Posted Saturday, January 6, 2001

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Germany United, and a Tale of Two Experts...

Professor Richard ("How much will you pay me?") Evans in 1987:

a skunk German reunification is simply not a realistic possibility, and to talk about it or to advance historical arguments in its favor is to indulge in political fantasizing. Evans

-- Richard Evans, 'The New Nationalism and the Old History -- Perspective on the West German Historikerstreit,' in Journal Of Modern History, Dec 1987, page 785.

We are indebted to John Lukacs for drawing attention to the failed prophet Evans in The Hitler Of History (NY: Knopf, 1977, page 233n), and to Mark Weber for telling us about it.

Berlin Demo on Oct 3, 1989

ON October 3, 1989, David Irving addressed a press conference at the Bristol Hotel Kempinski in Berlin about that evening's demonstration (above) planned outside the Sender Freies Berlin television centre, which had cancelled his attendance on a historians' forum because the cowardly German historians including Eberhard Jäckel had refused to sit at the same table.

In the course of his address to the thirty journalists, who included The Daily Telegraph and BBC representatives, Mr Irving predicted: "You may not believe it, but let me tell you this: Twelve months from now, Germany will be reunited." The German journalists present scoffed, and declared the prediction both incredible and undesirable. Only The Daily Telegraph printed it.

Twelve months later: Germany was reunited on October 3, 1990, twelve months to the day after the press conference. Asked by a German journalist in 1990 why the others present had failed to print his prediction, Mr Irving said: "Journalists the world over are all the same: they have the horizon of a lavatory lid -- the Horizont eines Klosettendeckels."

The Daily Telegraph
London, March 9, 1990

Right on

THE opening up of East Germany has put a new spring into the step of the controversial Right-wing historian David Irving, who has found a ready audience in Dresden for his claim that the bombing of the city was one of history's gravest war crimes.

Irving, now at the end of a lecture tour across Europe, has distributed 300 copies of his book about the bombing in Dresden, whose citizens, he says, are thoroughly confused by recent developments and "are like a huge family of ducklings who have lost their mummy and daddy."

He uses an equally curious image to describe his opponents in the German press, who "hooted with laughter" when he claimed, in October that reunification would take place within a year. "It didn't surprise me," snorts Irving. "The German press has all the horizon of a lavatory lid." 

[Speaking at his Berlin press conference on October 3, 1989, Mr Irving had predicted to the astonished journalists that Germany would be reunited in twelve months. The Berlin Wall was still standing at that time. Germany was formally reunited on October 3, 1990.]

The Daily Telegraph

London, October 2, 1990

Told you so

THE CAST of 42nd Street may be looking down in the dumps, but the biggest grin in academe must belong to the highly controversial historian David Irving. On October 3 last year -- before the fall of the Berlin Wall -- he declared that the two Germanies would be one within a year.


Irving: star gazer

"You won't believe this," Irving told a Berlin media conference, "but within 12 months Germany will be reunited."

When the writer -- the best-known apologist for Hitler -- heard that October 3 [1990] was to be Reunification Day, he was delighted by the coincidence.

"I nearly fell off my chair," he tells me, before adding: "You have a gut feeling. Nobody thought that one thing was going to lead to another, but to me it was perfectly obvious."


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