The Suppressed Eichmann and Goebbels PapersDavid Irving
- Presented at the Eleventh IHR Conference, October 1992.
Twice this year I've come under the scrutiny of journalists, entirely through no doing of my own. The first occasion was my acquisition of the Eichmann papers, about which I'll be speaking shortly. The second occasion was in regard to the papers of Dr. Joseph Goebbels. I'll show you the Goebbels papers first because these have aroused enormous interest. It came about like this:
The Goebbels Diaries
On May 6th, 1992, while I was researching at the archives of the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich — once again, “illegally” on German soil — a good friend whom I've known for thirty years lunched with me and said, “David, I've been working in the Moscow state secret archives, and I've found the glass plates on which are microfilmed the entire diaries of Dr. Joseph Goebbels.”
At this, of course, my ears pricked up because any historian worth his salt will tell you that the published Goebbels diaries are complete except for everything that matters. Few of the most important portions have been published so far: the November 1938 Kristallnacht ("Night of broken glass"), the 1934 Röhm purge ("Night of the long knives"), the outbreak of the war in 1939, the Pearl Harbor attack, you name it — it is not in the published volumes that came out in the 1950s, the 1970s or the 1980s. They hadn’t got everything that mattered. We thought this was because the Soviets were holding onto the good stuff, to sell it for really top dollar later on. But that was not the case. It was just the typical Communist, Marxist-Leninist chaos. They didn’t know themselves what they had.
The diaries were recorded on Agfa glass plates stored in boxes: here are my color photographs of one of the original boxes. You can see the handwriting on it of Dr. Richard Otte, Goebbels' own secretary, which my source immediately recognized. Historians of the period all knew that during
the final weeks of the war, Goebbels feared that his priceless diaries might be burned to a frizzle in some thoughtless British air raid. So he took the precaution of having them microfilmed on these glass plates, which at that time was a totally new system. We knew that these glass plates existed somewhere, and we've been looking for them. Actually, we couldn’t just look for them because no one knew where to look. But if you stumbled across them, you'd know what they are, rather like the diaries of Admiral Canaris.
So in March 1992 my source stumbled across these boxes in the Moscow archives, and recognized them for what they were. (You'll notice that I don’t mention this person’s name, because I don’t want to get him or her into any trouble.)
My source’s own institute, the Institute of Contemporary History (Institut für Zeitgeschichte) in Munich — my deadliest enemies now — refused to finance a further expedition for my source to go back to Moscow to purchase these 1,600 glass plates.
There are 92 boxes of these glass plates. Ninety-two boxes, just loosely bundled up with string. The glass plates are not in very good condition. They've got fragments of glass splinters between them and they're often badly scratched. But they are entirely legible.
My source suggested that I raise the money to visit Moscow to get hold of these glass plates. I contacted my American publisher, Avon Books, and for ten days they acted very enthusiastic. I estimated that I'd need about $20,000 in order to buy the glass plates outright from the Russian archivists. They need money so badly just to keep the archives running, they have to sell off the family silver bit by bit, so to speak. I thought that $20,000 was a very reasonable price.
Suddenly, though, the bubble popped. Word came down from the upper levels at Avon books that they wouldn’t finance my trip to Moscow to get these plates. They feared that it involved “bribing” Russian officials, or something unethical. So next I approached my British publishers, Macmillan London, Ltd., and within two hours received the same answer. Perhaps it was decided that they wouldn’t help provide David Irving with this scoop.
So I approached the Sunday Times, which is Britain’s biggest, most serious, and most respected newspaper. They immediately agreed to finance an initial expedition to Moscow for me to have a look at these glass plates. A week later, I returned to London having not only looked at the plates, but having copied hundreds of pages from them — everything that mattered except for a few gaps.
When I then reached an agreement with the Sunday Times, they insisted that I not breathe a word to anyone about this arrangement. As Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil told me, “Irving, my staff are not happy that we are doing this deal with you.” I replied, “Well, you've got no choice, have you? Because it’s my project.”
If you read the newspaper accounts afterwards, you get the impression that this was the Sunday Times' project, and that they had picked me for it because I'm the only person who can read Goebbels' handwriting. Well, later, when the big fight started, they were hoist by their own petard because the fight in Britain became horrendous and hairy. [See the IHR Newsletter, Oct. 1992, p. 5.]
The Controversy Begins
If, perversely, you wanted to upset the Jewish community in Britain, what would you do? The first thing I would do is go out to all the Jewish ghettos in London, like Stamford Hill or Golders Green, and I would put up 60-foot-long posters in the Nazi colors with 15-foot swastikas, a photograph of Dr. Goebbels, and the slogan running right across in gothic script: WHEN WE DEPART, LET THE EARTH TREMBLE. This is precisely what the Sunday Times did to advertise their David Irving series!
The Jewish community frantically organized ten-man-strong gangs to go out and deface these posters. But as fast as they desecrated, the Sunday Times went 'round renewing them. This went on for a week until finally the community concerned, our traditional enemies, brought their traditional pressures to bear on the Sunday Times. As Mark Weber mentioned, they themselves admitted this pressure, not only from the English community, but the American Jewish community as well, because the Sunday Times is particularly vulnerable. Much of their finance comes from their American banking system, and much of the advertising in Britain is dependent on this particular community. The community left Andrew Neil, the editor, with no doubt at all of their displeasure. He told me at the height of this crisis that he had never been through such a nightmare in his life.
In consequence of this pressure the Sunday Times had to turn the entire campaign around against me, their own contributor, and try to pretend that it was their material, and that they were obliged to call me in because I was the only person who could read the handwriting. Let me just show you what the glass pages produce. Dr. Goebbels' diaries were recorded in miniature on glass plates; this is the contact print of one of the glass plates. As you see, it’s fifty pages of the diaries in handwriting, very, very small. The first week I was there I had no easy means of reading them because there was no microfilm reader in Moscow. But by chance I had a tiny little 12x magnifying glass with me, as large as my fingernail, and with that I could read those glass plates for the first week.
