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Libel Action between DJC Irving v Penguin Books Ltd and Deborah Lipstadt
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Closing Speech by David Irving

Part VIII: conclusion

There remain one or two in my view minor matters.

The Defendants allege that I wilfully exaggerated the Dresden death roll in my 1963 book THE DESTRUCTION OF DRESDEN, and afterwards and had no basis for my figures. In fact I have satisfied this court, I believe, that at all times (a) I set and published the proper upper and lower limits for the estimates that I gave, giving a range of figures which necessarily decreased, overall, over the years as our state of information improved; (b) I had adequate basis for the various figures which I provided in my works.

It has to be said that authors have little or no control over the content of books sub-licensed to other publishers. Revisions are not encouraged for cost reasons.

I have always been aware of the highly-charged political nature of the figures quoted for this event. The highest figure, of 250,000, which I only mentioned in my works as the maximum ever alleged, was given for example by the German chancellor Dr Konrad Adenauer in an official West German government publication which I showed the court, DEUTSCHLAND HEUTE (page 154, at footnote 2).

The lowest figures only became available in a book published in 1994 by Friedrich Reichert, VERBRANNT BIS ZUR UNKENNTLICHKEIT. A copy of this book was provided to me in 1997. By that time I had already published the latest updated edition of my book, now called APOCALYPSE 1945: THE DESTRUCTION OF DRESDEN, in which I had lowered the death roll still further on the basis of my own investigations and considerations. This was the first edition over which I, and not the publisher, had total control, as it appeared under my own imprint.

In 1965, as the court is aware, I received written estimates of 140,000 and 180,000 dead from a rather anxious Soviet-zone citizen, Dr Max Funfack, who claimed to have received them about nine days after the raid from the city commandant and the chief civil defence officer respectively, both of them his personal friends. That being so, there was no reason why I should have revised the 135,000 estimate which I had earlier received from Hanns Voigt, a city official charged with drawing up death lists, when I was researching my first book in 1961. In 1966, I received the police final report of March 1945; while still remaining sceptical about it for the reasons stated (the officer was responsible for Dresden's ARP; it was too early to achieve any kind of overall final figure; the number of refugees killed was an imponderable) I took the correct action: I sent a letter to The Times within a few days of finding the new documents in the mail on my return from a trip to the USA. Not only that, but at my own expense I had the letter reprinted and sent to hundreds of historians and the like.

One hopes that the expert witnesses whom we saw in the witness stand would have had the same integrity to do that.


As for the Goebbels Diaries, the Defendants do not now seek to justify their claim that I broke an agreement with the Moscow Archives in 1992 to bring sections of the Goebbels' Diaries back to Germany and London. They have withdrawn the witness reports of the Russian archivists, and will provide me no opportunity to cross examine them. I was prepared to pursue their cross examination vigorously. I produced a witness statement from Mr Peter Millar, my colleague in Moscow, and I made him available for cross examination. He confirmed that there was no verbal or written agreement, as I had also stated in my various replies, so I could not have broken it.186 The Defendants have left no satisfactory evidence before the Court that refutes this. Mr Millar also confirmed to the Court that he did not agree that my conduct gave rise to significant risk of damage to plates.187 The plates had been withheld from historians for 55 years or more. By my actions I made these historically very important materials available to the world, and placed copies of them in the appropriate German archives at my own expense.



The Defendants refer to, and seem to rely quite strongly on, a document allegedly sent by the Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller to the heads of the four taskforces (Einsatzgruppen) on August 1, 1941, about "procurement of visual materials", which were to be submitted to Hitler on the work of the Einsatzgruppen in the east. (Longerich report, para 15.6).

I submit that in the special circumstances of this action the Court should not accept this evidence as admissible.

