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Posted Friday, March 14, 2008

The Leons added on to the Tudor mansion with all the refinement and taste for which their kind are noted.

click for origin[Previous Radical's Diary]

March 13, 2008 (Thursday)
Windsor - Bletchley Park - Windsor (England)

SIXTEEN years to the day since I met B.. I had flown in from Johannesburg at crack of dawn, and was to leave for Stuttgart at mid-day, and filmed an interview for Boston TV on "Big Oil" for two hours in between. My diary reference that day reads just: "B.. (Danish)." As Churchill wrote in My Early Life, however, "We lived happily ever after."

The Daily Telegraph has published an item, "Unseen pictures of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis."

I write a reader's letter [which they publish]: "Very interesting, the photos of Hitler in Brussels, but they were taken on June 1, 1940 - his only wartime visit to Brussels - not in the summer of 1944. Behind him can be seen Julius Schaub, his chief adjutant, and General Erwin Rommel, commanding a Panzer Division; at his side is General Fedor von Bock, the local army commander. Hitler has only that day realized that the British Expeditionary Force has escaped at Dunkirk, and he just explained to the assembled generals why he halted the armored divisions pursuing them: 'The fact was I could not afford to waste military effort.' A fateful decision, as it turned out."


AT FOUR-THIRTY I set off north to Bletchley Park, via Aylesbury and the backroads, to hear a lecture, "Bletchley Park and the Holocaust - Did the Codebreakers Ignore Mass Murder?"

A deadly journey in gathering rush-hour traffic. In Bletchley itself the helpful Bletchley Park signs vanish at one crucial intersection, and of course there is no sign after that saying YOU MISSED THE BLETCHLEY PARK TURN OFF. On the way home afterwards it takes me nearly an hour to find my way out of the dreadful urban sprawl-- I pass the same gas station three times at twenty-minute intervals.

I Bletchley Park, the mansionam very curious to see the mansion I have heard so much about. The owners at the end of the Nineteenth Century turn out to have been Mr Herbert Samuel Leon, a "wealthy financier," son of a "wealthy stockbroker"; so there is no need to ask about what kind of Englishman he was, particularly as the blurbs refer to him as being a wealthy philanthropist too. Okay, we get what you're hinting at. Evidently he didn't make his money busking, on the buildings, or down the mines. The Leons added on to the Tudor mansion with all the refinement and taste for which their kind are noted: the lecture is held in the oak-paneled ball room, whose timbered ceiling appeared to be have been overlaid with icing sugar and Gold wrapping-paper.

I wish I had time to poke around the vast jumble of two-storeyed concrete buildings that looms up close to the mansion in the dusk as I arrive at seven pm; the grim unpainted blocks surrounding the stately home cluster tightly together, like ugly and unruly children clutching at the skirts of their elderly grandmother. A bit like Auschwitz-I in fact. It housed ten thousand codebreakers at its wartime peak. I had no idea that the site was so huge -- roughly the size of Peenemünde, by the look of it, and just across from Bletchley railroad station. How on earth did they keep it secret all those years? I had somehow got the image of a mansion, with spreading but empty grounds, and a few Nissen huts, which is no doubt how it began.

The lecturer Michael Smith has done a good job mining the PRO files -- I am glad to hear him call our archives the PRO rather than the Blairite "National Archives", and there is a sprinkle of applause as I commend him for it.

At one point in his lecture he remarks with a twinkle that if people challenge some aspects of history they may well end up in prison in some countries, "particularly Austria." He shows on the screen the two paragraphs of the post-war, top-level ruling that the Allied codebreaking is never, ever, to be revealed, as it may open to the Japanese and the Germans a new "stab in the back" legend, that they were defeated by unfair means. The speaker refers to it as a 1948 decision, but I am sure that I saw it in a CCS (Combined Chiefs of Staff) directive dated September 1945 in Washington, in General of the Army George C Marshall's papers.

typical decoded messagesSmith concentrates on the three or four HW16 files that contain GPD (German Police Decodes) referring to shootings of Jews and civilians. The codes used are not Enigma, but relatively difficult transposition codes; but then after Churchill blurted out the ghastly news of the massacres on the eastern front in an August 1941 radio broadcast, the alarmed SS and police signallers switched to a new code, the Double Playfair, which was in fact somewhat easier for BP to solve.

Smith is well informed on the German personalities involved, and when I remark that SS Obergruppenführer Erich von dem Bach Zelewski, one of the principal villains, worked as a witness for the Americans at Nuremberg Trials (Milch wrote in his diary that he used to see the general attending regular Mass in the prison), and probably died in his bed, Smith replies -- "Yes, in prison, tried by the Germans for the murder of just one man." (I ask one question, about his view on the authenticity of the Höfle signal, which he displays on the screen toward the end.)

Turns out that the three or four "atrocity files" from HW16/43 onwards were assembled at the request of the JIC's chief, Victor Cavendish-Bentinck (the Duke of Portland), for possible trial use; the ubiquitous George Allen of the FO Central Dept. having signed off on that decision.

Smith can not fathom really why the British showed such diffidence toward these reports of mass killings of Jews in the east. When he comments on Professor Richard Breitmann's tart criticism of Churchill for "doing nothing to save the Jews," I remark sotto voce, "-- Apart from winning the war" (while "the Jews" were busy killing our soldiers in Palestine). David Irivng at Bletchley ParkI can see two reasons for British diffidence: (a) the strategic need to concentrate on one objective, and not dissipate ones forces; (b) anti-semitism at every level in the British high command.

And why not? If people choose not to like some nice folks, it is a free country; the Jews put their own folks first at every twist and turn, so why should not the rest of us?

David Irving chats with other guests at Bletchley Park

. ONE wartime document catches my attention particularly, as it comes up on the screen. The signature at bottom left is "G. Evans", of GCHQ. Now that must be the same Geoffrey Evans of whom I have written in my memoirs, about being hauled before the Government security in 1964:

A few days later I was hauled before a board meeting in the Cabinet Office, presided over by Sir Burke Trend, the Cabinet Secretary, and attended by several unidentified men with somber countenances. I guessed that one was a Mr Geoffrey Evans -- I noted down his name as he had signed in before me; his entry described him as security chief of GCHQ at Cheltenham. Those initials meant nothing to me. [Read more]

Now they do, of course.

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