Some of them we borrowed, with the permission of the archivist, and had them blown up to produce these photographs. You can see later on, those of you who read German, that Dr. Goebbels' handwriting is truly illegible. It took me two years to learn to read it. When the Sunday Times said, “Irving is one of the three people in the world who can read Goebbels' handwriting,” our rivals scoffed and said, “That’s utter baloney, any German of that generation can read his handwriting.” So I sent pages of the diary to these rival journalists, and I said, “I'll pay you a thousand pounds if, within two weeks, you can supply me with a transcript of one page with fewer than 50 percent errors.” Not one of them took me up on it. The Daily Mail, a rival of the Sunday Times, thought they'd scooped us by paying 20,000 pounds to purchase a few pages of the diary from the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, who were determined to spite me. The Daily Mail took their precious pages and hurried off back to London to get to work on them, only to find to their horror that their people could not read the pages they'd paid 20,000 pounds for! I had some happy moments during that July of 1992, as you can believe.
Joseph Goebbels (right) with armaments minister Albert Speer (left) and labor leader Robert Ley at a mass meeting in Berlin in 1943 to honor outstanding workers.
Mark [Weber] mentioned the publicity that surrounded this affair, and it’s true: during those two weeks alone, I collected two thousand press clippings from around the world. It was exactly the same back in January when the Eichmann papers scandal broke. You see, when I was in Argentina in October  delivering lectures in English and Spanish to audiences down there, one of those odd strokes of luck happened. When you're an internationally known historian, or when you're notorious, people come up to you and ask, “Are you interested in this?”
Thus, an American autograph collector wrote to me a few weeks ago saying, “I've got Heinrich Himmler’s 1939 diary. Would you like to have a look at it?” This kind of thing happens.
The Eichmann Memoirs
If you go to London at present, around the West End where I live you'll find every parking meter, every lamppost, every traffic standard, every traffic light have got stickers on them saying “Smash David Irving,” “Stop Irving,” or “Irving Speaks, Rostock Burns.” Behind this is a group that calls itself CAFE, the Committee Against Fascism in Europe, which the Daily Express tells me is in fact a front for the Mossad. They've gone 'round putting up these stickers all over the West End of London advertising mass-meetings outside my home, and very kindly giving my address.
I'm grateful to them because recently I got a letter from a Greek publisher saying, “Mr. Irving, I've been trying for a year to contact you through your publishers so that I can make an offer for the rights to your Adolf Hitler biography, and your publishers were unwilling to let us have your address. As I was in London shopping a few days ago, I happened to notice a sticker on which your opponents put your address, so I am happy now to make an offer for your book.” This is what happens.
So, being notorious has its advantages. When I was in Argentina, in October , a man who had written me vaguely a couple of years before, mentioning papers that he thought I ought to see, came up to me at the end of one meeting. The next day he came back and gave me two bulky brown-paper parcels which turned out to contain the writings of Adolf Eichmann when he was in hiding in Argentina in the late 1950s. Adolf Eichmann, of course, is now the man with whom the public most associates what they call the “Holocaust.”
I hate that word. It’s a word I don’t like using. People say to me, “Mr. Irving, do you believe in the Holocaust? Do you deny the Holocaust?” I say that I mistrust words with a capital letter. They look like a trademark, don’t they? Like Tylenol or something. We don’t trust them; no matter how much advertising they put into Tylenol. And so it is with that word “Holocaust.” You get the impression that it is a neatly packaged, highly promoted operation, and you don’t trust it.
Eichmann was born on the 19th of March, 1906. As an SS Lieutenant Colonel (Obersturmbannführer), he was a specialist of the Jewish question. He looked upon the Jews with that same mixture of admiration and fear shared by most of the non-Jewish population around the world.
He went to Palestine in 1937 after he was made an officer in the SS, and he actually (we have his own record of this) entered into negotiations with leading Zionist underground fighters in Palestine, some of whom went on after the war to become members of the cabinet of Israeli leader David Ben-Gurion. None of this was admitted by them at the time, but of course the records are there in the files of the SS in the National Archives in Washington.
Eichmann was head of department IV B 4 of the Reich Security Main Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA). This was the desk of the Gestapo assigned to deal with Jewish matters. Eichmann came under Heinrich Müller (head of the Gestapo), who came under Reinhard Heydrich (the chief of the RSHA) [and after January 1943, Ernst Kaltenbrunner], who came under Heinrich Himmler (the Reichsführer SS), who came under Hitler.
Actually, Himmler was much farther under Hitler than you would imagine from subsequent historical propaganda. Relations between Himmler and Hitler were not close. They seldom saw each other; Himmler was a bit of a loose cannon who operated very much at arm’s length from Hitler. He took his own decisions and acted as he wanted. Hitler couldn’t be bothered with much that Himmler was up too. I think there was a certain lack of affinity between the two, and this became increasingly evident as the war went on. This is also indicated by Eichmann’s own writings.
To the governments of the foreign countries from where Jews were being deported, Eichmann denied that the Jews were being killed. But from his papers we can surmise that he knew or suspected different.
These Eichmann papers — the 600 pages which were handed to me in Argentina — are all typescript on very, very, flimsy paper — what you Americans call onion skin paper — legal size. I am guessing that many, many carbon copies had been made. We know that they originated with the collaboration of a Flemish journalist named Willem Sassens von Hildewor who was also in hiding in Argentina. Sassens was a very dubious character. I think he’s still alive in Argentina, but he’s gone into hiding because he fears for his life, and probably with some justification because there’s good reason to suspect that he turned over the bulk of these papers — which he dressed up for the purpose — to Life magazine, in 1959 or 1960, and when Life magazine published them they were the direct cause of Eichmann’s capture and kidnapping by the Israelis in the following year.
So Sassens is a very dubious character. As we know from von Woltersdorf, an eyewitness who lives in Germany now and wrote me a very long letter after the scandal broke (he was present during a lot of these taping sessions with Eichmann), Sassens persuaded Eichmann to talk at very great length on tape recordings. Altogether there were either 67 or 72 tape recordings. Because they were recorded in the 1950s, the tape recorder was a primitive reel-to-reel model. The tapes, once used, would then be erased and reused, so unfortunately, very few of the original tapes survive.
