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First posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I am still briefly trying to remember the name and date of the 1942 Anglo-Japanese naval action off Colombo when I awake to find it is all over, and I am back in my room. I now have one hip in the grave.

[Previous Radical's Diary]  

click for origin

Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Kew, London (England)

MIKE L. writes disbelievingly about the Radical's Diary I posted: "How is it you get forty cases of books in a 'one-liter' Skoda and then travel down the road at eighty to ninety mph? It must be the greatest vehicle ever built. Things should have gone so well with their munitions products during the war. You might consider keeping the Czech wonder and retiring the Pigmobile."

On a more personal note he adds:

Regarding "Jae": Steven Hawkins recently stated that the universe is easier to understand than women. Hear, hear, I say. The men most in danger are those who think they understand them. It is their fate one day to be shocked to the core.

As time goes by, you, David Irving, will be known as the one, great historian of the era. It is sad that J has given up her chance to go down in history as David Irving's loyal aide de camp and biographer, as was Matisse's Sister Jacques-Marie. (The thought occurs to me that perhaps you should draw your next adjutant from the ranks of a nunnery, or at least a woman who was once a nun.)

Uh, no. "Good point Mike. The boxes held from five to ten kilos of books each, a load of about 300 kg, or three men my size."


Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Kew, London (England)

JOHN Jae writes from Australia: "Genius is often counter-balanced by complete stupidity. . . Irving choosing a [Jewish] doctor to perform an operation in a public hospital where incompetence is the rule. We mere mortals can't understand the brilliance on the one hand, and the opposite on the other in the same person."

I reassure him: "His [the surgeon's] name is not actually Goldstein. . . I have anonymised him to prevent those less friendly to me having a word in his ear. And although it is taxpayer funded, I have been selected to have the operation in a private hospital: I get a private room, own bathroom, TV etc. I ain't complaining."

Then comes another sad sign of the times from California, from a gentleman whose name I shall omit here:

Back in 2005 I wrote a letter to David Irving, commending his efforts to do real history in his books. This letter was published on the David Irving website, which I did not object to, and I had no problem with.

Unfortunately, I'm trying to get a job in a field known for a lot of politically correct nonsense (anthropology/archaeology), and in one of my job interviews this letter to David Irving was brought up as a topic for discussion. Apparently, this organization did a web search and came upon my letter. Obviously, I didn't get the job.

I reply: "I will remove that letter within the next hour, Bill. Sorry," and in fact I remove it within ten minutes.

Somebody sends me a link to an article, "True, or False?" in today's Wall Street Journal by Stewart Watson. It is an article on the London production of Three Days in May, about Churchill and his war cabinet, and states that Rolf Hochhuth, in his 1967 play Soldiers, "was influenced in peddling this nonsense by his friend David Irving, the sometimes historian and now prominent Holocaust denier...."


UH, actually no: it was the other way around. Hochhuth commissioned me to research the case, provided me with the clues that triggered the suspicions, and meanwhile wrote his own play. I shall shortly re issue my book Accident, updated with several appendices, and people can then judge for themselves whether there was something suspicious about the death of General Wladyslaw Sikorski.

The link is also sent me by James Schreier who writes: "Mr. Irving:

While not exactly a fan, I do respect your talent as a writer. . . As much as I disagree with many of your views, I think it is unfair to label you as a 'Holocaust denier'.

Extract: "Mr. Hochhuth was influenced in peddling this nonsense by his friend David Irving, the sometime historian and now prominent Holocaust denier. Liberals who supported the "Soldiers" production in 1967 would probably be less keen to be seen promoting Mr. Irving's conspiracy theories nowadays."

Hugo H-T, who is researching for me in Berlin, asks: "Do you have a date yet for your London talk? I would like to be back in time to hear that. In the meantime, stop thinking about the operation and start thinking about all those pretty young nurses who are just waiting to give you a bed-bath."

He is incorrigible. I reply at 9:50 a.m: "Reka the Hungarian beauty has said she will fly over for a day, on the eighteenth."

