Eberhard Jäckel History Department,
Jäckel is one of David Irving's most determined critics, and more than once procured his removal from German television round-table discussion programmes like Berliner Salon on October 3, 1989. For one such book-length attack by him on Mr Irving, see the Nizkor site. In an article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on January 26, 1980 Jäckel argued that it was "pedagogically desirable" occasionally to lie about Germany's recent past.
81 DUKE STREET
TELEPHONE 01-499 9409
London, den 20. Mai 1977
Dear Professor Jäckel:
Correct. I did ask Viking Press Inc. to mail to you a copy of the English-language edition of the second part of my big Hitler biography, HITLER'S WAR. (The first part, THE WAR PATH, appears in Germany in the spring of 1978.) I regret that you have based your review for Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht on the Ullstein Verlag edition, since -- as you no doubt know -- I consider that the publishers debased the German edition by unauthorised text changes, and I have forbidden them to publish it further because of this. The American/English edition is the definitive one.
Correct, too. I did not read your excellent work "Hitlers Weltanschauung" at the time. I had a choice between basing my book on the original research and documentation, or on the available books; Joachim Fest and most other Hitler authors have taken the latter, cheaper, shorter easier course; I refused to, and tried to use only the documents. It is far safer to do so, in fact. For instance, I was puzzled to see that in "Frankreich in Hitlers Europa" you rely at all on Hans Speidel's book, "Invasion 1944", when it is notoriously inaccurate; whereas the records of Heeresgruppe B exist in great volume (National Archives, T311, rolls 1 -- 6, 278, and T84, rolls 280 to 282). I have decided to write all my biographies by this technique. You will find many grounds for complaint in my forthcoming biography of Rommel, just completed; and Churchill, on which I am just embarking! I may make errors of judgement, but on balance the absence of errors of fact will make my biographies more valuable, I hope. You may regard me as a "dissident biographer".
Now to your main argument, on Hitler's role in the liquidation of the European Jews. (You notice how specific those words are?) Before replying to your extremely courteously worded letter, I have today obtained a copy of your book, "Hitlers Weltanschauung," alarmed, I must admit, but also intrigued by the prospect that you might have found documents incriminating Hitler which eluded me during my long years of search.
First, let me compliment you on the readability of your book, which I devoured in one session this afternoon. But again I must criticise your standards of evidence: a bawdy proclamation by Hitler to the world in the 1920s that he's going to use the sword to move out [entfernen] the Jews, and that the episode will be a bloody one, is not proof that he ordered their liquidation twenty years later; nor is it adequate proof -- when faced with definite, precise words to the contrary -- to quote indefinite, imprecise utterances by the same man in his verbatim, extempore public speeches. Kampfparolen are not proof.
In Hitler's case, he never once goes further than talking in the most imprecise manner -- blustering, bloodthirsty, bragging and bullying -- of "the destruction of Jewry" [Vernichtung des Judentums], or "stamping out Jewry in Europe" [Ausrottung des Judentums in Europa] or "moving them away" [entfernen] or "getting rid of them" [beseitigen]. How easy it would have been for this loquacious Führer to have made just one slip of the tongue just once, and to have talked about "liquidate", for example; but he never does.
The words that I quote above, Hitler uses again and again in the loosest contexts -- it would shame you if I listed them all to you, but how about just two lurid uses of the word ausrotten for a start: in his speech to the Nazi editors on 10 November 1938, he announces he is going to "ausrotten" the German intellectuals; in his meeting with Hácha on 15 March 1939, according to Walther Hewel's note, Hitler says: "Wenn im Herbst vorigen Jahres die Tschechoslowakei nicht nachgegeben hätte, so wäre das tschechische Volk ausgerottet worden."
Is this not a precise parallel with the Ausrottung des Judentums, or Ausrottung der jüdischen Rasse in Europa? But you will not seriously suggest that Hitler ever considered liquidating, murdering, the entire Czech nation? Why do we apply the double standards of word-interpretation in the case of the liquidation of the Jews; why the blind spot that afflicts every historian whenever Hitler-and-the-Jews is the subject of research? Why are, suddenly, the normal rules of evidence no longer considered necessary?
Your whole case, in "Hitlers Weltanschauung", rests on your own interpretation of Hitler's semantics. What would you make of this public utterance -- or Kampfparole -- by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, at a press conference on 17 April 1943 (I found it among his papers in Abilene, Kansas):
"As far as I am concerned, any soldier that is killing a German is somebody for whom I have a tremendous affection and if I can give him something so he can kill two Germans instead of one, by golly I am going to do it."
No, you can not safely judge any man by what he says, but only by what he orders, commands, or subsequently endorses. Now take this instance. On 10 November 1938, during the night, as synagogues and Jewish properties everywhere are blazing, Hitler intervenes and orders the senseless pogrom to stop. How does this fit in with your view of his Weltanschauung? (You may not believe that he actually did intervene. Then I will happily send you in facsimile a document issued by Rudolf Hess's staff from Munich in Wiederholung des Fernschreibens vom 10. November 1938, also dated 10 November 1938. It is very brief:
"Auf ausdrücklichen Befehl allerhöchster Stelle dürfen Brandlegungen an jüdischen Geschäften oder dergleichen auf gar keinen Fall und unter gar keinen Umständen erfolgen."