The surviving original tapes are now in the custody of Dieter Eichmann, a son of Eichmann, who lives near Lake Constance [in southern Germany]. As a result of the scandal that arose over my discovery of these Eichmann papers, I tried to protect Dieter Eichmann from embarrassment by the newspapers: I told journalists I wasn’t going to reveal where they could find him because I didn’t feel that it was right for his family to be molested by newspapermen. Eventually, though, I did put one journalist in contact with Dieter Eichmann, a journalist with the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche. In the space of a few days Die Weltwoche, a wealthy Swiss weekly newspaper, did a deal with Dieter Eichmann where they purchased all these surviving tape recordings and all the surviving papers, and Die Weltwoche now has all the rights. I next received a letter from Die Weltwoche’s lawyers warning me not to make use of any of the material I had.
Sassens had taped the conversations with Eichmann in the 1950s. They are verbatim transcripts, which makes them very useful, and as such they differ greatly from the books that were published by Eichmann in 1985 — Ich, Adolf Eichmann (the German edition), or Yo, Adolfo Eichmann (the Spanish-language version) — because those books contain no transcripts of conversations. They contain just a mildly edited text of what Sassens himself put together.
The transcripts themselves are very interesting because Eichmann got very irritated with Sassens, and constantly interrupted him: “I can’t see what you're getting at,” and “You're very thick,” and “why do you keep asking me about who was giving me the orders? How was I supposed to know?” And this kind of thing. It’s the “back-chat” which was interesting in the dialogues.
In January 1992 I donated all these original papers to the Federal Archives [Bundesarchiv] in Koblenz. In fact, I turned them over even before I read them myself, because obviously they are a historical source of very substantial importance to anybody investigating the “Holocaust.” Since 1965, I've made a practice of turning over my private papers and my research papers to the German Federal Archives, both because they are such a huge volume of paper, and so that other historians can use them. For a time I turned over papers to the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, where they have a collection called “The Irving Collection.” But I changed that three years ago, after a professor with the Institute, Helmuth Auerbach, decided to write a letter behind my back, on Institute letterhead, denouncing me to the German public prosecutor! I decided no longer to deposit papers in their archives, and until they apologize and retract that libelous letter, they can say goodbye to receiving any of the rest of my collection. Consequently, all my subsequent papers have gone to the German Federal Archives.
I didn’t have time to open those brown packages until Christmas-time. Christmas in London is an endlessly boring, tedious, and desolate festival, so I decided to enliven my festival by reading Adolf Eichmann’s papers.
I started reading on Christmas eve, and I carried on through Christmas day. I decided very rapidly that I couldn’t continue reading the originals because they are so flimsy that I might damage them. So I decided to copy them, which I had to do page by page because they are so flimsy. It took me all Christmas day, but I ended up with a much better set than the originals I eventually donated to the archives.
Thus I began reading them in earnest about January 2nd or 3rd. Each evening, at the end of the rest of my day’s work, I would read 30 or 40 pages of these transcripts.
'David Irving Recants'
Entirely by chance on Friday, January 10, a journalist with The Observer (one of the other serious British Sunday papers, and a great rival of the Sunday Times) telephoned me to ask me for a quotation about an event coming up the following week in London. On January 20 there was going to be a big Jewish Holocaust seminar at the Wiener Library in London. The Wiener Library had issued a press release dealing with certain casualty figures, and a statement had been issued by Yehuda Bauer of Israel’s Yad Vashem institute, who was going to take part in the meeting. Had I any comments? It was just a routine journalist’s call. I make this point because I'm not a publicity seeker, and I don’t go out of my way to seek publicity. Publicity’s a nuisance, and believe me, I long ago ceased to believe that journalists are going to do me any favors at all. They're not.
When this journalist telephoned me, I said, “I can’t tell you my own impression about these figures, but what I will tell you is that Adolf Eichmann himself said that [Auschwitz commandant] Rudolf Höss' figures were grossly inflated, and that Eichmann thought that Höss was an outrageous liar.”
“How do you know this?” he responded.
“Well,” I said, “nobody else knows this, but as of two months ago I've gotten ahold of all of Adolf Eichmann’s private papers. They were donated to me by a mutual friend in Argentina who didn’t know what to do with them, and he thought they were safest in my hands. I've donated the originals to the German archives, and I'm busy researching through them now.” By that time I'd read three quarters of them, I think.
Well, the journalist flipped. “You mean to say that you've had Adolf Eichmann’s diaries?” he asked.
“No,” I replied, “not his diaries, just his memoirs and everything he dictated and his conversations, and it’s all pure gold.”
Then he asked, “Have you reached any new conclusions?”
I responded: “There’s one sentence that has given me cause for thought.” (I'll speak about this later on.) And the journalist then wrote an article that appeared the following day in The Observer, and which was picked up that same day by the Sunday Telegraph under the headline, “Historian Recants.” [See the IHR Newsletter, Feb. 1992, pp. 3-4.]
Okay, that’s the kind of harmless thing newspapers do, and the following morning they're wrapping fish and chips. But in this case, the following morning it was wrapping fish and chips all the way around the world. As the globe spun, as the sun rose in the east and sank in the west, so my fax machine churned out press clippings from all my agents and sources and friends, in New Zealand, in Australia, in South Africa, in Europe, then on the east coast of the United States, then across Canada, then finally to the west coast, then down in Hawaii, in China, in Hong Kong — right around the world. That one Observer article had instantaneously been spread: “David Irving Recants.”
It was interesting to see that my original statement, whatever I was supposed to have recanted, had not gone around the world with the speed of light, had not been splashed [on newspaper front pages], and yet my “recanting” was sufficiently newsworthy to have gone around the world, and been given this tremendous publicity splash.