And the talk? Any date for that yet?
No date for the February talk yet; I really have to see how fast I regain mobility.
We could always push you along in a bath chair with you steering ....
Didn't know you had one. Is it stored for you at Heathrow?
I wish it were. I've always wanted to drive one. Over the Hammersmith Flyover, for example.
Excellent. Don't forget Herr Darré. Richard Walther Darré: copy all references to Himmler, Reichsführer etc.
I thought his diaries were already published. I mean, he's famous, isn't he.
Not published. A bit raunchy in parts but not as raunchy as mine.

Markus Henneke sends me images of more rare Heinrich Himmler documents from the auction world. I thank him: "The two 1939 diary pages are [probably] typed by Hedwig Potthast, I have another one for August 1939. I wonder where they are stolen from?"


Thursday, January 12, 2012
Kew -Wexham (England)

TAXI comes at six-twenty a.m. and we drive to Wexham, getting slightly lost as usual. I am shown into an extremely clean and modern hospital room, with private bathroom, WiFi, and menus laid out already for me to check what meals I want.

Nice text message from Reka just as the taxi arrives at the hospital. Around eight-thirty a.m. the surgeon comes in. "So we are the history chap, are we?" is his opening greeting. Hmmm. I smile and nod. Jessica texts and I say all well so far. "I may not be able to text again today as I shall be pretty well doped up." Pain will not be felt until eight to ten hours after I wake up. That's something to look forward to, then.

Another warm and friendly text comes from Reka in Budapest: I phone her back and she says Hunor, 5, asks if that is David-Bacsi, Uncle David.

I am in Anesthetics about 11:25 a.m, and Dr Silver of Sri Lanka does her stuff. A young White man is helping her, very English. I am still briefly trying to remember the name and date of the 1942 Anglo-Japanese naval action off Colombo when I awake to find it is all over, and I am back in my room. I now have one hip in the grave.

I deal with a slew of Emails, after I come to: God knows how many typos I strewed into them.


Five pm: Britain's National Health Service, and I have no complaints. I am in a comfortable private room surrounded by nurses of every colour; a bell-push summons any one I want and they serve tea and sandwiches and biscuits at my request.

Mr -- [the consultant] comes in and talks a bit about History. I am hooked up to an array of devices: a pump whirs, and will do so for several days, massaging my legs against possible blood clots. I phone B. for twenty minutes and have a friendly chat. I again badger her about the piece of paper we should be getting, for Jessica's sake. . . I tell B. that Millie, the Big Black Momma who is evidently the Senior Nurse in this wing, is very helpful and jolly. B. says the Black nurses are often better than the Whites.

In the evening around seven pm a nurse brings a thimbleful of morphine against the pain. . . I realise: it is Hermann Göring's 119th birthday. Morphine. How appropriate. The service here is so good it cannot have been much better at Carinhall.


Friday, January 13, 2012
Wexham (England)

MOSTLY awake all night, brooding . . . Attended to by short dark-haired English nurse from Cippenham. She tells me her father was at Dunkirk, and did I write about that (she mentions a book title). I tell her I found the diary of the chief of German military Intelligence, von Tippelskirch, the O.Qu.IV of the General Staff, with a pencilled entry showing the Germans did not realize the British were decamping. It read on May 31: "When did we first know that the British troops were embarking?"

I now catch my first sight of the catheter. Jesus, that looks an ugly thing. . . That is going to be removed tomorrow. I shall, uh, look forward to it. Student nurse Rowena. 27, very English, comes at eleven a.m. I tackle emails. Thirty on AOL already.

The weeks are skimming past, and Jae has taken all the keys with her! Sales are slumping to zero.


ANOTHER of these baffling fan letters comes:

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for the work you have done throughout your career. What you have achieved has been a monumental feat, not only in scientific and academic terms, but also what I can describe as unleashing a breath of fresh air into a muggy atmosphere of deceit, ignorance, propaganda and hatred. We, the men and women who read your life's work and continue to think freely, will not only pass on your books to our posterity, but we will ensure that your name is remembered as is Homer and Tacitus. You are an inspirational man and if more of our so-called men, especially the future statesmen of this once Great Britain, are able to distil a single ounce of your tenacity and will, our nation would be in safe hands. I am thirty year old English man and I have 'Known' for as long as I can remember. I have a growing family and I am honoured to own a number of your historic volumes. Please keep up the good work and never lose heart.

