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Posted Monday, March 10, 2008

Interesting, though, the holes that Time gradually tears in our ragged memory.

click for origin[Previous Radical's Diary]

March 9, 2008 (Sunday)
Windsor (England)

I WRITE to Friday's conformist German historian, Robert Gerwarth to draw his attention to the book on the Heydrich assassination published by Josephine and Ray Cowdery, American militaria sellers -- not a breed to be underestimated. "Their book contains a lot of stuff you won't find elsewhere, particularly photos."

Have you had any better luck than I did with getting a copy of Himmler's 1940 diary? I donated his 1935 and 1939 diaries to the Bundesarchiv some years ago, not that their Government is very grateful to me. The 1940 diary is on sale in Munich.

The asking price was 25,000 euros, and worth every penny -- the kind of money I don't have. I add a postscript to my letter:

I hope you're not a relation of the dreadful Hans "Johnny" Herwarth, attache at the German embassy in Moscow, who betrayed the secrets of Barbarossa to his US colleagues in 1940. He was rewarded with the postwar ambassadorship to London, and I met him once or twice. As said, a dreadful man.

From eleven a.m. a hilarious half -hour live radio interview with Karen Coleman, for her Newstalk programme in Dublin; after a while she brought in Deborah Lipstadt, who was delivering two lectures, she said, in Hongkong. After the scholar traded routine insults with me, I got in some good right-hooks, about the packaged Holocaust and its marketing. (Coleman interjected that the "Holocaust" was only Jewish. I murmured that the citizens of Dresden might well be aggrieved to hear that, and that the whole war was a Holocaust regardless of nationality or religion).

Did I think that National Socialism had been a good thing, she asked toward the second half? I replied that it was a very interesting question but one whose answer deserved far more time than she was going to allow me in the remaining minutes. I said up to 1937, perhaps, but they became derailed in 1938 with the Night of Broken Glass. I had not answered her question, pressed Karen, and I laughed out loud and agreed.

Yes, we had Hitler's example to thank for motorways like the magnificent M1 freeway from Dublin to Belfast, and we must never forget that his National Socialism gave mothers their true value, or how they emphasized the importance of family life. In far away Hongkong, Lipstadt went ballistic; she reminded the listeners that in 1935 the Nazis passed the Nuremberg Laws excluding the Jews from public life. (Her whole life centres around her race, not of course that she can be labelled a "racist").

On the balance-arms of history, I suggested, we had to weigh the good things against the atrocities the Nazis committed. A citizen in Nagasaki, or Hiroshima, or Dresden might well feel the Allies had at times also acted atrociously.

A lot of folks around the world might even rate the Nuremberg Laws as a positive achievement, I might have added: the tormented residents of the Gaza Strip, for example, or those in the Palestinian "refugee camps" that still exist sixty years after they began their tragic existence; or the ordinary Russians who have been fleeced out of billions more recently by the "oligarchs". The Jews themselves have created six million reasons for anti-semitism in the last century.

The public view of Nazis was however universally grim, suggested Karen Coleman. A flash of mischievous genius occurred to me: "Am I mistaken in recalling," I teased her, "that your own wartime president, Éamon de Valera, went to the German legation and signed the book of condolences on the death of Adolf Hitler?" Those were bad times, agreed Karen. No, I replied, it shows how political correctness shifts our view of history.

Lipstadt was furious at having to debate with me, though Karen Coleman said in introducing her that Lipstadt had declared that there could be no question of a debate. The American scholar ranted on and on, using below-the-line phrases like rubbish, silly, and much more, and I let her. In fact I pre-emptively added antisemite and racist to her list of charges against me.

Lipstadt quoted John Lukács ("another Jew!" I interrupted her) whose book in England I had delayed for a year by threat of libel action, she said.

I pointed out that I had read this Hungarian-born writer's US edition, it contained complete lies about me, e.g. accusing me of having invented quotations, and having stolen documents from archives, and I had written a warning letter advising him to remove the lies before publishing within the UK jurisdiction which he, well advised, then did.