Too late, the Jewish community realized that they had scored an immense “own goal” (what Americans call a “fumble"), because the phone then began ringing with calls from television and radio stations around the world, wanting live interviews and telephone interviews. Would I go to the studios to do a satellite interview with Sydney? And of course, every time I did I said, “Well, Eichmann says he witnessed mass shootings in Russia, but Eichmann’s papers are quite plain: there’s no mention at all of gas chambers.” So I was able to get the message across.
At this, our traditional enemies went berserk. In a very impressive example of damage control, they then called out the fire brigades to spread the following message: “What David Irving has published is not new. David Irving has found nothing that the accepted, academic, reliable, decent, serious professional historians haven’t always known all along. The Eichmann papers are not new. We have always known about these papers. There is nothing in David Irving’s find that merits serious consideration.”
To which I said, “How do you know? The papers that I have donated to the federal archives in Germany are subject to an embargo by me which prevents anybody else from seeing them, and nobody has seen them, except me and the archives [officials] in Germany. So how do you know that what I have is what you lot have known all along?” An interesting point!
“Oh, well, it’s quite obvious, isn’t it?” they said, and then went into a kind of damage control on the damage control. But it was too late, because the point was very obvious: I had the papers, and they hadn’t.
The Institute of Contemporary History of Munich also announced that what I had was nothing new, that it was well known, and that didn’t David Irving realize that Adolf Eichmann’s book had been published in 1985?
I said that not only did I know that Eichmann’s book was published in 1985, I was the person who engineered it. After no other publisher in the world would touch Eichmann’s book, I personally organized contacts between Eichmann’s son, who had those manuscripts, and Druffel Verlag [a publisher in Germany], so that at least the manuscripts got some kind of airing.
So of course I knew about the book, but what I had was totally different: I had the transcripts of the conversations, which had never been published.
The line of defense of the Jewish community was that what I had was not all that serious; and, please, no further publicity. This made me begin to wonder. What was it they didn’t want published? Why was it, I asked myself, that when the Eichmann memoirs came out in 1985, first of all, nobody was willing to publish them except Druffel Verlag in Germany, and Planeta in Argentina, but no mainstream publisher in Europe or the United States? Here, after all, are the memoirs of “the biggest mass-murderer of all time,” apparently, and yet for some reason they're being swept under the carpet.
And why was it that our traditional enemies had gone into this frantic damage control exercise when, of all people, David Irving had got control of the original transcripts and had put them in the archives?
Martin Gilbert, my deadly rival and enemy, the Churchill biographer in Britain, said, “For many years Mr. Irving has denied these facts about the Holocaust and now he makes a virtue of finding them.”
But I didn’t say the first, I didn’t say the second. What I do say now is: can we analyze these papers, these transcripts, which are disorganized and not indexed, and in rather an untidy mess — can we analyze them in some way, and ask ourselves why it is that they were swept under the carpet in 1985, and why people were so anxious that the press should pay no attention to the papers that had been given to me in Argentina in 1991?
Eichmann on the Holocaust
Well, here are some of the contents. First of all, Adolf Eichmann is quite plain throughout these papers that the word Endlösung, or “final solution,” meant only one thing to him, and that was Madagascar. When he addressed his mind to the “final solution of the Jewish problem” in the late 1930s and early 1940s, it was quite plain to him that it was only a plan to sweep all the Jews of Europe aboard boats and transport them lock, stock, and barrel down to Madagascar, where they would be on an island where they couldn’t bother any of their neighbors and where none of their neighbors could bother them. I've always said and I say it here again — even though I risk making a few enemies — that I think that would have been an ideal solution to a perennial world tragedy.
The second interesting thing that emerges from Eichmann’s own papers is that he’s chewing over in his mind — he’s frightfully repetitive — he keeps on coming back, again and again, in his manuscripts and in these conversations to who was behind it, and what was behind it. What was behind the “Holocaust” (if we can use that word loosely here now)? He keeps coming back to the appalling thought: Did they manage to use us? Did the Zionists use the Nazis to further their own ends? Was the Holocaust something that they themselves inflicted on their own body, in order to bring about their Zionist cause in the long run?
This was Eichmann’s theory, at the end of his life (effectively, because a year or two later he was kidnapped and a year after that he was at the end of a rope in Israel). “Did they manage to use us?” He keeps on coming back to it, and every time he comes back to it becomes more and more plausible to him. And perhaps this is the reason why the Eichmann papers were not supposed to see the light of day.
Thirdly, when he’s justifying the cruelty of what he himself has seen — and in a minute I'll go into some of the detail about what he saw — he says, “But compared to what they were doing to us at that time, this was nothing. Compared to what they were planning to do with us, this was nothing.” He said, “I remember in Berlin an air raid… [and] afterwards going through the streets past a house that had collapsed, and hearing the screams of an elderly couple who had been trapped by falling debris, and the woman pleading to be put out of her misery by anybody with a gun.” He said, “When you hear screams like that, you never forget them for the rest of your life.” He describes that two or three times in his memoirs.
Now, that’s not justification. One crime doesn’t justify another crime, that’s plain. But this is in the memoirs. He also says, “Besides, we had by this time already learned of the Jews' plans for Germany.” He mentions explicitly the book by Theodore Kaufman, Germany Must Perish. This is most interesting, because in the Goebbels diaries of August 1941 (which have also not yet been published), Goebbels also mentions Kaufman’s book as justification.
This book, published in the United States by a deranged American Jew, presents a crazy plan for liquidating millions of Germans after the war. It was published in August 1941, and is referred to by Goebbels a few weeks before he introduced the plan for Jews to wear a yellow star. You can see a logical sequence of events, and Eichmann refers to this book as being one reason why, in his own mind, he can justify to himself the crimes that he was seeing committed.
He even mentions as mitigation the Morgenthau plan; but of course here you've got to be careful, because the Morgenthau plan wasn’t initialed by Churchill and Roosevelt until mid-September 1944, only a few weeks before Himmler ordered Auschwitz closed down. So, that’s an anachronism. Eichmann’s mind is rather confused and muddled by the time he’s writing or dictating all this in the mid-1950s. (We know it’s the mid-1950s, because he mentions things like, “Why was it a crime for us to invade Poland, when it isn’t a crime for them to do what they're doing now in Suez?” So it must have been around 1956 that he’s dictating these passages.)
