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Posted Tuesday, February 27, 2007

As I stand in line, taking off my shoes for the third or fourth time, I shall mention as loudly as I dare that we have that sh*tty little country in the Middle East to thank for all this. . .

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February 24, 2007 (Saturday)
Budapest (Hungary)

SOMEBODY sends me a story from The Sunday Times, accusing Rolf Hochhuth of being a Soviet agent, or tool at best. What an extraordinary story, and what utter rubbish; he was my best friend in those years (and still is a good friend), and there was never a hint of Soviet influence -- which is not to say he may not have been fed a Soviet dossier in some clever way. He could be very naive.

The recently released files in the Public Record Office in London show that the Government suspected at that time (the late 1960s) that 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.

I resume writing of the Memoirs. I go to Google to check the details of Mother's illustrations for The Gourmet's Weekend Book edited by Andre L Simon, and within ten seconds, literally, I find one offered for sale! What a wonderful invention the Internet search engine is.

 David visits Budapest Uprising memorial

David Irving visits the museum etablished in memory of the thousands killed in Hungary by the Soviet-style secret police, at its former headquaarters, No. 60 Andrassy-ut, Budapest. Matyas Rakosi, the murderous dictator (3rd from the left in the painting), fled to Moscow where he later fell victim to an anti-Jewish purge.

February 25, 2007 (Sunday)
Budapest (Hungary)

Alan H. has sent a panthechnicon letter of comments on website items about the prisoner in Vienna who claimed to be a Sinti gypsy, whose grandfather was hanged at Auschwitz:

There do seem some rather odd things here. The first hangings took place in Auschwitz in July 1942 but of two Catholic Poles for attempted escape. I have been unable to find any information about a rebellion by Sinti on this month. Furthermore it seems a bit odd that he would have the death warrant on him, where did he get this from? And carrying the original, not a copy? Perhaps you got the month wrong - Himmler visited the camp in July 1942 and perhaps this caused the confusion.

I reply: "I have been unable to find any information about a rebellion by Sinti in that month. What about other months? I am wondering if he was a police plant. They found no trace of him on the computers; I have an address and phone number for him in Germany but have not tried them yet..."

Diane M., of Omaha, emails praise for the final chapter of my prison memoirs:

A superb ending! . . . Bruce disappeared downstairs and went straight to my computer. I called down for him to bring some newspapers upstairs -- he replied that he was reading your final account and that it was too exciting to leave! Only now have I had a chance to sit down and read it. Great pacing, with just enough to keep us hanging and hoping. I remember those days well. You were on our minds constantly --where exactly were you, would you really get out, how long would it take, what was holding you up, when would it really be over? And only now have all those questions been answered.

I will miss these installments. I realize these are the sacrifices I have to make if I hope to see Churchill, vol. 3 -- and the others! Bruce apologized when he finally came upstairs and saw that I had already brought up the newspapers. But he just shook his head, all the time smiling and said, "He is really a great writer!"

That's nice. Of course what she does not realise is that the final paragraphs are incomplete. I decide to let her in on the secret and email her the missing closing paragraphs:

The closing lines [I confide to her] are a huge private joke to those in my family who know the whole story. I have laughed myself to tears telling it to a few close friends, it is so silly. And to think that the press photographers were hanging round on that doorstep all afternoon waiting for my arrival home, just to get a routine photo -- they missed the best picture of all, the real money shot that would have made the front pages of every newspaper in the country. Remember, this is only for you, not to be passed on -- on your honour -- from my real private diary of that night: the key is that romantic image of the distant police car with the siren and blue lights . . . now read on: [several paragraphs omitted] I am again laughing out loud at this moment.

I am off next week for a very tough and cold week in Poland.

Queen Anne's Gate I reply to her postscript about the London apartment: "I took two months finding it, and another month moving everything in during September 2005, but early in November I was kidnapped, and then we lost it. . . Above us lived one of the wealthiest men in England, former chairman of the Abbey National Group, and below us Lady Saatchi, wife (ex) of Charles Saatchi, the multi-millionaire art dealer etc, etc. No, my arrival in that building sent shockwaves. . . I tried to get on with them, Lord I tried. We were the only three families in the building, you can guess how fine it was."


February 26, 2007 (Monday)
Budapest (Hungary)

Alan H. is still puzzled by The Sinti's Story. I am too. He writes: "Not everything [in Auschwitz] was recorded - much not. Maybe the event happened, let's assume that the facts are wrong. But where did he get the document from? It does not belong to him even if it is about his family. What about the dates on it? And how can someone be punished for hiding an event that did not happen? Far too suspicious for me."

I reply: "I could find no trace of his Siedlung with However, what or who would benefit from a lie? The Austrian Stapo trying to lure secrets out of me? I had none. No obvious confidence-trick motive visible. There was none of the paper trail that the Bernstein-Zimmer man left -- news reports of his arrest, trial, and sentence, which authenticated him as a genuine swindler. Two officers independently of each other checked the entire prison computer system for me, as they were interested too, and found no trace of the Sinti, which does rather point at a stool pigeon."

Later today Jim M. emails me from Las Vegas: "Your website entries on your time in prison surely hold your reader's attention. They are suspenseful to say the least and would make for a good book or novel. Hope you plan to come do some writing here soon."