It is getting quite worrying.

More pain, as expected; but they provided another slurp of morphine which was helpful. I imagine that everything will soon settle down to normality again. Alas, I spent much of the night brooding . . . again.


Saturday, January 14, 2012
Wexham (England)

WAKENED around 7 a.m. The room faces due east across the flat Buckinghamshire countryside, so I get a spectacular view of the dawn; a senior nurse comes in soon after to make sure I am awake and not missing it.

I write to a computer expert whom Matt P. has recoommended to me:

I am now reluctantly forced to concede that I should also be putting our books out in eBook format. I myself hate eBooks, I think they look typographically awful unless in pdf format. But if that's what the market wants...

Do you know anybody who has the technical know-how to turn out presentable eBooks? I can supply the books in InDesign format or Word, or in html, or whatever. We can negotiate on terms once we agree on formats etc.



Sunday, January 15, 2012
Wexham (England)

AWAKE for much of the night, and mild hallucinations during the later part of it. I shall be glad to get back to work in Kew.



Monday, January 16, 2012
Wexham - Kew (England)

AWAKE before dawn, in fact all night once again because of . . .

We do some physio-therapy, but on the stairs down to the X-ray department I black out, and have to sit on a handy chair. Rather alarming. My Mother's last words come to mind: "I am … feeling … rather … odd." So the brain's still ticking over okay.

K. comes for me about one p.m., and with difficulty I mount his Range Rover and he drives me back to London. The first and I hope last stay in a hospital. It is the awkwardness of the next few months which will slow me down. The importance of not letting anything fall onto the floor, for example. I do not enjoy looking like a cripple.

I ditch the second crutch within half an hour of arriving in the apartment. The pain ebbs and flows during the day and I take the tablets they gave me, though saving the real heavy-hitter for night time.

Jessica, now 18, rises to the occasion as though she has been looking after an adult all her life, which of course she has. She is so good that I tell her this evening, "Jessica, you are a daughter in a million." Tomorrow she will be out all day at school, then at her evening job until midnight. I ask her to phone me at around 11 or 12 a.m. "Why?" "In case something has happened and I can't reach you. If I don't pick up, come by taxi immediately." Thinking ahead, it's a bit like prison.

I email to Atlanta: "The pallet of books is on its way, Jeannie." The shipping company has confirmed it.

I guess her predecessor counted without my get-up-and-go qualities. Jeannie replied:

You are amazing David. I hate to say it, but you impress me, even though you can be a butt. So I reserve the right to retract that when you are mean. J

I am momentarily baffled by her phrase, "Even though you can be a butt..."

Fortunately that is not in my English slang dictionary. I take it that means "you can be a handsome lively genius" capable of wiping the floor with even the wealthiest Australian sheep-shearer?

Jeannie replies: "Your understanding of language is impressive."


Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Wexham - Kew (England)

WEIGHT is up two kilos. The consultant did warn that the titanium replacement is heavier than the bone it replaces.

I SEE this morning that the leading barrister (and appeal court judge) Sir David Hirst has died on New Year's Eve. I had no idea he had survived this long. God rest his soul. The highlight of his career, says The Daily Telegraph, was acting against me, "the controversial historian David Irving," in the PQ.17 libel trial in 1970.

Yes, forty-two years ago (seven years before Jae's latest beau was even born); Hirst was a skilled forensic barrister, and I greatly admired his ability. My own Silk in that trial was an amiable old duffer chosen for his white hair, although he did lay a neat trap for Captain Jack Broome at one point in the cross examination, too tortuous to explain here.

If I had not risen to prominence as an historian, Hirst's career would evidently have had no highlights at all. The PQ.17 libel action resulted in one of the biggest awards of damages in history, and made history after it twice went to the Lords on appeal. Generations of female Irvings who have chosen to read Law (despite my warning that the collective noun for female solicitors is a coven), have come and cackled to me, "We're dealing with your case now, Uncle David."

The costs alone nearly nearly ruined Cassell & Co, my publishers. I wrote many years ago a chapter on that libel action for my memoirs.