Round about 1958, he gets hold of the “memoirs” of Rudolf Höss, which were published by the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich in that year. Höss wrote these “memoirs” while he was in Krakow, in Polish captivity. They've always been a problem — let’s be frank about this — they've been a problem to Revisionists.
Eichmann’s comments on the Höss memoirs are annihilating. Reading where Rudolf Höss is saying that two and a half million Jews have been liquidated at Auschwitz, the camp where he was commandant, Eichmann comments, “Where does Höss believe that he got these two and a half million Jews? Not from me. Because to have liquidated two and a half million decrepit, elderly, unworkable Jews, I must have had to feed to him three, four, five, six or seven million Jews in that space of time, and from the transport point of view alone this would have been totally impossible.”
You see, the memoirs of Eichmann are very useful in this respect. He was the transport specialist whose job it was to round up the Jews in Hungary and Slovakia. and ship them off to Germany for forced labor and for dissipation to the other labor camps. He knew that shipping off millions of Jews wasn’t something you do at the snap of your fingers: you had to have conferences with the railway officials and with the road officials, and with the guards and with everybody else who was going to be involved in all this. You had to provide the food for the transports which were going to be on the rails for four or five or six days. All this had to be prepared and planned with typical German bureaucracy and method, and that took meetings and conferences. And Eichmann said, “If you're going to ship five or six million Jews across Europe to Auschwitz at that time, let me tell you how many trains that would have taken,” and he worked out how many trains it would have taken, because he knew.
“You're not only going to have trains going that way full of Jews, you're going to have empty trains coming back. And you're going to have to have a circulation time, a time where they're unloading at one end, a time where they're loading at the other end… You're going to need so many thousands of wagons” of rolling stock. He worked out exactly how much rolling stock would have been needed, in these memoirs, and he said, “This alone proves that Rudolf Höss was talking through his hat. These figures are totally fantastic, and what the hell is Höss up to?” That is a brief, lurid summary of what Eichmann writes as he’s sitting in what he believes to be safety in the underground in Argentina, reading these memoirs of Höss, published in 1958.
Two years later, of course, Eichmann is kidnapped, so it’s during those two years that Eichmann is writing this. He mentions also in these memoirs how he received an indirect approach from Nahum Goldmann. Nahum Goldmann was one of the great Zionist leaders of the postwar era. Born in Lithuania and living for many years in Germany, he was the person who negotiated with Konrad Adenauer the billions of German marks which subsequently went to Israel. Eichmann mentions in these memoirs what purported to be an indirect approach from Goldmann, pleading with him to back up the six million figure. Anything he could do to support the six million figure, because the Zionists needed it. You are beginning to suspect, now, why these Eichmann memoirs should not be published.
Eichmann inspected Auschwitz. He went to Auschwitz several times, as he recounts in his memoirs. He describes being met by Rudolf Höss, the commandant, and he describes several grisly scenes. He describes going past an open pit where bodies were being burned, and he says it was an infernal sight, the likes of which he would never forget. He describes how the commandant, Höss, tells him that they are doing these things on Himmler’s orders and that it is a sacred task that has been imposed on the SS.
Eichmann describes many things, but what he does not once mention during this vivid description of his visit to Auschwitz is “gas chambers.” He doesn’t mention gas chambers, he just mentions the disposal of bodies in open pits by fire, and the comments to him by Commandant Höss.
I find that a very significant omission because, let’s face it, in these papers Eichmann is not exactly being modest about what he’s seen. He describes how in July 1941 (if you piece together the actual months and the dates) he is summoned to Berlin to visit Reinhard Heydrich, the chief of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA). Heydrich utters to him the fateful words, “Ich komme vom Reichsführer SS. Der Führer hat den Befehl zur physischen Vernichtung der Juden gegeben.” ("I've come from the Reichsführer SS [Himmler]. The Führer has given the order for the physical destruction of the Jews.")
Did Hitler Know?
That, of course — given in quotation marks in the manuscript — is what gave me pause for thought. I've always said, “Hitler wasn’t involved, whatever happened — Hitler gave no orders, there’s no proof of it.” Here we have Eichmann writing something very specific indeed. What is the explanation?
Well, if we look just at that sentence, we can say that you've only got to change one or two words and you get a completely different meaning. If it wasn’t “The Führer has ordered the physische Vernichtung [physical destruction], of the Jews,” but rather “die Ausrottung des Judentums,” you've only changed the words by a fraction and yet you've got a totally different meaning. You get something which is much more similar to Adolf Hitler’s public utterances and speeches. Ausrottung des Judentums, the destruction of Judaism, is something totally different. You don’t do that by gas chambers and the machine gun, any more than destroying Christianity or destroying usury can be done by the gas chamber and the bullet. They're different concepts.
So why should Eichmann have written this and not that? By 1958, he is well aware that since Höss' memoirs have been published and Eichmann is mentioned on 20 or 30 pages, the hue and cry are on. They're out looking for him. He knows his days may be numbered. Although I'm sure that — given his German, scrupulous, bureaucratic mind — he’s not doing this consciously, the mind has wonderful synthetic and analytical functions; the mind has a habit of suppressing, distorting, and embellishing in a manner which the owner of that mind would wish. And I'm sure that Adolf Eichmann’s mind is already lying awake at night, feverishly looking for extenuating circumstances. What more extenuating circumstances would there be for an Adolf Eichmann than that the Führer had “ordered the physical destruction of the Jews"? Eichmann may well have adapted the sentence that Reinhard Heydrich actually uttered to him.