Admissibility: If I had myself found such a document, I would have wanted to know everything possible about how and why it had surfaced, where it had come from, and the surrounding documents in the same folder which might tell us something about the ambiguous contents. The Defendants have sought, unsuccessfully in my view, to devalue the Schlegelberger Document on precisely the grounds of a few other documents found in the same folder. The Court therefore ordered the Defendants to produce (a) the original document or a facsimile thereof, and (b) to identify the file in which it had been found. The expert witness Dr Longerich identified the file as ZSt Ludwigsburg, Dok. UdSSR No. 401. etc. The expert witness Dr Browning cited Peter Klein, ed., Die Einsatzgruppen in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42: Die Tätigkeits- und Lageberichte des Chefs der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD (Berlin, 1997), page 342. The archival source was given as Bundesarchiv Signatur BA R 70 Sowjetunion/32. I requested the Bundesarchiv on February 7 to provide me with a facsimile. They replied that the file with that number was something completely different. On January 28, as is evident from the fax line on top of the version of the document now provided by the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, the institute had already supplied precisely the same typed Abschrift to Dr Longerich. It was forty-two days later provided to me, shortly before close of business before this last weekend, making it impossible for me to follow up. On March 9, the Ludwigsburg office has provided a copy of precisely the same item, microfilmed from a file USSR 401. This does not advance the matter.

If Your Lordship is minded, despite the conduct of the Defendants over this document, to admit the Müller document in evidence, then I submit these comments on its evidential value: The document may not be genuine (although it does have SS runes in the last line, the Russians captured Nazi typewriters); it is a typescript copy totally bereft of any authenticating stamps or signatures; its source is the Central State Archives of the "October Revolution". The document merely invites the four taskforce commanders to provide to Berlin, for submission on a current basis to Hitler, "particularly interesting visual material like photos, posters, leaflets and other documents" - none of which seems to relate to the taskforces' homicidal duties, so much as to their other well known functions as intelligence agencies specifically tasked to raid and secure the headquarters and files of former Soviet party and administrative offices. It is difficult to image what "photos, posters, leaflets and other documents" would be "procured" that might relate to the Final Solution in the east. I know of no response-documents to this appeal - neither letters submitting materials to Müller, referring to this message, nor such materials being forwarded by Müller to Hitler "on a current basis" or on any other basis.



One other matter. Your Lordship will remember that Mr Rampton put to Professor Funke, on Day 28 (March 1) in re-examination at page 174, a document which I wrote to Dr Frey and my Munich lawyer, Dr Michael von Sprenger, in January 1991. Starting at P-178 I was quoted as predicting "a political drawing together of the German speaking peoples of Europe ... within a framework of a just settlement with Warsaw", and expressing the personal view that "the future of England can only be secured in common friendship with the new Germany". Mr Rampton argued on the basis of that letter that any person who sympathised with Hitler in his desire for peace with England was a neo-Nazi. On March 5 this year, only a few days ago, we learned that in 1940 Her Majesty the Queen Mother held precisely these views and expressed them in private to Lord Halifax when he was the foreign secretary.188 The papers of the Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, which I examined at the Bodleian ten years ago, have now given up more secrets except for box 24, which contain, according to government sources, correspondence showing the Royal Family's hostility toward the new prime minister Mr Churchill and their preference for Lord Halifax, and the Queen Mother's own desire that Britain conclude an early peace with Hitler.

Is it not remarkable that at precisely the same time that I was being publicly excoriated by Mr Rampton for expressing those views, which are sincerely held, in several of my books, it turns out that they were inherently the same as those of the Queen Mother? She was well aware from the Cabinet papers, as indeed are most historians now, that Hitler had made such a peace offer during 1940, and several respectable historians, including my friend the late Alan Clark and Professor Charmley have expressed the same belief.

Part 36 offer. It is right that Your Lordship should be informed that pursuant to the Act I made a formal Part 36 offer to the Defendants, many months ago; not once, but twice, since at first they argued that the new Rules did not apply. The Defendants refused the offer.

Costs. I do not propose asking for my costs in this action. Although I have lost three years of my life in preparing for the case, have had to hire extra staff, and have spent two months in this courtroom, including about twenty days in the witness box, I have decided that it would be too arduous to quantify, in a matter that would satisfy the Taxing Master, every penny that I have had to spend to defend and retrieve my reputation.


I do however ask that Your Lordship give Judgment in the terms and on the premises set out in my writ and statement of claim, namely:


  • damages including aggravated damages for libel; and
  • an injunction restraining the Defendants and each of them whether by themselves their servants or agents or otherwise from further publishing or causing to be published the said or similar words defamatory of the Plaintiff. 



David Irving Tuesday, March 14, 2000


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