THERE had been a curious, even sinister, prelude, which I first recorded in my diary of February 1968, and I mentioned it years later in a letter I typed while flying from London to Los Angeles on Sep 20, 1988. I wrote this letter to Amy Howlett, who had long been private secretary to William ('Peter') Kimber, my first publisher:

Dear Amy,
Your letter of August 30 reached me this weekend as I just passed through London for a day, literally, between Washington and Los Angeles: I had to make a speech to a beerhall crowd in Bavaria. Plus ça change! Now I'm jetting back to California for a few days, then Texas, then Mexico for two weeks, and finally a month's solid writing down in Key West, Florida. . .
  I was very sorry to hear about Peter's Parkinson's Disease problem. I never noticed it at that birthday party: it's ironic, but he is going in one direction, and my eldest daughter is going in the other, towards schizophrenia: one has too little dopamine, the other too much. Hitler began to suffer from Parkinson's Disease in the final weeks -- at least the doctor's diary shows that that was what he was being treated for, with some rare extracts of belladonna roots, etc. in April 1945.
  I should like to talk to Peter about two things when I return in the autumn, and perhaps you can advise me privately whether there is any point, given his ailment. I should not like to put him under any kind of stress. I am concocting memoirs for Macmillan's, and there was one episode that Peter told me about that I should dearly like now to hear about in full, now that all the principal characters are dead: Captain Broome. Lord Justice Rodger Winn, et al. Peter told me, months before the PQ.17 writ was suddenly served on Cassell's and myself, that he had overheard a conversation at his club (the Garrick?), where the above mentioned gentlemen, meeting as in a cabal, had decided that "Irving has to be stopped", "We must get Irving," and that the name of David Hirst, QC. had been mentioned at that same time as a suitable weapon of attack. I wrote a note of what Peter told me in my diary, but I would surely like now to ask him more. What do you think?

I wrote a memoir on this curious Garrick conversation while I was held as a political prisoner in Vienna in 2006, and posted a few pages on this website for my friends to read: "THERE was another diary entry on February 19, 1968 which gained in significance as the years passed; at the time it had seemed merely amusing.' [etc].

A correspondent writes me with some Basic History questions. He is fortunate to catch me in a less tetchy mode. He begins: "I am completing my dissertation which is based upon your works and receptions. I want to remain completely up to date on everything and hope you can answer some questions.

  1. How many died in the Allied bombing of Dresden?
  2. How aware was Hitler of the systematic murder of over 5 million Jews.
  3. Were Jews systematically gassed and cremated in Auschwitz.

Before resuming work on Himmler, I send him this studied response:

  1. How many died in the Allied bombing of Dresden? -- The man in charge of counting and indexing the dead estimated to me the final total at 135,000 dead. Others at the top (chief medical officers, military commander, etc.) came to similar figures. We British decoded on Mar 24, 1945 a message (illustrated above) in which the Lord Mayor of Dresden stated that 80 to 100,000 missing had already been registered with their system, and an earlier message in the same series specifies that "missing" meant dead, charred to unrecognisability. Remember, where a whole family had been wiped out (e.g. of refugees passing through the city) nobody would report them "missing". I found those decodes after the Anglo-German commission of conformist historians reached their differing (and in my view worthless) opinion.
  2. How aware was Hitler of the systematic murder of over 5 million Jews? -- There is no evidence that he was aware at all. There is evidence (Table Talk, etc) that he was oblivious of it.
  3. Were Jews systematically gassed and cremated in Auschwitz? -- A red herring really. The huge mass killings were done far away in eastern Poland, in the Reinhardt Camps. I would say there were "sporadic" gassings at Auschwitz. The numbers there have been grossly inflated.

Then the familiar tetchiness kicks in. "That's all you get. I am busy."


REKA now writes that she will fly in on the twentieth. It will be like prison all over again, though without the foot-square filthy soundproof glass panel to speak through, the inaudible phones, and the fifteen-minute visitor-limit per month. "Herr Irving! -- Besuch!". You have a visitor. "Und es ist die Reka!"

Every prison officer turned out to see her arrive.

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