It’s immaterial, one way or the other, because we must never overlook one basic fact: this is a postwar document, and any historian can now confirm that nowhere in all the archives of the world has yet been found one wartime document referring to a Führer’s order to destroy the Jews, or for that matter, one wartime document referring to gas chambers or gassings. All the documents that refer to Führer orders and gas chambers are postwar documents; statements by people in the dock at Nuremberg, memoirs written by the commandant at Krakow in Poland, and the like. You can’t overlook this basic watershed between wartime and postwar documents. If there’s no wartime document that says there was a Führer order, if no wartime document talks of gas chambers, then there has to be some explanation for that. That’s why I say I think I'm entitled to believe that Adolf Eichmann’s mind is synthesizing here. He is looking unconsciously for extenuating circumstances which will perhaps get him off the hook, literally, when the time comes.
Eichmann and Hoffmann
He doesn’t try to avoid describing what he’s seen. He describes the pits in Auschwitz, he describes the crematoria, just the same as Albert Hoffmann. Four or five years ago, while going through the records of the National Archives in Suitland, Maryland, I came across the interrogation report of Albert Hoffmann, who was the deputy Gauleiter of Silesia, the Gau where Auschwitz was situated. I thought he was an unimportant man, because I didn’t realize he was in Silesia, but the British, interrogating Hoffmann, asked him if he'd ever visited a concentration camp. Hoffmann’s reply was, “Yes, I've visited two concentration camps in my life, one at Dachau in 1936, which was organized, clean, decent and disciplined, and the prisoners were well fed. Then again,” he said, “in 1941 (or 1942: I think, in fact, in both years), I visited Auschwitz concentration camp with my Gauleiter, Bracht, and with the Reichsführer SS, Heinrich Himmler.”
Hoffmann went on, “Auschwitz was totally different from Dachau. The scenes I saw there beggar description. Brutality on the worst possible scale. I saw prisoners being beaten, I saw cadavers being cremated in the crematorium…”
You think, “Well, this is it.” You read on, thinking now you've got it, but then Hoffmann adds, “…but what Allied propaganda is now claiming, that is totally untrue.”
So again, rather like Eichmann, you've got somebody who is prepared to describe to a degree what he has actually seen, which, God knows, isn’t exactly decent, but he will not go the final yard and say “gas chambers.” Neither Adolf Eichmann nor Albert Hoffmann — eyewitnesses — describes having seen the gas chambers. So why does Höss describe the gas chambers? I'll come back to Höss and his papers in a minute.
What else is there in the Eichmann papers? Well, he describes how, after Heydrich called him to Berlin and uttered this fateful sentence about the Führer having given the order, Heydrich said that Himmler has ordered Odilo Globocnik to carry out this task, and that Himmler had actually ordered that the Russian anti-tank ditches were to be used for disposing of the bodies. Heydrich orders Eichmann to go out and check what Globocnik is doing.
Rationalizing, Eichmann says, “From this I assume that the conversation with Heydrich must have been sometime in the late summer of 1941 because that would have to be after the double battle of Minsk and Bialystok,” because that’s where the anti-tank ditches were. Eichmann then says, “I went out to Minsk, and I saw myself the mass shootings going on.”
Now you probably know that I'm a revisionist to a degree, but I'm not a revisionist to the extent that I say that there were no murders of Jews. I think we have to accept that there were My Lai-type massacres where SS officers — the Einsatzkommandos — did machine-gun hundreds if not thousand of Jews into pits. On the Eastern Front, at Riga, at Minsk, and at other locations, this kind of thing did happen.
Eichmann himself — and I wasn’t surprised to find it in his papers — actually witnessed this. He went to see one at Minsk, and being a proper SS officer he went right to the front to make sure that everything was being carried out. He got so close, in fact, that he saw with his very own eyes how the victims were being made to go into the pits and stand there waiting to be shot. (We've all heard these descriptions of it, and I've seen some terrible descriptions from sources that I find credible.) He says he saw that one woman was holding a little child in her arms, petrified, and she held the child out to him, and he writes in his memoirs: “I was a parent too, and I instinctively stepped forward as though to take the child. But at that very moment the salvo of shots rang out. Both were killed only a few feet away from me. The child’s brains were spattered over my leather greatcoat, and my driver had to clean the mess off.”
I don’t know why he recounted that kind of detail in his memoirs. It’s an ugly piece of circumstantial evidence. But it lends credibility and authenticity to the descriptions, what a writer calls verisimilitude. It didn’t surprise me. He also describes — and I have to say this being an honest historian — going to another location a few weeks later and being driven around in a bus; then being told by the bus driver to look through a peep hole into the back of the bus where he saw a number of prisoners being gassed by the exhaust fumes. So I accept that this kind of experiment was made on a very limited scale, but that it was rapidly abandoned as being a totally inefficient way of killing people. But, I don’t accept that the gas chambers existed, and this is well known. I've seen no evidence at all that gas chambers existed.
In these papers we see Eichmann loyally standing up for his superiors, Himmler and Heydrich. He’s constantly wondering where the order came from, if there was an order. On one occasion he goes so far, and in a rather paranoid way, to say if there was such an order then it could only have come from outside Germany, and why. Which is bringing us back on that other track of “were we duped by the Zionists in some way?”
Eichmann constantly ravages the memoirs of Rudolf Höss, as I mentioned. This is again another reason “not to publish” the Eichmann memoirs, and not to grant them any credence, because for our opponents the Höss memoirs are a keystone of the Holocaust legend. Eichmann describes the refusal of the government of Slovakia, and other countries where he operated, to intercede on behalf of their Jewish people. They were glad to get clean of them. And that again is something these people wouldn’t have wanted to be published.
He also describes an odd case in Theresienstadt. He describes how one of the girls on a train-load of Jews who were being shipped off to Auschwitz protested loudly and vociferously that she wasn’t Jewish. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, she was unloaded at one station and taken to Theresienstadt (which was a Prominentenlager for the Jews in Czechoslovakia). But here the Jewish leader of the camp protested noisily about having a non-Jew foisted on them. This again is a rather ugly depiction of the way that man behaves unto man.
