in May 2002.
One benefit of taking such Court action, is that it forces people to come clean. (A disadvantage is when the opponents, obtaining privileged documents by the same means, post thousands of them on the Internet: that is another story).
The down side is that shocking and totally unexpected facts can then come to light: in this case, that the Trustee, breaking the solemn undertaking she gave to me in writing on more than one occasion [by fax to my counsel, Amhurst, Brown, Colombotti, on Jun 24, 2002 and confirmed to me on Feb 3, 2003] has already sold off many of my most treasured possessions, humble though they were. It now becomes plain why she wrote me on February 6 this year asking me to state precisely when I claimed she had given this undertaking (she undertook to give me two weeks' notice before selling any possessions of mine: this would have enabled my friends around the world to step in and retrieve them for me. I guess there are some people who did not want this to happen.)
I have today received Louise Brittain's witness statement, and will respond point by point (not many).
THE discovery that most of our possessions, painfully accumulated over forty years as a writer, have been secretly sold off for a little over £300 [around $500] is very distressing, and I am quietly depressed by it for much of the afternoon and evening. The octagonal marble table, my pride and joy: How many books and articles I wrote on that table! It was cool and heavy and stable, a delight to work on. Pinned above my typewriter at this moment I have a picture of little Jessica, just four months old in 1994, on her mother's lap, sitting at its edge.
The big partner's desk! Little Pilar's paintings. The dark oak antique escritoire left to me by Mother (£5).
Somebody must be licking their lips somewhere. But to what benefit to Lipstadt and her friends? Among the items exhibited to the Trustee's affidavit is their own balance sheet to date, which reveals that after selling off my Mayfair apartment, home for thirty-eight years, for rather under its million-pound value, and paying off its mortgage and other disbursements, they have squandered so much on their own legal fees that there is no money left, literally none whatever, for Lipstadt and Penguin Books Ltd, who ordered the seizure of my property in the first place.
I note that the auctioneers have also sold a "miscellaneous box of items" for £10. That is where the real mischief can lie, if they have sold off all my computer-discs, and all the tiny components that were swept up and seized in May 2002: for instance, we have the very costly Nikon strip film scanner (which cost several thousand dollars some years ago, and accounts for the high quality of pictures in my books); but without its transparency loading frame (seized), it is all but useless. Benté has her camera, but the battery charger was seized. "Miscellaneous."
All very upsetting, and I must get to the bottom of how this happened without our being given proper notice.
At 11:36 p.m., I send this email to the solicitors in London:
I have been depressed all day to see that the Trustee has effectively sold all my valuable stuff (desk, marble table, paintings, etc) for around £300, and broke her own written undertakings to me, given more than once, to give me 2 weeks' notice of any sale (to enable us to buy it all back). I am really depressed by this. It has not happened to you, so you cannot understand the grief that losing sentimental items through this treachery -- paintings by my daughter, done for me before she [died], etc., -- has brought.
I work until nearly midnight reading the Admiral Cunningham diary and exploiting it for "Churchill's War", vol. iii, as far as the end of 1944. Bed around 11:38 p.m..
, 2004 (Friday)
Up at seven, a humid, sticky morning. I report to Bente: "Spent a very depressed night, awake most of the time, about the sale of those items. The polished mahogany television cabinet from the bedroom was sold for £5! It cost £375 when new (from Selfridges). There must be criminality in it somewhere. . ."
I have been awake literally most of the night, brooding. Meanwhile, the email deluge continues at the rate of over three hundred a day. I am signing literally hundreds of letters every day, some more personal than others, to those who are helping in the legal battle, or want to contribute, or have facts on history, or news items for the website. No sign of my Colombian helper Vicky today.
THERE seems to be a sign on Highway U.S.1 that I miss each time I drive down here -- one that reads, "KEY WEST AHEAD, NORMAL TRAFFIC RULES DO NOT APPLY, DRIVE DEAD SLOW, NO NEED FOR TURN-SIGNALS." Perhaps it is somewhere around the missing sign at Key Largo, just after Jewfish Creek, reading "NEXT EIGHT MILES, CROCODILES CROSSING" -- at any rate, the equivalent sign is there eight miles later, facing the other way.
Two or three days ago I evidently disaffected Vicky by commenting on her slow driving up Whitehead street -- she managed to stay with her car behind a slooo-oow gaggle of bicycle tourists the entire two-mile stretch to the Post Office.
She flew off the handle, and since she's been paid up to date I guess that's the last we'll see of her. That was my mistake. When I worked in a Billericay woodwork factory, Samuel Wernicke & Co., as a child, I first encountered the system of holding a week's pay "in hand." It sure prevented people from quitting.
It taught me not to quit, and I have been a non-quitter ever since.