"I did him a favour," I suggested. Lipstadt snarled again that I should not be allowed to debate, and I should never be invited. She did the radio-interview equivalent of sweeping all the chess pieces off the board in a tantrum. Tee-hee. Somebody at Newstalk is going to get stick over this.


AFTERWARDS, an Irish listener emails:

I was surprised to find they had Lipstadt on the show. Karen Coleman started out with the argument-by-intimidation method, "You can't possibly believe . . . etc"., which you countered perfectly by again being reasonable and factual. Your calm manner disarms your opponents very effectively; it leaves them floundering. Ms Coleman calmed down and behaved reasonably fairly, I thought, after the initial few minutes. Again, you won hands down. Your listeners will have heard Lipstadt's claims over and over again, but most of them will never have heard you or the case that you make. Now they know that there is such a case, and that it is a powerful one.

Lipstadt sounded very arrogant. No wonder she was never called to the stand in the court case. Her mouthy manner contrasted to her detriment with your reasonable tone. The Dachau point, and the fact that there are 'eye-witnesses' of Dachau's gas chambers [where even the cowardly German Government makes plain there never were any] as an extermination camp, you made very effectively. Lipstadt's evasion of this issue was obvious. It seemed evident to me that Karen Coleman was surprised by the strength of your arguments and your command of the facts, and accordingly became less hostile as the programme progressed. I imagine that the same effect will have been had on most of her listeners.

At the end of the programme, just before 1 pm, Ms Coleman said "We have had a huge number of responses to some of the items on the programme. I am sorry that we haven't had time to give them". Interesting!

I taped all of the segment, and the subsequent news bulletin, I think it was at 12:30, in which your Hamlet, Prince Of Denmark comments were played. You were on again on the one o'clock news bulletin with the same comments.

Later he adds: "Other palpable hits:

  • That the Second World War was the Holocaust, not just the sufferings of the Jews
  • The millions of pounds spent on Lipstadt's legal team, and the £1m paid to Evans
  • The bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima putting German war crimes into perspective
  • De Valera's condolences to the German ambassador on the death of Hitler. Many, if not most, Irish men and women under 30 will not have known about that. That was a very useful point.

During the night another friend in Ireland emails me:

The Coleman interview was re-broadcast in its entirety at midnight. I thought she wasn't really interested in the subject but more just looking to get a rise out of you, which she didn't. I really thought she might be doing her nails while also interviewing you and Debbie. . . She did say the name Lipstadt as Lip-sch-tadt. But that could be an Irish way. In the northwest of Ireland especially you hear "S" as "sh" -- it's Wesht not West.

Then again, I reflect, that might just be the Guinness speaking.


March 10, 2008 (Monday)
Windsor (England)

VERY blustery outside, and raining. Our spring blooms are taking a beating. By ten a.m the first band of the storm has passed and the sun is out full strength, drying the stone slabs on the terrace.

An insightful piece about yesterday's sparring with Lipstadt on the Karen Coleman Newstalk programme appears on the Internet. A stranger in that friendly land has written it, and another sends it to me; otherwise I'd never have seen it. I forward it to [a friend] in Ireland. "He's got it all right (except any unflattering bits about me, which are few)" -- and no doubt justified.


THE Hamburge Abendblatt -- a newspaper whose typography I have admired for fifty years -- is running a series on the Hitler Diaries scandal of twenty-five years ago, April 1983. Today it mentions that I passed the first rumours I had of the diaries, in the late summer of 1982, to Dr Gerhard Frey and he published it in the National-Zeitung on December 24, 1982; the press ignored the "scoop".

I had long ago forgotten that. By that time, in fact on December 16, 1982, I had already sent out urgent letters to ten people including my friends the Texan collector Billy Price, Gerd Heidemann, and Magnus Linklater of The Sunday Times, whom I had quietly tipped off about the diaries, saying I had now seen samples of them and they were fake. All ignored my warning. Interesting, though, the holes that Time gradually tears in our ragged memory.

9:58 a.m Jamie Macken of The Late Late Show phones from Dublin to thank me. That's nice.

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[Previous Radical's Diary]
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