Jews for Trucks
But most lethal of all, and I suppose taking up more than 50 percent of the volume of the Eichmann papers, is the description by Eichmann of his negotiations with the Zionists in 1944. After the German invasion of Hungary, Eichmann was sent there to round up the Jews and ship them off. Two Zionist leaders came forward, Joel Brand and Reszö Kasztner [Köstner], and offered to deal with him — to trade with him — to rescue the Jews of Hungary and Slovakia, whereby the Germans could keep the Jewish “mob” (and in fact, they offered, the Jewish community in Hungary would be glad to help round them up) if in return Eichmann would guarantee to spare 20,000 of the fittest, the best, the Jewish elite, the toughest ones who were needed in the new Zionist state of Israel.
Eichmann describes these conferences in great detail. He has almost total recall. His descriptions reveal all the cunning and cynicism of the Zionist leaders at that time, at that stage of the war  in a manner which, I think, the Jewish community today would find deeply distressing. This, I think, is why the Eichmann memoirs had to be suppressed, because of the detail. Kasztner was subsequently assassinated in Israel, years later.
There is no doubt about what happened because, working in the archives, I've come across records relating to the British end of these negotiations, which eventually became the famous “Jews-for-trucks” deal. In this, Brand was sent out to negotiate with the British in Turkey, in Palestine, and Egypt; and the deal being that in return for thousands of Jews the world community was to provide the Germans with trucks and motor equipment for fighting on the Russian front. (Not on the western front, of course: the deal had to be the trucks would only be used on the Russian front.) In return, the SS agreed to release a number of Jews. Eichmann was the person handling this deal in Hungary for Germany, and Brand and Kasztner were handling the deal for the Zionists.
It’s a fascinating story; perhaps one day I'll write a book about it. In the British archives I've now located all the records relating to the British end of these deals, as well as all the letters between Brand and Kasztner and the Jewish agency and the Zionist leaders in Palestine, which were intercepted by British postal censorship. It’s a fascinating, but deeply ugly, story. It certainly wouldn’t win any friends if I do it.
In the introduction to his papers, Eichmann writes that he is not a murderer: He does regard himself, however, rather ruefully, as being an accomplice to murder, because he helped round up the Jews who were then shipped off to a fate that he could only surmise. You would have to accept, of course, that what he is writing in his memoirs by the mid-1950s is no longer just the pure product of his recollection but also, to a certain extent, a symbiosis of his memories with what he has read in Rudolf Höss' memoirs, and in The Final Solution by Gerald Reitlinger, which he has also read.
Eichmann on Höss
Eichmann’s memoirs are an important element of the refutation of the Holocaust story. I have saved this for the end: Because I'm notorious, and because my name is on stickers around London, ("Irving speaks and Rostock burns"), purely by chance another man came and visited me in London only a few weeks ago, and he unwrapped an envelope, and inside the envelope was a book. I recognized it because it’s a well-known book that we all have consulted. It was a copy of the original German edition of the memoirs of Rudolf Höss, Kommandant in CITE>Auschwitz, published in 1958 by the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich.
He said, “I bought this book in a German flea market only a few months ago and I want to ask you how much is it worth.”
I said, “How much did you pay for it?”
He said, “No, no, no, look. It’s got handwriting all over it.”
Here are some pages of it, and you can see the handwriting — it’s got hand-written marginal notes all over it. Says one note here, “That is a lying distortion of the facts.” The handwriting is Eichmann's. The book is Adolf Eichmann’s own copy of the Rudolf Höss memoirs! I don’t know how much money this man wanted for it. I'm not a rich man, but I've got his address; one day, perhaps, I'll make him an offer for it.
Everywhere in that book Eichmann has written his own comments. Rudolf Höss writes, “I had a private meeting alone with Adolf Eichmann, and we discussed the Eichmann program.” Eichmann crosses this out: “A shameless lie. I was never alone with Höss.” So those of us who always doubted the integrity of the Höss memoirs — we wondered why Höss should have written these things — here in Eichmann’s own handwriting we've got yet one more piece of proof that the Höss memoirs are untrustworthy as a source.
The truth gets out
I wrote a letter last week to [the weekly] Die Zeit in Germany, which has devoted two pages to, first of all, the Auschwitz controversy [September 18] and, a week later [September 25], The Leuchter Report. I wrote in that letter, “A swine [ein Hundsfott] is the historian who relies only on the Höss memoirs now!” We knew we couldn’t rely on them. Bit by bit, you see, the truth does come out.
You can ban historians. You can have them arrested, you can fine them $10,000, you can make life hell for them. But one thing is quite plain: you can’t declare the truth to be a prohibited person. The truth gets out.
Thank you very much.
Q: What do we know about the people who are responsible for the massacres of Jews by firing squad in Minsk and other areas? How high did the responsibility go?
A: First of all, let me say a little about the source which convinced me on that, and I know that Professor Faurisson disagrees with me on this: A number of German prisoners were held in British captivity in rooms that were bugged; there were hidden microphones in each room. And there are transcripts of those conversations. In one particular case, General Walter Bruns described to his pals in most appalling detail a massacre he himself saw near Riga on November 30, 1941. I'm not going to read that one out here. I'm going to read one out to show you how unreliable these people sometimes are. Here’s a prisoner of war in a conversation on December 20, 1944, a man called Obergefreiter Till, who was captured in August 1944. He claimed to have been guarding the railway at Auschwitz in July 1943 when a trainload of Greek Jews arrived.
Till said, “The SS man kicked a Jewish woman who was highly pregnant. He kicked her right in the stomach and knocked her down. And the unborn baby came almost out. He took hold of it and pulled it out, threw it down on the ground, and told the woman to get up. He put that child on the truck that was standing there to take away the dead people to be burned.”
The British officer asked, “The child was dead, of course?”
Till said, “Yes, and the woman could not get up. She was hardly dressed, and he grabbed her by her breast — he wanted to pull her up — and he just ripped her skin and everything out of her breasts. There was a captain there from the army, I think his name was Captain Klug. He went after that SS guy, he took him by the shoulder, turned him around, and said, 'Are you crazy to do something like that? Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?'” — and so on.
