The International Campaign for Real History
Check out the new David Irving bookstore at
From the prison memoirs of David Irving

Written in Vienna prison, 2006. Posted here Friday, March 7, 2008

Finding the Amber Room

 Hadancuffs are removed from Mr irving in the Court of Appeal

From: David Irving, BANGED UP (Focal Point Publications, London, 2008), PAGES 92-94

Picture: Handcuffs are removed from Mr Irving in the Court of Appeal after 400 days solitary confinement in Vienna. Bedlow: Replica of the Amber Room

DOWN in the prison yard there was a new face, a fresh young Italian-looking man. Like the young Sinti whom we shall meet later, he recognized me from press reports, he said, and made a bee-line over to me. His name was Andrew von W., he announced, citing the name of one of Austria's most famous philosophers.

He offered congenial, amusing company, and I often shared my morning stroll with him.

After a day or two he initiated a subtle campaign whose purpose I never really fathomed. His grandfather von W. had been a famous Luftwaffe ace, he confided, and had left behind two cases filled with uniforms, a Luftwaffe dagger, and three black leather-bound volumes which contained the inventory and location one of the most sought after treasures of World War Two, the fabled Bernstein Zimmer, the Amber Room looted by German troops from Leningrad during the war. The loot was concealed, he said, in a former Luftwaffe bunker in what had been the German Democratic Republic, the DDR, near Halle.

This was precisely how I had picked up so many precious documents during the years of my research, an unexpected tip-off. To the questions which immediately arose -- why me? And why had he not himself profited from this immense wealth? -- he had ready answers. So I pricked up my ears; after all I had little else to do; he was good company, as said, and a cut above the rest of those in the prison yard.

He seemed to have free access to our jailhouse wing's pay telephone, and the officers allowed him to speak for hours at a time. As for the black leather volumes, he described that these contained in copperplate Sütterlin handwriting the inventory of each piece of the Bernstein Zimmer -- he professed that he himself could not read such Old German handwriting well -- and of the bunker room in which it was stored; helpfully, a map of the location was glued into the third volume.

The easy telephone access did momentarily puzzle me. I recalled that when I had first arrived, Inspector Böhm, an elderly prison officer about to retire, snarled: "Even though the judge has given his consent, Herr Irving, that doesn't mean that we here will permit it, not by a long chalk."

Bernstein ZimmerFrom Cell 19 of C Block I began Operation Leonard, to research the real history of the Bernstein Zimmer -- not easy when six weeks elapsed between every letter and reply. I began to check the details through my friends. One Australian historian whom I knew was an expert on the whole Von W. family and their ancestors. Another knew all about the Luftwaffe aces.

By the time their replies came in, this Italianate gentleman in the yard had already begun to lose me; he was making the familiar mistake of all tricksters. It reminded me of the saga of one Klaus Benzing, who had offered me the hidden wartime diaries of Hitler's Intelligence chief Vice-Admiral Wilhelm Canaris back in the 1970s.

"Von W." embroidered the story with more and more detail, as I mildly asked for further particulars, and eventually he tripped himself up. The map gave the precise geographic coordinates, he said. It was glued in, unusually, with North at the bottom, he recalled. He even sketched what it looked like. He and his brother had visited the location in the closing years of the DDR, he said, using GPS (satellite navigation) to pinpoint the precise location: they had spoken with the farmer on whose land the bunker ruins were -- the bunker was still there, partly demolished, and overgrown with weeds.

I pointed out in the nicest possible way that the DDR breathed its last gasp in 1989, and that GPS was not publicly available by then. Of course the next day he smoothly and seamlessly enlarged his story to explain that blemish too.

I never really fathomed what he was after; true, he got free coffee handouts and other groceries from me in the first weeks of his imprisonment, but I would have given him those even without the tall stories.

His face vanished from our wing some weeks later; newspapers reported that the court had sentenced him to seven years as a confidence trickster, having deceived the noble lady whose name he now bore (he had changed it by deed poll).

He had also used his charms on Inspector John, one of the senior Block Chiefs, as I learned later from the trusty, Zoran. We were swapping yarns about the trickster, to general laughter in the prison yard. Each had his own story. Learning that the jailer Herr John [Bezirks-Inspektor] was a passionate huntsman -- a member of what Adolf Hitler referred to scathingly as "die grüne Freimaurerei," the green Masonic lodge -- Von W. had mentioned that he had had a bit of luck: he had inherited a hunting preserve in the Tyrol, and he hinted that he would be happy to invite the Inspector as his guest when happier times returned. That explained perhaps the liberal use of the telephone that he was allowed.


David Irving's Photos

 Register your name and address to go on the Mailing List to receive

David Irving's ACTION REPORT

(it appears only rarely) or to hear when and where he will next speak near you

© Focal Point 2008 Irving write to David Irving