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Posted Friday, August 27, 2004

By this photo is how she and her comrades should be remembered, and not by those of what followed.

click for originAugust 27, 2005 (Saturday)
London (England)

MY eye sight is fuzzing up. I suspect the bright American sunshine, where I used no glasses, will not have helped.

L. tells me that Greenhill Books are announcing an English edition of the "diaries" of General Gerhard Engel, who was Adolf Hitler's army adjutant 1938-1943. Here we go round the Mulberry Bush again.

I write to Lionel Leventhal, the editor:

I hope that you are aware -- and making plain to readers -- that they are fake, written by Engel years after the war. I warned the Institut für Zeitgeschichte of this in the 1970s, when I saw Engel and the "diaries", and the director of the Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv confirmed this to me. They had checked their 1942 content (a certain Manstein telegram) against the original in their official archives: it said the opposite of what Engel claimed it said -- because Engel had based his diary version on Manstein's postwar memoirs, in which the field-marshal also distorted the telegram's content!

My late friend at the Institut, Dr Anton Hoch the chief archivist, wrung his hands and pinked with embarrassment each time I provided fresh proof of the faking. He indicated that he agreed, but that there were things he could not tell me.

The Institut für Zeitgeschichte had however invested a large sum of money in buying the fake diaries, and having them edited by Professor Helmuth Krausnick, one of the most famous names in German historiography, and Dr Hildegard von Kotze, if my memory serves; and they confessed privately to the BA-MA that they had based so many court affidavits on them, for war crimes trials, that they could not now admit the diaries were fake without withdrawing the affidavits (Gutachten). A shocking story, which was one of the reasons the Institut für Zeitgeschichte and I fell out.

Engel, Hitler, KeitelEngel is seen at left with Hitler and
Field Marshal Keitel (from David Irving: The Trail of the Fox)

Engel wrote the "diaries" when he was keen to get a commission in the new German army, the Bundeswehr, and he needed no doubt to prove his political cleanliness. I shall of course make this plain in the press if the book is republished anywhere, as it has polluted the mainstream of history for long enough.

There are many passages which are proof that the diaries are fake, as I have genuine diaries for those years (of Todt, Richthofen, Frau Schmundt and others) which show the discrepancies -- e.g. Hitler, Göring etc., not where Engel shows them to be.

I just thought I'd warn you what you may have been suckered into. But perhaps you don't care? In which case I apologise for this intrusion.

Three years ago Leventhal already published the memoirs of my old friend Colonel Nicholas von Below, At Hitler's Side. I read the original manuscript in the 1960s, when Below let me spend a whole day at his house in Bochum or Detmold reading his papers, and I made copious notes which I used for Hitler's War. Rommel, Below)Colonel von Below (right, with Rommel, at Hitler's HQ in 1942) read, and commented on, my typescript, chapter by chapter, and I still have the pages with his handwritten notes -- I mention that, because in the book "he" purports to be astonished that I claimed in my Introduction that he had done so. A closer look reveals that the book is published after his death, edited by a German ghost-writer. Need I say more.

On checking my own (genuine) diaries, I find this entry for September 3, 1990 (Monday) when I was visiting Freiburg in southern Germany.

At the Bundesarchiv 8:45 a.m. to check file RHS/v.1210 for Ing. Rudolf case. Discussion with Heeresreferent Loos, who confirms that Rudolph himself wants the documents too. Rudolph is now 81.

At 2:30 p.m. at request of Manfred Kehrig, Dienststellen-Leiter (chief of Militärarchiv), up to see him for an hour over tea. Friendly and cordial. We have a lot of mutual enemies. He told me how he had broken it to Martin Broszat (whom he detested, believed a ++++ !), Helmut Heiber, Anton Hoch, Hildegard Von Kotze, and Helmuth Krausnick that the Engel Diary was a fake. Bayer GmbH had tested the paper, confirmed it was 1947 product. I said I had done the same [warned of the fakery], on basis of the Walther Hewel diaries. He had originally checked it against a Korps KTB. IfZ had then told him, the big problem was that the Engel diary had been used in countless court cases, all of which would have to be reheard; so the IfZ decided to press on . . . and publish it with a suitable Introduction.

Unfug, I said. Unfug, Kehrig agreed. He suggested I write a Wolfram von Richthofen biography, the diaries are now there and he has other sources, of von Richthofen's time as secret Luftattaché in Italy, 1933-5. Not a bad idea.

On the next day, incidentally, I have this entry:

September 4 1990, Freiburg: "In the evening I phoned [Professor] Bernd Martin, on the off-chance, and he invited me round for drinks at 8 p.m. to Horben. It turns out that Anka Stalherm [first girlfriend of Joseph Goebbels] is buried in the village churchyard, now eingebnet. She died 30 years ago. He also knows who has her letters, a Frau Irene Prange. He offered to introduce me to her tomorrow. He has visited Auschwitz three times, and says that Franciszek Piper, Archivleiter, confirmed to him that the gas chamber shown in Auschwitz-I was built after the war for tourists to see, the "real ones" are in Birkenau. Logical questions were apparently not asked.

-- e.g. why build a fake for the tourists, if there are real ones only three miles down the road. Ah yes, the German Historikerschaft.

Professor Martin and I had hitherto been good colleagues, and exchanged much useful information. I later mentioned in public what he had told me, and he freaked out, to use a modern terminus technicus. He wrote me a formal note denying he had said it (I still had the handwritten notes I jotted during our talk which proved the contrary). He formally broke off our friendship, withdrew the Du, and no doubt continues to deny it to this day. It was probably the only way of staying out of jail, or keeping his job, or something. And that, to my mind, is a real Denier.


FROM the son of one of the most famous wartime Nazi governors of occupied Soviet territory I have received nearly two hundred negatives of photos taken by his father (who came to an unfortunate end).

Before sending them back to Argentina, I scan them with his permission for my Heinrich Himmler biography. I reproduce one here -- of a group of partisans about to be executed. No doubt my fellow authors would show the resulting executions and the huge crowds of German troops and Russian civilians and children watching, as though this were Tyburn Hill or some crossroads in the Deep South in the 1920s.

I shall probably use the one (right) that shows three captives being marched through the streets of Minsk to their execution, what American lawmakers call the "perp walk": for a moment they pause to be photographed, their hands manacled behind their backs -- and the picture encapsulates the whole German problem in the occupied East.

It is now the American problem in Iraq and Afghanistan, because there too such captives are called "terrorists": the young partisans are good looking, defiant, and brave; they are idealists; a contemptuous smile flickers across the girl's lips.

The placard draped round her reads, "We are partisans. We shot at German troops." In my view -- and I may enrage many friends -- by this photo is how she and her comrades should be remembered, and not by those of what followed. Nobody looks good strangled, at the end of a rope.

 [Previous Radical's Diary]
  The condemned partisans in the Minsk photo above are identified | Steve Cass is curious about a line in the above Radical's Diary: Mr Irving's views on a picture of the execution of partisans | Various web sites identify "Masha", the girl, as an underage Jewish nurse | Galen Jokipii applauds Mr Irving's views on the poise of the condemned | Neal Jackson wonders about the placard used
© Focal Point 2005 F DISmall David Irving