This is the kind of rubbish that these diseased minds invented sometimes. So you've got to be very careful when you use these eyewitnesses. Obviously that’s a totally phony account: The man invented the whole story. But disordered, diseased minds invent stories like that, particularly when they are being interrogated.
But other reports, unfortunately, have the ring of authenticity. Most of these SS officers — the gangsters that carried out the mass shootings — were, I think, acting from the meanest of motives. There was a particular SS officer in Riga who was described in the report by Bruns, in which Bruns said, “The difficulty for us was how to decide to draw what we had seen to the Führer’s attention.” And eventually they sent a lieutenant down the road, and got him to write what he saw, and they sent this report (signed by the lieutenant) up to the Führer’s headquarters through Canaris. And two days later the order comes back from Hitler, “These mass shootings have got to stop at once.” So Hitler intervened to stop it. Which again fits in with my theory that Hitler was in the dark that this kind of mass crime was going on. I suspect that the SS officer concerned [Altemeyer] was only 23 or 24. That was the age of the gangs that were carrying out these kinds of crimes. Rather like [US Army] Lt. Calley in My Lai. I don’t know why those people do that kind of thing.
Q: Some years ago in Germany I read an article about Adolf Eichmann, that he was born Adolf Eich, a Jew.
A: Well, I think that this is a pretty far-fetched story, but he certainly had sympathies for the Jews. He was a great admirer of the Jews and in his own memoirs he describes himself as being more of a Zionist than an SS officer, for what it is worth.
Q: [Professor Robert Faurisson] About Eichmann, may I ask you if you read the transcripts of Avner Less, the instructing magistrate [in fact, 3,564 pages]?
A: No, I haven’t.
Q: [Faurisson] And did you read the transcript of the Jerusalem trial [of Adolf Eichmann]?
A: No, I didn’t.
Q: [Faurisson] Maybe we have answers to your questions. You said that the Jews didn’t want the memoirs to be too well known. Perhaps it is because all you have told us supports what Eichmann said in those transcripts. The memoirs are in fact a confirmation of what Eichmann thought was true.
I have something to add about the personality of Eichmann: he was extremely naive. For example, when Eichmann is asked a question about the gas chambers he doesn’t say “gas chambers,” he says, “Oh yeah, Höss told me about the murder installations,” things like that. And then he says, “Now, wait a minute. I don’t remember the circumstances. Maybe I read that, or maybe somebody told me that… this is possible.” He was very impressionable, the poor man, even before being taken to Jerusalem. He was impressed by Poliakov and all those stupid people.
A: You're right; the character of Eichmann is very important. He was pliable, he was easily impressed, he was complacent, and anxious to please.
Q: [Faurisson] Absolutely. I agree totally with this. It’s very important to understand Eichmann. Now, for Höss we have so many proofs that Höss didn’t say those things, didn’t write those things. When he said, for example, three million people died in Auschwitz — two million and a half in gas chambers, and 500,000 for other reasons — we know from Moritz von Schirmeister that in the car taking Höss from Minden to Nuremberg, Höss said, “Certainly I signed a statement that I killed two and a half million Jews. But I could just as well have said that it was five million Jews. There are certain methods by which any confession can be obtained, whether it is true or not.” [See The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1986-87, p. 399.] To set the record straight, I don’t know any Revisionist who says that there were no massacres, because there is no war without massacres, especially on the Russian front where you had Jews, and partisans, women, and children all mixed together.
A: It’s important to say this because we are called Holocaust deniers, and the television screens show you the mass graves and all the rest of it, which we don’t deny.
Q: [Faurisson] We certainly don’t deny it. Right at the beginning of the Toronto trial [of Ernst Zündel] we said, “This is what we assume, and this is what we contest.” And we assume that there were massacres and hostages and reprisals and so on.
Now, on to another subject. Do you remember the conversation we had at your home, when I said I realize that General Bruns said that there were massacres and things like that, but at first he doesn’t say that he has seen them himself?
Second, you see that two or three pages later in the transcript there is a very interesting document from the British interrogators saying who Bruns was. First he had been punished, in December 1944 or January 1945, by the Germans themselves. Then he said that he was very willing to collaborate with the British. Finally, didn’t you say to me that, yes, in fact Bruns at a trial had said that he had not seen these massacres?
A: Yes, but I still stand by the validity of these eavesdropping reports. They are, I think, primary sources of the most fundamental quality. Two years after this conversation, which was in April 1945, Bruns went into the dock in Nuremberg and swore on a stack of Bibles that he had seen nothing, he had only heard reports and rumors. But if you read the conversation in which he describes what he has seen, there is one particular passage where he says “I can never forget the appallingly disgusting remarks the men with the guns were making as they were shooting the people — calling out things: 'Look at that Jewish beauty.' I can see her now in my mind’s eye, a beautiful girl about 20 with a flame-red dress.” When you read things like that you know the man’s not making it up.
Q: [Faurisson] Now, Mr. Irving, I have so trained myself in reading testimonies that I can tell you that, in my personal estimation, this story of the dress and so on is quite typical of inventions. Maybe I'm wrong, but don’t you think that if you tell us that Bruns said in April 1945, “I attended [witnessed] this,” (and he doesn’t even say “I attended this"), that you should add that two years later he said that he had not attended? I think we should note both sides of the story.
A: Oh, yes, I think it’s important. But this is just proof of how people lie when they get in the witness box.
Q: [Faurisson] It could be that, but we don’t know: We need both. Now about the text. It’s not a conversation taken on the microphone. As Ernst Zündel said so well, do you know what the microphones were like in 1945, in Germany? They were huge and you had to shout into them. Do you think that the British had microphones in the bushes everywhere?
A: Yes, that’s why we won the war. We had the better equipment.
About the author:
David Irving, acknowledged by The Times of London as “one of Britain’s foremost historians,” is the author of more than two dozen published works on 20th-century history, including Hess: The Missing Years, Uprising: Hungary 1956, Hitler’s War, Churchill’s War and Göring: A Biography. Irving has addressed four IHR conferences.