London, December 2, 1983
I NOTE THAT Dr Gerald Fleming (JC, Nov.25) in quoting Himmler's words ("When the Führer gave me the order...") before army generals on Jan. 26, 1944 does not claim they come from a wartime document -- as I have scrupulously stipulated in my $1,000 challenge
They are from the postwar recollection of Freiherr von Gersdorff, a noted anti-Nazi.
I have checked Himmler's handwritten notes for the speech (National Archives film T-175, roll 94, p.614835) and perhaps not surprisingly there is no reference to any Führer order.
"Jewish Problem," Himmler jotted down, "Greatest stabilization in Government General [i.e., Poland] since solution of the Jewish problem.
Not allowing avengers to arise against our children."
The latter was a familiar theme in Himmler's speeches.
On Oct.6, 1943 he boasted to Nazi gauleiters that he had taken the decision to liquidate Jewish women and children as well as their menfolk:
"I took the decision," the contemporary transcript reads, "to go for a clear solution here too.
For I did not consider myself justified in extirpating the men -- i.e., killing them or having them killed -- while leaving their children to grow up as avengers against our sons and grandsons."*
(ATTACHMENT 1 [Not posted on this site]) Not even a hint of a Hitler order here.
As for the JC's own helpful postscript quoting from "Testament of Adolf Hitler - Hitler--Bormann Documents (February - April 1945)" published in 1962 with an introduction from Hugh Trevor Roper, may I warn modern historians against this source? These "bunker conversations" alleged to be by Martin Bormann are as spurious as the Hitler Diaries.
(ATTACHMENT 2 [Not posted on this site]) Bormann's own diary published by the Soviet author Lev Bezymenski establishes that he was not even present on some of the evenings concerned.
Hardly a serious source for historians.
As for genuine contemporary documents, my friend Dr Fleming is aware that on the Night of Broken Glass in November 1938 the Office of the Deputy Führer issued an urgent directive to all Gauleiters, repeating teleprinter instructions sent out in advance:
"On an express order from the very highest level there are to be no acts of arson against Jewish businesses or suchlike - on no account and under no circumstances whatever."
(ATTACHMENT 3 [Not posted on this site]) And in the spring of 1942 the Minister of Justice noted for internal consumption, "Reich Minister Lammers" - chief of Hitler's Chancellery -
"informs me that the Führer has repeatedly declared to him he desires the solution of the Jewish problem postponed until after the war."
(ATTACHMENT 4 [Not posted on this site***]) It seems hard to reconcile these genuine but little-quoted documents, which are in West German archives, with knowledge at "the very highest level" of the Final Solution.
It cannot be ruled out, of course: but until there is
cast-iron evidence there seem grounds for reasonable
I should point out that Dr Fleming's malicious quotation from the proceedings in California is taken wildly out of context.
I have a full recording of my talk which was about the Hungarian Uprising of 1956.
In the subsequent discussion about the Holocaust, I made it clear that the Nazis undoubtedly did murder many millions of Jews, a view which was unpopular to that audience, and continued by setting out my well known views on this tragedy.
* In German:
**This was the late Francois Genoud.
*** Reproduced as facsimile in David Irving, Hitler's War and Goebbels. Mastermind of the Third Reich