I reply: "I am currently writing in safety in Budapest, and next week I travel to a marginally less safe Poland. I shall make immediate plans for a major tour of the US, coast to coast as before, on four wheels. We are reprinting my "Apocalypse 1945: the Destruction of Dresden" (jacket design above) in the UK this month, 7,000 copies, and will send you one as soon as it rolls off the presses; I am right now expecting the doorbell to ring with a courier from London bringing the proofs from the printer. My muscles are still weak from the prison months, but recovering; I was nearly killed by a tram (streetcar) here last week -- they are very fast, dark, and silent, and I did not see it coming. Wow! That would have been a silly way to go. . ."


February 27, 2007 (Tuesday)
Budapest (Hungary)

I have begun work on a dossier on the Dresden death roll. The figure I gave in "Apocalypse 1945: the Destruction of Dresden" was produced as one of the examples of my "manipulating history," aka errors, suggested by the defendants in the Lipstadt Trial. They started with, I think nineteen, the judge rejected seven, leaving twelve including this one (it had taken Professor Richard "Skunky" Evans (right) and his team around twenty man-years, reading all my books, to find these "errors": Twelve mistakes in thirty books is not bad, it means I made less than half an error per book. But that is another matter.

Dresden corpsesIt was Hanns Voigt who suggested my estimate of 135,000 as a median figure. Voigt was a senior school teacher (Oberstudienrat) in West Germany when we corresponded. In 1945 he had been appointed director of the Abteilung Tote of the Missing Persons Bureau in Dresden after the violent RAF bombing raid of February 1945 -- i.e. the bureau's Fatalities Section. Not a bad source, I thought at the time I published my book, as a twenty-five year old in 1963.

The communist regime and its successors and left-wing adherents preferred the figure of 35,000 - a figure rejected as ludicrously low by all the experts who had been in Dresden at the time - Lieutenant-General Klaus Mehnert, the city commandant, who suggested 140,000, and Professor Fetscher the (extreme leftwing) director of civil defence in the city in 1945, who thought 180,000 was closer. Karl Bodenschatz, Hermann Göring's Chef des Ministeramtes who visited Dresden a few days after the raids, spoke in captivity of 150,000.

Needless to say "Skunky" Evans went straight for the lowest figure, 35,000, and accused me of deliberately lying.

I cross examined him on this alleged "manipulation" for forty pages of transcript on the 23rd day of the Lipstadt libel trial , on February 21, 2000; at the end of the day I concluded:

Q. Thank you very much, Professor Evans. I have no further questions"

The Judge, Sir Charles Gray, thanked me:

MR JUSTICE GRAY: Well done, Mr Irving. You have completed your cross-examination as you said you would.

Evans' stock answer to my best sources was to dismiss them as "Nazis," and hence discredited. For example, General Kurt Daluege, chief of German police, giving figures on the disproportionately high number of Jews among the insurance scammers before the Nazis came to power, was, said Evans, a Nazi (correct, no doubt), and hence untrustworthy. I offer no prizes for guessing how many "Nazi" sources Evans himself nonetheless uses in his own turgid history books.

As for Hanns Voigt, Evans dismissed him as a "fascist" (his source was Walter Weidauer, the notorious Communist mayor of Dresden who deliberately destroyed the city's remaining monuments to the Saxon kings out of visceral hatred for all monarchies).

Now I receive belated confirmation of Voigt's worth from a Dresden historian, Walter Schaarschmidt, who is publishing a book on the death-roll controversy. Was Voigt a fascist? Hardly, and I am afraid my belief in Evans as a historian of worth is sadly shaken:

Walther Schaarschmidt writes:

I have managed to find the niece of Hanns Voigt in Dresden, Frau Ursula H.. She reports that Voigt was a music teacher, directed the Sachsenwerk works orchestra and elevated it to third place in the DDR [Communist East Germany] in 1954. In 1955 he emigrated "legally" to Bielefeld. Until that moment the authorities had never questioned Voigt! In Bielefeld he directed the school orchestra of the Max-Planck School and composed his own works. He became an Oberstudientrat and ultimately Studiendirector (director of studies). The pupils elected him Best Teacher year after year. From her mother (Mrs Voigt), Frau H. learned that he had been rigorously interrogated by "the Russians" and tortured. . . But he would not budge from his statements. His widow is still living in Bielefeld, but unfortunately she refuses access to his papers.

German editionDoesn't sound like much of a fascist to me. Of course, in the dark and vasty woods that Professor "Skunky" Evans infests, every bush and shadow must look pretty frightening. Read the transcript, however, and see how well he earned the 250,000 dollars he was paid for his neutral testimony by Lipstadt's defence.


SUNSHINE this morning here in Budapest. With difficulty I negotiate a haircut, knowing only one word of Hungarian that is of use: rendes -- "tidy".

It is twenty-five years since I first came to the Hungarian capital: it was then still in the iron grip of Janós Kádár and the Reds, and their archives now opened reveal the disquiet that my researches into the anti-communist uprising of 1956 caused them. I wonder if the same people are still peering through keyholes at me now.

Tomorrow I am going to a different country, not all that different, Uprising Englishbut much colder. You never know for sure what is going to happen to you next, nowadays in Old Europe.

A seven a.m. take off, which means a five a.m. check-in, which means ...

Oh well: as I stand in line, taking off my shoes for the third or fourth time, I shall mention as loudly as I dare that we have that sh*tty little country in the Middle East to thank for all this inconvenience, worldwide.



  [Previous Radical's Diary]

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David Irving and the Communist Uprising in Hungary, 1956
© Focal Point 2007 F DISmall David Irving