This urgent instruction went to all Gauleitungen in Germany.)
The fact remains, that when we apply normal rules of evidence and believe only the documents that are genuine -- ignoring none -- a picture remains of a Hitler who becomes disinterested in the prosecution of the Jewish issue any longer, once he has ridden successfully to power on it; while the lower levels, the radicals, of the Nazi party continue the old fight against the Jews. And that once the war begins, it is at these lower levels that the ad hoc decision is reached, usually an Ort und Stelle, to murder the trainloads of European Jews deported (deported on Hitler's orders) to the East. And that the murderers look upwards to Heydrich and even to Himmler for approval for their actions. And that Himmler -- e. g. in his famous speeches in October 1943 -- proudly accepts the responsibility for having taken this decision himself.
You cannot -- although you and every other historian until me have -- ignore the documents that I quoted in HITLER'S WAR that establish Hitler's very different position on the Jewish issue. You complain that my facsimile on page 505 appears to refer only to one specific instance. It does not, as reference to the whole file of Himmler's Telephone Conversations (NA film T84 roll 25) shows. (Incidentally, why has no other German historian ever bothered to use this file? So far as I know only Peter Hoffmann has, in Canada). See for instance Himmler's conversation with Heydrich, Berlin, 17 November 1941 12,15 -- 12,30 Uhr. (You recall, Heydrich is at this time busy planning the conference later famous as the Wannsee conference.) "... Verhältnisse im Generalgouvernement. Beseitigung der Juden. . ." Then, after the conversation that I print on page 505, Himmler telephones SS Gruppenführer Pohl in Berlin next day, 1 December 1941: ..... Juden zu bleiben."
And so on, with discussions about the Lage im Generalgouvernement, Hitler's ruling that die Endlösung der Judenfrage was to be postponed until after the war was over (Frühjahr 1942 -- see Staff Evidence Analysis sheet for Nuremberg Document 4025 -- PS) and a no less illuminating call from Himmler to Heydrich on 20. April 1942, again from Hitler's headquarters: "..... Keine Vernichtung der Zigeuner." These are documents, this is proof, it is evidence acceptable in any court of law, requiring no more brainwork than the obvious conclusion that these are being telephoned from Hitler's headquarters by Himmler, because Hitter has made his views quite plain to Himmler. For similar evidence, see my book, particularly the notes on pages 850f and 857f. I will not mention here the evidence of "double book-keeping" by the SS, to provide a "clean" set of books for showing to the Führer. I describe this enough in my book.
Admittedly, you ask some brave questions in your last paragraph on page 82. But what about the really big questions raised by the documents which I print and others ignore? and what about explaining why the Germans first transported the Jews east and only then murdered them, instead of murdering them an Ort und Stelle, or in some local forests in western Europe? My thesis is the only acceptable answer -- that the transportation was done in obeyance of Hitler's orders; while the murdering was done by those on the spot, on their own initiative.
Finally, having read your book, my own views stand intact. Do not rely any longer on Raul Hilberg for support. I have corresponded with him, and in one of his earliest letters he stated views that are very similar to my own. And certainly do not rely on the 1945 Bormann Verrnerke published by François Genoud and Trevor-Roper; as Professor Baumgart of Freiburg will tell you -- and so can I, for that matter -- they are clever forgeries, put together (in French!) by Genoud and others many years after the war.
Genoud admits as much. The English text published in good faith by Trevor-Roper was translated from the French; so was the German text that Genoud showed me about seven years ago in Lausanne. However, he is a good friend of mine and I would not like this fact widely publicized. It just amused me to see that Joachim Fest made so much use of them. It is one more reason, Professor Jäckel, why I am unhappy about using other books as sources.
You may feel you would like to answer some of these points, above. Please do. Perhaps you would like to publish the correspondence. I have no objection. I have transferred my complete Sammelakte on the Judenfrage to the Institut für Zeitgeschichte in Munich, where anybody can see it and try to prove me wrong. I will happily pay a donation of $1,000 to any charity that any challenger cares to name, if he or she can find even one wartime document proving that Hitler ordered, or even knew of, the biological liquidation (murder) of the western European Jews before, say, October 1943.* (As I say in my own book HITLER'S WAR from that point on Hitler can have had no sound excuse for not knowing the truth about what was going on.)
* I made the same challenge in the United States. I still have the $1,000. Incidentally, one writer (Professor Walter Laqueur) quotes Albert Zoller's book Hitler Privat, the alleged memoirs of Hitler's secretary Christa Schroeder, as "proof". Frau Schroeder told me long ago that Zoller faked much of the book, putting statements into her mouth that she never made: including that one.